The start of internment

On 5 August 1914, the day after World War I broke out, the British Government passed the Aliens Restrictions Act, whereby the British Government could control the movement of “enemy aliens”. General internment of all Germans of military age began in May 1915 following the sinking of the “Lusitania”.

The first 200 internees arrived on the Isle of Man in September 1914 for internment in Cunninghams Camp, Douglas, however following a riot in Douglas camp leading to trhe death of 5 internees due to overcrowding and the poor quality of the food. Knockaloe Moar farm, a former training camp for Territorial troops, was identified as and eventually became the largest internment camp of WWI. The first of the civilian male internees arrived on 17 November 1914 and ultimately the internees were of various  nationalities including German, Austrian and Turkish.

Knockaloe Camp ultimately held “nearly 24,000 prisoners in 23 compounds inside barbed wire, with 4,000 old soldiers acting as armed National Guard, and 250 civilians attending to their wants and comforts…..The camp at Knockaloe was three miles in circumference; 695 miles of barbed wire surrounded the compounds” Samuel Norris “Manx Memories and Movements”.

Photo Credit: Mannin Collections Archive