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by csvdevon

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Archive List > Prisoners of War

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Owen Cooper Milton
Location of story: 
Hele, near Bradninch, Devon
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 August 2005

A group of German prisoners of war at the Whiteways Cider Works at Hele near Bradninch, by lorry from their camp at Tiverton.

They were met by the chargehand and taken to their respective work stations. He could not speak German and the POW's had a very limited knowledge of English. Their duties were explained by hand signals and signs and eventually the annual pound started.

Raw cider juice started to drip out of the pressings of the hydraulic presses into the troughs below, which ran into the settling tanks.

A number of the POW's started to dip a cup into the trough and drank the raw cider. The chargehand noticed them and said "No, no" followed by hand signs of a circular motion arond the stomach. They replied "Good, good" to which the chargehand repeated his warning and was hear to say "let them find out the hard way".

After the mid day lunch break where they consumed a lot of hot tea, for this was thirsty work, did things go awry. First one or two started to slip away to the only two toilets and soon others were wanting to use them. Some seemed to be transfixed to the toilets, whilst others had to run, often undoing their trousers in their haste, to reach a covenient spot in a hedge off the nearby orchard.

This was the first German I had seen during the war and I didn't expect to see them with their pants down.

It was a lot wiser Germans who arrived the following day and all refused to drink the raw cider.

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