Prisoner of War (1942)


"The First Authentic Account of the
Lives of British Prisoners of War in Enemy Hands"

The War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Prisoner of War. The First Authentic Account of the Lives of British Prisoners of War in Enemy Hands. London: Horace Marshall, 1942.

Slim octavo. Paper Wrappers.

First edition of this early account of British prisoners of war held in Europe, co-sponsored by the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, with dozens of black-and-white photographic illustrations of the POW camps. While perhaps not the first authentic account of the circumstances of British POWs, this 1942 pamphlet/book is certainly an early account. Although it contains hints of the deprivations many POWs suffered from ("Although the diet usually conforms to the International Convention standards, it is far from glorious at that. For men on heavy work it is not enough."), it sometimes offers an overly rosy picture of POW life. In between admonishments for people at home to write letters, the authors freely admit that, for instance, a released soldier reported that "camp work was hard, discipline severe and that the camp authorities, beyond a bare minimum, gave their captives nothing but fresh air and occasional permission to bathe." In fact, many prisoners suffered from malnutrition, from poorly treated injuries, and from senseless brutality perpetrated by their captors. This pamphlet, however, was one of the first indications to people at home that something in the POW camps was amiss, particularly in light of heavy German censorship of letters.    Interior with only a few faint smudges, wrappers with light rubbing to extremities. A near-fine copy of a fragile work.