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Stobs Camp

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Stobs Camp remains, 2006
Stobs Camp remains
© Walter Baxter

Stobs Camp was located in an area two miles south of Hawick, in the Scottish Borders.

Stobs Camp Building, 2006
Stobs Camp building
© Walter Baxter

World War I

The area's military history dates to 1903, when it was purchased by the War Office from the Elliots of Stobs Castle, for development as a training area for the British Army. The Stobs Estate occupied some 10,000 acres.

Following the Empire's declaration of war on Germany in 1914, thousands of recruits were arriving there by the end of the year, with up to 5,000 men being accommodated, and so many visitors that an Exclusion Order was implemented to prevent civilians entering the camp, unless issued with a pass.

A plan from 1917 shows the camp contained at least 80 huts, a hospital with 150 beds, its own light railway, stores, workshops, Post Office, and a YMCA outside its perimeter. Grouped in four distinct areas, identified as A through D, with the hospital to the south west of the site, the camp cost is shown then as £46,500.

Before the year end, the use of Stobs Camp as a PoW Camp was made known, civilian internees were transferred to alternative locations, a further 200 huts were added to the site, and some 6,000 German PoWs confined. The guard was increased accordingly, and the number of British posted there had increased to 15,000 by 1915. The PoWs were employed in the continuing construction of the camp, constructing an excellent sewage system, and were employed on the land, for which they were paid, one penny per hour, four shillings per week.

Few escape attempts are recorded, possibly due to the location and the presence of the training camp, and all appear to have ended with the recapture of the escapees. Two suicides were reported, and a cemetery was added to the camp, eventually containing the bodies of 35 soldiers, four sailors and six interned German civilians when the last PoWs left at the end of 1919.

Survey reports indicate that World War I trench systems and rifle ranges remain visible in the area.

World War II

Little is reported on this period, although it seems the camp gained its own power station. References are made to tanks, with the wet and boggy nature of the ground being said to have claimed some of their number.

With the end of the war, the camp became one of the country's main resettlement camps, with some 2,000 Polish soldiers accommodated in tents while awaiting demobilisation. Government plans to double the area of the camp in late 1947 were abandoned, after which it was retained as a summer camp. With its usefulness decreasing through the postwar period, the camp became derelict, auctioned off with its contents by the War department in 1959.

Photographs taken in an aerial survey of the site, carried out in 2007, showed that much of the camp layout could be discerned from the network of tracks still visible on the ground, together with the outlines of many hut bases, and a small number of surviving buildings.

Redevelopment

In 2007, an attempt was made to resubmit a planning application to develop 50 log cabins on the site, previously rejected due to the wet nature of the land and its tendency to flood.

External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-

 

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Aerial views


Map

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