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Smoking or smoker's cabinet made in Knockaloe Camp for a senior guard

Date made: 1914-1919

Description: This smoking, smoker's cabinet was made in Knockaloe Camp for Sergeant Major Walter Forbes, of the Liverpool Scottish. In 1914, Forbes had tried to volunteer for active service, but was rejected due to his age. Instead he was posted to Knockaloe Camp, where he spent the remainder of the war. This wooden cabinet was made for him by one of the internees, apparently using reclaimed timber (as frequently happened). An illustration of it also appears in the scrap book of James Baily of the Society of Friends, who set up the camp workshops at Knockaloe.

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.

Measurements: 54cm high x 36cm wide

Materials: wood

Object name: cabinet

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2012-0134



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