The Prisoner of War No 14 Vol 2 June 1943

J u ne, 1943 The Prisoner of War HOW THEY GROW This Summer there are an Increased Number of Gardens in German and Italian Camps toes, "plenty of everything— nice show of flowers” —and (evidently the real triumph of the garden) ‘‘50 tomatoes on one plant and more to come! ”Worth the Work **Any gash goon can always obtain a gash spade from Ome."N fewer than 456 parcels of veget­able seeds and 196 parcels of flower seeds have been sent by the Royal Horticultural Society through the Red Cross to P.O.W .camps for this season’s planting. B y now, in the 67 camps to which they liave been despatched, there are some very bright patches in the prisoners' life and some healthy green vegetables helping out his meals. For this the prisoner has to thank, first and foremost, the work of the Royal Horticultural Society who, in I941 ->n" augurated their scheme for sending seeds to prison camps. The idea of his very own garden caught the P.O.W .’s fancy, leading seedsmen contributed, and from Canada and Australia came further gifts of seeds. Very soon gardening was among the prisoner's favourite pastimes, and letters lilled with pride in the gar­dener’s successes came pouring in. Lettuce for Tea "Another fellow and I have a garden of our own now, wrote a prisoner in Stalag X X A."We have lettuce, radishes, carrots and beetroot planted, also 26 tomato plants, so we should have some nice teas when all is ready.” That was last year, and we maybe sure those teas were enjoyed and that they will becoming along this season, too! This camp was particularly rich in gardening enthusiasts. Another letter says: "Gar­dening is a great craze at the moment, and it is amazing the number of pleasant little plots all round the camp. We are growing onions, potatoes and tomatoes.” A P.O.W .in Stalag V IIIB gives an enthusiastic account of cabbage- peas, beans, toma- A sergeant who is a prisoner in Campo P-G-57 in Italy, acknowledging the Royal Horticultural Society’s gift on be­half of his camp, speaks of the good re­sults he anticipates with "radishes, carrots, beet, marrows, cucumbers, silver beet and lettuces.” Marlag und Milag reported last autumn a successful,season. "Worth all the work putin,” wrote a prisoner." A fine display of flowers and the vegetables are fairly good.” Writing at .the end of March this year from Oflag V IIB , a prisoner tells us that his camp has plenty of seeds, "both vegetables and flowers,” and "all the ground will soon be ready to sow.” Preparing the ground is 110 easy matter in some camps. There are dis­tricts where the P.O.W .has to contend with poor or sandy soil, or to clear away rubbish before any garden is possible. This means really hard work, but they togo it with a will, and generally manage to overcome all difficulties in the end and make the wilderness flourish. On the other hand, sometimes there is an encouraging feature from the start. "We have avery nice rambler rose,” wrote a prisoner in an Italian camp, "with very small yellow flowers, double not single and no thorns, which is draped Prisoneis at Stalag X X I A busy on their tomato beds. “We have a nice rambler rose craped round our bedroom window." picturesquely round our bedroom win­dow .”He is describing his quarters, a"s o r oft flat” with its own private garden "about the size of a London gar­den.” And here let us quote from the Monthly Review of Stalag Luft I. where gardening schemes are ambitious, and the editor is determined that his readers shall get busy. "Take a look round the compound, especially near the entrance. It is getting to look alike park, isn’t it ?This is the result of a noble effort by our two gardeners, to make the wilderness bloom and a ‘ kriegie’ camp less alike prison. "This improvement has been brought about at the expense of much honest sweat, and you are asked to co-operate where you can— if not by direct help handling a spade, at least by respecting land that has been overturned in pre­paration for this 'year’s great spring offensive. Rising Ambition "We hope to plant small trees and shrubs— we hope to get bulbs and flower seeds from Holland— the gardeners hope for, nay, have a passion for, grass borders. ...But to achieve all this a great amount of work remains to be done ...and ...‘Any gash goon who wants a gash half-hour’s dig­ging can always obtain a gash spade from me.’ ”During the past two years many a P.O.W ."goon ”in many a camp has handled spades and putin regular half- hours of digging—and to some effect. Wjjen he gets home again he will have cause to be grateful for the experience he gained in his good old Stalag '¦inys.
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