The Glasshouse in WW2?

Discussion in 'General' started by von Poop, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    We've had a few threads on discipline and punishments, but nothing much on military nicks.
    Not much found after a relatively lazy Google, though quite a nice page on the original Glasshouse here:

    The Glasshouse - The Aldershot Military Detention Barracks
    The biggest alteration however, came in 1944 with the building of 'association rooms'. Designed in 1870 to isolate prisoners, eighty years on, the southern half of the prison's top floor was converted into areas, the size of ten individual cells, where prisoners could mix freely. The ground floor continued in single-cell form for the rest of its' existence.

    By 1946 there were between 400 and 500 inmates at the prison: more than double the number the building had originally housed. The overcrowding was such that prisoners slept in three-tier bunks in single cells and each association room held as many as 20 to 25 men.

    On 23/24 February 1946, a number of prison inmates rioted destroying the main building. Further damage was caused by the water from the hoses used by the Army Fire Service to quell the riot. The disturbances lasted from 5pm on the Saturday until the late afternoon of the Sunday. Eighteen soldiers of various units and one Royal Marine were court-martialled as a result in June 1946.

    So unsurprisingly they weren't exactly short of inmates after the expansion in the services required by war, but we don't hear much about it.

    Anyone got any more on wartime military prisons? (of any nation)
    Maybe even personal recollections? ;)

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Adam,
    Recognise the pics of the 'glasshouse' but not I hasten to add from personal experience!
    I have worked in several current civilian prisons and many of the Victorian ones eg Wakefield (High Security) and Lewes are still in use and look exactly like the pics in your link. Depressing places.
    Thesedays however most of the cells have in-cell power, TV (including satellite) and inmates are even allowed video games consoles (unless they have been naughty boys).
    Once met a soldier in Germany who had spent several months in Colchester for kicking his Officer down the stairs and jumping on him until 'restrained'. He seemed quite a nice bloke until the beer and Schnapps got the better of him, then I retreated carefully.
     
  3. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    I've got some vivid memories of a military nick just out of Kuala Lumpur but
    as it happened in 1958 it is out of WW2 time.
    David
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Prisons in WW2 ?

    Fortunately (?) for me I was to spend little time in the UK before being shipped off to North Africa so I readily confess that I have little or no firsthand knowledge of life in the eponymous "Glasshouse".

    In addition, my military conduct, apart from a minor blip at Guelma, was also officially spotless so I had to dig deep into my memoirs to finds mention of prison life in WW2.

    I did, however, find this:


    Jan '47 to March '47

    This period , the last three months of my Army life, was boring, to say the
    least and I welcomed any chance to do something different. This probably
    accounted for the fact that I must have volunteered for the job of prisoner’s escort, of which, details now follow.

    While I was fighting in Italy, somebody who shall be nameless, had apparently been a naughty boy back in England and had been sentenced to a term in Lincoln jail. He’d just finished his sentence (two years) and I as “ Corporal in charge of Escort” plus one other trooper were to meet up with him at the prison and escort him back to the Army at Darlington.

    I remember that as we signed for him the prison officer said to me "I'd watch him Corporal.... he's a right slippery bugger !"

    The ex-prisoner lived in London and as we had to change stations at Kings
    Cross I agreed to let him visit his folks in Caledonian Road before we finally took him back to camp.

    Mindful of the fact that if I lost a prisoner it was a court martial offence I took no chances and we kept him on handcuffs all the way to his house and afterwards all the way back to barracks.

    Once I was back in civvie street I had completely forgotten about the incident when, in June '47, I received a chit from the war office to accompany a postal order for 6 shillings and four pence (32p in today's currency) in lieu of two days ration allowance !
     

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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Once met a soldier in Germany who had spent several months in Colchester for kicking his Officer down the stairs and jumping on him until 'restrained'. He seemed quite a nice bloke until the beer and Schnapps got the better of him,
    It was reading a thread or two on Arrse that first intrigued me. Seems to be a view that the 'rehabilitation' aspect of modern army nick is quite successful, with often no shame or damage to long term career if you took it well. Possibly even the opposite. Not sure I can quite see that in an earlier age.

    I've got some vivid memories of a military nick just out of Kuala Lumpur but
    as it happened in 1958 it is out of WW2 time.
    David
    I'd guess in '58 things might well have been along rather similar lines to WW2 treatment?

    I was to spend little time in the UK
    I initially misread that as "I was to spend a little time"... Seemed unlikely but just for a second I thought we might have a first hand account from an old lag ;).

    Been looking for statistics on levels of imprisonment among servicemen of the period, but it's proving rather hard to get past the obvious dominance of PoWs and Articles of War stuff in Google searches. (Seems like 'The Hill' is the most easily accessible account :rolleyes:).
     
  6. Stormbird

    Stormbird Restless

    Are you interested exclusively in prisons for members of own forces, or also for POWs etc ?

    There were a number of the latter in Norway, both for Norwegian opposers and foreign (Soviet, Serbian etc) POWs.
     
  7. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    Actually this glass house was a bu**er of a place. Was about 20 miles out of Kuala
    Lumpur on a hot dusty plain with 10-12 barbed wire all around. The only rehabilitation that I noticed was that the inmates were learning to use a heavy hammer cracking rocks in the hot sun. They doubled everywhere and were really given the hard hand.
    I was unlucky enough to draw the short straw and was petty officer in charge of a guard of 5, with 4 R.N. and one R.A.N. prisoner to take on the night train from Singapore to KL. We were all armed, I had a Sten (very much unloaded) didnt like those things and a S and W .38.
    The worst part of it was after we signed the prisoners over we were, (the guard) shovelled out of the place and had to find our own way back to KL. Fortunately there was a British military hospital near the prison and they got us back to town
    in an ambulance. Beats walking.
    David
     
    von Poop likes this.
  8. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Funnily enough I was going to add something about 'The Hill' (not really related to the Glasshouse I know) as it's one of my favourite films.
    Anyone know how close to reality the film is?
     
  9. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Adam, forgot to say - no damage to career? Surely loss of LS&GC medal?
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Are you interested exclusively in prisons for members of own forces, or also for POWs etc ?
    I think PoW's are well covered mate, more interested in how Services disciplined their own chaps.

    Actually this glass house was a bu**er of a place. Was about 20 miles out of Kuala
    Lumpur on a hot dusty plain with 10-12 barbed wire all around. The only rehabilitation that I noticed was that the inmates were learning to use a heavy hammer cracking rocks in the hot sun. They doubled everywhere and were really given the hard hand.
    I was unlucky enough to draw the short straw and was petty officer in charge of a guard of 5, with 4 R.N. and one R.A.N. prisoner to take on the night train from Singapore to KL. We were all armed, I had a Sten (very much unloaded) didnt like those things and a S and W .38.
    The worst part of it was after we signed the prisoners over we were, (the guard) shovelled out of the place and had to find our own way back to KL. Fortunately there was a British military hospital near the prison and they got us back to town
    in an ambulance. Beats walking.
    David
    Interesting, does indeed sound like 'The hill', that sort of hard labour regime sounds much more like WW2 than today. Seems the fear of the places by the innocent serviceman still survives to this day as well. Lots of mention on the army forums of escorts being desperate to get away as soon as possible.

    Adam, forgot to say - no damage to career? Surely loss of LS&GC medal?
    They seem to imply that many of those that come out of Colchester etc. and stay in the mob often make rather good soldiers with decent promotion prospects. Two doses of 'basic training' making them far less likely to play silly buggers again.
     
  11. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Shortly after the Normandy invasion there appeared a notice. To the effect that they already had a glasshouse set up, and the chief crime? Calvados Brandy (Plentiful)in your water bottle, that was an immediate sentence.

    Only the insane choose to go to the glasshouse
    Not Me.
    Sapper
     
  12. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    As I remember in the navy any sentence was discounted by good conduct badges
    i.e. they were worth 7 (?) days in the slammer each then your n/s rating - if you had one - then the real thing. In my day a sentence of 89 days was worth a SNLR.
    Funny this toerag I had to take up was given 85 and no discharge. Served him right
    David
     
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    BMH Kinrara had a military prison next door.

    The father of a close friend did time in Colchester for winning an argument with an NCO, but you'd never have guessed.
     
  14. peterhastie

    peterhastie Senior Member

  15. worthatron

    worthatron Member

    My grandad was sent to the glasshouse twice (not sure, but i think he went AWOL both times) in 1944. He said it was worse than prison. Up at the crack of dawn, marched around the prison twice before breakfast. At meal time, you were given you're main course and dessert in the same billy-can (i.e porridge with stew on top). No time to him-self, they were marched around the compound. I think he also said that talking was'nt allowed.
     
    Dylan1966 likes this.
  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    My father was also in the glasshouse, about the end of 44 or start of 45. While he was there he learnt that his uncle was in the civvie jail down the road. He asked for permission to visit him under escort the next morning and this was granted. Come the morning, the RSM told my father to forget about it... his uncle had escaped during the night. My father had been taken under the wing of the RSM, an ex-Grenadier by the name of Rose who had made Dad his batman as he stuck out like a sore thumb apparently. He got Dad out early, despite him owning up to having cigarettes - also not allowed. Dad said that many of the men were itching to get back to their unit and their mates.

    As for water bottles, Dad said of one of his mates: "the inside of Sammy's bottle never saw water".
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  17. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    two points of mere triv with nothing to add to the thread

    There was a great documentary called, funnily enough, The Glasshouse
    on Ch4 a few years back which if I remember rightly looked briefly at the
    'reputation' which was finessed in WW2...

    and, The Hill was based on a play and not on a book, which was
    a surprise. It was a question I was going to ask here as I have
    reference to a Ww1 Officer getting hold of a copy of The Hill in
    1915 which I haven't yet worked out what it's in reference to...






    Interesting, does indeed sound like 'The hill', that sort of hard labour regime sounds much more like WW2 than today. Seems the fear of the places by the innocent serviceman still survives to this day as well. Lots of mention on the army forums of escorts being desperate to get away as soon as possible.
     
  18. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Hi guys

    In my time (well post war) I was under the impression that there was a glasshouse at Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Does anyone have tales of that one?

    Chris
     
  19. Tab

    Tab Senior Member

    There is a street just of Oxford Street called Glasshouse Street that used to have a prison in it,and this is were the the military term came from about there prisons being called The Glasshouse. on the Southside of the Thames just by Southwark Bridge there was another Prison in Jail Lane and was called The Jail and that one is well known the world over. Another useless bit of information.
     

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