Site of prisoner of war camp, Llanfihangel Crucorney

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Site of prisoner of war camp, Llanfihangel Crucorney

Land opposite the Skirrid Inn was used for a prisoner of war camp in the Second World War.

Previously the land was used for growing food, as evidenced by pieces of pottery from medieval and later centuries which archaeologists have found there.

The sinking of merchant ships in the Second World War forced Britain to produce more food, instead of relying on imports. Farm labour was boosted by the Women’s Land Army, with seasonal help from military personnel, evacuees, shop girls and office workers. This changed in 1943, when the Allies captured Italian and German servicemen in north Africa and sent them to Britain.

Many prisoners of war (PoWs) were sent to rural camps, including here. They worked six and a half days a week for one penny per hour. Jobs varied with the type of farm and the season, but generally the most onerous went to PoWs. Prisoners also toiled on road maintenance and in quarries. In 1945 they helped demolish pillboxes and barbed-wire entanglements (installed early in the war in case of German invasion).

Repatriation of German PoWs was delayed until 1947-1948. Some chose to stay in Britain rather than return to war-ravaged Germany, the eastern part of which was then under Communist government. Among them was Heinz Richard Ahrens, born in Hamburg in 1926. He came to Wales as a PoW in 1944. He was at Llanfihangel Crucorney camp when he was released in 1948. He joined Britain’s Territorial Army (reserve force) and attended Usk College.

In 1949 he married Vera Grace Jones of Abergavenny. They had met when she was in the Women’s Land Army. They had seven children.

With thanks to Abergavenny Local History Society and Adrian Hughes

Postcode: NP7 8DH    View Location Map