You can listen to many of those recordings here:
Head of Sound and Vision, The British Library
> On 12 August 2013 at 22:31 Chris J Brady <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The lost voices of Britain before WWI: German recording of British PoWs
> reveals a rural society rich in now extinct accents that varied from village
> to village
> The recordings were discovered by British academic John Adams in Berlin and
> reveal how strong different accents and dialects were before the impact of
> motor transport, television and radio.
> Among the men recorded was John Hickman, a musician from Bletchingdon, north
> of Oxford, who experts say has an Oxfordshire accent completely different from
> that of today.
> They noted that he pronounced the word ‘were’ as ‘weir’, ‘father’ as ‘feyther’
> and country as ‘cundri’.
> Jonnie Robinson, head of sociolinguistics at the British Library believes this
> is the earliest known recording of its kind.
> Mr Adams came across a reference to the recordings in a German book and traced
> the archive to the Humboldt University in Berlin in 2007.
> 'These were made on the spot at the time,' he told The Times. 'The songs and
> voices echo a lost
> Britain, one we can hardly imagine.'
> The 200 recordings have been preserved on shellac discs and are expected to
> form part of an audio cenotaph for next year's First World War centenary
> The recordings were originally made on wax by Austrian philologist Alois
> Brandl and sound recordist Wilhelm Doegen.
> Many of the prisoners were asked to read from the Bible or tell jokes and
> Hew Strachan, who is advising the government on next year's events, said:
> 'Regional accents were
> much stronger.
> 'This was a period when you could tell people from one village to another, it
> wasn't just county to county.'