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Thread: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Default WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man



    Even before the outbreak of WWII, the War Office had worked out a plan to take care of enemy aliens, should war break out. It grouped them into categories based on rank and position. The first known as Category 'A' was allocated to officers and gentlemen who could afford to pay their mess bills while the second 'B' was for other ranks. This system failed because of the sheer numbers of aliens involved and had to be replaced with another based on an essessment of risk to the State.

    After war broke out, it was decided that all German and Austrians, male or female, should appear before their local Enemy Alien Tribunal and be classified into three new categories:

    'A' Doubtful risk, posing a potential threat - to be interned at once
    'B' Loyalty a little suspect - remain at liberty
    'C' No risk

    With the rapid advance of the German army through Europe and into Northern France to occupy the Channel Ports and with it came the threat of Invasion of the United Kingdom, mass internment began in earnest from 15 May. At first it was just German men between the ages 16 to 60 but with the Italian entry into the war on 11 June 1940, Winston Churchill instructed the Home Secretary, Sir John Anderson to intern all adult male Italians as well.

    The treatment of interned civilians was regulated in a general way by the 1929 Geneva International Convention for the treatment of Prisoners of War. Early in the war the British and German Governments agreed at the invitation of the International Red Cross to apply the provisions of the Geneva Convention to civilian internees. So when Italy declared war, the Italian Government also accepted the Convention as applying to civilians.

    A relatively small number of aliens were being sent to the British Dominions, but then tragedy occurred on the morning of 2 July 1940 with the sinking of the liner Arandora Star by U-47 . This ship was taking 754 Italians and 479 Germans from Liverpool to St Johns, Newfoundland for internment, many of whom had either been briefly interned in the Isle of Man or had relatives interned on the Island. 486 Italians and 175 Germans were drowned. The incident caused the British Government to re-think its policy of transferring aliens to the British Dominions for internment and instead concentrated on internment within the British Isles.

    An Internment Camp Division of the IoM's Government Office was formed to supply all the needs of the camps, headed by the Government Secretary Bertram Sargeaunt. As far as possible all building requirements and supply of food would be carried out by local tradesmen. Colonel Slatter was appointed as CO of all the Island's internment camps.

    The Receiver-General asked the Governor on 20 February 1940 'How many aliens are at present resident on the Island'.

    The Governor replied 'At the beginning of the month there were 76 aliens resident in the Isle of Man. Of these, 26 are British-born, and several are Manx-born who have become naturalised American subjects. Eighteen are enemy aliens. Particulars of all aliens who have come to the Island for employment since the passage of the Aliens Restriction Amendment Act, 1930 are known in Government Office. Similarly, particulars of all those aliens who have come to the Island as refugees are also on record. Of the 76 resident, 19 are employed by private persons or companies, two by boards of Tynwald, and 19 are in business on their own account. Several have been resident in the Island for many years. Of the 18 enemy aliens, five are employed by private persons or companies, one by a board of Tynwald and five are in business on their own account and have been resident in the Island for a long time'.

    It was announced in Tynwald on Wednesday 12 June 1940, that some aliens residing in the Island had been voluntarily interned. It was stated that they were Mr and Mrs Danziger, Mr Kircheim and his wife, of Ballavale and Dr. Rose - an Austrian refugee who resided at Castletown.

    It was officially announced during the first week of August 1940 , that the control of alien camps throughout the British Isles was transferred from the War Office to the Home Office. This had a direct affect for male aliens on the Island but not the women's camp at Rushen, which had been under Home Office control from the beginning. The War Office remained responsible for the allocation of camp sites and for security (the finding of military guards outside the perimeter of the camp).

    The re-classification led to considerable numbers of internees being released. The principal condition imposed was that they should live within certain areas where the ordinary civilian population had been evacuated. Others were released under schemes organised by committees which were promoting the welfare of refugees. Another reason for early release was that the aliens had special skills that would enable them to take part in Britain's war effort.

    Up to the week ending 9 August 1940 the first 300 had been released in small batches. Under certain regulations, a released alien had first to report to Douglas police station and obtain an exit permit. Once at Liverpool they reported to the police and from there proceeded to the place in the UK stated on their travel permit

    The Falcon Cliff Hotel was requistioned as an Internment Camp Hospital with between 65 and 80 beds; it was run by a Dr Yupe who was paid 2s per day. There was also a storekeeper, clerk, three cooks, four sanitary staff, a stoker and four orderlies.

    Sentries and Wardens

    The duty of the sentries was to guard the perimeter of the camps from the outside. Inside a force of warders maintained the camp discipline and in early 1941 it was decided that the system of warders should be increased at the expense of the sentries. Permanent escape from the Island was considered as practically impossible but the original guard was maintained at two camps, where the most dangerous internees were placed. At the remaining camps a body of about 30 police warders armed with truncheons and revolvers substituted the sentries.

    Sentries were not allowed to fire on internees who were trying to escape. If attacked by one or more internees a sentry would take appropriate action to defend himself, including the use of his weapon but only if that was essential. The use of firearms by guards and sentries was justified only if:

     An attempt was made to overpower the guards or sentries by force which could not otherwise be resisted.

     There was an organised meeting in the camp which could not be controlled or dispersed by other means.

     An attempt was made either from within or outside the camp to effect an escape in such circumstances (such as during an invasion) as to give rise to a reasonable belief that the object of the escape was to assist the enemy or endanger public safety.

    The perimeter wire was inspected daily by an officer to see that it was in good order and that there were no signs of tunnelling; the Commandant was empowered to order a search and have all floors cleared and examined if he suspected an attempt to escape. All tools, which might help an internee to escape, were collected each night from the workshops and taken out of the enclosure. It was forbidden for outsiders to communicate with internees and a member of the staff were similarly forbidden to carry letters, messages or carry out errands for internees.

    The usual way of dealing with a riot in camp was by the use of hoses and water, but this could not be done if the riot happened inside a house. For this situation the IoM police and Special Constables, supplemented by detachments of Service units would be used if necessary.

    Camp Organisation

    The camps were organised on a principle of self-government. The inmates were not prisoners but enjoyed freedom of movement and association within the limits of the camp. It was an essential condition of this freedom that persons detained would themselves undertake a large measure of responsibility for the maintenance of good order and discipline.

    A military Commandant was in charge of each camp, and the internees were organised into companies each one under the supervision of an officer. Companies were grouped by houses, each one elected a House Father to represent it, each company had a leader and each camp a Camp Supervisor. Officers commanding companies held 'Company Office' daily to deal with complaints, applications and requests by internees through the House Father and Company Leader.

    The same system was applied with slight modifications to the Women's Camp and Married Camp at Port Erin and Port St Mary. The Commandant (of the two combined) was a Metropolitan Police Officer. The Women's Camp instead of Company Officers, had four District Superintendents, all qualified Social Workers; each house had a representative chosen by the internees and each district a District Leader.

    Camp discipline was enforced in the last resort by withdrawing some or all privileges (such as visits, association with other interness, exercise and recreation). This meant confinement to 'cells' for a period which was limited to 28 days, or as a minor penalty confinement to quarters and a roll-call at uncertain periods. In cases where the offence was against the civil law, the Commandant would hand over the accused interne to the police for prosecution.

    The Commandant of the 18B Camp at Peel reported that cell routine is:

    "No smoking; limited reading, with a minimum of two 1 hour periods daily. Exercise two one hour periods daily; all persons are encouraged to work in and around the cells to pass the day, and much useful work has been put in including making steps and a new pathway entrance, planting grass and whitewashing etc"

    In the Women's Camp at the end of 1940 there had only been one case in six months in which detention had been ordered - this being the case of repeated imorality by a women who had been a prostitute before internment. The only other was a civil case where a women was handed over to the police for smuggling 30 letters out of the camp as she was being released.


    In all of the camps of the Island, work was a main remedy for boredom. All camps had workshops available to craftsmen. A Mr Angliss, a Home Office welfare officer was charged with finding the raw materials and tools, he also the sold their products from a central shop in Douglas which was open to the public.

    Labour was also required in the Island's quarries and although it involved fairly laborious tasks, it paid quite well. The contractor officially paid 1s per day of which 6d went to the interned civilian, 2d to the Camp Welfare Fund and 4d to the Central Trade Account (controlled by Mr Angliss). In practice off course, the contractor considerably increased the sum paid to the internees, as they would never have worked for just 6d a day, but the 1s remained as the official amount.

    The demand for labour on the Island's farms remained very strong throughout the war. Internees working on the farms were often well fed by the farmers who also made an important contribution to the internee's official pay. On average an internee working on a farm received up to 3s per day which included 6d from the Welfare Fund and 6d from the Government.


    The cinema remained the most popular form of entertainment throughout all the camps. Once or twice a week an entire camp would proceed to a civilian cinema in the town and see there an ordinary film as shown to the public. Internees paid 6d and the proprietor received £6 from the Welfare Fund for the afternoon.

    A Wireless Station situated just outside the compound, under the control of British soldiers transmitted information and BBC programmes via a series of loud speakers in the neighbourhood.


    Most of the camps had a small sick bay located in one of the houses; Hutchinson Camp used Arrandale; Metropole used Dodsworth house while Ramsey and Onchan either adapted outbuildings or had purpose-built huts. Rushen Camp made use of part of the Hydro Hotel which became the women's sick quarters and later as the medical centre for the Married Camp as well. Each camp had one or more interned doctors who were responsible for the treatment of sick internees. A British civilian doctor visited each camp once per day to supervise certain cases and to counter-sign prescriptions. Falcon Cliff Hospital under the command of a Colonel oversaw all internee medical services. This was chiefly a military administrative function as the internee doctors conducted the medical work itself within each of the camps but the hotel was equipped to deal with large numbers of sick personnel such as during the seasonal outbreaks of influenza or for long-term patients. More serious cases were dealt with by the civilian hospitals.


    At least three camps produced newspapers, the Onchan Pioneer, the Sefton Review and The Camp - published at Hutchinson Camp.

    A Curious Case

    Internees and 18B detainees while interned were not deprived of their civil rights and the Isle of Man Authorities could not prevent the purchase by them of land on the Island and property. In the summer of 1942 and whilst detained in Camp 'M' at Peel, John Sigurder Oddsson managed to buy two local farms, known as Ballamoar Farm and Ballacallin Farm. He had managed to find a tenant for one of these but the other (Ballacallin Farm, Patrick), located just outside the Peel Prohibited Area was left vacant. He duly received a Notice from the Governor, requesting that he should farm this land himself (despite being in detention) or the farm would be compulsory purchased. Furthermore, (according to Oddsson) the camp authorities had made it quite clear that no camp labour would be made available for his farm should his wife went to reside there, although this type of labour was freely available to other farm-owners on the Island. He outlined his case in a letter to the Home Secretary in Whitehall, London.

    Meanwhile, after the Governor had sent him the Notice, the farm was taken over by the IoM Board of Agriculture under Colonel Howie who had intended using Land Girl Labour should Mrs Oddsson occupy the farmhouse. In the meantime Howie farmed the land over the winter of 1942/1943 with 'M' Camp labour and later with 'X' Camp Labour. Mr Oddsson was finally released during July 1943 and moved into Ballacallin Farmhouse. At this time the farm was still being worked under Compulsory Order and continued in this way until the annual change of farm tenancies became due on the 13 November 1943 . At this time Colonel Howie was using Land Army Girls whom he had recruited from the Island. 'M' Camp labour was still being sent to supply Raby Farm (Mr Quirk), which adjoins Ballacallin Farm and occassional 'X' Camp labour was also being sent to Mr Oddsson's tenant, Mr Scott at Ballamoar Farm.

    The Camps

    Ramsey Camp (Mooragh Camp)

    Official information was first published in the Island's newspapers during the second week of May 1940, that all houses along the Mooragh Promenade, Ramsey would be requisitioned for the internment of enemy aliens. The Mooragh Promenade was selected because of its isolation. The first boarding-house (Peveril) to the end of Mooragh golf links and the rear of the properties to as far as Lake View were included. The bungalows nearby were also requisitioned as well as adjacent properties which were used for billeting the military guard. The Mooragh golf links, tenanted by J.H Martin was required as a recreation ground for the prisoners. The back road leading from the swing bridge to the Mooragh Park was still open to the public, although part of the roadway was included within the compound. J. M Clarke of Onchan had the contract for erecting a double row of barbed wire fencing which formed the perimeter of the camp. That on the seaward side extended to within a few feet of the sea wall allowing a narrow alleyway between the wall and the compound fence for the use of the patrolling guards.

    Altogether thirty or so houses were involved and as each of these had between 20 and 30 bedrooms, therefore it was expected that the camp would hold up to 2,000 prisoners. The official number in the summer of 1940 was published as 1,000 male prisoners.

    The notice informing the occupiers that their houses were being taken over (sent on the 12-05-40) intimated that the Government would be responsible for meeting of rent and rates - the occupiers had to be out by 18 May. All furniture, bedding, linen cutlery, crockery and utensils had to be left in the house but personal effects could be removed. J.H Winterbottom, the Government Surveyor who was assisted by W.H Chapman, F Chrystal, H.J Johnson and W.A Shimmin, made an inventory of all of these fittings and equipment.

    Captain Alexander took charge of Ramsey Camp. The camp guard was made up initially of ten officers and 150 men belonging to the Royal Welch Fusiliers, they arrived on 26 May. The next day the first 823 men arrived on the Belgian cross-Channel steamer Princess Josephine Charlotte .
    Before the aliens came ashore the members of the armed guard disembarked and mounted guard along the whole length of the pier. The aliens were then despatched in batches to the base of the pier and were assembled along the South Promenade.

    Huge crowds of local people silently watched and a large body of police from Douglas assisted the garrison in the marshalling arrangements.

    The Courier reported that ' was seen that the aliens were mostly youthful or middle-aged. There were practically no elderly men among them. As they came ashore they carried with them their belongings in suitcases, attaché cases and bundles on their backs. They were a mixed lot: some well dressed and bearing signs of affluence, others were of lowlier mien and wore canvas shoes. One alien had his dog with him: another - somewhat optimistically - was carrying a fishing rod. Another carried a typewriter in his hand'.

    The guards accompanied the prisoners on their walk to the Mooragh, which was by way of the South Promenade, the Quay, over the swing bridge and on to the Mooragh. At the camp the men were allotted to their different houses and refreshments served and sentries patrolled the perimeter.

    There were three main groups of internees, all housed in the same part of town but separated by barbed wire. In 1943 these were known as:

    'F' Camp Finland
    'L' Camp Germany
    'N' Camp Italy

    Each boarding house constituted an independant unit with its leader, kitchen staff, cleaners, orderlies and cooks. There was one recreation room (the only one heated), a dining room, toilet, bathroom and the bedrooms. Each camp compound also had a group of boarding houses allocated for special purposes such as workshops for tailors, toy makers and watchmakers. Another group functioned as a canteen, wash-house drying room, library and storehouses. A number of houses outside the barbed wire compound were set apart as the offices of the Camp Commanding Officer, his clerks, the accounting staff and Intelligence Officer.

    The Finns were mainly sailors who had been captured, serving aboard Swedish cargo ships that had undergone inspections by the Royal Navy. They were considered as better workers than the Italians and Germans. A number were engaged in making toys, games and chess sets while others worked in a local quarry.

    Mooragh Camp closed 18 September 1945, by October all wire had been removed but various huts still remained.


    On Thursday 24 May 1940, sixty householders in Royal Avenue West, Imperial Terrace, Belgravia Road and Belgravia Terrace received notice that their houses were being requisitioned to accommodate enemy aliens. Occupiers had to have left by 31 May and were ordered to leave all furniture, bedding, linen etc. The arrangements were the same as that had been made at Ramsey. Onchan was the first camp in the Douglas area.

    Some of these houses had one of the best sea views in the Island! The 33 houses along Royal Avenue West, were mostly nine-bedroom types and those at either end had 16 bedrooms. The 12 houses in Belgravia Road had a similar internal arrangement, the seven in Imperial Terrace had 14 bedrooms and the eight in Belgravia Road were mostly four or five bedroom types. A piece of adjoining land which was formally a holiday camp run by Mrs Osborn, was also requisitioned for use as a recreation area .

    For a short while before finally closing, the camp became part of 171 PoW Camp on 1 March 1945.

    Douglas - Central Camp

    Central Camp opened a few days later after Onchan and was smaller and more compact, situated in 37 houses and 32 shops directly behind Central Promenade which included Castle Drive, Mona Drive and Empress Drive. Occupiers had to have left by 4 June 1940. By the end of the month it held about 2,000 men but closed within ten months to become the HQ of No.1 Ground Defence Gunnery School.

    Douglas - Metropole Camp

    This camp consisted of just nine boarding-houses and the Metropole Hotel. Opened July 1940 and housed mainly Italians, closed during November 1944. It then became part of 171 PoW Camp on 1 March 1945, before finally closing.

    Douglas - Regent Camp

    This camp would have consisted of the Regent block of boarding houses on the Loch Promenade, but although the buildings were requisitioned for this purpose, the camp was never utilised (would probably have formed part of Sefton Camp). Became part of HMS Valkyrie.

    Douglas - Hutchinson Camp

    Hutchinson Camp consisted of 33 houses forming Hutchinson Square. When it opened Major Daniel was in command. It closed during March 1944, when its 228 inmates transferred to Peel.

    About 5,000 German prisoners of war arrived in the Island 22 November 1944 for internment in the now empty Hutchinson Camp. This was the first batch of many more for other camps on the Island that were now collectively known as 171 PoW Camp. The barbed wire fencing had previously been strengthened, watch towers had also been erected and the guard increased.

    All German soldiers had vacated Hutchinson Camp by 4 August 1945. By 24 November, the tenants and owners of the houses in Hutchinson Square, Onchan and Ramsey camps had received notice that their property has been de-requisitioned

    Douglas - Granville Camp

    Buildings requisitioned but thought to have never been used as a civilian internment camp (would probably have been part of Sefton Camp). Became part of HMS Valkyrie.

    Douglas - Palace Camp

    Palace Camp was situated in Palace Terrace, it consisted of 28 large boarding-houses on the Queen's Promenade. Behind it is a small cliff which led to Little Switzerland and above this is the Falcon Cliff Hotel, used as a hospital for internees.

    The buildings were requisitioned the week beginning 16 September 1940, tenants had to have left by 23 September. The camp was used initially as an Italian-only Internment Camp. By June 1941 there were 1,200 men, reaching a peak of 2,900 during May 1942.

    On 11 June 1941, the first anniversary of Italy's declaration of war with Britain, a small riot took place with one man being seriously injured. Three young men were accordingly sentenced to six months hard labour for inflicting grievous bodily harm on Antonio Castellini .

    Some time around December 1941, 400 or so nationals of Japan, Hungary, Rumania and Finland replaced the Italians. Palace Camp closed in November 1942 and the remaining occupants were transferred to the Ramsey Camp.

    Part of Palace Camp then became home to No.1 Company, Special Operations Training Battalion, which arrived in January 1943.

    Douglas - Sefton Camp

    This camp consisted of the Sefton Hotel and houses along the Harris Promenade and in Church Road. Major Byerley was commandant but it was only used for a four-month period. It closed on 3 April 1941 due to the large numbers of internees that had been and were due to be released from the Island. The Sefton internees that were not due for release were transferred to other camps on the Island. The Government Office then informed the Sefton Hotel Company and tenants of the Church Road houses, that they could have their property back on 4 May 1941.

    Port Erin, Port St Mary - Rushen Camp

    The whole of Port Erin, a residential holiday village on the west coast, along with its smaller neighbour Port St Mary became Rushen Camp for women prisoners. Unlike the male camps there was no barbed wire and the boarding house keepers were allowed to stay; the women prisoners were billeted and catered for in a similar manner as ordinary holiday makers but on a tighter budget. The Government payed each landlady £1 3s 6d per head per week, the rations for the internees were also delivered to her. In the majority of cases the landladies did all the cooking. Landladies enjoyed certain powers: they were instructed to cut off the electric and gas supply at the hours fixed; they controlled the wireless and they had the right to go in the rooms at any time. Apart from housework the women followed no regular occupation. Initially Dame Joanna Cruickshank commanded the camp .

    The first 2,848 women and children arrived over night on 29 May 1940 and disembarked at Douglas from the Princess Josephine Charlotte. They came ashore at 07.30hrs, each wearing a label stating the district in Britain from where they had come from, all carried respirators - the infants having the special mask (which Manx babies had so far been denied). Most spoke fluent English and obeyed orders promptly. On landing they had to show their identity cards to the local police and their alien registration cards which were confiscated for the time being. Under supervision of the police and Loyal Manx, they were escorted to the railway station and transported to the camp.

    Under an Order issued by the Lieutenant Governor (as from 29 May 1940), all highways and rights of way leading from Port Erin, except the main road to Douglas was stopped-up. Persons could only enter or leave Port Erin by the main road, or by the IoM Railway, and had to produce their national registration card to a police officer. This meant that no one could enter the town by the Cronk Road from Port St Mary, by the road from Cregneish or by the road from Bradda. British subjects could only enter the town if they were residents or for business purposes. Aliens could only leave Port Erin if they had a police permit.

    At the end of August 1940 permission was granted to 200 women to visit their husbands in Douglas. The women travelled to Douglas by train and then by bus to Derby Castle. The men marched from their camps and waited in the ballroom for the women to arrive and this was followed by more regular visits when children were also permitted.

    A club room, lecture hall and camp school for women internees and their children opened at Port St Mary on Tuesday 1 October 1940. Cowley's Cafe (formally the boy's and infant schools) had been requisitioned and equipped with the necessary furniture and equipment. Miss Minna Specht, a qualified teacher and former head of a school in Germany was placed in charge of the school. Cornaa boarding house on the promenade was also taken over for a school from ages six to sixteen.

    Children of internees at Port Erin had originally used Dandy Hill Schoolroom as a day school, but in October 1940, the children moved to the more spacious rooms at the Strand Cafe. There were nine classes for children up to 14 years old. Older children continued to use Dandy Hill. Dr. Ingeburg Gurland, PhD (a former lecturer at Durham University) acted as headteacher.

    After a visit by Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the Home Secretary on Aliens, Sir Herbert William Emerson on 6 January 1941, it was decided that Port St Mary should be a mixed camp for married aliens. Married couples would now be allowed to live together with their family and the married camp opened on 8 May 1941. The women's camp would be confined to Port Erin.

    The separation of the two camps as independent units meant that there was now a large area between the two camps that could be re-opened to the general public. The mixed camp occupied the Promenade and Chapel Bay bathing beach with some fields at the back of the promenade houses. The new camp extended northwards from the main road to Gansey Point and consisted of the biggest boarding houses in the district including Ballaqueeney - the largest single boarding house in the Island and 170 families were accommodated there when it opened. The commandant was Chief Inspector Cuthbert, of Scotland Yard .

    Within a fortnight of of the opening of the new camps, Dame Joanna Cruickshank resigned her commission as commandant of the women's camp - she had held this post for about a year. Detective Inspector Cuthbert, who was appointed commandant of both camps, replaced her. His deputy at Port St Mary, Miss Wilson became second in command.

    During August 1942 the married alien's camp on the Promenade was transferred to Spaldrick, Port Erin. The transfer was carried out because there were now only 900 alien women interned at Port Erin. About 2,000 had already been released and there was now ample room for both camps in the village. There were about 300 families in the married camp and they were accommodated in the boarding-houses in the Spaldrick district. Two half-days per week were allocated for shopping in the village.

    Peel (Peveril Camp)

    The original layout of Peel Camp is unknown but tenants had to be out by Wednesday 19 September 1940 when it was extended by about another 13 houses in Peveril Terrace and Mount Morrison on the headland at the north end of the bay. The headland brows, the Promenade, bowling green and tennis courts were all under wire. Despite the expansion, it remained less than half-full during November 1940. The Commandant was Captain J.G Hawkey-Shepherd . The guard headquarters was located at Ivy Dene.

    All internees had been transferred to Ramsey by 19 April 1941 and the camp was empty. The camp originally held 800 but since large numbers of internees had left the Island, its population had been reduced to around 200 before it was closed.

    The barbed wire fence around the compound was then strengthened and machine-gun emplacements erected prior to Peel becoming a camp for persons detained under Defence Regulation 18B. These included Moseley, Ramsey and Domvill who before the war called themselves fascists. Steps were also taken to close Peveril Road, which passed through the camp and also of Walpole Road. The camp initially came under the command of Major Francis.

    The first 20 British Fascists who had been rounded up and imprisoned at the outbreak of war, and had been in custody in various prisons on the mainland, arrived at Douglas on Friday 9 May 1941. They were followed by about another 700 on the Monday, the steamer in which they arrived on was shadowed by an armed vessel .

    Several of the alleged Fascists were released during June and were apparently seen by reporters from the Island's newspapers, buying Manx souvenirs.

    Three men escaped from Peel Camp some time between Wednesday night and Thursday morning 17/18 September 1941. A large man-hunt took place all over the Island by police officers and LMA men. After three days freedom, all three were captured at sea by the Navy. They had stolen a small boat, called Sunbeam in Castletown which had a sail and an engine but no spark plugs (it was compulsory that all motor boats had to immobilised at night). They were picked up four miles off Langness, having been spotted by a drifter who reported their position to a naval patrol vessel .

    The capture sparked a riot at Peel when the three men were returned and placed in the camp jail. That evening while the camp staff were relaxing in the Creg Malin Hotel, a stone was thrown through the smoke-room window. This one was followed by many more until every window on the side facing the camp had been smashed. After a pause the stone-throwing continued until a camp representative spoke with Captain Ryan, the acting camp commandant and the riot ceased about 01.00hrs .

    A tunnel was discovered by an officer on Monday 29 September, located a short distance from the guard headquarters. On investigation it was found that it started in a front room of a house in Peveril Road and its diameter 2ft 6in and at a depth of about 10ft with access from a ladder. The tunnel then proceeded underneath the pavement and barbed wire across the main road under the steps of Mr R.B Kelly's bungalow and across a garden between the bungalow and the camp guard room (formally Rossendale House) and into an adjacent field. The shaft under the roadway was just 2ft square and shored up with timber and 25 yards long. The exit was covered by a trap door. An officer accidentally trod on the door and as it sounded hollow, the exit to the passage was discovered. Electric light had even been installed! Soil from the tunnel had been carefully disposed of as to not create suspicion .

    After the riot, the Metropolitan Police took over camp guard duties and used the Creg Malin Hotel as their police station. Superintendent S.M Ogden succeeded Major Dunne as commander and the army guard vacated the camp as from 20 October 1941. One of the first things the superintendent did was to have a police patrol inside the camp compound as well as outside. He did not stay long however as in July 1942, he received a promotion as Superintendent of 'Y' Division of the London Police. Superintendent H.P Ralph of the Metropolitan Police Force succeeded him .

    No. 171 Prisoner of War Camp

    Headquarters Alien Internment Camp, Isle of Man disbanded on 1 March 1945. Hutchinson, Metropole and Onchan converted to PoW Camps and collectivelly formed a new unit designated No.171 PoW Camp with one main and two satellite camps. The new camp came under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel A.M Scott, Scotts Guards. Also at this time the Alien Camp at Peel was redesignated as Peveril Camp under the command of Major J Firth and Alien Camp, Ramsey became Mooragh Camp under the command of Major Polley.

    Furniture repair workshops opened in some of the Peveril Camp houses and a similar arrangement happened at Mooragh Camp where furniture from all of the camps were repaired, and polished before being re-united with their pre-war owners. This work was under the supervision of H Burtenshaw. Meanwhile posts and barbed wire was being removed by PoW labour and stored in dumps until the Garrison Engineer could sell the timber and wire. PoW labour also dismantled brick-built ablution sheds and boiler houses although the Peel Commissioners had requested to retain the shower and bath house at the back of Marine Parade.

    On 5 September 1945, all remaining internees were transferred under escort from the camp guard from Peveril and Ballaquane Camps to Balthane School, London SW19 and Cannons Park Camp From there it is believed that they went to the London Reception Centre, Honey Pot Lane, Stanmore. This movement involved 507 persons (350 men from Port Erin, 70 men from Peveril, 60 women and 217 children) to Cannons Park and 62 men to Balthane School. The camp at Peel was vacated by 1 November 1945.

  2. #2
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    Apr 2012

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    Hi there

    Thanks for posting this, it's proving really useful in guiding some research I'm carrying out. I don't suppose you can tell what source(s) you used to get the house recquisition numbers can you? As it's for a university dissertation I have to be able to a reference a book, journal or records as opposed to an internet forum even though I'm sure what you've written is very accurate!



  3. #3
    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Ware, Herts

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    The passage above was taken from a book I wrote about 20th C Military history in the Isle of Man. There were five books in total, but only two you might be interested in, No.1 which includes the internment camps plus a whole lot more on the general military history and No.5 which is a comprehensive list of sources. The first one is £15 and Vol 5 is £5. The others which are also £15 each are on the three main airfields and bombing ranges etc. They are available from:

    Manx Heritage Foundation,
    The Stable Building,
    The University Centre,
    Old Castletown Road,
    Isle of Man.
    IM2 1QB

    01624 676169

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    Apr 2012

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    Excellent, the information is some of the most comprehensive I've come across and is really interesting, just what I was looking for, thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    Would it be possible for myself and a friend to quote the figures you have provided and attribute them to you in our work?

  6. #6
    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Ware, Herts

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    Yes go ahead but I recommend you at least get the source book.
    Part 2: Isle of Man Newspapers
    Heading & Sub-Heading
    IoM Weekly Times 20-01-40 10 Official Notice: LMA – Admission of men under 40 years of age
    IoM Weekly Times 27-01-40 9 Conscription in the Island – Men of 20-23 to register on 17 February
    IoM Weekly Times 27-01-40 9 Manx Home Defence Company – 80 men still wanted
    IoM Weekly Times 03-02-40 10 Notice: Home Defence Company – Wanted
    Ramsey Courier 21-03-40 3 Manxmen Wanted for Pioneer Corps – Particulars of service and pay
    Ramsey Courier 05-04-40 3 New Industry for the Island
    Ramsey Courier 09-04-40 2 Recruiting Meeting at Ramsey
    Ramsey Courier 14-05-40 2 Official Notices: Mooragh Detention Camp, Ramsey
    Ramsey Courier 14-05-40 2 Aliens Detention Camp for Ramsey – Mooragh to be turned into a compound
    Ramsey Courier 17-05-40 5 Alien Detention Camp for Ramsey – Mooragh converted into a compound
    IoM Examiner 17-05-40 1 Detention Camp for Aliens - Barbed Wire Enclosure at Ramsey
    IoM Examiner 17-05-40 4 The Detention Camp
    IoM Examiner 17-05-40 5 Mooragh Promenade to be Closed
    IoM Examiner 17-05-40 4 Furniture Goes-and Comes Back Again! - A side line on the detention camp preliminaries
    IoM Weekly Times 18-05-40 2 ARP – Advice the Manx Cannot take
    IoM Weekly Times 18-05-40 2 Warning to the Public – What to do in case of attack
    IoM Weekly Times 18-05-40 6 Comment: On German Aliens
    IoM Weekly Times 18-05-40 5 Detention Camp for Ramsey – Enemy aliens to be placed in boarding-houses
    IoM Weekly Times 18-05-40 8 Accommodation for Refugees _ IoM among the reception areas
    Ramsey Courier 21-05-40 2 Exodus from the Mooragh – Householders leave their homes
    Ramsey Courier 21-05-40 2 Loyal Manx New Duties – All-night patrols
    Ramsey Courier 24-05-40 5 New Volunteer Force for the Island
    IoM Examiner 24-05-40 1 Island's Second Detention Camp - 60 Onchan Houses Requisitioned
    IoM Examiner 24-05-40 1 Local Defence Volunteers - Insular Force to be Raised
    IoM Examiner 24-05-40 5 'Moving Day' on The Mooragh - Houses evacuated for enemy aliens
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 3 Ramsey’s Alien Camp – Residents leave their premises
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 4 Notice: LDV – British Legion recruiting drive
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 4 Letter: The Home Defence Corps
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 6 Defend Your Homes!
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 7 Local Defence Volunteers – Urgent call for men 17-65
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 7 100 Men Wanted Now! For guard mounting at aliens’ camps
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 7 LMA Discuss New Defence Organisation
    IoM Weekly Times 25-05-40 7 Alien Camp in Onchan – 60 families Noticed to quite
    Ramsey Courier 28-05-40 2 Arrival of the Aliens – First batch to land on the Island
    Ramsey Courier 28-05-40 2 Onchan Houses Requisitioned
    Ramsey Courier 28-05-40 2 Women Aliens for the Island – To be interned at Port Erin
    Ramsey Courier 28-05-40 2 Official Notice: Closing of Roads
    Ramsey Courier 28-05-40 2 Local Defence Volunteers – Guarding against parachutists and troop-carrying aircraft
    IoM Examiner 31-05-40 1 Local Defence Volunteers - 800 Recruits in a Week
    IoM Examiner 31-05-40 1 Internment of Aliens - Governor's Statement
    IoM Examiner 31-05-41 5 Port Erin's New Role - Internment Camp for Women Aliens
    IoM Examiner 31-05-40 7 Enemy Aliens for Internment - First batch arrives at Ramsey
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 4 Official Notices: Closing of Roads at Port Erin, Travellers to Port Erin, Closing of Roads in the Vicinity of Groudle & The Production of Identity Cards Order, 1940
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 4 3,671 Enemy Aliens Arrive – 823 men for Mooragh Camp – Nearly 3,000 women and children for Port Erin
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 6 ‘Do Your Bit’ & LDV
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 6 The Alien Detention Camps
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 6 Alien Camps in 1914 and 1940: Manx-American Hears the Haydn Wood Overture
    IoM Weekly Times 01-06-40 7 What are You Joining? Men urgently required for all services
    Ramsey Courier 04-06-40 2 Rallying to the ranks of the LDC – Rousing Recruiting Meeting at Ramsey
    IoM Weekly Times 08-06-40 5 Island’s Enemy Aliens – Are they interned or not?
    IoM Weekly Times 08-06-40 6 Our Enemy Aliens – Who is sheltering them from internment?

  7. #7
    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Ware, Herts

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    The above is a sample of Volume 5

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    Ok, that looks like a really good source. Thank you very much for your help.

  9. #9

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    First of all, thank you Paul for a comprehensive post. This is the best information I've found in relation to internment on the Isle of Man.

    It's still early days in my trying to find more information about three Italian family members of my family and their time in internment. One of them, Lazzaro, was assigned to Granville Camp. Another, Pietro, seems to have been released in 1941, then sent back again in 1942 in accordance with a Home Office letter of 2 June of that year!

    I'd appreciate it if you could, perhaps, explain what the various numbers on the cards meant and what Home Office letter E7596 could have been about.

    I can't access the information on the other side of the cards for another 11 years, which I hope will give a place of birth for them all.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: WWII Internment Camps in the Isle of Man

    My brother was born in the Hydra Hotel in Port Errin. I was conceived there and was born in a reception centre in Redhill in October 1945 after my parents left the island.I am trying to find out what happened when my parents returned to the mainland. I know they eventually returned to Sheffield. I cannot find any details of this reception centre in Redhill, I believe it may have been on Honeypot lane or Road. Do you have any details or can you direct me to some area where I may able to find out more. Thanks for the great detail so far.
    Last edited by ewietscher; 02-10-2014 at 22:56.

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