Sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today!

John Maxwell Image was not optimistic about the future. His wounded brother in law was our friend Percy Spencer.

29 Barton Road
7 May ‘19

My dearest old man

Florence … wants to see her wounded brother who is still at St Thomas’s Hospital, poor fellow.

I feel sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today! Especially at the ingratitude of Belgium, and of Italy – the latter I have heard vigorously defended here. But Belgium!

And the Agitators in Britain!

And Shinn [sic] Fein impudence!

What a future lies before every one in England except the moneygrubber and the Profiteer and their lickspittles.


Tuissimus
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Advertisements

Christmas cards only

Irish internees were allowed to send Christmas cards.

4.11.18
[to] Governor
Reading P of I

The Secretary of State has decided to allow the Interned Irish Prisoners to obtain a supply of Christmas and New Years cards for the purpose of sending them to their friends if they so desire. The cards must be ordered and obtained by correspondence through the censor in the ordinary manner and then the time arrives they may be sent to the friends. These cards will not count among the number of letters allowed the prisoner each week and they must carry no communication beyond the printed greetings and the signature and address of the sender.

The cards permitted should be of a simple kind & printed on glazed paper. When ready for despatch they should be examined first at the prison and then sent in bundles bearing the label “Christmas cards only” to the Chief Postal Censor.

Sd A J Wall
Sec

A copy of this has been placed in the Sinn Fein prison.

C M Morgan
Gov
11/11/18

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)

“He calls himself a Sinn Feiner but is interned under the rules for Aliens”

A foreign (American?) citizen who was interned as an alien but sympathised with the Irish nationalists wanted permission for a friend to visit him. The Commission said they had no objection so the visitors were allowed.

Place of Internment, Reading
6.7.1918

J. J. Macconnastair alias Nestor
24.4.18 C S for Ireland’s Order, Defence of the Realm Regn (1413) Internment

The above prisoner was received from here on 4/7/18 from Brixton.
He calls himself a Sinn Feiner but is interned under the rules for Aliens.

He wishes to send the attached V.O. and states that he has permission from the HO to be visited by these persons, and that he was so visited at Brixton, but I have only his word. As an Alien he would be entitled to a visit, but owing to his connection with the Sinn Feiners movement the question is submitted.

C M Morgan

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

More fool than knave, an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced

One of the Irish internees in Reading had a nasty skin infection.

4 July 1918
Irish Joint Petition

Report from Medical Officer attached.

Davys told me on Sunday that he thought he had a skin disease caught from the soldiers at Holyhead as the beds there were dirty, and that he did not catch it here. He also asked to be allowed to occupy a cell on second floor so as to be isolated. I allowed him to do so, but he plays handball with the others.

Coles and Hayes stated that they petitioned in hopes of getting Davys released; that he was excitable and eccentric, but had conducted himself here much better than they had anticipated, and that whatever offences they had committed, Davys had not done anything and was more fool than knave. My own opinion is that they rather want to get rid of him as he is an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced. The others are more reading men.

The Prison was whitewashed throughout since it was last occupied by the Sinn Feiners.

C M Morgan
Gov.

[to] The Commissioners

They were anxious that he should not know that they had [illegible].

H M Prison
Reading

July 4.18

To the Governor
Concerning R. Davys

He has been suffering from an eczema of the face since the 17th of June. It may be a little troublesome to get well. In the ordinary sense of the words it is neither infectious nor contagious.

In fact, it [sic] technically I am satisfied that it is not a hyphogenic sycrosis and if there be any colligenic element about it, it is secondary.

It is in my opinion ridiculous to make any scare about it.

The mask is an ordinary and useful element in the treatment. I have felt for some days that such a petition might be forthcoming and mentioned my suspicions, you may remember, to you.

W T Freeman, MD, FRIS

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

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)

“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)

“The main thing that prevents men escaping from here is their foreign accent which would lead to their re-arrest”

Hugh O’Rourke was a 23 year old ship’s steward born in Co. Tyrone and now an American citizen. Interned as a Nationalist following the Easter Rising, he would be transferred to Reading on 9 May 1918 from Islington Prison, and stay until he went to Brixton in 1919. It was feared that he would be a troublemaker.

April 23rd 1918
[To] Place of Internment, Reading

Hugh O’Rourke, an American, was of the Sinn Feiners and was at Cornwallis Road, is [recorded?] to be acting rather out of hand, and will probably attempt to break out if he remains here. So will you please say if you see any [illegible] [objection to be removed?].

[Ilegible signature]

I know nothing of this man.

The Commissioners, who have more information, can judge better as to what effect he would have, remembering that the men here are in constant association and out in the exercise grounds up to 7.30 pm with only one officer on duty, after 5.10 pm, in the grounds. The opportunities for causing trouble or escaping are infinitely greater here than in an ordinary prison, and I am unable to barrack [illegible… ] as is done in other Camps – consequently the safe… can be very general.

I am quite ready to do whatever the Commissioners [say].

C M Morgan
Governor

The main thing that prevents men escaping from here is their foreign accent which would lead to their re-arrest, and the poor results that have attended the many escapes from various Camps, and which they read about in the various papers, they freely admit.

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

The war will be followed by a revolution

A soldier home on leave envisaged potential revolution after the war.

THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

No very penetrating observation of the signs of the times is necessary to discover that in all probability the war will be followed in England by disturbances which may amount to a revolution. If many people are unaware of the urgency of this peril it is because the greater part of labour is still inarticulate and because, in response to the demand for an appearance of unity at all costs, labour is at present willing to wait till the war should be ended before it makes its demands known.

Many factors will combine to precipitate the crisis. The days before the war were full of a growing industrial unrest on the one hand, and the example of threatened civil war on the other. The Irish rebellion, the growth of Sinn Fein, and, above all, the Russian Revolution, have had influences greater almost than can be imagined. Sources of irritation and distrust are to be found in the conduct of the war itself. Finally, the end of the war will leave society in a state of flux in which all who were discontented with the old state of things will see a condition propitious for change. And they will have learned the use of bayonets ….

It will always be surprising to some people that any radical change should be thought desirable in “free England”; still more so that a revolution should be deemed necessary to bring it about. But they forget that political freedom, even when it exists, does not imply an economic equivalent. They hardly realise that millions of the men and women of “free England” are condemned by our economic system to spend their lives in joyless drudgery for a wage which hardly permits mere physical efficieny. Such conditions are strangulation to the spiritual in man; and the very danger lies in this. It is not ideals that make revolutions; it is empty stomachs and empty souls, and hunger may desperately clutch the wrong things and content itself with the purely material.

What remedy, then, can we offer? The placid politicians who propose mere goodwill can have no idea of the acuteness of the situation.

Russell Brain

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

From prison to Parliament

Future Irish President Eamon de Valera made his first appearance on a world stage in July 1917 when he won a parliamentary by-election for the constituency of East Clare, aged 35. He was a veteran leader of the Easter Rising the previous year, explaining Florence Vansittart Neale’s disapproval.

11 July 1917

Set back by Ijder. Fear our troops surrounded.

Sinn-Fein man got in for Clare – rebel – released from prison….

Heard Bubs had put in for leave.

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

Sinn Fein in Dublin

Florence Vansittart Neale was glued to news reports of the Easter Rising in Ireland as well as war news. She was actually wrong, as Sinn Fein played no role in the Easter Rising.

25 April 1916

Evening papers full of interest Dublin rising “Sinn Feins”. P.O. seized…

Also bomb of Lowestoft & German ships came out.

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