Beer history

Memorable Beers #11: Pale Ale for POWs

By Bailey

During World War II, my grandfather was taken prisoner at Dunkirk, and spent most of the next few years at Stalag VIIIb in what is now Lambinowice in Poland, but was then called Lamsdorf.

I decided to visit the site of the camp and badgered Boak into using her Polish to make arrangements. As a result, I was greeted on site by an English speaking student from the University of Opole, who showed us what little remained of the camp and escorted us around an exhibition building.

There were three camps, she explained, and the “Britische Lager” was by far the most civilised. The Russian camp was hellish; the Polish one not much better; but the British soldiers benefited from lip-service to the Geneva Convention.

She pointed to a photograph: “They even had one bottle of beer a week from packages sent by the Red Cross.” There it was, the familiar shape of an English ale bottle, with what I thought was the Big Red Triangle on the label.

It must have tasted great after a day labouring on the construction of an Autobahn; the fact that it was a little piece of home must have made it all the sweeter.

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