An islander returned home this week after repatriation following three and a half years in a German prisoner of war camp. His graphic account of life as a POW seems to confirm lurid rumours of enemy brutality and mistreatment.
Charles Albert Pearce last saw Jersey in August 1914 when he left to re-join his unit, the Army Service Corps, as war broke out. As an ambulance driver, he took part in the British Army’s opening engagement, being captured a few days after the Battle of Mons.
Harsh treatment at the hands of his German captors began immediately, with a lack of food and forced indignities. Driver Pearce eventually arrived in Sennelager POW Camp, near the town of Paderborn. Forced to work in local mines, he received cruel treatment from overseeing guards. Resisting on one occasion meant a bayonet stab in the side.
Repatriation came under a German scheme to release men captured while serving as medical personnel. Following release, Driver Pearce travelled to Holland then moved on to England and finally a welcome return to Jersey.
Under the terms of repatriation, he can serve in the army again but not at the front.
D/Z/H2/6 contains documents about setting up Jersey’s POW support bureau in March 1916.
D/S/A/2/A2179: 1941 Registration card of Charles Albert Pearce, of 21, Coastlands, St Clement, born 05/07/1888.