The Archive

This Project seeks to reinstate the lost records of the Knockaloe Camp internees, from remaining sources and by reaching out via the internet to their descendants around the globe, 100 years later to collate the human stories behind the internees, guards and village members, to tell the story of the lives of the residents of Patrick and Knockaloe during their time in our village, as well as the stories of them and their families leading to and after internment, and help other descendants, who may have little information, to find out more.

There are potentially well in excess of  1.1 million descendants alive today (calculated with the assistance of the Office of National Statistics) and this number is constantly increasing. As the internees were, by definition, from countries outside Britain and as many were repatriated after the war, the website and Visitors Centre will be multilingual to ensure it can actively reach out to as many descendants as possible.

As well as the World War 1 period, the Visitor's Centre will be seeking to provide an archive of the local village and its residents, and look to tell their story, including the many who travelled overseas, to places such as America and Canada, in the late 1800’s.

Although the development of the Visitor’s Centre and walk went on hold whilst we ensured their future, work had continued apace on the Internee Database. Over the past three years, we have been focussed on our work of bringing together what is a huge amount of fragmented information about the civilians interned in the British Isles from sources all over the world. We were thrilled to work with Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at De Montfort University, and have the support of major UK universities via the “Centre for Hidden Histories: Community, Commemoration and the First World War” Project at the University of Nottingham, to develop our initial framework for the database, getting the tens of thousands of internees listed. Our work now is focussed on bringing together fragmented information from all over the world to allow us to collate internees’ experience of internment, as well as their movements between camps during their internment.

This is far from a story just of Knockaloe, or the Isle of Man. As time progressed and descendants shared their stories, we started to realise that internees moved around and spent time in many camps, and that one family’s story may involve one brother in Alexandra Palace and another on Knockaloe. We realised that, whilst Knockaloe held up to 24,000 internees at its peak, many thousands more spent time there as they moved from other camps, many of which had been temporary camps, or later used as solely military camps, or as part of the logistical movement of internees for various reasons. We realised that we needed to be methodical and thorough and painstakingly incorporate all of the civilian internees interned in the British Isles to provide a central point of reference for descendants.

This collation process will always be ongoing, but with so many internees listed, our work now focusses on adding the records from archives and private collections from all over the world to piece together an individual internee’s movements and experiences. We are so grateful to the archives and collectors who have given us specific permission to collate this information. Because we are a Registered Charity without paid staff, nor do we wish to monetise our work, everyone has been phenomenally generous in sharing their information and it is by bringing it into one place that we can really start to link stories and understand the experiences of the individual internees. In turn our work will raise awareness of these fabulous records and point descendants in their direction.

We are also actively encouraging descendants to contact us on with any information they may have about their family. The information descendants provide is brought into the database (if preferred it can be held privately and just for our reference or available for other visitors to the Centre to view) but is often invaluable in helping other descendants to find out more. With the Charity’s ever growing own collection of letters and other items, and access to information from a huge range of sources, the Centre will allow descendants to see just what information there is about their relative, and researchers to investigate a central resource collating the experience of internment.

This detailed database information will not be going online nor monetised in any way, and will be free for descendants to search at the Centre or we shall be able to provide that information about their internee by email.