MEMORIES of Italian prisoners of war wending their way past his boyhood home on their way to Sunday morning church services were revived for reader John Pearson when he spotted a plea on this page for local PoW camp details.

Mark Gaskell, fascinated by world war happenings, had put out the appeal (April 29) and John, from Tayleur, Park Road South, Newton-le-Willows, now provides the feedback.

A Penketh-raised lad, born in 1935, he lived on Farnworth Road, Bold Heath, a few hundred yards from the PoW camp, originally an army artillery base set up to pick off German bombers seeking the Liverpool docks. He recalls heading, during air raids, for a large communal shelter as the guns began to boom out.

"As the war swung into Europe, it became a PoW camp for Italian soldiers", John confirms. "We used to see them walking down South Lane-Farnworth Road to the local village church on Sunday mornings".

After the war the base fell into dereliction and was demolished except for the water/guard tower, says John. "It's there to this day, as a landmark. My mother, at 94, still lives on Farnworth Road, so I pass it quite regularly, travelling in from Newton".

A super-large bungalow was built on part of the site, says John, though he didn't know what the remaining area ("all blacked out") was being used for until he phoned St Helens Council's planning department.

Coincidentally, a planning application notice appeared in the Star just a week before Mark Gaskell's request for wartime information, referring to the site of the former gun emplacement and prison camp.

The proposal was for demolition of existing buildings and the erection of a detached dwelling; and John learned from the town hall that this change of use was from a chicken farm.

MANY thanks, John, for that nugget of local history.