Search records

Knockaloe Camp carved figure of First World War soldier

Date made: 1914-1919

Description: A carved wooden figure of a First World War soldier, the comic cartoon character of 'Old Bill'. The figure is roughly but accurately carved in a dark red wood (possibly mahogany) and is mounted on a black wooden plinth (possibly ebony). The figure is stood nonchalantly with his hands in his pockets and his helmet worn at an angle. The figure was made in Knockaloe Civilian Camp and was given and presented to Francis Gidney, a senior officer in Camp 1, Knockaloe.

A small piece of wood is chipped off the helmet. The donor is the widow of Francis Gidney's grandson.

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: 17.5 cm x 7.5 cm x 5.5 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: model figure

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2007-0066



Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy