P-O-W in the Kaiser's Salt Mines

Melanie Yun on life for a First World War prisoner in a German mine.

Edward John Bolwell was born in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on September 10th, 1886, the son of a Clerk of Works for the Church Commissioners. He was educated at state schools and evening classes and before the First World war worked as a stonemason with his father, who had been appointed Clerk of Works at St Paul’s Cathedral shortly after Edward’s marriage in 1912.

After war broke out Edward Bolwell served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers prior to his capture by the Germans in March 1918; his younger brother, Arthur Bolwell, died in 1917 from wounds received during the Battle of the Somme.

At the end of the war, Edward returned to working at St Paul’s, succeeding his father as Clerk of Works in 1921 and supervising the major strengthening of the dome that took place in the inter-war years. Edward Bolwell was the father of four sons and a daughter, into whose possession the typed manuscript of his POW experiences passed – he died in April 1956.

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