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Wooden rocking doll made in Knockaloe Camp

Date made: c.1918

Maker: unknown

Description: A hand made wooden rocking doll in the form of a Dutch or north German woman, made in Knockaloe Camp during the First World War. Stamped on underside 'POW 20398 [?] KNOCKALOE 2 IOM'. Item belonged to donor's great aunt Miss Helen Wilson who died in Worcestershire in 1965. Miss Wilson was a Quaker and the object may have come to her via the Friends Emergency Committee. The number is slightly indistinct but if it is 20398 then this corresponds to internee Heinrich Kalckhoff, a German businessman from Birmingham.

Wooden toys such as this can be identified in some glass plate negative views of industrial exhibitions at Knockaloe, but none other than this example are so far believed to have survived. They seem to have been exclusively made in Camp 2.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. Its biggest camp was known as Knockaloe Camp, Patrick, situated in the west of the Island (other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp). Originally designed for 5,000 people, at its peak it housed up to 23,000 men and as many as 30,000 men may have been interned in total. 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.

Materials: wood

Object name: doll

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2016-0012



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