Wensleydale and Wharfedale were lucky enough to go on a school trip to the ex-Prisoner of War Camp called Eden Camp which is near Malton. 250 Italian Prisoners of war (POW) began building the camp in 1942. When it was built over 1000 prisoners could be held there at one time. Most of the POW there were employed by farmers who lived nearby. In 1948 the last POW were repatriated (able to go back to their own country) but many of them chose to stay in the UK. While at Eden Camp they had to wear jackets and trousers with a large yellow diamond on them.
Eden Camp has lots of different huts (29 in total) to go in which have displays inside to look at. There is a café, two play areas and even a prefab house and vegetable garden to look at. There are also lots of different vehicles around the camp and memorials. We all had worksheets to do while we were there, there were questions to answer about each hut. We also had a crossword and word search to complete.
Each hut is about something different and some were really hard to explore as they were sad. Some were very smelly and smoky as they showed things like the Blitz and a U-boat. We saw different types of air raid shelters. One hut was designed to be a reconstruction of a street, it had different shops, this smelt nice as it had sweets in it. We saw where the POW slept and some of the things they made whilst at Eden Camp.
Some huts were very, very sad. They showed how life was like during the war and how hard things were. There was a section about concentration camps which was horrifying and scary, it didn’t seem real.
It was also inspiring because it showed what people did when things were hard. They recycled everything (even if it was to make weapons) and they worked together and looked after each other.
Something that was hard was to remember that all of this was real. Even though it was a museum it was originally a prisoner of war camp. The displays we looked at and found hard to experience (like the Blitz) we could walk through really quick but the people who lived in the Blitz couldn’t do that. The air raid shelters were interesting to look at but must have been terrifying if you had to use them. It must have been very scary having to sleep in an underground tube station. There was a war and the memorials were for real people that died. There were stories about people who went to fight and never returned home. People had their homes destroyed. Children were sent miles and miles away from home as evacuees, even if it was to keep them safer. There were tanks and guns for us to look at, we knew we were safe but these were used in a war and in battles where millions of people died. There were times when people had no food but the Eden camp we visited had a café, what we experienced on our trip was very different to the lives that the people experienced during the wars.