There was a thrill of excitement and apprehension this week at news that a group of German prisoners of war had escaped from their camp in St Ouen’s Bay and were at large in the Island. Their liberty turned out to be short-lived, however, with all nine being recaptured soon afterwards and sent back behind the wire.
The escapees were among 300 POWs retained at Les Blanches Banques camp for work at St Helier Harbour after most prisoners left for the UK in February 1917. They had secretly constructed a tunnel, running out from below one of the camp huts and underneath the wire perimeter fence. The tunnel came up on the far side of a road running alongside the camp, from where the men emerged under the cover of darkness on 19 July.
Missed the next day, a search began immediately, with indications that the men had gone north into the Parish of St Ouen. The group was eventually cornered in St Brelade’s Bay, and taken into custody by the local Honorary Police. From there it was a handover to the army and a journey back to the camp.
A/D1/W10 contains various correspondence about the POW camp in St Ouen’s Bay included one alleging that escapee prisoners had knocked on a local’s door one night.