This week’s Findmypast Friday marks the release of over one million records of service men, women and civilians who were taken captive during World War II. Released in partnership with the National Archives to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the War’s end, the records cover some of the most infamous POW camps in history, including Stalag Luft III, the Nazi camp renowned for the mass escape by British and Commonwealth prisoners that inspired the film The Great Escape, and the horrific Far East Prisoner of War camps immortalised in films such as The Railway Man and Bridge on the River Kwai. The collection contains nearly 668,000 records of POWs held in the Far East and over 353,000 records of POW’s held in Europe as well as a number of records relating to German and Italian camps located in Africa.
The records cover the period 1939-1945 and contain the names, ranks and locations of Prisoners of War, along with the length of time spent in camps, the number of survivors, details of escapees and the nationalities of prisoners. Britons represent the largest number in the collection, followed by Dutch, Americans and Australians. In addition to this type of data, the collection comprises 360,000 images, including pages from personal diaries and photographs. Many official World War II records remain classified, making this an invaluable resource for those researching the histories of relatives and those held captive during the war. The records are taken from 433 digitised Archival pieces held by The National Archives and form part off the wider Prisoners of War 1715-1945 collection.