Originally constructed in 1937 as a dormitory for the extensive labour force working in the Royal Ordnance Factory, the Island Farm camp in fact lay empty until 1943 when it was used to billet elements of the 28th Infantry Division, who trained on the nearby beaches while preparing for the invasion of France.
Following the D-Day landings, it was given the name of Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp 198 and housed 1600 captured soldiers. On the night of 10th March in 1945 some of these men conducted a dramatic escape using a secret tunnel, and 70 prisoners fled into the country around Bridgend. All were recaptured within a week, some as far away as Southampton, but the risk of further undiscovered tunnels meant that the camp had to be closed.
After the war the camp was reopened as Special Camp XI to house 200 high ranking German officers who were required to attend war-crimes trials in various parts of Europe. It was also later used by the police, as an army training ground, and even by the Bridgend rugby team as a changing room. Eventually however, it fell into disrepair and was mostly demolished, but Hut 9, the site of the famous escape, was preserved and given Grade II listed status.