Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here

There was huge excitement, mixed with a certain degree of apprehension in the Village in May 1917. The old yard at the Workhouse in Symonds Lane had been surrounded by barbed wire and a garrison of thirty five armed guards prepared the hutted War Camp for the arrival of sixty five German Prisoners of War.

They arrived by train from Cambridge on May 18th and by late June there were one hundred POW’s in the new Camp. Local children must have turned out to stare at them as they marched out under close escort for their eight hour working day on the local farms.

Shortages of native male farm labourers meant that farmers competed to employ them. The Germans were renowned for their hard work. Even though we all read in our history books that German civilians were starving by 1918, local papers reported that huge food parcels from Germany regularly arrived in Linton. The POW’s were evidently not short of sugar and butter which by then were rationed in Britain.

Most of our own local soldiers imprisoned in Germany had arrived home by Christmas 1918, but the Germans remained here in Linton until October 1919.

A crisis of conscience faced Lintonians in 1919. Forty seven local men had died during the War and most families had suffered grievous losses. Many men returned badly wounded and most other ex-soldiers were left permanently scarred by their War experiences. Yet the War Graves Commission set aside an area for the War dead in Linton Cemetery and buried Leo Schmidt in a plot on this site on April 3rd , 1919.

He had died in the Linton Camp, possibly of influenza. On April 9th, Stephen Cottage of the Suffolk Regiment died at his home in the Horseheath Road. Stephen had been wounded and discharged from the Forces in July, 1917 and he was now buried in Linton Cemetery next to the German soldier. Three days later the body of another German POW, Karl Strauss was placed on the other side of Stephen Cottage’s grave.

There was considerable gossip in the Village since his widowed father, Harry Cottage had not been informed in advance about this second burial. Irate letters appeared in the Cambridge press and the War Office was pressurised to remove the two German bodies. A lesson in true compassion followed. The Reverend Edwards of Linton informed the public that Harry Cottage had no objection whatsoever to the two German soldiers lying at rest next to his beloved son.

In 1965 the bodies of the two German soldiers were exhumed and taken to the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase.