World War One Heilsberg prisoner of war cemetery restored
- 16 May 2014
- From the section England
Headstones commemorating 39 UK soldiers who died at a German prisoner of war camp during World War One have been erected in northern Poland.
The men were held alongside thousands of Russians at the Heilsberg prisoner of war camp and died in 1918.
They were buried in a nearby cemetery, but after it deteriorated in the 1960s, they were remembered with a memorial 75 miles away.
Now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has rebuilt the cemetery.
Following an appeal by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), four of the soldier's families have come forward.
Steve Mannion, the great nephew of Gunner James Grier, who lived in Alderney, in the Channel Islands, said that up until now the family, from Rainham, Kent, had only been able to visit a WW1 memorial in Alderney.
"He (Grier) was captured and really badly looked after by his captors, dying at the age of 19, so he really hadn't experienced any life at all," Mr Mannion said.
The nephews of Pte William Gordon Jones, Gordon and Wyn Jones, from Llanfyllin, a small village in Powys, mid Wales, attended a rededication ceremony at the Lidzbark Warminski cemetery on Friday.
Gordon Jones, 68, said: "It's very emotional. Our family have never forgotten this soldier, who I am named after. We knew who he was, where he grew up and when he went to war, but were never certain how he ended up in this area in 1918."
Mr Jones and his brother, who were put in touch with the CWGC by an amateur historian, took a poppy wreath over to Poland and laid it next to their uncle's headstone.
"It is excellent work that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have done and that we have now had the chance to pay our respects to our father's brother," Mr Jones added.
Between August and December 1918, 39 British prisoners of war died at the Heilsberg camp, which was then in part of Germany.
It is likely their deaths were a result of insufficient food, overwork or one of the diseases that swept through the overcrowded and insanitary camps.
The nearby Lidzbark Warminski cemetery was used to bury the British and Russian prisoners of war who died at the camp.
After the war the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission marked the graves with a Cross of Sacrifice and headstones.
'Touch the past'
Peter Francis, from the CWGC, said: "During the 1960s the cemetery deteriorated at Lidzbark and access to the site became very difficult, so we took the decision to commemorate the men at Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery.
"In recent years, that situation has completed turned around and so we have been able to get back into the cemetery and we sent a team from our operations in Belgium to Poland.
"Although it is not possible to identify the individual grave locations, we know the area where they are buried and this has been levelled and we've installed 39 brand new headstones and something the commission calls a Duhallow Block."
Mr Francis added: "To be able to restore the graves, to give their families somewhere to go and pay their respects, is something very important.
"You can physically go and touch the past and pay your respects and honour those men and women who died in a conflict 100 years ago."
|Name||Age||Lived or enlisted in||Regiment|
|Pte Alex Anderson||31||Wolsingham, County Durham||Durham Light Infantry|
|Sapper Henry James Appleby||Poplar, Greater London||Royal Engineers|
|Sapper John Ernest Armstrong||31||Newcastle||Royal Engineers|
|Pte Seymour Blewett||36||Truro, Cornwall||Machine Gun Corps|
|Pte Frank Bernard Bower||19||Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire||Northumberland Fusiliers|
|L/Cpl George Barnard Buck||Norwich||Northumberland Fusiliers|
|Pte Fred Carter||37||Hanham, Bristol||East Yorkshire Regiment|
|Gunner Albert Arthur Cockin||27||Cardiff||Royal Garrison Artillery|
|Pte Ernst Leonard Edwards||19||Bournemouth, Dorset||Devonshire Regiment|
|Pte William Embleton||24||Newcastle||Northumberland Fusiliers|
|Pte Frederick William Foot||Blandford, Dorset||Royal Marine Light Infantry|
|Pte Firth Garlick||Dewsbury, West Yorkshire||King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry|
|Pte John Gray Gillyon||34||Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Gunner James Grier||22||Alderney, Channel Islands||Royal Field Artillery|
|Pte Harold Leonard Harlow||19||Gloucester||Lincolnshire Regiment|
|Pte Arthur Ernest Hobson||Elswick, Newcastle||Durham Light Infantry|
|Pte William Hugh||Tonypandy, Glamorgan||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Pte Thomas Jewell||Camborne, Cornwall||Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry|
|Sapper William Jobson||24||Durham||Royal Engineers|
|Pte William Gordon Jones||19||Llanfyllin, Powys, Wales||Durham Light Infantry|
|Pte William David Jones||Penmorfa, Porthmadog, Wales||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Gunner Edward William Kearns||26||Hull||Royal Field Artillery|
|Pte Arthur Lane||Northampton||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Driver Henry Henderson Lochtie||22||Edinburgh||Royal Field Artillery|
|Pte Thomas Charles Lock||21||Cirencester, Gloucestershire||Worcestershire Regiment|
|Pte John Ernest Partridge||19||Streatham, London||Royal Irish Fusiliers|
|Sapper John Anthony Patterson||27||Hanley, Staffordshire||Royal Engineers|
|Pte Henry Pickersgill||Scarborough||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Pte Morton Ewart Postlethwaite||25||Swindon||Wiltshire Regiment|
|Pte Bertie Pottinger||22||Reading||East Yorkshire Regiment|
|Pte Charles Arthur Lewis Ramsden||30||Tonbridge, Kent||The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)|
|Pte Charles Ryder||30||Frodsham, Cheshire||South Lancashire Regiment|
|Pte Thomas Henry Sellers||Grosmont, North Yorkshire||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Rifleman Joseph Shall||Finsbury, Middlesex||King's Royal Rifle Corps|
|Pte Charles Albert Sharp||23||Holborn, Middlesex||Royal Welsh Fusiliers|
|Pte Edward John Walker||Garsdon, Wiltshire||The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment|
|Pte Alfred Warner||Wolverhampton||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Pte Walter Whysall||Barnsley||Yorkshire Regiment|
|Pte William Clifford Williams||21||Swansea||Gloucestershire Regiment|