Knockaloe Camp - Arrivals


Unlike Douglas Camp the register book for Knockaloe does not appear to have survived - the figures on internee numbers are derived from the daily register of internee numbers held as part of Manx Museum MS 09310 (5 boxes labelled "Isle of Man Constabulary archives") which is a specially printed book dating from 14 September 1915 into which earlier records had been transcribed. It would appear from a note in the Camp Letter book noting a letter sent to the Government Secretary dated 24th April 1915 that internee counts were in error by 6 from 24 March onwards for though transfers were marked off in Orders and Register books they were omitted from the small book kept for numbers.

Each leaf of this new book covers a week running Sunday to Saturday with each day split between the 4 camps with major columns headed "Total present at 9am yesterday", "Since admitted", "Since released" and "Total present at 9am today" together with a count of those in hospital and a space for remarks. Each column is split into subcolumns headed G(for German), A(Austrian),T(Turkish - later subdivided into T + B(Bulgarian) and O for other (this being required by War Office letter 0103/3355 from 1st May 1915 onwards). The Isolation hospital is included under camp III where the number of the camp and isolation hospitals are indicated as e.g. 20/100 - typically about 1% of each camp would be in the camp hospital and about 0.5% of the total in the Isolation hospital though numbers fluctuated quite considerably. One note found throughout this book was the monthly return of the average daily number of internees. The considerable number of internees that were sent to Douglas or Liverpool (Walton) prisons, the Lunatic Asylum at Union Mills or Noble's Hospital in Douglas would gain a new internee number on any re-admittance to the camp - the sole surviving Camp Orders Book which covers the final few months of the camp includes many examples of such allocated numbers - the highest number so allocated in September 1919 just prior to camp closure was 34936.

Given the assumption of sequential numbering of internees as they entered under camp control then it would appear straightforward, albeit tedious, to keep a tally of such arrivals and derive an internee number or in the case of the large group arrivals a range of numbers into which that of any specific internee should fall. This exercise has been tried, the derived numbers track the relatively few whose true camp numbers and arrival dates are known, which after allowing for a couple of clerical errors in the register (e.g. wrong column entries) the derived and known numbers differ by at most 30 but usually nearer 10 - there may be some further entry errors still be be found but it would appear that the derived numbers may be used to indicate the arrival date to within a few days or better.If so then as the arrival register for arrivals post 5th October 1915 (or camp number 20980) generally indicates from where they arrived, it can also provide their previous place of internment. One possible cause of this discrepancy was the handling of escapees - these appeared as such as departures and arrivals but as they were still under Camp 'Ownership' they should not be included in any re-allocation of Camp numbers.

How did internees arrive at the camp?

Internees could arrive into Peel by sea or by rail either to Peel station or to St John's station both of which were within an marchable distance from the camp. Large groups could arrive by specially arranged ferries from Liverpool, Fleetwood or Heysham all of which had good links to the national UK rail network and easy transfer to the quayside for large groups - though in the case of Liverpool this would require the use of Riverside station rather than the city centre Lime Street station to avoid a 1km transfer across the city to the pierhead though smaller groups would be conveyed from Lime Street station to Pierhead by motorised Black Marias.. These boats would moor alongside the breakwater in the outer harbour at Peel as the inner harbour was tidal and only suitable for smaller vessels; the internees would be marched along the causeway and West Quay to reach the railway station (see illustration of troops landing in Peel in 1910).

Smaller groups would arrive by the service ferries linking Douglas with the other Irish Sea ports. Paul Stoffa describes how his group was kept in a roped off part of the deck with an armed escort - several comments can be found in the Insular papers noting that this caused significant inconvenience to the other passengers.

Frederick Dunbar describes another journey by special train to Liverpool followed by a rough winter crossing to Douglas where they docked as the 'mole'. These groups would be marched the 500m to Douglas railway station for a train to Peel or possibly St Johns as described below. Some newspaper accounts mention that these specially arranged sailings docked at the Battery Pier usually used for freight and well away from any other passengers who would use Victoria Pier, which would allow a march down the less frequented South quay to the station - this would match Dunbar's description of arrival at the 'mole'

On arrival by either means in Peel the group would be marched under armed escort the little over 2km from Peel station to the camp. The temporary rail link between Peel harbour East Quay and the camp which opened on 1st September 1915 was only used for movement of goods such as fuel and food to the camp. For some large groups it would appear that the sidings at St John's, used in peace time to accommodate the large crowds attending Tynwald, were used and the internees marched to the camp along the St John's to Patrick Village road - a 4km walk

An added complication in transfers of large groups to the Island was that the Admiralty had requisitioned the majority of the IoMSPCo fleet within the first months of the war leaving only the smaller vessels generally used for the winter service available - the Snaefell used for the first week of transfers was itself requisitioned shortly afterwards. The Admiralty had also requisitioned many of the boats belonging to the Railway Companies used in the various Irish services - by 1916 these were needed to act as hospital ships bringing the thousands of wounded soldiers back from France - it is not clear if those used in 1915 were requisitioned by then or were chartered - it was however noted that the Midland Railway services from Heysham using the Manxman had ceased by summer 1915.

The first of many arrivals of groups of internees arrived on the morning of Tuesday 17th November and described in the Peel City Gauardian of the 11.11.1914 as:

First Batch for Knockaloe

In spite of the fact that the Alien Concentration Camp at Knockaloe is far from completed, a large number of alien prisoners have been sent to take up their quarters there. The first batch were landed at Peel on Tuesday morning. They were brought over by the Snaefell, which left Liverpool at 6-30 on Monday night, and arrived in Peel about one o'clock. She lay in the bay until daylight, and came alongside the breakwater about 7-30. The prisoners, which numbered 452, were landed shortly afterwards, and handed over to an escort from Knockaloe camp, and a start was made for the camp about 8-15. The morning, though bright, was very cold, but a very large number of the inhabitants of Peel turned out to witness what was a unique sight for Peel. The prisoners whilst crossing, were in charge of an escort fifty strong of the first battalion of the Aldershot National Reserve, and two officers. The officer in charge was Major Coles. The Peel company of the the Loyal Manx Association under Commandant Brownfield were posted at the side streets along the route, and they fell in behind the escort after they had passed and marched to the camp.

The prisoners were a very mixed lot, both as regards nationality and social position. The bulk of them seemed working class, sailors, etc., others looked like commercial men and the man of refinement was not absent. A number of them, however, were criminal-looking in appearance. Many of them were mere boys. There were six carts of luggage with them.

The escort from Aldershot marched along to the Marine Hotel, under the guidance of Mr T. W. Kermode, proprietor, where they were provided with a very substantial breakfast. They afterwards embarked on the Snaefell, which went round to Douglas to take a sailing from that port to Liverpool at 12 noon.

The use of Aldershot National Reserve suggests that the internees were the remainder of those held at Frimley - a first batch having been sent to Douglas - Heinrich Schmitz with Knockaloe internee number 273 and thus assumed to be one of this first batch includes a sketch of Frimley camp. It would appear that local reporters considered themselves expert at determining criminality at first sight.

The newspaper account continued by describing the second batch:

Further Arrivals

A second batch of aliens were landed at Peel breakwater on Thursday morning by the Snaefell. The Snaefell arrived off Peel about eleven o'clock on Wednesday night, and lay to anchor until seven o'clock on Thursday morning, when she came alongside the breakwater. The prisoners disembarked about eight o'clock, but it was not until about 8-45 that a start was made for the camp. The prisoners were guarded on board the vessel by fifty men and two officers of the National Reserve, who breakfasted at the Marine Hotel.

The aliens were again a mixed lot, but they were physically much superior to those landed on Tuesday. They seemed to be mostly sailors and artisans, with here and there commercial men. There were eight large carts full of luggage. Three of the prisoners, who were taken ill, were taken up to camp on a motor lorry.

Another boat load of Aliens is expected this (Saturday) morning, and another on Monday.

The third and fourth batches were reported by the Peel City Guardian 28 November 1914 thus:

The third batch of alien prisoners for Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp, was landed in Peel on Saturday morning. They were brought over on the Snaefell, which arrived off Peel late on Friday night. The work of disembarkation did not commence until about 7-45 a.m., when the prisoners were taken in charge by a guard of 120 men from the Knockaloe Camp. Considerable delay was occasioned in the start through a mistake in the count, and it was not until about 8-45 that a move was made. The aliens numbered 432, and were of an assorted character, a large number of them being sailors. Eight lorries of of luggage accompanied them. The escort of fifty, in charge of two officers, which crossed with the prisoners, marched to the Marine Hotel, where they breakfasted. The Peel members of the Loyal Manx association were again on duty, guarding the roads.

The Snaefell brought a further consignment of alien prisoners on Monday. She left Liverpool at 4.30 p.m. on Sunday. and arrived off Peel on Sunday evening, remaining at anchor until daylight on Monday morning, when disembarkation commenced. The party numbered 430, and were apparently not so mixed as the former batches. The majority of them seemed to be of the middle class, but there was among them a gentleman with three servants. Included in the lot was a band, the brass portion of which played "It's a long way to Tipperary" and other airs along the march to the camp. The band is a good one, and was lately fulfilling an engagement at Brighton. It will help to relieve the monotony on internment. Patriotic songs were sung by the prisoners as they marched. They have some fine voices among them. The party were accompanied by ten loads of baggage, mostly portmanteaus and boxes. A detachment of soldiers from Knockaloe escorted the prisoners to their enforced home, and the local members of the Loyal Manx Association, under Commander Brownfield, again guarded the route approaches. The boat escort, fifty men of the National Reserve, breakfasted at the Marine Hotel before going off again on the Snaefell.

It would appear that a classification mistake saw 10 captured combatants sent to Knockaloe in the Saturday batch as the report continued:

Prisoners Deported

On Monday morning, ten of the prisoners who had arrived on Saturday were sent back to Liverpool in the Snaefell. It was found that these men were captured combatants and therefore wrongly interned with civilian prisoners. The men were removed from the camp on Sunday evening and lodged for the night, under guard, some at the Police Station and some at the Custom House. They were taken to the Snaefell under guard on Monday Morning.

The Douglas shootings with five dead, occurred that Thursday lunchtime, though on Friday the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was invoked to prevent publication in Manx Newspapers until after the inquest was opened and adjourned on the 20th. However the two planned movements of large groups to Knockaloe took place but there were no further such movements to the Island until the beginning of March 1915. The Knockaloe arrival register, which for this period is derived from a now lost early register notes 1134 having arrived by that weekend with another 358 arriving by the Monday transfer. However the seriously overcrowded Douglas camp moved some 550 internees in batches of around 100 to Knockaloe during January 1915 as accommodation became available.

Transfers of these groups from Douglas Camp to Peel saw the internees marched the 3km down to Braddan Bridge where there was a siding used in peace time for the large number of tourists who went to the open-air Sunday service at Kirk Braddan, then by train to St Johns which was another station set up for the large crowds going to Tynwald Fair, followed by a 4km march to Knockaloe. This route in reverse was probably used for the large intercamp transfers in 1915 and later. Small group transfers from Knockaloe to non-Island camps would appear to use Douglas camp as an over night stopover allowing a more comfortable transfer to the 9am regular boat to Liverpool.

The large group transfers which recommenced in March 1915, the first such, being on the 3rd March, involved the Duke of Connaught (usually operating the Fleetwood to Belfast route for the LNWR) later transfers saw a sister ship the Duke of Clarence used, both non IoMSPCo vessels and crews hence the need to take on pilots in Peel bay; the later vessel built for the joint L&Y and LNWR Irish links from Fleetwood but later used on L&Y summer Hull/Zeebrugge sailings, was requisitioned by the Admiralty for use as an armed boarding vessel - unlike many such requisitioned boats it survived the war and returned to its prewar service.

One such arrival, described in the Ramsey Courier (5.3.1915) saw the Duke of Connaught leaving Fleetwood at midnight 1st April and mooring at the breakwater by 7.30am on Tuesday morning after taking on three Peel pilots whilst in the bay - the 600+ internees, most from the ships at Southend, arranged in a 4-deep column were marched to Knockaloe at 8.15am under an armed guard aided by the Loyal Manx Association - the internees sang Gloria, their favourite according to the report, whilst marching along the West Quay. The on-board escort of about 100 men breakfasted at the Marine Hotel. Some 12 lorries were need to transport the luggage. The internees were noted as extremely fit and well clad - the arrival register of Knockaloe noted 607 arrivals - however Mona's Herald (3.3.1915) stated 614 and that they had departed Liverpool which indicates that all such newspaper accounts need some checking!

The Arrival register gives the following dates for large parties of arrivals, if the time of arrival was after 9am they may be registered as on the following day - generally the transfers involving Peel breakwater saw the internees embarked late the previous night for an overnight crossing with the vessel at anchor in Peel Bay until early morning when it came alongside the breakwater and allowed the internees to disembark - once the novelty of such transfers had worn off, the newspaper reporting was generally perfunctory and often contradictory between papers in small details such as actual numbers. Numbers recorded in the register were just a count of each nationality - there could be several smaller groups admitted on the same day e.g. those returning from Walton Prison(Liverpool) would arrive on a regular service escorted by Liverpool policemen, where such are clear they have been removed from the counts in the table below. The Batch identification is my own to serve as an identification for known arrivals with that batch.

Arrival Date No Batch Camp # range Reference Report
19141117 452 A1 1-452   see above reports
19141119 260? A2     according to arrival reg the 1st three batch came to 1134
19141121 422 A3 -1144   432 landed 10 returned
19141123 430 A5     - the arrival reg has 358
    B1-4     4 Batches of approx 100 transferred from Douglas Camp
19150303 607 C1 2256-2862 RC19150503,
Duke of Connaught as above - most from Southend; others from Stratford
19150313 400 C2 2864-3263    
19150323 550 C3 3266-3815 Ex19152703 Duke of Clarence from Fleetwood landed 550 most from the Lancaster Camp
19150324 600 C4 3816-4315    
19150408 506 C5 4317-4822   from Queensferry
19150409 502 C5     from Southend - too boisterous for Peel arrived at Douglas
19150519 522 D1   MH19150506,
450 arr by Duke of Clarence at Peel with early disembark at 7am, large no of Turks but majority sailors - the rest probably arrived via Douglas as PCG has some 40 arriving Tues eve + marched from St Johns]
19150522 500 D2   MH19150526 see note in letter book giving short notice - Duke of Clarence landed 500 (for some reason Mona's Herald claimed this was the 25th such cargo of 500
19150601 436 D3     [in letter book 434 noting as from Stratford] - arrivals register has 436 arrivals 371 German and 65 Austrian
19150617 665 D4   IT19150619 Duke of Clarence landed Weds, Thurs + Fri 250,400 + 350
19150618 344 D5   PCG19150626 Duke of Clarence landed Peel
19150619 500 D6   PCG19150626 Duke of Clarence landed Peel both this + prev day very good class; IoM Times stated included at least 50 officers of merchant vessels in uniform
19150620 500 D7      
19150623 500 D8   PCG19150626 SS Manxman - mostly sailors
19150624 476 D9      
19150625 418 D10   PCG19150626 by SS Manxman - mostly artisans + business man
19150626 500 D11      
19150707 600 D12     Chief Constable's diary19150608 notes Duke of Clarence landed600 [at Douglas] as [wind?] too strong for Peel
19150708 568 D13      
19150722 400 E1   MH19150728 400 arrived at Peel by SS Donegal (escort = 80) - Donegal one of Midland Rly Heysham-Belfast ferries - requisitioned as hospital ship for transferring wounded back from France + sunk by Uboat in 1917 (Heysham services had ceased by Aug 1916)
19150723 300 E2   MH19150728  
19150724 301 E3      
19150729 497 E4      
19150730 502 E5      
19150804 400 E6   PCG19150807 mixed lot some very rowdy + refused to carry their packs
19150806 601 E7   PCG19150807 newspaper report has 500
19150811 400 E8   RC19150820 Headed "Another thousand alien prisoners"
19150813 600 E9   RC19150820 SS Duke of Clarence landing 'cargoes' on Weds + Friday mornings [see also Schonwalder's diary]
19150913 665 F1   PCG19150918 660 from Lancaster Wagon Works camp being broken up - SS Duke of Connaught 5pm Sun at Douglas breakwater + marched along south quay - train to St Johns then march (frequent stops to count )
19150914 665 F2   Ex19150918,
665 landed by SS Duke of Connaught at Douglas on 14 Sep + sent on by 2 special trains and some 16400 in camp; PCG agrees with number by train to Peel - very mixed batch most labouring classes
19150917 661 F3      
19150919 664 F4   Ex19150925 about 700 landed at Battery pier by SS Duke of Connaught on Sat 18 Sep , 650 on Tues 21st but not landed until 8.30am on Weds 22nd
19150923 550 F5     probably the Weds group but arriving after 9.30am thus entered into following day's count
19150925 600 F6      
19150930 600 F7      
    G1-G6     6 daily groups of 185 to 245 from Handforth - probably by regular crossings from Liverpool
19151011 600 H1     From Alexandra Palace - Dunbar was in this group, train to Liverpool Riverside then S S Tynwald from Liverpool to Douglas
19151204 684 H2     From Handforth + Stratford PCG19151204 - SS Londonderry at Peel abt 700 formed a motley crowd containing a good number of seafaring men + large no of lads, said 200 Bulgarians [?did boat return taking the 500 National Guard at Knockaloe who volunteered - garrison duty in Egypt or India]
19160706 1001 J1     From Stobs - Chief Constable's diary19160705 reports 1003 PoWs arrived from Stobs Camp Harwick by S S Rathmore from Whitehaven at 7 [pm?]- landed at Battery pier billets found in Douglas for 217 strong escort - TSS Rathmore, built 1908, was a LNWR ship based at Holyhead (for Irish service - sank May 1914 but later salvaged and resumed service) [camp arrivals noted 1001 - note due to arrival post 9am entered under following day in register]
19160707 1068 J2     From Stobs - Chief Constable's diary 19160706 - 1068 PoWs arrived from Stobs (by Steamer Rathmore) escort had to wait overnight for departure of steamer to Holyhead - CC placed them in Butter Market overnight - when leaving at 10 [am?] the captain in charge [of escort] wanted one of his men taken into custody for insubordination - Sergt Corkill of police declined, stating not a matter for a civil court
19160714 500 K1     From Alexandra Palace - Chief Constable's diary 19160713 - 500 PoWs from Alexandra Palace arrived by ordinary steamer
19160802 300 K2     From Alexandra Palace - Chief Constable's diary 19160801 - 301 PoWs from Alexandra Palace arrived by ordinary steamer
19160905 300 K3     From Alexandra Palace - Chief Constable's diary 19160904 - 300 PoWs came by SS Connaught with 300 returned by boat via Holyhead
19160926 201 K4     From Alexandra Palace - (possibly by regular boats)
19160928 299 K5     From Alexandra Palace -
19161229 193 L1     From Alexandra Palace - some 519 were transferred back to AP on the same day
19170323 346 M1     From Yate (Bristol)
19170504 69 N1     From Alexandra Palace -
19170530 79 N2     From Corby
19170606 138 N3     From Alexandra Palace -200 transferred out to Whitley Abbey, Coventry
19170811 84 P1     From Douglas
19171021 100 Q1     From Ringwood
19171031 299 Q2     From Douglas
19180425 107 R1     from Edinburgh Castle (Trawler Crews)
19180527 449 S1     From Oldcastle - Chief Constable's diary 19180526 - 449 PoWs came by SS Tynwald at 9.30 am from Dublin for Knockaloe and train left for Peel at 11.15. A constable in charge of baggage on steamer all night.
19181011 272 T1     From Wakefield (Priv Camp)- Chief Constable's diary 19181010 - 273 PoWs arrived from Wakefied for Knockaloe
19181012 491 T2     From Wakefield - Chief Constable's diary 19181011 - 502 PoWs arrive from Wakefied for Knockaloe, the Jews amongst them to be taken to Douglas
19181212 154 V1     58 from Bulford + 96 from Leighterton? -Chief Constable's diary 19181211 - over 190 PoWs arrived for Knockaloe Camp under military escort; missed 5.45pm train + got away 8.10pm.
19190405 110 X1     From Douglas Camp (now closed)
Ex = Examiner, IT = IoM Times, MH = Mona's Herald, PCG = Peel City Guardian, RC = Ramsey Courier - dates = yyyymmdd
Chief Constable's Diaries 1911-1918 MS 09310

Transfers between the two Manx Camps

There were well over 1200 transfers from Douglas to Knockaloe, with about the same number in the reverse direction - a couple of hundred internees would see a transfer from Knockaloe to Douglas and back again some months later . Any infraction of Douglas camp rules was almost guaranteed to see a transfer to Knockaloe after any time spent in the cells - there are comments from Alexandra Palace internees that Knockaloe was used to remove undesirables from that camp as well. It would appear that some 60% of those interned at Douglas spent some time in Knockaloe.

The closure of Douglas Camp saw the remaining 110 internees transferred on the 4th April 1919 to Camp I the last remaining Knockaloe camp.


Departures from the camp in early 1919 could involve groups of up to 1000 internees - they would probably again use specially arranged boats departing from Peel. However the Isle of Man Examiner 22 February 1919 reports under Douglas News that "Today (Saturday), at about noon, the S.S. Cambria, owned by the London and North-Western Railway Co., is due to leave Douglas with about one thousand enemy aliens, who are being transferred from Knockaloe to Alexander [sic Alexandra] Palace with a view to immediate repatriation."

Those allowed to remain in the UK were released in batches of 10 a day rising to 40 a day towards the final weeks of the camp. They would be given a railway warrant to be presented for the 9am boat to Liverpool and travel onwards to their destination.


Manx Museum MS 09310 - includes the Camp Letter books and a Camp Orders Book
Manx Museum - 2 volumes of Col Madoc's daily log covering his decisions etc at Douglas
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
Living with the Wire: Civilian Internment in the Isle of Man during the the two world wars Douglas: Manx National Heritage, 2nd Ed 2010

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