POW question

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by maguire, Feb 9, 2010.

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  1. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    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. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    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

    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.
     
  4. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    thank you both of you.
     

  5. A bit relevant to your query. Our American brethren continued to pay and promote their POW's held during the Vietnam conflict.
     
  6. Must have been a right bind getting away on career courses..........
     
  7. 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
     
  9. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    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. I think that refers to work, not pay. Officers didn't have to, ORs did. Surprise, surprise!
     
  11. 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. 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. 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. 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.
     
  15. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Up until the decision to make SNCO ranks permanent all AG aircrew drew sgts stripes with their parachutes!