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PRISONERS OF WAR.
The German Prisoners of War Camp used for 70MU labour was situated up Pangbourne Hill at the junction of Bere Court Road. The site was re-developed after the war when the local Council built the current bungalows on the site.
Mollie White recalls 'We had some German Prisoners of War but they were hostile to us and always had to have an armed guard around. They dealt with the stores located in the woods and not in the Storage Sheds. They would load the outgoing lorries and unload the incoming lorries. A civilian worker would stand by and count and check the contents of the delivery making sure that the POWs did not damage any of the goods whilst an armed RAF guard was there as an extra security measure. Once when two girls were walking along the road close to where the German POWs were working the POWs picked up a grass snake that they had killed and threw it at the girls. It landed in one of their overalls and they screamed their heads off. The armed guards rounded up the POWs and after that incident we did not have them again'
In some of the Storage Sheds small items were stored in bins on the 'Milton' racking/shelves up to 15 foot high. Additionally items were placed on top of the bins on the top shelf.
Mollie White recalls 'Squirrels would often come into the sheds. One Saturday just before dinnertime an Airman was in the shed on his own. Something moved an object on the top shelf that fell and hit the Airman on the head and gave him a nosebleed. Instead of seeing stars he said that he saw a German POW. We did not have any at the camp at that time so all the Airmens' weekend leave was cancelled and the Home Guard was called out to look for this POW. The Police got in touch with all the POW camps in the area and had a head count to see if anyone was missing. The search went on all afternoon but it turned out to be a false alarm as there was none missing. It was the squirrel that knocked the things to the floor'.
Both Jack Hatt and Taffy Williams recall the flurry of activity when a German POW escaped from the camp. He was never caught and the escape was never mentioned in the local papers.
The Italian Prisoners of War Camp used for 70MU labour was situated at Scots Common, Checkendon, just before Garsons Lane. The site was later used by American soldiers and finally as a camp for ex Polish Service men before being given permission for light industrial use.
Mollie White recalls 'We had a lot of Italian Prisoners of War working along side of us. They were very good workers. To start with it was very funny; we could not speak Italian and they could speak no English, but they learnt fast with the help of books. They worked along side the civilian workers in the Storage Sheds and were no trouble at all'.
The garden opposite Newhouse Farm and adjacent to the Headquarters Site was an ornate Italian garden maintained by an Italian POW who tended the garden during and after the war until Capt.Goldsmid moved out of Newhouse Farm and the Italian returned home. The garden is still there today but is sadly overgrown and a wilderness as a result of not having been touched since that day.
Apart from working at the Sites the POW labour force was required to load and unload the railway wagons in the sidings at Pangbourne and Goring stations and, in addition, the barges on the Thames at the wharf at The Beetle and Wedge at Moulsford under the surveillance of civilian workers and RAF armed guards.
3MU Milton ceased to use German POW labour at the Milton Maintenance Unit in August 1947 and it seems likely that 70MU stopped at the same time. No POWs ever slept at the camp as they were brought in daily by lorry from their camps. <