How to research German WWII prisoners of war in British captivity?



At the end of World War II, many German military units tried to avoid Soviet captivity by turning west and surrendering to western allied forces.

While a simple request to the German Red Cross (Suchdienst) will often result in detailed information on Soviet captivity, tracing POW of the British forces can be cumbersome.

While the National Archives provides an overview on Prisoners of war in British hands, they have only limited resources for world war II and refer to other institutions like “local archives” and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Red Cross has suspended it’s world war II research for conservation purposes. Can I assume that they have substantial resources on German POW in British captivity? How do I move on without the ICRC, when I have no details on the suspected British captivity?


Posted 2015-10-01T22:26:18.720

Reputation: 5 041

Because of your question, I wondered just how long this particular category of German POW (those who surrended in 1945, in the west) was held. I already knew that POWs captured during the war and held in England and Canada didn't get home until about 1948. Many of those captured by the Russians also spent years in Russia. The article gives an overview of the circumstances surrounding POWs who had surrendered in 1945.

– bgwiehle – 2015-10-07T14:51:28.727



I contacted the Red Cross a few years ago when they were offering this service. I just gave them my Father in Law's name and date of birth and they sent me the data (well actually my wife had to do it as she was related not me). I hope this helps, unfortunately you will have to wait for the records to become available again.


Posted 2015-10-01T22:26:18.720

Reputation: 3 480

Thanks! What did you get? – lejonet – 2015-10-02T16:57:32.087

3The date he was captured, the camp that he was held in and the date of his release. He was a submariner and so was captured when the U boat was sunk and landed in Plymouth and interned on Dartmoor in 1944. – Colin – 2015-10-03T12:42:16.387

Thanks. Did you try local archives for more information from the camp's documentation? – lejonet – 2015-10-03T13:48:40.700

2I was lucky. My FIL was Polish. Released very soon after internment and joined the Polish Free Navy for the remainder of the war. I got his full service record from the MOD (RAF Northolt hold all the Polish Free Navy records) and this included copies of his German documents and details of his short time in the POW camp. – Colin – 2015-10-04T06:20:54.183