Welsh Prisoners of War history

button-theme-pow-HUBWelsh Prisoners of War history

Many prisoners of war were held captive in Wales during the 19th and 20th centuries, some choosing to stay after their release. Meanwhile, servicemen from Wales were PoWs in various overseas countries. While some returned in good health, others suffered physical and mental abuse, disease or death.

Use the list below to find stories and locations linked to the story of prisoners of war, including civilians who were interned as enemy aliens. Each of the listed web pages has our “Prisoners of War history” badge, which you can click to return to this page.

If you visit any of the locations, you can use your smartphone to scan our QR codes to receive the relevant web page on the spot.

Prisoners in Wales during the Napoleonic Wars
Welshpool - French surgeon created extensive practice after coming to the area as a PoW
Abergavenny - French officers had a masonic chapter in Monk Street

Sites of prisoner of war camps
Nefyn - Some German PoWs learned Welsh and made friends while working on farms
Bangor - Italians created little gardens outside huts at the playing fields in Hirael
Bontnewydd - PoWs’ Sunday dinners provided by chapel minister and wife, whom they called “Mam”
Tywyn - German prisoner from Neptune Hall camp heroically tried to save girl’s life in 1919
Penmaenmawr - Austrians and Germans had their own path from camp to quarry in First World War
Llanrwst - local girl taken to court after falling in love with a German PoW
Llansannan - German officers made several escapes from Dyffryn Aled in First World War
Carmarthen - prisoners were graded by their ideology at Johnstown camp in Second World War

Prisoner of war escapes
Llandudno - three German officers narrowly missed their rendezvous with U-boat off the Great Orme
Welshpool - German fugitives apprehended in 1915 by an officer armed only with a leather belt

Prisoners in Wales during First and Second World Wars
Llanrhos - German PoW fined in 1948 for assaulting fellow farm worker who called him a Nazi
Crickhowell - Germans rested briefly at Upper House Farm while walking from Abergavenny to camp
Abergavenny - Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, drank at the Angel Hotel while captive at Maindiff Court

Interned civilians
Llandudno - Douglas Kirkham died working on SS Arandora Star, carrying internees in 1940
Conwy Valley - German hotel licensee in Tal-y-cafn arrested in 1914, after guns confiscated
Queensferry - site of a large concentration camp for enemy alien men arrested in 1914
Newport - Giovanni Tambini died on SS Arandora Star after being taken from his family in 1940

Deaths during Allied captivity
Bangor - airman taken PoW after Llwytmor crash was hanged in 1946 for murdering a fellow prisoner
Tywyn - German prisoner died of pneumonia while labouring on rural drainage system
Conwy Valley - Italian PoW leapt from Tal-y-cafn bridge in 1944, thinking his wife and children were dead
Hay - cemetery has many German and Italian war graves from the Second World War
Cwmyoy, Monmouthshire - a former German farmer died after falling onto a circular saw in 1918

Deaths during overseas captivity
Holyhead - sailor GM Cox died while held by Senussi tribesman in the Libyan desert in 1915
Pwllheli - Thomas Pritchard was a PoW after his ship was sunk at Hong Kong in 1941
Llandudno - Donald Sargent died after 3.5 years of forced labour in Indonesia
Llandudno - Frank Limacher died when Americans sank wrongly-marked Japanese PoW ship
Llanddulas - Arthur Banks was tortured to death by Italian fascists in 1944
Penstrowed, Powys - Malcolm David Owen died in Japanese captivity
Llandrindod Wells - Harold Gough died in Germany in 1917, soon after telling parents he was well
Glasbury, Powys - malnourished PoW died in Germany in 1918 after Red Cross parcels intercepted
Newport - teacher Ronald Nekrewes died of dysentery during ‘Death Railway’ construction

Prisoners who returned to Wales
Rhosneigr - Ken Rees helped to dig the ‘Great Escape’ tunnel at Stalag Luft III
Nefyn - actor Rupert Davies had been held in ‘Great Escape’ Stalag Luft III
Bangor - EH Jones wrote a best-seller about his escape from Turkish captivity
Llandudno - Clem Arnold was befriended by his German captor in 1918
Rhos-on-Sea - sportsman Wilf Wooller worked on the Burma 'Death Railway'
Crickhowell - jubilant crowd carried Randolph Morgan over the river in 1919
Cardiff - Les Spence instigated reconciliatory rugby tour to Japan, where he’d been held

Prisoners who settled in Wales
Nefyn - West End Garage was founded by a German ex-PoW who raised a family locally
Llanrwst - camp leader Erwin May denounced fascism and got a job at an Old Colwyn bakery
Welshpool - Pierre Serph founded a medical practice after marrying in Devon while captive in 1810
Church Village, RCT - German engineer Bernard Friese co-founded Gilbern car company