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Welsh House Farm was a POW Camp

by John Birch

When I was a lad Welsh House Farm was Richards's Farm, during the war it was used as a prisoner of war camp, some of the first there were Spanish prisoners from the Spanish Civil War. When the war started the Germans formed a Blue Division , which were made up of Spaniards from the Spanish Civil War. We caught a few in France, before Dunkirk, and they ended up in this POW Camp at Welsh House Farm. Then it was full of Germans in about 1946, there were no SS men, they were all conscripts, and a lot of them were quite old. Some didn't join till the Ardennes; he was called up at the end of the war, when they were calling up the men and the boys. They just waited for the first chance to surrender, spent a time in POW camps then went back to Germany in 1947.

We used to go and play football with them; they laid out a football pitch. You could walk from where Tom Powell's farm was, there was a path along, down to Welsh House Farm and there was a flat piece on the top that they made into a football pitch. There was a bomb disposal squad at Tennal Grange and a chap called Snowy White ran a football team which used to play these Germans and we used to play them as well, I was only about 16 or 17, we had some good times there. There was about 3 or 4 hundred there. No security there, barbed wire or anything, in fact a lot of them worked on the farms. Near the Stonehouse Farm in Stonehouse Lane was battery of rocket guns. A barrage balloon in Queens Park and Selly Park, we used to help the four WAFFs to put the balloon up but the Germans kept shooting it down. We played football in Queens Park so we used to help the WAFFs put the balloon up about half an hour before darkness. We would take the ratchets off and the balloon would go up by itself, the hard part was winding it in, especially on a windy day.

The first shell they fired misfired and it came down and hit the gable wall of the house on the corner of Wentworth Park Avenue. In fact today you can still see the new bricks in the gable, which is facing Lordswood Road.

© QLHS 2005

 

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