After the States recently decided against using the prisoners of war held at Blanches Banques camp for local agricultural work, the Lieutenant Governor arranged their return to the UK for labour duties there. Following a last minute official request, however, this plan was thrown into confusion.
Jersey’s Government had declined to accept the enemy POWs as labourers, citing an unwillingness to meet the agreed rates of pay. Yet after discussions with a deputation of potato merchants, the Food Production Committee wrote to General Wilson requesting 600 Germans to work at the harbour during the export season. They were required from May until July to assist loading ships carrying Jersey’s produce to England.
The men would have to work in two shifts, one starting at 7.00 or 8.00 in the morning and one in the afternoon and evening, working until 9.00pm. They could be carried back and forward from the camp by trains each day, under military escort while travelling and when working on the quays.
The Lieutenant Governor agreed to hold back the requisite number of prisoners and has dispatched Captain Dickinson of the Army Service Corps to make the necessary arrangements.
A/E/5 contains extensive correspondence on the use of enemy POWs for labour in Jersey, including details on their employment at St Helier Harbour during the spring and summer of 1917.