Eden Camp

Mallton, North Yorks

20-22nd Feb 2009


This was a welcome return to the World War II prisoner of war camp in North Yorkshire. Two motorhomes joined eleven caravans inside the camp for the weekend. The evenings were atmospheric, being overlooked by the guard towers at each corner. The camp has been converted into a museum based around the second World War, and in particular the background to the conflict as it affected this country. It was constructed to accommodate Italian prisoners, who were then put to work enlarging the camp. The regime was quite relaxed and many prisoners worked in local farms, and some even stayed on after the war to settle locally.

The huts have been converted to house displays on the whole of the action worldwide. Some are almost completely blacked out with simulated gunfire and bombs which gave some idea of what life was like in our towns and cities at the time. There is so much information on show that you would need several days to spare to see everything. There was a particularly harrowing exhibition on the Holocaust, illustrated with photographs taken when the camps were liberated. Some eyewitness accounts added to the impact of the display. Fittingly this room led into a chapel area which helped to regain a sense of reality.

It is always a bonus to have the use of a room for socialising in the colder weather, and one of the huts was commandeered for Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday morning for tea and coffee. The Saturday social was based on the 40’s (1940’s, not 40 years old), and some ralliers arrived in fancy dress. The marshals led the way with a tribute to ‘Allo ‘Allo. Jenny and Irene were slightly worried that the French maid uniforms they had hired might be a little short, but decency was maintained. The Wilburn family won the prize for the best fancy dress.

At flag, Brenda and John Cartwright (together with Sam) were introduced to the club on their first SOC rally. Pass the Parcel was followed by an American supper. After we were fed and watered, the Chinese raffle had just about everyone jumping up and down, and running round and round.

The rally was ably run by Jenny and Paul Holroyde (with daughter Rachel organising the “parcel” for the social). Co-marshals were Irene and Andy Kerfoot (helped by John). Thanks to them for all their efforts.

A good time was had by all, and we hope to return to the venue in the not too distant future.

Clive Bevan
Area 2.