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Thread: POW Camp 293?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    June 2006

    Default POW Camp 293?

    Visited this lost and very much dismantled second world war era camp today. Having tried to do a bit of research about it, I am none the wiser as to it's true function; there were a few different camps in this area, and this could either be Camp 293 as mentioned above, or a remnant of Balero Camp which was built by the Norwegians and subsequently occupied by a number of different allied units including the Canadian Forestry Corps (whatever the hell this was). Looking at what remains today, it is virtually impossible to discern anything that might distinguish between the two. The camp seems to have been built among mature woodlands which have mostly been left to grow wild, so the undergrowth is jungle-like in most places. New trees have grown through what remains of the buildings, lending the site an almost pre-columbian feel. You get a sense of deep exploration, searching through rainforest for the ruins of some Aztec temple, rather than Scottish woodland for a sixty year old military camp.

    There are only two original buildings left intact at this once large site; I recently talked to a local man who said that during the 1970s he had been employed to demolish most of the site with his digger. For what it was worth, he said he felt that this was a pointless thing to do, and was just following orders. The largest building left is what seems to have been a guardroom, as it stands next to the entrance to the camp.

    The building is a flat roofed affair made from prefabricated concrete/asbestos panels with pitch sealant on the roof. There are only four windows in it and it was full of irrelevent crap so I didn't bother photographing the inside. This is in a relatively clear bit next to the road, so you can imagine what the rest of the camp was like. Following the track down, one finds what appears to have been a workshop or MT shed, with a newer wooden building full of junk and machinery next to it.

    Again the undergrowth was thick and full of sharp and stinging stuff, so I didn't bother getting too close. Construction is of brick, with metal framed windows with (broken) patterned glass for some reason.

    Walking further into the camp, the path becomes wilder and more impassible.
    I have been here before in the winter, and know that there are quite a few remains scattered about, but the undergrowth hides most of it at the moment. The odd part catches your eye; a few walls have been left standing pathetically, decaying among the rampant greenery and tree growth.

    The slab was one of the pre formed sections mentioned previously, and the upright piece was one of the joiners/roof supports. I suspect that this building was a latrine, based on what was sitting inside.

    Strangely, the sewerage and sanitation arrangements were amongst the best preserved features of this camp. There is a large double settlement pond which is largely intact:

    As well as a number of strange brick built "glory holes":

    A thick coniferous plantation has been created over the top of these remains, which has played hell with their structural integrity. There is no more destructive a force than nature, even the slow moving type.

    Note the "organic" hatch cover. I'm not sure if this was intended to stop people from falling though, or stop them from seeing the hole so they would fall through. There are a lot of gamekeepers in these woods, so neither explanation would suprise me. The hole is about 10 feet deep, and full of old bottles for some reason. I don't know if it is just an access hatch or whether it actually goes somewhere; I didn't have a torch on me, so didn't see much point in poking about at this stage.

    The sanitation site was surrounded by a low wire fence with concrete posts, most of which are still standing.

    I was disappointed at this stage not to see any obvious sign of tall wire fences or original security of any sort. There is very little in the way of original consumables lying about in plain view, one of the few things being this can which looks old enough to have been there since the war:

    What was peculiar though was a large modern wire enclosure with loads of birds running around in it. I think it is some sort of breeding pen for the gamekeepers; I hope the irony of their choice of location is not lost on them, although I suspect it will be.

    I was making my way back up to the camp entrance when some instinct made me go off the track and into a thick jungle of ferns, thorn bushes and creepers. I immediately started finding large chunks of concrete covered in moss, and then came across a pile of uprooted large fence posts, some with the tattered remnants of barbed wire on them.

    Perhaps the strangest thing was the ornate bollard which seemed to be standing in its original location.

    What this was for, I have no idea. As far as I am aware there has never been another building or establishment on this site, and although the camp was later used to house displaced persons neither use suggests the need for Victorian style street furniture.

    Turning round from these posts, I noticed the foundations of another building. These were brick built, and taller than most of the hut foundations; they also had a set of dramatically overgrown steps rising up to them:

    I moved about a bit trying to get an effective shot of them, and as I did so the ground beneath my feet gave way and I plunged into a brick lined hole. I don't know how deep it was, as I managed to stop myself falling too far by throwing my arms either side of me (into some nettles as it happens). I'm sure it would have looked hilarious to anyone watching; it certainly cracked me up. Honest.

    What this hole was for I have no idea, as it is a long way from the sanitation site. I think it is possibly a well, as I heard bits of turf dropping down and splashing. A long way below.

    I began to realise at this point that there is a lot more to this site that meets the eye. These woods are quite dense even in winter, and you can walk past quite significant stuff without ever realising it. There is a lot to be said for the "now you see it, now you don't" style of exploration that this place typifies. There are no grand buildings, relics of human passing, or security guards to dodge. What satisfaction there is can be found in searching out traces of what has passed, and trying to piece together what it all meant. It is the sort of place you could visit time after time and still find something new, and if you are fond of the outdoors (as I am), then you could find that if nothing else you have spent a pleasant few hours in an old and attractive forest.

  3. #2
    Join Date
    September 2005

    Default Re: POW Camp 293?

    According to this source Prisioner of War Camp 293 was located at Carronbridge Camp, Carronbridge, Dumfries, Scotland. The camp was a German Working Camp.

    Does this location sound right?

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