Vases from World War One internment camp

Contributed by Leece Museum

Cattle bone vases carved by internees in World War One at  Knockaloe Camp, Isle of Man © Manx National Heritage

Over 25,000 people were held in Knockaloe internment camp on the Isle of Man during World War One.During the two World Wars, the British Government were fearful of potential spies and 'Fifth Columnists'. As a result, anyone considered to be an 'enemy alien' was arrested and interned, with most of them being sent to camps on the Isle of Man.

The majority of internees in WW1 were Germans and Austrians. There was a wealth of talent amongst the internees with various eminent academics, gifted artists, musicians, together with craftsmen of every kind.

Boredom though was the internees' biggest enemy, so they found things to do and most importantly found things to make, using whatever they could find and recycle. Feeding around 25,000 internees in Knockaloe Camp ensured that there were plenty of cattle bones to carve in the camp.

Internee craft and artwork provided 'mementoes' for those who lived and worked behind the wire and these vases were made for a local Catholic priest, William Traynor, who ministered to the internees.

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