Irish refuse to pay for postage

Irish internees protested against the censorship of their correspondence.

14 Oct 1918

The Irish prisoners stated today that after Monday the 21st they refused to pay for my postage of letters or parcels, as letters are not read here but sent in a covering letter to the Postal censor.

Instructions are requested.

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

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“They do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!!”

The Governor of Reading Prison was finding the Irish internees difficult to deal with.

13 October 1918

I shall be glad of the advice of the Commissioners regarding the Sinn Fein prisoners.

These now number 17, and are a pretty objectionable set, different in many ways from those I had in 1916, and comprise the leaders of hunger strikes and smashers up in other prisons.

Their conduct is most offensive, in some cases, and the leaders are Ginnell, MP, McDonagh, Cahill, Thornton – though some of the others are nearly as bad.

When visited by the Visiting Committee member, Ginnell called him a “blasted Hun”, and fortunately the Member took it as the raving of an illmannered man & simply told him that he was not now in the House of Commons. At the same time this sort of thing cannot go on and their behaviour is abusive and contemptuous [sic]. I am quite prepared to enforce discipline and to separate & punish a man who behaves in such a manner, but as they have openly said that 17 men will raise all the trouble they can, & will probably go on hunger strike or smash up, I think it well to refer the matter to the Commissioners before taking action, and to know if I have their support.

My Warders complain of them, and I wish to stop it at once. They refuse to petition for things they want and say they do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!! This sort of thing cannot go on. It’s just beginning now but the first man punished will begin the [illegible].

The man who is most offensive is L. Ginnell, but his reputation is doubtlessly known to the Commissioners without any comment of mine.

He must either be taken seriously or ignored – I prefer the latter and act on it, but am not at all sure that the Visiting Committee will stand his remarks when they visit him. He has collected a few men round him – Cahill, Thornton – much like himself.

I will see how things go on.

With reference to prisoners interned elsewhere I would refer the Commissioners to their instructions to me when the Irish came – that the men sent to Reading were largely composed of men who had mutinied elsewhere and that they anticipated trouble from them.

Of men elsewhere interned, some 40 were previously here and with the exception of 4 or 5 gave little trouble, preferring to pose as martyrs.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Arrest of escaped German Prisoners of War

The Standing Joint Committee heard how Berkshire policemen had helped to recapture escaped PoWs.

5 October 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

Arrest of Escaped German Prisoners of War

Two German Prisoners of War, who escaped from Bramley Camp on 4 September, were arrested at Woolhampton by PC 117, Brooks, assisted by Special Constable Charles Taplin and two civilians.

Another, who escaped from the same Camp on 5 September, was captured by PC 64, Holloway, at Maidenhead Thicket.

The War Office Authorities, to mark their appreciation of the services rendered, sent a reward of £5, viz £1 for each of the Constables and civilians who assisted, and I have, under the circumstances, allowed them to receive the same.
Approved.

PC 158 Giles Rejoining Force

PC 158, Giles, who joined the Army on 6 December 1915, under the terms of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915, has been discharged from the Army as medically unfit for further military service in consequence of his left wrist being injured by a gunshot wound.

He rejoined the Force on 1 September, 1918, and has been given indoor work for the present, on the understanding that he will be medically re-examined in three months’ time by the Police Surgeon to see of there is any probability of his being fit for further Police duty.
Approved.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Bleeding the country

Railway worker William Hallam felt guilty at the higher pay he was getting for working on munitions.

4th October 1918

Wages 4£. 11s. 7d. after 10/6 stopped. As we have a 3/6 a week increase in wages & 9 wks back pay to come. It’s bleeding the country though.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

The distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised if more butchers were called up

There were concerns that if butchers were called up no one would be left to prepare meats for sale to the public.

30th September 1918

The Committee nominated the Mayor as the representative of the Food Control Committee on the Committee recently formed to deal with applications for exemption before the Local Tribunal in respect of men engaged in food production and distribution. A deputation from the Butchers’ Committee attended the Committee, and submitted a statement showing that the number of slaughtermen and shopmen employed by the butchers in 1914 was 43; that since that date four butchers’ businesses have been closed down, throwing additional work upon the remaining butchers; and that the present staffs consisted of 14 employees which might, if exemption was not granted in certain cases, be reduced to ten; that the total number of registered customers served by the butchers was 21,474. The deputation stated that if the present staff was further depleted a very serious position was in sight and the distribution of meat to the public would be jeopardised. The Committee instructed the Executive Officer to send a copy of the statement laid before them to the Divisional Ministry of Food and to state that the Committee viewed the position with very considerable apprehension, and requesting that no time should be lost by the Ministry in taking up the matter with the Minister of National Service with a view of a stop being put to any further depletion of the present butchers’ staffs; and further that the Food Control Committee would not accept any responsibility for anything that might happen with regard to the preparation or distribution of meat to the public if there was any further depletion in the butchers’ present staffs.

The Committee approved applications by Mr Keen and Mr Love for permission to sell cooked meats and pies, which complied with the regulations, without coupons.

The Milk Winter Prices Order, 1918, was further considered and the Committee decided that the maximum retail price of milk delivered to purchasers for the months October to April next should be at a flat rate of 3s per gallon, and the Executive Officer was requested to notify the Ministry accordingly.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

To help our Allies with some corn and implements &c, when they can get their land back again

Country people donated money for the reconstruction of occupied areas.

SOUTH BERKS ASSOCIATION

This Association embraces all parishes within the radius of six miles from Pangbourne, and it is agreed that the Show should be held early in October. We feel that as it is for the encouragement of Production of Food, and like the Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Show, we have no band &c, we are justified in holding it. Prizes will be given for Ploughing with Horses, Tractor Ploughing, Rick Building, Thatching, Milking, Length of Service, Shepherds’ Prizes, Horses, Cattle, Roots, Corn, Butter, Poultry and Eggs. We hope that Burghfield will come well to the front, and that several will come and see the Show.

We have just sent a donation of £10 10s 0d to the Relief of the Allies Fund, which is to help our Allies with some corn and implements &c, when they can get their land back again.

J.L.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Winter will come without fail and coal is urgently wanted

Coal was in ever shorter supply.

Coal

We have summer now, but winter will come without fail. And we are asked to use as little coal and coke as we can. Indeed, by the recent Coal Order, we are to be allowed considerably less than the amount which we have been in the habit of consuming. Nor is it at all certain that we shall be able to get even as much as the allowed amount, owing to shortage of production. Coal is urgently wanted in the War for our ships, for our troops’ comfort and conveyance at home and abroad, and for munition work in all its many forms. More than this, it is wanted for our Allies’ use in similar ways: and they will have to face the cold with a far shorter supply than ourselves. We must all, therefore, make provision for the winter in every other way we can. Fortunately, the devastation of the beautiful woods, now being affected in order to supply timber for War purposes, has its good side: and there are excellent opportunities of storing up large supplies of wood. We strongly advise everybody to do this as far as they possibly can. Those who can get peat will be wise to do so. And as to coal and coke, the Coal Controller urges all people with sufficient storage to get their full supplies as early as may be, that those who can only store small quantities, and must get coal often, and at short notice, may not be hindered in time of need.

Local Fuel Overseer

The parish may feel gratified that the Bradfield District Local Authority has had to come to Bradfield for its Fuel Overseer, and that Mr F T Wenman has been able to see his way to accept this important appointment. He has already held many posts, and rendered good service in the parish and district…. We wish him success in his new duties; and are sure that he will do his best to secure it.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A question of damsons

It was sometimes tricky to establish what should be rationed.

23rd September

The Milk (Winter) Prices Order was considered, and it was decided that for the present, until information was obtained as to maximum retail prices fixed in the adjoining districts, the maximum retail price of milk delivered to purchasers for the month of October should be three shillings per imperial gallon.

The report of the Enforcement Officer with reference to the sale by retailers of damsons was considered, and having regard to the fact that it was doubtful whether the fruit in question were damsons or damson plums within the meaning of the Damsons (Sales) Order 1918 the Committee decided that no action be taken.

A further report of the Enforcement Officer with regard to the slaughter of certain calves in contravention of the provisions of the Calves (Sales) Order 1918 was considered, and the Divisional Ministry was requested to take up the matter. The Enforcement Officer also reported certain facts with regard to the slaughter and disposal of a pig under circumstances which the Committee did not consider warranted further action.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

Fruit and nuts for gas masks

Wallingford boys were collecting various kinds of fruit.

Wallingford
1918, 18 September

Visited (pm) by Mr J Brown in connection with arrangements for collection of blackberries. We are already collecting nut-shells and plum-stones, for carbon used in gasmasks.

Hurst
18th September 1918

School closed the whole day owing to the Hurst fete at Staines Hill for the providing of funds for the Hurst prisoners of war.

Aldermaston
18th September 1918

Half holiday, 68lbs of blackberries.

Buscot
Sept. 18th

Older children gathered 88 ½ lbs blackberries – sent to Faringdon.

Log books: Wallingford Boys Council School (SCH22/8/3); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3, p. 94); Hurst C of E Boys School (D/P73/28/23, p. 37)Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2);

Anxious to see the consul

A Brazilian internee wanted to see his country’s representative.

New Scotland Yard
SW
17.9.18
Confidential

Sir

The Brazilian Consul has read information that Patrocinus is anxious to see him. He is unable to pay the visit himself, but will be very glad if you could give facilities to his representative, Mr Synchronio Magdalenas (I am not quite sure of the spelling) to visit Patrocinus on Thursday next.

Sgd B H Thomson

HM Prison
Reading

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The Aliens, having been interned in some cases for four years, have practically worn out all their original clothing

The provision of clothing for internees was a thorny matter. Jackson’s, the store mentioned, was something of a Reading institution, remining in business until 2013.

16th Sepr: 1918

Re letter 18902/35HF d/d 14.9.18

1. The Interned civilians have not been allowed ordinary liberty clothing. When theirs was worn out they had to wear blue dress by the Commissioners’ orders – but protested strongly against it.
2. Those who have ordinary clothing have purchased it out of their earnings. The Irish refuse to work.
3. It is now noted that they will receive ordinary liberty clothing.
4. How should this clothing be obtained please?
5. There is a local firm Messrs Jackson & Sons who supply ready-made outfits of all kinds, & also make cheap quality clothing &c to order. I am informed that at the present time the cost of clothing would be about £3.10.0 for the cheapest quality, boots about 35/- a pair, under-clothing is of course much above the normal rate.
6. The anticipated cost will be about £6.10.0 per man for the 14 Irish internees, Alien side 38 men at the same rate. It is quite likely that some of the Irish may not require a complete outfit at the present time, as they have only been interned a few months. The Aliens, having been interned in some cases for four years, have practically worn out all their original clothing.
7. As soon as it becomes known that the liberty clothing is allowed free, these men will buy no more.
8. The clothing of some who earn no money, and who refuse to wear the blue dress, is in a bad way.

[C M Morgan]
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

16th Sepr: 1918
H. Schraplowsky
22.6.15 S of S Order, Aliens Act, Deportation

The above named Alien prisoner was visited on Saturday the 14th inst: by his wife and Miss Chronig (friend) of 66 Station Rd, Church End, Finchley, N.

The conversation was on business affairs, chiefly about Mrs Schraplowsky leaving this country, and the disposal of her belongings.

[C M Morgan]
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Lloyd George better

Luckily the Prime Minister was not one of those felled by the flu epidemic.

15 September 1918
French advancing near Laon. Lloyd George better.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Liberty clothing for internees

The Irish internees, who were held without trial, were not to be treated as prisoners, and could wear their own clothes.

Prison Commission
Home Office
Whitehall SW1

14th September 1918

[to] The Governor
Reading PI

With reference to paragraph 4 of the Regulations as to the treatment of Irish Internees, please note that if any of them do not obtain supplies of clothing from their friends, or purchase further articles as they become necessary, they will be provided with ordinary clothing when necessary, like other interned civilians, ie liberty clothing instead of that prescribed for prisoners awaiting trial.

Be good enough to amend the copies of the Regulations in your possession accordingly.

W J Pond
For Secy

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Lloyd George ill with flu

The army was still doing well, but there were concerns for the health of the Prime Minister.

14 September 1918
Advance still continuing. Lloyd George ill with flu.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“We are all in good health and spirits, thank God”

Supporters of interned Irish MP William Cosgrave were concerned about his health in Reading Prison. Frank Fahy (1879-1953) was another Sinn Fener who would have a distinguished post-independence political career.

HM Prison
Reading

Sep. 12 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of Richard Hayes about the health of W T Cosgrave I have nothing to add to my remarks concerning the petition of L. Ginnell on the same subject.

I have today however seen a letter signed by Frank Fahy in which he states, “We are all in good health and spirits, thank God. W. Cosgrave, MIP [Member of Irish Parliament] is much improved in appearance, though he continues to qualify for lightweight champion”.

W T Freeman

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)