POW Aircraft Technician Mitts

POW Aircraft Technician Mitts

These leather aircraft technician mitts belonged to a German prisoner of war (POW) who worked on farms along the Lough Neagh shore during the busy harvest season of 1945, and number among many POW artefacts collected by local farmers John Hurl and Sean McKee.

Sean recalls that the POWs had “the freedom to roam the countryside”, visiting his father to collect eggs and milk on Sunday mornings in exchange for small toys and gifts, including a hand crafted wooden horse which has become a cherished family heirloom.

On 28th July 1945, the Mid-Ulster Mail lamented that “farmers with hay and flax crops due to be harvested are faced with an acute labour shortage and representations are being made to the Northern Ireland Government for allocation of labour from German Prisoner of War Camps in Ulster.”

By August, the authorities had lifted restrictions and POWs found work labouring on farmland, bringing in the first post-war harvest. Locals also made use of the free labour to repair roads and buildings, but with victory in Europe for the allies, German prisoners of war would soon be repatriated, leaving behind only artefacts and memories.