Catalogue description Colonial Office: Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees Department: Nominal Index of Allied Internees

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Details of CO 1070
Reference: CO 1070
Title: Colonial Office: Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees Department: Nominal Index of Allied Internees

This series comprises a card index created by the Prisoners of War and Civilian Internee Department during the Second World War, to record information relating to civilians and civilian volunteers who were, or were thought to be, subject to internment or imprisonment in Hong Kong and Malaya. The cards relate principally to British, Dominion and Colonial subjects, but not, for the most part, to the local colonial inhabitants (there are a few exceptions to this, the principal being where the local subject was related to an interned or imprisoned British or Dominion subject by marriage). There are also cards relating to nationals of various allied states, principally The Netherlands, Norway, Russia and Czechoslovakia. There is normally only one card per individual, but where more information was available, two or more cards may be stapled together for one person. Sometimes separate cards for members of a family are also stapled together. Occasionally one card serves for two or more members of the same family. Cards often include cross-references to cards of other family members.

The information recorded on each card varies hugely according to the type of case and the amount of information known at the time. All the cards have the subject's name; they nearly all include a next-of-kin or other contact address to which information on the subject could be passed; and most include an indication of the occupation, profession, military employment (if applicable) and, where appropriate, employer of the subject of the card. The other piece of information which appears on most of the cards (but not on all) is about their status, whether interned or held as a prisoner of war, and if so where, and the source and date of this information. this information is often updated several times through the course of the war as more detail comes to light. This information often originated from Red Cross official reports, but was also found from post cards that the subjects had managed to send to relatives and from reports from former internees and prisoners.

The cards often include details as to the nationality and age of the subject (or sometimes the date and place of birth). There are sometimes notes of Colonial Office files having been raised, usually with file references. In these cases it may be possible to trace either surviving files, or registry entries for the files, that may reveal further information. It should be noted however that some of the file references are in formats that do not match any known surviving Colonial Office file series.

Where the subject of the card is deceased, the card notes information such as the date and cause of death, the location and the source of this information, and it is also possible to find notes recording that the subject was killed in action (and therefore never interned or held prisoner of war). Cards can also report where the subject has been wounded before or after capture, and details of other illnesses. Internees and prisoners were sometimes repatriated as part of exchange schemes, and where this happened, the card notes the details, often including the name of ship by which the repatriation took place, and the place repatriated to. Sometimes, however, the cards just contain a note of the safe arrival of the subject in (usually) Australia. A few prisoners and internees successfully escaped and rejoined the fighting forces, and this too is usually noted on the cards. For servicemen the cards usually list their rank and service number as well. Occasionally the cards will note that another authority (e.g. the Admiralty) was responsible for the subject of a card.

Among the index there are also a very few references to individuals or families known to be in Hong Kong who were not in fact interned but remained at liberty.

Date: c 1941 - c 1947
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Colonial Office, Prisoners of War, Civilian Internees and Casualties Department, 1942-1945

Physical description: 8 box(es)
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Custodial history: These records were passed from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to the Public Record Office (PRO) in the mid-1970s, along with other former Colonial Office indexes, as part of the work to compile a Colonial Office Records Handbook. The indexes were not returned to FCO on the completion of this work, but were not accessioned. They were stored in a number of locations in the PRO to which the public had access, first in Portugal Street, then in Chancery Lane, before being relocated to closed areas of Kew, and then Hayes. The other indexes were destroyed in 1999. This index was accessioned in 2011.
Accruals: No further accurals are anticipated.

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