The goings on in and around Bridgend

POWs in Bridgend!

Hut 9 is opening it's doors this weekend! On the site of Island Farm, the hut has seen many inhabitants, from Munitions workers to Nazi officers!

 

Take a trip to Bridgend and experience a rare insight into the wartime past of South Wales.


hut_9_1_227x170What is Hut 9?
Hut 9 is all that remains of Island Farm. It served several different purposes in its time, beginning life as a camp to house munitions workers and ending as a POW camp for German Officers.
In 1938, a year before the outbreak of WW2, an overspill country branch of theWoolwich Arsenal was built outside of Bridgend and a camp was built on a section of land from island Farm to house the 40,000 workers.
But none of the workers wanted to stay in the camp, preferring to risk the dangers of German air-raids on Bridgend and the surrounding areas in order to travel home to their families. As a result the camp remained unused and empty until October 1943.
As the preparations for the D-Day landings progressed, the camp became an American billet for the 109 Field Artillery (28th Infantry Division).
Despite the cloak of secrecy around the camp at the time, the people of Bridgend got to learn that General Eisenhower had visited the camp and urged his American troops to 'help him thrash the Germans'!
imageGenSoon, the American's left for the invasion and the camp was empty once more. But it wasn't long before scores of German POW's were being taken and somewhere was needed to house them. Island Farm was revived once again and became Camp 198, a POW Camp that help almost 2000 prisoners by the end of the war.
Initially, the camp mainly housed "other ranks"; mainly German civilian troops who were generally docile and little trouble. They were just glad to be off the front line and alive. These prisoners were immediately set to work securing the camp and presented little threat to the area.
Once the camp was secure, however, the war office decided that the camp was too comfortable for Other Ranks, and in 1945 the camp was once again given a new set of inhabitants.
One evening in November 1944, a large contingent of German Officers arrived on a train with shouts of "Heil Hitler". But upon finding there was no transport to take them to the camp and they were expected to walk, carrying their own luggage, they stubbornly refused to move from the station.
At this, the Stationmaster arrived on the scene, dressed in his uniform; long coat and gold braided peaked cap, to order them to move. They must have mistaken him for a high ranking general in his uniform, as at his word, they immediately picked up their luggage, formed up and goose-stepped all the way to Island Farm!
Why Come to Hut 9?
On the weekend of Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September, Hut 9 will open its doors, allowing visitors a chance to see inside.
Start the experience on a vintage bus ride which will transport you from the centre of Bridgend to Island Far. You will be met off the bus by American re-enactors who will have WW2 memorabilia on show such as weapons and military vehicles.
Some of the rooms have been restored in an attempt to recreate how they would have looked from 1944-48, and other rooms will tell the fascinating stories of wartime life at Island Farm.
On display will be drawings made by prisoners at the camps, and each picture will give a fascinating insight into the thoughts of a German POW.
There will also be numerous re-enactors to bring the place to life; German POWs and British Home Guards will demonstrate the nature of one period of the camp and will also show equipment that would have been used back in the day!
The leading expert, Brett Exton, will give a talk on the history of Island Farm and volunteers will be on hand to explain about the ongoing preservation and restoration of Hut 9.


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