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Author Topic: Wouldham POW Camp  (Read 11327 times)

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rochester1

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2014, 19:57:37 »
Used to camp there with the 24th Medway (Borstal) Scout troop in the early 1950's. We were given the use of the officers` quarters and allowed the free run of the place. No mention of the Bridging Camp being a POW camp was ever made and I have never heard it from any other source. Opposite the camp across the Wouldham Road was a very deep and disused chalk pit. It is now level ground and seems inconceivable that some 60 years ago it was so deep it was like descending into a lost world. Had my first ever dinner of pigeon cooked in clay in the bottom of that pit. It was bloody awful!

Wouldham

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2013, 16:07:08 »
I have obtained quite a lot of photos and information about the camp and its history.

I hope it's ok to link to an external page - http://www.wouldhamvillage.com/wouldhamatwar.html .

estokes

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2013, 19:12:15 »
Hi, found this site while idly surfing the net! Wouldham camp was indeed a bridging camp during the 60's. My father was in the Royal Engineers. We moved to the White bungalow on the corner of the camp in the early N  as it was being used as married quarters then. I spent my early childhood watching daily life on the camp, and used to walk out of our garden and down through the camp to take him his lunch sometimes as he worked as a fitter in the workshop that was at the bottom of the camp. The guard hut was directly across from our house on the opposite corner of the field. The pit across the road (now filled in) was used for bridging practice, and the road adjacent to our house led down to the "hard " where there was a boat shed. As shown in the photos on here, many of the concrete hut bases still stand. Those opposite our house were mainly Nissen huts which I seem to remember were where the soldiers slept. The cookhouse was at the end of this road behind where the large conker tree can be seen in one photo.

Offline bromptonboy

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2012, 12:49:00 »
This is the only military location on the Wouldham riverfront that I have seen on MOD land ownership plans. It was a bridging training site from the time of Pasley. Each year the Victorian RE's held a summer fete and rowing regatta there. It was still in use as a bridging training camp during WW2 and is mentioned as such by veterans on the BBC People's War website. It continued as the Eastern Command Bridge Training Camp into the early sixties when bridge training over water transferred to the newer facilities at Upnor and Chattenden. I recall in the recent past that this site had been declared surplus to MOD requirements and was on the disposal list.

Geoff B

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 23:52:30 »

In reply ro peterchall

I have not got a date when it was a POW camp.Only that it was camp 654A in the book I read. It gave a list of all the camps. Some German & italian POWs   were not repatriated until 1948.  It could well be they were employed and stayed there after the war had actually ended working. Some POWs didnt want to go back especially those from East Germany as they feared the Russians. Many helped to rebuild homes that had been destroyed according to the book.

With Fort Bridgewood up on the hill which was a Y station for Bletchley Park, I would be surprised they would want a POW Camp near it in case POWs had hidden radios or escape and give the game away. I did meet a local villager who confirmed that it was a POW camp at somepoint he told me where the camp was.


I am not sure on that erfman whether there was another camp. There does not appear to be one in the area I checked out.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 23:10:04 »
There was a British Army camp there when I worked as a civvy for the RE's in 1944, but I can't remember who was in it. We weren't subject to any undue scrutiny, as we would have been had we been going into a POW camp to work, and like we were at Darland Detention Barracks. The Bailey Bridge was definitely there but I don't remember a POW camp, although that's not saying there wasn't one - I worked for RE's January 1944 to some time in winter 1944/45; any idea when the POW camp was there?
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

erfman

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2012, 22:52:47 »
hi Geoff B, would that be the only camp along there, as i recall attending week-end camp at wouldham when i was a lad with the army cadets, would be about 1960  erfman

Geoff B

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 10:15:53 »
Please find attached a map of the location indicated by red rectangles. I have added the POW Camp and the location of the wartime bridge

Geoff B

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2012, 10:15:25 »
If you follow the road out of Wouldham towards Rochester, go under the line of pylons and look for a white bungalow on the left numbered 207 or 209, opposite is a site gate stating `no flytipping`. I parked there. A Blue sign next to the Bungalow in a field  Rochester side of the bungalow says the field is a range. I understand the bungalow was used as an Officers Mess during the war.

It is just past Winchester House which is on the right. The first track goes down to a sewerage works, the next one is the one you want.
Google earth gives 15.51.2138.71 N 0 27 29.10E for the camp.

Go down the track at the side of the bungalow. throught the stile gates. The camp field is on the right. At the bottom of the track it goes around to the left and then bends to the right and goes straight down to the river where you will see the gap in the defence river wall.

Geoff B

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2012, 20:38:52 »
Here are some more pictures taken April 2012 of Wouldham POW Camp. Note this was also the RE bridging camp as well, at some point.




Here is some of the hut bases. Also over by the trees at the far end of the field.




and some drainage.

The site looks as if it is having some work on it at the moment. Some stuff cleared away since my last visit. It would appear the road comes down from the main road then turns left through the camp, through another gate and down to the river. There are about 12 bases there, I have shown you the best ones. I am not sure at what point this became a POW camp. I believe this was German as many Italians were put up the North of the Country as the mosquito in Kent are the same breed that carries malaria.  Many Italians were captured in North Africa had Malaria and the authorities were frightened of the `mossies` biting Italians and then British people and starting an epidemic in Southern England. Sewage disposal would have been a problem as well.

Offline kyn

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2012, 19:18:14 »
Off topic!

Offline peterchall

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2012, 18:15:27 »
There is a photo of the bridge here:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4305.msg35069#msg35069

I believe the mock-up of the Zeebrogge mole was in the chalk pit near Eccles, below the viewing point at top of Bluebell Hill.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Geoff B

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2012, 17:55:04 »
In reply to GP, no sign of the bailey bridge or ferry there. I also understand that during the first world war they built a mock up of Zeebrugge mole in this area so they could practice the assault on Zeebrugge harbour as they wanted to stop the German U boats getting out from their base in Brugge along the canal into Zeebrugge mole and out into the channel.

Offline GP

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2012, 13:19:33 »
Any remains of the Bailey bridge that crossed the Medway on that site? This would have been needed if the Rochester Bridge had been bombed.

Brimo Gillingham

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Re: Wouldham POW Camp
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 11:38:12 »
I have been there twice, it`s amazing  how big it was and you can see the  outline of the  buildings. The cottage up in the corner was  used as the Officers Mess. We were  lucky enough to go the day the gates were open so we walked in and had a good look around. Don`t think we were meant to but too good a chance to miss. The next time we had to be content with looking over the gate. 

 

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