Knockaloe Camp - Camp 4


Diagramatic plan of Camp 4 - South to the top with rising ground to the south.

This was the last camp to be constructed opening in September 1915 and the largest camp with 7 compounds - ground was left for an eighth compound but this was not needed and the area used as a vegetable garden. It was also the camp used for various specialised compounds - e.g. in 1916 compound 7 was noted as the "Old Mans' Camp" in the inquest [Ramsey Courier 19160317] for a totally blind internee sent to Knockaloe from Handforth.

Privilege Camp

Compound 7 was in the final few months of the camp used as a privilege camp to accept those transferred by the closure of Wakefield Camp. Kny gives a good description:

On October the 8th & 10th, 1918 the Civilian Prisoners of War at Lofthouse Park Wakefield, were transferred to Camp IV, Knockaloe. The inmates of Compound 4 in this Camp had been drafted into the other Compounds to make room for the new arrivals. The Compound then became the "Privilege Camp", the inmates agreeing to pay 11/- shillings per head per week for an improvement of the rations, service, china and linen, and for the concession to consume spirits (wine only) and the separation from the general Camp. ...

He concluded:

By way of comparison much could be said about the instituted "Privilege Compounds" and the physical and mental standards of the men could be cited as proof. May it suffice to say that huts and cubicles for individual Ps/W. are not with the element of danger accentuated by the conditions and length of confinement. Although much personal comfort had been sacrificed the mere service elements of the personal comfort had been sacrificed the more serious elements of the Privileged Compound agreed that the mode of living in a well regulated general Camp like Camp IV proved more wholesome and healthy, apart from climatic advantages.

The Dietary was by late 1918 more generous that that of 1916/7 Douglas Camp

Knockaloe Privilege Camp,
DIETARY.

To be issued Daily by the Contractor in respect of each Prisoner of War in the Camp, on and after 1st October, 1918.

Bread 1oz.  
Biscuit 3 "  
Flour ¾ "  
*Meat (fresh or frozen) 4 " on five days a week.
Fish (cured) 12 " on two days a week.
Edible Fat ½ "  
Tea ¼ "  
or Coffee ½ "  
Sugar . 1 "  
Salt ½ oz  
Pepper (black) 1-72 "  
Oatmeal 4 "  
Syrup ½ "  
Split Peas or Beans or Rice 2½"  
Potatoes 20 "  
Fresh Vegetables (other than potatoes) 4 "  
*On three days when fresh or frozen meat is issued eight ounces of herring will be issued in addition.

By Order,
B. E. SARGEAUNT,
Government Secretary. Government Office,
Isle of Man,
30th September, 1918.

Messing Officer J Garside noted 491 PoWs arrived in Camp 4 from Wakefield on 10th Oct 1918 - he arranged to collect the money for the following week from the Privilege Camp each Friday morning - on 18 Oct some 76 stated they did not wish to pay so he had to request the Commandant to see them removed by Sunday night.

Reports from the Privilege Camp were that the rations are much better than they got at Wakefield. "They have had fresh meat for the three days. Not seen fresh meat for 12 months previous. Sometimes not even frozen meat. Nearly all herrings. Two weeks completely without meat. Horseflesh was offered to them , but they refused it. So they had only Vegetable soups. No syrup for some time..."

...

Boys' Camp

Another experiment was the Boys Camp opened in compound 4 from November 1917 to its dispersal in in November 1918. This was according to Kny a mistaken experiment.

In November 1917 all the "Juvenile" Prisoners of War In the Knockaloe Camps were drafted into a separate Compound (7) of Camp IV, but again dispersed and sent back to their old Camps and compounds in November 1918 - twelve months afterwards. The idea underlying -evidently based on humanistic principles - was one of separating the Boys ( averaging 17 to 18 years of age and numbering about 300) from the adult Ps/W. with whom they had necessarily been in close association up to this period. The origin of this step is not quite clear to the signatories of this Report so that it can be placed on record without prejudice that the belated concentration and the consequent isolation of the juvenile elements did not prove successful - however well intentioned.

Though, after discussing the successful scheme of the "Boys' Own Theatre" he concludes with:

From the above it will be seen that the Boys could only be attracted by recreative activities which must be accounted for by the fact that prior to their isolation - which they looked upon as a punishment - they were individually allowed to drift whilst associating with the Adult Ps/W. A timely separation alone could have prevented the apathy and irreconcilable spirit shown.

It would appear that the inital start of the experiment produced considerable problems both in organisation within the compound as it would appear the boys were too immature to handle the committee structure used in other compounds, especially the all important Kitchen Committee which ran the Compound Kitchen as well as irresponsible behaviour that ought to have been expected when several hundred youngsters were placed together in close proximity eg breaking out from the wire.

The acting Compound Sergeant, Henry Turner, who in peace time had been an attendant at a lunatic asylum, committed suicide in late November 1917 after only some three weeks experience of the changes in the compound having made complaints he was worried to death with the boys. The report in Peel City Guardian 1 December 1917 :

Compound Sergeant Bush who also lived in the compound with Turner stated that "On the last two or three days he had been in the habit of complaining of the same thing. On Sunday morning about 9-15 I had information to go to get twelve boys, and the deceased had warned them. He asked me if they had come, and I said "no", and he said he was worried to death with them, and it was enough to kill anyone. I think the thing was getting seriously on his nerves.

As the boys were thought incapable of forming a Kitchen Committee the Messing Officer J. Garside had to take the Kitchen under his supervision. In the diary he kept he noted under 7th Nov 1917 that the plans were to increase the number of boys in Compound 7 by taking all under 21 years of age from all other Compounds. This will bring the number to about 520 (123 were moved from Camp2 on the 15th Nov). He also took £197 from the Canteen Fund to start the business.

By the 10th November he had a small committee of four elder boys elected and explained to them the method and work he wished them to do. However this was not too successful as on 14th Dec he noted some trouble and saw the appointed Chef, [Compound] Captain and hut Captain together with one of the complaining boys to point out how Compound Kitchen work must be run and complaints from internees handled.

Around this period, due in large to U-boat activities, food was in short supply, eg the Government had taken over the supply of potatoes for the whole Island and rations for the internees had been reduced and he was looking to reduce possible wastage (eg in bread supply), likewise margerine, sugar and tea had to be rationed or replaced by alternatives. Poor quality food was also being delivered - possibly the alien internment camps were not looked on with any favour by suppliers who would themselves be under great presure. The Camp dietaries changed several times over the winter and spring - each time seeing further restrictions.

Other compounds had various schemes, e.g. running a Skittle Alley or successful theatres that could recycle some of the internees own money to buy more food items to enliven the diet for all in the compound - however little or no such money seemed accessible for the boys.

On 18th November Garside noted that Some of the Boys in Compound 7, Camp IV again causing troble. Staff (ie that Alien Staff Garside installed and paid to run the Kitchen) wish to leave. "Told them to give me their notice at the weekend if they wished to leave. When they have given it they will not be allowed to withdraw."

Things however must have settled down as no further problems unique to compound 7 are mentioned.


Index page index  

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