Between 1941 and 1946 over 155.000 Italian troops, captured on the African battlefronts, were detained in Great Britain as prisoners of war, resulting in a very important source of labour for the British economy. They were generally employed in agriculture and lodged in POW camps, spread all around the country. Their employment did not always comply with the terms of the Geneva Convention, yet their experience can be regarded as one of the less hard captivities occurred to the prisoners of war in the Second World War. Despite the 1943 armistice and the subsequent co-belligerence with the Allies, the Italian internees continued to be regarded as prisoners of war and remained in Great Britain until late 1946, though under the ambiguous guise of "co-operators". Drawing on extensive documentation from Italian and British archives, this essay sketches a story as yet rather neglected by historiography, while representing an important investigation in the general treatment of internment during World War II.
Keywords: Italian Prisoners of War, Great Britain/United Kingdom, Second World War/World War II, Prisoners of War (POW) Camps, Allied Armistice with Italy, co-operation