The grandson of a German prisoner of war (PoW) has finally met the family who his grandad stayed with during the 1940s.

Ena Gowland, 91, spent lockdown trying to track down the relatives of Willi Maas who worked on her family farm when she was just 14-years-old.

She has treasured the washbag he gave her for Christmas 1946 ever since she received it and wanted to return it to his family as a memento.

With the help of the history society she discovered more of Willi's history and eventually tracked down his son Wolfgang and his daughter Edith. 

Last week (Friday, November 24), Ena finally met with Andreas Maas at the Harperley PoW camp in Crook.

The 91-year-old described her lasting impression of Willi as "a gentleman" and how she had "treasured" his present to her.

She said: "The first day he came I was at the farm on my own. 

"Mam and Dad had to go to Darlington on business.

"Mam said to make him a pot of tea and sit him down at the table.

"I was only 14 at the time and I had just left school.

"I will never forget him sweeping his hat off his head and giving me a bow as he came in.

"I was just a child so I didn't speak to him a lot, things were different back then.

"My most clear memory is of that Christmas when he asked for some hessian sacks to make slippers with.

"He asked for the coloured bit from the top of the sacks to make pom-poms for the tops.

"My dad said no to the pom-poms and then Willi asked for everyone's shoe sizes except from mine.

"I thought I wasn't getting a present!

"Everyone loved their slippers and Dad really laughed when he saw the pom-poms.

"When I opened mine and found the washbag I thought he had made it for me it was so immaculate.

"It still makes me sad that we didn't see him again after that Christmas, he never knew how happy we were with the gifts."

Willi's grandson Andreas Maas was incredibly touched walking around the camp that had housed his grandfather.

He described how it was an "emotional day" and that the feeling of being there was "incredible".

Willi served with the Luftwaffe and Obergefreiter (equivalent of senior lance-corporal).

He was captured by the Americans at Cherbourg, in Normandy, 18 days after D-Day in 1944. 

Andreas said: "I never met or spoke to my grandfather.

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"He was never mentioned. My Grandma and Grandad grew apart during the war and my father never knew how to cope with that.

"It's really nice to hear how his skills were valued here and how much of an impact he made.

"He was clearly an all-rounder of a person."