What is a Prisoner Exchange?

Introduction A prisoner exchange or prisoner swap is a deal between opposing sides in a conflict to release prisoners: prisoners of war, spies, hostages, etc. Sometimes, dead bodies are involved in an exchange. Geneva Conventions Under the Geneva Conventions, prisoners who cannot contribute to the war effort because of illness or disability are entitled to… Read More

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Who was James Stockdale?

Introduction James Bond Stockdale (23 December 1923 to 05 July 2005) was a United States Navy vice admiral and aviator awarded the Medal of Honour in the Vietnam War, during which he was a prisoner of war for over seven years. Stockdale was the most senior naval officer held captive in Hanoi, North Vietnam. He… Read More

Who was Margaret Utinsky?

Introduction Margaret Elizabeth Doolin Utinsky (26 August 1900 to 30 August 1970) was an American nurse who worked with the Filipino resistance movement to provide medicine, food, and other items to aid Allied prisoners of war in the Philippines during World War II. She was recognised in 1946 with the Medal of Freedom for her… Read More

What were the Galvanised Yankees?

Introduction Galvanized Yankees was a term from the American Civil War denoting former Confederate prisoners of war who swore allegiance to the United States and joined the Union Army. Approximately 5,600 former Confederate soldiers enlisted in the “United States Volunteers”, organised into six regiments of infantry between January 1864 and November 1866. Of those, more… Read More

What is Duty to Escape?

Introduction A duty to escape is a requirement that military personnel attempt to escape from captivity if taken prisoner of war. It is referred to in Second World War prisoner of war films including 1963’s The Great Escape but was not actually a duty imposed on British officers at the time. The duty was formally… Read More

What are Surrendered Enemy Personnel?

Introduction Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) is a designation for captive enemy soldiers (similar to the US Disarmed Enemy Forces). Background It was most commonly used by British forces towards German forces in Europe, and towards Japanese and associated forces in Asia after the end of World War II. On 01 March 1947 the US stated… Read More

What are Disarmed Enemy Forces?

Introduction Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF, less commonly, Surrendered Enemy Forces) was a US designation for soldiers who surrendered to an adversary after hostilities ended, and for those POWs who had already surrendered and were held in camps in occupied German territory at the time. It was General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s designation of German prisoners in… Read More