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Bone napkin ring made in Knockaloe Camp by A. Lang

Date made: 1919

Description: This bone napkin ring was carved for Major Francis Gidney, quartermaster and later commandant at Knockaloe by A. Lang, one of the most skilled bone carvers in the camp. The re-use of bone (initially from the camp kitchens) illustrates the resourceful way in which the internees re-used scrap materials to produce artifacts which they could trade or sell. This napkin ring was probably commissioned for him as a gift by Gidney's fellow officers . It carries Gidney's initials and the badge of the North Staffordshire Regiment, his parent unit.

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: box: 5.6 cm x 7 cm x 5.4 cm; napkin ring: 3.2 cm x 4.7 cm x 4.5 cm

Materials: cardboard, mammal bone, velvet

Object name: napkin ring

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2007-0064



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