Tour in English

On 9 August 1918, the newspaper Leeuwarder Courant placed an article describing a tour through the PoW-camp. Below you can read an English translation of the Dutch article. [Article source: Delpher.nl]

We can now soon expect the arrival of the English PoW’s who will be housed in Leeuwarden. They could have been here already, if their journey had not been delayed by Germany, who first wanted the fate of their PoW’s in China to be secured, as has been reported. But a solution is nearby, so the first 300 prisoners are likely to arrive in the camp in the Marssumerstraatweg within 14 days. The rest will follow in groups. As stated before, The Hague has been busy for some time with the housing of the English prisoners. When the township thought to have done enough, the attention accidentally fell on Leeuwarden as the place to house the second group, taking in consideration the English interest in sports. The province of Friesland offers enough opportunities to fulfill the English desire for sports.

We are now counting on the arrival of 1500 PoW’s. Of course the treatment of so many people -and England wants a proper treatment for her soldiers- requires a decent and precise preparation, in order to guarantee proper housing for as long as is necessary. The limited company “National Property” from The Hague has taken on this task. She has made an agreement with the English Government (by intervention from our government), on whose commision the camp was build and who will also pay the costs of the housing and all other aspects of the PoW internment, just as the German government does with her PoW’s in our country.

Part of the audience, who have seen the construction of the camp with mixed feelings because a comparison of the barracks with those of our own soldiers and even with the houses of our less fortunate citizens is not in the advantage of those last mentioned, and who may think that our government looks better after “foreign” than “own”, are therefore mistaken. The beautiful construction of the camp goes beyond our government finances.

And beautiful it is indeed, what has been build by “National Property” there, to the south of the old horse race track in sight of the Oldehove tower and the West Plantation on one side of the field with farms and houses hidden in the trees and a busy traffic road on the other side. The buildings, which are determined to be broken up afterwards when the township of Leeuwarden will once again be in charge of the land, makes a pleasant impression. The allocation, construction and design, the flowerbeds and other flower ornaments have made this temporary place into something which will give the English private on foreign soil the feeling of a hearty reception by the missing of his “sweet home”.

Yesterday morning we were given the opportunity to see the almost-finished barracks. Our guide was mr. M. van Westerborg, representative in Leeuwarden of the ltd. comp. “National Property” and administrator of the PoW-housing, who has lived in England for years. The building is half-timbered (mainly wood on the inside and mostly concrete in the kitchen, with cement on the outside) and the housing capacity is 1680 people. The arrangements are almost the same as the barracks in The Hague. It consists of six sleaping barracks, a theatre hall and buffet room, dining room, kitchen, bath house, office and hospital. There is electricity for lighting. The intention was to have central heating everywhere, but due to the lack of material this was limited to the kitchen, bath house and dining room.

EKamp11The English barracks.
[Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDENGLSTB001]

A visit to this “English neighbourhood” is, from the outside as well as from the inside a pleasant spendation of time; after all, it’s a very new and important event in the world of the people in Leeuwarden. We will now share some of the particulars which we have seen in our short (it had to be short) visit.

In the front, on both sides of the entrance to the terrain, are two gatehouses which are also meant as a decoration, to which purpose they are very suitable. The main buildings in front are the hospital on the right, and the office on the left. The hospital is only meant for those with small issues and consists of a doctor’s room, waiting room, two infirmaries for 16 persons each, a bathroom, a possible nurse room and a room for purposes yet unknown. The office is furnished for mr. Van Westenborg with his 3 or 4 assistants. It has a sitting room, sleaping room and bathroom. The rest of the space will probably be destined for some English officers. Both buildings have a porch decorated with flowers and a small garden at the back. It looks cozy, also for those who are ill.

Ekamp2Entrance to the camp with the gatehouses and two main buildings. The Oldehove tower in the distance.
[Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDHARLSWA045]

And now the sleaping barracks, six in number as we have stated. Each room constists of four departments, and every department consists of 70 beds. These are partly separated so that the English soldiers can’t see each other unless they are standing on their bed. Very different from Dutch soldier’s barracks.

EKamp20Sleaping barrack. Photograph from the time when poor citizens were housed here.
[Bron: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDMOLENSB011]

There were more differences to be seen, illustrated by the special care by the English government for those who serve the country with arms, as we were told. De barracks look very decent and cozy (even a chair in front of every bed), are well ventilated and equipped with air shafts. There is a seperate room for a heater and a seperate room for the barrack officer. Every barrack has a washing place, 8 toilets and 4 urinals. The changing of the tons can be done from outside.

Ekamp5Inside the camp, looking towards the entrance. [Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDHARLSWA052]

Until this point, we have differed from the tour as set out by our guide. For the remainder of the tour we will keep ourselves to his route and now we will go to the back of the buildings, first to the bath house. This looks decent as well. It is equipped with 30 showers and 4 other baths, everything comme il fuat. The supervisor has his own office. There will be close supervision to prevent the waste of water because the camp will be shut when there is too much waste of water and electricity.

 

EKamp8The barracks, looking towards the back.
[Bron: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDHARLSWA052]

A few more steps and we arrive in the kitchen. The fuels are stored in a seperate room closeby and is suited with a large lamp-shade. The steam for the cooking is created by a large kettle. This kettle also provides the hot water for the bath house. The central-heating device can be found in the same room. The water tank is re-filled automatically.

EKamp9The kitchen. [Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDENGLSTA001]

The kitchen has room for 12 kettles, but they leave it at nine for now. Three seperate kettles (1 with 200 litres and two with 300 litres each) will be used when only small amounts of water are needed.

The kitchen building also contains a cleaning room for the tools (two large sinks); the vegetable cleaning room with two potato peeling machines, a cleaning sink for potatoes, one for vegetables, a drilling machine for cabbages, a cutting machine for carrots, a cabbage cutting machine, a room for meat preparation with two trunks for the soaking of meat (under the current circumstances this won’t be a busy place because the English prisoners will get the same rations as the Dutch citizens, as our guide mentioned); the dining room for the kitchen personnel (men and women seperated); a bathroom for male and female kitchen personnel (the cooks take a bath each morning) and other comfortabilities which shouldn’t be missed; an office for the chief-cook; the shorehouse for the provisions with among other things two offices for the transmission of meat and vegetables, a cooling room, a small room where the chief-cook can surrender to the dolce far niente in his free time. This room seemed quite grave to us.

Behind the kitchen is the serving room with the dish cleaning nextdoor.

The back parts of the buildings also give the impression of good care and decency. And how pleasant are the plain concrete floors to walk on! The entire kitchen staff consists and has to consist, as we were informed, of Dutch people.

Next to the dish cleaning room is a room in which the PoW’s can cook a small meal in addition to their daily rations and where they can also heat shaving water and the like.

Through the serving room we reach the dining room. A large room with room for 2000 people. The space is well-lighted. The space, with an area of 66X24 m2 against 44X24 m2. Each of the other buildings is directly connected with the storehouse, from which butter, jam and bread can be taken, a measurement in the interest of good inspection.

Through a passage with toilets and the like, we entered the recreational auditorium or theatre room, with a large stage and 1500 seats. This room will give the prisoners many hours of pleasant amusement. The tables and chairs are made of osier from Noordwolde (Trio). The room is heated with heaters with connected chimneys in order to spread the heat among the room. There are three fire-plugs and one emergency exit.

So much for the inside of the barracks. The building required an enormous amount of wood, which was delivered by the company Overmeer from Leeuwarden.

 

Ekamp7Entrance to the dining room. [Bron: FDHARSLWA051]

The outside looks -as has been said- beautiful too. Blue plasterfloors connect the different buildings, with a few planks on each side for the cartwheels. Between the paths and buildings, the ground is ploughed up for cultivation. The aim is also to make the living conditions for the prisoners as pleasant as possible, with much support from the Young Men’s Christian Association.

 

EKamp14The back of the barracks, with first the bath house, than the machinery and than the kitchen.
[Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDMOLENSB008]

The roofs of the barracks are made of mastic and pebbles. It has a large surface which gives a nice few accross the countryside. Unfortunately, it’s not strong enough to make any more use of the roofs, to which it provokes in a way.

 

EKamp10The roof of the bath house on the right, with the Oldehove tower in the background.
[Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDENGELSTB002]

Behind the barracks, we can find the rooms for the stock manager and the bookkeeper, both are Belgians. The rooms have kitchens, sitting rooms and sleaping rooms. The storehouse for the barracks in between contains a large amount of linen, matrasses and woollen blankets, all made in the Netherlands. This supply was ordered a few months ago. At the back of aforementioned buildings is also a house for the kettle mechanic and a coal storehouse and a rather large garden for the Belgian functionaries and the representative of the ltd. comp. “National Property”.

EKamp13The back of the terrain, with the rooms for the stock manager and the bookkeeper on the left.
[Source: Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden, FDMOLENSB007]

And so we have described in short the particularities of this temporary English residence. The official inauguration will be held later on, in the presence of the English ambassador and the authorities of Leeuwarden.