Report on Knockaloe Camp

Introduction

Up to the entry of the USA into the war the Americans looked after the interests of the German Government - one of their duties was to inspect and report on the various internment camps - one such report is given here reformatted from the original 11 p[age typescript but otherwise unchanged.

Text

(German Division) 9, Carlton House Terrace, London, S.W. May 18th, 1916.

We have the honor to submit to you herewith a report covering a visit of inspection to the Prisoners of War Internment Camp at Knockaloe, near Peel, Isle of Man, on April 28th, April 30th and May 1st, 1916.

Direction

The camp is under the general supervision of the Home Office and the Commandant is Lt. Col, F. W. Panzera, C.M.G. There is a Sub-Commandant in charge of each of the four compounds; in Camp I. Major Kaye, in Camp II, Major Fyfe-Scott, in Camp III, Major Dickson, in Camp IV. Major Tobin

Prisoners

There were 20563 men interned at this camp on the day of our first visit, April 29th, 1916, of whom 5887 were in Camp I., 4423 in Camp II., 4640 in Camp III, and 5873 in Camp IV. Of these 16936 were German, 3382 were Austrian, 101 were Turks and 144 were of other nationalities.

Committees

Besides the usual "Lowry" and "Markel" Committees there were the following:-
Relief Committee.
Kitchen Committee, having control of the kitchens
Recreative Hall Committee.
A Prisoners' Aid Society. A copy of their reports hereto annexed (Exhibits A1 and A2)
Sports Committees.
Gynasium Committees. which arrange classes in club-swinging. parallel bars, boxing, etc.
Industrial Committee. The tools for woodwork, etc., are provided by the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in Distress. A Central Industrial Committee has been formed in each camp, consisting of a Chairman and a member representing the Industrial Committee in each Compound.
Education Committees, which have charge of all Educational activities in the camp. Instruction is given in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mathematics, Political Economy, Book-keeping, Stenography, Penmanship, Landscape Gardening, etc. The Instructors are all German.
Library Committees. There is a central library in each camp and reserve libraries in each compound. There are approximately 4000 books in each camp, of which 40% are in constant circulation. A penny per month is charged for books lent to men who can afford to pay it.
Musical Committees. The prisoners have both string and brass orchestras in each of the four camps. Concerts are given from time to time, both separately and in connection with the dramatic performances. Dramatic Committees. Plays are given in both German and English with considerable regularity. The costumes, scenery and stage settings are all arranged by the inmates of the camps.
A Sick and Burial Board. which cares for the prisoners during their last illness and sees that they are properly buried in an adjacent churchyard, also attends to their graves. This Sick and Burial Board is at present made up of men from Camp II, but it is hoped that soon representatives from all the camps will be on the Committee.

All these Committees are chosen and run by the interned men themselves. There is also, in Camp IV., a Central Committee, about the appointment of which there appears to be some discussion and dissatisfaction. This matter is alluded to later in this report.

Sleeping Accomodation

There has been practically no change in the sleeping accomodation since the last visit. The Huts are sectional, being of the regular War Office patters, 30 ft. by 15ft., each section holding 30 men. Six huts are placed together and each hut is capable of accomodating 180 men. They are provided with trestle-tables and chairs for each group of ten men, and each man had a bed board, mattress and 3 blankets. The huts are being put in good weather proof condition and are being protected against the wind and rain by felt and tarred paper. We were told that arrangements were also being made to provide the huts with porches, so that the doors might be sheltered. The huts were examined and were found clean, well-lighted and well-ventilated. The drainage of these camps is on the waterborne system. There have been improvements made in the sanitary arrangements since the last visit. Wash-houses have been built in all the compounds and about 40 washhouses provided in each. The bathrooms have been divided to supply dressing and bathing accomodations and are fitted with hot and cold water. Drying rooms were also attached. Each camp has a disinfecting and stoving chamber. The incinerator for refuse has been done away with. Refuse is now thrown into the sea from a high cliff at a short distance from the camp, where it is rapidly carried away by the tide, and the garbage is carted far away into the country and used for purposes of manure. We were informed that attention is being given to the drainage and water question. Both of these were much improved since the last visit and additional improvements are being made. End screens are being provided for the latrines to prevent draughts, and many were already in place.

Infirmary

Each camp has its own hospital. There were 8 doctors employed and 40 German attendants. The patients were divided as follows:- In Camp I. there were 39 in-patients. In Camp II. there were 38 in-patients. In Camp III. there were 38 in-patients. In Camp IV. there were 31 in-patients. There is also an Isolation Hospital for contagious diseases, situated at a distance from the camps, where there were 44 patients. During the time of our visit the number of in-patients varied from 186 to 190. There were also out-patients at the various hospitals as follows [5] In Camp I. there were 39 out-patients[ie those remaining in their hut but receiving medical assistance]. In Camp II. there were 100 in-patients. In Camp III. there were 45 in-patients. In Camp IV. there were 80 in-patients. Of the in-patients in Camp I. there was one bad case pf anaemia and two serious cases of heart trouble. In Camp II. there were no patient seriously ill. In Camp III. there was one case of a man recovering from appendicitis. In Camp IV. there were two older men who seemed to be suffering from weakness of the heart. There have been certain improvements made in these hospitals since the last visit. In the hospital in Camp IV. there is now being built a recreation room, where convalescents may sit, which will give more room for the patients; also a special sink has been provided for washing the hospital utensils and new latrines have been installed. They seem to be at work at this hospital to improve its condition. As Camp IV. has the largest number of older men interned, this hospital has more patients than the others and seemed rather crowded at the time of our visit. In the Isolation hospital we found only one bath and one tap for all the patients, who are suffering from various sorts of contagious diseases. We took this matter up with the proper authoroties, who assured us that it should have their attention. The sanitary arrangements in all the hospitals might be improved, except possibly in the hospital in Camp I., which was originally the main hospital for the camp and is larger and better equipped than the [6] others. Deaths in the camp since it opened are as follows:- In Camp I. there have been 14 deaths, chiefly from diseases of the lungs and paralysis. In Camp II. there have been 10 deaths, chiefly from diseases of the heart. In Camp III. there have been two deaths, one from cerebal hemorrhage and the other from peritonitis. In Camp IV. there have been 18 deaths, the majority from tuberculosis. In the Isolation Hospital there have been 4 deaths, from tuberculosis and one from alcocholic neuritis. Each hosital has its own kitchen arrangements. All the hospitals were exmained and found clean and well-kept.

Kitchens

There was a kitchen in each compound, with an average of 10 cooks in each, all of whom were German. There were 230 cooks in all, including those in the hospitals. Improvements have been made in various of the kitchens by opening windows, which give better light and air. A copy of the rations is hereto annexed (Exhibit 2) The Canteens are run by the Isle of Man Government, which gives a certain percentage of the profits to the interned men. This money is turned back into the kitchens for extra food at the rate of 2. per week per compound. At Easter each compound had had an extra 10. thus turrned back. A copy of the Canteen Price List is hereto annexed (Exhibit C) The kitchens and the food were examined and we found nothing to criticise.

Work

Nearly 72% of the interned men in this camp are at work. Many of the men were employed as bootmakers, tailors, joiners, cap workers, plumbers, woodworkers, gardeners, latrine men, police, coal and railway workers, quarry workers, post office workers and parcel post workers, etc. Professor Albers in Camp IV., who has lived over 20 years in Manchester, directs the school work carried on in each of the seven compounds in his camp. He states that the standard adopted is that of the Maturitests? Examen and that the study covers commercial subjects, languages, mathematics and physics, so far as they can be taught without a laboratory. Chemistry cannot be attempted. Professor Albers asked that these facts be made known so that persons following the courses in Camp IV. might have their work recognised by the German Education Authorities after the war. There are now about 30 acres outside the camp under cultivation for vegetables, for the future use of the prisoners in the camp. There are also gardens inside the camp for flowers, etc. These gardens are not only giving the prisoners healthy work in the open air, but will, in bother Summer and Winter, provide green vegatables which they are so anxious to have. There was an Exhibition this Spring of the Artistic Work done in the camp, held in Camp IV., which prisoners in other camps were allowed to visit. Catalogue of the exhibits is hereto annexed, (Exhibit D) Some of the small motor boats made by the men were [8] very ingeniously built.

Exercise

Each camp covers about 4 acres of ground, and each compound is approximately 100 by 150 yards. 25 acres have been added to the Recreation Field, making a total of 45 acres available for exercise, not counting the working parties. The following games and exercises are engaged in daily, weather permitting:- Football, Skittles, Club Swinging, Parallel Bar Exercises, also Boxing, Dancing and Orchestral playing. Cricket, tennis and quoits are now being arranged.

Complaints by Internees

There were no complaints of a serious nature. There were the usual requests for repatriation and for removal to other camps in different parts of the country. We founder a certain number of older men and some boys who asked to be repatriated. In Camp III. a complaint was made about the difficulty of personal intercourse between the representatives of the camp and the Commandant. This had caused dissatisfaction. The men seemed to have confidence in the new Commandant, but they told us that they had difficulty in approaching him. We took this matter up with the proper authorities and were informed that they would in future have more opportunity for personal intercourses. In Camp IV. there was a complaint abount the so-called "Central Committee", which deals with the internal management of the camp. We were told that this Committee was apointed by the Sub-Commandant of this camp, without consultation with the interned men and the interned men had no confidence in it. The matter was investigated and it was found that one of the reasons for the lack of confidence in the Central Committee seemed to be due to the presence on the Committee of one man in the camp who is not popular among his fellows. There were complaints about the hospital treatment, particiularly of the care of the eyes, ears and teeth, for which the interned men claimed that there was not sufficient opportunity for special treatment. It seemed to us that in some of the hospitals the sanitary arrangements might be improved, and we took this up with the proper authorities. There was a complaint that there were no shelters for the men while waiting to receive parcels, nor for the outside patients visiting the doctor. This matter was taken up.

Observations

We made a thorough visir to all the camps at Knockaloe, inspecting the huts, cooking and sanitary arrangements, and devoted one morning to the visiting of the hospitals. We gave not only the various committess, but also individual men in all the compounds, an opportunity to talk to us and to bring before us any complaint or request they might wish to make. There have been many improvements since the last visit. As mentioned under the heading "Sanitary Arrangements", there is a new wash house in each compound. In Camp I. there is a new workshop and new tennis courts and gardens. There are now joiners employed in the compounds of the camps to make the current repairs to [10] the huts. We were told that about a thousand tons of gravel and sand had been brought up from the Peel Beach and distributed amoung the compounds for making paths. The paths have been much improved and work is still being done. We were told that this matter of paths was having the attention of the Commandant, and they seem now to be firm and of sufficient width. At the time of our visit there was no mud anywhere. The new Commandant, who has only been there some ten weeks, seems to have the confidence and respect of the interned men. He seems to be doing all in his power to better the conditions of the camp. He finds difficulty in getting material, such as tarred paper or felt, etc., for use on the huts. He told us that he had the matter in hand and was giving the betterment of conditions of the camp every attention. The Halls used for recreation and camp activities in each compound were originally built for dining huts, but the prisoners prefer to eat in their own huts, so that these dining huts were left for recreation and other uses. One prisoner is captain of each hut and another prisoner is captain of each compound. Communication between the compounds and various camps is only allowed with special permits.

The whole tone of the camp is much better than it was at the time of our last visit. (see report of January 8th 1916.) There were fewer complaints and the prisoners seemed much more contented. There were two men in cells, confined for a short [11] time for minor offences. The cells were examined and there was no criticism to be made.

We have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servants (signed) Leland H Littlefield, Boylaton A. Baal. W.H.Rucklar

[To the] The Honorable Walter Hines Page, American Ambassador, London

Note. All Exhibits mentioned sent to Berlin.


Index page    

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