Over 185,000 British military servicemen were captured by the Germans during the First World War and incarcerated as prisoners of war (POWs). In this original investigation into their experiences of captivity, Wilkinson uses official and private British source material to explore how these servicemen were challenged by, and responded to, their wartime fate. Examining the psychological anguish associated with captivity, and physical trials, such as the controlling camp spaces; harsh routines and regimes; the lack of material necessities; and, for many, forced labour demands, he asks if, how and with what effects British POWs were able to respond to such challenges. The culmination of this research reveals a range of coping strategies embracing resistance; leadership and organisation; networks of support; and links with 'home worlds'. British Prisoners of War offers an original insight into First World War captivity, the German POW camps, and the mentalities and perceptions of the British servicemen held within.
Oliver Wilkinson is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History, Politics and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, having researched British captivity experiences in the First World War for a decade. His previous works include contributions to the edited collections War and Displacement in the Twentieth Century: Global Conflicts (2014) and Cultural Heritage and Prisoners of War: Creativity Behind Barbed Wire (2012), and to the Journal of War and Culture Studies.
Introduction; Part I. Behind the Wire: 1. Capture; 2. The camps; 3. Routine, work and discipline; 4. Necessities of life; Part II. Prisoner Responses: 5. Resistance; 6. Leadership and organisation; 7. Friends and feuds; 8. Linking with home; Conclusion: 9. Repatriation, futures and myths.