Report on the Finance
of the
Interned Aliens' Camps
in the
Isle of Man


W.H.T. Walker

17 September 1917

The Secretary
Civilian Internment Camps Committee

[note as yet incomplete - TBD]

1. I have visited the Government Office and the Interned Aliens' Camps in the Isle of Man as required by the Committee and have the honour to submit a report dealing with matters which came under my notice.

2. In the course of my investigations I did not go into the period prior to January, 1916, as it was only from that date that monthly abstract statements of receipts, expenditure, and population have been regularly furnished.

3. The total amount of money expended by the Island Authorities from 1st January 1916 to 31st July last was £972,584, of which £854,053 was for Knockaloe and £118,521 for Douglas. The total of amounts received during the same period as "Miscellaneous Receipts" is £13,336, which sum includes refunds of £6093 for money expended on Sewage works and £3000 for cost of hutting at Douglas. The amount received as "Proportion of Aliens' Earnings" was £3,489. The first receipt under this head appears in July, 19126. The sum realised by the sale of condemned stores was £493.

4. The actual cost of Maintenance for the period 1st January, 1916, to 31st July, 1917 was as follows :-
          Knockaloe 8s 5d per head
          Douglas 9s 3d per head

The items included in "Maintenance" are Victualling, Clothing, Medicines, Bedding, Furniture, Fuel, Water, Lighting, Soap, cleaning articles, cartage of stores, and freight and transport charges in respect of Clothing of Aliens, and repairs to Clothing and furniture. The remaining items of expenditure include:-
(a) cost of staff, viz. pay, messing allowances and cost of uniform,
(b) Maintenance of troops while in Hospital
(c) Government Office Expenses,
(d) Wages of Aliens employed in connection with Sewage work,
(e) Cost of Motor transport for building materials,
(f) Sleepers for paths,
(g) Rent,
(h) Buildings (largely for accomodation for troops)
(i) Railway expenses, (pay etc.) and
(j) Miscellaneous expenses, which include expenditure in connection with Quarrying, Roadmaking, Reclamation of Waste Land, Sulby River Improvements, Funerals, Inquests, Sewage(initial cost of £5,093 and upkeep), Hutting at Douglas, the original account for which was £3000, and subsequent additions and upkeep, Bank charges for Interest and Commission, Prison expenses, and Releases and transfers of Aliens, etc. etc.


5. The cost of maintenance at the combined camps for the 19 months under review was 8s 6d per head per week; while the combined expenditure for maintenance and all other services was 10/- per per week.

The privilege Camp at Douglas appears to be appreciated, juding from the large number of aliens who avail themselves of it. These men receive better food, better mess equipment and better sleeping accomodation. It is not possible to state the actual cost per head but it may be taken that it is 10/- per head in excess of the the average for the Camp; the payments for the privileges do not pass through the accounts, as arrangements are made direct with Mr. Cunningham to whom the Alien's money is passed.

The better sleeping accomodation is provided in small huts and tents; for 10/- a week an alien has a portion of a hut accomodating three, for 14/- he has a portion of a tent accomodating 2 and for £1 he has a tent all to himself. These apartments can be and many are, furnished by the occupants to suit their individual tastes. One Alien who paid £1 a week informed me he was well statisfied with the arrangement. I consider that the men receive value for their money.

6. The weekly cost per head of the Camp dietaries are now, Knockaloe 6s 3d and Douglas 7s 10d which latterr sum includes the supply of blankets, messing equipment, etc.

These rates came into force in April last at the time the dietary was brought in line with the War Office standard, prior to this date the cost was 5s 4d and 7s respectively, the increases of 11d and 10d representing the value of additional food issued to supplement the regular dietary in force up to the time of the adoption of the War Office scale.

7. Large sums have necessarily been spent in providing Clothing, bedding and furniture, and with a few exceptions the rates paid for articles have not been excessive. Army overcoats (originally supplied for Kitchener's Army) 12s 6d. Suits of outer Clothing (coat and trousers) 16s 10d. Cardigan Jackets 5s 6d and 6s 6d. Oilskin Coats 6s 5d and 8s each, and Pants 17s 6d per dozen pairs. The stock in store of new blankets at Knockaloe appears to be very high - 25,000. The stock there also comprises 11,400 pairs of Socks and 5,000 Shirts.

In regard to consumable stores it my be mentioned that Carbolic Soap has been purchased at a very low price, about £22 a ton,. The quality seems to give satisfaction. It is supplied from a Lancashire firm through a local tradesman.

8. The exceptions referred to in paragraph 7 are Socks and Shirts. Just on 30,000 Shirts were made up by the Douglas and District Needlework Guild out of material bought by the Island Government. The cost of making a shirt paid to the Guild was 1s 6d to begin with and 1s 3d afterwards(£2,000). This rate is undoubtedly excessive. Shirts were bought outright at 5s 6d and 6s 6d each, which prices for workmen's shirts are certainly not moderate and in excess of those exhibited in shp windows in the Island.

Nearly 70,000 pairs of Socks were made up from Camp worsted by the same Guild at a cost of 1s per pair (£3,500). This price also is excessive when it is considered that the cost of the Yarn was 1s 1d per pair and that socks were, on some occasions, purchased outright at 1s 4d per pair, and indeed at 1s 2½d per pair in January, 1916.

Mr Sargeaunt admitted that the prices paid were high. He suggested that it might cause a certain amount of distress if the rates were reduced and give rise to a demand upon the Prince of Wales' Fund. In my opinion more economical arrangements should be made


9. In considering the expenditure under the heading of Stores and Furniture at Knockaloe it must be borne in mind that large quantities of articles required for the troops at Douglas are drawn from Knockaloe. In April 1917 the following transfers were made:

500 Mugs
1000 Plates
100 Dixies
40 Coal Buckets
50 Latrine pails
70 Table tops
40 Pails
500 Bedboards
140 Forms
23 Sanitary bins

10. The Island authorities pay to the Male prison officials allowances amounting to £50 a year as compensation for attending to the extra number of prisoners dealt with in consequence of the presence of the Camps in the Island. The Authorities also recoup themselves for the keep and maintenance of prisoners under remand, awaiting trial and after conviction. The sums charged to the accounts for this service are as follows:

February, 1916 £204
October 1916 £124
November 1916 £8
December 1916 £25
January 1917 £86
February £4
March £6
April £70
May £1
June £14
July 1917 £159

11. Payments to the G.P.O. between March, 1916 and April, 1917 amounting to £125 in respect of telephones etc. have been made, notwithstanding the fact that in August, 1915 (H.O. Letter 266042/86) arrangements were entered into for a free service of Telephones. It is not clear either why payment for Telegrams should be made, (over £100 a year.)

12. The Banking arrangements seem to be capable of improvement. In addition to charging interest at £5% for the overfraft, the Bank also charges a commission of 1/16 per cent on (or 1s 3d in £100) on the total payments. The payments for the 18 months to June 30th were £925,000, so that of the total amount charged by the Bank for 18 months, viz £3,144, it will be seen that the sum of £580 was for keeping the account. I was informed that this is a customary practice of Banks in the Island. It was also told me that a certain rate of interest was allowed on the monthly balance standing to the credit of current accounts, but as the Camp account is always overdrawn the Committee would derive no benefit from the arrangement. I elicited from the Government Office Authorities that by agreement the Bank charged the Island only £15 per annum for keeping their account. Efforts should be made to enter some such agreement for the Camp account. If the Isle of Man Bank declined to make fair terms, there are other Banks (reliable joint stock institutions) who would no doubt act reasonably.

Under the existing arrangement it will be seen that the interest on the overdraft for the 18 months was £2,564 and the commission for keeping the account £580. The rate of interest charged for the overdraft was £5 per cent per annum. 6% would have amounted to £2,564 plus 1/5 of that amount or £3,077 in all. It will thus be seen that the money has not been borrowed at so advantageous a rate as could have been done by the Treasury who would have had to pay £6 per cent from which a substantial income tax would be deducted.

If £6 per cent had been charged by the Bank for interest on the overdraft (£3,077) and say £15 for keeping the account, a saving of about £50 would have benn effected.


This amount is not large, but in these times it is incumbent upon everyone to see that every expenditure, unless absolutely necessary, should be avoided.

If the Bank Authorities will continue to find funds at 5% and charge only say £15 to £20 for keeping the account the arrangement would be an economical one, but if they decline to do so it would perhaps be a matter for consideration whether other arrangements should not be made at an early date.

13. Drugs and Dressings involved an expenditure during the 19 months to July, 1917 of £1,700. These have come through a Local Chemist in Peel. I was informed that the requirements of the Medical Staff are communicated to the Chemist who demands them from some wholesale firm and takes the trade commission for acting as the go-between. This may be a good plan to adopt but in all probability better terms could be obtained if competitive tenders were obtained from reliable mainland firms.

14. Large sums of money are expended from time to time for Stationary, Books, etc, £1500 was so disbursed in 18 months. Also large sums are expended in the purchase of rolls of sanitary paper. In October, 1916 over £200 was so spent.Inexpensive brown paper as used in Prisons would answer every purpose. It is a matter for consideration whether the Staionary Office should not be approached with a view to their supplying what may be necessary. I have seen an official of the Department who tells me in all probability the Controller would supply what is needed in this direction if the requisition were sent through the Local Government Board, as through this Department Internment Camps in other parts are being supplied free of cost. I fould that envelopes bought in the Island for 8/6 per thousand cost the Stationery Office only 5/3.

15. Much more money might, in my opinion, be obtained by the sale of condemned stores if offers were invited from firms outside the Island. It is quite likely that firms who purchase prison Condemned Stores by public Auction would be willing to visit the Island and bid for the Stores. If desired I could make enquiries in this direction.

16. Another matter which seems to require attention and adjustment is a practice of charging to the Camp funds the cost of conveyances inb the Island required by Officials from London to the Camp. Frequent payments of as much as £3 3 0 per day for motors for such visitors are made These items ought really followiong the procedure adopted in the Public Services generally, to be included in the travelling claims of the Officials who draw their expenses from their head offices. The charge is not proper to the Camp funds. Luncheons also are supplied and paid for out of Camp funds for some visitors, although doubtless the gentlemen for whom they are provided draw the customary subsistance allowances. To imagine that the supply of Luncheons is a matter of hospitality is a mistake.

17. In reference to articles put aside for inspection by Board of Survey at Knockaloe with a view to their condemnation, I noticed a large quantity of drinking mugs minus handles, but otherwie in perfect condition.It was represented that the Commandant objected to their being used, in case the man should find them hot to their fingers when handling them. To condemn such articles would be a manifest waste.

18. A very large stock of coal is in the Camp at Knockaloe, something like 10,000 tons ; the weekly consumption, it was stated, was about 140 tons.

19. Very heavy expenditure is incurred for carting coal in consequence of objections which are stated to exist to men from one Camp entering another. All the coal for No. 4 Camp has consequently to be carted by free labour. It ought to be possible for men from No. 4 Camp to be taken to the stack of coal in another Camp and obtain their requirements either in barrows or on trucks as is done in Nos 1,2,and 3 Camps. The men would be under supervision. It is stated that it was desirable to prevent even the possibility of men from different Camps coming into contact with each other. If the supervision exercised is worth anything this objection is met at once, and, moreover, if men wish to exchange opinions they can always prefer a request to see the Commandant, and prior to their interviews they more or less associate while waiting for their turns to enter his office. Moreover it would have to be a perfect system which would prevent the passing of notes from one Camp to another.


20. A system ought to be devised under which Leather is inspected and reported on when received at the Camps. At Knockaloe some very inferior sole leather was in store. The Alien, in whose custody it was, stated that on arrival only the weight of the material was checked.

21. When I endeavoured to elict from the civilian Master Tailor what guarantee he had that he obtained a full equivalent from the various tailors' shops for the material which he issued.He assured me that he always got the full equivalent in garments. When questioned further and pressed he admitted that on one occasion a loss of forty yards of Moleskin occurred in making garments and with considerable hesitation he finally admitted that the cutter made up the deficiency out of the next lot of garments he had to make. If, therefore, a man can save 40 yards on one occasion, he can save on the scale on other occasions, but this apparently, has never been shown. This ability to save in cutting opens the door to misappropriation of public property.

22. As to leather it is also possible for considerable leakage to take place. At the time of the institution of Knockaloe as a Camp, every man was wearing boots; at the present time most of the destitute aliens are supplied with clogs, yet there is but a slight dimunition in the quantity of leather requisitioned for Camp purposes

23. The obvious remedy for the waste referred to in paragraphs 21 and 22 is to form central boot-repairing anf tailoring shops, but this would perhaps entail considerable expense in the purchase of suitable buildings. A Quarter-Master well up in his duties ought to be able to exercise control over these matters.

24. While going though a Tailor's shop I noticed an Alien making a private coat. At my request the Quarter-Master asked for whom it was being made, as the Alien had declined to afford either me or the Auditor the information.It transpired that it was being made for a Civil Officer who, when afterwards questioned, admitted he had no authority for getting the article made. It may be that the trimmings for the coat were Government material and that the alien would have been privately compensated by the Officer for making the garment. This practice may be general, but upon this point I was unable to obtain any information.

25. During the time that 'extra food' (i.e. four and syrup) was issued, it was the custom for the Camp authorities to buy back from the various compounds flour which they had contrived to save, presumably because the food was not required. Between July, 1916 and March, 1917 nearly 1,000 sacks of 256lbs each were brought back from the Aliens among whom the money was, it is supposed, distributed and by whom it was, in all probability, spent at the Canteen. ...





29. The existing arrangements for the provision of food to the Aliens seems to be an economical one. The Camp Authorities state that the full War Office scale is allowed. It is a matter for wonder to me how the Contractors can afford to do the feeding at the prices being paid. They must be in a position to obtain some of the messing ingredients from local sources at very low rates. It must, however, be remembered the Camps supply all kitchen utensils, cooking plant and fuel, which latter item is not small.

30. A regular charge appeared for some time in the accounts for "Caretaker at Government Potatoe Store". ....







36. Concerning the rent of £800 per annum for Knockaloe Camp, it is observed from a receipt for a year's School Board Rate that this rate is calculated upon a net rental of £399 only. I was informed by Mr. Sargeaunt that for Camp purposes, twice the Agricultural value was decided to be paid. The sum of £800 per annum seems a high rent to pay



39. Staff at Knockaloe. The section paid out of Camp Funds. Some of the salaries seem to be fixed upon a liberal basis. All Officers receive, in addition to their pay, free messing and quarters. For Senior Officers (about 20 in number) the messing allowance is fixed at 21/- per week, that for Junior Officers at 15/6 per week. The value of quarters for the Junior Officers cannot be put at less than 2/6 per week. ...

40. The question also arises whether so many officials are really necessary now that the Camp is thoroughly established:
150 Alien Joiners
27 " Masons (there is very little stone work in the Camp)
45 " Postmen
230 " Labourers
31 censors (they deal with an average of 70 letters each per day)


41. There are differences in the pay of officers of corresponding rank at Knockaloe and Douglas :-


42. A "Transport" staff has of late months been appointed

1 Transport Officer @ £350 a year plus allowances
1 Assistant Officer @ 208 a year plus allowances
1 Clerk @ £1 per week

43. The Auditor at £150 a year, plus allowances, well earns his money. He also receives a salary in connection with the Canteen.

44. On the whole, the Island Authorities have done good service in dealing with the many financial matters which have arisen, many of which required prompt attention. At the same time, in my judgment, considerable economy could have been exercised in reference to the number and pay of Officials and the purchase of some stores. The Island Authorities object has been, apparently, to spend as much of the money, necessary to be disbursed, in the Island as possible, and in fixing the scale of pay and allowances to provide that the Officials should receive incomes certainly not less than those ruling in the Island during its most prosperous pre-war days. Purchases might be restricted now in regard to the purchase of coal and blankets, both of which items are expensive and of which large stocks are in hand.

It is a circumstance worthy of note that the total gross expenditure per week per head for the two camps has for the past 19 months averaged exactly 10/- a week, the net expenditure being only a 1d less. If this is due to accident it points to a most extraordinary combination of circumstances, if it is the result of deliberate spending it shows evidence of most careful accounting.

W. H. T. Walker


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2019