Having such a large number of POWs on British soil meant that high ranking government and military officials had little option but to take an interest in the running of Handforth and the country’s other internment camps. On occasion, this meant that British officials had to make special journeys up to Handforth to inspect the camp or to help with foreign embassy visits. The American Embassy attaché, William Hepburn Buckler, for example, was accompanied on his tour by the Paymaster General, Lord Newton, who according to Buckler had already made “several personal inspections” of Handforth.
Lord Newton, otherwise known as Thomas Wodehouse Legh, had two reasons for taking such an interest in the running of the camp. First, there was a personal interest between Newton and Handforth. His family, the Leghs, were based at the palatial Lyme Hall in Cheshire from where they administered large tracts of land across the county. Thus the camp was almost on his doorstep. Second, in his diplomatic work, Newton concentrated on the concerns of POWs in Britain and overseas. From 1916 onwards, he had a special governmental role in this area.
Another repeated visitor to Handforth was Sir William Henry Mackinnon. When the war started, Mackinnon was the General in charge of the British army’s Western Command. As the headquarters of this division was in Chester, it was presumably an easy matter for Mackinnon to make the short journey east to the Handforth camp. Like Newton therefore, Mackinnon had both geographical and official reasons for taking an interest in the camp’s operation.