accessibility & help

Records of prisoners of war

The British Red Cross does not hold records of individual prisoners of war or civilian internees. Instead you need to contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Find out how to apply for a prisoner of war's record from the ICRC below.

Information held by ICRC

Part of the humanitarian work of the ICRC involves gathering information on individuals who are prisoners of war (POWS) 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.

In the case of prisoners of war, it can also 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.

How to apply for a prisoner of war's record

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. 

To apply for a record of a prisoner of war, or for more information, please visit the ICRC historical archives.

Alternatively, please write a letter to:

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

A search will be made on receipt of a written request. Please be sure to provide as much detail as possible. 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. 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.

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