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MrSwan

A while since I last posted, and now on a completely different topic...

I've been looking at military law and in particular the crossover between military law and the civil law in England. There is a distinction between military prisons, military detention barracks, and detention cells and I have prepared a tentative list of the following:

Military prisons

Aldershot (North Camp - the Glass House)

Colchester

Detention barracks

Chelmsford

Lewes

Perth

Stafford

Portsmouth

Wakefield

Knutsford

York

Derby

Chatham

Devonport

Devizes

Stirling

Wandsworth

Glasgow (Barlinnie)

Probable detention barracks

Bedford

Shorncliffe

Hull

Mold

Luton

Possible detention barracks

Woolwich

Rhyl

Falmouth

Status uncertain

Kempston

Dundee

Fulwood

Peebles

Woking

The last two categories correspond to military camps and may well refer to the detention cells in the guardroom.

A number of these were civilian prisons taken over by the military authorities during the war.

I would be very grateful if anyone could add to this list, or to help me classify these places correctly.

Thank you.

PS I've already tried the broken link at http://www.1914-1918.net/crime.htm

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MrSwan

Craig - you are doing a grand job - thank you!

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Phil Evans

Lewes was an AIF Detention Barracks. Lewes Civil Gaol was taken over on 1st November 1917 and it was still being used by the AIF in February 1919.

The original, (if not only), Commandant was Major G. L. Phillips, who became O. C. of the Australian Graves Services.

There is a brief history etc. of Lewes Detention Barracks in the National Archives of Australia online war diaries. Ref: AWM4. Item: 3/9/13

Pages 4 & 7-10 refer.

Phil

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FROGSMILE

I think that "detention barracks" was just the category used for barracks and camps with guardroom based detention cells fit for human habitation. I was surprised to learn whilst still serving that since late Victorian times there has always been an inspection regime and qualifying authority providing oversight of military detention and confinement facilities. It still exists today and where laid down conditions are not met the facilities, though existing, cannot be used.

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Magnumbellum

I think that "detention barracks" was just the category used for barracks and camps with guardroom based detention cells fit for human habitation.

I will use this as my starting point on a topic about which there has been and continues to be much confusion and misapplication of nomenclature.

Essentially there have been in the military three types of custody, as distinct from two in the civilian penal process (police cell and prison). The three types are:

1. Guardroom cells - equivalent to police cells, for holding prisoners awaiting trial, or, after sentence, awaiting transfer to detention barracks or prison, as appropriate. They were not primarily for punishment, except that I believe - I am open to correction - there was power for a Commanding Officer to send a man to the cells for a couple of days or so, as relatively minor punishment.

2. Detention barracks - there is no direct equivalent in civilian life. Although including cells, they were not simply for holding prisoners, but for giving those sentenced by court-martial to a period of detention a strict punishment regime. As MrSwan's list shows, time was when the Army had detention barracks all round the country, the Navy, and later the Air Force, having their own, as well. Numbers dwindled, and the three armed forces merged their detention, so that there is now just one unit, the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), Colchester, run by the Army, but receiving prisoners regardless of which armed force they come from.

3. Prison - personnel of the armed forces sentenced by court-martial to imprisonment - whether for a civil or military offence - have long been sent to ordinary civilian prisons, whilst remaining members of the armed forces.

The latter point raises the question whether there ever was such an establishment as a military prison. MrSwan says that he has identified two such, at Aldershot and Colchester, but apart from any question of naming a building as such, one needs to know what prisoners it received, under what sentences. The soubriquet 'glasshouse', which MrSwan assigns to the Aldershot establishment, was generally used for detention barracks (as now for the MCTC), so that does not take us very far.

On the list of detention barracks, some dating would be helpful, as, from 1916, Knutsford and Wakefield were taken over as Work Centres under the Home Office Scheme for conscientious objectors.

Also, for clarity, the Wandsworth Detention Barracks was part of the still continuing Wandsworth (civil) Prison, and if there was one at Barlinnie, I presume the same applied.

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MrSwan

Craig, Phil, Frogsmile, rolt968 and Magnumbellum - thank you all for your responses.

I've been following the definitions as per the Manual of Military Law 1907, the Army Act and Kings Regs. My draft list is simply that at the moment - I do have dates but this is still a work in progress.

Magnumbellum's threefold system is essentially correct. Soldiers convicted in civilian courts for criminal offences would be sent to a civilian prison. The soldier convicted at court martial of a serious military offence, in Great Britain, (eg refusing to obey an order, striking a superior, ie offences not recognised by civil law) could be sentenced to a military prison (in 1914 Aldershot or Colchester). From my research I understand that such sentences could be twelve months or more (but see below). A soldier convicted at court martial of any military offence could be sentenced to a detention barracks.

Detention barracks were described in the MML but were dwindling in number prior to the war. However with the rapid enlargement of the Army at the outbreak war additional facilities were required. York Castle and Stirling Castle were, I believe, already used as barracks and were then used as detention barracks.

With the decrease in the general prison population a number of civilian prisons were taken over by the military authorities (Chelmsford, Wakefield - D Block at Perth Prison was another early conversion). These were then described as detention barracks.

There were also facilities described as branch detention barracks and I think Craig has listed some of these. These had a smaller number of cells and I think this is where some of the confusion arises, because the more permanent camps and barracks would have had proper guard rooms which contained cells. I understand that a custodial sentence of seven days or less could be served in the local facility (sentence awarded by court martial or by the summary powers of the commanding officer).

Guard room cells were essentially the same as police cells - for holding an offender for a very short time until he could be taken before the CO etc.

A further problem in my research is that some prisoner of war camps were referred to as military prisons (eg Mold and possibly Rhyl), and from earlier research I am aware that Chelmsford Military Detention Barracks (formerly the civilian prison) also held German PoWs who had been convicted at court martial (notably a number of serial escapees). I think one of the Welsh facilities also held alien civilian detainees.

There are many examples of conscientious objectors who were tried at court martial (usually for disobeying orders) and given punitive custodial sentences and were then transferred to civilian prisons (eg Winchester and Wormwood Scrubs).My interpretation of the MML and through various case studies is that soldiers under sentence sent to military prison or transferred to civilian prisons were to be discharged from the Army on completion of the sentence. SuSs sent to detention barracks were to be sent back to their units. Records from Lewes show that prisoners undertook military training, including gas drill, bayonet practice, and rifle and Lewis gun practice.

Finally I am aware that the system was different in the field, where the military authorities had jurisidiction over both military and civil offences.

I'll work on my list in the OP and post again. As always I'd be grateful for further comments and suggestions.

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Scalyback

Look at the work of the Military Provost Staff Corps. The staffing of these men might also hold clues to the difference in the definition of what is prison etc.

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Magnumbellum

There are many examples of conscientious objectors who were tried at court martial (usually for disobeying orders) and given punitive custodial sentences and were then transferred to civilian prisons (eg Winchester and Wormwood Scrubs).My interpretation of the MML and through various case studies is that soldiers under sentence sent to military prison or transferred to civilian prisons were to be discharged from the Army on completion of the sentence. SuSs sent to detention barracks were to be sent back to their units. Records from Lewes show that prisoners undertook military training, including gas drill, bayonet practice, and rifle and Lewis gun practice.

Finally I am aware that the system was different in the field, where the military authorities had jurisdiction over both military and civil offences.

As forcibly enlisted, but perpetually disobedient, conscientious objectors formed a special category of defaulters within the military disciplinary system over the period 1916-19, it is worth summarising their experience. At first, some commanding officers tried minor penalties, such as docking pay, which COs refused to accept anyway, bread and water diet, which had no deterrent effect, or pack drill, which exacerbated the disobedience because COs refused to carry it out.

So COs began to be sent for court-martial, and courts began to award detention, which again exacerbated matters, because having been placed in detention barracks for disobedience, they just carried on disobeying orders.

The next step was therefore for courts-martial to sentence to imprisonment. This was the origin of my querying the existence of "military prisons", because there is no recorded case of a CO ever being sent to one. Every CO sentenced to imprisonment went to a civilian gaol, regardless of length of sentence (initially there was a semi-standard CO sentence of 112 days, but it was not invariable, and it was not long before two years began regularly to be awarded. Although, as has been mentioned, Wormwood Scrubs and Winchester had large numbers of COs, so did Maidstone, but a list of every civilian prison which had at least one CO at some time in WW1 would take a very long page, as it would include virtually every prison in England, a significant number in Scotland, some in Wales and even at least one in Ireland.

Moreover, if MML stipulated that civilian imprisonment was only for men whose sentence included discharge from the Army on release from prison, it must have been amended to accommodate conscripted men, because a man released from prison while still of military age with the war continuing was still bound by the MSA, so the Army could not discharge him. Such a man was often met at the prison gate by a military escort, who took him back to the barracks or camp, where he immediately disobeyed an order, and the cycle began all over again. It was in an attempt to intervene in such a cycle that the Home Office Scheme was instituted, but that is a different story.

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ss002d6252

The list of officers with the MPSC in 1916 should give an idea as to the number of institutions they ran at the time - the section is headed 'Military Detention Barracks and Prisons' with the sub heading of 'Detention Barracks':

post-51028-0-18037500-1443118263_thumb.j

Craig

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MrSwan

Thanks, Chris!

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mike papa

Hi all,

There  is Military prison reports in the house of commons reports for at least 1850 to 1906 annual reports, see attached for 1855. as the years went on a lot of them closed.

if your interested in military prisons these are a must see. punishments, crimes, number of prisoners, number of warders and reports from each of the military prison govenors  and medical officers. If you should come across anything on the military prison in limerick which closed 1888 and was then only a detention barracks until 1922. I would be obliged if youd post or send to me.

regards

Mike Papa

military prison report 1855.pdf

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Uncle George

I came across the attached the other day; a description of the police office and cells inside Devonport Dockyard South Yard gates. The building was erected, it would seem, in 1911. 

 

I’ve also attcahed some images from Google Earth, in which the building and the remains of the gates may be seen. South Yard has not been used by the Royal Navy or Ministry of Defence for years, and now seems semi-derelict, but the land is still MoD land, and therefore not available to view by Streetview. I’ve also attached a photo of the gates in happier times.

 

Images from https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Dv12cCharacterisationAppendixBuildingsForllSlSamDevonportOptimised.pdf

 

and

 

http://www.devonportonline.co.uk/historic_devonport/artifacts/postcards/fore_street_postcards.aspx

 

 

 

 

236D8536-1BF1-4F07-9E0D-68D7F8A895D9.jpeg

B1E979C5-1FCD-43FA-BFCC-9246B3355D0D.jpeg

CFE27604-9B02-49E3-A23A-58D1E3E73F2E.jpeg

0248576D-3679-4BAD-8A9E-6A16FD259CEC.jpeg

2FFD8501-D39F-4F04-B08C-1A3E05503AD5.jpeg

BAB225E9-F26F-4280-954F-66341537B396.jpeg

Edited by Uncle George

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