Sport and Gymnastics

It is clear that sport and gymnastics played an important role in the camp. The very first edition of the Stobsiade1 mentions the third sports day! It consisted of athletic events, gymnastics and football. 2. While they lasted, such events also provided an opportunity for social contact between the civilian and military prisoners 3. In autumn the weather became a constraint on sporting activities 4 although football continued to be played, and indoor gymnastics and exercises took place. Later, snow provided a chance for sledging 5. The opening of the Y.M.C.A. Hall in the military camp gave the captain of the camp an opportunity to emphasise the need for everyone to take part in physical exercise as a patriotic duty 6. In February 1916 a combined sporting and musical evening took place 7. Similar events would become a regular feature in the camp. The Y.M.C.A. Hall in the civilian camp obviously provided good opportunities for gymnastic activities 8, and this resulted in a higher level of participation 9. The newspaper for November 1916 contains a summary of the summer's sporting activities 10. The winter of 1916-17 turned out to be much better than the previous one, with lots of snow, which enabled the prisoners to enjoy some basic winter sports - including football 11 (despite the snow!). The sporting and musical event which took place in January 1917 was obviously ambitious - and popular 12. The exhibition in April 1917 was intended to display all aspects of the camp, so it also included gymnastic demonstrations 13. In August 1917 the work camp in Crawford was able to report that it had held a sports day, 14 which included a challenging obstacle race, and in October a similar event was held in Lentran 15. The newspaper published at the start of 1918 reported on how sporting activities had been curtailed due to people having been sent to work camps 16. However, there was still a sporting component in the camp's exhibition in June 1918 17. This final article emphasised how difficult but necessary it was to maintain fitness in the camp environment.