Share your stories

If you already have a story about someone with connections to Knockaloe this is the place to share them. We'd love to hear from about people connected to the site, past and present, whether an internee, a guard or with some other connection to the site.
Please share memories, stories, photos and help us add to the history of the camp.  

I have a letter sent by Max to my Grandmother, Mercy, his fiancée who lived in Leeds. He wrote in near perfect English as he had lived and worked in Manchester for several years as a cotton buyer. My Grandmother's family wanted her to stop all contact, but she continued to write to him and was encouraged to do this by the Bishop of Wakefield (George Rodney Eden) who had visited the camp and found Max in a depressed state.
Mercy worked as a VAD nurse in a convalescent hospital for the duration of the war. After the war, when she was 26, her parents sent her to visit her sister in a Western Australia, hoping that she would "forget" Max who had been forcibly repatriated to Germany. This was symptomatic of the anti German feeling pervading the country at the time. Of course, she did not and when she returned, they arranged to marry in London by special licence. None of her family came to the wedding and her sister who was married to a German and lived in Hamburg also tried to persuade Max to break off the engagement!
They lived first of all in Altona, Hamburg, then in Lima, Peru and finally moved to Alderley Edge so that my mother could go to school in England. Unfortunately, in 1931 Max went on a business trip to buy cotton in South America and died of Typhoid in Bogota. 

I also have several pieces of craft work from one of the "atelier" at the camp: a turned pine breadboard carved with a wheat sheaf, a small wooden box to keep postage stamps, a cigarette box with a mechanism to deliver just one cigarette at a time and two mutton bone napkin rings carved with initials and clover (made in Stobs camp, Scotland).

I would have loved to have met my Grandfather - he was very talented in languages as he spoke German, English, Spanish, French and Mandarin. The latter was because he had been in Tientsin, (now Tianjin) China around 1909 learning the job of cotton buying for the cotton spinning industry in Hamburg. I have his collection of cameras and photo albums of his travels around China and South America. He also liked dinghy sailing, golf and, in common with many of the German middle class of the time, wild boar hunting in the forest. I'm not surprised that he became depressed when in the Camp, but his post war letters demonstrate that he recovered his joie de vivre until his rather early death. According to the postmortem, his swift death from typhoid was due to "a weakened heart".

Hi Edwina, 
Thanks so much for your post, it was great to hear from you and all about your grandfather Max. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply to you, I'm currently in the process of moving the website to a new host, but hope to be back up and running soon. 
What a wonderful woman your grandmother must have been, it's lovely to hear of a story where a couple were able to stay together despite the forced repatriation of the internees. 
Do you happen to have any photos of the craft work you mentioned? It would be wonderful to see them. And do you have any photos of your grandparents? If you would be happy for me to do so I'd like to add a page on Max to the biographies section of the site. I'll also have a look through my material in case I can find any mention of him - it's a bit of a long shot but you never know!

I did a bit more searching after my last post as I couldn't understand why the Bishop of Wakefield would be visiting the Isle of Man and I discovered that there was another camp in Wakefield for which the internees paid a sum every week for the "privilege" of being there. There are some photos online. I can only guess that Max was moved there towards the end of the war. I will try to upload the images.


There seems to be a limit on uploads so I will have to send in batches. There is one for the breadboard, then the stamp box, cigarette box and then a pair of bone napkins rings from Stobs - the first camp that max was sent to in 1915 with the 120 or so Manchester business men. He must have been moved from there to camp 1 , Knockaloe in late 1915/1916.


MMA were my grandmother's initials - Mercy May Albrecht.
The pencil is simulating a cigarette - I don't smoke! The inside of the box has sloping sides which deposit the cigarette in the groove when the inside is raised up and put down again. Simple, elegant product design!


The photo of Max before the war is not a good one but I will try to find another.


Hello everybody,
my great grandfather on mothers side was called ... Zeppelin and was, as seen on the picture, interned in Knockaloe, compound 3 camp 4. He is supposed to be the gentleman seated on the right. He was married to a Belgian woman in Antwerp and after having returned there after his internment he had the choice of either divorcing his wife or leaving Belgium together with his family to settle in Germany. This he did and left for Hamburg, passing through Holland (and the Hague). Anyone here with more information on my great grandfather?


Hi Alexander,
Thanks so much for getting in touch. It was great to hear you great grandfather's story and to see the fantastic picture. By the look of the picture he's wearing chef's whites and I would think this is a picture of the kitchen staff for the compound. Do you know if he worked as a chef or in catering before or after the war?
Tracing Knockaloe internees is difficult, but not impossible, as there is no surviving register listing who was held at the camp. There are other documents that survive, both official and personal along with photographs, like your own, and artefacts such as the craft work made by the internees. I will have a look and see if I can find any references to Zeppelin in my data and hopefully something will come up. Hopefully the website will also help give you a better idea of what life was like for your great grandfather in the camp.
It may also be worth contacting the Society of Friends ( as the Quakers did an awful lot of work supporting those repatriated at the end of the war.

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