“Essentially German in feeling and made no secret of it”

Some of the foreign internees in Reading Prison were actually pro-British; others were quite the opposite.

10.8.18
B H Rohls

Naturalized British subject. Essentially German in feeling and made no secret of it. A red hot Socialist and little affection for any country, but has been prominent in showing pleasure when Germany has had any success. Was punished by order of the secretary of state for making wilfully untrue statements, & his statements regarding his cell are in keeping with his usual veracity.

The cell he occupied when he lost privilege of association and other privileges was one of the reception cells. It had not been occupied since it was whitewashed a few months previously and was one of the identical cells occupied by the Irish prisoners when here, and with which they were quite satisfied.

After they left all the cells were whitewashed. He is naturally a dirty, untidy man, and the Warder in charge of his landing has frequently to check him on this account. I may add that he was visited in the cell he complains about daily both by the Medical Officer and myself. The mattress, pillow, towels &c, were his own, taken from his own cell.

C M Morgan
Governor

10.8.1918
R Koch

Prisoner appears to be born of German parents in England – educated in Germany – lived most of his life in England.

From his letters, his parents & a majority of relations live in Germany.

States that he has always considered himself British.

His brother was killed fighting for Germany. Has expressed no opinions here.

C M Morgan
Gov

[to]
The Commissioners

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

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Plodding on

Will Spencer’s quest to change nationality was going well. Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be anxious about the war news.

Florence Vansittart Neale
27 October 1917

No air raids mercifully, tho’ bright moon. Germans pushing Italians back. Germans claim 20,000 prisoners. We plodding on.

Will Spencer
27 October 1917

Called & spoke for the first time with Herrn Fursprech Engeloch, who expressed himself very pleased that the matter of my naturalization would now end satisfactorily. He returned to me my Aufeuthaltsbewilligung, for the event of our going to Goldiwil.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)
and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX810/26)

Russia’s faithlessness leads to terrible news

Our Italian allies were under severe attack at the Slovenian town of Kobarid. Florence Vansittart Neale blamed the Russian Revolution, which had taken a turn for the worse, and allowed the Germans and Austrians to devote their efforts to other fronts. Meanwhile, Will Spencer had decided that after nearly three years in Switzerland he should seek citizenship.

Florence Vansittart Neale
26 Oct 1917

Terrible news about Italy. All owing to Russia’s faithlessness! We started again & made good progress.

Will Spencer
26 October 1917

Letter from Fursprech Engeloch: my application for naturalization will be granted within the next few days. To his buro after coffee, but closed.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX810/26)