British Prisoners of War 1914-1919

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by themonsstar, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member

    First World War, 1914-1918
    Establishing if an individual was a PoW
    The National Archives does not hold a comprehensive list of all British and Commonwealth PoWs. Consequently, it can be difficult to establish whether an individual was actually taken prisoner and, more particularly, in which camps they were held.

    Establishing whether an Officer was a PoW is relatively straightforward and researchers should look for the book List of British Officers taken prisoner in the various Theatres of War between August 1914 and November 1918 compiled in 1919 by the military agents Cox and Co.

    This is arranged by theatre of war, and then by regiment. It includes an index of regiments at the start of the book, and a name index at the back. The list covers the British Army, Royal Air Force, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Naval Division, and gives the name and rank of the officer, the date when he went missing, where and when he was interned (but not the specific camp/s), and the date of his repatriation. If the officer died while a prisoner, the list gives the date and place of death. In addition, Officers were required to provide a report concerning the circumstances behind their capture. These, if they survive, will be found in the individual service records.

    Other Ranks
    There are no known official or published sources to help determine whether an ordinary serviceman or Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) was a PoW. Theoretically, it is should be recorded on their service record, although this information is usually minimal, merely giving dates of capture and/or release, or is sometimes indicated on the WW I Medal Rolls WO329. Alternatively, the Internationai Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva & keeps an incomplete list of known PoWs and internees of all nationalities for both World Wars. Searches are only made in response to written enquiries, and an hourly fee is charged. The address to write to is:

    International Council of the Red Cross, Archives Division, 19 Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Searching for an Individual at the NA

    Ask at the Research Enquiries Desk for the guide 'Researching British & Commonwealth Prisoners of War: World War One'. This not only indicates which of The National Archives sources are most likely to provide personal details but includes:

    *Copies of nominal indexes of British, Irish, Colonial and Indian PoWs extracted from WO161/101.

    *The National Archives' references to identified nominal lists of Military and Merchant Navy PoWs.

    *List of PoW camps in Germany and enemy territory.

    *Indexed map of the main PoW camps in Germany and Austria.

    The primary source for personal information are the reports made by repatriated, escaped or interned Officers, Medical Officers, Other Ranks, and occasionally Merchant Seamen and Civilians, held in WO 161/95 to WO 161/100 and indexed by WO161/101 . As well as a narrative of variable length, these reports usually include details of unit, home address, when and where captured, wounds suffered, transfer between camps, comments on treatment and conditions in camps and escape attempts.

    A copy of the entire W0161/101 index is available in the Research Enquiry Room at Kew and can also be downloaded from DocumentsOnline at:

    Alternatively, the 1914-1918 British Prisoners of War database, an externally compiled database to WO 161/101 searchable by name or regiment, is available:

    The following key in the WO 161 series is used to distinguish who made a report: O = Officers; MO = Medical Officers; no prefix = Other Ranks. Researchers should note it is the page number/s next to the name in the index that is important. The table below shows which file should be consulted.
    Sub-Series of WO 161 Reports

    1. W0 161/95 Officers: Pages 1-538
    2. W0161/96 Officers: Pages 539-1169
    3. W0161/97 Medical Officers: Pages 1-398
    4. W0161/98 Other ranks: Pages 1 -821
    5. WO 161/99 Other ranks: Pages 1576-2402
    6. WO161/100 Other ranks: Pages 2403-4177

    There is a gap between pages 822-1575 in the 'Other ranks' records. However, some of these and duplicates of other WO161 reports can be found in FO 383 (see below). The files WO 161/95-100 (and the index W0161/101 ) can be downloaded from DocumentsOnline at:

    Secondly, PoWs can be searched for by name within the Catalogue as a result of improved catalogue entries to F0383 This series of records contains the files of the Prisoners of War and Aliens Department, which was established in 1915 to deal with all matters relating to conditions for prisoners, repatriation and general policy. Search within the FO383 series, and if any references are produced, click on the blue description text to open the expanded indexing. If you scroll down the page, any matches will be highlighted in yellow. There is also a card index to Foreign Office Correspondence located in the Open Reading Room at The National Archives. Between 1915-1918 each year includes a dedicated PoW section arranged by country and subject. While in most instances the card index entries will point to a FO383 reference, they can lead to other FO series that hold documents concerning PoWs.

    Other relevant Merchant Navy records are contained in MT 9 (code 106), which includes some files indexed by individual name and/or ship*. For the Royal Navy, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) and the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), try searching the ADM 12 registers, while for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and RNAS, try the Air History Branch indexes to AIR 1 located in the Open Reading Room.

    Deaths of Prisoners of War 1914-1918
    Deaths of PoWs and internees occurring in military and non-military hospitals and in enemy and occupied territory were notified to British authorities by foreign embassies, legations, registration authorities and American authorities in charge of British internees. The record series RG 35/45 to RG 35/69 contains an incomplete collection of these certificates. It should be noted, however, that the majority of this information is in French.

    Other sources
    Records concerning PoW camps and related subjects are mostly found in two record classes. Once again the most comprehensive are the reports held in W0 161/95 to W0 161/100 accessed by searching the places and subject indexes in WO 161/101 . Inspection reports on individual camps can also be searched for by name using FO383 and the card index to Foreign Office Correspondence referred to above. Further records relating to PoW camps, administration and policy, are found in WO32 and CO693 , with registers relating to the latter in C0754 and CO755 . The records of the Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British PoWs (1914-1919) are in H045/10763/270829, and HO45/10764/270829, with additional material in W0162.
    Various PoW-related reports are located within the Parliamentary Papers preserved on microfiche in the Open Reading Room at The National Archives. The easiest way in to these is via the CD-Rom kept behind the enquiry desk of The National Archives Library.

    British Library,Imperial War Museum, Various Regimental Museums.

    Contact Details
    British Library Newspapers
    Colindale Avenue
    NW9 SHE
    Tel: 020 7412 7353

    Imperial War Museum
    Department of Documents
    Lambeth Rd
    London SE1 6HZ
    Tel: 020 7416 5221

    Useful for:
    Contemporary national and local newspapers often include lists of PoW or details about individual captives.
    Documents, printed books, photographs, oral history.
    It is possible that the soldier's Regiment kept or has since compiled its own list of PoWs.

    All this info is copyright to the:
    The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8876 3444 Fax: +44 (0)20 8392 5286
    Contact us:
  2. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member

    Indentified PoWs lists at the NA by year


    CAB 45/129 The file entitled "Torgau History of the retreat from Mons in Aug 1914" includes a list of Officers PoWs held at Torgau camp & taken captive between Aug-Oct 1914.
    The file gives, Unit,Name,Rank and when capttured.

    FO372/533 File 64430 (15/10/1914) List of British Officers & some men at Torgau camp.
    Name,Rank & Regt

    FO372/534 File 71919 (09/11/1914) List of British Pows at Wunsdorf camp, Zossen,Brandenburg.
    Name,Rank,Regt,Where Captured.


    ADM 1/8420/124 (includes several lists)

    1.British & Dominion Army PoWs held in German camps giving: Place of detention,Name,Rank,Unit,where captured and birthplace (July 1915).

    2. List of Pows and Casualties from HMS Moari & HMS Crusader.

    3. Casualty list giving personal details,date of death,cause of death and place of burial (2nd July 1915).

    4. List of returned PoWs admitted to 3rd London General Hospital Wandsworth.(17th Oct 1915).

    AIR 1/836/204/5/271 Nominal list,without personal detail, of RFC Officers believed to be interned in Holland (May 1915).

    FO383/9 File 197439 (22/12/15) Partial list of Officers and men held in Bulgaria, Name & Service No only.

    FO383/22 File 18098 (16/02/15) Name only list of 107 incapacitated PoWs to be exchanged with a similar number of Germans.

    FO383/109 File 193626 (18/12/15) List of Naval Officers interned in Germany, name rank & where interned.
  3. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member


    AIR 1/892/204/5/696 File of British PoWs in Germany (March-April 1916) place of detention,name,rank,unit,place of capture.

    AIR 1/892/204/5/697 List of British PoWs in Turkey (Feb 1916) Name,unit,number,place of detention,plus some casualty & hospital admission list.

    AIR 1/892/204/5/698 List of British PoWs interned in Switzerland (June 1916)
    Name, rank, unit, place of internment, where captured and nature of wounds or illness.

    FO 383/127 File 167934 (July 1916) Lists of British PoWs held in Bulgaria, including the camps at Phiiippopolis, Vratza, Radomir, Tirnovo, Sofia', Drenovetz, Gorno Panitcherovo, and Tartar Pazardjik. The amount of personal detail varies but can provide: Service Number, name, rank, regiment.

    FO 383/176 File 11516 (January 1916) British PoWs and British subjects interned in German East Africa. Name, rank, unit or civilian occupation.

    FO 383/238 File 27374 (11/02/1916) List of casualties and survivors (92) of HMS Tara (sunk by enemy action on 05/11/1915) and held in Tripoli by the Turkish Government.


    FO 383/252 File 162190 (10/07/1917) List of incapacitated British PoWs (held in Bulgaria) to be repatriated. Name, rank, service number, unit, place of origin.

    1.File 184780 contains reports, similar to those in WO 161, made by repatriated, other ranks PoWs held by the Bulgarians. In addition, the files 184782, 184783 & 185543 hold reports compiled by PoWs formerly held in Bulgaria.

    FO 383/265 File 59300 (04/02/1917) Report on a visit by the American Ambassador to Lazerets in the 7th and 8th Army area, includes substantial nominal list of British PoWs found in those hospitals gives name, rank, number, details of illness.

    FO 383/273 File 203761 (24/10/1917): List of PoWs in the Reserve Lazaret Ingoldstadt.Name, rank, unit, when & where captured & wounded, date of arrival at camp.

    1. File 206092 (27/10/1917): List of PoWs in Heilsberg Lazaret: name, unit, date of arrival illness.

    2. File 20694 (27/10/1917): List of PoWs interned in Lazret and Camp at Preussisch-Holland: name, unit, where transferred from, illness or date of transfer.

    3. File 206095 (03/10/1917): List of PoWs at Merzdorf near Cottbus: rank, name, date & place of birth, unit & number, date and where transferred from, date arrived at Cottbus I camp, where transferred to.

    FO 383/307 File 190831 (04/10/1917) First part of list concerns Naval Officers (RN RNR & RNVR) who were PoWs in Germany. It is arranged by date of capture from 10/10/1914 to 28/07/1917 and provides name, rank, camp, date of capture. Second part is Petty Officers, NCOs and Men and runs from 28/09/1914-28/07/1917, this gives name, rating/rank, ship/battalion etc.S date of capture.

    FO 383/333 File 63265 (16/03/1917) List of New Zealand Officers held in Turkey. Service number, name, unit, where interned.

    FO 383/336 File 60343 (22/03/1917) List of PoWs at internment camps in Turkey. Service number, rank, name, unit, where heid.

    Same file: list of PoWs presumed to be in Turkish captivity after capture Kut. Service number, rank, name, unit.

    File 159638 (15/08/1917) Contains cases in which unofficial reports of the death of prisoners of war in Turkey have been accepted for official purposes, but in which further particulars are required. These normally provide, Service number, name, unit, where held and presumed cause of death or state that the place and date of death are required.

    FO 383/353 File 92384 (07/05/1917) List of Officers and Men of the "Buffs" (East Kent Regiment) interned in Germany. For NCOs and other ranks the list also gives their service number. Rank, name, battalion, where interned.


    AIR 1/1995/204/273/218 Includes a nominal roll of ex-PoWs returning via Calais as of 25/11/1918. However, it is impossible to say how complete this is and it should also be noted that all these prisoners were captured during March-May1918. The list is indexed by unit and provides the following details,Service number, rank, name, unit, age, where interned, trade, date of capture.

    FO 383/456 File 117571 (03/09/1918) Various lists: Nominal role of British Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men and Indian military personnel held at Afrion Kara Hissar,
    Kedos, Konia, and Magnesia in Turkey providing rank, name and unit/ship.

    1. List of Medical Officers: PoWs in Turkey

    2. List of Assistant Surgeons of the Indian Medical Service: PoWs in Turkey.

    3. List of Sub Assistant Surgeons of the Indian Medical Service; PoWs inTurkey.

    4.List of Certificated Officers and Engineers gives camp number where held, name, age.

    FO 383/419 File 112225 (October 1918?) List of British PoWs residing in the neighbourhood of Termonde (Belgium) provides details of, Name, home town, service number, rank, unit.
  4. spof

    spof New Member

  5. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member

    All the Document & files in the above posts, I have copies of.

    If you are looking for a British POW your should try the this site first:

    This is the search site for WO161

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