Prisoners of War

The Bacup Prisoners of War Relatives Association was established in April 1943 with the aim of offering emotional and financial assistance to the families of prisoners of war. The association organized meetings at the Mechanics Institute and later at the Labour Institute on Yorkshire Street. A social committee was formed within the association to coordinate activities such as dances and social events with the goal of raising funds to send parcels, cigarettes, and money to local prisoners of war. These efforts were crucial in providing support to both the prisoners of war and their families during a challenging time. Most members of the committee were family members of POW’s.


Upon the prisoners’ return home, the Prisoners of War Relatives Association made a heartwarming announcement in May 1945. They revealed that each returning prisoner of war would be gifted £2.00, funds that had been raised through the organization of concerts and dances over the past two years. Nearly a year later, on Friday, February 22, 1946, a touching “Welcome Home” dinner and cabaret event was held at the Mechanics Institute. A total of 160 former POWs and their families came together to celebrate this special occasion, a testament to the enduring bond of camaraderie and support that had sustained them through challenging times.


During the early stages of the war, the British had a small number of prisoners of war (POWs) in their custody. However, as the war continued and Britain achieved more victories, the number of POWs being held in the country increased significantly. By the end of the war, over 1,500 detention centres had been established across Britain to house captured German and Italian troops, with Lancashire also hosting its share of these facilities. This influx of POWs presented logistical challenges to the British authorities in terms of managing and accommodating these prisoners, but it also provided opportunities for intelligence gathering and the potential use of captured enemy personnel for various purposes.


During the years 1946-1947, in Stacksteads, at the Huttock End Number No 1 site, a group of twenty German prisoners of war were assigned to work on street construction activities prior to the construction of 110 houses in the area that would later be known as Hill Crest, Osborne Terrace, and Hammond Avenue. Two of the POW’s left their mark on the garden wall (pictured) of one of the houses adjoining Osborne Terrace. The inscription reads: Built of P.O.W, Adolf Wuerre, Erich Wernikke 1946.