Able to give information to the police

An internees was ready to help police with their enquiries. The interview in question took place on 20 July.

Met: Police Office
N. Scot: Yd
SW1
The Prison Comm[issio]n

I should be very glad if you would authorise the Governor of Reading Pn to allow a Police Officer of this department to have an interview with M J Stephan, interned under D of R Regn, Stephan having informed the Governor that he is able to give information respecting a man named Louis Brandt.

BT
16-7-18

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

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German PoW on the run “is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding”

Three Germans PoWs on the run were foiled by the brave actions of a Berkshire policeman and three Special Constables.

6 July 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE

Lt-Col Poulton attended the Committee and stated that he had been absent from his Police work for three years, and he thought it was time he returned to such work; that his Army work was now so organized that it could be easily carried on by some other officer; and that he had now reached the age of 60; and suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to apply to the War Office for his relase from Army Service to enable him to resume his duties as Chief Constable of the County, as from 31 August, 1918.

Resolved:
That the Secretary of State be asked to make the application to the war Office as suggested.

Resolved also on the motion of the Chairman [J. Herbert Benyon] and seconded by Sir R. B. D. Acland, knight: That the very best thanks of the Committee be accorded to Col. Ricardo for services rendered as Acting Chief Constable.

Capture of three escaped German prisoners

The Acting Chief Constable has brought to the notice of the Sub-committee the action of PC 105 Reginald Jordan, stationed at Burghfield, and of Special Constables Webb, Holland and Hill, in effecting the capture of three Prisoners of War who had escaped from Bramley Camp on 24 April 1918.

PC Jordan challenged these men whom he met at Burghfield at midnight, and, finding they were foreigners, attempted to arrest them. After a struggle in which one of them is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding), the Germans succeeded in escaping, but were discovered and recaptured the following evening by PC Jordan – with the assistance of the Special Constables above-named, who had been working indefatigably all day in search of them.

The Military authorities sent £4.10s.0d as a reward, which was apportioned as follows: PC 105 Jordan, £2; Sergeant Taylor (who had also assisted) and the three Special Constables, 12s.6d each.

MOTOR CARS

The two motor cars which were so kindly placed at the disposal of the Superintendent at Maidenhead and Wokingham at the commencement of the war by the late Mr Erskine have now been returned to the present owner, Mrs Luard of Binfield Grove, and I beg to recommend that a letter expressing the gratitude of this Committee for the use of the cars, which have been of very great value to the Police, be sent to that lady.

I should also like to take this opportunity of referring to the loss sustained to the Force by the death of the late Marquis of Downshire, who, as a Special Constable from the commencement of the war, had kindly placed his valuable time and the use of his two cars (free of any charge) at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Wokingham Division, and by this means saved the County a great deal of expense.

I recommend that a letter be written to the present Marquis from this Committee, expressing regret at the death of his father, and its appreciation of his generous services.

The present Marquis of Downshire has very kindly placed his car at the disposal of the Superintendent at Wokingham on condition that the County keeps the car insured, [and] pays the licence duty and cost of running.

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

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)

“Was it a bomb?” “No, a mouse got in”

Joan Daniels’ father inspected the damage from the air raid on his factory.

May 23rd Thursday

Daddie did not come home to lunch as he had to settle up some things about the bomb. They now find that there were two dropped a few yards apart. Daddie told us rather an amazing thing. An old lady was peering in between two sheets that have been fixed across one of the windows now that the glass is gone. The fat old policeman who was on guard came up & said “Ere mother, you clear off”. She turned to him & said “Was it a bomb?” “No” he whispered, “a mouse got in”.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

“No one was killed & no one was hurt”

Joan Daniels’ father’s clothing factory in Kentish Town was hit by a bomb.

Joan Daniels
May 20th Monday (Whit Monday)

Wakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by a policeman for Daddie. There was a bad air raid on London last night after eleven o’clock and they dropped a bomb at Daddie’s place. So of course he went off immediately & sent a telephone message through to say that no one was killed & no one was hurt. Which we were more than thankful to receive. The bomb dropped on a wall at the back between Ash’s false teeth factory & Daddie’s, breaking practically every window in the latter & blowing a lot of the false teeth into LDG’s! Daddie came back by the 12.15 & we spent a lovely afternoon on the river. What a difference. Such a peaceful scene & how much we have to be thankful for that no one was hurt. We heard in the evening that four Gothas were brought down, which is splendid.

Percy Spencer
20 May 1918

BF officer for rest at Le Touquet.

Bosch again disappointed us. A glorious day. Boys dug in cable. Follies performed in evening. CO Major P. dined with 17th. Huns really promised for tomorrow. Davis & I had a long talk in the evening.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

The question of the employment of women as Clerks and Chauffeuses is under consideration by the Berkshire Constabulary

More Berkshire policemen were called on to join the army, leading to the county considering the drastic step of recruiting females for support roles.

20 April 1918
Identity books issued to Aliens

In March 1916 Identity Books were sent to the Acting Chief Constable from the Home Office with instructions for same to be issued to Aliens, for which a fee of 1/- each was to be paid, the same to be retained by the Police.

The Acting Chief Constable has recently written to the Under-Secretary of State for directions as to the disposal of the sums so received, and has been informed that it is left to the discretion of the Police Authority, the general practice being to credit such sums to the Police Fund or the Police Pension Fund.
… The sum of £38.16s.0d has been paid to the Pension Fund.

Application for Allowances to Wives

Application has been made by four Constables now serving in the Army for allowances to be made to their wives under the Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Acts, 1914 to 1917.

These and 13 other Constables have (after first obtaining the permission of the Acting Chief Constable in accordance with the Regulations of the Force) married since joining the Army, and as in all (or nearly all) these cases applications to get married was only made after the Constables were selected to join the Military Forces, and no homes have been provided by the Constables for their wives, who are in receipt of the Army separation allowance, the Sub-committee recommend that the application be not acceded to.

Police for Military Service

The Acting Chief Constable has received a letter from the Home Office to the effect that, in view of the new emergency which has arisen, it has become necessary to make a further call on the Police to release at an early date a further contingent to join the Army. The quota … for Berkshire is 13….

As regards filling the vacancies caused by the Constables joining the Army, the question of the employment of women as Clerks and Chauffeuses is under consideration.

Recommended: That the Acting Chief Constable be authorised to make arrangements for such employment at 35s pay per week, and also for the calling up of further Police Reservists for regular police duty if necessary.
Adopted.

Col. Poulton has offered to release PC Wheeler (whose services as a Chauffeur the Committee allowed him to retain) for police duties.
Recommended: That his offer be accepted and that the 1/- per day hitherto paid to the County by Col. Poulton for PC Wheeler’s services be discontinued after 1 May.

I regret to report that PC 219, Alfred F. W. Davis, was killed in action on 20 January last. He joined the Force on 1 November 1913, and the Army on 19 June, 1915. He was 22 years of age at the time of his death…

PC 192, H. Boshier, rejoined the Force on 11 February, 1918, having been discharged from the Army as medically unfit. He has been examined by the Police Surgeon, who has provisionally passed him as ft for Police duty.

PCs 158, Sidney H. Giles, 55, Percy Sellwood, and 71, George H. Wheatcroft, have I understand been wounded, but at present I have no information as to the extent of their injuries – except in the case of PC Giles, who is now convalescent.

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

“He was the leader and chief agitator” of the internees

Ferdinand Louis Kehrhahn arrived at Reading in January 1917, aged 33. He was an art publisher born in the UK (Birkenhead) of German parentage. He had been sent back to Liverpool Police in April 1917, but now (following an unsuccessful escape) wanted to return to Reading. The Governor of Reading Prison objected to this troublemaker returning.

18 April 1918
Reading PI

The internee Ferdinand L. Kehrhahn, now in Brixton Prison, has petitioned the Secretary of State to take into consideration his present position – no companions with whom to mix with. On that account it is suggested that he be moved back to your custody, but before so doing please furnish your observations and views of the questions.
[?] Wall
Secretary

19 April 1918

In reply to letter … dated 18.4.18 on the subject of F. Kehrhahn, I think it very undesirable that he should return here for the following reasons:

When here before he was the leader and chief agitator amongst the men, and almost all of the men (of what was then C. party) are here, including his special friends.

Secondly, after leaving here he brought most untrue and unfounded charges against Warders, accusing them of stealing prisoners’ food – and they deeply resented his accusations.

Thirdly, when Kehrhahn and others escaped from Islington, information was given to me by Escosuras as to their whereabouts. I communicated with Scotland Yard by telephone, an official was sent from Scotland Yard within an hour to see me, and two of the men were arrested the same night, Escosuras being moved from here before Kehrhahn came. Escosuras is now here.

C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners

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

“Camp life makes them familiar”

Thousands of civilians from interned countries were housed at a camp at Holzminden in Germany throughout the war. Ernest Delfosse, a 32 year old motor mechanic from Belgium, 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with brown hair, was among the inmates there, until he escaped to England with the help of his sweetheart. Sadly, this did not mean freedom, as he was arrested on arrival as a suspected spy. He was transferred to Reading from Brixton Prison on 5 February 1917. He was classified as a Friendly Alien but stayed at Reading and was eventually deported in 1919.

HM Place of Internment
Reading

6th March 1918

Sir

With reference to your letter … dated 5th March 18 on the subject of correspondence between the interned alien E. Delfosse and Mrs E Owen, 54 New Compton St, London EC.

The first letter received from Mrs Owen by Delfosse was dated 22.12.17. This was sent to the Commissioners and I drew special attention to it, giving such information as I was able. It was passed.

Prisoner replied on Jany 5th 1918 – submitted & passed. A second letter was received on 12th January 1918 – submitted and passed. Both these letters are attached to this [though not to the letter book copy]. Please send them back as prisoner does not know they have been forwarded to the Home Office.

Prisoner’s reply to the last letter is the subject of the Home Office letter.

The history of the prisoner’s acquaintance with this woman appears to be:

He was interned at Holzminden, a camp of about 24,000. Men and women were allowed to mix for the purpose of visiting restaurants and cinemas in the grounds. He struck up friendship with this woman – also interned – [he] believes for trafficking in letters – but not sure. The majority of the women were interned for that reason. She stated she was a Russian. (I cross-examined Delfosse, who admitted that she might be a German Pole). He cannot (or will not) remember her name – always called her by her Christian name of Emmy. Camp life makes them familiar. She could speak no English and but little French – he could not speak Russian. Conversation carried on in German, in which both were fluent. Does not know if she was then married – thinks not – her maiden name could be obtained from his note book, black, 9” x 4” (about), taken from him by police at Gravesend 20th Oct 1916 (plain clothes man).

On 7th Oct: 1916 Delfosse escaped from Holzminden, “Emmy” keeping the sentry in conversation while Delfosse got away.

Heard nothing more of her until the letter dated 22.12.17. Does not know how she escaped.

Learns she is married to a Canadian officer. Does not know him. She wants to come & see him. Would like to see her.

I think that is all the information I have obtained.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant

C M Morgan
Governor

[To]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall


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

“He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well”

Several Bracknell men had been killed or very badly injured.

We have to record the death of three Bracknell men who were on active service.

Sapper Alfred Brant, R.E., was killed on 1st December, 1917. His officer wrote that he was killed instantanously, and said that he had rendered very valuable service and had just been nominated as an N.C.O.

Private Henry Fletcher was in the Royal Berks; he died of fever at Salonika on January 1st.

Corporal A.F. Davis, 2/4 Royal Berks, was killed on January 20th. His mother has received a letter from the Chaplain who buried him, in which he says that he was a very fine soldier and very popular with all. Before the war he was a policeman in the Berks Constabulary.

Trooper Richard Legge, Berks Yeomanry is reported missing since 27th November. He was serving in Palestine.

Sergt. F. Mutlow, R. Scots Fusiliers, was seriously wounded on December 14th. He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well, and is in hospital at Liverpool.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

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.

[Illegible]
Secretary

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

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)

Punch and Judy and wartime fare

Controversial today, the Punch and Judy puppet show was very popular in the early 20th century, and its broad comedy entertained soldiers on leave.

St. Luke’s and North Town Sunday School Treats

St. Luke’s Sunday School Treat was held on Thursday, February 7th, in the Town Hall…

One of the best “Punch and Judy” shows that I, personally, have ever seen, kept us amused for quite an hour. One could only wonder at the impunity with which “Punch” threw the baby repeatedly out of the window, while one constable, at least, not to count returned soldiers from the Front, were to be seen in the hall…

Miss Chambers and the North Town Mothers again produced, as if by magic, a sufficient, if war-time fare…

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Policeman “seriously wounded when fighting in France”

A Berkshire policeman was badly hurt in the fighting.

5 January 1918
Constable wounded

I regret to report that PC 61, Percy Sellwood, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was seriously wounded when fighting in France on the 9th October last.

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

“Exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties”

Burghfield’s postmaster was commended for his work as a Special Constable.

Special Constable George Cooper

It will be learnt with pleasure that attention having been called to the good services of our old friend Mr G Cooper, Postmaster of Burghfield, who was one of the first to be sworn in, Colonel F C Ricardo, the Acting Chief Constable of the County Police, issued on 13th December a memo expressing his great gratification, and stating

“It is evident that Special Constable Cooper has displayed exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties; and taking into consideration his age and his business requirements, I can only record my high appreciation and commendation.”

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

A policeman’s widow

The widow of a policeman who had been recalled to the army was allowed to keep her special allowance from the police force for a period after her husband’s death.

1 December 1917

The following report by the Acting Chief Constable as to proposed allowance to the widow of the late PC 58 Frank Brown was read:
I beg to report the death of PC 58 Frank Brown, who was killed when in action with the British Expeditionary Force on 9 October last.

The widow, Mrs Daisy Brown, was, at the time of his death, in receipt of an allowance of 9d per day under the Police Reservists Allowances Act, 1914, and I recommend that such allowance may be continued for a period of six months from the date of his death….

Adopted.

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

Almost ludicrous if not so horrible

Opposition to the war had led to revolution in Russia, and the fear of getting drawn in caused riots in neutral Switzerland.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 November 1917

Russia almost ludicrous if not so horrible. A subaltern made Commander in Chief.

Will Spencer
19 November 1917

News that a policeman & two other men had been killed in “anti-military” riots in Zurich on Saturday night…. After dinner I read the account of the Zurich riots on Friday & Saturday. (They began on Thursday.)

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)