After weeks of excited speculation, the first German prisoners of war arrived in Jersey this week. On 20 March a ship bearing just under 600 of the enemy arrived in St Helier Harbour. Two days later another batch of around 400 joined them.
In the days beforehand, the local authorities had tried to keep the date and time of the prisoner’s arrival secret. But it was obvious from the preparations underway both in the POW camp and at the Brighton Road military hospital that something was imminent. As a result, a crowd of onlookers were present when the prisoners arrived, despite the early hour.
While Islanders have been curious about the enemy prisoners, many people’s feeling towards their camp in St Ouen’s Bay has been one of envy. Local contractors employed in its building and fitting out have reported that camp is a model construction. There are very well equipped kitchens, wash rooms and laundry facilities. The huts are heated, and supplied with quality mattresses and bedding. What’s more, the whole facility is lit by electricity – at a time when most people in the Island have no access to such modern power.