POW question

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
I noticed something someone said on the 'Arrse 1940' thread - what actually was the policy with back pay for POW's? did they get any? would their families have continued to get it?
 
#2
Interesting one and got my interest. After a bit of digging I found this which is the story about someone from the BEF, captured in the early days of the war.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/74/a1940474.shtml

Please inform the Bank that I'm still alive and that my pay will go in as usual.
Now whilst I can't find anything that actually says that the policy was to pay the wages of POWs to family, this suggests it. Normal British decency would suggest that this would be the case.
 
#3
Yes, they did. Some money was however deducted from their pay, as the Germans were supposed to give the prisoners some pay during their incarceration as well. When this was given (by no means always) it was paid in 'Lagergeld' a kind of currency that could only be used at the camp, where there were few things to buy and what there was was often overpriced.
 
#7
Tartan_Terrier said:
Yes, they did. Some money was however deducted from their pay, as the Germans were supposed to give the prisoners some pay during their incarceration as well. When this was given (by no means always) it was paid in 'Lagergeld' a kind of currency that could only be used at the camp, where there were few things to buy and what there was was often overpriced.
Is that German for beer money? :D
 
#8
And the old Myth of the Irish lad (from NI ) who was kidnapped by the IRA and held as a POW till 45 . Got all his back pay and then went AWOL back to the wife and kids in the South. :D
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#9
It was always my understanding that there was a (Geneva?) convention after the Great War which dictated that officers in prison camps were to be paid; soldiers were not.
 
#10
AlienFTM said:
It was always my understanding that there was a (Geneva?) convention after the Great War which dictated that officers in prison camps were to be paid; soldiers were not.
I think that refers to work, not pay. Officers didn't have to, ORs did. Surprise, surprise!
 
#11
DavetheApe said:
AlienFTM said:
It was always my understanding that there was a (Geneva?) convention after the Great War which dictated that officers in prison camps were to be paid; soldiers were not.
I think that refers to work, not pay. Officers didn't have to, ORs did. Surprise, surprise!
I remember reading a book, cant remember the title (but it was written by an American who joined the Canadian air force and was fighting for Britain over France against the Germans) and he said said the POW ORs (one of whom he swoped places with) really were treated like shit during the war normally working in mines.
 
#12
Alec_Lomas said:
maguire said:
thank you both of you.

A bit relevant to your query. Our American brethren continued to pay and promote their POW's held during the Vietnam conflict.
As I understand it, to a certain extent so did we. Officers were entitled to promotion whilst POW's. OR's weren't.

I've found this in Hansard which might answer a few questions if you are interested.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/may/14/british-prisoners-of-war-pay
 
#13
stacker1 said:
DavetheApe said:
AlienFTM said:
It was always my understanding that there was a (Geneva?) convention after the Great War which dictated that officers in prison camps were to be paid; soldiers were not.
I think that refers to work, not pay. Officers didn't have to, ORs did. Surprise, surprise!
I remember reading a book, cant remember the title (but it was written by an American who joined the Canadian air force and was fighting for Britain over France against the Germans) and he said said the POW ORs (one of whom he swoped places with) really were treated like shit during the war normally working in mines.
I believe that's why the RAF made all aircrew at least Sgt rank.

At the time the RAF wasn't an 'all pilots and navigators must be officers' type organisation, the war meant any rank was able to fly, hence OR aircrew, even in fighters and the like as I understand it (presumably a fair whack being below Sgt). Apparently if you were captured and a Cpl or below you got a right nasty time of it, at Sgt the Germans apparently drew a distinction and life was more bearable.

Therefore RAF makes all those at risk of capture in its orbat, aircrew, at least Sgts automatically - which is I guess why RAF non-commissioned aircrew/WSOps get made Sgt today.
 
#14
Voltiguer said:
stacker1 said:
DavetheApe said:
AlienFTM said:
It was always my understanding that there was a (Geneva?) convention after the Great War which dictated that officers in prison camps were to be paid; soldiers were not.
I think that refers to work, not pay. Officers didn't have to, ORs did. Surprise, surprise!
I remember reading a book, cant remember the title (but it was written by an American who joined the Canadian air force and was fighting for Britain over France against the Germans) and he said said the POW ORs (one of whom he swoped places with) really were treated like shit during the war normally working in mines.
I believe that's why the RAF made all aircrew at least Sgt rank.

At the time the RAF wasn't an 'all pilots and navigators must be officers' type organisation, the war meant any rank was able to fly, hence OR aircrew, even in fighters and the like as I understand it (presumably a fair whack being below Sgt). Apparently if you were captured and a Cpl or below you got a right nasty time of it, at Sgt the Germans apparently drew a distinction and life was more bearable.

Therefore RAF makes all those at risk of capture in its orbat, aircrew, at least Sgts automatically - which is I guess why RAF non-commissioned aircrew/WSOps get made Sgt today.
Sgt was always the minimum rank for pilots and observers from pre-war days, not sure about wireless ops. There were NCO pilots in the inter-war era though a far smaller proportion than in WW2. I don't have figures to hand but I think I am being fairly accurate in saying that something like a quarter of pre-war pilots were NCOs, mainly Sgts and Flight Sgts, serving a 5-year tour as aircrew before returning to ground duties. Air gunners were at the time mostly ground staff doing it as a part-time job and therefore they could indeed be of any rank down to AC2. Some time in about late 1940 it was decided that aircrew should have the minimum rank of Sgt and so a whole lot of men, mostly air gunners, were promoted overnight. From this time into 1942 the other aircrew categories- navigator, air bomber, flight engineer etc- were introduced.
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Didn't the UK and Germans both agree to promote everyone to Sgt as a gentlemans agreement between the RAF and Luftwaffe

There are pictures of LAC radio Ops and Gunners early on on the war
Would they be promoted retrospectivally to sgt if they had been shot down as LAC's?
 
#18
I do recall reading that NCO aircrew with acting rank (the vast majority)
had to revert to their substansive rank at cessation of hostilities and prior to demob.
This was normally AC1 or AC2 and caused a lot of upset because they became General Duties men and had to do the usual fatigues, often overseen by groundcrew NCOs who enjoyed lording it over those with wings and aircrew brevets.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#19
DavetheApe said:
ugly said:
Up until the decision to make SNCO ranks permanent all AG aircrew drew sgts stripes with their parachutes!
Presumably they had about 2 minutes to sew them on as they dangled beneath the silk!!!
Sady Granddad isnt around to ask, I suspect they tacked them on!
 
#20
[quote="baboon6Sgt was always the minimum rank for pilots and observers from pre-war days, not sure about wireless ops. There were NCO pilots in the inter-war era though a far smaller proportion than in WW2. I don't have figures to hand but I think I am being fairly accurate in saying that something like a quarter of pre-war pilots were NCOs, mainly Sgts and Flight Sgts, serving a 5-year tour as aircrew before returning to ground duties. Air gunners were at the time mostly ground staff doing it as a part-time job and therefore they could indeed be of any rank down to AC2. Some time in about late 1940 it was decided that aircrew should have the minimum rank of Sgt and so a whole lot of men, mostly air gunners, were promoted overnight. From this time into 1942 the other aircrew categories- navigator, air bomber, flight engineer etc- were introduced.[/quote]

There were also, allegedly, problems in the very early days between Squadron officers and Station Warrant Officers and SNCOs as to who decided the employment on any given day of part-time aircrew ORs - AC2s being put on all night stag, for example, when they were supposed to be flying ops in the morning.
 

Latest Threads