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19 January 1918: 2nd group of 50 German officers arrive in Skipton


On 19th January 1918 the second group of 50 German officer POWs made the journey from the camp at Colsterdale to Skipton, travelling by rail from Masham, via Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds. They describe their walk from Skipton station up the High Street to the camp and the disappointment they felt on seeing their barracks.

“The street opened up into the market place, behind which we could see grey walls and a venerable old tower; a wide gate with the inscription ‘Désormais’ allowed a view into the castle courtyard.  We turned left into a side-street that sloped downwards, leaving the cramped town centre for the genteel and spacious villa quarter with its pretty gardens.  After only a short distance we are led up another street to the right: a wooden gate opens and we begin to climb upwards, as the view reveals itself to us: pained and surprised, we are stopped in our tracks.  Across a wide snowy plateau, our gaze falls on our new enclosure.  There, again, are the wide corridors of high wire fencing, and behind them – oh poor, deceived prisoners – the comfortless brown and black of those abominable wooden barracks climb up the hillside.  Closest to us, grinning scornfully at us, was a particularly long and stilt-legged specimen of the delightful dwellings.  Farewell, stone buildings, farewell, sweet dreams!  ‘Now that’s a rotten dirty trick’, grumbles one Reuter admirer in his thick Berlin accent, concisely summing up the swelling emotions of our collective souls in a single, preoccupied, classical expression.  With bowed heads we skulk past the huts, and another ‘doubly open’ gate opens and swallows us: we are ‘home’.”

Kriegsgefangen in Skipton, pages 33-34, translation Caroline Summers