POW Camps in India
Prisoner of War and Internment Camps in India
- 1 Boer War
- 2 First World War
- 3 Second World War
- 4 Records
- 5 References
Until April 1901 the British captured approx 25,000 Boers. Of these various numbers were sent to various places as POWs.Only a total of 9000 Boer POWs were ever sent out to India of this number, and they were held in some 14-15 camps in selected Indian cantonments.
In India, there were Boer prisoners of war camps at
- Kakool (Kakul) near Abbottabad
- Bhim Tal, near Naini Tal
- Dagshai and Solon
- Fort Govindgarh, (Gobindgarh) , Amritsar
- Kaity ( Keti,Kaiti) in the Nilgiris, near Ootacamund. There is also mention of a camp at Wellington which is in the same area. It is not known whether these are the same, or different camps.
- Upper Topa, near Murree
(Information mainly from the Anglo Boer War Museum website)
- Archives of the Staff Officer, Prisoners of War, Cape Town, 1900-1903 (SO/POW) Microfilm of originals at the Transvaal Archives Depot, Pretoria. Contains details of Boer prisoners of war, lists of prisoners who were in the various camps in India, Ceylon, St. Helena and Portugal, lists of prisoners who were released, paroled or who took the oath of allegiance.
- Lists of prisoners of war in South Africa, 1899-1902 Microfilm of original manuscripts in Orange Free State Archives, Bloemfontein, Republic of South Africa. High reduction (42x) microfilm, use high magnification reader. Published lists of Afrikaner prisoners of war, arranged alphabetically and chronologically, with full name, home address, marital status, regiment location, age; date and place of capture, internment, death, relocation; notes on parole, rank, or release during the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902). Besides South Africa, many P.O.W.s were relocated to the island of St. Helena, India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and elsewhere in the British Empire.
- How to order microfilms
- Prisoner of War Camps in the Boer War in India , Ceylon and St Helena with a map from Anglo Boer War Museum. This website includes a Prisoners of War database search (archive.org links 1 and 2)
- Boers,( ancestry24.com) includes a section “Boer Prisoners of War – Camps” (scroll down) including general mention of the camps in India. (archive.org link)
- Camps for Boers - India angloboerwar.com (This link may be slow to load and is found at Miscellaneous information/Prisoner of war camps/ Camps for Boers – India).
- Article "South-South Gothic" by Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand “A haunting tale of suspense featuring a cemetery in the punjab, boer prisoner of war graves, cold war neo-medievalism and much more” html version, original pdf
- Article "The Indian Ocean Civil Dead: Boer Prisoner-of-War Graves in India" by Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand. Paper presented at "The Politics of Heritage" 8-9 July 2011 Museum Africa, Johannesburg html version, original pdf
- Article "Boer Prisoners Of War In India" by E S Reddy written in 1991-1992. Now an archived webpage.
- Contains “Inscriptions on Gravestone at Ambala Cemetery, Ambala, Haryana State, India, for Boer Prisoners of War Who Died At Ambala”.
- Article "India and the Anglo-Boer War" by E S Reddy 29 July 1999 now archived, version from mkgandhi.org, without footnotes
- Hansard transcripts
- Newspaper article At Ahmednagar. The Boer Prisoners West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul, Victoria) 10 December 1901. Trove (nla.gov.au)
- Ahmednagar: Fort: Boer and German POWs Held by the British YouTube Video. Contains some cemetery images.
- India 1902 Fort Govindgarh Censored Envelope With Letter "The POW camp at Fort Govindargh was known as "The Hell" amongst the 1200 Boer prisoners kept there. The heat was oppressive and the Boers sometimes swam in the moat surrounding the fort. The water, however, was polluted and inevitably would give both the POWs and their guards typhoid fever. The camp was eventually closed on 10 December 1902". (archive.org link)
- Boer prisoner of war art Extract of article by Fransjohan Pretorius in History Today 1 March 2006. (archive.org link)
- Time to settle old score 20 December 20 2011. iol.co.za. Contains reference to the playing of cricket in the camps, particularly in Ceylon, and contains a photograph of the Ahmednagar Boer Cricket Club in India who "played frequently against their British guards". (archive.org link)
- The History of Tennis in the Free State advises that tennis was played at the camps in Ahmednagar, Amritsar and Trichinopoly. freestatetennis.co.za
- Photograph of Boer prisoners held by the British army at Kakul, India (now in Pakistan) during the Second Boer War, 1902. Getty Images
- Abstract of an article "The erection and maintenance of monuments to Boer prisoners of war in India 1902-1948" by J Wassermann South African Journal of Cultural History Volume 24, No 2 (2010). (archive.org link)
- Anglo Boere Oorlog/Boer War (1899-1902) POW India geni.com
- Anglo Boere Oorlog/Boer War (1899-1902) POW Ceylon geni.com
- Anglo Boere Oorlog/Boer War (1899-1902) POW Saint Helena geni.com
- Article "Island of no return" (St. Helena) by Gavin Bell Weekend Australian 14 July 2012 Travel and Indulgence section, page 1 briefly says "Nothing remains of a prisoner-of-war camp on a high plateau where 6000 Afrikaners were held during the Boer War, but the graves of 156 who never saw their homeland again are carefully tended on a steep hillside. Two granite obelisks bearing their names stand as a memorial ..."
- Details of The Anglo-Boer War Diaries of Jan Geldenhuys Includes the period from April 1902 when he was captured and sent as a prisoner of war to Umballa, where his experiences till 20th November 1902, were documented. He later met up with his father and brother who were POW’s at Bhimtal. The diaries were originally written in High Dutch. (archive.org link)
Historical books online
- Recollections of a Boer Prisoner-Of-War at Ceylon by J N Brink, "late adjudant of General Crowther" 1904 Archive.org
First World War
Historical books online
- Reports on British prison-camps in India and Burma, visited by the International Red Cross Committee in February, March and April, 1917 1917 Archive.org Contents
- page 18 Sumerpur, Rajputana. Mainly Turkish prisoners of war, some civilians
- page 25 Ahmednagar, Bombay Presidency. Mainly civilian, but some military including captured crews of German ships
- page 35 Belgaum, Bombay Presidency .German and Austrian civilians
- page 40 Bellary, Bombay Presidency. Turkish prisoners of war
- page 44 Depot Camp at Calcutta for prisoners of war in transit to Burma
- page 45 Katapahar in the Hills near Darjeeling. Civilians
- page 47 Thayetmyo, Burma. Turkish prisoners of war.
- page 57 Camp for Convalescents at Schwebo, Burma. Turkish prisoners of war.
- page 59 Quarantine Camp Rangoon, Burma. Turkish prisoners of war.
- The original report (in French) appears to contain some additional information, such as the location of camps, and more details of the types of prisoners. (From the website "Prisoners of the First World War-ICRC Historical Archives")
- The POW Camps are mentioned on pages 211-212, Under Ten Viceroys: the Reminiscences of a Gurkha by Major-General Nigel Woodyatt 1922 Archive.org
- Agreement between the British and Ottoman governments respecting prisoners of war and civilians Presented to Parliament April 1918 HMSO. Archive.org
- Prisoners Of The First World War- ICRC Historical Archives. International Committee of the Red Cross. Includes a free Search facility. Retrieved 4 August 2014
- Finding Aid: Foreign Office Files (FO 383) at the National Archives: Regarding Military & Civilian Prisoners of War: List of Files and Contents: 1915-1919. Compiled September 2014 by seaforths Contains a FIND (Search) function. onedrive.live.com. Retrieved 30 September 2014. Contains references such as
- Reference: FO 383/20 1915. Description: Germany: Prisoners, including: Correspondence regulations at Ahmednagar, India: includes printed copy of Memorandum issued by the Adjutant General in India (in docket no.147691).
- Reference: FO 383/436 1918 Description: Germany: Prisoners, including: Lists (in docket nos. 97151 and 109002) of German civilians transferred from East Africa to camps at Ahmednagar and Belgaum, India, with printed correspondence relating to individual cases.
- India: first mission led to long tradition of humanitarian action in Asia icrc.org. Includes photograph taken at Belgaum, WW1.
- The POW Camp at Belgaum is mentioned in the entry for 6 April 1918 from The Diary of Frederick Pendall, a member of the Norfolk regiment who was in Belgaum from March 1917 to March 1918 (archived website)
- Postcards of British Camps includes two of Ahmednagar. grandeguerre.icrc.org. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Postcard to Germany from Ahmednagar POW camp 1919 stampcommunity.org. (archive.org link)
- Ahmednagar from German Missions in British India Nationalism: Case and Crisis in Missions by Paul von Tucher 1980. From the website "Gaebler info and Genealogy" section Indien
- Reports of Germans about the time of the First World War in British India Includes two reports concerning Ahmednager, and reports from missionaries in the camps. In German language, but use Google translate, or Google Chrome provides an automatic translation. From the website "Gaebler info and Genealogy", section India
- Turkish POWs at Deolali are mentioned in Reading between unwritten lines: Australian Army nurses in India, 1916-19 by Ruth Rae. Australian War Memorial website. (archive.org link)
- From notes in the Australian Archives regarding 34 Welsh General Hospital in Deolali : Sister Alma L. Bennett, Matron in 1917, said: ‘containing 3000 beds – 4 hrs train journey from Bombay'. ... Our cases were all from Mesopotamia – some direct – others individually coming from various Bombay Hospitals… We also had 200 Turkish Prisoners of War, almost all Surgical cases, some with shocking wounds – septic.’ Matron Gertrude Davis said: ‘When we became a P. of W. hospital our number of beds was increased to 700, 200 for British and 500 for prisoners as later we had the German prisoners from East Africa also an occasional one from Mespot’. 
- Turkish POWS on the ship S.S. Ellenga in Bombay Harbour in late December 1915 are mentioned in a poem written by Rifleman John Layton of the 18th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, who wrote "Those barbarious Turkish brutes, who looked a deplorable sight. They were dirty and covered with vermin, dying like rotten sheep"
- There was a POW Camp for Turkish prisoners at Kirkee. An image of an tobacco tin was seen, with the inscription Prisoners of War Camp Kirkee India 1914-1918 A V Lawes 62515 8th Welch Pioneers, perhaps indicating the camp was in operation throughout the war.
- British Library India Office Records catalogue entry OR/L/PJ/6/1504, File 4110 includes a brief mention of Turkish War Prisoners Camp, Nowgong, Central India
- Turkish POWs in India and Burma: First World War by Vedica Kant September 14, 2012 amitavghosh.com
- "Indian Soldiers and POWs in the Middle East during World War I" by Vedica Kant, Robert Upton, and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 86 (December 21, 2012) “ In this podcast, Vedica Kant talks about the experience of Indian POWs in the Ottoman Empire as well as that of Ottoman soldiers captured by the British army and brought to India and Burma, with additional commentary by Robert Upton regarding military recruitment in British India...” Webpage contains images of prisoners at Bellary and Thayetmyo. (archive.org link)
- The history hidden in Haydarpaşa Cemetery by Vedika Kant 01 August 2013. Includes a section on the Thayetmyo POW camp
Second World War
The Prisoners-of-war were interned in India in 29 camps forming 6 Groups of camps. In addition, there were two Civil Internment Camps at Dehradun and Deoli and one camp in Delhi for the Japanese prisoners captured in Burma.
Some 18,400 Italian prisoners of war (out of 50,000 requested by the Australian Government, to be employed as farm labourers) were transported from India to Australia from 1943. Some of the [Italian?] POWs in India were shipped to South Africa to help build the railway there.
- Group I – Bangalore: Camps 1 to 8 - Italian prisoners.
- Group II – Bhopal: Camps 9 to 16 – Italian prisoners. Camp 16 was a hospital. Bhopal Bairagarh (Wikipedia)
- Group III – Ramgarh: Camps 17 to 20 – German Civil Internees and later Italian prisoners. Had a punishment camp for difficult Italian POWs Ramgarh was near Hazaribagh. It was used as a POW camp up to May 1942 when the POWs were moved out and the United States Chinese Training Command was established there.
- Group IV - Clement Town (Dehra Dun): Camps 21 to 24 – Separated in Wings 1: pro-Nazi, 2: anti-Nazi, 3: Italians. One of the camps was a *Central Internment Camp.
- Group V – YOL: Camps 25 to 28 – Italian prisoners. Yol was situated near Dharamsala
- Group VI – Bikaner: Camp 29 – Japanese prisoners. It was also a punishment camps for difficult Italian POWs.Bikaner (Wikipedia)
- Central Internment Camp (Dehra Dun / Premnagar): This was mixed civilian internment and prisoner-of-war camp. Italian prisoners of war and German civilian internees housed in separate camps. Wing 1 and Wing 6 held German internees.
- Delhi – Japanese Camp: Delhi housed the Japanese prisoners captured in Burma.
- Deoli – Civil Internment Camp: Deoli housed German civilian internees and Japanese civilian internees. It was also a punishment colony for Germans. Deoli (Wikipedia)
This Wikipedia article lists the following additional camps
- Deolali from February 1941, later also transferred to Dehra Dun 11 August 1941: Germans.
- Yercaud for females from Madras Presidency. Summer 1941, closed late 1942.
- Fort William, Calcutta, army camp, closed early 1940, males were sent to Ahmednagar, females to Katapahar parole camp.
- Smaller Parole Camps at Naini Tal, Kodaikanal and Katapahar (near Darjeeling), were all closed by late 1942. Inmates transferred to (family reunions) to the camps near Poona: Satara from May 1940, Purandhar (lower Fort), initially for Jewish refugees, later also other Germans, many missionaries with families.
There was an internment camp at Mhow for Germans residing in India.
- Indian Banknote: India: Prisoner-of-War Coupons Money used in the Prisoner-of-War Camps. (archive.org link)
- World and Military Notes contains examples of money used in the Prisoner-of-War Camps. (archive.org link)
- Google English translation of the original Italian Prigioniero a Yol India about the money used in the camps. (archive.org link)
German prisoners of war
- India gaebler.info. (archive.org link). Includes
- "German Missions in India" mainly in German language but includes
- extracts from the book German Missions In British India Nationalism: Case And Crisis In Missions by Paul Von Tucher 1980 concerning internment of German missionaries during World War 2 at Premnagar near Dehra Dun, Purandhar, about 40kms south-east of Poona and Satara. (archive.org link)
- Prisoners of the Raj by Roger Croston. Originally published in The Alpine Journal 2006 Escape from internment at Dehra Dun. (archive.org link)
- Escape by Rolf Magener from internment at Dehra Dun (archive.org)
- World War II in British India by Hermann M. Selzer, M. D. Born a Polish Jew, he studied medicine in Germany and Italy and worked with his wife, as doctors in Lahore from the late 1930s. In December 1940, the family was arrested and taken as enemy aliens to first Purandhar and then Satara internment camps in Southern India until August 1946, when they were released and returned to Lahore. (archive.org link)
- Internment and Parole Camp Purandhar. (archive.org link). The author details how the Camp Commandant misappropriated money meant for the medical care of the prisoners and also money from their food allowance, which is described in this link (archive.org links 1 and 2)
- Internment and Parole Camp Satara (archive.org link)
- "German Missions in India" mainly in German language but includes
Italian prisoners of war
- Records relating to Italian Prisoners of War and Internees WW2 at the British Library. Britishlibrary.typepad (archive.org link)
- Yol: Once a haven for prisoners of war (Scroll down) by Rajendra Rajan Saturday, October 17, 1998 The Tribune (tribuneindia) (archive.org link)
- The story of the ten thousand Italian soldiers prisoners in India Computer produced Google English translation Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 of original Italian version: La storia dei diecimila soldati italiani prigionieri in India (1a parte), (2a parte), (3a parte) www.loccidentale.it (archive.org links 1, 2 and 3)
- Updated list of Italian prisoners in Yol (India): Computer produced Google English translation of original Italian version Elenco aggiornato dei prigionieri italiani a Yol (India) loccidentale.it
- 10,000 in Himalayas: a story of war Computer produced Google English translation of original Italian version 10.000 in Himalaya: una storia di Guerra erewhon.ticonuno.it. (archive.org link). Includes a link to
- Computer produced Google English translation of Interview with Toto Fabbri, about his time at Yol 1942-1946 from the website chiamamicitta.com, the online magazine of the city of Rimini. Original Italian version Quattro anni a due passi dal Tibet (now archived)
- Prisoners in India Computer produced Google English translation of original Italian version Prigionieri in India digilander.libero.it (archive.org link)
- POW in India An Italian website.
- Italian POWs in India, 1944 faroutliers.blogspot. (archive.org link)
- Aviators from WWII Generale di Brigata Aerea Alfredo Balsamo (archive.org link). Contains a few photographs of Italian prisoners at Yol camp
- "Umberto's War: From the diary of Umberto Cofrancesco" (archive.org link): From capture in Libya to the prisoner of war camps at Ramgarh and Bairagarh page 6. page 7, page 8 cofrancesco.net (archive.org links 1, 2 and 3)
- "Memories of an Italian Naval Signalman" bbc.co.uk
- Part Four - From POW Camp at Geneiffa, Egypt to a POW Camp at Poona, India
- Part Five - From Poona to POW Camp at Ramghar, India
- Part Six - From Ramghar to POW Camp 26/3 at Pathankot, Kangra Vallery, near Kashmir on to Bhopal in April 1944 and arrival in Greenoch on 1st June 1944. (archive.org links 1, 2 and 3)
- This link mentions a diary book written by an Italian POW in Dehra Dun: Prigioniero in India: Vita quotidiana e grande storia nel diario di un ufficiale (Collana di biografie e testimonianze) by Domenico Salvatori 1989 ( No preview Google Books details). Includes bibliographical references. Google English translation: Prisoner in India: everyday life and great history in the diary of an officer
- Bairagarh near Bhopal. Some details of the specially built camp. (archive.org link)
- An Italian POW in India (Bhopal) timesofmalta.com. Includes a photograph of a football team. (archive.org link)
- Photographs from flickr.com, tagged Bhopal camp barracks ruins, camp ruins. drainage system, the POW camp
- This British Library catalogue entry indicates some photographs of the Italian prisoners of war camp at Bairagarh (Bhopal) are in the collection.
- Photograph of a Group of Italian POWs at the Ramgarh POW camp in northern India 1942. Group of Italian POWs about to begin a soccer game at the Ramgarh POW camp in northern India 1942 trove.nla.gov.au
- United Kingdom High Commission files relating to cemeteries IOR/R/4/1-539 1943-1967. Transferred from Indian Public Works Department to the British High Commission, New Delhi, and from there to the India Office Records in 1972-73. As they were originally Public Works Department files, they may not often (if at all) refer to individuals.
- File 18/3/1 General correspondence on prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/102 Dec 1947-Feb 1951
- File 18/3/2 General correspondence on prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/103 Feb 1951-Jul 1965
- File 18/3a Lucknow Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/104 Mar 1951-Jul 1952
- File 18/3b Bombay Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/105 Nov 1948-May 1953
- File 18/3c Nasik Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/106 Nov 1948-Jul 1952
- File 18/3d Calcutta Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/107 Nov 1948-May 1953
- File 18/3e Nagpur Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/108 Oct 1951-Dec 1953
- File 18/3f Punjab Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/109 Jul 1948-May 1953
- File 18/3g Delhi Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/110 May 1949-May 1953
- File 18/3h Chota-Nagpur Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/111 Jul 1950-Apr 1953
- File 18/3i Madras Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/112 Nov 1948-Jun 1953
- File 18/3j Assam Diocese: cemeteries containing prisoner of war graves IOR/R/4/113 Nov 1948-Jun 1949
- File 18/4/1 Correspondence on German prisoner of war graves in India IOR/R/4/115 Dec 1952-Jul 1953
- Note these records are available on LDS microfilm  where there is more detail provided about the individual items, in the "Film Notes" and is indicated there are at least some lists of prisoner-of-war graves. As an example “R/4/102-103 Correspondence regarding prisoner-of-war graves (frames 1213-1222, 1325-1327, 1339, 1358, 1397, 1401-1402 include a list of prisoner-of-war graves, as well as 33rd Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Also includes list of cemeteries that include German, Boer, Italian, and Turkish graves), ca. 1947-1954”
- BACSA Archive at the British Library Mss Eur F370
- See First World War - External links for a brief mention of a Turkish POW camp at Nowgong
- For Italian records during WWII, see Italian prisoners of war above.
The National Archives
- FO 383 Foreign Office: Prisoners of War and Aliens Department: General Correspondence from 1906 Includes references to camps in India.
- seaforths "Foreign Office Files on POWs (FO 383)" Great War Forum 30 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014
- Great War Forum post by 'KateH' dated 23 January 2014, part of a thread 'Concentration Camp Deolali'
- stiletto_33853 18th Rifle Brigade Great War Forum 30 May 2006 et al. Retrieved 8 December 2014
- Huw (PJI777) Kirkee India April 1919 Great War Forum 4 January 2015]. Retrieved 15 January 2015
- Image of tobacco tin inscribed Prisoners of War Camp Kirkee India 1914-1918 A V Lawes 62515 8th Welch Pioneers. Retrieved 15 January 2015
- Italian POWs helped grow Australia 26 August 2013 SBS News [Special Broadcasting Service] Television and Radio, Australia, quoting Gianfranco Cresciani, author of The Italians in Australia
- Francesco Barbera was an Italian POW captured in North Africa in 1941, who spent a few years In India. He was sent to Australia in 1943 where he spent time in POW camps in Liverpool, Cowra, Tumut and St Ives, now a suburb of Sydney. Article in North Shore Times 25 April 2014, page 11
- Page 25 A Soldier's Life in War and Peace by Maj.Gen A. S. Naravane Google Books ISBN 81-7648-437-7
- Microfilm catalogue entry British High Commission cemetery records, ca. 1870-1967