After a gap of seven months, Jersey is hosting German prisoners of war once again. Nearly 2,000 are taking up residence at the purpose-built camp on the sand dunes, which had closed in August 1917.
After the States refused to accept enemy POWs as agricultural labours, Britain removed those held in the Blanche Banques POW Camp for work duties on the UK mainland. Recently, however, Britain signalled its intent to reopen the camp, for the purpose of holding German non-commissioned officers.
Under the terms of the pre-war Hague Convention, only private soldiers can be made to work when prisoners of war. Other ranks, such as sergeants and corporals, are exempt. As a result, there is a large pool of non-working NCO prisoners being held unproductively in British camps. To make room for other ranks who are available for work, the War Office is transferring surplus POWs to Jersey.
While they cannot be made to work, enemy NCO prisoners can be asked to do so. The Lieutenant Governor is planning to approach the new arrivals with an offer to take up labouring duties. To General Wilson, anything that frees local men for military service is welcome.
A/E/5 contains information on the returning German POWs, including on the Lieutenant Governor’s plans to employ them.