Dyrotz Prisoner of War Camp
Certificate of New Year’s greetings to Cpl Cox of the Suffolk Regiment from Russian fellow-prisoners in Dyrotz Prisoner of War camp.
Dyrotz POW camp was situated about seven miles west of Berlin. According to an inspection report in April 1916 there were 4448 men attached to the camp, 754 of whom were British: 426 of these were based in the camp itself, the rest detailed in working camps. The prisoners were lodged in two large barracks, 150 feet long by 50 feet wide; bed space occupied two-thirds of the floor, the rest being a corridor. Bedding was straw mattresses and blankets. Compulsory bating was enforced once a week and bi-monthly weighings, when the men were stripped.
There was a recreation hut, built by the men themselves, with a library, and a large area for playing football and athletic competitions.
The British soldiers relied mainly on food parcels from home and took prison food only on certain days. They always took the prison potatoes; the black bread supplied by the Germans was good but the British preferred to rely on wheat bread sent from outside.
This document could be an act of comradeship on the part of the Russians. Owing to their numbers, the poverty of their families and their distance from home they had little in the way of necessities, let alone comforts, and as a result they relied heavily on the generosity of British soldiers in sharing their food.
8174 Lance Corporal Frederick Cox, born in Norfolk in 1892 and living in Oulton Broad, had enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment on 6 January 1911. Serving with ‘B’ Company the 2nd Battalion he was one of many soldiers captured after the Battle of Le Cateau on 26 August 1914. He was initially imprisoned at Doberitz before being moved to Dyrotz. He was discharged from the Army on 25 March 1919 suffering from ‘nervous debility’.