The Manchester Regiment

Prisoners of War

Courtesy of Tisgrannie, Mack, Wendi, Adamant and Charlie, the database of Manchester Regiment WW1 Prisoners of War is available as a downloadable excel file:

WW1 POW Database

Last updated 20th September 2019 - this file will be updated as we process new information

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

During the First World War, each of the belligerent countries sent records of POWs to the ICRC. The record index cards can now be searched and accessed online on their website:

>ICRC POW Search

First World War, 1914-1918

Establishing if an individual was a PoW

The National Archives does not hold a comprehensive list of all British and Commonwealth PoWs. Consequently, it can be difficult to establish whether an individual was actually taken prisoner and, more particularly, in which camps they were held.

Establishing whether an Officer was a PoW is relatively straightforward and researchers should look for the book List of British Officers taken prisoner in the various Theatres of War between August 1914 and November 1918 compiled in 1919 by the military agents Cox and Co.

This is arranged by theatre of war, and then by regiment. It includes an index of regiments at the start of the book, and a name index at the back. The list covers the British Army, Royal Air Force, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Naval Division, and gives the name and rank of the officer, the date when he went missing, where and when he was interned (but not the specific camp/s), and the date of his repatriation. If the officer died while a prisoner, the list gives the date and place of death. In addition, Officers were required to provide a report concerning the circumstances behind their capture. These, if they survive, will be found in the individual service records.

Other Ranks
There are no known official or published sources to help determine whether an ordinary serviceman or Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) was a PoW. Theoretically, it is should be recorded on their service record, although this information is usually minimal, merely giving dates of capture and/or release, or is sometimes indicated on the WW I Medal Rolls WO329. Alternatively, the Internationai Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva & keeps an incomplete list of known PoWs and internees of all nationalities for both World Wars. Searches are only made in response to written enquiries, and an hourly fee is charged. The address to write to is:

International Council of the Red Cross, Archives Division, 19 Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland.

Searching for an Individual at the NA

Ask at the Research Enquiries Desk for the guide 'Researching British & Commonwealth Prisoners of War: World War One'. This not only indicates which of The National Archives sources are most likely to provide personal details but includes:

*Copies of nominal indexes of British, Irish, Colonial and Indian PoWs extracted from WO161/101.

*The National Archives' references to identified nominal lists of Military and Merchant Navy PoWs.

*List of PoW camps in Germany and enemy territory.

*Indexed map of the main PoW camps in Germany and Austria.

The primary source for personal information are the reports made by repatriated, escaped or interned Officers, Medical Officers, Other Ranks, and occasionally Merchant Seamen and Civilians, held in WO 161/95 to WO 161/100 and indexed by WO161/101 . As well as a narrative of variable length, these reports usually include details of unit, home address, when and where captured, wounds suffered, transfer between camps, comments on treatment and conditions in camps and escape attempts.

A copy of the entire W0161/101 index is available in the Research Enquiry Room at Kew and can also be downloaded from DocumentsOnline at:

Alternatively, the 1914-1918 British Prisoners of War database, an externally compiled database to WO 161/101 searchable by name or regiment, is available:

The following key in the WO 161 series is used to distinguish who made a report: O = Officers; MO = Medical Officers; no prefix = Other Ranks. Researchers should note it is the page number/s next to the name in the index that is important. The table below shows which file should be consulted.
Sub-Series of WO   161     Reports

  1. W0 161/95      Officers:    Pages 1-538
  2. W0161/96       Officers: Pages 539-1169
  3. W0161/97     Medical Officers: Pages 1-398
  4. W0161/98     Other ranks: Pages 1 -821
  5. WO 161/99     Other ranks: Pages 1576-2402
  6. WO161/100      Other ranks: Pages 2403-4177

There is a gap between pages 822-1575 in the 'Other ranks' records. However, some of these and duplicates of other WO161 reports can be found in FO 383 (see below). The files WO 161/95-100 (and the index W0161/101 ) can be downloaded from DocumentsOnline at:

Secondly, PoWs can be searched for by name within the Catalogue as a result of improved catalogue entries to F0383 This series of records contains the files of the Prisoners of War and Aliens Department, which was established in 1915 to deal with all matters relating to conditions for prisoners, repatriation and general policy. Search within the FO383 series, and if any references are produced, click on the blue description text to open the expanded indexing. If you scroll down the page, any matches will be highlighted in yellow. There is also a card index to Foreign Office Correspondence located in the Open Reading Room at The National Archives. Between 1915-1918 each year includes a dedicated PoW section arranged by country and subject. While in most instances the card index entries will point to a FO383 reference, they can lead to other FO series that hold documents concerning PoWs.

Other relevant Merchant Navy records are contained in MT 9 (code 106), which includes some files indexed by individual name and/or ship*. For the Royal Navy, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) and the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), try searching the ADM 12 registers, while for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and RNAS, try the Air History Branch indexes to AIR 1 located in the Open Reading Room.

Deaths of Prisoners of War 1914-1918
Deaths of PoWs and internees occurring in military and non-military hospitals and in enemy and occupied territory were notified to British authorities by foreign embassies, legations, registration authorities and American authorities in charge of British internees. The record series RG 35/45 to RG 35/69 contains an incomplete collection of these certificates. It should be noted, however, that the majority of this information is in French.

Other sources
Records concerning PoW camps and related subjects are mostly found in two record classes. Once again the most comprehensive are the reports held in W0 161/95 to W0 161/100 accessed by searching the places and subject indexes in WO 161/101 . Inspection reports on individual camps can also be searched for by name using FO383 and the card index to Foreign Office Correspondence referred to above. Further records relating to PoW camps, administration and policy, are found in WO32 and CO693 , with registers relating to the latter in C0754 and CO755 . The records of the Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British PoWs (1914-1919) are in H045/10763/270829, and HO45/10764/270829, with additional material in W0162.
Various PoW-related reports are located within the Parliamentary Papers preserved on microfiche in the Open Reading Room at The National Archives. The easiest way in to these is via the CD-Rom kept behind the enquiry desk of The National Archives Library.
British Library,Imperial War Museum, Various Regimental Museums.
Contact Details
British Library Newspapers
Colindale Avenue
Tel: 020 7412 7353

Imperial War Museum
Department of Documents
Lambeth Rd
London SE1 6HZ
Tel: 020 7416 5221

Useful for:
Contemporary national and local newspapers often include lists of PoW or details about individual captives.
Documents, printed books, photographs, oral history.
It is possible that the soldier's Regiment kept or has since compiled its own list of PoWs.

All this info is copyright to the:
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU
Tel: +44 (0)20 8876 3444 Fax: +44 (0)20 8392 5286
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