Escaped internee “did not make friends with the dog”

Carlos Kuhn Escosura y Diaz was a Spanish electrical engineer from Vigo, aged 28 when he first arrived at Reading Prison as an internee in May 1916. He escaped custody in 1917, and shocking claims were made in the papers about the way he had allegedly suborned a guard dog.

16 January 1918
Reading PI [Place of Internment]

Please note that arrangements are being made to bring back Carlos Kuhn de la Escosuras to your custody from the Spanish Embassy, whither he fled on escaping from your custody some time since. He will not be punished for his offence, and precautions will be taken to prevent his making any fresh attempt to escape.


Noted. Prisoner was received on the 15th inst.
C M Morgan

The attached cutting from last night’s “Evening News” [not attached] may interest the Commissioners. It is the average veracity of the Northcliffe Press.

C K de la Escosuras

1. He did not make friends with the dog.
2. The dog did not come into the Prison.
3. The dog does not exist – the only officer who has a dog is the Chief Warder and far from being friendly to strangers, it bit a policeman in the “tail” when he was searching the Forbury Gardens on the night of the escape – it is a bull dog.

He did not pick his cell lock with a wire. He was not in a cell – but free to walk about the prison till 8 pm – and this escape took place about 7.30 pm.

He does not collect Prison Keys – neither are they left for him to collect.

The key was made by another man out of tinfoil and the garden door unlocked as previously reported.

As regards his prolonged conversation with Police and other officials – he is the only man of the four who cannot talk English.

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


Escape in a barrel

Florence Vansittart Neale’s nephew Lieutenant Paul Eddis was a submarine officer who had been interned in neutral Denmark for some time. He made a daring escape hidden in a barrel.

Florence Vansittart Neale
30 September 1917

Exciting letter of Paul’s escape. He home Friday. Got in barrel….

Too full moon! Fear raids. General Maude’s victory in Mesopotamia very good.

30th week of air raids. Met by barrage of fire. 3 balloons brought down.

Heard of Paul’s arrival & escape in barrel to waiting yacht 15 hours! Evading destroyers [illegible] to Helsingborn.

William Hallam
30th September 1917

Up at 10 past 5 and working from 6 till 1. Beautiful weather still and the nights as light as can be with a full harvest moon – just right for those air raiders. After dinner – roast lamb fowl too dear; 1/9 a lb, I went to bed … A gloriously bright moonlight night.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

“We are enemy aliens”

Cookham-born expat Will Spencer’s German wife Johanna, living with him in Switzerland, missed her family very much. In the autumn of 1917, she hoped it might be possible to meet up with her sister Agnes.

29 September 1917

Johanna having received a letter from [her sister Agnes] yesterday, in which she said that she had heard from the Ohlers, who had heard it from Herrn Rob. Loeliger, in Frankfurt, that persons were allowed to cross from Rheinfelden to Badisch Rheinfelden on showing an Ausweis, asked whether Johanna could not meet her at the other side of the bridge. I despatched a telegram to Agnes for Johanna after breakfast – “Es is nur unmoglich Inez (i.e. Agnes) aufzusuchen”. (We are not Swiss that have business that calls them to the German side of the river, but “enemy aliens”.).

At 4 we had tea … [with friends] to meet Frau de S., a Polish lady, a daughter of a Prince L., who has visited Rheinfelden regularly for 18 years. She lost her only daughter in 1911, her only son in the war.

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

Safe in Sweden after escaping

Florence Vansittart Neale was thrilled to hear that her nephew Paul Eddis, who had been interned in Denmark with his submarine crew, had managed to escape!

22 September 1917

Exciting news about Paul’s escape. Safe at Gothenberg!!

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

A continuous bombardment

The war was getting closer for British expat Will Spencer. On holiday in the town of Rheinfelden, on the River Rhine near Basel, close to the German border, he and wife Johanna could hear the guns at the Western Front. Alsace was contested territory between France and Germany.

Will Spencer
4 September 1917

Saw a soldier on the tower of the Town Hall looking westward through a binocular. (Watching for aeroplanes?) Afterwards I went for a wander in the woods. Again heard the sound of a continuous bombardment in Alsace, as we did on Sunday [2 September].

Florence Vansittart Neale
4 September 1917

Lt Kelly returned after smash from aeroplane….

Air raid in London – Chapel St, Edgware Rd. Mr A[ustman] slept under tree at night!!

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/27)

A Swiss doctor checks up on Broadmoor

A Swiss diplomat planned to inspect the treatment of mentally ill German PoWs.

Swiss Legation
German Division
9, Carlton House Terrace
London, SW1

August, 1st, 1917


As representative of the Swiss Legation, which has charge of the German interests in this country, I have been visiting prisoners of war camps and hospitals in the United Kingdom, and should very much like to visit your hospital within the next fortnight.

I should be very glad if you will let me know whether you have any objection to my visit.

I would add for your information that I am a Medical man.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant

F. Schwyzer
Special Attache
[to] The Medical Officer-in-Charge
Military Hospital

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

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)

This is a War the determination of which lies quite as much with the non-combatants as with the combatants

Civilians were urged to make sacrifices at home.

The National War Savings Committee

Dear Sir,-

The splendid work which is being done by the Members of our Committees and Associations all over the Country encourages me to send you this appeal.

There are still many people at home who do not appear to realise that having decreed that others shall fight for us, it has become our most sacred obligation to see that no single life of our fighting men shall be sacrificed by reason of failure on our part to do everything we can to shorten the conflict and make victory certain and complete.

We all know that three of the most pressing questions of the moment are supply of man power, the maintenance of our payments to Neutrals for War supplies and the checking of the continuous rise in prices of food stuffs and other commodities. Personal expenditure has an immediate influence on these problems. If we keep our private purchases within the narrowest limits compatible with health and efficiency, we release the labour of men and women which we should otherwise be using for our personal satisfaction and set it free for more urgent National work. We increase our available man power, we enable more of the necessities of life to be produced, and we can make more Munitions of War and more goods to be exported in exchange for War supplies or food stuffs from abroad. By reducing our expenditure we tend to reduce our imports and we lessen the competition for food stuffs and commodities of all kinds, and thus help to keep prices within reasonable bounds.

In the final stages of the War, Man Power, financial stability and the cost of living will be the governing factors. Every shilling we now spend unnecessarily weakens the staying power of the Allies, and will make it more difficult to bring about a satisfactory and lasting peace.

It is doubtless very difficult for many people to appreciate the extraordinary problems which this World War has provided, and to see clearly the close relationship of cause and effect that there is to-day between personal expenditure and the expenditure of life at the front. But the truth of the matter is, that this is a War the determination of which lies quite as much with the non-combatants as with the combatants.

Great efforts are being made by the National Committee and the War Savings Committees throughout the Country to bring home this truth to the whole of our people. The response in many quarters has been remarkable, but it is common knowledge that there is still a great deal of extravagance and unnecessary expenditure. It is essential that those whose position is such that this example carries great weight among their neighbours, should adopt the utmost simplicity in their mode of living, and in every way possible give an outward and visible sign of their determination to help their Country in its time of need by abstaining from every kind of indulgence.

It is not necessary to go through all the different items upon which we are accustomed in peace time to spend our money. The principle, once understood, can be applied to the whole of our personal expenditure, which can be brought into review and considered in the light of the fundamental necessity for releasing labour for National Service.

The Members of the many hundreds of War Savings Committees, and the many thousands of War Savings Associations now affiliated to the National Committee, are in a position to make known the essential facts to the people of this Country, and I make this personal appeal, trusting that you will not spare yourselves in the effort to convince all those with whom you may come into contact, of the grave responsibility which rests upon the Civilian population to-day to support with all their means those who, with supreme self-sacrifice, are risking everything in dangerous Service for their Country in every part of the world. –

Yours Faithfully,
Salisbury Square, Fleet St., E.C., 14th Dec., 1916

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Germans will blow up neutral ships

Florence Vansittart Neale noted the German decision to attack neutral shipping:

5 February 1915

Germany declare blockade of England & if they come across neutral vessels will blow them up. To begin Feb. 17th.

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