A Brother at Brocton Prisoner of War Camp

Pictures from camp life: R. Boulger, who later became a Brother of the Charterhouse, handing out “dibs” at Brocton Prisoner of War Camp in 1918.

The above pencil-sketch was found in the Old Charterhouse Scrap Book. It depicts a British Lieut-Interpreter, a Mr R. Boulger, handing out the “dibs” to German prisoners at Brocton Prisoner of War Camp in 1918. It was drawn by a German prisoner and is of particular interest to the Charterhouse, for in later life Mr R. Boulger became a Brother of the Charterhouse.

Brocton Prisoner of War Camp was in Staffordshire. It was surrounded by barbed wire, with accommodation for more than 6,000 German prisoners. Some PoWs worked for the Royal Engineers’ and were allowed to work outside of the camp, and others, under armed guard, worked on gardens and farms across North Staffordshire, including at Shugborough Hall.

The report on the camp says the general health of prisoners was “excellent” at the end of 1918. However, many died during the Spanish flu epidemic after the war, with 178 prisoners dying in the camp hospital.

The Charterhouse

German prisoners at Brocton.

Those who worked within the camp did jobs such as tailoring, hairdressing, cobbling and watchmaking.

In 1918, the same year in which the pencil-sketch was made, five prisoners escaped from the camp, but were all recaptured relatively quickly. Two other prisoners at the camp committed suicide and one died while out with a working party.

Lord Lichfield, who owned the site, sold off the huts after the war and now nothing remains of the camp.

If you would like to discover more about Brocton, Beryl Holt’s book, A Long Slow Walk from the Station, documents the history of the camp between 1917 – 1919. It is published by Berkswich History Society and can be purchased here.