YP Comment: Vagaries of time - Poignant discovery in shoebox

For a century they lay unnoticed, lost to the vagaries of time, but the discovery of a book of memoirs in a shoebox in the town library in Skipton has opened a window onto local life during the Great War.

Skipton's POW camp during the Great War.

The book consists of 330 pages of diaries, sketches and poems, written by German prisoners of war held in an army camp just outside Skipton that hitherto few people knew existed. With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund an English translation of the memoirs is being created along with a web diary and an interactive model of the camp.

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It was at this army base that soldiers who made up the Bradford Pals, the 16th and 18th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment, were trained before being sent off to join the Somme Offensive in 1916.

As we near the centenary of another infamous battle – Passchendaele – from what Ted Hughes called ‘that huge, senseless war’, it is a poignant reminder of our shared past and the vicissitudes of life.