Camp 144 at Kew

This temporary installation to time with our Great Escapes exhibition displays photographs from the prisoner of war camp that was located on the site of The National Archives in Kew in 1945.

The land The National Archives stands on once housed a complex of buildings known as camp 144. In July 1945, about 2,300 Italian prisoners of war were held in the camp.

Italy had surrendered in 1943 and many Italian POWs were then categorised as ‘co-operators’ and put to work outside their camps and granted some freedoms. When not working they could travel up to 5 miles away, but weren’t allowed to visit shops, cinemas or pubs. If invited, they could visit local people in their homes.

The ‘co-operators’ living at camp 144 worked on properties across London that had been damaged by V1 and V2 rockets.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945 but many Italian POWs did not start being repatriated until December, as they were still needed for the work they were doing across the country. The final POWs from camp 144 left Kew in July 1946.

A display of photographs on wall alongside the heading: Kew POW Camp. There is text written under the heading. There are 12 photos in total each showing people going about their day, some eating, some working, at a camp in Kew during the Second World War.

Kew POW Camp 144 display at The National Archives.

The images are from the Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection, and reproduced courtesy of (IWM) Imperial War Museums.