More than six decades on, German POW makes emotional return to the Borders

Horst Hassold as a gunner in the German Navy.
Horst Hassold as a gunner in the German Navy.
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The scrap of paper pinned to the attic door is yellowed with age, but former German wartime prisoner Horst Hassold could still make out his name.

It was the first time in more than 60 years that the ex-German navy gunner had been back to see the room in which he had been billeted during the Second World War in what is now The Roxburghe Hotel, but back then was known as Sunlaws House.

Horst Hassold  outside The Roxburghe Hotel which was a former P.O.W.camp

Horst Hassold outside The Roxburghe Hotel which was a former P.O.W.camp

It was at the weekend that the 87-year-old veteran, who lives in Augsburg near Munich, and was accompanied by his wife, four children and four grandchildren, was back in the Borders.

Sunlaws House had been used to house POWs who worked on nearby farms and the friends Mr Hassold made during this time were also among those who gathered at the Roxburghe Hotel to welcome him back.

“I have visited this place twice over the years, but I have never been up to the attic room where we all stayed,” said an emotional Mr Hassold.

“Looking back, I was very fortunate to end my military career as a prisoner of war and more than lucky that I came into British custody, and best of all was the time in Sunlaws,” added Mr Hassold.

Horst Hassold looks at his name 66 years on.

Horst Hassold looks at his name 66 years on.

Jean Hogg, 94, who ran a farm near Sunlaws while her husband was away fighting, and employed POW workers, had nothing but praise for Mr Hassold and his comrades.

“They used to come to the farm at Kerse Mains,” she said.

“But when I saw their rations they were just pitiful and I told the officers this was not good enough for a day’s work on a farm, so I got that changed.”