I’ve had an enquiry in the last week or so from reader Graham Smith, who’s trying to track down lists of Italian Prisoners of War, often said to be billeted in a camp in north Walsall, thought by many to be near the aerodrome.
I’ll be honest here, I’ve seen lots of mentions of this camp just of the Mellish Road, including a belief that Italian POWs worked on Walsall road gangs during the war, but I can find little hard evidence. I’d appreciate people contributing what they know or have been told; I must admit, I find the idea we’d be putting former enemy combatants near an operational RAF facility remarkable, but then, times were different, so anything’s possible.
This has been peripherally addressed before here where Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler applied his usual incision to the question of wartime POWs around Stonnall, and his researches didn’t find a Staffordshire camp nearby; but that’s not necessarily conclusive as one can see in the article.
Graham wrote to me on the 7th August:
Do you have any information regarding the Italian prisoner of war camp in Walsall?
We think that my wife`s father spent some time there.
Now I must admit to knowing nothing about this, which is why I had nothing to add to the same question posted in March 2015, and it seems nobody else did, either.
We are trying to find my wife`s father, who was in a camp in Walsall. Her mother worked at Crabtrees and became friendly with a Italian from one of the camps with whom she became pregnant with my wife who was then adopted in 1946.
Is there a list of names of people who were in those camps around this time?
I’ve never seen such a list, but I’m no military or wartime historian. Can anyone help, please? Anything at all?
Since then, Graham has posted a couple of comments, and I’d point out to Graham that his question was flagged for an article this week, but like Andy, I do this as a hobby in my free time, and can’t provide fast responses, sorry. And sometimes, I just don’t know.
I try to help where I can.
My feeling is that with the large readership, if there was a clear answer, someone would have mentioned it by now; many old comments and topics get revisited, and this one is peculiar – I see lots of assertions online about particular buildings, but no hard evidence whatsoever, but then with wartime secrecy, would there be any? It’s a tough one for sure.
Anything you can offer at all is welcome: comment here please or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.