To be released from the Royal Air Force early in April

As men returned home, women who had filled their jobs were surplus to requirements.

13th February 1919

Administrative and Relief Staff

Reporting that the Clerk informed the Committee that Mr F S Jones, Second Assistant Clerk, and Mr G E Turnbull, Case Paper Clerk, had been demobilised and resumed their duties on the 5th and 11th instant respectively, and that Mr J R Bedford, First Assistant Clerk, would be released from the Royal Air Force early in April next. Also that Mr G A Munday had been discharged from the Army and would resume his duties as Relieving Officer of the No 2 District on the 1st March next.

Recommending that Miss Freeman and Miss Plant revert to their original duties, that Mr Horne, who was acting as temporary Relieving Officer for the No 3 District, be given notice to terminate his duties on the 31st March next, and that Mr Turnbull be recommended for appointment on the Out-door Relief Staff. Also that a Special Meeting of the Committee be held to consider the salaries of the Officers on the Administrative and Relief Staffs.

Report of Finance Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/58)

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Working to be repatriated as quickly as possible

The question of hiow to repatriate internees was beginning to be considered.

HM Prison
Reading
Nov. 26. 18

From the MO to the Governor
Concerning the state of body & mind of Ion Perrocino [?].

He has maintained his weight on a special diet that I have allowed him. No doubt he feels the cold weather.

He is depressed about his internment and gets very excited when he insists upon discussing his return to Brazil.

He is evidently working to be repatriated as quickly as possible. I do not believe he will take his life or go mad.

His behaviour to myself has always been correct.

W T Freeman

Reading Prison
26 Nov 1918

Sir

Owing to the absence of Clerk & Schoolmaster Mr Stevens, through influenza, I was working alone for a fortnight, during which the error in W Horlock’s account occurred. I greatly regret the submission of this error, but I was working under considerable pressure and difficulty, and did my best to keep the office work going and to carry out what checking I could.

I am
Sir
Your obedient servant
M N Loarn
Steward

[to] The Governor

[The error related to a purchase of liberty clothing for the internees.]

HM “Place of Internment”
Reading

26th November 1918

Sir

I have the honour to acknowledge your letter … dated 21st November 1918 on the subject of the interned Alien Albert Hemmerle.

The prisoner states that the Duchy of Lichtenstein is at present in a state of revolution, but that he will write to his parents and request them to obtain from whatever form of Government there may be, the required guarantee that he will remain in Lichtenstein if deported there.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient servant

F G C M Morgan
Governor

[to] The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
London SW1

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

“The world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them”

Three more bright young men had made the supreme sacrifice.

Memorial Service

Captain F.S. Brain.
Lieut. H.E. Aust.
Charles D. Freeman.

Three more of those brave spirits to whose return into Church life and usefulness some of us were looking, have heard the call of God and have joined the throngs invading Heaven. Three more have cheerfully and bravely given their lives to make earth clean again, and keep it safe from those who regard honour among the highest and love peace. It is easy to write these words, but behind them our hearts ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

What then is their loss to those who loved them best? Ah! Theirs is a sorrow beyond human comfort. May the only True Comforter console and sustain all such!

Captain Francis Brain was well known to most of us. Although his College career prevented his active participation in our Church life, his interest in Trinity was very real and true. A quiet, unassuming manner hid intellectual powers of no mean order, and his future was bright with possibility when, at the call of duty all was laid aside. On February 26th, 1915, he obtained his commission in the Royal Berks, being later attached to the 1st Batt. Royal Dorset Regt. He saw much service in France, and had quite recently been promoted Captain. His military record is most fittingly recorded in a beautiful appreciation from which we quote:-

“He was of the type of ‘the happy warrior that every man in arms would wish to be.’ His sterling worth drew men to him in a remarkable degree. He was greatly beloved by the men of his Company and a great favourite with every single Officer. In the trenches he was splendid, absolutely fearless, and with never a thought of self. He has been tried to the uttermost and found worthy.”

Warm tributes of affection and high regard have been received.

His Major writes: – “His death has been a great blow to all who knew him. He was loved and esteemed by all ranks of the Battalion, particularly the men of his own company.”

A fellow Officer says: – “I served for a considerable time with your son, and I was very sincerely attached to him. We all loved him- his cheeriness and good fellowship – always ready with a bit of a song to cheer one up in the most cheerless circumstances; but above all the absolute honesty and straightforwardness of his character.”

His servant Wrote: – “It is impossible to tell you in words how awfully sorry everyone in my Company feels at having lost such a good Officer. I myself know that it will be impossible to get another such Officer to be a servant for.”

Lieutenant Harry Aust was equally well known. He was a member of the Institute and had been a willing worker in all its activities. In the School at Spencers Wood his work will belong remembered, and his memory cherished. He too answered duty’s call at the outbreak of war, and, on joining, at once received a commission. On one occasion he was gassed, and later was so severely wounded that he spent eleven months in hospital. But such was his indomitable spirit and high courage that, contrary to expectations, he forced his recovery and returned to France to make the supreme sacrifice that England might live.

Charlie Freeman had been abroad for the last five years in the service of the Eastern Telegraph Company. Yet many of us knew him well, having watched him grow up, and we loved his bright happy nature. He came home this summer on leave and spent a gloriously time joy which had its consummation in his marriage. It was on his way back to his duties that the vessel was torpedoed, and he lost his life in the service of his country equally with those who fall in battle.

So one by one the war takes toll of Trinity’s best, and the world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

An impossible position

Yesterday the Irish internees had asked for their own doctor to be allowed to exercise his skills. Dr Freeman, the prison doctor, was against the idea.

H M Prison
Reading

Oct. 26.18

From the MO to the Governor

I certainly would not be answerable for Mr Hayes’ treatment and care of the Irish prisoners here. I am of course responsible for their condition.

Furthermore I should object to Mr Hayes interfering in any way with my stock of drugs here, and should decline to dispense for him. Such a position would be impossible.

If the Commissioners desire it, I should see no objection to Mr Hayes prescribing for his fellow prisoners if the medicines &c were obtained from outside, but even in such a case I decidedly think I should see and approve of all prescriptions.

W T Freeman

I can imagine the nature of Mr Hayes’ reports if he is allowed to send them to the Commissioners.


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

“No menial in a minister’s house gets such a quality and I defy them to contradict it”

Irish MP and internee William Cosgrave disliked the food on offer in Reading Prison. His letter of complaint was intercepted by the official censor.

7.10.18
W T Cosgrove
P of I Reading

To Mrs B Burke
174 James St
Dublin

Complaint of prison treatment
Extract

I regret to have to complain of the diet. No menial in a minister’s house gets such a quality and I defy them to contradict it. They actually depend [on] us getting food from Ireland. I reported to the Dr that I did not use what was supplied and he enquired did I not get some from home.

They know I do not use it and just continue sending it on and then examining professionally the victim. I shall not submit to a further examination by the Dr for the benefit of experimentation. I have already been twice subjected to this foolery.


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

Trinity roll of honour

Trinity Roll of Honour
Robert Howard Freeman, Signal section, R.N.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

Full of political excitement

The Reading Prison doctor was unimpressed by claims of ill health among Irish internees.

Sept. 23 18
From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the report of the Secretary to the Prison Commission for a report upon the mental and physical condition of W T Cosgrove.

In the petitions of Laurence Ginnell and Richard Hayes, dated respectively Sept. 11 and Sept 12 1918, I have already dealt with this matter.

I have again carefully examined him today. His mental condition is sound. His physical condition is [illegible]. There are perhaps indefinite signs of some past [illegible] in the left lung but it is quiescent now, and there are no subjective symptoms.

He is full of political excitement and in my presence at all events quite cheerful.

He certainly is not in imminent danger.

W T Freeman

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

“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)

“He goes out to exercise with the others, plays ball with them etc”

Sinn Fein MP William Cosgrave (1880-1932) was one of the most high-profile of the Irish internees in Reading. Laurence Ginnell, another Irish MP, agitated on his behalf.

H M Prison
Reading

Sep. 11 1918

From the MO to the Governor
Concerning the petition of Laurence Ginnell.

W T Cosgrave is in fair health. He is naturally of poor physique and somewhat [illegible – [possibly anaemic?].

I have found in him no actual organic signs of disease.

He goes out to exercise with the others, plays ball with them etc.

He had a moderate attack of influenza on Aug. 25th from which he soon recovered.

W T Freeman

Seditious articles to be censored from Irish newspapers

A series of short exchanges reveals internees’ complaints about prison food – and their captors’ conscerns about censoring Irish news.

HM Prison
Reading
Sep. 6 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the remarks of F. Thorton, J. McDonagh and P. C. O’Mahony.

As far as I am concerned they appear to relate to complaints about the food.

I agree with your remarks. I believe the porridge to be nourishing and that it is of the same quality as is obtainable outside the prison.

I have satisfied myself from time to time as to the condition and quality of the meat. It has appeared to me to be as good as I can get at my own house.

W T Freeman, MD.

Prison Commission
HO
6-9-18
[to] The Gov
P of I Reading

Please note that correspondence between the Irish Internees in your custody and those at other prisons is forbidden: no written communication should therefore be allowed to pass between them.

Sgd W J Pond
For Sec:

Noted.
C M Morgan
The letters are not read here, but a notice to this effect has been posted in the hall where the Irish are located.
9.9.18

Prison Comm.
HO
SW1
6-9-18
[to] The Gov
P of I Reading

In the event of a copy of the “Waterford News” reaching your prison for the use of any of the Irish internees, care should be exercised that its columns are duly examined, with a view to seeing whether articles having seditious tendency appear prior to the delivery of the paper to the prisoners concerned.

Sgd A J Wall
Sec:

Noted.
C M Morgan
Gov 9/9/18

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

“A man that will never be satisfied”

An internee grumbled about the vegetable-heavy meals in Reading Prison.

H M Prison
Reading

Aug. 22nd, 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of H. Schraplowsky, I reported upon him on July 19.18. Also upon May 8th 1918.

He is now wearing a double truss and it fits him properly.

He spoke to me the other day about not liking the peas and beans, and I advised him that they made up a nourishing part of his diet.
He is a man that will never be satisfied. Please see my previous reports.

W T Freeman.

There is no evidence of his food being returned uneaten.

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

“I do not believe that he has suffered seriously from his internment”

The British authorities were concerned about the physical and mental health of internees.

H M Prison
Reading

Aug, 17, 1918

From the MO to the Governor
Concerning the petition of Fritz Herman Veltmeyer.

I have interviewed him today and do not believe that he has suffered seriously from his internment. His mental balance seems correct.
He has lost some weight and if he continues to do so I propose to allow him some extra food.

W T Freeman

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

“Any letters which contain obscure expressions, abbreviations and indirect references to prohibited subjects are liable to delay, and may have to be stopped”

Complaints about how internees were treated were strictly forbidden.

19.7.18

[to] The Gov
Reading P of I

The U S of S [Under-Secretary of State] requests that the Irish interned prisoners in your custody may be informed as follows:

The S of S has asked that you may be reminded that letters are allowed for the purpose of communicating with your relations & friends on domestic matters and matters of business in which you are personally interested. They must not be used for the discussion of public events or for complaints about your internment or treatment; any such complaints should be made to the S of S.

Communications which offend against these rules will be stopped by the Censor.

Arrangements have been made to deal with all letters as quickly as possible, but any which contain obscure expressions, abbreviations and indirect references to prohibited subjects are liable to delay, and may have to be stopped.

If your correspondents understand English you are recommended to write to them in that language.

A J Wall
Secy

Each man was informed of this on reception and also a notice was placed In the hall.

A further notice embodying this letter has now been placed in the Irish Prison.

C M Morgan
Gov:
20-7-18

HM Prison
Reading
July 19. 18

From the MO to the Governor

Regarding the petition of H. Shlapowsky, I reported fully upon May 8th of this year.

He is [illegible – herplocked?] on the right side (not badly) and there is a weakness on the left, but … [illegible] behind. He has done no heavy work here, but has … [illegible] pretty, fights with fellow prisoners and has been on hunger strike.

What he says about us is nonsense, and I have declined to allow him to bug Alber from the Chemist.

Since his hunger strike in April, he has registered a weight of over 110 lbs. I am willing to supply him with a … [illegible] but I find we shall have a [illegible].

At the present time I see no necessity for increased rations.

W T Freeman.

Prison Commission
HO
SW1

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

More fool than knave, an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced

One of the Irish internees in Reading had a nasty skin infection.

4 July 1918
Irish Joint Petition

Report from Medical Officer attached.

Davys told me on Sunday that he thought he had a skin disease caught from the soldiers at Holyhead as the beds there were dirty, and that he did not catch it here. He also asked to be allowed to occupy a cell on second floor so as to be isolated. I allowed him to do so, but he plays handball with the others.

Coles and Hayes stated that they petitioned in hopes of getting Davys released; that he was excitable and eccentric, but had conducted himself here much better than they had anticipated, and that whatever offences they had committed, Davys had not done anything and was more fool than knave. My own opinion is that they rather want to get rid of him as he is an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced. The others are more reading men.

The Prison was whitewashed throughout since it was last occupied by the Sinn Feiners.

C M Morgan
Gov.

[to] The Commissioners

They were anxious that he should not know that they had [illegible].

H M Prison
Reading

July 4.18

To the Governor
Concerning R. Davys

He has been suffering from an eczema of the face since the 17th of June. It may be a little troublesome to get well. In the ordinary sense of the words it is neither infectious nor contagious.

In fact, it [sic] technically I am satisfied that it is not a hyphogenic sycrosis and if there be any colligenic element about it, it is secondary.

It is in my opinion ridiculous to make any scare about it.

The mask is an ordinary and useful element in the treatment. I have felt for some days that such a petition might be forthcoming and mentioned my suspicions, you may remember, to you.

W T Freeman, MD, FRIS

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

The internees may let their friends know where they are as soon as possible

The Irish internees were now to be allowed to communicate with their friends and relations, if under strict censorship.

H M Prison
Reading
May 31 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of Max John Stephan.

I recommend that he be allowed to go to the dentist’s house under escort.

W Freeman

31.5.1918
[to] The Governor, Reading Prison

It has been decided that the privilege of writing & receiving letters, which has hitherto been suspended, shall now be granted to the interned Irish prisoners.

The examination of the letters will be undertaken on behalf of the Commissioners by the Postal Censorship. Accordingly all letters written by and all letters received for these prisoners, including P’Cards, telegrams, books, & newspapers, and any messages contained in parcels, will be sent by you – the envelopes remaining unopened – to the Chief Postal Censor, Strand House, Portugal Street, London, WC2. With each packet of letters, you will send a covering note as follows: This parcel contains letters received on – date -, for the Irish prisoners interned in Reading P. of I. signed – Governor; or This packet contains letters posted on – date by the Irish prisoners interned in Reading P. of I., signed – Governor.

If passed by the censor, they will be posted to the addresses, or returned to you to deliver to the internees, as the case may be.
The internees should tell their friends to address all letters, postcards, telegrams, and newspapers as follows:

Name
Prison – in brackets
c/o the Chief Police Censor, Strand House, Portugal St, WC2.

This will save delay, as ant letters &c sent to the Prison direct will have to be referred to the Censor in the first place.
Parcels should be addressed direct to the Prison: they must be carefully examined, and any written or printed matter contained in them must not be given to the prisoner until passed by the Censor.

In order that the internees may let their friends know where they are as soon as possible, they should be advised to limit their first communication to a postcard or telegram, stating where they are held, and explaining how letters, parcels &c should be addressed.

For the present, no visits can be allowed.

Signed A H Wall
Sec:

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