British post in Güstrow first came into existence about the middle of Nov 1914 by the arrival of a small handful of letters. These were followed later by parcels & money orders. At this time there were something like 2,000 British prisoners in the camp.
From the commencement, a staff of British prisoners have controlled the distribution of letters & parcels but it was not until March 1916 that the card register was in charge of a British prisoner, with what I consider were disastrous results. It was not until March 1915 that British prisoners had responsible control of money orders. Here again this work had previously been done by the French.
The original staff in the British post consisted of three prisoners, one of whom was interpreter. As the number of parcels arriving increased, so the staff was increased, until at the time of writing it numbers twenty seven British prisoners.
On an average, 14,000 parcels are received per month & 11,000 are readdressed, listed & despatched per month. Until March 1917 this work, in addition to the sorting & readdressing of a considerably larger number of letters & the readdressing of a money orders, was done with a staff which never exceeded more than 10 men. Since the spring of 1916 all parcels brought to & sent away from the camp have had to be transported on a small gauge railway in hand trucks. This work also had to be done by the above mentioned number of men.
On March 1st 1917 the post office staff was increased owing to the fact that every parcel had to be opened & the contents strictly censored by the German authorities, this entailing a great deal of extra work. Later more men were added to the staff to serve as wagon pushers. This left the original staff free for office work only.
Parcels & letters are sent each week to between 200 and 300 different addresses.
Men working outside the lager on farms etc are never settled in one place for any length of time as a rule but are moved about from one village to another, thus entailing changing of addresses. As notification of a change of address is never given until the man or men have actually moved this causes a good number of parcels to be returned from the old address to Güstrow to be readdressed, parcels never being sent on from the old address to the new one.
Two British prisoners are always employed at the station where the railway wagons containing the parcels arrive, their duty being to unload & sort parcels.
Parcels for British prisoners arrive from Holland in wagons along with parcels for Belgian and Russian prisoners. Parcels of bread from Switzerland arrive in wagons along with parcels for French prisoners from Frankfurt. The parcels of bread from Denmark come in wagons from Berlin along with French parcels. All readdressed parcels sent from Güstrow camp are taken in hand trucks from the camp to the station where they are unloaded, sorted & placed in sacks & then despatched to their respective destinations.
When parcels arrive at Güstrow, for men who are not on the lager roll, enquiry cards giving their full particulars as to name, regimental number etc are sent to the enquiry office for prisoners of war at Berlin & are returned giving, when the man is known, the address of the camp in which he is. When a man is neither on the Güstrow or Berlin rolls, the parcel is handed over to the British help committee in the camp to be used for the benefit of newly captured men. At the same time, notification is sent to the sender of the parcel.
David B Pryde
Pte. London Scottish Regiment
Chief of English post 1915-1917
Thanks to Doug Johnson / Quelle: Forum 1914-1918.invisionzone.com (2010)