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Caring on the Home Front - Volunteer memories from World War Two

Stories » Wounded, Missing and Prisoners of War

Wounded, Missing and Prisoners of War

Under the 1929 Geneva Convention, Prisoners of War (POWs) had the right to receive parcels of food and clothing. The Joint War Organisation sent parcels to British POWs, providing a vital addition to monotonous camp diets.

Other supplies were also sent to POWs. Books, educational materials, games, sports equipment and musical instruments all helped relieve the boredom of life in camp.

The Joint War Organisation also helped the relatives of those serving in the Forces who had gone missing. They worked with the International Red Cross Committee, providing answers to the questions that thousands of anxious people had about their loved ones.

15Gladys Venner

London, Red Cross, POW Children
‘The Christmas Party’
Gladys Venner decked the Town Hall of Hammersmith one wartime Christmas for a special children’s party. With their mothers in tow, the young guests streamed into the party, eager for tea and a treat from Father Christmas. With their real fathers in camps, children and mums thanked Gladys and co. for restoring their yuletide spirits. Read Gladys’ story

45Douglas Isherwood

Jersey, St John, Food Parcels
‘Restoring hope and health ‘
Douglas Isherwood remembers how Jersey suffered under the German Occupation. St. John Ambulance did its best to cope. Then relief arrived. The SS Vega arrived December 1944 bearing food parcels, and Douglas spent the next months restoring hope and health in Jersey homes. Read Douglas’ story

55Julia Draper

London, Red Cross, Welfare 
‘Missing relatives’
Julia Draper’s work put families back together. In the Tracing Department, she received requests from civilians for information on missing relatives. The International Red Cross in Geneva communicated between countries. Through Geneva, Julia tried her level best to reunite families across borders and alliances. Read Julia’s story

35Parcel Packing Centre

Hove, Red Cross, Parcels
‘They need food’
The volunteers lifted, looped, pulled, and knotted. As ‘stringers’ at a packing centre in Hove, they secured the parcels that held vital foodstuffs for POW and refugees. Following the ‘filling’ and ‘packing’ stages, the stringers rounded out an efficient system. 4000 parcels were strung weekly. But like numbers, spirits ran high as well. Read their story

25Zelda Dunlop

Windsor, Red Cross, POW
‘These chaps come back’
Zelda Dunlop gave a warm homecoming to liberated POWs who were not, in fact, home at all. Queensmead House in Windsor provided provisional quarters for ex-POWs from the far reaches of the British Empire. Liberated but not yet home, the men found freedom at the House and a friend in Zelda. Read Zelda’s story