Pursuit of an 'Unparalleled Opportunity'
The American YMCA and Prisoner of War Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations
during World War I, 1914-1923.
by Kenneth Steuer

Appendix 8f

The British Prisoner of War

image The Central Prisoner of War Committee of the Red Cross and Order of St. John published this monthly journal, beginning in January 1918, for the benefit of the families and friends of British and Commonwealth prisoners of war. This committee sent relief parcels to prisoners held by Central Powers and worked for improvement of their general welfare. The publication provided a wide range of information as they sought to keep the public informed on a wide range of POW issues. The journal cost three pence, but advertisers supported the publication. The first two and last two pages of every issue offered a plethora of supplies that could be sent to war prisoners including cigarettes, tobacco, bacon, pudding, beef, biscuits, drinks, fish, vegetables, fruits, vegetable extract, books, and even cardboard boxes. These purveyors made British prisoners of war among the best fed in Central Power prison camps.

The British Prisoner of War consisted of twelve issues, from January to December 1918. All of the issues, except the July 1918 edition, are included in this appendix. The journal ran a wide range of stories about British and Commonwealth prisoners incarcerated in German, Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkish prison camps and Dutch and Swiss internment facilities. These articles addressed the latest news from overseas, debates in Parliament, government negotiations with the Central Powers, photographs, drawings, poetry, shipping information, and correspondence from prisoners. The editors provided overviews of relief efforts by the numerous welfare agencies associated with British POW's as well as the activities of POW prison camp welfare committees. The British Red Cross and Order of St. John worked closely with the World's Alliance of YMCA's in War Prisoners' Aid support. The December 1918 edition provided a comprehensive overview of the Central Prisoner of War Committee staff and their operations during the war.1


Note 1: The British Prisoner of War, January to December 1918. Armed Services Records Box 139, Folder: "The British Prisoner of War, Jan.-June 1918," Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. back