Jersey

Photos show life in Jersey World War One prison camp

German soldiers having a snowball fight Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption The snowball fight was one way to "break the monotony" of being a prisoner of war

Never before seen photographs have been released showing life in Jersey's prisoner of war camp.

Images include prisoners taking part in a snowball fight during World War One and a tunnel which may have been dug as part of an escape attempt.

The pictures have been shared by the great nephew of Captain Eli Bowers, who was among the camp's guards.

They "add to our understanding of the history of the camp", said island historian Ian Ronayne.

The site at Les Blanches Banques housed nearly 2,000 men from the German armed forces from 1915-1917.

Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption The camp built at Les Blanches Banques housed nearly 2,000 men from the German armed forces from 1915-1917
Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption Prisoners tunnelled out of the camp beneath the fence and below a road to come up on the other side
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Media captionSnowball fights and escape tunnels - photos of Jersey's WW1 prisoner of war camp

Dr Brian K Feltman, from Georgia Southern University in the United States, said the snowball fight showed prisoners "breaking the monotony of camp life".

He said it could be an example of prisoners staving off "barbed wire disease", a form of depression associated with "the boredom and regulations" imposed on prisoners of war.

Mr Ronayne, a WW1 blogger for Jersey Heritage, said some of the images showed tunnels which may have been used during one of the attempts to escape the camp.

He said if the images related to one of these incidents it would be a "fantastic find".

Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption There were two reported occasions where prisoners tried to tunnel out of the camp

Another showed two sets of fencing at the camp - "barbed wire on the inside... and then an electrified fence" - which was rare, according to Dr Heather Jones from the International History at the London School of Economics.

"I have not come across an electric fence being used for a UK home front prisoner of war camp before," she added.

Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption German infantry prisoners, with a non-commissioned officer on the right

Capt Bowers served in the Royal Jersey Militia and took the six photos from late 1916 to early 1917.

Helier Falle found the pictures in his mother's house.

"Rather than leave them sitting in a drawer for nobody to see, I thought they should be shared," he said.

Though he had seen similar photos auctioned, he added "it wouldn't feel right to profit from them".

Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption Captain Eli Bowers served as an adjutant in the 3rd Battalion from 1914-1917
Image copyright Helier Falle
Image caption Electric fences were being used by the Germans in their PoW camps and along the Dutch-Belgian border, said Dr Heather Jones

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