Posted 20 October 2009 - 05:28 PM
"Mrs Harris has also allowed us to see some postcards and letters which she received from her son Benjamin, a Sergeant in the Royal Irish regiment, who was taken prisoner by the Germans and is at present in a prison camp in Germany. In a postcard dated 12-10-1914, he wrote; “We are allowed to receive parcels weighing up to 10lbs, and I want you to send me some cigarettes, books, and a pack of cards. They would be a God-send,” This postcard was addressed from “English Camp, Sennelager, via Paderborn, Germany.” In another postcard dated 5th January, 1915, and addresses from “No 5 Kompagnie, Gifangenenlager, Germany,” he states that he got the clothing and other parcels sent on the 28 November. “You will see by my address that I am after shifting from Sennelager. This is a nice place/ I met several chaps who live opposite us, by the name of Sullivan. Don’t be afraid to send me anything, as they generally arrive safe. I met a lot of my platoon here who were supposed to be killed, and I saw my name in a newspaper as unofficially missing.” In another letter he stated that, on the whole, they were being fairly well treated, and in one dated 5th January, he stated;- “I received a parcel which you sent on the 9-12-14. The contents were plum pudding, 2 boxes of cocoa, 1 of coffee and sweets. The parcel was minus cigartettes. Any parcels you sent to the other camp will arrive in due course. This is a nice place; we have very good weather, better I believe, than they have at the front. When did you hear from Jim? Some of his regiment (Irish Guards) are here.”
"Waterford News. 1915.
Letters from Imprisoned Waterfordmen in Germany.
Councillor John Hearne has received the following letter;--
Limburg, Lahn, Germany.
11th February, 1915.
Dear Mr H,---Just as Tom and myself were chatting to-day the subject turned to yourself. So vividly did he bring back old memories that I decided to write at once, enquiring how Mrs Hearne and yourself are doing; also Mary, her husband and family. I suppose Father Time had been very good to each one of you and bountifully given you the sweets of this world—aye, in lavish profusion. In any case, ‘tis my sincere hope that He has, and I assure you that he has not been one bit better than I would wish.
Have you heard how narrowly we escaped destruction in the war?. Perhaps you have not. Well, we were both wounded, and, strangely enough, in the right shoulder. The bullet in Tom’s case went right through, but in my case it remained inside. Tom is now (T.G.) completely recovered, but an operation will be necessary to set me right again. The prayers of those at home, no doubt, are largely responsible for our Provential escape.
Time hangs on us rather heavily here, doing next to nothing from one end of the day to the other. We daily expect a percel or letter from home, but, through no fault of our friends, we seldom get any.
Should we be amongst the fortunate few, our elation you can’t imagine. On the other hand, when no news reaches us we have a tough job to conceal our feelings of disappointment.
When you are again passing P.M. Doyle’s I trust you’ll remember that a “Player” often brings solace in abundance, but only to those who know how to appreciate them, and I assure you the exiles named below can do that to perfection.—With every kind of esteem and regard, I am, yours very sincerely.
Daniel J Croke."
“Kriegsenlangen, Limburg, Lahn, Germany, 18th May, 1915,
Dear Rev Father, Please inform relatives of the death of Private William Keane, of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment, which took place here on yesterday morning;- the 17th of May, after a brief illness. One of his companions gave me your address as I did not know the names of the deceased’s relatives. His death is regretted by our poor countrymen prisoners here whose conduct towards their religious duties are edifying. The poor fellow gave his soul to God. I hope Our Blessed Lord will soon grant us that peace for which we long. The letter was signed by the Very Rev, Father Warren, who is believed is a Chaplain to the Regiment. The late Private Keane, who formerly belonged to the Trade(?), Broadway, volunteered at the beginning of the war, at which time he was working in South Wales.
Both his brother, John Keane, Ladys Island, and his sister Mrs Richard Furlong, Ballysampson, had only a short time since sent him out little supplies of tobacco, cigarettes, etc, and it was only when the letter was received by the Very rev, Canon Doyle, P. P., that they heard of his death. He was an active young man, and very popular in the Broadway District."
No. 9877, Pte Patrick Holohan, C Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment.,
Limburg (Lahan), Germany.
1st July, 1915.
Dear Madam—Just a line to let you know that I am a prisoner over here in Germany, and as I have no one belonging to me, and I believe you to be doing something for the Irish Prisoners, I would be thankful if you would do something for me as I am nine months a prisoner and have got nothing so far. Even to the underclothes that came for the Royal Irish I received but one pair of socks. I would be very thankful to you if you wrote to the “Waterford News” Office and ask them to put my name in the papers as I have got a sister, and I have written to her but got no reply and think she may think I am dead or wounded. I hope you won’t forget me, and I will be very thankful to you, as I have been under your husband as a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Regiment in India.
I have no more to say at present. Hoping if your husband is at the front he may return home with good luck---I remain your respectful servant.
The attempt to form an Irish Brigade.
Among the batch of exchanged prisoners of war who arrived from Germany recently is Private J Casey, Royal Irish Regiment, who resides at 6 Well Lane, this city. He reached home last Wednesday, and one of our representatives had rthe pleasure of listening to his experiences of the fighting prior to his capture and of the treatment he received during his internment. Private Casey is an old soldier, having spent fourteen years in the Army, and can thus speak with some authority.
At the opening of the war he was called up and rejoined his old regiment. After some time he was sent to the front, the particular place apportioned to the force of which his battalion was a part being Northern France, some miles west of Lille. He arrived there at the beginning of October and was immediately in the thick of the fighting. It will be remembered that about this time the Germans, foiled on the Marne, were endeavouring to effect a huge enveloping movement and at the same time to seize the Channel ports. Sir John French foresaw this and by permission of General Joffre relinquished the line he was holding on the Aisne and railed his troops to the Ypres and La Bassee regions. At the same time the force retreating from Antwerp was trying to get in touch with the troops lower down and establish a continuous line to the sea, thus preventing any outflanking. The forces at the disposal of the Allies were very meagre in comparison with the German masses, and the movement was fraught with great danger, it being touch and go all the time. Another force was raised and sent across the Channel to ease the pressure and facilitate the linking up and it was to this Private Casey’s regiment was attached. They were very successful, and by heroic fighting, in which the bayonet played a great part, drove the enemy, who numbered at this point 20,000, back five miles. By this time they were in the neighbourhood of Douai, three miles from Lille…….Private was suffering terrible agony from his wound and from loss of blood was getting fainting fits. He asked for a drink of water, but the reply he got was that his captor put a revolver up to his jaw, accompanying it with an eloquent gesture of what he would do. After some time Private Casey and a few other wounded British soldiers were removed to Lille where they were thrown into a goods store at the railway station. They were given some straw to out under them and also some to cover themselves with. The treatment they received here was characteristically German.
Every time anyone on them moved they got a blow from a rifle in the back. The following day Private Casey was put on board a train and after a four day’s journey in a compartment resembling a horse box he arrived at Friedrichsfeld internment camp. In the foru days the only food he got was a small tin of raw coffee without either sugar or milk and a small slice of their black bread. His condition necessitated his being put into an hospital and the food supplied him there was a basin of flour and water, “Billposter‘s paste” as he aptly termed it himself. As a matter of fact, he said that the prisoners of war were living wholly on the parcels sent out from England, and should these cease, they would be faced with starvation. A redeeming feature mentioned by him is that the parcels are not tampered with by the German authorities. Of course, they are opened and examined, but all this is done in the recipient’s presence. He remained in hospital until the 28th January when he was examined to see if he was fit to work, but it was found that he could not do so. He was then sent to the internment camp. While in hospital he was operated on and the operation was performed without any chloroform.
As showing how fatal was the mistake of the Germans in dubbing the British Army as “the contemptible little army,” Private Casey mentioned one instance. In the fighting around a village the Germans, who were largely superior in numbers, suffered terrible losses in a series of fruitless attacks. Whole lines of their troops were mown down. At length, however, sheer force of numbers told, and they captured the village. They immediately set about searching the houses for machine guns. As a matter of fact, the defenders of the place had not a single machine gun, bu so rapid and accurate was their rifle fire that the Germans believed it impossible except by machine guns. He also mentioned as showing the toll the Germans paid for their paltry success on the 20th of October that the train conveying him to the internment camp carried between 500 and 600 wounded Germans. He gave it as his opinion that there were about 20,000 English prisoners in Germany, the great majority of whom were wounded. Some German people gather round the internment camp and hurl abusive epithets such as “English swine” at the men inside.
Private Casey was loud in his praises of the Dutch people. When passing through on their way to London the party which numbered 300 received a great reception. They were looked on as heroes, and regaled with fruit, cigarettes, tobacco etc.
A Waterford Soldier’s Experience.
Private Daniel Morrissey, of the Royal Irish regiment, a native of Waterford City, arrived home on Tuesday morning last after being at the front since August 4th, 1914. Private Morrissey is an old soldier, having served 27 tears with the colours, and done a good deal of his time with his regiment in India. It is about seven years since his last visit to his native heath and his relatives were rather surprised on Tuesday last when he made his appearance again. Private Morrissey is a first cousin of Mr </I> Cooke, Grace Dieu Road, who has two brothers, Daniel and Thomas, prisoners of war at Limburg, Germany. Morrissey was engaged at the battle of Mons and subsequently at St Quentin, where he witnessed the capture of a company of the Royal Irish under Sergeant-Major Thomas Cooke, and only escaped himself by a narrow shave. Having sheltered himself behind a clump of high grass, he awaited a favourable opportunity when the attention of the Germans (who were busy securing their prisoners) would be disengaged, And, getting their backs turned, so to speak, he made a dash for a neighbouring field which he reached in safety. Being then out of sight of the enemy, he ran like a hare for the British camp. Speaking of providential escapes, Private Morrissey mentioned that on one occasion, when engaged in the firing line, a bullet grazed his neck. It so happened that at that moment he was turning aside for some reason or another; had he been looking straight in front, he would most certainly have been killed. Morrissey spoke enthusiastically of the Allies prospects of winning the war; and stated that the Germans are almost in a cul-de-sac on the wesetern front. He is due back in the trenches on next Monday, when his week’s leave will have expired. It is believed there are very few soldiers in the British Army at te present time with as long a service as Private Morrissey.
Treatment of Irish Waterford Prisoners of War.
A fortnight ago (says the “Exmouth Journal” we mentioned that a lady—who is,`by the way, an occasional contributor to the “Waterford News!—interested in the welfare of British prisoners of war in Germany had received a pathetic letter from an exchanged prisoner of the Dublin Fusiliers, and that the narrative would be published in the “Journal” when the case had been investigated. The man, Private T Donohoe, 11282, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, mentioned, among other things, that when he was in hospital there was only one orderly to a large number of patients in a ward, and that if the men complained he gave them doses of morphia, from which many of them never recovered. Mrs Leonard, of the Bungalow, Naas, who received the letter, asked the Earl of Mayo to visit Private Donohoe. His Lordship consented, and has sent to Mrs Loveband the following statements which he obtained from Donohoe and other exchanged prisoners. The narratives of the men certainly constitute a striking indictment of the methods of the German kultur. Contrast with them the description given by and American journalist this week of a visit to the German prisoners at Holyport, Maidenhead, where an officer of the guard was able to say, with great truth; “The only difference between us and them is that we have the keys.” It is quite evident that the British Government will not accomplish much I the way of assisting British prisoners in Germany by their present policy of allowing German prisoners to live in the lap of luxury. The Huns interpret kindness as weakness, and, in the case of the over-kindly treatment of German prisoners by our Government, perhaps the huns are right.
The Earl of Mayo’s statements are as follows;--I went to see Private Donohoe, 11282, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. I saw him at York Gallery, Brompton Hospital, Fulham Road, on December 14th, 1915. He said; “I was taken prisoner on August 27th, 1914, and was then taken to Sennelager, and there the food was very bad; all latrines were open; a very heavy fatigue duty, building huts, and the men were hammered by the Germans in charge if they shirked work. Some parcels were received in November, 1914, at Sennelager. These were the first that were received there. All Irishmen from Sennelager were transferred to Limburg. When we first went to Limburg conditions were better that at Sennelager, and then got worse. Sir Roger Casement addressed a large number of men in a room; the room was packed; it held about sixty. He then sent three Irishmen, who had joined the brigade, who were dressed in German uniform, only green-coloured, to speak to the rest of the men. As a result of these two meetings 49 joined the German-Irish Brigade…….came back to the hut, and no means of drying their clothes. The atmosphere of the huts under these conditions may be imagined. In the huts the mattress was a bag of carpenters shavings, and old used horse-blankets, stinking and verminous. A gentleman in civilian clothes 9this must have been one of the American Embassy) came to Limburg about May, 1915. Two weeks beforehand—that is to say, before his visit—everything was brightened up. There were 600 men of different regiments at Limburg, and there was one pump for washing purposes and for drinking water for these 600 men. If you wanted to wash, you had to get up about 4 o’clock in the morning, and, even then, there would be a string of men waiting at the pump.
WATERFORD PRISONERS OF WAR IN GERMANY
The committee for the relief of the prisoners of war in Germany wish to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the following :- Mrs. Power, 4s. ; Mrs. Hennessy, 3s. ; Mrs. Hearne, 2s. ; Miss Ardagh, cake ; Mrs. Forde, cake ; Mrs. Power cake; Mrs. Hennessy, cake; Mrs. Murphy, sweets ; Mrs. Hearne, parcel.
The following men have written stating they are prisoners and Waterford citizens,
--Corpl. M. Sullivan,
Pte. J. Mernin,
Pte. P. Moran, 9407;
Pte. F. Kelly, 1086;
Corpl. J. Dwyer, 9362;
Pte. P. Hyland,
Pte. P. Moore,
Pte. T. O'Loughlin,
Lance-Corpl.M. Wall, 5250;
Pte. E. Duggan,
Pte. J. McCarthy,
Pte. J. Whelan, 8702;
Pate J. Murphy, 10503;
Pte. T. Power, 7662;
Lance-Corpl. Leyden, 5054;
Pte. M. Turney, 10741;
Pte. J. Green, 7085,
Pte. J. J. White,
Lance-Corpl. J. Roche, 6974
As these men have given no home address would their relatives or friends kindly communicate with the secretary, Miss G. Stphenson, 14, Gladstone-street
The following men have been sent parcels :-
Corpl. M. J. Pender, 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment;
Pte. J. Harney, 2nd Batt. 20th Hussars;
Pte. P. O'Keefe, 6039, 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment;
Corpl. J. Abbott, 7108, do.;
Pte. P. Goggin, 6268, d o .;
Pte. P. Daniels, do.;
Pte. J . Boyd, do.;
Pte. J. Tubbritt, do.;
Pte. P. Malone, 9195, do.;
Corpl. P. Doyle, 2nd Batt. Irish Guards;
Pte. W. O’Brien, 9209, 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment;
Pte. M. Ryan, 10494, do.;
Pte. J. Murphy, 7173, Royal Munster Fusiliers;
Corpl. T. Hennessy, 8538, 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment;
Pte. J. Hennessy, 6300, Royal Irish Regiment;
Pte. J. O’Brien. 3495 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment ;
Pte. W. Wright, do ;
Pte. P. Galvin, do.;
Pte. P. O’Connell, 6155, do.;
Pte. J . Flavin 3805, do.;
Pte. J. McGrath, 6787. do.;
Pte. T. Keane, 10746, do.;
Pte. W. Heaney, 7120, 2nd Batt. Leinster Regiment ; Lance- Corpl. P Grant, 5606 Royal 1rish Regiment, 5606, Royal Irish Regiment ;
Pte. Dunne. 10629, 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Re giment;
Pte, T. Young, 6383 do.;
Lance-Corpl. I. Lawson, do.;
Pte. T. Finn, 8063, do.;
Pte. J. Byrne, do.;
Pte. P. Power, 5106, do ;
Corpl. J. Flynn, 7087. do.;
Pte T Hearne, 7514, do.;
Pte,. M. Hearne, 1890, do.;
Pte. J. Kennedy, 10698, do.;
Sapper J. Butler, l0519, Royal Engineers;
Pte. J. Kennedy, 5924. 2nd Batt. Royal Irish Regiment; Pte. J. McCarthy. do.,
Lance-Corpl. R. Hayes, 9894, do.:
Sergt. M. Fitzgera , do. :
Lance-Corpl. J. Dooley, do. ;
Pte. Kennedy, do. ;
Pte. C. Whelan, 6755, do.,
Pte. J. Power, 7129. do
Privates O’Connel and Heaney.
In the above long list there appears the names of two men—Private P.O’Connell and Private W Heaney—from whom a letter was published in the “Evening News” last night. The Committee wish it to be noted that these men have already received parcels, a fact to which no reference is made in the letter we published.
Thats all I have , sorry its not more.