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Private Charles Stirling

Standing in eh centre is Pte Charles Stirling. The other prisoners are from Belgium, Algeria, France and Russia.

2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Larbert. A reservist, Charles was a football player with East Stirlingshire, and was called up on the outbreak of war in August 1914. He landed in France with the battalion on 10 August 1914.

He was taken prisoner on 21 October 1914 near Armentieres. He was taken to Gottingen Camp near Hanover and was here for eight months and in letters home he described his conditions: ‘We have a bath every night and good beds to sleep in, and we get extra food too He had received a food parcel from the Carron Cooperative society and wrote that ‘so we will be living like lords for the next fortnight’ and he cancelled the food parcels he was receiving, although he still wanted to receive tobacco and cigarette papers.

He was moved to Cellelager Camp near Hanover towards the end of 1915. In an interview he gave to a local reporter on his return in January 1919 Charles painted a completely different picture of his time in captivity. He described Gottingen Camp as ‘long months of torture and privationsThe food was poor with  black coffee, a little bread and thin turnip soup. Prisoners at this camp reported a scaled punishments such as for getting up late, three days in prison, for not turning out on parade, from seven to ten days in prison, for refusing to work, anything from six to twelve months in prison. Another form of punishment the Germans used for those in work detachments who tried to evade work was the stillgestanden the British PoWs called this the ‘Silly Stand’ and took the form of prisoners being forced to stand to attention for up to eight hours. Charles was subjected to this when he was forced to stand for three hours for trying to evade a work detail. He was moved to Beinrose Camp near Brunswick were he was forced to work in the salt mine describing the conditions as ‘dreadful’ and that the men were forced to work in trousers and boots as a result of the heat underground.

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