Day 3 (31 March): The Meaning of a Boot.

While we recovered from the suggestion that our latrine may not be a latrine, but a food store and kitchen (we tried, therefore, to ignore the somewhat solidified toilet roll that Isobel found …), there were more discoveries and head-scratchings today.

Day 3 trenches 5c and 6 (18).JPG

Isobel with solidified loo roll of goodness-knows-what vintage – mercifully unused.

I was also rather taken with the Conundrum Of The Boot today. Yesterday we found several shoes and boots in the latrine / potato store; we had also found some last year. The problem is this: if this is the footwear of forced labourers, then this makes the boot a rather poignant find and increases its value. If it is a post-war boot, then it is without value. Should it by thrown away? We’d value your thoughts.

Day 3 trenches 5c and 6 (8).JPG

We were also visited on site by local journalist, Charlie McArdle, from BBC Radio Jersey, who had a little guided tour:

Day 3 trenches 5c and 6 (43).JPG

BBC Radio Jersey visiting the camp

We carried on examining trench 5 today and Isobel walked away with the gold star for best find: a padlock! I was very pleased with this because it is symbolic of incarceration. There are those who say that there was no barbed wire around the camp but we dispelled this myth two years ago. Does this padlock speak of forced labourers being locked in to the camp at certain times, or was it used on a food store? A day of discoveries and head-scratchings, to be sure.

Day 3 trenches 5c and 6 (47).JPG

Padlock

 

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About Gilly Carr

I am a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. I work in the field of conflict archaeology and POW archaeology, and my fieldwork is based in the Channel Islands.

7 responses to “Day 3 (31 March): The Meaning of a Boot.”

  1. janegaler says :

    The unused toilet roll could have been part of the stores easily enough if this was a ‘pantry’ for a kitchen.

  2. noah says :

    re the boot(s) – can they be cross referenced in some way to other pow / forced labour sites or other data? sure you thought that already, i’m new to this but can this stuff be dated scientifically?

    • Gilly Carr says :

      Could do, but then that assumes that they’re wearing standard issue footwear and not their own boots, which they could have done. And it also means that I’d need to find a ‘1940s boot geek’ out there somewhere! Any takers?

  3. Simon D. says :

    Gilly, I’m a reenactor who works with this period, and I have studied the military footwear at some length. It’s hard to tell from one photo, but it does not look like the cut, style or construction of the German ‘low’ boots, typically produced from 1942 onwards when leather was in short supply in German and the more traditional ‘jackboots’ were phased out. It could of course be foreign military from Spain, Poland, etc – typical traits would be well made and marked. Are there any markings on the boot? On the instep of the sole perhaps? Are there are any size markings? – a size in cm obviously suggesting continental Europe manufacture. Is the sole leather or wood?

    • Gilly Carr says :

      Hi Simon. I wasn’t suggesting that it was the boot of a soldier or an OT overseer, but the boot of a forced labourer, and they were probably not issued with footwear but most likely had to provide their own. After all, we know they weren’t given any other ‘health and safety’ gear, hence the story of them having to buy up all the bowler hats in town. We also found some rubber boots with ‘war grade’ printed around the top of them.

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