Knockaloe Internment Camp

This month a new Visitor Centre was opened in the nearby village of Patrick to show the story of the WW1 internment camp that was built just across the road on the site of what is now Knockaloe Farm.  We decided to pay a visit yesterday as we have always been interested in that episode of the island's history.


The centre has been created in the old Patrick village schoolrooms, a very pretty building in a beautiful setting, beside the old churchyard and with lovely views out across the countryside.

The exhibition space is very well presented and tells the story of how and why the camp was built and also some of the stories of the individuals who were interned there, and some of those guarding them and caring for them too.

This is from the centre's information about the camp...


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”.
It was interesting to discover that two reasonably well known names were associated with the camp.

Josef Pilates (an internee) is said to have developed his method of fitness from working with patients in the hospital, taking the springs from the beds to assist in the patients’ exercises.

Archibald Knox, the Manx born primary designer for Liberty's, worked there as the Parcel Censor from November 1914 to October 1919.

 After looking around the exhibits we wandered outside to look at the seven Muslim graves, for the Turkish (Ottoman aliens) who had been interned in the camp.



Across the road is the entrance to Knockaloe Farm, once the camp and now green fields.



2 comments:

  1. How fascinating! I was surprised at the size of the internment camp - that was a lot of internees...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we were surprised too. We handn't realised how many of them had been through the camp until we visited the information centre.

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