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Knockaloe Camp cigarette lighter

Date made: 1918

Description: A brass cylindrical lighter with slide-on lid. The lighter is made from a shell cartridge and has two small foreign copper coins used to make the ends of the lighter, one is a 2 cents coin. The lighter has an engraved design on the exterior lid which shows a 'runaway match' with a box of Swan Vesta matches beating a cigarette lighter in a race. The design also shows a hill with a tower in the background and an inscription. Corrin's Tower on Peel Hill is shown with huts at Knockaloe camp. Engraved on the body of the lighter is "lighting up time" and a design of 'Old Father Time' taking a light from a small child and a smiling sun above, possibly a New Year symbol. The initials "CJB" and a star of David are also engraved on the lighter.

Donor was given the lighter by one of his two uncles in 1940s (one was a Kneen from Ramsey and other had married a Kneen), no known family connection with Knockaloe but a Robert Kneen from Ballaugh was the tenant farmer at Knockaloe Mooar farm during 1900s-1910s and he occupied Knockaloe farm during the First World War.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. They were held in two camps, a requisitioned holiday camp in Douglas and a purpose built camp located at Knockaloe near Peel on the west coast of the Island. These held at their peaks over 4,000 and 23,000 men in some cases for nearly five years between opening in 1914 and final closure in 1919. Over 30,000 men passed through Knockaloe between 1914 and 1917, more than the population of Douglas. Other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp. The confinement of the prisoners led to specific behavioural issues known as ‘barbed wire disease’. Receiving its name from the aimless promenading of inmates up and down the barbed-wire boundary, other symptoms included moroseness and avoidance of others. It was decided that providing practical stimulation would help. The Friends’ Emergency Committee (a Quaker organisation) based in Great Britain was invited to the Island from 1915 onwards with the aim of providing books, tools, equipment and materials for the inmates to work and establish workshops.

Measurements: overall: 7.8 x 2.1 cm

Materials: brass

Object name: Cigarette Lighter

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1995-0341



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