All Bottled Up

I found this story interesting as it connects to my own! My great grandparents farm was close to a POW camp in Ontario, and my grandmother not only remembered seeing German POWs with targets on their uniforms, but them making boats in bottles. Allegedly some of these are still within my family amongst cousins, and I hope one day to track one down! Thanks Michael for the post!

Michael O'Hagan

Among the many pastimes of German prisoners of war interned in Canada was the building of ships in bottles. Ranging from simple sailing vessels to elaborate models of five-masted barques, ships in bottles were often traded or sold to other PoWs, guards, camp staff, and civilians. While PoWs in smaller camps built them for their own amusement or to pass the time, some of the larger camps had groups of PoWs that produced handicrafts specifically to sell.

a163779 PoW craftsman in Camp 32 (Hull, Quebec) with ships in bottles, pipes, and other handicrafts. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

I recently acquired my first PoW-made ship in a bottle. The ship is a four-masted barque that appears to be flying an Italian flag. I’m assuming that the maker had some knowledge of naval signal flags as it is also flying a “Zulu” flag to show that it is in need of…

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