Living History, — May 25, 2011 8:59 — 0 Comments
To Frongach, Wales: 1916
We had a black market going inside prison, thanks to corrupt warders. Our men would give two shillings to a warder, and he would smuggle in one shilling’s worth of food etc. I didn’t get to share in this bonanza until our solitary confinement (i.e. that of we fourteen ‘pilgrims’) was over …
We had Mass each Sunday morning, under escort.
Our laundry was done each week by English soldiers who were undergoing punishment. We were ordered by our guards not to give any smokes or matches to them. We ignored this order as we knew what it was like to be prisoner. We put smokes and matches inside our shirt pockets when we sent them to laundry.
When marching to the recreation field each morning, we would see English prisoners doing punishment for some offence connected to the war. Our men would be singing Irish songs and playing Irish marches on the mouth organ.
We pitied the English prisoners. Very often as we passed various drill yards we could see six soldiers marching up and down for hours carrying full kits in the blazing sun. Some were Canadians, some South Africans and so on. We pitied them as only those who had also been put through the mill could.
Early in July some of our men were sent to Frongach Internment Camp in Wales.
We were ordered by our own officers to pack. When we arrived at Stafford Station, we were ordered to give a cheer for the camp commandant, next a cheer for each good sergeant and last, the sergeant who ill-treated us.
It was Michael Collins who gave the orders, by whistle. You should have heard the salvos for the first ones!