Site of WW1 internment camp, Queensferry

button-theme-pow Site of WW1 internment camp, Queensferry

Military notice of Queenferry path closure 1914After the First World War broke out in 1914, many “enemy alien” civilians were arrested and brought to a concentration camp on the opposite side of the Dee from the Wales Coast Path here. The army prohibited the public from the embankment footpath and foreshore on that side.

The authorities feared that some of the alien citizens could help the enemy if left to their own devices. The War Office ordered the arrest of men aged 17 to 45 from Germany or the Austro-Hungarian empire who had not been naturalised as British citizens.

Alien seamen in British ports were also arrested. They included the captain of a sailing ship docked in Cardiff. The captain, from Bremen, was sent to Queensferry along with 10 cadet sailors. He complained to a reporter, with tongue in cheek, that the police hadn’t given him a chance to escape!

Some women travelled to Queensferry to visit their interned husbands, but not all had the correct paperwork. Hungarian woman Paulina Loizka appeared before Hawarden magistrates in December 1914 after being stopped in Chemistry Lane, which led to the camp. She had travelled from Stockport, where she lived with her oil-specialist Austrian husband, but had not obtained a visiting permit.

Prisoners who died in the camp were buried in Hawarden cemetery. Fellow inmates paid for the first to have a gravestone inscribed in English and German.

Some inmates were released because friends or employers stood bail (lodged money with court authorities which they would lose if the released person absconded). Some returned aliens received threatening notes or worse, including a German barber whose Rhyl shop was attacked by a mob.

Llandudno tailor Hynek Zaloudek was among the internees here. He described his treatment in the camp as “good”, and said the guards “treated us like gentlemen” and the food was “good and sufficient”. After his release, Zaloudek returned to his family in Llandudno and mentioned that some of the Germans left in the camp were confident they would be released when the German Emperor invaded the British Isles.

By spring 1915, Queensferry internees were being sent to other camps, many of them to Knockaloe on the Isle of Man.

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