Author Topic: Russian POW's at Lewes  (Read 414 times)

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Russian POW's at Lewes
« on: August 11, 2023, 09:18:41 am »
RUSSIAN PRISONERS OF WAR.—The insufficiency of the old jail at Lewes for the reception of the East Sussex prisoners induced the magistrates some two years ago to determine on building a new gaol. This buiding has recently been brought into use, and the old and the disused jail was only waiting a favourable opportunity to be disposed of, when the outbreak of the war and the capture of of Russian prisoners having rendered a building necessary for their safe custody, a government engineer was sent down to inspect the old prison at Lewes. He reported favourably and we understand that the Government has just decided on purchasing the building. It is reported that the enrolled pensioners will be permanently used as a guard of the building, and for the purpose of retaining the prisoners of war in safe keeping.

The Welshman 16 June 1854

The government has completed the purchase, for £5OOO, of the old Sussex House of Correction, at Lewes, as a place of confinement for the Russian prisoners of war.

The Welshman 30 June 1864
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2023, 09:38:19 am »
The war prison at Lewes (formerly the County House of Correction,) is now completed, and on Thursday received the remainder of its complement of prisoners, 204 of whom, including three women and one child, arrived on the afternoon of that day from Sheerness, in charge of Lieutenant Maun, R.N., the governor of the prison, and a detachment of pensioners. The officers, who are on parole, are Major Grahn, Captain Melart, Captain Von Essen, Captain Snellman Lieutenant Bloum, Lieutenant Bolfras, Lieutenant Hook, Lieutenant Grotenfelt. Lieu- tenant Dalin, Younker (Cadet) Grotenfelt, Younker Dalin, Younker Leisted, Younker Bockman, Mr. Okerman, (apothecary to the battalion, and Sheriff Ofhebrunn. The latter is a civilian, and protests against his imprisonment, as being contrary to the usages of war. The whole of the prisoners belong to the Fusileer Grenadiers, and formed part of the garrison of Aland. The men are Finlanders, but the officers, although Russian born, are descendants of French and German families. The officers at Lewes are members of the Lutheran church, to the doctrines of which those of the church of England greatly assimilate. Lieutenant Bolfras is the only officer who understands English at present. When the prisoners first arrived, diarrhoea prevailed among them, but it has now disappeared. Accommodation is provided for thirty patients in the infirmary, which is detached, and contains baths and every convenience for immediate use. The dining room will contain 400 persons, and in it the prisoners breakfast at eight o'clock, dine at one, and take tea at six. Each person is allowed a pound and a quarter of bread per day. This room is to be used on Sunday's as a chapel, a clergyman having been appointed to preach to the prisoners in their own language. A large shed has been fitted up for the men to make toys for sale; and here may he seen a considerable number of them seated on the ground cutting out pieces of wood into representations of crowns of thorns, chains, and puzzles, for which a large demand has sprung up, 6d. and upwards being the price charged for each article. In one day upwards of £4 was taken this money is divided among the prisoners, and the men appear exceedingly well pleased. The majority of them are not only able to read, but can write tolerably well, particularly the serjeants and subordinate officers. A large room will be fitted up as a library, and writing materials will also be provided. In almost every cell there is a copy of the bible and Testament. Three men are located in each cell. Workshops are being erected for the carpenter and joiner, the tailor, the shoemaker, and the barber has not been forgotten: a snug little gossiping shop being in course of construction for him to carry on his vocation in. All who examine the prison express their admiration at the manner in which the government officials have executed its orders for providing for the comforts of the men, and the prisoners themselves appear exceedingly well pleased at the treatment they receive. The officers frequently take a ride over the South Downs, and appear delighted at the salubrity of the air.

Wrexham Advertiser 28 October 1854

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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2023, 09:54:05 am »
 Repetition of post above The whole of the prisoners at Lewes belonged to the Grenadiersche Streltze, or Fusilier Grenadiers, and formed part of the garrison of Aland. The men are Finlanders, but the officers, although Russian born, are descendants of French and German families. Capt. Melart and Lieutenant Bloum are accompanied by their wives, both of whom are highly accomplished ladies. Repetitionof post above
The toyshop keepers at Brighton have taken the hint, and most of the shops of that description have ''Russian toys" ticketed in their window! Most of the men speak three languages-Finnish, Swedish, and Russian but the first is their native tongue, and the rest they acquire by residence in various parts of Russia. The majority of them are not only able to read, but write tolerably well, particularly the sergeants and other subordinate officers. If a comparison were made between the prisoners now in this gaol and one of our own regiments as to their intellectual acquirements, we almost fear "the northern barbarians" would carry off the palm. A large room is being fitted up as a library, and writing materials will also be provided; suitable books will be furnished by the government, and the men are anxiously looking forward to their arrival. In almost every cell there is a copy of the Bible and Testament, and in one a visitor saw a soldier attentively reading the latter. Three men are located in each cell. Several leading men of the county have been introduced to officers, and others have left their cards. Among these are the Hon. H. Brand, M.P., M. R. W. Blencowe, and M. W. H. Blaauw, county magistrates.

Pembrokshire Herald 3 November 1854
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2023, 09:57:41 am »
THE RUSSIAN PRISONERS AT LEWES-It is stated that the Duke of Devonshire has sent £250. to the Russian prisoners at Lewes, and that the Czar has forwarded £1,000. to the officers who are on parole.

North Wales Chronicle 11 November 1854

Three of the Russian officers who were on parole in this town and three of the privates who were in the war prison took their departure on Friday afternoon for London, en route for Russia, in exchange for English prisoners captured by the enemy. The officers who have taken their departure are Captain Von Essen, Captain Snellman, and Lieutenant Pischulin, of the Imperial Horse Artillery, who were taken at Bomarsund. A few days since one of the officers on parole purchased one of Colt's revolvers of a gunsmith in the town, and he subsequently received an order for about a dozen more, but before executing it he consulted a legal gentleman, and declined to supply them. These circumstances became noised abroad in the town, and eventually reached the ears of the local representatives of the Government the result of which was that inquiries were instituted as to the purchaser, and that having been ascertained the weapon was demanded froim him and removed

The Welshman 1 December 1854
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2023, 10:12:13 am »
 One of the Russian prisoners at Lewes having died of bronchitis his body was interred in the burial-ground at St. John's Church, Lewes, last week. The corpse was followed to the grave by Lieutenant Mann and several prisoners, under a guard of pensioners. The Rev. Mr. Grignon having performed the burial service of the Church of England, after he had concluded, one of the prisoners also read a service, at the termination of which the whole of them sang, and each, with cap in hand, made a salute to the grave, and then departed under guard in the same manner.

The Welshman  12 January 1855

RUSSIAN PRISONERS.—A correspondent of the Times, writing from East Grinstead, states—" The Russian prisoners confined in the old gaol at Lewes are allowed one pound of meat per day, and the Royal Sussex Artillery, embodied and in active training there, are only allowed -three-quarters of a pound.

Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian 10 March 1855

ESCAPE OF THREE RUSSIAN PRISONERS AT LEWES.— On Wednesday morning, while Lieut. Mann, the Governor of the War Prison, was out on the South Downs with about two hundred of the prisoners, three of those left in the prison effected their escape. As they had contrived to procure plain clothes, they walked through the town to the railway station, and were taken for Germans by the townspeople. The 10-50 train for London and Brighton had just left. They then walked leisurely up towards High Street, when the guard who were in pursuit caught sight of them. Finding they were pursued they started off up High Street at full speed, followed by the guard and a mob of people. As their pursuers rapidly gained on them, they turned up Fisher Street, and ran into the stable yard of the White Hart Hotel; where they secreted themselves. One of them was captured in a store, a second had bolted into the kitchen, and the third could not be found, hut he was shortly afterwards discovered secreted beneath some bushes in the Castle grounds, on the out- skirts of the town, and conveyed back to the War Prison. How they effected their escape is a mystery, as the prison is surrounded by a high brick wall.

Pembrokeshire Herald 6 April 1855

The Emperor of Russia remitted through the Swedish Embassy a sum sufficient to give every prisoner in the Lewes gaol 6d. each for hot cross buns.

The Welshman 13 April 1855
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2023, 10:24:38 am »
THE RUSSIAN PRISONERS AT LEWES.—The prisoners who are confined in the war prison in this town are taken out on the South Downs almost every morning in detachments of about 200, under the personal charge of Lieutenant Mann, the governor, and escorted by a guard of pensioners and warders. When they arrive on the Downs they are permitted to enjoy themselves at leap- frog and other athletic amusements. The appearance of the prisoners has wonderfully altered since they have been in Lewes; on their first arrival they were, almost without exception, thin, sallow, and dispirited; now they are fat, rosy, full of life and animation-a proof of the beneficial effects of good diet, including a liberal proportion of animal food.

Monmouthshire Merlin 20 April 1855
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2023, 10:30:29 am »
About 5 o'clock on Thursday afternoon another of the prisoners confined in Lewes. War Prison, succeeded in effecting his escape,. which he, appears to have done in the same manner as the three whose escape and capture was reported in the Times of March. 29th;. namely, by climbing to the roof of the guard- house, and thence to the wall, the top of which in that particular place is .only 10 or 12 '~feet high. The guard- house is situated at the upper end of the outer yard, and as the ground rises there is a flight of steps in the path leading to the back yard, close to the higher corner of the guardhouse, the roof of which is only a few feet from the ground above the steps, while from the other side of It the top of the outer wall, against which it abuts, is easily accessible. The exact period at which the prisoner made his escape is not known, but as soon as he was missed, warders and pensioners were turned out for a hunt, which was, however, of. short duration, for by some means some of the party had obtained information that the fugitive was ensconced in the King's Arms, a public house not far from the prison, and on the pursuers' arrival there they discovered the runaway making himself quite comfortable over half-a-pint of rum, which he had ordered. He was immediately captured and marched back under guard to the prison, where he will expiate his offence in solitary confinement and low diet. The whole of the prisoners are frequently taken out by Lieut. Mann, R.N. the Governor, and small parties of the non-com- missioned officers are allowed to roam where they please, attended by only one warder as a guard.

Wrexham Advertiser 28 April 1855

The Russian prisoners at Lewes seem to be too well treated. They have many indulgences, and earn a good deal of money. But they dislike pumping water. On Thursday they refused to pump, and knocked down one of the wardens. Yesterday they still refused, became violent, and drew their knives. The Governor, Lieutenant Mann, immediately telegraphed to Brighton for the assistance of the Sussex Infantry Militia three companies of which arrived about half-past eleven by train, and proceeded to the prison with fixed bayonets in double quick time. The ringleaders were speedily captured, and the large clasp-knives, which all the men had for making toys, were taken from them.

Welshman 11 May 1855

THE REBELLION AT LEWES. -The immediate cause of this rebellion among the Russian prisoners appears to be a matter of uncertainly. It is asserted, and we think with some degree of foundation, that the great kindness shown by the public who have visited the prison and so liberally paid for the flimsy toys, and the good living the prisoners haive enjoyed, have had some effect in producing this feeling of insubordination among them, and that they have actually been treated to well." Several hundred pounds it is said, have been expended in the purchase of these toys and nearly all the men have provided themselves with watches from the proceeds. This source of gain will now cease for a time, as the toys, as well as their tools, are taken away, and for the present none are to be admitted within the walls of the prison except strictly on business

The Welshman 11 May 1855
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2023, 10:46:42 am »
Twenty-five of the ringleaders in the outbreak at the War Prison, last week, were sent off to the Devonshire, prison ship, at Sheerness, on Friday. The remainder exhibit the greatest contrition for their misconduct, as a punishment for which only one half of them was allowed out of their wards at one time until Thursday last, and no visitors are now allowed to see them consequently, their toy trade is at an end. The real cause of the outbreak was that the 18 younkers (gentlemen who are obliged to serve as non-commissioned officers before obtaining commissions) were allowed 3d. a day each, for looking after the men, and seeing they kept their wards clean, and the men demanded the same remuneration for pumping water for their own use; this the Government refused to pay them, and they refused to go the pumps, as already reported in the Merlin, The younkers, who for some weeks past have been allowed abroad in small parties, accompanied by a warder, are still allowed the privilege, as they were not instrumental in promoting the insubordination, but, on the contrary, used their best endeavours to prevent it. The prisoners are also still taken out on the South Downs, in detachments of about 150, for air and exercise. During the past week two of them have died, —David Kihl, of pulmonary consumption, and Carl Udd, of erysipelas. At the inquest on the former, Johan Wallenis. the hospital nurse, who also filled that capacity in Finland, said if the prisoners had been in Finland it was probable 20 or 21 would have die. The diet and treatment in the Lewes Hospital was exceedingly good, but he thought that for those out of the hospital the food was too rich, and that they would be better on salted food, to which they were accustomed. They are allowed an ounce of salt a-day, but instead of using it with their meat they put it in their cocoa.

Monmouthshire Merlin 18 May 1855
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2023, 10:48:31 am »
 The Russian prisoners at Lewes hiving conducted themselves properly since the recent disturbance, visitors are again permitted to see them, and purchase their toys, for the manufacture of which their knives have been returned to them

Pembrokeshire Herald 29 June 1855

 On Friday evening a party of Russian prisoners from Sebastopol, consisting of four officers and six men, arrived at Lewes. The men, who wore the Russian helmets, were received at the railway station by Lieutenant Mann, R.N., governor of that prison; and a guard of pensioners, and marched to the prison, but the officers, being on parole, took private lodgings in the town, which were engaged for them by their brother officers, previously residing there. Another of the Finns, confined in the prison, died last week. He was named Michael Grosvrxis, and was 21 years of age. The Finns are very subject to pulmonary complaints, which often terminate fatally.

North Wales Chronicle 28 July 1855
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2023, 10:55:45 am »
 We are pleased to find, from a paragraph in a Sussex paper, that the magistrates at Lewes have inflicted a proper punishment on a vagabond who insulted one of the Russians placed as prisoners of war in that town. The prosecution was instituted by the authorities of the War Prison in consequence of the officers on parole being frequently subjected to annoyance, insult, and even personal violence from the low characters who loiter in the streets. The offence having been fully proved, the magistrates inflicted a fine which, added to the costs, made up 20s. or in default a fortnight's hard labour; they furthermore declared their intention to protect the foreign prisoners, as several assaults of the kind had occurred.

Wrexham Advertiser 22 September 1855

The whole of the war prisoners stationed here—both officers and men -are in a state of great delight, as they have been informed that an exchange of prisoners is to take place, and in the course of a fortnight or three weeks, they will  be sent to Libau on their way to Russia; and the Russian Priest who visits them weekly and administers to them the Sacrament  and other rites Of the Greek Church, has authorized all the officers on parole, 20 in number, to purchase any  necessaries they require, to the amount of £1, the account to be sent to the Governor of the War Prison to whom  the the priest has undertaken  to pay the money for their liquidation. Some of the officers have already commenced packing up their luggage in anticipation of their speedy departure, and others are making preparations. Six of the Finnish officers who were taken in Bomarsund last year have obtained leave to spend a week in London and are now in the metropolis  The Autumn seems as prejudicial to the health of the Finns as the Spring and there is a large number in the prison hospital and it has been found necessary to obtain the services of an assistant surgeon to relieve Dr, Burton  of a portion of his duties.

Monmouthshire Merlin 29 September 1855


—On Saturday last, the town of Lewes was thrown into a state of excitement by a report that two of the younkers confined in the War Prison had escaped from custody, and shortly afterwards the governors, warders, pensioners, and other officials were making a diligent search for the fugitives, but without success. The exact period at which they effected this escape does not appear to be known, nor the manner in which they did it. They were both in the hospital for sickness, and have left their prison dress in the ward. As the entrances to the various corridors are locked by night, it is probable that they got out soon after dark on Friday evening, and this they must have done by scaling the walls, which has been done on two previous occasions, and which a child might do. One, it is said, decamped with upwards of £100., a portion of which belonged to other prisoners. They are both Finns, and, from having been in England a year, have acquired a moderate knowledge of the English language. One of them left his photograph in his ward, and it is in the hands of the police.


North Wales Chronicle 13 October 1855

In the course of the day the governor received information that two foreigners had been seen in the neighbourhood of Chailey, which is about nine miles from Lewes, early in the morning. A fly was immediately procured, and Lieutenant Mann, accompanied by some of the prison officials, started for Chailey, and made a diligent search for the fugitives, but have accomplished nothing. It was pretty certain they had not left the town by railway, and, as no clue could be obtained of them in any of the suburbs, it was suspected that they were secreted in the town Inspector Daws, of the East Sussex constabulary, was put on the search, and this evening he resumed inquiries which he had been making in vain during nearly the whole of Friday night; his renewed efforts, however, were still unsuccessful, and as yet the whereabouts of the runaways is unknown.

Wrexham Advertiser 13 October 1855

The two young Russian officers who lately escaped from the war prison at Lewes, have reached the neutral territory of Hamburg, and are now on their way to Russia

Wrexham Advertiser 24 November 1855




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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2023, 11:30:03 am »
FRESH DISTURBANCE AT THE LEWES WAR PRISON.— On Monday, between 1 and 2 o'clock in the afternoon, considerable excitement prevailed in consequence of a large body of Fins  in the War Prison, having again displayed signs of a disorderly and riotous disposition. Two of their companions, it would seem, were about being discharged under orders from the Admiralty, and rumours concerning the reason of their discharge were afloat among the other prisoners, of a character which excited a very bitter rancour in their breasts. Having, as they imagined, learned the period when the two in question were about to leave the precincts of the prison, they rushed out of the hall with shouts and threats of vengeance, not only against their former companions, but also the governor. Lieutenant Mann happened to be in his office, which is detached from the main building, and one approach to which is by a small gate in a low paling fence. Hearing the yells and noise of the advancing rioters, one of the warders called out. to the go- vernor, "The people are coming" Lieutenant Mann rushed out and met them as they were advancing to the office. With great promptitude and courage he threw himself upon them, and with the assistance of the warders, checked the advance of the foremost, and ultimately bore them back beyond the gate. He had previously called out for the guard of pensioners, and while they were assembling he succeeded in keeping the yelling and execrating rioters at bay. At the period of the riot a number of visitors were in the precincts of the gaol—many of them women-and their alarm at witnessing this outbreak and hearing the horrid noise -for the Fins can shout—may be easily imagined. Notwithstanding the anxious care which, at this critical juncture, must have been pressing on the governor, he had the presence of mind to issue directions for the disposal of the visitors in sundry places of safety. In a very short space of time after receiving orders the pensioners arrived on the scene of action in a body, with their muskets and fixed bayonets. Their appearance rather damped the courage of the disorderly Fins. Disregarding, however, the warning to retire, they maintained their position until the order to charge was given and executed, when they retired before cold steel like a flock of sheep with a dog at their heels. Having got them into the common hall, the governor coolly went among them and draughted them off to their respective cells They submitted in gloomy sullenness, and were soon safely ensconced under lock and key. There are only three avenues from the main building to the yard, at each of which Lieutenant Mann at once placed a sentry with a loaded musket and bayonet fixed. No further outbreak was, however, seriously apprehended. Superintendent Jenner and Inspector Daws hastened to the prison with a body of the East Sussex constabulary. their services, however, were not required, the riot having been so promptly suppressed. While it was proceeding a large concourse of persons assembled, the shouts of the Fins having reached a considerable distance, and excited some agitation among those who heard them. The Fins themselves will be the only sufferers in consequence of this riot. The indulgences which have been gradually extended to them since their former escapade will be again restricted. Visitors, from whom the prisoners have derived such a large revenue by the sale of the toys, &c., are now excluded, and it will probably be some time before they are readmitted. It was rumoured about the town that the two discharged prisoners are about to enter the British Army-that is not true.

Welshman 16 November 1855

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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2023, 11:35:49 am »
Messrs. Cobden and Bright sent to the Russian prisoners at Lewes a tremendous hamper, containing among other delicacies, 30 gallons of the best train-oil, 10 ditto of superior Colza, 114 lb. of suet (purchased at the Baker Street Cattle Show), and 580lb. (best long fours) of tallow-candles. In the course of Christmas-Day, each man had distributed to him a couple of candles, and an illumination-glass of Colza oil. Before going to bed the poor fellows sang. the Russian hymn (Cavijare di Czar"), and drank the health of their benefactors in a bumper of the exciting liquid that had been so generously sent them.

The Welshman 28 December 1855

The whole of the Russians now confined in the war prisons at Lewes Milbay, and on board the the Devon- shire prison-ship, at Sheerness, are held ready to embark for Russia, on the 16th instant

Pembrokeshire Herald 18 April 1856

The Russian prisoners of war, in number 326, who have been confined in the Lewes war prison, left that town on Friday morning for Portsmouth, to embark on board the Imperatrice . The Russian officers have addressed a letter to the authorities, thanking the people of Lewes for their kindness and hospitality.

Cardiff Times 26 April 1856
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Re: Russian POW's
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2023, 11:49:51 am »
THE RUSSIANS IN LEWES. The constables of the borough have received the following communication from the officers of the Russian service.

 Lewes, April 15.  We, the officers of the Russian service, cannot take our departure from England without expressing our sentiments of gratitude and goodwill towards the inhabitants of the town of Lewes and its neighbourhood. For when, by the fortune of war, we became resident in this town, we were received with a frank and generous courtesy, which convinced us that the people of Lewes regarded us less as the subjects of a foreign and hostile Power than as men who, in the, discharge of their duty, had fallen into misfortune. "We have enjoyed the hospitality of many, and urbane treatment from all. A somewhat lengthened captivity has thus been greatly alleviated, and our pleasure in the anticipation of returning to our native country is much modified by the regret we feel in thus bidding farewell to those who have shown us so much kindness. We shall always cherish a lively remembrance of the good old town, and of the many hospitable abodes which surround it, and thus wishing all prosperity to Lewes, we take a respectful and affectionate adieu. Signed in the name of the officers, "GUSTAF GRAHN, Lieut.-Colonel.  To the Senior Constable of Lewes.
 To which the following answer has been returned:- Lewes, April 17. Sir-We have the honour to receive the communication signed by you on behalf of the officers of the Russian service, who are now leaving this town, which we will take the earliest opportunity of laying before our fellow townsmen. It is highly gratifying to us to know that those gentlemen have been satisfied with the reception and treatment of the inhabitants of Lewes and its neighbourhood. We have on our part to wish them a safe and speedy return to their native country on an occasion so happy as the restoration of peace between their country and our own. We are, &c.  WILLIAM FIGG, RICHARD LAMB, Constables of the Ancient Borough of Lewes.

North Wales Chronicle 26 April 1856
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