This wide-ranging study
is the outcome of the author's thirty-year quest to collect information about a neglected and almost forgotten field of history - the prisoner of war, the conditions under which he was held and how he employed his time during long years of captivity. In this instance, the whole is set against an historical background dating from the Seven Years War (1756-63) to Napoleon's downfall in 1816. Information has been painstakingly acquired by detailed searches through the Public Records Offices of England, Scotland and Wales and the archives of numerous county towns. The author has also studied more than one hundred towns and villages, where paroled captured officers were detained, and visited the sites of prison depots - great and small - and ports and rivers where the dreaded prison hulks had once been moored. The gathering and examination of artefacts, relics and other relevant material was a further important aspect of this extensive study. During the course of his lengthy researches, the author assembled what may well be one of the largest private collections of prisoner of war artefacts in existence. Although thousands of items of prisoners' work have survived to the present day, most have disappeared into private collections and museums, at home or abroad. A representative selection of items from the author's own extensive collection is featured in the second part of this book and will show the extraordinary high standard of workmanship achieved by many of the prisoners of war.