PRISONERS OF WAR SECTION
This subseries (WO 208/3582-3748) contains interrogation reports of enemy prisoners of war during the Second World War undertaken by the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (UK) - C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.) for the period May 1942 to October 1945 and the Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home) - P.W.I.S.(H) for the overall period June 1944 to November 1945 (arranged in four separate subsubseries), and interviews by the Royal Patriotic School (R.P.S.) of foreign civilians arriving in the United Kingdom from abroad, from May 1941 to March 1945.
The subseries, therefore, contains six separate runs (or subsubseries), as follows:
- WO 208/3582-3620: Combined Services Interrogation Centre (UK), May 1942 to October 1945.
- WO 208/3621-3622: Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home), June 1944 to November 1945.
- WO 208/3623-3629: Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home), Kempton Park, June 1944 to November 1945.
- WO 208/3630-3644: Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home), Lingfield Cage, June 1944 to March 1945.
- WO 208/3645-3662: Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home), London District Cage, June 1944 to November 1945.
- WO 208/3663-3748: Royal Patriotic School: interrogation of civilians arriving in UK from abroad, May 1941 to March 1945.
Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (UK) - C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.), and
Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home) - (P.W.I.S.(H))
Before the Second World War it had been agreed by the services that a Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (C.S.D.I.C.) should be formed, under the responsibility and control of the War Office, to deal with selected enemy prisoners of war of all three services. Within 24 hours of the outbreak of the war, the nucleus of the C.S.D.I.C. had opened in the Tower of London (under the title of M.I.1.h.). In October 1939, a specific written charter was produced for C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.), to submit selected prisoners of war, either Naval, Military or Air Force, or internees, to a comprehensive interrogation by specially qualified officers. On 12 December 1939 the Centre moved to Trent Park, near Barnet, Hertfordshire (where known as 'Cockfosters Camp'), and in 1942 to No.1 Distribution Centre (DC), Latimer House, Buckinghamshire (on 15 July) and No.2 DC at Wilton House, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire (on 13 December). No.2 DC was used primarily for Italian prisoners (previously interrogated at a mobile unit at Newmarket), most of the German prisoners being handled by No.1 DC. At the time when No.1 DC was established on 15 July 1942, Trent Park became a base camp for German senior prisoners of war.
In June 1940, a series of prisoner of war cages were planned and the Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (Home), (P.W.I.S.(H)), was formed to operate at these cages, to perform detailed interrogation on Army questions, and to select Army prisoners of war for C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.). Initially the unit was spread over the entire UK, but eventually came to be based at nine distribution centres. Enemy prisoners of war were landed at ports throughout the United Kingdom and taken to the nearest cage; at these cages prisoners were also selected for further investigation by C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.). Effectively the P.W.I.S.(H) units acted as transit camps and sorting centres where incoming enemy prisoners of war were identified, processed, graded and interrogated to extract information or to establish whether the prisoner merited further more detailed long-range interrogation by C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.). Hence, the P.W.I.S.(H) units acted as a first (brief) line of interrogation and the C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.) as a second line conducting further investigations. From 1943, it was agreed all selected prisoners of war were available for joint (British and US) interrogation irrespective of their captors.
During 1944 preliminary planning had started in respect of a prisoner of war interrogation organisation for the invasion of Europe. The Ministry of Health required that all prisoners of war arriving from the continent should be disinfected, and it was agreed the there should be two ‘bottle-necks’ for all prisoners evacuated, with Kempton Park racecourse (Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex), to be used for British captured prisoners and Devizes (Wiltshire) for US captured prisoners. Each of these collecting points were designed to handle some 2,000 prisoners per 24 hours. For the British captured prisoners, in order to meet intelligence requirements, arrangements were concluded whereby up to 100 selected prisoners were conveyed to Lingfield Cage (Surrey) for preliminary detailed interrogation and selection for C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.). In addition, it was agreed that certain special categories, especially officer prisoners, could be transferred direct from Kempton Park to London District Cage and to C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.). At London District Cage (based at Kensington Palace Gardens) interrogations were therefore made of known and suspected war criminals and Nazis, and high-ranking officers. The plan required for Kempton Park, Lingfield and London District Cage, to be manned by P.W.I.S.(H) officers to undertake the screening, preliminary interrogations and selection of prisoners of war. In addition, C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.) sent forward selection officers to Kempton Park. The interrogation reports written by P.W.I.S.(H) officers were identified by the number starting with P.W.I.S.(H)/L.D.C./, with ‘K.P.’ and ‘L.F.’ replacing ‘L.D.C.’ (London District Cage) on those reports produced at Kempton Park or Lingfield respectively.
After the cessation of hostilities in Europe, C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.) remained busy on selected prisoners, including a number of high-ranking German officers. In this period, P.W.I.S.(H) concentrated on the examination of prisoners of war regarding war crimes. The policy was laid down, however, that active interrogation must cease as soon as possible, and on 7 November 1945 the C.S.D.I.C.(U.K.) was finally closed.
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