How to look for records of... Internees

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

This is a guide to finding records of individual internees. During the First and Second World Wars both sides set up internment camps to hold enemy aliens – civilians who were believed to be a potential threat and have sympathy with the enemy’s war objectives. Internees were treated differently to prisoners of war and were given more privileges.

What do I need to know before I start?

The National Archives does not hold registers of all internees. Very few records of individual internees survive for the First World War.

What records can I see online?

Records of enemy aliens and internees, First and Second World Wars

Search by first and last name for enemy aliens and internees in the First and Second World Wars on findmypast.co.uk (£).

Alternatively, you can browse the digitised collections of enemy aliens and internees by year and by record series.

The records include:

  • First World War internment lists in HO 144/11720, 1915 and 1918
  • Central Register of Aliens in United Kingdom; policy of internment and repatriation of alien enemies in HO 45/11522 Parts 1 and 2, 1914-1924
  • reception and internment of aliens: list of internees in PCOM 9/661-662, 1938-1946
  • nominal rolls for various internment camps at Isle of Man: HO 215/469 (Hutchinson), HO 215/471 (Metropole), HO 215/473 (Mooragh), HO 215/475 (Onchan), HO 215/478 (Port Erin) and HO 215/502 (married camp)
  • people interned or considered for internment by the British in the Second World War in HO 396, 1939-1947
  • register of some 2,000 enemy aliens interned during the First World War in England and Wales in HO 45/11522/287235

Records of deported enemy aliens, 1939-1942

For the first two years of the Second World War about 8,000 enemy aliens were temporarily interned in British camps prior to being deported to the colonies and the dominions.

Search and download lists of passengers leaving from UK and Irish ports travelling to places such as Canada, India, New Zealand and Australia, including deported internees, on the findmypast.co.uk (£) website.

Many ships carrying internees were torpedoed at sea in enemy action and these losses led to the end of the policy of deporting internees.

Prisoners of war records, 1715-1945

Search and download selected prisoners of war records 1715-1945 from Findmypast (£). These include some civilian internees.

Security Service Personal Files, 1913-1983

Security Service Personal Files may include records of former internees in which the Security Service took an interest. Search among the Security Service Personal Files (KV 2) by name and/or date/year of birth.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

German record cards of British and Commonwealth prisoners of war and civilian internees, Second World War

Search by name for details of several hundred captured allied civilians as recorded on German record cards. These are among the records primarily of prisoners of war held by German authorities during the Second World War, in series WO 416. Not all the records in this series are yet open to the public, nor are they all name searchable in our catalogue, so in some cases there are access restrictions. For further details, please see the ‘arrangement’ information in the WO 416 series description.

Correspondence from the Foreign Office’s Prisoners of War and Aliens Department, 1915-1919

Use the search box below to search in series FO 383 by name for correspondence about British subjects resident overseas and interned during the First World War.

Narrow your search by using double quotation marks to find a person’s full name, such as “Henry Keates”:


Please note, some of these are available on Findmypast (£).

Home Office personal files of internees, 1940-1949

Search the very small sample of Home Office case files for internees in HO 214 by name:

Second World War internment papers in Home Office applications for naturalisations, 1934-1948

Search among the Aliens Personal Files in series HO 405 and HO 382 by name and/or date/year of birth. These may include internment papers of foreign citizens interned in the UK during the Second World War. These are Home Office files created for European immigrants who arrived in the UK between 1934 and 1948 and who applied for naturalisation.

Registered files of the Prisoners of War Department, 1939-1948

Browse the Foreign Office files of prisoners of war and internees, including lists of alien internees, in FO 916.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

International Committee of the Red Cross

Contact the International Committee of the Red Cross, which keeps information on all known prisoners of war and internees of all nationalities affected by conflicts during the 20th century. In general, searches are only made in response to written enquiries and an hourly fee is charged. However, some of their First World War records are available to view online free of charge.

What other resources will help me find information?

Websites

Visit the website describing the work of the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in Distress to find out more about internees in the First World War.

Books

All the books listed here are available at The National Archives’ Library in Kew. Some may also be available in the The National Archives’ bookshop.

British civilians interned by the Japanese in World War Two (prepared by the Association of British Civilian Internees, Far East Region, 2009)

Roger Kershaw, Migration Records (The National Archives, 2009)

Miriam Kochan, Britain’s internees in the Second World War (Macmillan, 1983)

Panikos Panayi, Prisoners of Britain: German civilian and combatant internees during the First World War (Manchester University Press, 2012)

Matthew Stibbe, British civilian internees in Germany: The Ruthleben Camp, 1914-1918 (Manchester University, 2008)