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POW Cheque


P.O.W. Cheque

Roger Outing
Created 28th July 2012


    On 25th July 1918 2nd Lieutenant A. R. Wadsworth made out a  cheque for £5 drawn upon his London bankers Messrs. Holt & Co of 3, Whitehall Place, London.  Nothing unusual about that as Holt & Co originated as "Army Agents" and provided current accounts for a great many officers in the British Army. And it was the final months of WW1.

The Cheque
    But the cheque shown to the right is not by any means the usual Holt & Co cheque.
    At the left edge it bears the printed name of Kronenberger & Co who were the local bankers in Mayence who supplied this cheque form.  It is made payable to Messrs Mees & Zoonen, Rotterdam and is signed A. R. Wadsworth M.G.Corps (Machine Gun Corps).
    The full story is revealed by the hand stamp at the upper right which reads Offiziergefanganenlagars Mainz or Officers Prisoner of War Camp Mainz.  It should be noted that Mayence and Mainz are the same town depending upon whether you are French or German.
     So we can conclude that this cheque was drawn by 2nd Liuetenant Wadsworth whilst he was held as a POW.
    The fact that Messrs Kronenberger had these special cheques pre-printed suggests that they must had been a regular demand for them.  There is a Serial No of 3522 at upper left. Note that the words Pay and order are in English so there would have been little use for this cheque outside of the prison camp. A very surprising find and, as far as I am aware, the first of its kind to be reported.

25th July1918 - cheque drawn by A. R. Wadsworth.
22nd August 1918 - back endorsed by Mees & Zoonen.
11th September 1918 - inverted perforation at upper left.
12 September 1918 - hand stamp on front centre.
So it apparently took six weeks or so for the cheque to be processed and paid.  We should remember that there was a war on! Quite how this payment of £5 to a bank under German control got through the Trading with the Enemy Regulations is unexplained. Were there exceptions for P.O.W.'s?  Any info please get in touch.

The Stamps
There is a 5cent stamp on the bank added by Mees & Zoonen.
There is a George V 1d stamp on the front which is perforated H & Co and will have been placed there by Holt's.  The costs of these stamps would have all been a charge upon Wadsworth's account.  

The Man
2nd Lieutenant A. R. Wadsworth originally joined the Royal Engineers and subsequently transfered to the Machine Gun Corp. On 26th November 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty".  He was taken prisoner by the Germans at a later date and spent the remaining months of the war in a P.O.W. camp.

Upon returning home A. R. Wadsworth would have been re-united with this cheque (banks sent cheques back to account holders at this time) and it would presumably have brought back some significant memories.  

"....this cheque was drawn by
2nd Lieutenant Wadsworth
whilst he was held as a POW."

Holt & Co, POW cheque
Holt & Co, POW cheque

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