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Corporal J Lince


Harrogate Herald - 25th December 1919

W H Breare letter

I have had lots of prisoners from Germany in to see me, and been delighted to find how well they are looking after the kind attention they have received since leaving Hunland. One of these who called was Machine Gunner John Lince, of the 47th Machine Gun Corps. He is the son of Mrs Rose Lince, and lives at 31 Birch Grove, Bilton. He had only been out a year when taken prisoner on March 24th, and had been behind the lines. That is why his people were so worried by not receiving news of him. When he was taken prisoner they had to march from Fins to Cambrai, four days, without any food. His brother, Corporal J Lince, had been a prisoner on German territory, mainly in hospital. The latter saw and spoke to Fred Catton, of 31 Oatlands Mount, who was in the same hospital.


Harrogate Herald - 8th January 1919

"Some things that happened are hardly believable", said Private H Timmins, 1/5th West Yorks, when he told how Englishmen were singled out for worst treatment. He had been a prisoner with the Germans since March 27th, and four years in the Army. It was four months before his friends heard from him. He was with Corporal Lince part of the time at Villiers and verified all that soldier says in the letter we published last week. He is the son of Mr and Mrs Timmins, East Parade, Harrogate. After capture he was four months behind the lines and then broke down with dysentery. He was sent to hospital at Halle, near Brussels. He was hardly able to crawl about, and the patients were doped with a kind of opium which sent them to sleep for about 24 hours, to wake up worse than ever. Their treatment whilst at work was similar to many others, the men being butted with rifles and sticks for the most trivial affairs.

An incident that occurred whilst Timmins and Lince were together shows the dreadful condition they were in. About 20 of them were ordered to parade at 5.30 in the morning. One dropped down dead and another completely collapsed. So weak were the rest that they could hardly walk the 20 or 30 yards they had to go. Everything possible was done, said Timmins, to make the English suffer.

Private Timmins next went to a place near Douai, where there was a camp with 3,000 prisoners. Here he saw Ellis who was formerly employed at Mr J R Ogden's. they were nearly starved to death there, having only 1/8th of a loaf, about the size of a 2d brown loaf in England, morning and night, and thin barley water at noon. From this place they were sent to Baden and then to work in a wood yard at Freiburg, where again he collapsed through weakness. At the hospital there the Englishmen were picked out and received the worst treatment. He saw a Russian prisoner brought in having something the matter with his hand, and four fingers were taken off without any anaesthetic, and his shrieks were heartrending. Timmins and a chum were condemned to the cells for five days for some trifling offence, but the former escaped by falling sick. By way of punishment they were sent to a camp where the Germans were treating sick horses from the firing lines and Russia. Then they were transferred to Metz to do work on the borders of Lorraine.

Here they heard of the signing of the armistice, when they were set free and were fortunate to get a good meal. Later, 50 were sent by rail to Bavaria to work unloading food trains, the German soldiers receiving their rations therefrom. After a week's work they were liberated again, and after being sent so far by train they were dropped and left to fend for themselves. They walked about 30 kilometres, and then obtained their first square meal during their captivity at Metz. From there they travelled in a hospital train to Nancy and Calais, crossing to Dover. Timmins reached home on December 9th. He was very weak from his privations, but now is beginning to feel better.

Although several parcels were sent from home he never got one. The Germans made the prisoners send an address, but it was not the true one, and this will account for the parcels. If they had been there much longer he felt sure they would have all died. Whilst in hospital, Timmins saw several Englishmen with arms off and other injuries, which wee only dressed with paper bandages, and these were only renewed when the matter was coming through.

With Timmins at the interview was a younger brother, who was in a low category and has been on farming for 18 months, an occupation he had found agreeable.


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