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Private John Muirhead

Seated on the right is Private John Muirhead. The other prisoners are from Belgium, Russia and France.

2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Main Street, Stenhousemuir. A reservist, he was employed at Carron Iron Works before he was called up in August 1914. He landed in France with the battalion on 10 August 1914. He was taken prisoner at Le Cateau on 26 August 1914. He spent over four years in captivity, one of the longest serving Falkirk District prisoners of war, for 12 months he was held in the camp at Friedrichsfeld. An Inspector visiting the camp in May 1915 described it as a hive of activity with prisoners busy building barracks, excavating, pushing hand trucks, laying bricks, measuring and clearing ground. Once this camp had been completed by late 1915 the PoW’s were drilled for two hours per day and Other Ranks had to complete daily fatigues.

In mid-August 1915 John was moved to a foundry working as a moulder. The working conditions were not arduous, he worked twelve-hour days with Sunday off for sleeping and writing. This routine would not have been uncommon to him it would have been reassuring  as he was working in an environment to which he was not unaccustomed and knew exactly what to do. Familiarity with a task and routine helped men to cope with PoW life coupled with the feeling of freedom by being outside the confines of the camp.

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