Members of Parliament stripped naked?

Even the Irish internees were being allowed short periods out on parole. The Governor of Reading Prison, not exactly a sympathiser, still refised to have them strip-searched on their return.

29 Nov 1918

F M Reynolds, Irish interned prisoner, was released on parole on 17 Nov 1918 and returned today.

No – these men on parole are not searched and the same procedure was [observed?] in [illegible] except a “special search” was made [illegible] was stripped. It would be of no use, and if this course was adopted there would be [illegible] of Members of Parliament stripped naked & c &c. Besides, these men can carry any mental messages they wish.

If the Commissioners wish it, of course I will specially search the men, but as they are on parole, I do not recommend it. At the same time, I have no doubt that many [do pass] messages & apparently written ones go [illegible].

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

29th Nov 1918
Frank Reynolds

This Irish prisoner, who was released on parole on the 17th instant, returned to my custody today.

[C M Morgan]
Governor

[to] The Commissioners

29 Nov 1918
J. MacDonagh

Prisoner applied to me this morning for a petition to be released on parole on account of the illness of his brother.

He was given permission and I told him I would mark it “urgent” if the petition was sent in & he wished it.

He thanked me & left.

About 10 minutes afterwards he sent in a slip of paper requesting me to telephone to the Secretary of State and ask for him to be released on parole. I told the Warder I could not telephone to the Secretary of State, but would mark his petition urgent, and besides I had no knowledge of the case.

As no petition came from him this evening, I sent over to inquire. The reply was that as I had refused to telephone he would do nothing. I told him he could telegraph himself, but he refused.
I attach the telegram he has sent in.

C M Morgan
Gov

[to] The Commissioners

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

Advertisements

On the sick list with influenza

Flu continued to strike down the prison staff.

21 Nov [1918]

Temporary Officer Night Watchman Novell being on the sick list with influenza, I have appointed temporarily Mr D Wilson, a pensioned Metropolitan Police Constable, to perform the duties. Mr Wilson was employed here before the war but rejoined the Metropolitan Police about 4 years ago. He has now returned to Reading. His former employment was approved by the Commissioners.

C M Morgan

Gov
[to] The Commissioners

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

“Services no longer required”

The end of the war meant one priosn officer had a very short time in the army.

14th Novr 1918

Warder Northam

This officer who was mobilized on the 5th instant was yesterday discharged from the Army, “services no longer required”, and he returned to Prison duties today. His Record of Service and Medical History were returned to the Head Office on the 6th instant – also the Exemption Card.

C M Morgan
Governor

[to] The Commissioners

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

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)

There will be no volunteers during winter & spring

The authorities agreed that internees should continue to work in the prison garden – but would not let the Irish bypass the prison doctor, who they did not care for.

Commissioners’ Minute

Work in the Garden cannot be considered as the “Service of the Prison” and interned Civilians cannot be forced to work at it.

The punishment must therefore be cancelled.

JW
24.X.18

Noted.

Hitherto the service of the Place of Internment has been considered to be such things as are necessary for its ordinary upkeep, and consisted of – cooks, bakers, laundry, engineers’ party, garden party (the vegetables are grown for the Place of Internment only), cleaner, whitewashers, and this has been the practice throughout, men being paid according to the scale for each class of service approved by the Commissioners. Will the Commissioners please instruct me as to what is to be done about the garden? It grows a considerable amount of vegetables, but there will be no volunteers during winter & spring when all the digging & planting has to be carried out, and unless kept up, both it and the paths will be soon overgrown with weeds.

The garden party in the past also assisted the stoker with ashes, & in wet weather cleared out the basement.

My practice throughout has been for men to arrange for all the duties amongst themselves and no man to leave such employment until his successor is appointed.

I hope the Commissioners will not think I am saying more than I should if I say that I regret their present decision and inability to support me.

C M Morgan
Governor

25.10.18

The commissioners do not wish to alter the practice which has hitherto been in vogue at Reading, but digging etc in the garden was not included when Reg 9 was approved. As it appears to be understood that gardening is part of the upkeep of the P of I, the practice will be continued.
JW 30/10/16

25th Oct 1918

F. Thornton, Irish prisoner, applied today. He states on behalf of the Irish prisoners that Dr R. Hayes, who is an Irish internee, act as Medical Officer for them in place of the Medical Officer appointed for duty here, and that Dr Hayes be allowed to write to Ireland for his medical appliances. Drugs to be obtained from here.

Report from Medical Officer attached.

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

The Commissioners are unable to sanction the proposal.
A J Wall
Sec: 30/10/18

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

Irish refuse to pay for postage

Irish internees protested against the censorship of their correspondence.

14 Oct 1918

The Irish prisoners stated today that after Monday the 21st they refused to pay for my postage of letters or parcels, as letters are not read here but sent in a covering letter to the Postal censor.

Instructions are requested.

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

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

“They do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!!”

The Governor of Reading Prison was finding the Irish internees difficult to deal with.

13 October 1918

I shall be glad of the advice of the Commissioners regarding the Sinn Fein prisoners.

These now number 17, and are a pretty objectionable set, different in many ways from those I had in 1916, and comprise the leaders of hunger strikes and smashers up in other prisons.

Their conduct is most offensive, in some cases, and the leaders are Ginnell, MP, McDonagh, Cahill, Thornton – though some of the others are nearly as bad.

When visited by the Visiting Committee member, Ginnell called him a “blasted Hun”, and fortunately the Member took it as the raving of an illmannered man & simply told him that he was not now in the House of Commons. At the same time this sort of thing cannot go on and their behaviour is abusive and contemptuous [sic]. I am quite prepared to enforce discipline and to separate & punish a man who behaves in such a manner, but as they have openly said that 17 men will raise all the trouble they can, & will probably go on hunger strike or smash up, I think it well to refer the matter to the Commissioners before taking action, and to know if I have their support.

My Warders complain of them, and I wish to stop it at once. They refuse to petition for things they want and say they do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!! This sort of thing cannot go on. It’s just beginning now but the first man punished will begin the [illegible].

The man who is most offensive is L. Ginnell, but his reputation is doubtlessly known to the Commissioners without any comment of mine.

He must either be taken seriously or ignored – I prefer the latter and act on it, but am not at all sure that the Visiting Committee will stand his remarks when they visit him. He has collected a few men round him – Cahill, Thornton – much like himself.

I will see how things go on.

With reference to prisoners interned elsewhere I would refer the Commissioners to their instructions to me when the Irish came – that the men sent to Reading were largely composed of men who had mutinied elsewhere and that they anticipated trouble from them.

Of men elsewhere interned, some 40 were previously here and with the exception of 4 or 5 gave little trouble, preferring to pose as martyrs.

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

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)

The Aliens, having been interned in some cases for four years, have practically worn out all their original clothing

The provision of clothing for internees was a thorny matter. Jackson’s, the store mentioned, was something of a Reading institution, remining in business until 2013.

16th Sepr: 1918

Re letter 18902/35HF d/d 14.9.18

1. The Interned civilians have not been allowed ordinary liberty clothing. When theirs was worn out they had to wear blue dress by the Commissioners’ orders – but protested strongly against it.
2. Those who have ordinary clothing have purchased it out of their earnings. The Irish refuse to work.
3. It is now noted that they will receive ordinary liberty clothing.
4. How should this clothing be obtained please?
5. There is a local firm Messrs Jackson & Sons who supply ready-made outfits of all kinds, & also make cheap quality clothing &c to order. I am informed that at the present time the cost of clothing would be about £3.10.0 for the cheapest quality, boots about 35/- a pair, under-clothing is of course much above the normal rate.
6. The anticipated cost will be about £6.10.0 per man for the 14 Irish internees, Alien side 38 men at the same rate. It is quite likely that some of the Irish may not require a complete outfit at the present time, as they have only been interned a few months. The Aliens, having been interned in some cases for four years, have practically worn out all their original clothing.
7. As soon as it becomes known that the liberty clothing is allowed free, these men will buy no more.
8. The clothing of some who earn no money, and who refuse to wear the blue dress, is in a bad way.

[C M Morgan]
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

16th Sepr: 1918
H. Schraplowsky
22.6.15 S of S Order, Aliens Act, Deportation

The above named Alien prisoner was visited on Saturday the 14th inst: by his wife and Miss Chronig (friend) of 66 Station Rd, Church End, Finchley, N.

The conversation was on business affairs, chiefly about Mrs Schraplowsky leaving this country, and the disposal of her belongings.

[C M Morgan]
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

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

Liberty clothing for internees

The Irish internees, who were held without trial, were not to be treated as prisoners, and could wear their own clothes.

Prison Commission
Home Office
Whitehall SW1

14th September 1918

[to] The Governor
Reading PI

With reference to paragraph 4 of the Regulations as to the treatment of Irish Internees, please note that if any of them do not obtain supplies of clothing from their friends, or purchase further articles as they become necessary, they will be provided with ordinary clothing when necessary, like other interned civilians, ie liberty clothing instead of that prescribed for prisoners awaiting trial.

Be good enough to amend the copies of the Regulations in your possession accordingly.

W J Pond
For Secy

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

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)

“Avoid anything which would give the Germans ground for retaliating on our people interned in Germany”

Internees, like prisoners, were able to earn small sums of money by working.

[18 Aug 1918, in response to a complaint]

No man is paid more than 14/- a week for any work – upkeep of Prison or Mailbag by Prison. The system approved was that one man could work for another man and be paid by that other man: the actual sum is arranged between them.

As I have never allowed men to retain money in their possession, though there was no rule against it and it is done in every other Camp, the only way men can pay another for doing the work is by transferring the agreed sum of money to him, and consequently it appears in the earnings book.

In a similar way men who were tailors bought cloth and made civilian clothes for other men who were interned, the transfer in these cases sometimes amounting to several pounds. My instructions from the Commissioners were that this place was so far as possible to be run as a Camp and not a Prison – and Prison was to be kept out of it – especially as there were over 40 prisoners of war here.

In all forms, books, writing paper &c, the word “Prison” was to be erased & the name of Trial earnings book is a misleading one. It is really a book shewing a man’s receipt of money from whatever sources, and his expenditure, which may be canteen, clothing, any outside shop, watch repairs, transferring money to another man, &c. In each case the man spending signs for the expenditure, & if it is a transfer the man receiving does the same. I only allow men to transfer or send money once a week – each Tuesday.

As this is the only Place of Internment under the Commissioners, they gave me a free hand to draw up rules as were found to be practicable by actual experience. This I have done from time to time, and had them approved by the Commissioners. A point kept in view by Mr Dryhurst, instructions being to avoid anything which would give the Germans ground for retaliating on our people interned in Germany and which would enable these men after release to say they were interned in a Prison under Prison rules.

C M Morgan
18.8.18

[to] The Gov

Please note the following modifications.

I. The practice of one Alien working for another on Governor work will cease.

II. As from the 21st inst, the maximum amount of weekly earnings may be extended to 21/- in future in individual cases at your discretion.

By order EB 19/10/18

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

“Irish prisoners have been offered the blue dress & prison boots but decline both, and expect to be allowed to have ordinary clothing selected by themselves and paid for by the Commissioners”

Irish internees demanded special treatment – but the prison authorities were scared of setting precedents.

13 Aug 1918
W L Cole

Lights are extinguished at 9 pm.

Instructions have been received that gas consumption is to be reduced by one sixth. If lights are continued beyond 9 pm, which is the same as last year, the gas consumption will be increased as compared to last year and not reduced – and other men will expect the same.

Irish prisoners have been offered the blue dress & prison boots but decline both, and expect to be allowed to have ordinary clothing selected by themselves and paid for by the Commissioners. They have every opportunity of obtaining clothing from their homes, but want to make what they can. Cole is the leader of all this.

I have already reported on the subject of letters and parcels. There is no delay here.

C M Morgan
Gov.

[to] The Commissioners


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

The use of jam, treacle or syrup will be discontinued

Internees were about to be deprived of jam, unless they could pay for it themselves.

Prison Commission
HO
20.7.18

[to] The Gov
Reading P of I

Please note that when your present stock of jam is exhausted, the use of jam, treacle or syrup will be discontinued, but it may of course be purchased in reasonable quantities by interned prisoners.

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)