The Royal Pioneer Corps

When war broke out in September 1939, the Jewish men in Kitchener camp were in a particularly painful position. Unable to return home, they must have known that their chances of getting families out of ‘Greater Germany’ had now been closed off.

As yet, we are still unsure about the exact numbers of men in Kitchener camp (although watch this space!). Many of the camp records were destroyed – in part to protect these men who had escaped to Britain. It was felt that their families would be at increased risk if the records fell into the wrong hands.

However, we do know a majority of the men joined the Pioneer Corps after the war had started, and if you are trying to find out information about your relative in this context there are a number of places to which you can apply for records.

One of these is the Royal Pioneer Corps website: they are incredibly helpful. They are also able to quickly access some Pioneer Corps records. If you email them with some basic information about your relative (name, place of birth, and date of birth), they will almost certainly be able to provide some information. In a few cases this is quite detailed.

Anyway – their contact page is here:

Good luck – and do let us know how you get on.

The Royal Pioneer Corps archives sent some interesting information about Kitchener refugee Hans Blum, as follows:

Hans was the fourth Kitchener man to enlist and served until 30 August 1940.

Before him were:

  • 13800000 Heinz Aron – DoB 14 July 1914
  • 13800001 Otto Bassell – DoB 16 March 19 13
  • 13800002 Kalmann Beutel – DoB 16 December 1903

They all joined up on 16 November 1939