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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Former PoWs recall life in war-time Cumbria

A former prisoner of war has returned to Cumbria – and one of the first people to greet him was another former PoW.

Prisoners of war photo
Harry Werner and Fred Sichert

Harry Werner, 88, now lives in Essen, Germany, and works as an engineer.

Back in 1946, he was in Longtown where he worked at the town’s munitions depot and stayed in a PoW camp off the road to Gretna.

He has returned to the area after a chance meeting with a local man who was on a business trip.

He met Fred Sichert, 89, of Richardson Street, Denton Holme, who was also a former PoW but stayed in Cumbria instead of returning home.

However, before this Mr Werner made a return visit to the munitions base.

He had been a teenage paratrooper in the German army but was captured by American soldiers and was a prisoner in the USA before being transferred to Cumbria.

Mr Werner said: “For me it was great to see all of the sheds again.”

He had been employed sorting specialist tools for use by British soldiers.

Amazingly, the shed he worked in is still in use at the depot.

“I had always wanted to see the place again.”

Mr Werner’s trip to Cumbria had been organised with James Bell, of Gretna, who is warden of Arthuret Church.

He had been talking to Mr Werner on a business trip and mentioned having been a prisoner in Longtown. He was amazed to find out Dr Bell was from there.

Mr Sichert had also been a paratrooper and was captured by Americans in France in 1944 and brought to England as a PoW. He was sent to a camp near Carlisle and later worked in a farm. While doing this he met his wife Isabell in Wetheral, and later settled in Carlisle with her.

He was delighted to meet Mr Werner and share their common experiences.

“He is welcome back any time,” he said.

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