From the category: Behind the Lines

Eustace Waldock 1882 - 1951: Meldreth labourer captured during the Great War

Eustace Waldock, a soldier who was taken prisoner during the First World War, was born in Meldreth. He was already a serving soldier at the outbreak of the First World War. Just short of his twentieth birthday, aged 19 years and 11 months, he had enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment on 1st April 1902. Attending at Ely for medical examination, he was described as having a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He enlisted for a period of twelve years, the first three in Army Service and the remaining nine in the First Class of the Army Reserve. In 1911 Eustace was serving in Egypt as a Private in the First Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment (Infantry).

Eustace Waldock's three brothers also saw military service – Richard, who served in the 1st East Lancashires and subsequently in the Bedfords; Ernest, in the 1st Suffolk Regiment and Aquila, a Sergeant in the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment.

Eustace was taken prisoner during the conflict and sent to Doeberitz, a huge Prisoner of War camp housing 10,000 men about 15 miles from Berlin. He is pictured here seated on the left. An Associated Press correspondent, who visited the camp described it as "well organised, active and intensely interesting, and its inhabitants as contented as could be expected in the circumstances." Doeberitz consisted of a collection of long wooden shacks, built by the prisoners. It was enclosed by a barbed wire wire fence "ten or a dozen feet high". At meal times "French, Belgians, English and Russians gather together and pass through the cook houses. Each house is equipped with huge boilers containing hundreds of quarts of stew, soup or goulash that forms the chief item on the bill of fare." The food was said to be nourishing but monotonous. "The means of relieving this monotony lies in the canteen and that is available only for the men who receive money from home." The camp had a Post Office handling between 50,000 and 60,000 letters per month, with prisoners permitted to write two letters per week.

Further details are on the Meldreth Local History Group's website: