Manx National Heritage launch new edition of Living with the Wire: Civilian Internment on the Isle of Man

Manx National Heritage has launched a new edition of one of its most popular books ‘Living with the Wire: Civilian Internment on the Isle of Man’. 

This fascinating updated publication reveals how internment was used in wartime by governments to protect their own citizens against resident foreigners of enemy nationality.  In both World Wars fenced-off camps in the Isle of Man served as secure detention centres. From 1914 to 1919 twenty nine thousand German and Austrian men were held here, and from 1940 tens of thousands of Germans, Austrians, Italians, Hungarians, Finns and Japanese found themselves behind barbed wire stockades.

Yvonne Cresswell, Manx National Heritage Curator for Social History and author of ‘Living with the Wire’ said:

“In the early 1990’s civilian internment on the Isle of Man was an important aspect of Manx history that was slowly fading from the public consciousness.  As each generation of Manx and ex-internees with firsthand experience of ‘living with the wire’ passed away, the subject appeared to be ready to become a lost footnote in 20th Century History”.

Back in 1994, Manx National Heritage staged the ‘Living with the Wire’ exhibition at the Manx Museum, an exhibition which was only possible due to the great generosity of many people.  These included ex-internees, Manx civilian staff, military personnel and all their families, who shared their memories, artwork, documents, craftwork and lives to provide a fascinating insight into life on the Island during the two world wars. 

Yvonne continued,

“I thought that interest would peak in the months after the exhibition, but I was thankfully wrong, and year on year the enquiries from researchers of all ages and levels grew steadily. A significant number of enquiries are also received from the families and descendents of ex-internees wanting to discover what their parents, grandparents or great grandparents experienced on the Island or to generously donate objects, artwork or documents to the collections of Manx National Heritage.  As a result, the rich and varied story of those who lived behind the wire is constantly growing and the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, which seemed so fragmented in 1994, are slowly coming together.  This updated new book is dedicated to all those who have generously shared their part in ‘Living with the Wire’”. 

‘Living with the Wire’ provides a compelling account of life in internment camps on the Isle of Man including full colour illustrations, photographs and internment art. Living with the Wire is priced at only £10 and is available exclusively from the Manx Museum Heritage Shop, House of Manannan and online at