POW Camps in India

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The marriage of Edward Meyers, Boer Prisoner of War took place on 28 November 1902 at Amritsar

Prisoner of War and Internment Camps in India

Boer War

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. A ten year old boy was known to be a prisoner in India.[1]

In India, there were Boer prisoners of war camps at

(Information mainly from the Anglo Boer War Museum website)

Catalogue reference BACSA Archive at the British Library Ceylon: Boer POW Camp Mss Eur F370/785

FamilySearch digitised microfilms

  • Archives of the Staff Officer, Prisoners of War, Cape Town, 1900-1903 (SO/POW). Digitised 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. Digitised 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.
  • Both series of digitised microfilms appear to be freely available on your home computer, but if not, see FamilySearch Centres for viewing options.

External links

Also see the Fibiwiki page Ceylon for additional information about POWs in Ceylon.
"Boer prisoners of war on the Island of St Helena" by A J Nathan. Military History Journal Vol 11 No 3/4 - October 1999. The South African Military History Society.
  • 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

First World War

Historical books online

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")

External links

Prisoners Of The First World War- 
ICRC Historical Archives. International Committee of the Red Cross. Includes a free Search facility. Retrieved 4 August 2014
    • The International Prisoners-of-War Agency. The ICRC in World War One. html version, pdf An eleven page 2007 document setting out the type of records available. 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[2] 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, with Google Translate English version, or Google Chrome provides an automatic translation. From the website "Gaebler info and Genealogy", section Indien.
  • Prisoners of war and civilian internees captured by British and Dominion forces from the German colonies during the First World War by Mahon Murphy. A thesis submitted to the Department of International History of the London School of Economics for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, London, July 2014. The references to India appear to be minor, but Ahmednagar is mentioned on pages 59 and 67, and Belgaum is also mentioned on page 59. There is a map, which includes camps in India and Ceylon, on page 7, with a description on page 9.
  • 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’. [3]
  • 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"[4]
  • There was a POW Camp for Turkish prisoners at Kirkee[5]. 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[6], 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, Part 1 by Vedica Kant September 14, 2012; Part 2 September 17, 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.[7][8][9]

  • Group I – Bangalore: Camps 1 to 8 - Italian prisoners. There were Camps at Jakkur, Hebbal and Jalahalli.[10]
  • 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 (Ajmer) – Civil Internment Camp: Deoli housed German civilian internees and Japanese civilian internees. It was also a punishment colony for Germans. Deoli (Wikipedia)

The above information is mainly taken from the website Indian Banknote:India: Prisoner-of-War Coupons (archive.org link).

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.[11]

Catalogue reference BACSA Archive at the British Library India: Italian POW Camps Mss Eur F370/853

External links

German prisoners of war

Italian prisoners of war

Japanese internees

  • "A forgotten story from the Second World War" by Hedley Sutton. Untold lives blog, British Library. Japanese internees in the Internment Camp, Deoli (Ajmer). The majority were interned during December 1941 in Singapore and Malaya, although a few were picked up in Burma and in India itself. There is a reference to British Library records IOR/L/PJ/8/405.


British Library

Records include

  • IOR/L/ PJ/8/1-76 Collection 101: Aliens ‎ (1931-1950) which includes sub categories such as IOR/L/ PJ/8/31 Coll 101/10AA; Nominal rolls of internees and parolees in India and IOR/L/ PJ/8/34 Coll 101/10AB; Reports on internment camps in India (excluding Japanese camps) ‎ (Oct 1942-Oct 1945).
  • 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 FamilySearch (LDS) microfilm[12] 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”

The National Archives


  1. Boer Boy: Memoirs of an Anglo-Boer War Youth by Chris Schoeman 2011. Biography of Charles du Preez, POW at Umballa and Solon, where he was the youngest inmate. Amazon.com.
  2. seaforths "Foreign Office Files on POWs (FO 383)" Great War Forum 30 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014
  3. Great War Forum post by 'KateH' dated 23 January 2014, part of a thread 'Concentration Camp Deolali'
  4. stiletto_33853 18th Rifle Brigade Great War Forum 30 May 2006 et al. Retrieved 8 December 2014
  5. Huw (PJI777) Kirkee India April 1919 Great War Forum 4 January 2015]. Retrieved 15 January 2015
  6. Image of tobacco tin inscribed Prisoners of War Camp Kirkee India 1914-1918 A V Lawes 62515 8th Welch Pioneers. Retrieved 15 January 2015
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Part II: Administration of Enemy Prisoners of War File from army.gov.au
  10. Pensioner’s Paradise or POW Camp ? by Aliyeh Rizvi, July 7, 2011
  11. Page 25 A Soldier's Life in War and Peace by Maj.Gen A. S. Naravane Google Books ISBN 81-7648-437-7
  12. FamilySearch microfilm catalogue entry British High Commission cemetery records, ca. 1870-1967. See FamilySearch Centres for details about microfilm/digitised microfilm.