Site of German PoWs’ arrest, near Pensarn station


Link to Welsh translationSite of German PoWs’ arrest, near Pensarn station

Two German army officers were detained near Pensarn station in April 1915 after escaping from a prisoner of war camp in Denbighshire.

Ober Leutnant Hans von Andler and Leutnant Hans Friedrich Rudolf von Sandersleben disappeared from Dyffryn Aled camp, near Llansannan, after the evening’s roll call. A government-sponsored reward for information leading to their capture encouraged thousands of soldiers, policemen and local people to scour the countryside.

Travelling only by foot, the Germans managed to travel many miles over mountain and moorland in poor weather to escape their would-be captors. For a week, they slept at night in fields. Dressed in tweed suits and caps, they carried a haversack which contained chocolate, biscuits, cigarettes, fruit, a fountain pen and a notebook. In the book was a hand-drawn map of Wales and a chart showing the route and distances to Ireland and Spain.

They were only apprehended because a local river warden, John Jones, saw two strangers coming down the Nantcol Valley and spoke to them but got no response. Becoming suspicious, he took a short cut to Llanbedr and telephoned the police in Harlech. Police Constable Davies rode southwards on a bicycle and found the prisoners “on the road near Pensarn station”, according to the press.

When challenged, the fugitives declared that they were Frenchmen on holiday but soon admitted they were the missing German officers. They were taken to Blaenau Ffestiniog police station, where locals greeted them with a round of boos that reportedly the Germans laughed at. Then they went to Chester Castle, where a military court sentenced them to 28 days’ imprisonment without hard labour.

In 1915 Pensarn station was owned by the Cambrian Railways. Today it’s a stop on the scenic Cambrian Coast line, operated by Transport for Wales.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno

Postcode: LL45 2HP    View Location Map

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