accessibility & help

Records of prisoners of war

The British Red Cross does not hold records of individual prisoners of war or civilian internees.

These are held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Part of the humanitarian work of the ICRC involves gathering information on individuals who are prisoners of war and, in recent years, on those who have been separated from their families by conflict or disaster. This information can then be used to put family members in touch and also, in the case of prisoners of war, to ensure that accurate attestation can be provided if necessary to give ex-prisoners of war documentary evidence of their imprisonment. Today, this humanitarian work continues as prisoners are taken and communities continue to be disrupted by conflict.

Searching for the records of an individual prisoner of war is a complex and skilled task, carried out by staff within the archives division and research service of the ICRC. A search can be made on receipt of a written request. Please be sure to provide as much detail as possible in your letter. It is essential that you include the name and nationality of the individual you are enquiring about.

The following information, if known, is also extremely helpful to their search:

  • date of birth
  • place of birth
  • name of father
  • date of capture
  • regiment
  • army number

Researchers should bear in mind that these records were compiled for humanitarian reasons and the ICRC is still fully occupied with similar humanitarian work in the present day. Searches of a historical nature may therefore take a considerable time to complete.

To apply for a record of a prisoner of war, or for more information, please write to:

Archives division and research service
International Committee of the Red Cross
19 Avenue de la Paix
Geneva CH-1202
Switzerland

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