During the Second World War, 500,000 prisoners of war were kept in camps across Britain. 

Most have, along with their history, been demolished but residents of a village in Essex are fighting to save one of them from developers.

Camp 116 once housed 1,500 Italian, German and Austrian prisoners across 11 acres in the village of Hatfield Heath in Essex.

There, they worked the land in the local fields, living alongside their British guards and the villagers.

A proposed development will see the demolition of the site if it gets planning permission.

British PoW Camp

Mick Saban grew up in the village and remembers meeting the prisoners, when he was a boy, marching alongside them when they went to work in the fields.

He says the prisoners integrated with the community, making the children jewellery out of the broken windscreens of aircraft that had been shot down:

"We'd go looking around the fields to find the Perspex, and we’d give it to the prisoners and they would make us rings - they’d put different dyes in them.

"They were very friendly."

After the war ended the former prisoners challenged the villagers to a football match, beating them 11-0.

The plans to build houses here have led to the formation of a protest group, of which many believe the area should be preserved to save items of interest such as a piece of art, thought to have been created by an Italian prisoner of war.

British PoW Camp

The developers say 10 of the 26 houses will be affordable, while Uttlesford District Council told us:

"At the recent Cabinet meeting, the decision was taken to reject the nomination to list POW Camp 116 as an asset of community value as it did not meet the appropriate criteria. 

"However, it was resolved that Uttlesford District Council would work with the local community to put POW Camp 116 on the Local Heritage List."

The decision means the site could be offered some level of protection by the council as a site of historic importance, which could have an impact on the future of Camp 116, and its place in history.

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