Not sleeping well

William Thomas Cosgrave was an internee who had been elected as a Sinn Fein MP at a by-election in 1917 while still in prison – and who later became first prime minister of the Free State.

HM Place of Internment
Reading

June 21 1918

From the MO
To the Governor
Concerning W. Cosgrave MP.

He suffers to some extent from nervous fatigue and states that he is not sleeping well.

I am allowing him a special diet, and he is having at present a Bromide Mixture at night.

There is no real [illegible] now, but he has a stump that requires extraction and I am arranging with the dentist to see to this. I do not think it would be wise for Mr Keogh to prescribe for him.

I see no necessity for getting the opinion of Capt. McWalters. Should I think at any time that another opinion is necessary for W. Cosgrave I will at once inform you for communication to the Commissioners.

W T Freeman, MD, FRIS

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

Advertisements

“The Irish internees will attempt to communicate with their friends by secreting letters in returned egg-cases”

The government was paranoid that interned Irish nationalists might communicate secretly with others.

17 June 1918

[to] The Gov
Reading P. of I.

As there is reason to suspect that the Irish internees will attempt to communicate with their friends by secreting letters in returned egg-cases or other empties & that their friends will make a similar effort by means of parcels sent in, particularly in paper wrapping round such an article as butter, you are requested to spare no pains in closely examining all packages and and from these prisoners. All articles of clothing coming in or going out should be minutely searched.

A J Wall
Secy

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

Military Guard withdrawn

Reading Prison no longer had soldiers present.

Place of Internment, Reading
6 June 1918

I have to report that the Military Guard was withdrawn yesterday by the War Office.

There is no guard now.

C M Morgan
Gov

[to] The Commissioners

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

The apparent quiet and satisfied demeanour of the Irish prisoners in Reading

The Governor of Reading Prison wanted to keep a military guard to deter the Irish internees from escape.

1.6.18
Prison Commission HO
[to] The Gov, P of I, Reading

Please report what numbers of men the Mil: Guard appointed to your prison consists & what duties they perform.

Having regard to the apparent quiet and satisfied demeanour of the Irish prisoners now in your prison, be good enough to furnish the Commissioners with your observations as to whether such a Guard is any longer required. Should you consider the presence of such a guard absolutely indispensable, in the interests of safety and security, what in your opinion is the minimum number required.

A J Wall
Sec:

Taking into consideration the past histories of the men here – and that on week days for a considerable portion of the day only one officer can be present – and on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday only one officer, a guard is desirable. I made my own arrangements regarding the guard with the officer commanding troops – and asked for & received the Min. Guard that mounts 1 NCO & 3 men – i.e. one sentry post. Sentry patrols from Female Prison entrance – round part exercise ground (Female) to Boundary Wall. NCO & relief are stationed in temporary guard-room on top of main Prison entrance.

C M Morgan
3.6.18
Gov.

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)

Not much to grumble at

The Governor of Reading Prison was defensive about complaints about the food put forward by one of the Irish internees.

Place of Internment
Reading
29 May 1918

W L Cole

1. The Commissioners’ instructions are – no letters in or out – no visits.

2. When formerly here, the Home Office allowed parcels of food &c. Now food is controlled & parcels mean letters to acknowledge.

3. By Commissioners’ orders these men were on Local Prison diet. This does not carry tea or coffee. Further as tea is rationed in Reading, 1 ½ oz per head per week, they could not buy it without coupons, and they cannot write [for it]. Now the diet has been altered – as for the remainder of the interned aliens – they can have tea for breakfast or coffee.

4. They receive 3 ½ oz a head a week, the same as other interned men – Reading maximum ration is 4 oz per week. They receive 14 oz of bread daily, the same as other men. Cereals are limited to 117 oz a head a week.

5. They receive potatoes daily and on most days of the week a second vegetable – leeks – or something else as well – where procurable.

I will give their food today – not much to grumble at. They can supplement that by purchasing non controlled articles.

Breakfast – 6 oz bread, 1 pint porridge, ¼ oz margarine, 1 pint coffee.

Dinner – 2 oz bread, 1 ½ oz salt pork, 4 oz haricot beans, 16 oz potatoes, 4 oz stewed rhubarb (fresh), 4 oz leeks (from garden).

Supper – 5 oz bread, 1 pint cocoa, ¼ oz margarine, 6 oz potatoes, 1 ½ oz salt pork (alternatively with cheese).

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

The men have little beyond what they stand in

The Governor of Reading was anxious about how to deal with gifts sent to the Irish internees from home, when they were banned from receiving letters.

Place of Internment
Reading
28 May 1918

1. Will the Commissioners please inform me what I should do with letters that arrive for the Irish interned prisoners – several have come today. I should prefer not to open them, as they many contain money – which would have to be acknowledged, and also as the men would not have the letters, it might lead to questions as to the amount received. I cannot well put them with property as any money orders would lapse. Should they be marked not delivered and returned to Post Office?

2. Parcels – should they be opened & delivered or returned or what is being done?

3. All of the men have requested to write for money and clothing. My instructions at present are no letters or visits. 1 and 3 depend on each other as regards letters. So far I have issued any clothing that has come, as the men have little beyond what they stand in.

Since writing the above, parcels of Jam – sugar – cakes have arrived from Ireland. All are rationed articles, what is to be done with them please.

At present they can be locked up.
CMM

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

“Irish National Poems were not allowed when they were here before, but I suppose they know them all by heart”

The new Irish internees arrived at Reading – and their books were immediately (and unlawfully) confiscated.

Place of Internment
Reading
27th May 1918

Walter L Cole
William T Cosgrove
Richard Davys
Frank Fahy
Richard Hayes
John Hurley

17.5.18 Chief Secretary for Ireland’s Order, Defence of the Realm Regn (14B) Internment.

Sir.

I have the honour to report that the above named Irish prisoners were received into my custody on Saturday the 25th inst: from HM Prison, Gloucester.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall
SW

27.5.1918
Place of Internment
Reading

The attached papers & book entitled “Irish National Poems” were taken from the Irish prisoners when they arrived here. They have had them in their possession up to the date of arrival here on Saturday evening. Irish National Poems were not allowed when they were here before, but I suppose they know them all by heart.

[reply]

Please say why these are submittted to the Commissioners. There does not appear to be anything to object to in them.

A J Wall
Sec.
28/5/18

Noted. These were submitted because I cannot read Gaelic. As regards the book of poems, its approval is noted. It was submitted because it was disallowed when the Sinn Feiners were here before – to the best of my belief.

C M Morgan
Gov
30/5/18

The instructions as to their treatment and that they may retain papers &c in their possession was only received today.

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

Would it lead to trouble with other internees if this were allowed?

Jose Patrocinis, from Rio de Janeiro, was actually an assistant consul for his country, Brazil – originally neutral but by 1918 part of the Allied side. It did not prevent him from being interned. He was one of many internees wanting to occupy themselves by studying art.

22.5.18
J Patrocinis

Re letter received from Pelman’s

Any objection to the letter from the School of Drawing.

[to the] Governor.
Observations please on this proposal to undertake this Drawing course.

Would it lead to trouble with other internees if this were allowed, and would they all want to start something of the sort with which you could not well compete.

JW
24.5.18

I have no objection. Prisoners have been allowed by the Commissioners to take up the Pelman course and it gave no trouble – these things rather tend to keep men satisfied.

C M Morgan
Gov
25.5.18

Reading Place of Internment letter book

“It will mean cooking separate dinners over the gas stove for these six men”

Following this exchange, the Prison Commissioners agreed the Irish could have the same food as the other internees, as it would be too inconvenient to treat them like prisoners as had been requested by the Government.

Noted.
Hitherto the only instructions I have received are that these men are to be treated as the other interned Aliens with the exception that they are to have no visits or letters.

They will therefore be in association daily from 7 am to 8 pm continuously.

C M Morgan
Gov
25.5.15

Place of Internment
Reading
25 May 1918

With reference to the telegrams from the Commissioners yesterday stating that the Irish prisoners will be on Local Prison diet, not interned diet, it will mean cooking separate dinners over the gas stove for these six men. Also as the items for various days are different to those on the approved list for the Aliens at present interned, it will necessitate buying fish locally instead of from Grimsby for these men.

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

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

The Irish prisoners are to be treated exactly the same as the men already interned

There were instructions for the restrictions to be imposed on the new influx of Irish internees.

24 May 1918

A copy of telegrams received this afternoon from the Commissioners is attached.

My instructions from the Commissioners are that the Irish prisoners when they arrive are to be treated exactly the same as the men already interned here, with the exception that they are not allowed letters or visits.

Consequently they will – unless I receive further instructions – have following treatment:

Cells open 7.10 am to 7.45 pm – unlimited exercise between those hours except at meal times. Smoking – English newspapers (I propose to restrict all Irish ones as I did before – though I still have the list of those formerly approved) – Canteen – purchases from other shops of articles not prohibited by Food Controller – Furnish their cells with comforts &c – Cards – games.

C M Morgan
Gov

Transcription of telegrams received from the Commissioners 24.5.18

No. 1
Handed in at Parliament St
Allow Irish prisoners to smoke.
Commissioners

No. 2
Allow Irish prisoners to purchase unrationed articles of food.
Commissioners

24.5.18
[to] The Governor
Reading P of I

With reference to the recent instructions sent to you to receive certain “Irish” prisoners into your custody, please note that the dietary to be used for such persons will be the Local Prison one, but the prisoners may be permitted to purchase for their use unrationed articles.

A J Ward
Sec:

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

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)

“At least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew”

David Stad was a Dutch Jew aged 27 when he arrived at Reading Place of Internment in January 1916. He did not enjoy his internment, feeling isolated and discriminated against. In June 1918 he was transferred to Islington.

22.5.18
The Governor
P of I Reading

With ref: to the petition of D Stad dated the 13th inst of which the following is a precise translation:

He says that on the 23rd June he will have been interned 3 yrs, and that he has never been told the reason for his internment.

He has never received any order, as many other interned [prisoners deleted] persons have. He asks to have one.

He asks if, after 3 yrs, he may be allowed to go to Holland, and is prepared to give an undertaking not to leave that country again, at any rate in war-time.

He says that out of a total period of nearly 3 yrs internment he has been 2 yrs & 3 months at Reading Gaol, and feels his vitality diminishing: his appetite is bad, and he suffers from sleeplessness.
This, he says, is due to the unpleasant life he leads at Reading, where at least half of the interned prisoners refuse to associate with him, because he is a Jew.

He accordingly begs to be sent to Holland, or failing that to another camp, saying he even prefers Brixton so as no longer to meet the men who dislike him.

Unless this is done, he cannot hold himself responsible for himself.
He asks that all attention may be given to the question of his correspondence with Holland; he feels sure that his wife and relations write to him at least 3 times a month, but he has had no letters for 6 months.

Please furnish your observations on the statement as to his life at Reading, and the need, if any, for his removal, and also as to the facts respecting the letters he receives and sends.

W J Pond for Sec:

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

“His cell being fungus covered and full of dry rot”

Internee Bernard Rohls was causing more trouble for prison staff. Were his complaints justified? But this was nothing to the fears that a new imflux of dangerous Irish veterans of the Easter Rising two years earlier might pose.

Place of Internment
Reading
20 May 1918

B H Rohls
23.3.16 S of S Order
Defence of the Realm Regn: Internment

The above interned Prisoner who is undergoing 21 days forfeiture of privileges asks that he may be visited by his own medical man from London, his reasons being:

Health.

His cell being fungus covered and full of dry rot – wet and many other things.

He is in an ordinary reception cell – which is clean and dry.

He has been seen by the Medical Officer, Dr Freeman, who is away on 10 days leave, and also by Dr Lambert who has acted as Medical Officer here for many years in the absence of Dr Freeman.

Report from Dr Lambert attached.

He was awarded 21 days by order of the Secretary of State.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

20th May 1918
B R Rohls

The above named interned prisoner has been under my observation since 14th May.

The state of his health is in my opinion as follows:

I. He is a distinctly neurotic & emotional man.

II. He shows physical signs of rheumatism of joints in the past. Has astories [sic] also, show signs of degeneration.

As regards his statements as to the condition of his cell – I have examined it, and I do not find any evidence of the presence of fungus or dampness in it. The cell is well ventilated and well lighted.

I have no grounds whatever for objecting to B R Rohls being visited by his own doctor. In my opinion, however, the case is not one for which a consultation is needed.

G O Lambert, MD, pro W T Freeman, MD (MO, H M Prison, Reading).

20 May 1918
Reading PI

Among the Irish prisoners who are being removed to England for internment, are several who were in custody under PS in Lewes Prison and took part in the mutiny there. It is to be expected therefore that the prisoners coming to your prison will combine together to resist orders, and steps should be taken by you to have an adequate staff present whenever they are out of their cells. To assist you in this matter the Secretary of State is asking the War Office Authorities to grant you a Military Guard and you should approach the local Commanding Officer to supply you with such a Guard as you may think necessary in anticipation of orders which he will receive from the War Office. You can arrange with him as to the number etc.
Please report the result.

[signature]
Secretary

[Added in Governor C M Morgan’s hand:]

The men will come out of their cells from 7 am to 7.45 pm continuously. No information as to arrival has been received.

My staff will allow of one officer being there on week days – none on Saturday afternoons or Sunday. I shall have to call in officers who will be repaid time I cannot say I have.

My present staff is today 7 short of what would be used for ordinary prisoners in normal times, who are locked up in most cases 22 out of 24 hours. I have arranged for a guard and request instructions as to the extent they may be used in case of the trouble the Commissioners anticipate occurring.

CM Morgan

[reply:]
The Military Guard should be used for sentry purposes & for exercising force in the event of an outbreak.

A J Wall
Sec:
24-5-18

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

“Disappointed and discontented at being sent here”

Irish internee Hugh O’Rourke was upset by his confinement.

H M Prison
Reading
May 11 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of Hugh O’Rourke.

He appeared to me to be in sound bodily health when I saw him yesterday.

Evidently disappointed and discontented at being sent here.

W S Freeman

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