ISSUE 16, January 2006
Editorial
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above
A tracing board made by French POWs
    During the period known at the Napoleonic wars (1793 circa 1814) there were up to 122,000 enemy sailors and soldiers held in captivity. The officers were held in 50 parole towns from Abergaveny, Bishop’s Castle through to Wincanton. The bulk of the prisoners were held in rotten hulks on the rivers around the UK as well as in the city goals.
    There were between 200-300 prisoners per town, and before any officer was allowed to reside in a parole town he was required to sign a document promising to observe certain rules. Having done this he was said to be “on parole.” This took the following form:
whereas the commissioners for conducting His Majesty’s transport service and for the care and custody of French officers and Sailors detained in England have been pleased to grant…leave to reside in…upon condition that he gives his parole of honour not to withdraw one mile from the boundaries prescribed there without leave for that purpose from the said Commissioners, that he will behave himself decently and with due regard to the laws of the kingdom, and that he will not directly or indirectly hold any correspondence with France during his continuance in England, but by such letter or letters as shall be shown to the agent of the said commissioners under whose care he is or may be in order to their being read and approved by the superiors, he does hereby declare that having given his parole we will keep it inviolably.
In all parole towns the following notice was posted in prominent positions.
Notice is hereby given
That all such prisoners of war are permitted to walk or ride on the great turnpike road within the distance of one mile from the extreme parts of the town (not beyond the bounds of the parish) and if they shall exceed such limits or go into any field or cross-road they may be taken up and sent to prison, and a reward of ten shillings will be paid by the agent for the apprehending them. And further that such prisoners are to be in their lodgings by 5 o’clock in the winter and 8 in the summer months, and if they stay out later they are liable to be taken up and sent to the agent for such misconduct.
However, during 1810-1812 some 462 officers broke their parole and escaped to France, and of these, 310 escaped in one year (1812), but abroad not one British Freemason officer had broken his parole. However, the French prisoners were held in ‘open prisons’ whereas the British were held mainly in fortresses and secure castles, and therefore not readily having of an opportunity to decamp. The French authorities did not contribute to the keeping of their prisoners, whilst the British gave each French officer half a guinea per week for sustenance, also being on parole they were free to find employment locally if they could.
    There was even an instance where the officers became far too successful in business, whereby they were banned from lace making, as it was affecting the local trade! However, the lot of those held in prisons such as Bristol, Norman Cross or Dartmoor were much less convivial. Many thousands of French and indeed American POWs from the War of Independence died from starvation or prison fever.

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