Parcels for the prisoners of the First World War

Portsmouth ladies packing parcels for prisoners of war
Portsmouth ladies packing parcels for prisoners of war
A little fuzzy perhaps but here we see Portsdown Hill Road where it meets London Road. The George pub would be on the right behind the soldiers. 'Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: PoWs forced to cut height of Portsdown Hill

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Although one reads much about prisoners of war during the Second World War, there is not a lot to be said for those of the First World War it seems.

Many soldiers were taken prisoner during the first months of the conflict, but where they were placed and how they were fed for the next four years is relatively unknown.

During the month of October 1914, Mrs C House of Privett, Gosport began sending packages to these men in a very humble way.

A Mrs Townsend of Portsmouth also began sending parcels in early 1915.

A Portsmouth Prisoners of War Fund was started as a charity and a flag day in August 1916 raised more than £1,000.

By the autumn of 1916 so many parcels were being sent to Germany the Government formed a Central Prisoners of War Committee with elaborate rules and regulations.

In 1916 a parcel cost six shillings (30p) each.

Prices meant a raise by a shilling a time and by the end of the war they cost nine shillings (45p).

From Portsmouth a total of 16,842 parcels were sent, although this does not include parcels sent to 25 men imprisoned in Turkey and Bulgaria.

On return after the war many of the men went to the town hall to thank 
the organising committee for all that 
had been done to assist them in meagre times.