Prisoners of War 1914-1918 : Download original documents

 POW Information Bureau


Within a week of the outbreak of hostilities the British government set up a 'Prisoners of War Information Bureau' (P.O.W.I.B.) at 49 Wellington Street, Strand, London. As the conflict gained momentum and as ever-increasing numbers of prisoners were taken, it compiled a "register of all alien enemies, combatant and civilian, who were interned in any part of the British Empire."

Enemy governments and their Red Cross societies (or equivalent) were sent the names of those on the register, and lists of sick and wounded prisoners, "in order that the [prisoners] relations might know their state of health."

British Army G.H.Q. sent the P.O.W.I.B. lists of enemy dead and these too were dispatched as soon as possible. A large part of the Bureau's work was answering questions from relatives and prisoners' friends, by letter, telegram and personal visits. Often as many as 400 inquires a day were received from Germany alone. 


POW Information Bureau

This card, written in German, was sent by 'Babette' to 'Christian', a prisoner of war in England. It was mailed  from Cannstadt in Wurttenburg on 17th November 1914, to 'The Prisoner of War Bureau' . Babette had recently sent Christian a 3 kilo parcel but had not received a reply. The card carries a typical 'POST FREE/P.C./PRISONER OF WAR' cachet in red ink. A faint orange receiving mark at the top of the card indicates it took 18 days to reach London.


When the information bureau notified the relatives of a captured man's whereabouts, it advised them to address all further letters, postcards, parcels and money-orders direct to his camp. When the address of a prisoner was unknown, the P.O.W.I.B. "undertook the duty of a post office" in trying to trace him. As the numbers of prisoners increased so did the staff at Wellington Street. By 1918, over 300 people were employed there. 


         Buy the eBook

THE PRISONERS OF WAR INFORMATION BUREAU IN LONDON. This extremely informative and fascinating 78-page book was published in 1915. Divided into 12 sections it describes in great detail the following - The provision of the Hague and Geneva Conventions - The growth of the present rules - Work of the Bureau - Registration of prisoners - Admission and discharge from hospital and medical reports - Death during internment - Transfers and releases - Enemy dead - Correspondence of prisoners - Answering personal and written inquires - The preparation of the weekly lists - Conclusion - Appendix, a selection of 15 forms - Index.

Item code: POW-011

Price £4.99


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