Memorial to German prisoners planned at Hawick to mark centenary

A memorial stone in a former Borders cemetery dedicated to German prisoners of war is in line to be rebuilt to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War.

The Stobs Camp cemetery site as it is now.
The Stobs Camp cemetery site as it is now.

Stobs Camp, near Hawick, housed more than 4,000 POWs, the majority of them German, during the 1914-to-1918 conflict, and plans have been drawn up to pay tribute to those who died during their time there .

Few escapes were reported, but there were two suicides during that period, and a cemetery was created at the camp in 1915, providing a resting place for the bodies of 35 soldiers, four sailors and six interned German civilians by the time the last POWs left at the end of 1919.

Their bodies were disinterred over 50 years ago, but the remnants of a memorial created by German prisoners to their dead comrades remains on the site.

A cairn erected in 1917 at Stobs Camp, near Hawick.

Now, Scottish Borders Council has received an application from landowner James Anderson, of Penchrise Farm Cottage at Stobs, and Archaeology Scotland to reinstate the free-standing cairn erected at the old cemetery site in 1917.

A report from Stobs Camp project officer Andrew Jepson says that, although no longer a cemetery, the area is still “a place of reflection”.

It adds: “As part of the centenary of the Armistice commemorations, we propose the reinstatement of the former memorial stone at Stobs Camp to remember German prisoners of war buried in the cemetery during the First World War.

“The bodies were disinterred in 1962, but the former cemetery remains a place of reflection.

A First World War officers' admin block at Stobs Camp.

“Archaeology Scotland manages the Stobs Camp Project and works closely with, and is supported by, many organisations, including Hawick Archaeological Society, Hawick Callants’ Club and local landowners.

“Contact has been made with the War Memorial Trust, and they have no objection to the reinstatement of the memorial.”

The work will involve stripping down the existing damaged stonework forming the base of the 2.5m-tall cairn, sourcing and grading appropriate building materials, building profile frames and reinstating the memorial using reinforcing rods.

The proposed reinstatement is intended to replicate the original design as closely as possible, but a new plaque will be added.

“The stone plinth is extant so there is no impact on tree roots,” adds Mr Jepson.

“It is currently surrounded by the remains of the demolished memorial stone.”