“In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn”

More and more men were being called up.

PERSONAL

The many friends of Cadet Douglas Baker, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Henry Baker, will be glad to hear that he has successfully passed all his examinations, and is now awaiting his commission as an officer in the RAF. We tender him our heartiest congratulations and good wishes. Our young friend has already several years of service to his credit, and a record of which he may justly feel proud.

We also desire to congratulate Sergeant C. S. Stebbings on his recent promotion. Sergeant Stebbings has served for more than 2 ½ years with the Royal Engineers in France, and he has just returned “on leave” with his three stripes. So far he has come through “safe and sound”. We earnestly hope that the like good fortune may be his in coming days.

Fred Warman writes very cheerily from his internment camp at Groningen, Holland. The supply of food, he tells us, is insufficient, but “by buying biscuits and chocolates, which are very dear, I manage to live fairly well and endeavour to keep up my health and strength.” He is learning to speak Dutch, and has made some good friends.

Private Gerald S. Hampton has been wounded in the right hand, and is now in a hospital at Warwick. We are not informed of the extent of his injury, but we hope it is not serious, and that he may have a speedy recovery.

SUNDAY SCHOOL NOTES

Our young friend, Mr Hedley Wyles, who for some time past has helped us as pianist in our morning school, has recently been called to the colours. We greatly regret this has become necessary, but our bets wishes go with him and we trust ‘ere long to have the pleasure of welcoming him back again safe and sound. Miss W. Quelch has very kindly undertaken to fill the post vacated by Mr Wyles.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

“O.A.S” [on active service]

It is a joy to receive letters from our Brothers abroad bearing this inscription, for right well we know they are on active service away on the battle fronts!

Whilst congratulating them on their sacrificial work out yonder, we at home are striving to deserve a similar title…

In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn, and with outstretched hand say to each other with faith and confidence:
“Hope on, the sun is rising, prepare for the coming day. God be with you till we meet again.”…

We are not forgetting our Brother on service. The number increases week by week, so that it has become almost impossible for Brother Woolley to write a personal letter to each member individually, so it is hoped that a special monthly message from the President with a reprint of these notes will be sent each month to brothers on service.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Internees have been shut up for so long they are heartily sick of each other

Jewish-Dutch internee David Stad/Stadt was isolated in internment. Fellow Dutchman Johannes Van Zwol, also mentioned here, was a seaman.

23 May 1918
D. Stadt [sic]

The above man was interned at Islington 17.7.15. Transferred to Reading 11.1.16.

On the back of my copy of his internment order appears

Leman[?] St Police Station
23rd July 15

I certify having this day served a true copy of this order on David Stadt

Signed Charles Chapman CID.

Prisoner has always seemed to me to be not very “bright”. At one time there were 7 or 8 Jews here – now he is the only one. I believe in the past he did not have a very good [illegible], though he seldom complained. When he did, I tried to help him. At the present time there are 13 nationalities here & being shut up for so long they are heartily sick of each other. When any few are friendly together it usually means they are plotting mischief.

Stadt keeps to himself, partly from choice and partly from being unpopular as a Jew. Few men speak to him – they appear to ignore him. Generally speaking he is fairly conducted and I recommend him for favourable consideration.

Letters from Holland are irregular. Stadt writes twice a month to his wife but receives very few replies.

My book shows that he received letters on Dec. 16, 1917, Jany 1st 1918, & 23 March 18 the last. I cannot say how often his wife writes.

Other Dutchmen complain of the same thing. Van Zwol received his last letter on 18th March and it is dated 18th Dec 17.

From the contents of letters received it would appear that letters take about 2 months after being written here to reach people in Holland.

Stadt appears in very fair health, his weight on reception here 11-1-16 was 168 lbs, today it is 157 lbs.

Report from MO is attached.

C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners

23rd May 1918
Re David Stadt

I have this day examined the above-named interned prisoner. This is a neurotic man…

I am inclined to regard the various symptoms of which he complains as arising from functional disturbance of the nervous system. He is well nourished, and I do not find any evident signs of loss of flesh in his case.

G O Lambert, MD, pro W T Freeman, MD (Medical Officer)

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

“At least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew”

David Stad was a Dutch Jew aged 27 when he arrived at Reading Place of Internment in January 1916. He did not enjoy his internment, feeling isolated and discriminated against. In June 1918 he was transferred to Islington.

22.5.18
The Governor
P of I Reading

With ref: to the petition of D Stad dated the 13th inst of which the following is a precise translation:

He says that on the 23rd June he will have been interned 3 yrs, and that he has never been told the reason for his internment.

He has never received any order, as many other interned [prisoners deleted] persons have. He asks to have one.

He asks if, after 3 yrs, he may be allowed to go to Holland, and is prepared to give an undertaking not to leave that country again, at any rate in war-time.

He says that out of a total period of nearly 3 yrs internment he has been 2 yrs & 3 months at Reading Gaol, and feels his vitality diminishing: his appetite is bad, and he suffers from sleeplessness.
This, he says, is due to the unpleasant life he leads at Reading, where at least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew.

He accordingly begs to be sent to Holland, or failing that to another camp, saying he even prefers Brixton so as no longer to meet the men who dislike him.

Unless this is done, he cannot hold himself responsible for himself.
He asks that all attention may be given to the question of his correspondence with Holland; he feels sure that his wife and relations write to him at least 3 times a month, but he has had no letters for 6 months.

Please furnish your observations on the statement as to his life at Reading, and the need, if any, for his removal, and also as to the facts respecting the letters he receives and sends.

W J Pond for Sec:

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

Potatoes and Passover

David Stad was a Dutch salesman aged 27 when he arrived at Reading in January 1916. He was the only Jewish internee.

2 April 1918
R. Koch
2.10.15 S. of S. Order, Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment
The above named Alien was visited yesterday the 1st by Miss D. Thain (friend), of 56 Gladstone Avenue, Wood Green, N.
The conversation was friendly and of personal affairs. The Alien stated he was in good health.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

2nd April 1918
D. Stad
17.7.15 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment
The above named Alien was visited yesterday by Miss Wolfe of 136 Oxford Road, Reading, daughter of the Jewish Rabbi for Reading.
The conversation was about the way he should carry out the rites of the Passover.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

2 April 1918
Garden
Have the Commissioners any objection to the garden officer, Warder Coates, having a suit of drill and pair of old boots temporarily, and working in the prison garden? I have one prisoner on medical grounds and another prisoner part time at work – but Mr Coates has volunteered to work himself with them in order to get in the potatoes. This would be better than a larger party who only talk and smoke – besides saving the pay of the other prisoners.
C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners
PS We have suitable stuff in store.

[They received an immediate reply permitting it as a special case.]

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

Trapped in London

A Swiss acquaintance of Will Spencer had a business journey abroad interrupted by the British fear of anyone with German connections.

16 May 1917
After supper Frau Block chatted with us in the veranda. Her husband only got as far as London on his way to America. By the time he had got the papers which he required for travelling to America, the Dutch boat by which he intended to cross had sailed. Then came the “verschaufter U-Boot Krieg”, & now, as the son of a German mother, he has not yet obtained leave to return here.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/27)

Germans sink neutral ships

Another German war crime resulted in an attack on Dutch vessels.

25 February 1917
German submarines sunk 7 Dutch steamers which sailed from Falmouth!! Crews saved.

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

“If only there was a man at the Head with more heart, more imagination, & less astute worldly wiseman view of the Church and its interests!

Sybil Campbell wrote to her sister in law Lady Mary Glyn with exciting news of a shipwreck in the Inner Hebrides.

Ap. 10/16
Tiree

My dear M.

Tomorrow is mail day, & my daily Light is full of memorial dates. I am here for the Red Cross, & odds & ends. Rather a sad island, hating “the Tribunal”, & the compulsion. A really sad lot get off on physical defects, but of 19 attested, 13 had varicose veins, & other things speaking of inbreeding. But, the spirit is not of submission to the “will of God”.

We have had a shipwrecked crew on the island. The Admanton, 4000 ton coal for fleet from Cardiff, sent down by the fire of a submarine between Barra & Sherryvore, about 10 miles off us. Heavy firing was heard by many & the coast watchers were reporting, then at 2 a large ship’s boat of very exhausted men made for “Sahara”, the one port on the north side, & that a mere creek.

About 7, seeing nothing, they were fired at, the shot passing over the bridge, then a torpedo passed under the boat, but as she had discharged the cargo she was light & it passed under the bow. One German, knowing her unarmed, proceeded to finish her with shell. The men tumbled to their boats, the Germans left these alive, “behaving well as they could have shelled us under in no time”. It was a rough wild morning & a very frozen crew of 9 with the captain landed after battling from 7 a.m. to 2. The captain got a change & some tea from the township, & then drove over to Island House to report to the Admiralty & owners. They came from Cardiff, a little Welshman.

I happened to be at Island House as he drove up. It was curious to see & hear all 1st hand. They say that 7 have been destroyed lately on this line to the main fleet. MacD[onald?] a patrol captain in Oban, & to the Rear Admiral at Cromarty. The 2nd boat separated. She was seen further east & the captain thought she would get into Coll.

On Sunday a.m. the patrol boats came racing in here. The Oban one took off the crew, & were able to report the 2nd boat had been picked up off the kairns of Coll & taken to Tobermory. Several injured men in her, then a 2nd patrol boat is now stationed here, & cruises round. She has Marines on board,& they landed yesterday & were at various houses asking for a drink of milk, & getting it, & tho’ they offered money none would take it. I daresay the patrols are a little annoyed for an islander saw & reported the conning tower of a submarine between us & the Dutchman, & tho’ a patrol came, I fancy they were all a little incredulous.

We think this beat has not been enough patrolled, the patrols lying thick in & around Stornoway. This boat is to make Tiree its headquarters for a month. It is rough & bitter work for all concerned.
(more…)

“All the poor Serbs died like flies”

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph with news of an escaped British prisoner of war’s horrific experiences.

March 27/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My darling R.

Thank you for yours of 16th. It must be very boring for you with so little doing. You must all feel very like sea-weed left high & dry after a gale! Still you never know. Things in France seem settling down again rather. It’s a comfort anyhow to think the Hun cannot re-make all the men they’ve just thrown away anyhow. Beeky Smith writes a most amusing account of the French in their part of the line. He says they all look about 70 & wander about with brown paper parcels in their hands, presumably food, & generally a bottle of wine sticking out somewhere, & they never appear to carry any weapon or equipment whatever!

The last excitement here is a private just escaped from prison in Germany. Taken (wounded) Sep. 14, 1914. He gives the most gastly [sic] account of things. They think he’s truthful as he’s so shy it’s a job to make him talk so he’s not likely to invent. Like them all he says the journey after being taken was the worst time, & always it was the officers who either ordered or if need be personally ill-treated the prisoners. He was in 3 prisons, & twice before tried to escape. He says it’s fairly easy for men to escape really, but practically impossible for officers, they are so terrifically guarded. He finally got away with two Frenchmen – acrobats. They went through what was supposed to be impassable swamp land swimming two rivers, & so into Holland, where the Dutch were awfully good to them & did all they could & apparently loathe the Huns.

He had various punishments various times for trying to escape & also because he refused to work in munition factories – one punishment they call sun punishment in the summer is to stand a man 12 hours to attention with cap off facing the sun. The idea being to blind the man. Prison imprisonment [sic] means solitary confinement in total darkness. He had one go 4 days in the dark & one in the light & then 4 days dark & so on. Prison food is a piece of bread 3 inches square per day, & water.

He says our men live solely on parcels from home. The camp food is impossible, but as this man fairly says, it’s not any worse than the German soldiers guarding them had, & at all times Germans eat worse food than us. He says when he first went to Hun-land there were men & women to be seen everywhere, now every place is deserted – the men to fight & the women doing the men’s work. For 5 days & nights they had no food or drink when they were 1st taken. Apparently they all loathe & distrust the Belgian prisoners. All the poor Serbs died like flies when they arrived as they had been starved, absolutely to death, during the journey to the camps.

There is much more but it’s the same as all these men say & no doubt you’ve heard it all before. One amusing thing is that when our men work on the land as they have to, they do everything they can to foil the show. Plant things upside down etc!!…

Your ever loving Maysie

It was angelic of you sending that letter off to that man in hospital.

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)