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24 September 2014

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You are in: Liverpool > Local History > Discover > The Places > Wartime camps in Huyton

Prisoners of War

POW's in Huyton

Wartime camps in Huyton

Recollections of a wartime camps in Huyton are being sought for a new drama documentary. Internees, prisoners of war and American G.I.'s all spent time in the area.

Wartime Camps in Huyton

There were three different wartime camps in Huyton

The Internment camp held foreign nationals from 1939

The POW camp was set up in 1943

American GIs were stationed in Huyton from 1944

Recollections of Huyton’s wartime camps are being sought for a new drama documentary.

During the Second World War, Huyton was home to an internment camp, a prisoner of war camp and a base for American G.I.s. The Prisoner of War camp only closed in 1948, amongst its inmates was Bert Trautmann who later went on to be goalkeeper for Manchester City.

Local actor/writers Mike Howl and Paul Strange are appealing for local residents to share their anecdotes of the camps; they are also keen to hear from descendants and survivors from the internment camp.

The internment camp was opened in 1939 and held mainly Italian and German nationals who had been resident in the U.K. Conditions in this camp seem to have been very bad with many inmates living in tents, making their own bedding from straws.

Fixing a motorbike

Prisoners with a motorbike

Poor Conditions

Mike Howl and Paul Strange have discovered documents in the National Archives that describe conditions in the camp. A letter to the MP Sir Waldron Smithers in 1940 details some of the problems in the camp. The writer L.W. Joyhson-Eicks describes the poor conditions of the internees “One gentleman was interned in Russia during the last war and thought that his experiences there were considerably preferable to being interned in England."

The frustration of the internees is also documented, “I have no doubt whatsoever that their physical condition is aggravated by their mental inaction. They have absolutely nothing to do all day long except brood over their misfortunes and wish they could get out.”

Joyhson-Eicks expresses his concern for the long term health of the internees, “Although it is only my personal opinion, I nevertheless do honestly believe that unless conditions in the Camp are improved there will be a number of these elderly internees who will not survive a Winter there.

“….I can honestly say that it is a long time since I can remember having spent a more miserable afternoon that I did on Tuesday at Huyton Camp.” Later in the war internees were transferred to a camp on the Isle of Man.

The Prisoner of War Camp opened in 1943 and held German serviceman who had been captured, amongst them Bert Trautmann who locals recall playing in a game against the local pub team, The Eagle and Child. Trautmann later became famous for playing through the 1956 FA Cup final despite having broken his neck.

Local Sympathy

Local residents appear to have been quite sympathetic. Irene Higgin's lived in Longview at the time and remembers passing food through to the Germans, “All these raggedy prisoners of war marched down to the camp.

“They were in an awful state. They looked really ill kept. They were put into these wooden Nissan huts, and a camp was set up.

“I think there was a lot of pity in Huyton then, because they were so bad in appearance. So everyone used to cluster round the wires and give them bits and bobs, what we had you know, bread sandwiches.”

Prisoner relaxes

A prisoner relaxing

Many of the P.O.W.’s stayed on in Huyton and married local girls. Officially they weren’t allowed to fraternise with their documentations as late as 1949 classing them as ‘aliens’.

Many of the prisoners of war were formed in to bomb disposal units to clear the numerous German bombs that had been dropped on the area.

A Red Cross report on the P.O.W. camp in 1947 listed 138 German prisoners living in 5 huts with electric lights, iron stoves and hot showers. Breakfast consisted of coffee and cake with bread and cheese for lunch and Salzkartoffeln (salted potatoes) and Goulash for dinner. The prisoners had no complaints about the food although the report comments that the “supply of underwear is short”.

From 1944 American G.I.s were stationed in the area and Huyton residents recall tensions between black and white U.S. serviceman running high culminating in a night known as ‘the shoot out at the Eagle and Child.’

Mike Howl is keen to hear from anyone with stories to tell of the camp “Even if it is just one anecdote, that’s great, because it could become a scene in the production.

“We talk to people, they’re not formal interviews, just informal chats really, as people remember the period. It’s an important piece of history that needs recording.”

Anyone with stories can contact Mike at

last updated: 01/04/2008 at 14:27
created: 25/04/2006

Have Your Say

Do you have recollections of the wartime camps in Huyton? Add your memories here.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

William Robert Huyton (BoB)
In 1939 I was 7yrs old I lived in 110 Stockbridge Lane on the river Alt Right by the Alien camp I walked past it going to school I went to Longview School we would talk to the men through the wire,some times they would ask us to get milk for them. We moved to Page Moss in 1940 and I remember the black and the White Yanks fighting in and out side the eagle and Child,the black yanks were at Blue Bell Lane just by the Blue Bell pub they had fights out side that pub to,I remember some of the women would invite them in to their homes,I lived in 84 Huyotn House Road Page Moss. If I remember any more I will log on again.I know live in Shropshire.

John Cannon
Hillside housing estate, Huyton was built before 1940. During the War people living in Bootle had suffered terrible bomb damage and the homeless were going to be re-housed in Hillside Avenue but then the Americans where put in the houses instead. The American Army had the estate and housed all their Servicemen in it. The area was also cordoned of to the locals and you couldn't get through. I know some people around here have stripped the wallpaper from the walls and found the names of American Solders written on the wall underneath. I can also remember a farmer who used to drive around this area in a van loaded with his produce and he'd sell vegetables to the locals, he would also ask people to help him with potato picking.

Jim Fitzsimmons
I can remember my father (Bob fitzsimmons local red cross man) refering to the Americans being paid in white £5 notes and the locals exchaging them for five ten bob notes, it appears some nights later the Amercans returned and wrecked the Eagle and Child pub, it was then made out of bounds for them for a while

Ruth Corlett
Ruth Corlett (nee Gore) lived with her parents in Bluebell Lane, Huyton, as a young girl and one of the camps was behind their home. It was right at the bottom of the garden and when I was playing in the garden with my sister some of the men would call us over and roll fresh oranges to us through the barbed wire. They would try to talk to us but we couldn’t really understand what they were saying. They made us both a pencil box, painted brown with red flowers hand painted on the top. They probably made them out of the fruit crates. They also gave each of us a little signet ring which was gold coloured. They must have made those as well. On one occasion one of the men climbed up to the top of this huge brick watertank and refused to come down. We were in the garden with my mother and told by the soldiers who were guarding the men to go into the house. They trained their guns on the man and ordered him to come down. I will always remember that he was crying and shouting: ``I want to go home.’’ I remember my mother telling me that the men were allowed out of the camp to do things like garden maintenance for people who lived in what was then the village of Huyton. There were also some US serviceman based in the area. One of them – a black man - came down the road one day and my grandmother pushed me into the house – in those days you never saw a black face in Huyton village and my grandmother was scared of him. ``She pushed me back into the house and I said to her in my innocence: It’s only the chimney sweep grandma’’

Jean Ritter nee Finch
I lived in The Avenue , a small street off Blue Bell Lane . I do not remember any sympathy for the prisoners of war , I remember anger at the comments they shouted to us as we had to pass them, when we were walking home along Blue Bell Lane from the bus. Some of my school friends were killed in the Blitz and I simply could not forget that.

I lived in at the rear of the shops at Page Moss Avenue Huyton. I can remember both German and Italian prisoners being march along Prescot Road, to the camp at Blue Bell lane. I recall women with buckets of water, giving both soldiers and prisoners drinks of water. As children we would cross the river Alt, into the woods along side the camp and watch the prisoners, some would attempt to talk to us. but we would be told by the guards to leave, this did not detere from returning. Later when the Americans arrived, there would always be plenty of excitement outside the Eagle and Child publice house at Page Moss. There would be clashes between Black Yanks and white, and it would not be long before the American MP's arrive. I have seen fight which have ended up on the top deck of tramcars.

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