Records of UK Civil Internment in WWII

Last night I attended a webinar held by The National Archives on civil internment during World War 2.  Recently, in collaboration with FindmyPast, the archives have digitised and released their collection so it is much easier to discover more about any relatives that may be involved.  133,908 people from World War Two are included.

Enemy Aliens were people who were born in or had family connections to those countries that were allied against Britain in World War 2.  These included people from Germany, Italy, Japan, Austria, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and more.  British women who had married men from these countries were also classed as enemy aliens.

120 tribunals took place across the UK, with 11 in North West London alone.  They were usually headed by judges, magistrates or other prominent members of the community.  Individuals were interviewed and then classed as one of three categories:

Category A                They would be interned in a camp

Category B                They would not be interned but special restrictions would be placed.

Category C                No internment and no restrictions.

The typical tribunal index card produced for enemy aliens contains the following information:

Full name

Place and date of birth

Nationality

Police card reg. number.  All aliens had to register with their local police force and were issued a card.  Many do not survive but if they do they will be held at local records offices or police archives.  TNA has cards for the London Metropolitan area.

Home Office reference number.  This can be really important as it will link to their Home Office file which has more information on the individual.  If you have a reference then type it into in the National Archives catalogue search and any records surviving will be listed.

Address

Occupation

Name and address of employer

Decision of tribunal and date

The back of the card explains reasons for the decision, which camp they were sent too and other details such as family background.  This is usually closed until 100 years after they were discharged as enemy aliens.  This can be as late as 1959.  If the person is deceased, you can however make a Freedom of Information request to have it opened.

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