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19 November 2006
POW Camp No 21 Comrie, Perthshire by Gordon Wilkie
By Steve White @ 16:07 :: 32912 Views :: 38 Comments :: :: Military Archaeology
 
Article Pages:
Page 1

This is the view from the entrance of the former POW Labour camp at Cultybraggan, near the village of Comrie, Perthshire. This would originally have been the compound for the British guards, and the white building in the distance was the detention blocks, or solitary.

Cultybraggan camp was built in 1941, and was designed as a maximum security camp for ‘Black’ (die-hard) Nazis. It was split into five compounds according to the prisoner’s branch of service, with an additional compound for officers. The camp gained a reputation for bullying and intimidation from these officers, and this culminated in the December 1944 murder of a prisoner wrongly suspected of being a British spy. Five Germans were tried and executed in 1945 for this murder, all 2000 officers were transferred to other camps in a single day, and the camp itself was disbanded in 1945.

Because it lies in 2000 acres of hills and moors, the army retained the camp post-war as a battalion-sized fieldcraft training centre for the Territorial Army (British Army reservists). In the 1970s, the western part of the camp, which included the buildings associated with the 1944 murder, were demolished and replaced by a firing range. The camp was downgraded to a company-sized facility at the same time.

Relinquished by the MoD in 2004, it now lies empty. A committee has been formed by citizens from the local village who exercised their right to buy part of the camp, and plans mooted include industrial units and perhaps a military museum. Timeshare properties will be built on other parts of the site.

The first five photographs are all of buildings in the British guards’compound.

The next two shots are of the camp chapel, which sits next to the main gate. It is one of many surviving original 16 foot span Nissen huts from WW2.

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Comments
By Jim Mackay @ 02 January 2007 17:02
Excellent pictures! I didn't know the camp was still in existence. My particular interest is as a postal historian. I noted your comment that the camp was disbanded in 1945. I have a POW letter sent from the camp dated 30 November 1946 addressed to a lady in Stuttgart in the US Zone in Germany. It was sent by POW no 591472 Walter Dunz. This would suggest that the camp was still in use as a POW camp at the end of 1946 as he has written the POW camp number and address on the reverse of the letter, which also has the POW Camp 21 cancellation on the front.
Regards
Jim

By Gordon @ 06 January 2007 16:20
Thanks Jim,
My father spent many a weekend in this place at TA camps in the '50s!
I've seen 2 or 3 POW cards for sale recently on ebay, but they were all for English camps. Thanks for the info about its closure too.

By Colin White @ 25 January 2007 19:23
I am trying to help someone with their familly history. Their Father POW No B51602 was in "C" compound Hut No 1.
Do you perhaps have any sort of plan for the compounds to help them place things ?

Be most grateful if you can help at all

By Gordon @ 28 January 2007 02:49
Colin-
Can't remember offhand, but Ill have a look in the next day or so. I think I might have a contemporary map of the camp somewhere.

By Gordon @ 28 January 2007 11:31
My apologies; I don't have any wartime plans of the camp after all. I do have modern ones, and the camp still retains the original area, so I can email one of these to you if it's any use?

By Colin White @ 28 January 2007 14:52
Gordon
Many thanks for looking. I visited the site on Saturday morning, and have now acquired a recent MOD plan.
Hopefully, my ex POW will be able to identify the Compund and hut that he was billeted in.
Regards
James

By Gordon @ 28 January 2007 19:44
Colin,
I'm sorry I couldn't be more help.
If your client is interested in sharing his experiences at Comrie, and it isn't going to cause a copyright rift anywhere, I would be very interested to read about them.

By Colin White @ 01 February 2007 10:01
Gordon
I would hope to be able to share any information at the end of my enquiries, depending on consents. However, it will be several months before I am able to move forward and obtain confirmation of various aspects.
Regards
Colin White

By Gordon @ 02 February 2007 01:39
No problems, Colin.
Look forward to seeing your research.

By lesley mcleod @ 02 February 2007 09:56
hi colin lm very interested in the camp & was wondering if l could visit..........??

By Gordon @ 02 February 2007 14:06
Lesley,
You need to contact the MoD and arrange a visit through their estate manager:
Estate Management Scotland
Forthview House
30 Hilton Rd
Rosyth Fife
KY11 2BL

By John Dias @ 28 March 2007 12:54
I'm trying to find some history and/or old photos of an Italian POW camp in the Ouseburn valley in Newcastle upon Tyne - would anyone be able to point me in the right direction, please?

By Gordon @ 28 March 2007 18:04
John,
Would that be camp 669 at Gosforth?

By John Dias @ 29 March 2007 09:04
Hi Gordon, thanks for this, Gosforth is actually a few miles away from the Ouseburn Valley, but it may just have been called that - where can I find any information or a location map?

By Gordon @ 29 March 2007 17:46
John,
If you go to the UK archaeology map here and click on view catalogue, towards the bottom of the list is a section on POW camps.
It uses Google Earth to create the map, so it will zoom in pretty close.
I'll have a look through my own data to see what I can find, but if it isn't Gosforth please let me know and I'll continue looking.

By Angela Farmer @ 07 June 2007 08:11
Hi Gordan.
I wonder if you can point me in the right direction. I am trying to find out which camp my Great Grandfather was in. He was an Italian POW. We have a postcard from camp 71, which I assume is the General Processing camp in Suffolk as my Grandmother is sure he spent his time in Lincolnshire. We have some numbers which are on the back of the card including what I think is his POW number. How would I find out where he was transfered to.
Anyhelp would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou Angela

By Gordon @ 11 June 2007 19:17
Hi Angela,
According to my records #71 was actually shared by two camps at different times:
Sheriffhales Camp at Shifnal, now in Shropshire.
Newmarket West GPC in Suffolk.
I wasn't aware of that, but you should keep it in mind when you're researching.
As for tracing movements you should try file WO 307 at the National Archives, London, as they hold the few surviving files of the Prisoner of War Information Bureau.
The NA have this information sheet which I hope will help:
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=7
I hope this helps. Would you let me know how you get on?

By Angela Farmer @ 11 June 2007 19:39
Thank you Gordon, thats a good help for a starting point, will let you know how we get on.
Angela

By Adam Woodhall @ 09 July 2007 18:24
Hi Gordon,

I recently came across these images of the pow camp in comrie and im happy to say they seem very suiting for a short film i currently have in production and i am hopeing you may be able to give me alittle information on thye place and whom i contact in order to set up a viewing with the intent to use as a film location.

If possible i would greatly appreciate it if ypou were able to contact me via email-awoodhall@tiscali.co.uk

Thanks Adam.

By Ann Roots @ 16 November 2008 19:39
Hello my interest is in a Guard who was at the camp, I am putting together a publication about the people from a parish in Scotland who served in WW2 and I have this one person who served there. I would very much like to use some of the information or have permission to use a couple of the pictures featured on the site. Thank you

By Gordon @ 16 November 2008 23:45
Hi Anne,
Welcome to the forums! Feel free to use any of my pics of Comrie, and any of the info in the camps list.

By Ann Roots @ 17 November 2008 07:37
Thank you Gordon. I wonder could I obtain a better scan of a couple of pics as they do not do them justice copying them direct from site. I have also found that there was another hanging in the camp site just before Wolfgangs. Did anyone else know about this. I hope this is the appropriate way to answer. thank you

By Gordon @ 17 November 2008 18:16
Hi Anne,
If you give me your email address and tell me which pics you need, I'll email them.
Didn't know about the other hanging though; what were the details?

By Ann Roots @ 18 November 2008 13:13
Hi Gordon my e mail

AnnRoots@aol.com
thank you

By Mike Noyce @ 15 March 2009 13:52
Hi Gordon
You have produced a great article here. I am currently putting together a travelguide for Perthshire and would like to use this article. Please advise as to how this could be done?
I await your reply in due course.
PS I an a resident in Comrie.
BR - Mike

By Gordon @ 15 March 2009 14:42
Hi Mike,
Let me have your email address and I'll get the article to you.
I'm at the_historian@talk21.com.
Look forward to hearing from you.

By grant carstairs @ 30 July 2009 14:37
Hi Gordon

Am co-ordinating Cultybraggan local history project on behalf of Conmrie Development Trust. several Flickrites have granted me permission to use their Cultybraggan pictures...would you be willing to do the same? We are in process of compiling a history booklet on the camp.
Thanks
Grant Carstairs

By tom lloyd @ 29 September 2009 16:22
hello gordon,

i am currently working on a local history project in Leeds, researching into POW camps in the region. do you have any knowledge of the Butcher's hill site or the Post hill camp in farnley? or indeed any contacts or information that may be of use in this study?

kind regards


By TREVOR BROCK @ 10 February 2010 18:21
I was at Cultybraggan camp for a couple of weeks in February 1963 (not absolutely sure it was 1963 but it was about then) for our TA camp. We (The Royal Norfolks TA ) were on a training exercise skiing which was very exciting for us, a paid holiday. Anglia TV actually filmed some of this for a News item.

By Gordon @ 15 February 2010 21:20
Did you ever get to see the programme, Trevor?

By robin bishop @ 15 March 2010 19:07
I had my Annual Camp with the TA (39 Signal regiment) here in 1999. Very picturesque with the mountains and the snow.

By raymond carroll @ 23 June 2010 16:32
I remember doing part of my recruit training to become a member of 15th scottish parachute regiment (s.v.) at this camp in 1978 it was a big part of our training area then, little did i know then that i was sleeping in the billets used by Hitlers top ss and paras

By Gordon @ 11 July 2010 14:45
For anyone interested, Cultybraggan Local History Group have just published a history of this camp-"Camp 21 Cultybraggan- a history" (Comrie.2010).
It's available directly from the trust-
http://www.comrie.org.uk/organisations/comrie-development-trust.html

By TREVOR BROCK @ 30 July 2010 18:43
Hi Gordon,
Gordon. You asked did I see the program The news item that was shown by Anglia television? The answer is no, however several friends did & sad to say that though I was one of only three interviewed they choose not to show me. They did show one person whom was ex SAS from WW11. Sorry I've taken so long to answer.

By Stuart Gilmour @ 23 August 2010 17:25
Someone else mentioned that there was another hanging in the camp. It may have been Major Willi Thornan. I saw hid name mentioned on another website about the murder.

By Gordon @ 09 September 2010 14:51
Hi Stuart.
Willi Thorman was indeed hung in the camp in 29/11/44.
I've see the report from a Red Cross visit in the Summer of 1945 which mentions FOUR deaths; I know about Rosterg and Thormann, and there was Heinrich Schwartz who was killed by a gunshot wound to the head in April 1945, but I'm still trying to research the other one.

By grant carstairs @ 04 November 2010 21:58
Hi Gordon:

The June 1945 Red X Report mentions 4 deaths
17.4.45 Reiss Stomach Tumour
21.4.45 Schwartz Bullet Wound in Head
3.5,45 Wohrle Tuberculosis
31.5.45 Scheefe Stomach Ulcer

The November 1945 Red X Report mentions 2 deaths
15.8.45 Zimmerman Appendicitis
25.9.45 Munz Accident with Lorry

The May 1946 Red X Report mentions there have been no deaths

These are the only reports I have seen/got copies of.

Hope that helps.

Grant

By Gordon @ 04 November 2010 23:05
Thanks for that Grant. Schwartz was the only one I'd heard of, so that's more info for me to chase up.
Thanks for the tip on the Orkney book btw; it's great.

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