Possible explanations for the existence of the Tytherington Camp
Home   Tytherington PoW Camp

Dr Colin Chapman is an acknowledged national expert on WW1 Prisoner of War Camps.  We are very grateful to him that has has kindly undertaken some research on the camp in Tytherington and although whilst not finding any specific references to the camp he has been able to offer some possibilities as to why it existed and who the inmates may have been. 

"It would have been most unusual for civilians, say from Bristol, interned solely because of their nationality (which would, or should, have taken place in 1914 or definitely by June 1915) to be still in a formal camp in May 1918, without any reference to its continuous existence being documented (and so now lodged at TNA) in Home Office files, especially as there were 50 men involved – and there is no such reference there, as far as I can now confirm. It is more likely that rather than being housed at Tytherington continuously from 1914 or 1915, the Austrians (if they really were civilians) were relocated from the Isle of Man in 1918, perhaps in 1917, to undertake a specific project in “your” quarries. It should also be noted that civilian POWs could not be compelled to undertake manual work anyway – only combatant POWs were subject to that. Although some civilian POWs offered to be moved from the Isle of Man to the mainland to perform manual tasks to relieve their boredom, and to earn a little cash, many soon requested to be returned to the Isle of Man as they were not suited to heavy tasks. At least one Gloucestershire farmer requested that two Austrians who had been allocated to him be replaced by other POWs as one was a jeweller and the other a locksmith and both totally unsuited to manual labour.

 It is not impossible that the local newspaper used the term “interned” loosely, and these men were, in fact, combatant POWs; in which case they would have been relocated by the authorities at Dorchester, not the Isle of Man, as Gloucestershire fell within Southern Command of which Dorchester was the parent camp.  Indeed, the interviewer, whose words also appear on your website, believed that the men working in the quarry were military POWs, not civilians as he “supposed they were officers” and the interviewee concurred by saying “something like that”. However they are both incorrect in thinking them to be officers, because no military POW officers, Germans or Austrians, undertook manual work of any kind; in fact there were many disagreements whether German NCOs were officers or not, and thus whether or not they could be compelled to work (as other ranks could, following the 1906 and 1907 Geneva and Hague Conventions).

 It was fairly common for combatant and civilian Austrian POWs to be accommodated and to work separately from German POWs as they generally did not get on with each other; so for the Tytherington men to be described in the newspaper specifically as “chiefly Austrian” is not a surprise."