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Walter Troon 1885 - 1962

With the help of Walter Troon’s grandson, a local man called Dilwyn, we have been able to piece together the part that Walter played in the construction of St Erth Prisoner of War Camp.

With the benefit of his family archive documents to which we have added a certain amount of intelligent surmisation, we can offer a further insight into the building of the POW camp.

Walter Troon was born in 1885 in Penzance, and in 1943 he was aged 58. He was too old to be called up for war service but too young to retire. He was a carpenter by trade with E. Dennis and Sons, Builders of Penzance. With his years of building experience and perhaps with the shortage of men due to the war, he was given responsible positions, one of which we believe to be the Clerk of Works.

E.Dennis and Sons had successfully built the Council Housing Estate at Trenmeere, Penzance some years earlier, and was therefore well qualified to oversee the building of the POW camp when a contract may well have been awarded to them by the Ministry of Works.

Walter lived with his wife Alma and family at Crowlas and would cycle to St Erth to carry out his duties.

What we do know for sure was that he was connected to this project and kept his English to Italian translation cards, which covered most of the building terms for likely use when instructing the Italian Prisoners of War, together with the phonetic pronunciation.

With thanks to Dilwyn they are reproduced below and it is interesting to note Walter’s own additional reminders on page 2 ‘Blackout’; perhaps that they had to have blackout shutters at night. Blackout curtains would have far too luxurious; and on page 7 ‘10 including lorry driver’ may have meant the number of POWs allowed to leave the camp in the works lorry.

The translation cards are interesting to read from the very basic English Italian commands to the remaining useful terms, albeit no reference to ablutions; but a urinal should the need arise.

Finally; a splendid photograph of Mr and Mrs Troon in a peaceful moment.


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© Mike Millichamp 2019