This first section outlines the history of civilian internment in Handforth. Civilian internees started to arrive in Handforth at the time of the camp’s opening in November 1914. However, their stay was a brief one. By the following winter, only 2 civilian prisoners remained; both were in the camp hospital recuperating from illness. The remaining civilians, numbering 2,200 prisoners at the peak, had either been released, repatriated or moved on to other camps, predominantly to the large Knockaloe facility on the Isle of Man.
During this first phase of the camp, prisoners captured from various points across the world ended up in Handforth. Germans and Austrians were joined by internees from South America, Africa and all parts of Europe. Handforth’s diverse history had begun.