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Berlin Gasworks POW Camp in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Berlin Gasworks POW Camp

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  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Those known to have been held in

Berlin Gasworks POW Camp

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Feb 2018

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Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.


Pte. Joseph Richardson Summerson 6th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

Joseph Richardson Summerson was born 7th April 1892 at Kirk Merrington, County Durham to parents Thomas and Mary Jane, nee Richardson, at the time of his enlistment on the 28th September 1914 was living at 51 Lincoln Street, Leeholme, County Durham.

On the 29th September 1914 he was posted to the 6th Reserve Battalion, 19th April 1915 posted to France, 26th August 1918 posted to the 15th Battalion. On the 9th Sept 1918 reported as a prisoner of war in Germany , Then on the 12th January 1919 was posted to the Depot and on the 18th April 1919 discharged.

My grandfather was gassed during the war and was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in a forced labour camp which was Berlin Gasworks , most of the time he had to just live on potatoes as also had to eat the potato skins just to survive.

I remember my grandfather could speak some French and would often play his harmonica,one of the story's of his time during the great was that he on one occasion slipped in to the French lines for a drink and drank schnapps with the French and would sing with them, but was caught by a commanding officer on his way back to the British lines , no mention of any disciplinary action given for this either from his story's or in his army records, so am guessing that it was not an unusual occurrence in the war at that time?

Grandad sitting on the front row second man in on the left,stripes on his right forearm.

I have two photos of him taken in the prisoner of war camp, on the group photo he is the second man sitting on the first row on the left hand side, second man in with the stripes on his forearm, there is a story that he was offered promotion in the ranks but later refused it as he did not want to be a higher rank to his pals, but there is no mention of this promotion in his army records? On the photo you will see that the words Berlin Gasworks is chalked on the shovel.

The second photo is one of him with a friend and is standing on the left of the photo,don't know of a name of his friend all I do know is that he died of Pneumonia on the return trip to England?

Second photo was taken just before he departed England for France in 1915, story goes that he and a few others got soaked in the rain that day and decided to get their photo taken before they boarded the ship?

This picture is the Roll Of Honour that mentions my grandfather and is for the men of Coundon and Leeholme, that fought in the Great War, the men listed with stars along with the names are ones that died in service, this Roll of Honour hangs in the entrance to Coundon Workingman's Club, Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, Durham.

Colin Summerson

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