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Local Studies Department

WORLD WAR I: Chapter 2 - The Home Front

Prisoners Of War

A dispatch from the German War Office in March 1915 relayed details of a uniform rule laid down for all Prisoner of War Camps. Prisoners were not allowed to write more than two letters a month, not exceeding four pages, and six pages of ordinary size in the case of officers and soldiers respectively. In addition, one postcard a week was allowed. Prisoners were also “required to impress on their families the desirability of not writing too often, of restricting the length of their letters, and of writing clearly and legibly.” (Leinster Leader, 20 March, 1915 ) Letters were censored, items such as parcels from home were often never received at all.

It proved very difficult to provide a prisoner of war with certain items. As the war progressed the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Prisoners of War Committee became more and more important. Limburg, in particular, housed many Co. Kildare soldiers who were the recipients, if not unlawfully confiscated, of the following standard fortnightly supply:- 1 tin of coffee and milk, 1 tin of condensed milk, 1lb of tea, 1lb of bacon and 1lb of cheese to augment their prisoners’ fare, which was understood to be very meagre. (Leinster Leader, -11 September, 1915) Cigarettes, papers and magazines were always on request from the prisoners.

Every organisation possible was approached in one manner or another for aid in the War effort. A letter addressed to the Kildare Observer dated 26th April 1915 from a native of Naas, P.O.W., Private Philip Halleron (9639), 11 Battalion 6 Camp. No. 729, Limburg reads as follows:-

“…As it seems to be the custom of provincial journals to look
after the prisoners of their particular town or county, I am sure
you will not be far behind other papers in this matter....the
most suitable things to send are eatables, tobacco and cigarettes
at present....There are here from Naas and district about 10 or
12 men.
I remain, sir, yours sincerely
Philip Halleron”
Leinster Leader., - 5 December, 1914

The Observer responded by inviting subscriptions from readers “for the purposes indicated” in the letter.

Another letter home to a Naas mother from “J. Doran”, received around November 1914 from a P.O.W. Camp in Germany:-

“Dear Mother, - I now take the pleasure of dropping you these
few lines hoping to find you all in good health, as this leaves
me at present and Paddy in the best of health. Dear mother, I
was glad to get the fags and shirt, as we had a good smoke.
Hope Lizzie is minding little Maggie, as my heart lies in her.
Let me know in your next letter if you heard from Tom or B., as
we hear they are coming out. I hope not. Tell the old fellow
and Bessie and Mary that me and Paddy wish them all a happy
Christmas, as we will make ours as best as we can. Hoping to
hear from you soon, and thanks to Mrs. Loveband for the parcels.
No more at present -from your son,
J. Doran
8630 Pte. .1. Doran,
English Lager Sennelager,
Paderborn, Germany”

Mrs. Loveband’s name is mentioned many times in relation to fund-raising events and committees organised for the aid of soldiers. Her own husband was killed in June 1916. Colonel Loveband died on the battlefields of Flanders as he commanded the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was survived by his son and wife and recommended by Sir John French, commander-in-chief of the home forces, for the distinguished conduct order.