German PoW assault site, Bryniau Farm
After the Allied victory in North Africa, and later the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, around 400,000 German and Italian Prisoners of War (PoW) were interned in camps around Britain. Hundreds were billeted at camps in Llandudno Junction and Deganwy and worked on local farms six days a week. They filled a gap in the labour market after thousands of British farm workers went overseas in military service.
After the war ended in 1945, prisoners’ repatriation progressed slowly. During 1946, PoWs carried out 20% of all farm work in Britain, as well as working on the roads and at building sites. Fraternisation between the PoWs and local population was forbidden by the British government until just before Christmas 1946. In towns across Britain, many people chose to put the war behind them and invited German PoWs to join them for a family Christmas.
However, there were sometimes tensions between PoWs and local people. In April 1948, German PoW Heinrich Benedict appeared before Llandudno magistrates charged with beating and assaulting George Foster, his fellow labourer at Bryniau Farm, at milking time. As Herr Benedict was unable to speak fluent English, a teacher of German at John Bright Grammar School was summoned to the court to interpret.
Foster alleged that he was pouring milk into a bucket when Herr Benedict attacked him from behind, held him in a head lock and pummelled him around the head, leaving him with a swollen eye and mouth and bruised chin. In his defence, Herr Benedict maintained that George Foster always referred to him as “a Nazi and a pig” and that on this particular morning Foster had thrown a milking pail at him and so he had defended himself. The magistrate found Benedict guilty, fined him £1 and ordered him to pay £2 2s (shillings) costs.
However, there were also many instances of German and Italian PoWs remaining in Britain after the war. Many married local women and made new lives for themselves in their adopted country.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Postcode: LL30 1RB