World War internment

This guide was last updated in 2016

At the outbreak of the First World War, the UK had a large German population – particularly in London and the other principal ports.

Men of fighting age, roughly 18 to 50, were interned from 1914 to 1919. They were kept in camps around the country, but mainly at Douglas and Knockaloe (near Peel) in the Isle of Man.

All the British records of internment were destroyed by bombing during World War Two. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross holds returns of all internees in both wars and should be able to provide you with details, including their date and place of birth, for a fee. The First World War records held by the ICRC have recently been digitised, although they haven't been fully transcribed so searching can take a while. 

For World War Two, the British records are at The National Archives at Kew and include records of each enemy alien taken before a tribunal to determine whether they were to be interned or set free. Again, these include the date and place of birth.

A guide to records held at The National Archives for both wars can be found here.

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