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Melksham Remembers – Prisoners of War

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The Melksham Remembers volunteers are gearing up for the project’s exhibition taking place at Melksham Town Hall on 10th and 11th November. 

At the exhibition they will be sharing what they have learned about life in the Melksham community area during the First World War, including what life was like for prisoners of war and the support they received from locals.

Project coordinator, Beth Thomas says, “At the beginning of the First World War, those soldiers unfortunate enough to be taken prisoner relied on friends and family to supply them with food parcels. However, this meant that some men received nothing and in other cases, parcels contained objects that were forbidden. This led to these parcels being stopped. 

“In 1916, a central committee was formed, and a coordinated programme of food parcels led by the British Red Cross Society began. In 1916 the Wiltshire Regiment took care of around 700 prisoners of war ;by 1918 this number had increased to 2,400. 

“Private Frederick Hawkins of Steeple Ashton managed to escape on 5th January 1917 and on his return to Wiltshire stressed how vital the parcels were to keep the men from starvation. 

“There were four different parcels that were sent out six times a month in rotation. 

“The volunteers of the Melksham Remembers project have enjoyed finding out about the generosity of the people of Melksham and the surrounding area in supporting prisoners of war and have even re-created their own food parcel. 

“Come along to the Melksham Remembers Exhibition on 10th and 11th November to find out more and make your own food parcel up. Why not drop in before or after the town’s Act of Remembrance at the war memorial at 11am on Sunday 11th November when Melksham will be commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War?”

For more information contact hello@melkshamremem bers.org.uk 

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