World War Two prisoner of war photographs to be auctioned at Newmarket

The prisoner of war photographs from Stalag XXA in Poland. Picture: ROWLEY'S

The prisoner of war photographs from Stalag XXA in Poland. Picture: ROWLEY'S - Credit: Archant

An album of photographs taken by a British prisoner of war held at Stalag XXA in Poland will be auctioned in Newmarket next week.

The album is estimated at £400-600. Picture: ROWLEY'S

The album is estimated at £400-600. Picture: ROWLEY'S - Credit: Archant

The detailed black and white photographs – showing prison working parties in the fields of Poland and activities POWs organised to keep morale up – will be sold at Rowley’s auctioneers on September 5.

The photographs were taken by Sergeant Major Joseph William Newton between 1942 and 1945 and give an extraordinary insight into life at the German World War Two prison camp in Thorn, Poland.

Sergeant Major Newton’s photographs also show the prison check point not long after his arrival, German SS dining at the camp, and funerals of British officers who were shot at Stalag XXA.

Little is known about the sergeant major, who may have been captured at Dunkirk, but the last known family member to own the album was Mr Newton’s son, who lived in Bexhill.

The photographs were taken by Sergeant Joseph Newton. Picture: ROWLEY'S

The photographs were taken by Sergeant Joseph Newton. Picture: ROWLEY'S - Credit: Archant

William Axon, Rowley’s senior valuer, said it could be that Newton was given the camera by the Germans to photograph the camp and prove it was tolerable. He said: “This album gives lots of details and the photos are really good quality.

“It doesn’t look like he used an improvised camera and you wonder if it was given to Newton, either by the Red Cross or perhaps by the Germans to prove that conditions were tolerable at the camp.

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“If it didn’t meet with German approval it would seem very odd that he would be able to photograph SS officers dining at the camp.”

In 1945 as the Germans retreated from Poland the prisoners remaining at Stalag XXA were forced to march through winter and early spring, covering more than 700 miles as they headed towards the German border to a new camp.

The photographs are being sold at Rowley's in Newmarket. Picture: ROWLEY'S

The photographs are being sold at Rowley's in Newmarket. Picture: ROWLEY'S - Credit: Archant

Some prisoners were shot during the march, or died of starvation, exhaustion, exposure and dysentery, but the survivors were eventually rescued by the Allies in early April.

Mr Axon said: “We know that Sergeant Newton survived the march because the final camp he is listed at is in Germany, Oerbke near Fallingbostel, which took prisoners in from Thorn, but we don’t know much more about him or his family after that. We don’t know if descendants are aware of this extraordinary archive.”

The album, owned by a Suffolk vendor, is estimated at £400-600.

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