Full Profiles

Research summaries and contact details of some of our members:

Kristen Alexander (University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia)

I have published a number of works covering aspects of Australian aviation history, focusing mainly on airmen in the Second World War. I have extended that research via a PhD and am currently researching the responses to captivity of Australian airmen prisoners of war. While my research focuses on those Australians in Stalag Luft III, as I see captivity as a continuum which begins with capture and ends even beyond the death of the former prisoner through its intergenerational effects, my thesis will not be restricted solely to experiences which occurred within the confines of Stalag Luft III. My thesis has a strong social and cultural history emphasis but is also very much positioned within air force history.

Website: www.kristenalexander.com.au
Twitter: @kristenauthor

Stacey Astill (Centre for Manx Studies, Liverpool University)

I obtained a BA in History and Politics and MA in European History from Newcastle University in 2012 and 2013 respectively. My MA dissertation focused on the role of creativity, humour and resistance in European POW camps during the Second World War. My current research continues from this starting point and focuses on the significance of material culture and identity within European POW camps. POW camps in Europe were present throughout the Second World War and developed massively over time, in some cases progressing from empty space surrounded with barbed wire to vibrant communities with marts, plays and schools among many other things. Prisoners could range from career soldiers, to volunteers and conscripts fresh out of civilian work or even education. There was a wide range of personal identities beyond just that of “prisoner”

David Boyne (University of Sussex)

I have recently submitted my PhD thesis entitled: Ordinary men in another world: British other ranks in captivity in Asia during the Second World War.

Gilly Carr(Cambridge University)

I am a Fellow of St Catharine’s College, a Member of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research, and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge. I work in the field of Conflict Archaeology and Heritage Studies and my four current research projects are based in the Channel Islands. The first, ‘The Legacy of Occupation’, discusses the archaeology and heritage of the WWII German occupation of the Channel Islands. The second is on POW archaeology and material culture; my edited volumes in this field include ‘Prisoners of War’ (Springer, 2012) and ‘Creativity Behind Barbed Wire’ (Routledge, 2012). The third project, ‘Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands, 1940-1945′ (Berg), is partnered by Dr Paul Sanders (Reims) and Dr Louise Willmot (MMU). All three projects are supported by the British Academy and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. My fourth project, ‘Nazi camps on British soil’, concerns the archaeology and heritage of forced and slave labour.I am a member of several European research networks and groups, including the Atlantic Wall Research Group; Painful Heritage (Trondheim); Terrorscapes (NIAS); and Landscapes of War, Trauma and Occupation (sponsored by AHRC-NWO). I also co-organise the Heritage Research Group at Cambridge University.

Emile Coetzee (North-West University, Mafikeng Campus)

I am a junior lecturer in South African History at NWU Mafikeng , while completing in 2014 a MA degree (enrolled at the University of Johannesburg) that focuses on the survival strategies of Transvaal Scottish Regiment (TS) Prisoners of War during World War II. By using the work of Ronald Berger on survival strategies implemented by Jewish resistance fighters in and outside the ghettos in Poland, I use the same principles in explaining how TS Prisoners of War were able to survive their time in the POW camps in Libya, Italy and Germany.

Abigail Coppins (English Heritage)

I am Curator of Archaeological Collections for English Heritage in the West Region. I first became interested in early prisoners of war whilst researching the archaeological finds from the 18th century prisoner of war depot site at Portchester Castle in Hampshire. I then collaborated on an exhibition on Napoleonic prisoners of war in Majorca and completed an Mres on the Portchester Castle prisoners in 2011. I continue to undertake research (when work allows) on prisoners of war and have extended my research to include Forton Prison in Gosport and the prison hulks in Portsmouth Harbour. I do regular talks on the subject in and around Gosport and Portsmouth as there is a lot of local interest in the subject. I also provide expertise on the subject to colleagues at English Heritage and external sources.

Susan Carruthers (Rutgers University)

I have a long-standing interest in prisoners, detainees, and captivity. My research focuses on questions of “re-education,” interrogation and coercion in camps– both as lived experience and as constructed in popular culture. I’m particularly interested in the 1940s and 1950s, from Allied denazification of German POWs to the “brainwashing” scare surrounding POWs in Korea, and the British colonial state’s treatment of captives in embattled colonies in the 1950s. My key publication in this field is Cold War Captives: Imprisonment, Escape and Brainwashing (University of California Press, 2009).

 Neil Davie (Université Lumière Lyon 2)

I am in the early stages of a research project aimed at studying French prisoners of war held in Britain during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. As a specialist in the history of prisons and penal policy in the 18th and 19th centuries, I am particularly keen to explore the early history of Dartmoor Prison (1809-1815).

Brian K. Feltman (Georgia Southern University)

I’m an assistant professor of history at Georgia Southern University in the United States. My first book, The Stigma of Surrender: German Prisoners, British Captors, and Manhood in the Great War and Beyond, examines the experiences of the German military prisoners held in the UK during the First World War. It focuses on the emasculating stigma of surrender and the prisoners’ struggles to gain respect in the camps of the UK, as well as in postwar Germany. I have also written on the British mistreatment of German prisoners in the Western Front in WWI.

Twitter: http://@BrianKFeltman

Peter Gregory(Bristol University/Independent Scholar)

I am a cuckoo in the nest. Until recently I was working on an M.Phil. at Bristol on the role, responsibilities and activities of British Men of Confidence [MOCs] in German POW camps in WW2, stimulated by my late father’s experience in the position in 2 work camps, the last in Dresden, as recorded in his camp log. I’ve had to suspend my formal role at Bristol for personal reasons and intend to resume registration next year. Meantime, I’m continuing with the research informally and in particular looking at issues of the MOC’s exercise of authority, his accountability and the mediation of relationships within and beyond the camp, including in the MOC hierarchy.

Karen Horn (Stellenbosch University)

I have been lecturing at Stellenbosch University since 2009. My principal research interest is South African Prisoner-of War (POW) experience during and after World War II. I am specifically interested in the experience of the rank and file soldiers, and in this regard I find the difference between the unique and the collective experience among POWs to be insightful into establishing an understanding of the historical POW experience. Comparative research between South African and other Commonwealth nationalities within prison camps; Axis prisoners in Commonwealth countries; escaped prisoners and resistance movements; and the relationship between Britain and South Africa during the war are some of the other themes within POW history which appeal to me. Regarding methodology I am fascinated by oral testimony, memoirs, contemporary diaries and correspondence.

Publications include:

  • Horn, K., 2014 (forthcoming). ‘“History from the inside’ South African Prisoner-of-War Experience in Work Camp 1169, Dresden, 1943 – 1945.” War & Society.
  • Horn, K., 2013. “Changing attitudes among South African prisoners-of-war towards their Italian captors during World War II (1942 – 1943).” Scientia Militaria, 40(3):200 – 221.
  • Horn, K., 2011. “Narratives from North Africa: South African prisoner-of-war experience following the fall of Tobruk, June 1942”, Historia, 56(2):94 – 112.
  • Horn, K., 2011. “‘Stalag Happy’: South African Prisoners of War during World War Two (1939–1945) and their Experience and Use of Humour”, South African Historical Journal, 63(4):537–552.

Isabella Insolvibile (Università degli Studi di Napoli)

I’m a research fellow of Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”. I’ve been studying Italian Prisoners of War in Great Britain for many years. I’ve published a book regarding this topic, entitled “Wops. I prigionieri italiani in Gran Bretagna, 1941-1946″ (“Wops. Italian Prisoners of War in Great Britain, 1941-1946″, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2012). Now I’m studying Allied Pows in Italy to make a comparison between two different experiences linked by the captivity paradigm. My first interest now is to understand the prisoners daily life as regards food, work, treatment, war crimes and  so forth.

Alan Jeffreys (Imperial War Museum)

I curated the Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW) and Far East Civilian Internee sections of the 2009 ‘Captivity’ Exhibition held in Imperial War Museum North, Manchester. I’m currently writing a report on the FEPOW related material held across the museum’s collections and have co-authored a couple of articles with Dr Bernice Archer on Far East Civilian Internee Women’s Embroideries, 1941-1945.

Matthew Johnson (University of Waikato)

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. My research explores how space and mobility impacted the identities of New Zealand POWs during World War Two. It examines the men’s emotions as they transitioned from the masculine soldier to a stationary captive, placing an emphasis on the foreignness of the prison space.

Edmund King (The Open University)

I am a Research Associate in the Department of English at The Open University. My POW-related research focuses on the lived experience of captivity among British and Australian prisoners of war during World War I, particularly the use of books and prison libraries to relieve boredom and foster intellectual and social networks in camps. I have published articles and book chapters relating to POW reading in “Book History” (2013), “The Yearbook of English Studies” (2015), and in the essay collection “Reading and the First World War: Readers, Texts, Archives” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Twitter: @dmndkng

Fehim Kuruloglu(Gaziosmanpasa University, Turkey)

I am a historian of Modern Turkish History with particular interest in Press History and POW. In 2016 I completed my doctoral thesis on the significance of Military Coup in Turkey, 1960, entitled “Social and Economic History of Turkey (1960-1965)”. In this thesis I analysed the effects of military administration post coup d’etat era. From 2016 February I have embarked a new project on Press Activities of Turkish Prisoners of War . According to researches there are 16 Turkish POW newspapers and magazines which were published in Egypt, Russia and India prisoners camp during and after the First World War. By evaluating these magazines and newspapers I am trying to put forward how they felt and how they expressed themselves during this period. The second part of this project will be a comperative study between Turkish and other POW.

Clare Makepeace (Birkbeck College, University of London)

I have just completed my PhD thesis on the subjectivities of British prisoners of war held in Germany and Italy during the Second World War, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. My thesis explores how these prisoners of war, given their marginal position within discourses of war, made sense of their experiences, both during captivity and afterwards. It focuses on the social relationships they built up in captivity, the psychological strains of being in captivity and how ex-POWs went on to remember their experience.

For more information on my research and publications, please visit www.warfarehistorian.org.

Alan Malpass (Sheffield Hallam University)

My research project aims to critically interrogate the interactions between British civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) in Britain between 1939 and 1948. Doing so will provide a more nuanced understand of how captivity affected the UK during both wartime and the immediate postwar period. Previous studies — both academic and amateur — have focused upon the experience of POWs inside the confines of the camp. This exploration of ‘camp culture’ has built up a picture of the daily lives of prisoners of war in Britain. My research attempts to expand the perspective, concentrating on the how POWs were interacted with outside the boundaries of the camp. Conceptually, we might think of this as ‘captivity culture’ — the broader affect of captivity on the captor state.In this way, I hope to (re)situate the figure of the POW as a part of the history of the British home front.  Several localities will be compared (i.e. Yorkshire and Staffordshire), as a means to explore not only local differences but also national similarities in the treatment of POWs by civilians. Finally, focusing upon everyday interactions will balance the historical record concerning our understanding of how Britain treated captured enemy combatants. Often, the marker of treatment has been the captor government’s adherence to the 1929 Geneva Convention. However, this often obscures the everyday handling of prisoners of war by military personnel and civilians alike. The lens of ‘everyday’ life will provide an analytical perspective to problematize previous judgments which have focused on broader narratives of governmental treatment of POWs.

Sean McGlynn (Open University)

I am author of By Sword and Fire: Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare (Weidenfled and Nicolson, 2008) and Kill Them All  (The History Press, forthcoming 2014), both of which address the question of maltreatment of prisoners and non-combatants. I am also author of Blood Cries Afar: The Forgotten Invasion of England 1216 (The History Press 2011). Forthcoming books for 2014/15 include Henry V and the Agincourt Massacre, The Hundred Years War and a new biography of King John. I am co-founder and convenor of the Kings and Queens conference (now held annually at the University fo Winchester); I am the Book Reviews Editor for the forthcoming Royal Studies Journal. I have written widely for journals and reference works on warfare. I lecture for for the University of Plymouth at Strode College and the Open University. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Lizzie Oliver(University of Leeds and Imperial War Museum)

I completed my Phd at the University of Leeds and Imperial War Museum. My thesis focused on the life-writing of British former prisoners of war who laboured on the Sumatra railway from  from May 1944 – August 1945. I have also written about the transgenerational impact of Far Eastern captivity. I am currently a Wellcome ISSF research fellow at the University of Leeds, exploring the ways that medical experiences of captivity shape its remembrance.

J. Grant Repshire (University of Exeter partnered with the Gloucestershire Archives)

I am currently a second-year PhD student at the University of Exeter working on a collaborative studentship titled ‘The Papers of FW Harvey’ in partnership with the Gloucestershire Archives. FW Harvey was a poet of World War I, who whose poetry reflects front-line service with the 5th Gloucestershire Regiment, as well as experience as a POW in seven different German ‘Offizier-Gefangenlager’. He was unique as the only British poet to publish a poetry collection while concurrently a POW, as German prison authorities allowed him to correspond with publishers Sidgwick & Jackson during his captivity. This collection was titled ‘Gloucestershire Friends – Poems from a German Prison Camp’. Harvey’s personal papers were thought by scholars to be lost following his death in 1957; however, they were discovered in his abandoned home by his heirs in 2010. Part of my PhD studentship was to catalogue and preserve this immense collection in the Gloucestershire Archives. I am also writing a dissertation examining his wartime service, with particular emphasis on his POW experience and poetry. My current work on his POW experience has demonstrated that for him and other POWs, emotional scars were caused not just by combat, but also ironically by removal from combat. By becoming prisoners, many felt deep and permanent guilt because their front-line comrades were still fighting, while they were, as Harvey put it, ‘Safe in stagnation’.

Twitter: http://@JGRepshire@FWHarvey

Terry Smyth (University of Essex)

I have just begun a PhD at the University of Essex researching the impact of Far East POW experiences on the 2nd generation (of which I am one). Through in-depth interviews, my aim is to follow the impact through the life course of the children. I shall be exploring how the personal dimension articulates and interacts with the public historical context and state sponsored narratives; the ways in which the trauma of the camps (in all its ramifications) may have been transmitted to the children, and how psychological, social and physical sequelae are attributed; how the emergence of real and virtual forms of remembrance, memorialisation and reconciliation provides new settings and opportunities for the children to revive and revisit old memories, create new ones, and construct new syntheses; this will include the role of public and private acts of reconciliation, for example organised ‘pilgrimages’ to Japan. The work will also incorporate a comparative element, including drawing on primary and secondary sources from USA and Australia

Jean Michel Turcotte (Universite Laval, Quebec)

 My PhD project focuses on the history of German prisoners of war during World War II. Specifically, I am interested in German POWs in Canada, the United States and Britain. Between 1939 and 1945 these three countries held over 500,000 German POWs in thousands of camps spread across their territories. The treatment of these POWs quickly became a contentious subject of negotiations between the three western Allies. Each ally pursued its own detention policies that reflected its understanding of the 1929 Geneva Convention (Canada, the United States, Britain and Germany were all signatories); at the same time, each had to consider the detention policies of its two allies and the Switzerland, protecting power for Germany and the westerns Allies, as well as the policies of non-governmental organizations interested in the treatment and protection of POWs (most notably, International Committee of Red Cross and Young Man’s Christian Association). My thesis explores the complex relationship between the policies of the three Allied countries as well as those between state and non-state actors. My approach combines comparative, international and transnational history: it is comparative in that it considers the efforts of three allied countries to cooperate together on a specific issue; international because of the importance of Switzerland in the negotiations; and it is transnational in that it considers the role of non-state actors for POWs. My analysis will be divided into two parts. The first part will examine American, British and Canadian policies towards German POWs, the inter-allied negotiations on the subject as well as the impacts of NGOs and Switzerland in these processes. The second part will examine the experience of German POWs in each of the three allied countries. Their understanding of imprisonment offers a new and valuable perspective on the concrete treatment of POWs in Britain, Canada and the United States.  To sum up, my thesis will provide answers to several questions, among them: was there a common approach towards German POWs among the western Allies? ; if there was a common policy, which Allied country exerted the greatest influence on it? On witch topics about POWs? ; what role did NGOs play in the formulation of policy and in the concrete treatment of German POWs?; did the perceived experience of Germans POWs vary significantly across Allied countries?

Christina Twomey (Monash University)

 Allied POWs of Japan in World War Two; The development of the concentration camp.
Website: http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/christina-twomey/

Twitter: @CLTwomey

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