Merrythought Italian Prisoner of War Camp

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Reference WMO/271729


Carlisle Archive Centre

Lady Gilford's House

Petteril Bank Road

(Document Reference DFCRC 1/62)




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Status: On subsequent site(s)
Type: Non freestanding
Location: Internal
Setting: Inside a building - public/private
Description: Roll of Honour or Book of Remembrance
  • Paper Paper
Lettering: Other
  • Second World War (1939-1945)
About the memorial: Folded Card with all writing in Calligraphy- mainly in Black Ink but certain letters highlighted in red. This was originally given to Lieutenant Colonel T.D.C. Doherty, and was then passed down to his son. His son then gave it to the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady & St. Joseph, Warwick Road, Carlisle for their Centenary Exhibition in Warwick Road, Carlisle. Subsequently the Parish Priest, Mgr Gregory Turner deposited it with Cumbria Archives for safe-keeping. National Archives Document FO 939/156 has further details about the camp- The camp was at NGR NY486405 on the A6 road, south of High Hesket between Carlisle and Penrith. According to the English Heritage Report on POW camps this is well preserved, and was later a German working camp. Like others in Cumbria it must have changed use from Italian to German during the war- Moota (Camp 103) and its satellite camps at Egremont, Distington & Nethertown were the same. Moota had an altar provided by Wigton Roman Catholic Church- part of it is now the plaque for the list of Parish Priests in Wigton RC Church. Merrythought was a PoW camp on the A6 just north of Plumpton. Re-educational surveys were conducted. The first visit for a survey was 7-10 May 1946. There were 781 PoWs at Merrythought. Hostels were at Alston (86 PoWs), Dalston (152 PoWs), Hornick Hall (123 PoWs), Brampton (175 PoWs), Hethersgill (70 PoWs), and there were 141 PoWs in Billets. Werner Schramm, ex-USA, was appointed by the Commander as Camp Leader. Ex-USA men were very depressed. Uncertainty about their repatriation, promise by the Americans that they would be sent to Germany, and better living conditions in the US were responsible for their low morale. Re-education had not yet been stated. Morale was especially bad amongst the men who worked in the mines. They complained that work was heavy and unhealthy, food inadequate and that they had been doing this work for a long time without being exchanged. The hostel leader was Gert van Soellon, a Dutchman. The 15-20 August 1946 report said: "Since my last visit three months ago, 200 men have arrived from USA, and 150 have been posted to 189 satellite camp on medical grounds. Morale at Dalston hostel is very bad and barbed wire has been installed. At Brampton hostel, there is still a percentage of Nazi-minded men. Morale is very low at Hornby Hall hostel. The ex-USA men are dissatisfied and have brought unrest into the camp." Appleby hostel had a happy atmosphere. A visit for a survey was made 14-19 February 1947. 664 PoWs had been repatriated to date. Re-educational activities included a discussion group. Subjects included the Route of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and Problems of Youth. A survey conducted 6-10 May 1947 revealed that 50 per cent at Hethersgill and Alston hostels were youngsters. Sixty per cent were youngsters at Dalston hostel. A visit for a survey was made 23-27 July 1947. 1,765 PoWs had been repatriated to date. Morale was slightly improved. One reason was improved entertainment (theatre and orchestra). Very bad news from Germany made many men despair of democratic ideas. Mr Parrot, headmaster of a school at Kirkby Stephen, was willing and highly qualified to act as official liasion between the camp and outside bodies. The library at Penrith was open to PoWs. On 16-20 September 1947, the number of PoWs repatriated to date was 2,300. It was hoped to extend existing contacts with Youth Clubs in Carlisle. A further visit to Merrythought was made on 11-16 November 1947. There were 539 PoWs at the main camp, 49 at Appleby Hostel, 41 at Alston Hostel, 121 at Brampton Hostel, 67 at Dalston Hostel, 63 at Hethersgill Hostel, 100 at Hornby Hall Hostel, 124 at Hornick Hall Hostel, and 248 in Billets. 2,686 PoWs had been repatriated to date. Morale was fair but lower than two months previously. On 18/22 November 1947, 463 Germans were at Merrythought. It had five hostels, housing 792. Moota, Wath Head and Brougham hostels had closed. Brampton was the best hostel, where regular instruction was given. There were two teachers and some Germans attended science classes under the auspices of the Workers' Educational Association. The final visit to Merrythought for a re-educational survey was on 24 January 1948. 3,140 PoWs had been repatriated to date. The survey reported that morale at Merrythought had deteriorated over the past few months. One reason was depressing news from Germany. At Hornick Hall, two-thirds were youngsters. Seven youngsters attended a course at 180 camp: one of these wished to return there for a further course. Alston and Hornby Hall hostels were without electricity. (Camp 180 was at Marbury Hall in Cheshire).
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On front page of a folded piece of card - PAX symbol Inside Left Hand Page- And now abideth faith, hope, charity/, these three; but the greatest of/ these is charity/1 Cor 13.13 Inside Right Hand Page- The Catolic Camp Parish/of POW Camp 76 Merrythought/gives thanks/to the Commandant/Lt Colonel T.D.C. Doherty/for all the work of mercy and all the trouble he took in/the fitting out of the catholic camp chapel, On this /day of the Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving for all/ donors of charitable gifts, we ask our Lord to re/ward the love of English Catholics who gave/ them to our chapel through the mediation of the/Commandant and to give them and him his/Blessing


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