What happened if you were captured?

Could you expect to be treated well? Were you likely ever to make it home again? The photos and drawings on this page give an idea of what it might have been like to be a prisoner of war – click on the photos for larger versions.  For more detailed information including soldiers’ accounts read this PDF.  Click here for the 1899 Hague Convention’s articles on prisoners of war.

Allied prisoners in Turkey

Men were sent to Constantinople (Istanbul) first. Some stayed there working in the docks while others were sent to work on building projects further east.

Soldiers dreaming of dinners back home. A drawing by Private R F Lushington. National Museum of the Royal Navy Ref RNSM A2007 636a

Prisoners of war dreaming of dinners back home. A drawing by Private R F Lushington. National Museum of the Royal Navy Ref RNSM A2007 636a

Turkish prison guards stealing Allied soldiers' rations. A drawing by RF Lushington National Museum of the Royal Navy Ref RNSM A2007 636b

Turkish prison guards stealing Allied soldiers’ rations. A drawing by RF Lushington National Museum of the Royal Navy Ref RNSM A2007 636b

E7 submariners at POW camp AWM P00371.001

The crew of the British submarine ‘HMS E7’ pose for a photo at the San Stefano camp in Constantinople a couple of weeks after they were captured. The officers are at the front.

A group of Australian POWs at San Stefano camp on 30th June 1918, just before the end of the war. Private Lushington, who did the drawings above, is standing in the middle of the back row.

A group of Australian POWs at San Stefano camp on 30th June 1918, just before the end of the war. Private Lushington, who did the drawings above, is standing in the middle of the back row.

 

British and Australian POWs at the Belemedik Camp where they worked on the Berlin-Baghdad Railway through the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. The man on the left is CPO Gangham who was on the submarine AE2.

British and Australian POWs at the Belemedik Camp where they worked on the Berlin-Baghdad Railway through the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. The man on the left is CPO Gangham who was on the submarine AE2.

Ottoman prisoners

Sketch of a Turkish Prisoner of War by S Ellis

Sketch of a Turkish Prisoner of War by Ellis Silas

Most of the Ottoman prisoners taken at Gallipoli were sent to camps in Egypt.  The drawing on the left was made by an Australian soldier and artist Ellis Silas on a ship going to Egypt. Silas was himself on the way to hospital, suffering from neurasthenia (‘shell shock’) and enteric fever.

The photos below show Ottoman soldiers after capture at Krithia (June 1915), then being allowed to bathe on the beaches, and finally on a French ship on the way to Marseilles.

Turkish POWs after 3rd Krithia 4.6.1915 IWM Q 13254

Turkish prisoners of war behind barbed wire after the Third Battle of Krithia 4th June1915. IWM Q 13254

Turkish prisoners bathing in the sea at Gallipoli IIWM (Q 13383)

Turkish prisoners bathing in the sea at Gallipoli IIWM (Q 13383)

Turkish prisoners of war on a French ship in Marseilles. IWM Q 75976

Turkish prisoners of war on a French ship in Marseilles. IWM Q 75976