Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War

This unique collection covers the service records of millions of men and women taken captive in times of war. Published in three phases in association with the National Archives, the latest set includes one million people who were prisoners during World War II.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, one million Prisoner of War records published by Findmypast

On the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, one million Prisoner of War records published by Findmypast
Prisoners were fed just enough rice to stay "reasonably alive".

For the first time online, relatives and historians can search through the records of some of the most infamous POW camps of World War II. Included in this most recent collection, which spans 1939-1945, are the records for 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 Far East Prisoner of War camps immortalised in films such as The Railway Man.

These detailed accounts 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 enabling members of the public to research the histories of relatives and those held captive during the war. 

David Langrish, Military Records Specialist at The National Archives says: ‘Extraordinary stories of ordinary men and women whose lives were caught up in the calamities of war have been told for years, but the online publication of these records makes it much easier for a wider audience to research this period and even find members of their own family. The National Archives are committed to widening access to our shared national records and the publication of these files is a significant development in facilitating this.’ 

WATCH: 103-year-old former POW, Dr Bill Frankland

WATCH: 103-year-old former POW, Dr Bill Frankland WATCH: 103-year-old former POW, Dr Bill Frankland

With incredible interviews from former POW 103-year-old Bill Frankland MD and Royal Navy Officer Bert Turville, you can catch a glimpse of the brutal conditions your ancestor endured.

WWII Prisoners of War Records published online for the 1st time on 70th Anniversary

WWII Prisoners of War Records published online for the 1st time on 70th Anniversary

This week’s special Findmypast Friday marks the release of one million records of service men, women and civilians who were taken captive during World War II.

In the Prisoner of War collection: Liutenant Hill's hospital diary

In the Prisoner of War collection: Liutenant Hill's hospital diary

Lt Hill was captured by the Japanese during the fighting in the Far East during WW2. He recorded, at great personal risk, a diary which documented the deaths of other allied personnel around him in the rudimentary hospital facilities provided by the Japanese at Shirakawa.

September 1st, 1939; The Invasion of Poland

September 1st, 1939; The Invasion of Poland

On August 25th, 1939, the United Kingdom and Poland signed an agreement of mutual assistance. In effect, this meant that the UK – and France, which had a separate agreement with Poland – would come to the defence of the Poles in case of military aggression by a foreign power.

Explore our fascinating Napoleonic Prisoner of War records

Explore our fascinating Napoleonic Prisoner of War records

The second phase of our Prisoners of War release included over 71,000 incredible Napoleonic POW records, marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

World War 1 and World War 2 prisoners of war on Findmypast

World War 1 and World War 2 prisoners of war on Findmypast

We've so many incredible World War 1 and World War II Prisoner of War records. This wonderful resource, provided by Naval and Military Press, hold vital information about men taken prisoner of war during both World Wars.

Find your ancestors in Prisoners Of War 1715-1945

Find your ancestors in Prisoners Of War 1715-1945

Within the first six months of World War 1 over a million soldiers were taken prisoner. All nations involved could not predict the length of the war and it became apparent that the need to build more prisoner of war camps was imperative. ..

Sole Survivor: Vivian Bullwinkle and the Banka Island Massacre

Sole Survivor: Vivian Bullwinkle and the Banka Island Massacre

Over 3,400 women served with the Australian Army Nursing Service during World War II. Many of whom were sent to the Far East to offer medical support to troops fighting the Japanese. A number of these women were captured and endured the same brutal treatment and harsh conditions as male POWs. The stories of many these brave women can now be uncovered using our new Prisoner of War 1939-1945 collection.

Constructing the “Death Railway”: The true story behind the Bridge Over the River Kwai

Constructing the “Death Railway”: The true story behind the Bridge Over the River Kwai

Despite being a valuable source of manpower, Far Eastern POWs were often treated horrifically and the Japanese became renowned for their shocking cruelty towards prisoners.

In our Prisoner of War records: The REAL Great Escapers

In our Prisoner of War records: The REAL Great Escapers

Immortalised in the 1950 book and 1969 film, The Great Escape is one of the most famous mass POW breakouts in military history. Many of its key characters were based on real people, who can be found in our records.