Excavations by archaeologists from Wessex Archeology have revealed evidence of the existence of a prison camp of war having been used for house 2,000 German prisoners during World War II.
These archaeologists working for the Shropshire Council made this discovery in Mile End, part of the Borough of Tower Hamlets, London, England.
This research revealed a large camp used between 1940 and 1948. On it were set up barracks spaced out on a vast sports ground surrounded by agricultural land.
An astonishing living condition of German prisoners!
“The study of these remains helps us to understand what life would have been like for those who were imprisoned in the camp and guarded it, both during the war and in the immediate post-war period. »
John Winfer, Project Manager at Wessex Archeology and Head of Excavation Supervision
The archaeologist said that these excavations revealed amazing evidence of the relatively comfortable living conditions of prisoners.
“Inmates were provided with sports fields, musical performances, electricity to supply lighting and heating, sufficient toilets for all camp occupants, and several hot and cold showers and sinks, each prisoner taking two hot baths a week. Most of the prisoners were employed in carpentry workshops, and the youngest were allowed to study at the camp school. Those guarding the camp benefited from more spacious accommodation, and our work uncovered ceramic tableware of military origin, accompanied by beer glasses. All this gives a civilized and rather unexpected image of a prisoner of war camp. »
Despite these favorable revelations about the living conditions of the convicts, the excavations have at the same time brought to light other evidence indicating the presence of unrest and violence in the camp. For example, research has indicated that there have been escape attempts.
The searches reveal the identity of the detainees
Archaeologists, thanks to the various artefacts, have been able to find the identity and trace the history of certain detainees alive in the camp. In this sense, an aluminum identification tag of a German soldier was more than revealing. Indeed, the researchers were able to use the serial number that was registered there to find the individual and his story.
“This is an intriguing discovery with huge potential. In this case, the label tells us that the German prisoner of war in question belonged to the 3rd company of the Landesschützen XI/I battalion. We also know its serial number, so we’ll keep researching to reveal the full story – it doesn’t end there! »