WW1 Internment on Isle of Man

These pages cover various topics connected with Internment of Enemy Aliens on the Isle of Man during WW1.

The Isle of Man was used as a base for Alien Civilian Internment camps in both WWI (1914-18) and again in WWII (1939-45); for WWI a very large camp (effectively a small, self-contained, township) was established at Knockaloe, Patrick, on the west coast near Peel. This camp was for male internees - women were not interned. There was another smaller camp at Douglas. There was a proposal to intern 30 'ringleaders of the Irish Rebellion' of 1916 but this was dropped.

Certain aspects of the two camps are covered in somewhat more detail in

A report on the costs of the two camps is also available.


The Manx Museum has a short, free, factsheet (factsheet No 1) available on request (also on-line at their website). The factsheet is mostly given over to a bibliography.
For WWI , the Anglo-German Family History Society has published several booklets which give some background information and/or diaries etc of camp internees.

Online References

B.E. Sargeaunt The Isle of Man & the Great War Douglas: Brown & Sons 1920 chapter 3 is a semi-official history of the administration of the camps by the, at that time, Government Secretary and Treasurer. (I'm afraid it reads a bit like one of those official reports - concentrates very much on the administration rather than the internees but provides a reasonable description of early days at Knockaloe).

Chapter VI of St. Stephen's House paints a more bleak picture of Internment and Knockaloe Camp. James Baily was the Quaker craftsman who organised much of the basket making etc in the camp. His biography by son Leslie Baily in Craftsman and Quaker London George Allen & Unwin 1959, deals extensively with this aspect.

Paul Cohn-Portheim in Time stood still New York E. F Dutton & Co 1932 gives another dismal picture of early days at Knockaloe - he was interned in late May 1915 and after a brief stay at Stratford was sent to Knockaloe before gaining a transfer to Wakefield.

P. Stoffa Round the World to Freedom London:Bodley Head 1933 - chapters 12-14 cover his internment at Knockaloe.

Otto Schimming 13 Months behind barbed wire gives an account of Knockaloe from late 1916

F.L. Dunbar-Kalckreuth Die Männerinsel in an English translation is now available

A visit of Journalists in 1916 is reported in Manx Quarterly.

Offline References

Knockaloe Internment Camp 100 Years of History by Rosalind Stimpson with Stephen Hall 2014 Ramsey: Lily ISBN 978-1-907945-77-9 - extremely well illustrated from Stephen's significant collection of Knockaloe related material but with little discussion - Stimpson adding the captions & a short introduction.

Living with the Wire: Civilian Internment in the Isle of Man during the the two world wars Douglas: Manx National Heritage, 1994 (ISBN 0-901106-35-6) - a short but informative booklet, originally written to accompany an exhibition at the Manx Museum, however the revised edition 2010 (ISBN 0-901106-63-6) has been considerably expanded(especially re WW2) with much more information including discussion of the art of some of the Jewish internees of WW2 (based on a 2009 exhibition) - well recommended.

M. West Island at War Laxey:Western Books (Author's own publication), 1986 (ISBN 0-9511512-0-7) - deals mainly with those who fought in WWI (includes list of all those killed on active service) but has three chapters giving an historical account of Knockaloe. Has many illustrations and some details of internees - a good account, although as no references are given it is not easy to verify any details. Should still be available from Island bookshops.

Mathew Richardson This Terrible Ordeal Manx Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War Douglas:Manx National Heritage 2013 (ISBN 978-0-901106-67-4) Chapter 3 "The Torment of Captivity" offers an excellent discussion on how the internment camps at Douglas and Knockaloe were viewed by all parties.

Manx Transport Heritage Museum The Peel to Knockaloe Railway 1915 to 1920 Peel 2018 pb 32pp - available £5+ p&p from Manx Transport Heritage Museum Mill Road, PEEL, IM5 1TB

Graham Mark Prisoners of War in British Hands during WW1 ; The Postal History Society 2007 ISBN 978-0-85377-029-9 - has a description of many of the WW1 internment camps

Very many photographs exist of various aspects of WWI camp life - see many on www.iMusem.im

 Manx Note Book   [History Index]


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2018