By August 1940, the impact of the sinking of the SS Arandora Star was beginning to be felt. The killing of hundreds of innocent Italian internees was seen by some as a national disgrace. MPs like Edmund Radford, the Member for Manchester Rusholme who had a constituent who died on the SS Arandora Star, raised questions in parliament.
However, on its release, a government White Paper allowed only interned German and Austrian refugees to bid for release – and specifically the elderly and those who could contribute ‘work of national importance’. This was to say doctors, dentists, scientists and academics.
A second White Paper, issued in late-August 1940, applied the same eligibility criteria to Italians. By October, this had been revised to include those who were ‘opponents of the Fascist system’.
Government inched closer and closer to a total overhaul of the internment policy implemented in June 1940. Many hundreds of lives had been lost while others languished in camps in Australia and Canada where they would remain for the rest of the war.
Warth Mills joined other sites across the country as an official prisoner of war camp.
In September 1940, The Times published a letter from a newly released internee. While suggesting wholesale internment of internees may have been unjustified, the writer is quick to point out the wider context and express his gratitude that their voices were heard.