Dorothy Jones, who researched Pte William Barnes – the First World War prisoner of war from Cowbit – says it generally took between three to eight weeks for next of kin to be officially informed that their loved one was killed or missing in action.
Dorothy writes: “Taken prisoner, the soldiers sent field post cards home to their families, but these could be many weeks in the ‘post’. Further information could subsequently be forwarded to the next of kin when the person in question turned up on a pow list given to the Red cross. These lists were of the utmost importance, not only to reassure the family that the soldier was still alive and interned, but so they knew which camp they could send parcels to.
“When 21-year-old Pte Barnes arrived at Dänholm, nine weeks after having been taken prisoner, one can only imagine that he must have been somewhat undernourished. The Germans supplied food but it was lacking in quantity and quality, leaving the pows weak and prone to illness. It must have been a relief for him to arrive at Dänholm to be an orderly. The work was light, the surroundings beautiful and the huts comfortable... and the first parcels with bread had arrived in the camp.”