Second World War: Internment

Opening pages of an album of Bill Millett during his time in Rezzanello prisoner of war camp, Italy. It mimics the half title and illustrated title page of a published book with a hand drawn illustration of the Roman God, Mercury, stood on the globe above a banner with the motto  "Certa Cito". A symbolic crown sits above the figure.
Album of Bill Millett during his time in Rezzanello prisoner of war camp, Italy.

We hold a range of archive and manuscript resources relating to internment during the Second World War

About the collection

Our Modern Archives include a number of collections relating to internment during the Second World War (1939-1945).These include first hand experiences of internees, as well as context surrounding their confinement. Geographically, the records span the globe, with material originating from Britain, the Channel Islands, Italy, and China. Persistent themes include lack of food, boredom, absence of news, and medical issues.

Relevant large collections include the Viscount Cecil of Chelwood Papers, which provide a significant amount of information on the internment of refugees in Britain, along with the papers of journalist Henry Wickham Steed. Elsewhere, the papers of J. G. Ballard contain much documentation relating to Lunghua Internment Camp (Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre), Shanghai.

Highlights include:

  • The diary of Konrad Eisig, a Jewish German refugee interned in Britain and sent to Australia against his will.
  • The experiences of electrician Ernest Philip Higgs, incarcerated by the Japanese during the occupation of Shanghai.
  • A letter from Vyvyan MacLeod Ferrers, describing his deportation from the Channel Islands for insurrection.
  • An album created by prisoners of war in Rezzanello, Italy.
  • Plans and records of Lunghua Internment Camp.


What is available online?

The Explore Archives and Manuscripts catalogue contains catalogue entries for material related to the Second World War.

Four photographs of the Lunghua Camp taken by J G Ballard can be viewed online via their Collection Items pages.

In addition, the Untold Lives Blog contains several posts exploring some of these manuscripts.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Registered readers can request specific items to the Manuscripts Reading Room from the Archives and Manuscripts catalogue. However, be aware that much material is not held together and will require ordering of items separately.

A small number of items may require a letter of introduction. Use the online catalogue to find out whether access conditions apply. 

What is available in other organisations?

The Imperial War Museum and National Archives hold a significant amount of material relating to the Second World War. The Frank Falla Archives hold several items relating to the deportation of people from Guernsey, including Vyvyan Macleod Ferrers.