The German POWs believed that it was a primary duty to remain fit and active in order to be able to ‘serve the Fatherland’ again as soon as they were freed. They also appreciated the physical and psychological benefits of daily activity in the fresh air.

german prisoner football team group photo

The Raikeswood Camp football team© Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau, MSG2002730

Sport was popular and most of the men participated in activities on the camp sports field. These included football, Schlagball (similar to rounders), Faustball (similar to volleyball) and basketball. A few of the men also played tennis. Athletic events included running, high jump, long jump, discus, shot put and Schleuderball (throwing a leather ball attached to a strap).

Programme for the camp sports day

Programme for the camp sports day© Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau, MSG200/1971

 

 

 

 

 

pastel drawing of a basketball game

Pastel drawing of a basketball game made by one of the prisoners© Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau, MSG200/2188

 

Temporary parole form signed by officers leaving the camp to exercise

Temporary parole form signed by officers leaving the camp to exercise© Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau, MSG200/2709

The German POWs were permitted to go on walks outside the camp, accompanied by British guards. They would have to sign a  temporary parole form giving their word of honour not to escape. Walking groups would consist of up to 150 men, often split into ‘fast walkers’ and ‘slow walkers’. They would cover distances of up to 32km.

After an incident in which an iron bar was thrown at a German officer walking through the town they restricted their walks to the countryside surrounding the camp. Popular destinations included Scale House, known as ‘The Green Palace’ as it was then covered in ivy, and Embsay Moor.