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First World War Internment Camp Newspapers

Posted on 05.04.2016

What was a typical day for a First World War Internee on the Isle of Man?  The recently digitised – and for the first-time complete translation into English – of the German First World War Internment Camp Newspapers onto iMuseum offer a rare insight into what life was really like at Knockaloe Camp (on the outskirts of Peel) for internees of the Great War over a century ago.

But back to this question of what was a typical day in the life of an internee.  I got to thinking about this when I chanced on this small, illustrated article from Lager Ulk, 18 November 1917.  From daybreak to sunset here’s how one internee, W. Heinen, thought to describe (and draw) ‘A Day In The Life of a P.O.W’.


Translation: 6 in the morning rum-di-bum, Stewards out, the night is done, The POW sighs and shakes his head, And he sits up in his bed.


Translation: 8 a.m. The steward now brings him forage, So-called ‘tea’ and a bowl of porridge, P.O.W.s hate rubbish and cabbage, Warm porridge to savour he will manage.


Translation: Strongly developed is our sense, Of personal cleanliness, At 6.30 it strikes one as vehement, All that watery element.  10 a.m. At then there’s the inspection, And it may be earlier than that; The soldier lad gives a smart salute, The P.O.W. finds it a bit flat.


Translation: After two, to his great honour, The spirit soars in higher sphere, He follows the footsteps of his father, And practises barbed-wire culture.


Translation: From 8-10, let’s not forget, With all due respect, He wanders twenty times around, Hey-diddle-dee, through the compound.


Translation: 10.30 p.m. Now the day is almost done, The sound of snoring sends him out, To bed; and then it’s half-past ten, And now it’s time for Lights Out.

Jude Dicken (Manx National Heritage Collections Information Officer)