SGT. S. SAYERS 2 L.F. 1373
FROM 5TH AUGUST 1914
TAKEN PRISONER BETWEEN 25TH AUGUST 1914 - 3RD SEPTEMBER 1914 MOVED TO
INTERNMENT IN HOLLAND AREA 1915/16 VERY IMMEDIATE NARRATIVE
Nice buildings. The Hague and Scheveningen, being practically one town.
All the people treat us well. We are in all kinds of clothes luckily I
kept my Khaki all but my cap as it will be some time before we get fitted
out with new stuff.
We moved out, 80 of us, to a new billet of houses (new) in Waldeck Pyrmont
Kade close to The Hague and in a very good quarter being a wide street
with a canal running down the centre of it, like many streets here. Two
or three rows of trees, in almost every street. Tress and I get a little
room at the top, rather damp, but mustn't grumble after what we have been
through. Large dining hall at bottom, room for 300 to sit down also YMCA
room attached. The food we get is good but not quite enough bread. Cocoa
is served twice a day with soup every evening eytgus (cheese) so far twice
Another new party arrived in the billet today about 40 paid out 12½
Went to an amateur theatrical show "Tonight's the Night" by
English and Dutch ladies and gentlemen, very good small theatre "Princess
Showburg". Visited YMCA Gym yesterday expect to get a job there soon.
Three of Gym staff already there Capt. Usher S H Supt also visits Capt
Davenport the only officer of my Regt. Here. Lieut. Wilkinson my platoon
officer died in Germany.
Write to Carnee's sister Mrs Davenport. Weather rather cold room is very
damp the houses being new, anyhow it is better than Germany by a long
Weather has been fairly cold but fine. Our bread ration reduced to 150
grams and meat for dinner once a week. Monday cheese and eggs ordered.
DIARY OF SGT. S. SAYERS 2nd JAN - FUS.
Ordered to join Regiment from Army Gym master Staff on the 6th August
1914, called at Margate I saw mother who bore up well saw Mrs Buckley
who promises to look after mother, in case of anything happening to John
or myself. I go on to Dover. Whittaker and Hayes both arrive. I pass the
Doctor, Hayes only fit for home service. He goes to Depot. Meet many fellows
who enlisted about the same time as myself. Being still in my staff clothes,
get a new kit with exception of boots, my own are tight. Posted to Corp
No.4 Platoon Sgt.
About 8pm comes a rush, kits quickly packed, ammunition drawn everything
ready for moving off, where, I don't know. We have Guards and patrols
along the Folkstone Road, they all come in, being relieved by Terriors.
The Batt. is complete. Get a letter from May, I had written previously
and sent 25 shillings by Sgt. Goodwin, hope he found time to post it as
troops were hurriedly called in from Town. As we are expecting to go any
time, I try to snatch a few hours sleep on a soft bed whilst having the
chance. Just laid down when order comes to get ready to move. Batt. dressed
and go to Town Station about 4 am. Many of ...... or women come to see
us off Mrs Keel amongst them. I managed a cup of tea for 3d I then get
a sleep, wake up just as we are passing through Tonbridge. See plenty
of troops Regulars and Terriors all the way up to Liverpool Street Station.
We start off on the G.C.R. pass through some very pretty country. It is
raining hard all the time. I begin to feel hungry not having had anything
since the night before, feel dirty and tired and the rain makes things
worse. Arriving at Cromer we wait in the rain for half an hour then move
along round towards the Town. The rain stops hundreds of people flock
out from the Town bringing food, fruit and cigarettes etc. and posting
letters for us. Apparently the whole of the 12th Inf. Batt. is here as
I see other Regiments about. I buy some fruit for mother and May and give
them to man to post he won't take money for stamps. We move off to town
to get billeted. My Corp goes to a large Hotel on the sea front. I go
in the Garage with about 80 men hard stone floor does not look comfortable
others go to Hotel bedrooms. We get our tea which goes down very nice
and then go out on the front. There are plenty of visitors abroad who
treat us very well. Have a trot around the town. I get a cup of tea before
returning on the back seat of a large charabanc which is comfortable.
I get into conversation with a little boy who goes to school at Margate
Skelsmeegh House. Talks to me about his Gym Sgt. Sgt Weller he is full
of questions and seems surprised to think that we wash and clean our teeth
etc. was quite surprised also to see that I had a parting in my hair.
He brings his mother and sisters to see us they seem to be well to do
people. I show them my platoon staff clothes one of the girls remarks
about my 11 aside teams. I get to sleep about 11pm.
Sunday is a very warm day out of it at 6am, the Sgt manages to get a small
room as a mess room. One of the servants dining rooms. After breakfast
we parade in order and march out for two miles along the coast then turn
back. Syd Perry takes over the Platoon. After a decent dinner I sit out
on the front then get my boots changed. The Q.M is very uncivil towards
us. We have to listen to his abuse. I say nothing being glad to get boots
that fit us. I then go on the sands and wash my feet in the sea, relieves
them a great deal. Afterwards get a chair and sit until tea almost like
being on holiday. My shoulders feel sore from the effects of the straps.
For tea we have salad, jam, bread butter some milk in the tea. I write
home to May.
We turn out very early, find the motor I slept in simply packed with men
have to climb over them to get out. The Batt. move out to a field outside
the town have dinner there and aeroplane flies over us. Then the train
to Norwich Thorpe Station, get splendid send off. Get billeted at a teashop
"Newmarket Cafe" Great excitement in town as the chef is a Swiss
the crowd think him a German that we are guarding. People at Cafe very
nice make us comfortable. Make me bed in shop as I am on Guard.
The Batt. go on parade, Seeman on Guard, but go out after on a long march,
it is very hot, absolutely pours off especially when we have to do some
field work, get back about two have my dinner in public house where Hamer
and Holden two of our Sgts are billeted, get three letters home, May,
Jack who badly wants to be with us, have a good sleep that night on a
We march out from Norwich to Lord Staffords Estate, Cottessey Park in
the centre of which is a large mansion, a fine pile (empty) two regiments
billet there the Essex and ourselves. The heat is terrible plenty of men
............... especially reservists they cause trouble being insubordinate.
My section are a fairly good lot. I am glad to get to bed in a large hall
with a stone floor, a little straw is spread round but does not make much
difference sleep well just the same.
Up at 5.30am wash in the river, have a parade to get the corps squared
up. March out for 2 hours after breakfast, very hot again. A lot fall
out I get wet through with sweat. It is a job to keep the reservists
going march discipline so strict. After dinner parade in order for field
work. I get inoculated against enteric fever.
The Batt. go out all day. I feel queer but have to keep about as I am
B.O. I hear from my Bev., May and Mother. Bev. At Dover with 3rd Butt.
Afterwards go to Colchester with them. I have a very bad night it is
so hard on the bricks you feel sore when you get up.
I lay about nearly all day feel bad and cannot do anything.
Feel a bit better open air service, being Sunday.
Then washing shirt and socks in the river and lay them out on the tennis
court to dry. Write to May and mother while they dry also write to John
and Jack to L. Hurdy. After tea walk down the village with Welsh watch
a man fishing. Afterwards buy some from him we try to get some of the
villagers to cook them but they let their fires out early so we get
them cooked by the cook in camp and eat them, they go down alright.
The Brigades field day get it very light have all sorts of inspections
during the afternoon. Manage to write home to May. I just get laid down
at 10 p-m. When I am ordered to take charge of advance party to Wembley
Middlesex. I get up and go over to the cookhouse where the parade is.
It is very cold cannot sleep stand about all night near the fire about
2.30 pm. The 18th we get some tea ham and bread and move off through
the Park quite pleased to get on the move and get warm. Dawn is breaking
as we enter Norwich 3 and a half miles from the Park meet several fellows
returning after remaining absent. Only just in time to catch train.
I fall asleep as soon as I sit down, wake up at Ely, people all along
the line excited especially passing through London, flags out everywhere.
Arrive Wembley Station at 12.30 pm. We see that preparations for unloading
by night have been made. We find our field about 1 mile from the station
I am sent down to meet the 1st H Batt. and Transport also to find supply
deport. This I find is the other side of the camp. I manage a drink
and something to eat which I wanted badly. The other H Batt. team up
later and we get issued with tents and blankets (1 between two) 20 to
a tent some tea is sent up about 9.30pm.
Turn out at 6 am it is still fine. Go on route march through Willesden
Hendon very warm people all along route cheer and get so excited they
throw us food, cigarettes, water anything they have. Seems strange to
be marching through London under such conditions many of us fellows
see relations some come up to the field to see them. Mrs Keel is up
Cpl Keel at the depot.
Phy. Training at 6 am go out for short run. Do corp Trg. after breakfast
fairly easy morning then have a swim in a very large reservoir makes
one feel fresh. Seen Sgt. Curran of K.O.R. Write to mother and May.
My C.S.M. and C.Q.M.S. being sick I have a good deal more to do scarcely
get time to write.
It is still very warm I think there will be a move tonight. We get paid
up, send May 20 shillings. I write for .............. to mother. Mrs
Wallis wife of our O.R. Sgt posts my letters. Lots of people turn up
at the field to see us off, parade at 7.30 pm crowds at the station
I get in a carriage with Maxwell and Walsh fairly comfortable being
a 1st I manage a sleep and wake up as we enter Southampton about m.n.
We get aboard a large vessel the "Saturnia" belonging to a
Glasgow firm. Manage to get ashore again for a cup of coffee and cake,
you do enjoy these little things when you get the chance. The K.O. Regmt.
All aboard with us aft, we are forward among the horses very uncomfortable
and hot between decks. The noise is dreadful. We sail at dawn I stop
on deck and watch the shipping it is a beautiful morning and everything
seems so peaceful. The water calm as a mill pond pass nearby Hospt.
Any number of transport vessels lying in the harbour. Pass a Trooper
the Braemar Castle loaded with troops, we lose sight of her. We can
see the coast quite plain both sides until after passing Dungeness.
I am on deck most of the time so hot and uncomfortable below. I manage
to make some tea and fry some boiled bacon from the Sgt. Mess R.O. Regt.
We have a bit of a concert at dusk, the troops keep quiet lively. We
sight Boulogne, France and take a pilot aboard we drop anchor the tide
is not high enough. Not many French people about as it is late. We get
alongside and the horses and transport are taken off. We stay aboard
until morning. Notice a few French soldiers on guard taking things very
easy, walking up and down smoking and conversing with anyone, sometimes
eating a lump of bread, seems so funny after seeing our own fellows
do the same kind of work.
We land in France, before we do so, I manage a wash a great luxury,
get a drop of tea after a struggle we are so tightly packed as we tumble
over each other. March off from the quay. The place seems very dusty
not many people about. A lot of French soldiers on duty some of them
with their wives who have brought them food and drink. All over the
place the soldiers do their duty in the same easy going way. Our camp
is just outside the town. Cavalry been before us lots of the tents left
as though in a hurry. Weather keeps splendid. Get an interpreter attached
to my company (French Inf. Man) Get a few hours sleep during afternoon.
Buy some eggs and bread for tea they go down very nice. Get into conversation
with a young Frenchman to try and pick up a little of the language.
Some of our chaps almost lose their tempers trying to make themselves
understood. I send my last card to May and get a drink of coffee with
some brandy in it. We have all sorts of inspections, ammunition, rifle.
Rations getting sick of them. We leave the camp at m n 23rd-24th August
and march to station. Nobody about, get into old wooden 3 class carriages
no cushions and very dirty only the Officers manage 1st Class this time.
Try to get some hot water from the engine but it doesn't come off.
I wake up at 6 am, the train must have been on the move some hours.
The line is guarded all the way by French soldiers some of them only
in part uniform just a cap and rifle all seemed to be old men probably
elder reserve. They seem decent and try to do all they can for us. The
train is jolting along it is difficult to write. All the countryside
seems so peaceful. Still people gathering in the corn and hay, you would
never think anything was the matter. At one station, Abbeville, I think,
we met a train full of Belgium Refugees, men, women and children a tired
looking crowd eminently well to do. The French people everywhere shout
Vive Vive! and Heep Heep Huroht.
Stop at Amiens and St Quentins. Our hospital people at both stations,
they can give us no news from the front. We get out at a small station
beating a march to a small field where the cooks make tea. Welsh manages
some eggs and bacon quite a treat. The people all gather round us, one
lady brings us some jam and fruit (plums), after a rest we are taken
by a guide to Ligny (a village famous 1815) Waterloo, a large place
only smells so, all the towns and villages seem the same and regards
smell we bivouac in a small orchard and just5 get nicely asleep when
we are ordered to parade again such a scuttle we draw a days ration
a devil of a job in the ..... the grass wet everything uncomfortable
we move off at 1 am the town is lit up every one up women and men in
their night attire leaning out of windows shops all open there are some
fine houses in this place almost all surrounded by a high fence with
big gates, even the farms are sometimes done up like this.
We feel so tired marching all night every ..... we fall asleep flop
down on the road where we stop. Done up the packs we carry tell on us
and make us feel we are going into fight at a disadvantage. We find
the rest of the Brigade and halt well after dawn. I fall asleep for
2 hours someone shouts tea up. I am up like a shot to get some it is
a wonder feeling how the chorus of a drink of tea will make you move.
We have had plenty to eat and drink up until the time tons of jam, cheese
etc. was wasted, the troops could not eat it all. Welsh gets us some
bacon and tea duty ...... as we are we enjoy it, never changed or washed
since we have been out, boots have not been off for days.
We can hear heavy fencing going on to the N o9f us p0lenhty of people
turn up to pick up what is left several refugees pass by whole families
with bundles on their backs frighten looking men and women a sorry sight
especially to see the old women being helped along the road and the
poor little children trotting along beside. People in England if they
could only see, would realize what civilised warfare is like. One poor
woman we spoke to had lost her husband left with 6 youngsters she could
cry no more. Everywhere our chaps all cleaned their rifles it looks
like business. Never have a felt the same as I do now, we may not see
another day. I wash out of my water bottle a Frenchman (civilian) (we
have no French Soldiers or Cavalry with us) gives me a shave. I feel
a bit better now waiting for the word to move. We never get to know
what is going to happen. That seems to make the work all the harder.
The roads here are made of stone the same as in Lancashire but not as
It is hard to believe that I am alive after what I and others that are
here with me have been through. I have not had a chance to write since
August 25th and what I had written I tore out of the book when captured
but keep the pages. As luck would have it they were not taken from me.
We laid in the position miles north of Ligney all day some of our troops
were moved about escort to guns outpost etc. but my own corp stood still
in a quarry. We got no cooked food so ate some of our tinned stuff.
We pulled straw off a stack and made beds thinking we were stopping.
After dinner thousands of troops passed us returning from Mons in Belgium.
They were cut up and must have had a fearful time of it especially the
inf. The poor Middlesex seemed to be the worst they only had 2 officers,
Col. And Ltn. They were absolutely done, I should say 400 of them. I
hope never to see another regiment in such a state, no packs, some without
rifles, boots, coats, helping one another along, wounded and tired.
Shortly afterwards the Royal Irish 18th came by the French Artillery
and Inf. Go by for half and hour. Broken bad but better than the Middlesex.
Then the Gordon's as far as I could make out had only lost 5 men. The
Gordon's looked in the best condition 1st Royal Scots go by. The Middlesex
I shall never forget. Stragglers of the 3 Regiments followed on by what
I could make out we were to cover their retreat. Just as it was getting
dark we were ordered to entrench ourselves in the front of the quarry
which we did and it rained hard. I was in a turnip field mud all over
me my rifle full of it. We pulled down the sheaves of wheat in front
so as to have a clear field of fire could see our people moving about
in front and a few miles away could see a big fire terrible blaze, apparently
a village that the4 Germans had set on fire.
Nicely settled in our trenches ranges taken etc. when we have to return
on to the road and march back through Ligney. We are on the go all night
through different places see a few French troops stationed at different
places along the road. We are all dog tired about an hour before dawn
we break off the main road up a sort of water course full of mud our
boots get full of water very uncomfortable. The whole Brigade is out
and we are on some high ground goodness knows where. I did not and neither
did any of us think we were so close to the enemy. At one place we were
all halted Captain Thoffrey says "For goodness sake get from the
top of the hill." Then only did I think we were somewhere near.
After a while we get onto a road leading through a small wood and village
3 or 4 hundred yards away. My Battalion go down the slope towards the
wood and extends across a cornfield and turnip field facing the wood
with the road on our right. I think the "Kings Own" continued
our line from the road further to the right. My Platoon No 4 A corp.
Gets a position where the turnip and cornfield meet and to be in the
centre of my Platoon I select the line cutting the two fields and start
to dig, my equipment and rifle being just behind me. We notice a few
fellows out in front so think we are protected for the time being and
take our time as we are dead beat and very hungry. A.S.M. Maxwell came
up and says that as he has no trench and no entrenching tool he will
share mine so I did enough for two. He gets a shovel and pick and we
make bit laughing and joking all the time saying we would enjoy our
biscuits and bully afterwards. The chap on my left digs kneeling trenches,
their ground is softer mine is very hard to dig a tipping trench I make
quite a decent job of it putting straw on the front to hide the fresh
mound. I get my overcoat out of my pack I put it on the front of our
cover. I get a tin of beef out and just have a look out to see how some
of my fellows are getting on with their trenches. When 3 or 4 machine
guns of the enemy's open a terrific fire on us dropping our fellows
like sheep, Maxwell and I fling ourselves into our trench. It is terrible
my rifle is a few yards to the rear as well as my equipment. We can
see nothing only once, when I raised my head, I see a battery of German
Machine Guns going out from the left (our left) of the wood we could
not fire without standing up and the ground immediately to my left rose
so that we could see nothing only to our right front.
The enemy kept up a terrible fire both with machine 4 of them, and artillery.
A party of mounted men had previously come out but our officer, Mr Wilkinson
would not let us fire as they looked like dur??? Fellows. How I wished
we could have had a shot at them we could have wiped them out. Mr Wilkinson
laid down in the open he had no trench, I could see he was anxious,
kept his glasses to his eyes. Several chaps wanted to know if they could
retire but he told them to hang fire. I kept looking at him expecting
to see him go any minute. Maxwell was on the left of me and on his left
was a man, Simms. Presently I heard him moan "Oh sod I am hit and
on looking could see the blood streaming from a wound on the right side
of his head. I asked him how he felt and he said "only sick"
Lt. Wilkinson kept passing orders to my right and the men obeyed them,
the left could not see the enemy. Then a man Crocket kept passing down
that our own men, who were, as far as we could make out in a line, in
the rear, were fielding low. All this time we were wondering where our
Artillery where. We had seen them as well as our Transport come through
the wood from the direction of the enemy. All this time the enemy were
keeping up sharp fire, Artillery, machine guns and rifles. Shells kept
flying over our heads, some hitting the ground in front. Simms poor
fellow got another in the head and he lay still, then as I looked round
Lt. Wilkinson got one in the left hip and drop0ped flat. The word was
passed down that he was wounded so the C.S.M. took charge and continually
told them to stick fast both of us shouted for the men to stay where
they were. It was certain death to return, as you had 70 or 80 yards
up hill to run. Some who we did see return only got a few yards were
shot down. The man in my right made a move to another trench left by
a man who returned. The sound of the guns turned us deaf. Our own Artillery
stated from behind and put a ray of hope into us but they were firing
at the village not the wood where the machine guns were. There seemed
to be only a few of my Platoon left. I saw Mr Wilkinson crawl into a
trench. I called to him, but got no reply. Several shells went close
to him and three entered the trench on my right 2 ft away. We were covered
in earth and straw and thought that we were going, I pulled the little
slip with the prayer on that the chaplain had given me at Wembley. I
read it and said my prayers honestly I was quite prepared to die and
so was Maxwell. A shot entered the ground close to my elbow and the
fire from the machine guns clipped the straw covering our trench. The
fire swept along the whole line from left to right and every time anyone
returned they concentrated the Artillery fire and machine gun fire on
them bring them down. The enemy must have fired millions of rounds of
ammunition. The word was shouted from our left that the enemy were advancing
we could not see them, on account of the rise in the ground to our left.
I said to Maxwell "We shall soon have them on us now and I got
hold of my rifle I know I thought of home and what they would say perhaps
never know what became of us. There only appeared to be about 4 of us
left alive in the trench and I thought what a hopeless chance we had.
I could see fellows laying still all the way along they must have been
dead of badly wounded as they did not move. All of a sudden it seemed
they appeared on the top of us straight from our left not from the left
front as I expected they were 40 to 1 they shouted "hands up"
firing all the time not even troubling to bring their rifles to the
aim. I really thought it had come as we rose Maxwell was clubbed with
the butt of a rifle and then the follows stood with his bayonet over
him. It made me sick and as I turned towards him to do what I could
I was shot through my right arm making my arm useless. We were absolutely
surrounded they as well as our own fellows fully at us. Germans were
dropping down but we were not touched again. It seemed marvellous to
think of it afterwards but fo9r a German Officer, Maxwell would have
gone. The Officer shouted just in time, They would have killed us all
but for him. They had two or three more of our chaps who were wounded,
Emsley, a stretcher bearer, 3 shot through the shoulder, he looked bad
Hanlon shot through the shoulder Hodson through the ankle. We carried
them down the hill as best we could our own shells bursting over our
heads. Your could hear them come through the air swishing along and
then crack. It was terrible, they made us hurry along to a deep small
road leading to the wood. We passed dead soldiers all the way, one fellow
with half his head blown right off blood all over the road. An awful
sight. We stopped beside a machine gun apparently out of action. I laid
close to the bank. Here we managed to dress our wounds a little. Young
Emsley looked awful I thought he was dying, quite a youngster 20 years
about. Several of our small party were only that age. Wounded German
soldiers were being brought down the road all the time, one poor chap
with the bottom of his jaw blown off. It must have been going bad for
both sides. Maxwell was bad, they had taken ammunition, knife and rifles
away. I still had my pack, haversack, water bottle etc. We laid there
for over an hour under our own fire. The Germans digging themselves
in all the time. Some Infantry and Artillery went up past us they must
have gained some ground. Presently we had to get on the move again into
the village. We helped our fellows along and two of the Germans gave
us a lift, decent fellows they were, one could speak English. The village
railway station was in a terrible state broken and battered about, papers
all over the place dead soldiers, Germans on the line, everywhere sacked.
The village was full of troops who shouted at us all. One hit one of
our chaps with the top of his lance across the back of the neck nearly
knocking him down. They all seemed pleased at getting us "Englanders"
"Englanders" they kept shouting. We could do nothing only
hold our heads up and walk along if we had have turned they would have
shot us. The civilian people who were in the village looked frightened
to death. They put the wounded that could not walk on to timbers and
wagons, anywhere where we could put them and we have not seen them since.
More of our fellows kept joining in, all regiments, until there were
about 20 of us with one or two French, the first we had seen since fighting
commenced. They pushed us up against a hedge in the wet and stood a
guard round us. It was wet and cold. I had my straps taken from me leaving
me my pack haversack and water bottle. Every soldier that came along
took things from us as they liked. I was saved a lot on account of my
stripes. I would point to them and say Und Officer in German as near
as possible and they let me alone. The same with Maxwell. The German
Under Officer who corresponds with our N.C.O.'s has a lot of power.
Some of them were good and gave us a drink of wine which warmed us to
a certain extent. A portable cooker was close by and the smell made
us worse as they would give us none. Everytime a Regiment passed they
would shout "Ah! Ah! Englander Englander". Just as we were
about to settle down there for the night as we thought we were bundled
up onto the road and there we saw about 200 French. All old men, they
seem to capture the French in hundreds. As we marched along the road
and soldiers kicked me in the bottom of my back. Being wounded which
he could see I was it was a cruel thing to do. I was not the only one,
plenty of our chaps were served the same. We were taken across some
fields to another village passing dead horses and bullocks and the remains
of cattle, they had been killed for food. At the French village we were
put in the church, a beautiful little place, it did seem a shame, there
we slept on straw all on top of one another almost.
As we laid down Maxwell's overcoat was taken from him and a cap comforter
that I had pulled over my ears, snatched from my head as I laid down.
The Roman Catholic Priest was in the church amongst the Frenchmen comforting
them. At dawn the next morning we were put out, as we left the church,
a sour brown hard loaf was given out between five of us. The villagers
brought us hot coffee, it did taste lovely, one of our chaps fainted,
only a youngster, we had to leave him. We were then pushed on back on
to the main road again. Everywhere , houses were broken open carts overturned
or smashed, dead horses etc. We were marched to another village. Marched
through Cambria civilians all terrified. Dead French soldiers lay in
the street every shop window and door smashed, place full of Germans.
We went into a large mill all herded together again. Straw was given
to us again and although it was rough very rough I think the German
treated us as best they could under the circumstances. A strong guard
is around us all the time, in charge of us all is a Sgt. Major Lund,
a little man with an awful voice he makes his men jump about and the
way he shouts at them strikes the Englishmen as funny. Although as regards
the German soldiers it has the necessary effect. He issues out a few
tins of stuff. Sardines, I tin between a dozen what a share we got and
as we had no knives it was a job to open. He had a big tin of salmon
in oil, I got a lump of that about an inch, it was very nice. I considered
myself lucky at getting it. The French did kick up, I saw proper fights
at times over the food. I think the majority of our chaps think the
same that they would 10 times rather live with the German soldiers than
the French they seem in the majority of cases more like ourselves. My
arm gets knackered about a lot still it is not too bad. The day before
(26th) one thing I did not mention whilst laying in the field they called
for the wounded and thinking we were getting our wounds dressed we went
to a large house in the grounds we stopped and an officer came up said
we had shown the white flag and after we had put it up we fired on their
fellows, of course we denied it nothing of that description took place
where we were nut he would not have it. I really thought they were going
to line us up and shoot us. Anyhow they sent us off again to join the
party with our wounds as they were.
We had a good nights rest and were all out of the mill early and packed
on to the road again, just a drink of water and piece of bread. After
a time dozens of big motor wagons came along each one with another hooked
on behind. 32 of us were packed in each of these. It was awful as you
had got to sit with your knees up to your chin. This was the most uncomfortable
time we spent. These motors rattled along at 25 miles an hour over the
rough roads. We were knocked about like this for 16 hours and must have
travelled over 200 miles every now and again there would be a halt generally
some big town or village here the people brought us out food, beer,
water chocolates, fruit, anything they had to give many of the people
crying at the sight of us we must have looked awful as were not allowed
to wash or shave at any time. We were passing their troops all the time,
the same shouting taking place each time. It must have been early 8
pm when we came to a large town in Belgium called Hal, a fine place
full up with troops. Here we were put into a school with a courtyard
with trees all round. I saw some more shops and a fine church. The people
were nice, throwing us shirts and caps for our chaps that had lost theirs.
We had one of the small school rooms and got a decent sleep on straw.
Up again early and out into the courtyard, French and all. Got a bit
of a wash, the first since the morning of the 26th and that was out
of a water bottle. We stayed in this place all day, different officers
coming in to look at us. The S.M. Lund was a decent chap got us some
raw fat bacon and white bread also made us some coffee and I was allowed
to get some boiling water to make a drop of tea and paying for the gas
10 cents it cost, but we enjoyed it. He also allowed us to write and
took our letters, how I hope they get through Stan's photo I sent off
to May and a letter to Mother. We got him to write Field Post Office
in German on each one. I shall never forget the kindness of this Officer
he was one out of many and treated us as we should have been treated.
Maxwell seemed bad his head was aching from the smack he got. I issued
what food we got and saw everyone get some. Just as it is getting dark
we move down through the town to the station. My haversack was full
2 tins of sardines, pot of jam, bread, and smokes. A soldier had got
them for me I gave him 2/6 but was worth it. The people brought us stuff
again and you can see tears in their eyes as we pass through. They would
like to help us more if they could. I shall never forget Hal and the
time we spent there. Our escort stopped the people giving us fruit and
cigarettes. The French being in front us got into carriages we had to
be content with a large goods van. 30 of us the van was filthy dirty,
full of dust. On e side was left open and two of our escort were provided
with one of the seats from off the plat form. A small nightlight was
given to the guard who had fixed bayonets and never once where ever
they went did they let go of their rifles. We did not know at the time
what we had to face. After the train started we all stood looking out
until it got dark. Same day bread and water was eaten for our sup0per
the bread was a loaf I had bought in Hal so was not so bad. We then
laid down as best we could all over the floor.
The train went very slowly and stopped at every station almost. The
line was all guarded by soldiers and the railway run by them. We brushed
ourselves down but were not allowed to wash we did feel lively sometimes
at a station or if we stopped near some houses. The guard would jump
out and get different stuff the people had. We passed through some nice
countryside peaceful except for the train loads of troops etc. that
We stopped a good time at Liege. The place looked impregnable just hills
all round everywhere signs of bombardment. Trains overturned, houses
blown to pieces. White flags hanging from the houses and here and there
a German flag. Here we got chocolate and even beer from people. The
backs of those houses came out onto the line.
Everywhere the people were quiet and down hearted. No trains running,
the lamp posts in some places bent over from the effects of a shell.
We passed through several tunnels out of the town and came to the frontier.
Only a small station the guard told us it was Deutschland as the Germans
called their country. All the time we wondered where we were going.
The train went faster once we were on German soil. And our reception
was a hot one, they seemed proud to think that they had caught the Englanders.
The French were not taken any notice of. Word must have been passed
forward as at every station crossing and bridge. Crowds turned out to
shout at us. We had another night on the train. We passed through Eberfeld
the Manchester of Germany, a very large place. Our chaps started singing
and were in the middle of a ragtime when we entered Cologne station.
Immediately about 20 German Officers surrounded our carriage and shouted
at us to stop. "Shut up No do it again." So we shut up at
once not wanting trouble. After as stay of about an hour, during which
time a company of Germans sung some hymns. I must say it sounded grand,
just like a Choir. I caught sight of the cathedral a magnificent pile
near the railway. Thousands of people were out on the streets below
us shouting and singing, if it were only England we thought we could
join them. We did not seem to be treated the same as prisoners of war
who have been fighting for their country the same as themselves. They
looked upon us as if we had done a great ..
..........A lot of
the German soldiers who I spoke to, who had been in England said how
sorry they were to have to fight against us and could not understand
it at all. Today being Sunday everyone had their best on. For us it
seemed hard to realise that it was Sunday. Weary tired and hungry as
we were. About dinner time I should think we arrived at a place Sennelaeger.
Out we had to get, we were jolly glad to stretch our legs. We marched
up to a camp not far from the station into a compound, a lot of our
chaps were there including 3 of our Officers R.A.Q.M.C., S Lund and
R.F.A. I being amongst the wounded was taken through the camp to Hospital.
The place reminded me of Bordon or Longmorn being built on similar lines,
low huts and trees. Saw a lot of English civil personnel, Pols, Japs,
French, and Montenegro's. A Russian person was at the Hospital helping,
he is a prisoner the same as ourselves. Our wounds dressed we were put
in a place next to some French wounded. We were given a bowl and towel
and marched to the canteen just like our own for a bowl of soup. The
Englishmen came and spoke to us buying us beer, cigarettes and a spoon
each. They were nearly all Lancashire men working for a Manchester firm
they think they will stop as long as us. We quite enjoyed our talk with
them. Our beds are one above the other, straw mattresses, one blanket
each anyhow it is comfortable. After two nights in a goods van, it was
The next morning we went to hospital again and had more soup for dinner,
for tea we get coffee and sometimes a piece of sausage, a loaf has to
last two days. I have 17/6 on me which I change for German, getting
about 14/- for it. How thankful I am for it, we are able to buy a little
luxury. What we will do when it is gone I don't know as the rye bread
wants some pushing down.
All the time the weather has kept fine, we go up to the Hospital and
through the same performance. More of our troops come. By what we hear,
our troops must have had a terrible time every other one of our chaps
were wounded. Maxwell and I move up to one of the corps that have been
formed each in charge of a R.S.M. or Sgt. All regiments. The beds are
crowded together, we have to parade several times during the day for
At the end of our hut I discover a bunk with four beds unoccupied, so
Maxwell, myself and two of the Dublin Fus. Sgts, one named Kelly, get
into it and are fairly comfortable only it is so cold at night with
only the one blanket. Our camp is surrounded by barbed wire and rows
of A.D. sentries all round the outside and electric lights all round.
It would not do to poke your head out at night as they would shoot.
Another fine day only a little colder. The same routine as before, parades
and soup with coffee and sausage R.S.M. McCready turned up but nobody
seems to be able to give much news of our troops only that at every
point they were out numbered. All sorts of news, fall of Paris, capture
of Russians, boats sunk. It keeps flying round. We do not know what
to do to pass away the time. There are all sorts of prisoners coming
in. Saw two priests among a crowd of fresh men today. Treated no better
than anybody else. If we could only have a few games it would not be
so bad. My wound is still sore but has healed up first rate being right
through the forearm without touching the bone thank goodness.
The weather still keeps warm. 160 of our troops came in last night only
2 or 3 of my own regiment. Mostly Gordon's, the Col. of the Gordon's
and Mr Usher an officer who was on my last gym course. An awful lot
of our chaps are wounded. The Hospital people are kept busy. One English
gentleman a civil engineer does grand work he was going home from Chiro(?)
to get married. I am getting a bit sick of the black bread, sour tasting
stuff and only an inch or two of sausage now and again and only vegetable
soup for dinner. My money is gradually going, shall miss it when it
It scarcely seems like Sunday. We are very comfortable in our bunks
and pass the day sitting about with a walk up the road, not far. Now
and again I manage a chat with Mo .......... of the Gordon's he tells
me how the Gordon's were captured.
Last night there was a disturbance outside in the next hut to ours,
a loud bang then rifle shots. We wondered what had happened. The Guards
surrounded the next hut and my heart went a little faster especially
when we heard the rattle of the bolts when they loaded. Anyhow things
quietened after a while. It appears that a man from the next hut opened
the door to urinate and the Sentry fired thinking he was going to try
and get away. The shot tore the tin about 10 yards above the man. I
saw the hole it had made. Through this we were all thoroughly searched
everything off except our shirts. It did feel rotten, they took knives
and forks from us and then moved us out to a field or rather a barbed
wire enclosure, all sand and dust. If only a few of us moved, clouds
of dust arose. Piles of straw for us to sleep on all in place. We get
plenty of visitors, among them, two small German boys dressed as soldiers.
We get no coffee or bread. I know what hunger means now my stomach feels
awful. Thousands of the French all in the next field. Four of us sleep
together and am warm as warm as I have been since we were captured.
There is a Major in charge of our field and we learn that anyone moving
about at night will be severely punished. Sentries do not hesitate to
shoot. They seem to think that we will escape at the least chance. Hardly
likely I think everyone realising how silly it would be to try to.
We are out at 6 after a good night rather cold first thing but it gets
warm after breakfast. What a sight, we march down to the canteen. The
fellows in front get bread, some of the small white loaves how nice
they look but they are soon gone. The coffee I get a little of that
then off to another place for a hunk of brown bread even that tastes
good now. We feel a bit better, none of us feel strong just want to
eat and lay down, does not do to even think of a good English meal.
About another 80 English turn up captured at St Quentin Hospital. Lt.
Gallagher of my Corp amongst them and 4 other Lancs Fusiliers he is
wounded 5 timed but rubbing along. He comes over with us for food.
Another very warm day, very little food. The soup we get at dinner is
our best meal and that is principally vegetables only little meat. We
are formed up in Battalions 1000 strong.
The Lancs. Fusiliers, Gordon's 18 R.I. R.S.F. making up the first Battalion.
Everyone is feeling the effects of insufficient food. Dry brown bread,
soup and coffee neither having sugar or milk still it is always hot.
Our chaps are keeping fairly well considering 3 of them have been caught
trying to steal bread and all going to be brought before an Officer
McCready. Maxwell, Carrington and I make a bed down, find it warm, the
night is close. A great many more prisoners come in during the night,
French, Belgians and a few English.
Only Coffee for breakfast, bread we get a little of later, 3 men tied
hands and feet to a tree.
For dinner, red cabbage boiled with a little meat, very thin stuff.
About ½ lb of bread is issued with a small white roll which goes
down very nice. All English civilian prisoners all put in night field
to us. There must be thousands of us including 3,500 British troops.
I feel very weak, the food is not solid enough, stomach feels empty,
never satisfied. I have never felt so hungry in all my life.
After a very warm night, get up about 6.30 last night an awful row occurred
on the road just as though a man had gone mad and was yelling as loud
as he could. No bread for breakfast, only coffee. Lie about all morning
and don't feel fit for anything. Barley soup for our dinner more like
water having no bread to thicken it makes it worse. I feel sorry for
a boy of the R.A.M.C. who was captured with a company of R.A.M.C. One
of the German Officers gave him some chocolate and later a cigar. That
night we make we make our bed under some trees. I had been asleep about
an hour it pours down. We are trampled on by men rushing for shelter.
It was miserable and cold, blankets wet through, it keeps on all night.
We look a miserable crowd getting out the majority have been waling
about all night. The Gordon's do look a sight, their legs getting black
some with sacks over their heads one with a cardigan made into a pair
of .............another with a straw hat and a pair of black trousers
under his belt.
Get several showers during the day. Brown coffee and bread for breakfast,
very thin cabbage soup for dinner. Several are carried to Hospital one
died on the way. ...... in the French camp. Weather brightens up towards
tea. Large tents are being put up, each holding 500. Water runs all
over the floor expect another rotten night. Hungry is not the word for
it 4 of our fellows tied up to trees today for various offences. Mud
all over the camp I have a cold but feel fairly well otherwise.
Not a bit like Sunday, raining all day get a fairly good nights rest.
Mud all over the camp. The civilian prisoners all in next field they
come into our place for dinner, they get less food than us but take
things cheerfully. All sorts of news comes through such as the fall
of Paris and Germans marching on London.
Still very wet a few more of our chaps come in, more tents are put up
said to be for cavalry and artillery. We hear a lot about a Peace Conference
ending tonight but it is so hard to believe anything. I know we have
had enough of this treatment of watery soup and weak coffee does not
suit a British Soldier. The bread we are getting used to here are 2
kinds, the larger loaves being a lighter colour and a better flavour.
When the soup has almost been issued they think there will not be enough
to go round a bucket or two of cold water is put in, the same with the
coffee. We move out to sleep in tents nearer the huts tonight plenty
of straw today but overcrowded. I sleep well until about 4 every night.
Out early just after 5am. March up to our old compound for coffee and
bread, it has turned out , but a cold wind blowing. I chance a wash
at dinner time then go on fatigue into the town and station to get a
load of straw quite a treat to get a walk out although the civilians
do not give us much of a reception. They laugh at us and do not take
things in the sportsman like way that I expected as prisoners of war.
I did think they would have treated us better. A regiment of cavalry
pass us and carry on just the same.
I manage a journey to the canteen today to try and get some cakes etc.
for our men get down to the ten huts, we are marched into a wire compound
and kept there and not allowed to go out. I manage two pots of jam through
the fence that a young German gets for me and march back.
We still sleep in tents in another part of the camp 400 to a tent very
close. The Germans are not satisfied with the way our fellows move about
they cannot stand being enclosed, pushed here and there, they will not
move about. The same as the French who seem to fear the German soldiers.
Our men do not realise to what extent they can be made to do anything
that they are told. A lot are selling their shirts etc to the civilians
in the next compound, doing almost anything for money. We all parade
at 4pm and have orders read out as regards discipline.
The weather sets in very wet we have 3 days raining all the time we
have to move into another tent, get fairly comfortable corner only cannot
get out for a walk simply have our food lay down, talk, or sleep. Today
is a bit better, I go on fatigue down to one of the big stores unpacking
blankets, towels etc. quite a treat to stretch my legs only feel week
when lifting anything. Get some watery pea soup for dinner again. One
of the Gordon's died last night. Camp begins to smell scenes are bad
near the road, women pass up and down and take no notice. Our chaps
seem to be watched very closely. The French pass in and out of this
camp as they want to. Very cold at night now. The Guards light fires
all round the compound last night, one was playing a mouth organ almost
all night. For tea tonight we have a pickled herring each. The bone
is taken out and the fish is rolled round a small piece of cucumber
and the .......... found it very tough.
A little brighter, but still cold. The whole place smells so many of
us in such a small space, the sewers only a few yards from our tent
door. One of the sentries fired at one of ours for not halting when
ordered to do so. If anyone wants to go out at night there is always
the chance of getting a bullet. Some of the sentries seem nervous when
halted we answer Latrine or Water whichever we want. Several of the
large tents in the French compound were destroyed by the wind. They
go down near the huts to sleep every night.
A nice warm day, a notice is put up outside the canteen headed News
for English Prisoners September 18th. An engagement has taken place
between the .............. and The Vosges the enemy were repulsed with
great loss 2,500 prisoners and several guns. The enemies right flank
made a brave assault but were driven back. Three British cruisers sunk
by underwater ships in dense fog.
I wash my flannel again. German recruits march to and from Barracks
past our camps always singing. They are all decent sized fellows but
not as well set up as ours. They do not carry themselves at all well.
The French Soldiers do all the work almost, building up sheds, sewers
putting up telegraph poles etc. Our food is a bit better now we get
a little cheese or small pieces of sausage for our tea.
Another nice day, turn out at 7 and have bread and coffee for breakfast,
can only walk round talking all the morning until dinner which consists
of weak soup with peas and fat bacon ½ pint roughly.
A notice fastened outside the cookhouse dated 22nd. The Cruiser Emden
suddenly appeared in the Bay of Bengal after being missing for 6 weeks
and captured 6 ships sunk 5 absent their crews on the 6th to Calcutta
the cruisers Cressy, Hague and Abouker have been sunk by German submarines
in the North Sea. A great number of men were saved by English warships
and Dutch Steamers. On the 20th September between 6 and 8 o clock 20
knots north west of the Hook of Holland Abouker first ship to be struck
Dutch Steamer "Flora" brought 287 saved to Ljmuiden.
English cruiser Pegasus from Zanzibar destroyed Pegu sunk the German
Gunboat Seagull September 14th and was herself attacked by the Konigaberg
in the bay of Zanzibar while cleaning her machinery completely put out
of use. The crew were saved by the German Steamer Eleonore.
Another fine day a Lance Corporal is tied to a tree today and a dinner
put on the ground in from of him (said to have tried to get two dinners.
A Church of England Minister turns up in camp having been captured promises
a service on Sunday. Yesterday I went to the station on fatigue, twice,
quite a change to get out.
Mays birthday Sunday. We have two services in one of the large tents
a Major (Minister) also a prisoner captured at Beauchamp in France takes
the services rather impressive being our first as prisoners of war.
Note that some of the fellows almost crying. More news for English prisoners
is posted up on sides of cookhouse. All German victories both East and
Weather has turned out very wet seem to be no fresh meat about nothing
but fat bacon and peas in the dinner, bread is very old.
Large poles are put up all around the compounds electric lights are
put at the top of them giving splendid light. Some of our chaps break
open the tobacco canteen and steal some packets of shag. The place is
closed until the offenders are found.
News that Cologne is in the hands of the British comes to light.
Much the same as usual get cheese for tea small round pieces size of
half a crown, they were green in the centre and had caraway seeds in
Wash my shirt put on a clean one that are issued C.S.M. is put in one
of the empty stores and 3 sentries put on the door. When he comes out
a German N.C.O. marches with him and two sentries with bayonets fixed
and pointing towards his back.
....... all night hear no fresh news C.S.M. Crack S. Reg. Still away.
Tobacco gets very scarce. Canteen still closed will not be opened until
the fellows who stole tobacco own up.
Weather turns cold especially before breakfast.
Two Church services make a nice change Mr H grateful on being allowed
to stay with us. A large party of German boys parade round the different
camps all wearing military caps and headed by a pipe and drums band,
similar to our boys coats. Several things go from my pack .................
with paper etc. either Maxwell or I have to stay with our kit. Lots
of our chaps sell stuff to the French, English civilians to get money
Go out on fatigue 7am, get a bun and small piece of cheese to last until
4pm. March out 4m to where wooden huts are being erected. Building a
Barracks, our chaps do all the labouring work. Comes on to rain and
we get wet through. A nice little farm just where we were working in
the middle of the wood. Get back about 5 pm. Get a very poor dinner
quite what we expected.
One of my Reg. Tied to a tree for 6 hours for insubordination towards
myself, R.S.M.Wright R.S. Another I saw lifted out of the cookhouse
by a German for trying to get two dinners. It turns very cold. After
today the tobacco canteen to be closed for good, allowed to smoke what
we have and then finish.
Very cold all night, frosty. Glad to get out and run about toget warm.
Go out on fatigue again to the new Barracks they are building, carrying
wood. 700 of us each Sgt has 100 men to look after. We are issued with
half a white roll, 3 small round pieces of cheese. Any of our fellows
manage to buy bread at the farms 90 P/g each loaf.
Still very cold half the camp get soup for their tea, very good stuff
like thick pea soup more bread is to be issued. One 6lb loaf between
four instead of 6 men.
I go on fatigue cutting down trees in a wood close to camp and putting
up a barbed wire fence round an empty camp, finish early.
Sunday the parson turns up I attend both services. One or two Germans
stand near him while he is preaching. Nearly all the sentries are carrying
F. Rifles. The dinners get a bit better (thicker). A Notice is put up
headed Fall of Antwerp. Undignified flight of the English. Later we
learn it is untrue.
Another notice is put up saying that we are allowed to send Postcards
and I write one to May.
Very wet, the sewer 20 yards from the door of our tent smells rotten.
Weather continues wet all day.
Nice clear day go on fatigue early hundreds of us march out through
the town along the main road close to a railway. Halt at a small railway
station Klaushiem where the wood for the huts they are building is stacked.
The little boys and girls pass us going to school carrying their bags
on their back like the German soldiers carry their packs. Fine healthy
We carry the wood to the Barracks then march home to dinner. Every evening
R.S.M. Wright, McCready, Sgt. Richardson walk up and down outside the
tent taking until when we have to retire.
Nice warm day. Have to have our dinner at 10am makes the day so long
our chaps still try to sell anything they have to the French to try
to get tobacco. I have got myself a pipe full now and again from Wright.
..........of ours is told to go to another part of the tent away from
us for very good reasons he does so without a word making me think him
guilty of the charge put against him by Wright.
A Corp of the R.O.B.B. dies also a Frenchman some of his regiment make
a cross and wreath out of heather and grass. The French carpenter makes
a wooded cross.
Out at 4 so get some soup for breakfast and go out round the town to
the huts on fatigue get a little tobacco from a German. A good many
of them having no uniform only carrying a rifle. The funeral passes
the camp during the morning coffins of plain wood carried on a cart.
Have our breakfast late and dinner at 10 making a long time to tea and
coffee time. A concert is run almost every night. A notice is put up,
blaming England for the plight of Belgium. Germans said to have found
papers in Brussels about the plan of campaign in case of war dated 1906.
Up at five coffee and dry bread. Out on fatigue round the road to the
huts carrying wood, get a cigar from under officers welcome as we have
no tobacco. Corporals pay 11m 20pg every 10 days. Another notice up.
It has been ascertained that the French and English are ill-treating
the German prisoners even the Doctors and Nurses. That the English were
treating as honourable men. That we had nothing to be afraid of as we
were well treated. I thought as a read it of the way I had seen a German
soldier only this morning kick a man of the Gordon Highlanders for wanting
to make water.
Sunday have a service at 11 and Holy Communion was celebrated for the
first time in Camp this morning. The English prisoners and civilian
fishermen came to the service.
100 of my Corp go down for bath and disinfection. I get my hair cut.
4 French barbers are at work with clippers taking off all the hair close.
We do not get our bath (no time) so march to Hospital. A German orderly
empties two or three lamps of their oil into a tin and every man has
to wash his head in it. After the first two the oil is black with dirt
so manage to miss it, then return to camp without the usual escort of
Germans, the first time I have ever seen a party of English without
one. My head feels cold as the weather is damp. After tea McK W, and
I go to a concert in the large tent several good turns including a sketch.
The weather has turned cold and damp slight rain all day makes everything
miserable. There is talk of a move to the stables while huts are built.
The other part of the camp we went through yesterday was very quiet
scarcely any troops about. A lot of their men go past the camp every
day who have come back from the front wounded.
Plenty of civilians also come up every day a lot of them dressed in
black. Our men must be getting in an awful state as every day dozens
of them sit outside the tents picking the vermin from their clothes.
Still very wet find one or two on my flannel so take it off to wash
it. Sgt. Richardson goes into Hospital. At the bottom of the camp is
a small stream. The German Guard have decorated it representing the
E. Channel on one side and a card with Calais on it a lot of old tins
to represent houses. Two large ones together labelled 42 inch guns another
very large one on two sticks to represent an airship. On the other side
more tins, Dover, and a white flag flying.
Weather gets brighter during afternoon I was in singlet and shirt also
have a bath out of a bucket. One of the Lifeguards men receives a postcard
from London makes me more hopeful about my own that I sent. Hear that
a Frenchman shot last night going out of the stables.
Notice posted up saying that the "Undaunted" had sunk 4 German
Torpedo boats and that 4000 Hindu's have revolted in Calcutta for being
forced into arms on account of the war. Yesterday I saw part of an English
paper dated October 8th, English League beat Irish League 2 - 1.
We all enjoyed a few minutes read. The paper was in pieces some parts
of it missing altogether cannot say how it got here.
Out on fatigue at 6am have to get up at 4.30 enjoy walk round the road.
A Frenchman is buried we line the fence to watch as they go by. Just
soldiers carrying a large plain wooden cross then a wagon driven by
a man walking and carrying the coffin of plain wood with the cap of
the Frenchman on it. The cart is lined with branches from a fir tree
then follow some German Officers in full dress and some French and lastly
the firing party of German Soldiers.
Today we hear that the Germans have ......................and that a
naval battle has taken place in the North Sea. Send a card to mother
and one to May.
Sunday again, attend morning service at 11 am and evening service at
3 pm. Several letters come into camp the men who get them in some cases
get quite excited running back to their tents holding the letters up
in their hands. Makes some of us feel a bit sad to see other chaps with
news of their wives and relations.
Very wet turn out at 4 am for our coffee. The Gordon's go out on fatigue
in the pouring rain. No.3 Battalion kick up a row and have to get turned
out at the point of the bayonet. They are made to stand in the rain.
The Gordon's come back wet through they take their clothes off and in
many cases go to the C. House with only a blanket round them for some
soup. I cannot get a bath yet have had a cold one but am suddenly in
need of a warm one. The Camp is one mass of mud and the tents let in
water. You will see our men tied to trees everyday for something or
other. Shirts and .................... are given out to some of the
troops, some of them attempt to sell them to the French.
Still very wet. I get a pair of woollen clog boots lined with felt which
keep my feet warm. One of my Reg. comes out of Hospital he has lost
his left eye (Travers).
Very wet again our men have to go on fatigue just the same come back
in an awful condition bare feet and wooden clogs.
My throat feels sore, alright otherwise. We get some very thin oatmeal
for our tea it is sweet and it is a nice change. One night we got boiled
barley with prunes, very few prunes, lucky if you got one. Everyday
you see several of our men tied to trees by German soldiers. Have only
seen of two cases of the same thing in the French camp. Am very lucky
as regards smoking, get tobacco given to me by Wright and McQuay, about
the only comfort we have. 4 Blankets keep me warm during the night only
the water comes in on our feet.
Sunday still very damp spend much of our time everyday walking about
chatting. Get the chance of moving into some small bunks where a lot
of the C.S.M.'s are living. Maxwell goes over and they do not like the
idea of a Sgt. Going in although they cannot stop Maxwell. As the weather
turns better on the 2nd we hang on in our tent. I attend 2 services
on the Sunday, the minister tells us there are heaps of letters down
the camp for us, some of our people have written such long letters they
will not take the trouble to read through them. I meet C.G.M.S. Lynton
of the K.O.R. who used to live under me in S.F. Barracks Dover I hear
that Sgt. Heatherington of the S. Lancs killed, he was at Warrington
A beautiful although cold day. I wash my shirt and two pairs of socks
and hang them on the barbed wire to dry and sit in my tent and watch
them. My vision is blocked for only 2 minutes by men delivering bread
and in that short space of time a pair of my socks were stolen and I
expect by this time sold to a Frenchman for tobacco. The letters and
parcels are brought up to Camp and censured here. One of my regiment
gets a parcel and one a card. French Sgt. tells us there is good news,
as he goes down the Camp. We get what they call porridge, simply horrible,
dirty water, it is so thin. For dinner there was no meat so the carrots
and potatoes were boiled, and about 1 ½ of sausage issued to
Very fine day, cold but bright. Go down to the village on fatigue carting
stones, all fatigue parties now get two small white rolls on going out.
More letters are issued (no luck).
Another fine day cold during the night. Rather peculiar shaped rainbow
in the sky straight above the Camp two bows shapes Have never seen the
same before. The ground between the two rows of tents is being turned
over being clean yellow sand underneath. Attend a concert in the big
tent several good turns including a sketch.
We move out of our tent into the next whilst ours is cleaned out. Straw
taken out and burnt.
Finish our tent off, quite the right day for a bonfire. Have a job to
keep the men away, they get potatoes from the cookhouse and roast them.
Letters and parcels keep coming into camp. I begin to get anxious, cannot
understand getting no news makes several of us who have not received
news feel very downhearted when we see the other fellows drawing their
letters from the Commandants Office.
Go out on fatigue making a road to the huts, have a white flour bun
given to us on going out. We have fish and potatoes stewed together
for our dinner one night for supper we had potatoes boiled in their
skins and a pickled herring.
I get my first warm bath and my clothes fumigated. The bath is a shower
bath arrangement nice warm water, a piece of soap the size of a lump
of sugar is given to us 40 of us go in at a time, our clothes all steaming
hot when given to us. I hear that several of my regiment who were wounded
the day I was captured are on furlough. A notice is posted up today,
an extract from the Times dated 6th November. 4 British Men of War gave
battle to 4 German off the coast of Chile, 2 British were almost sunk
running under the cliffs to save themselves and the other two escaped
in the dark. The British ships could not get within range. Our men settle
down to things, better now although I still see every day men tied to
trees for 2 or 3 hours. The Commandant treats us as well as he can he
is a fine man standing about 6ft 2in of smart appearance, dark whiskers
turning grey. Saw an English Bulldog in camp today laying in the cookhouse.
I keep very good health, feel fit until I come to do any work then I
soon get tired, in bed by 8.30 every night, sleep two or three minutes
after turning in wake up then about 3 am and do not sleep any more have
to run out to the rear twice every night, always plenty out there.
I go out on fatigue, road making during the afternoon A Frenchman and
I make a fire to keep ourselves warm while the men work. On return to
camp I hear that 80 from each corp in camp are to move tomorrow to the
French and Belgium camps. Rather upsets our little party of 4 of us
C.S.M. Wright will have to move. Letters and parcels are given out still
no news from home. Can do nothing else but wonder whatever is the matter.
True enough letters with earlier dates arrive last in a good many cases.
We turn out at 7 160 men of No. 4 corps move out to the French Camp
with 160 of every other corps in the Battalion. The same number of French,
Belgium, Algerian troops move in. All mixed with our fellows luckily
a man of our corps can speak very good English. He comes from W.............
We cannot understand why this move has taken place. C.S.M. M and I get
into one of the huts where the staff who run the camp live. No letters
have come up yet today. Had a splendid tea, Bacon, good coffee, cheese
etc. then go to bed.
Sleep very comfortable and warm, fried sausage, cheese for breakfast.
A lamp is in each hut so we are able to warm anything. There are 6 of
these huts all in the one building all are occupied by C.S.M.'s and
Sgts, others are used as bread store, hospital and prison. They are
each about 14 ft long by 10ft and 16ft high. Berths are fixed up the
side to hold 4 or 6 and half the floor space is used as a bed rough
cupboards, stools and tables are in each made by different Sgts. I put
Stan's and my own photo on the wall to liven tings up as the walls are
whitewashed. The French Adjutant (similar to our S.M.) and some of his
Sgts. Are to occupy some of these huts so we hear which of course is
only fair. More letters arrive in camp during the morning still none
for me, but for that I should feel comfortable, reports come in every
day of airmen having been reported as dead or missing. If I could only
feel sure that my P.C.'s had arrived home I would not mind. I dare not
think of the effect of my being reported as dead at home it would break
mother's heart. May and the boy would not know what to do. My last thoughts
at night are always for them all. I only hope my Brother is safe and
that he will come through safe. Last Sunday I gave my name with several
others to the Minister to attend confirmation class. C.S.M. McCreedy
hands me a letter from May, what a relief, it seems too good to be true
a load is lifted from my mind at once especially after I have read it
and learnt that May and the boy are at Margate and that Jack is safe
still, only those who have been placed in a similar know how it feels
to receive such news. Later in the day I received one from Mother, more
good news, Welsh our C.C.M.S. is alive but has had both legs broken.
Jack Danson, my Brother in Law is still well, only at the front and
Chris is home wounded. Mother has had a good season so is alright. I
was afraid the war would make it bad for her but thank God it did not
in that respect.
OCTOBER 12TH (Possibly wrong date)
A very rough night, the four fellows in the tents have a rough time
as the poles rattle and very often the canvas would tear with the force
of the wind, letting in the rain on top of them. More letters arrive
C.S.M. M hears through my wife's letter that his wife knows he is safe.
The French do make a noise every morning outside our hut issuing their
sausages etc, they all chatter away at the same time. Our interpreter
comes over to see us and at the same time warms himself. He is only
19 and the son of a French P. Clergyman he is interesting to speak to
has travelled in England including Ramsgate, Margate. He has had enough
of soldering so he tells us.
OCTOBER 13TH (possibly wrong date)
It has been raining all night cannot move out of the hut only a few
times during the day. The men in the tents are having a rotten time
as the rain has soaked through some of them. A few of our troops arrive
in camp. 8 Connaught Rangers and 2 H.L.I. captured in Belgium. They
bring good news from the front. I get hold of an English book "A
Life for a Life" and spend most of my time reading it.
OCTOBER 14TH (possibly wrong date)
Still raining hard. Some of the men are given sheets and drawers. I
get a pair of drawers. The weather is very cold although out hut is
warmed a little by a lamp we have.
There is talk of them stopping the issue of oil. We warm our coffee
over the lamp in a canteen hung from a nail. Sometimes manage to fry
a piece of sausage in the same manner. We had pickled herring for tea
last night, being rather tough we boiled it, that improved it greatly.
Our men get on very well with the French. Of course there are all classes
amongst them, principally business men. Some very good singers.
Sunday we have our Church Service as usual, only one service today on
account of Mr Hales having to go to the other camps, there being English
in all of them now. A lot of young wounded German Soldiers walk past
the camp during the day.
At tea we have our young French interpreter who greatly enjoys the little
extras we are able to give him. He reads the paper (printed in French)
to us. The Capture of the "Emden" and what the English thought
of the Commander and crew is read to us. The young Frenchman tells us
of the revolution and the cause of it, being a Protestant, he was in
favour of it and gave his reasons.
The weather is very cold and we get some rain after tea, thank goodness
I have a good roof and fairly comfortable bed.
A much drier day we turn the ground over in front of our hut. After
dinner we hear a list of names read out by the S.M. for those who have
parcels to come. Scarcely expecting one I go round and my name is almost
the last to be called out. Naturally I am pleased although I know my
P.C. asking for socks cannot have got home so soon. I march with some
of our chaps and a few French down to the H.Q. Office. My name is called
out and I go in and my parcel is opened by a German N.C.O in front of
me. According to the Customs Censure note there should have been socks
drawers and sleeping cap, everything is right with the exception of
drawers and cap. It does make a difference to us having news of home
and English clothes, cigarettes etc. we feel more settled. On my return
I find a fire in our hut consisting of a pail of coal which although
it fills the place with smoke is warm. A little drop of tea is waiting
for me. We are visited by a French C.S.M. a jolly little chap who talks
to us through our interpreter who is also with us. My ........ ..........
that was sent is already in great demand, as so few English Books are
allowed to come through. Today we hear that Lord Roberts is dead? In
my letter it says that clothing etc is being sent out by Mrs Lyle, the
wife of one of our Captains.
A keen frost sets in. All the parcels are being brought up, from H.Q.
and read out in camp.
I wait out all day I am rewarded by getting a few cigarettes from my
Brother it takes all day to get through them. The Gordon's are given
trousers and Belgian caps to wear those of them who do not get them
wear their drawers under their kilts and wear the little round caps
they look peculiar. We get one or two pieces of English papers to read,
overlooked by the Germans. Our French interpreter enjoys a read of them.
It is so cold I can scarcely write and shave have a bit of a cold as
Still very very cold more parcels are given out. We turn over the ground
in front of our hut to warm ourselves up. It is very easy to dig the
ground is all sand. It looks much cleaner and the water soaks through
quicker. The frost is making the
A slight fall of snow makes the air warmer, it is bright during the
day. The American Ambassador was round the camp one day last week. I
receive a letter from my Brother. I send him a card. We are very comfortable
in our little hut, we have our lamp to heat our coffee and fry a little
sausage for supper tonight we had some tea it tasted grand although
there is no sugar in it. We also have and old pan with holes in the
sides which we put the fuel in, drawn from the cookhouse boilers the
place is filled with smoke but warm. Maxwell and I have a man to look
after us, does the washing brings our meals from the C.H. and keeps
the place tidy. He also keeps me in Woodbines for several days so is
very useful a Bolton Loom Overlooker named Grundy. I read my Red Mag.
And also a book by Charles Garvice "A Man and Two Maids",
a very good book.
NOVEMBER 25TH (Possible wrong date)
Still freezing, 3 Russian Soldiers are brought into camp today, dressed
in service dress, they go to the next camp on the 22nd and 4 more come
in on that date, one is posted to my Corp they are well dressed, overcoats
like our own.
Still very cold, yesterday our French friend received a parcel containing
dried fruit, chocolate and cake from Genoa, he gives us all some, all
Still cold. My other parcel arrived from home on the 22nd also two tins
of Tobacco from Jack C.
It does seem grand to get these parcels and the disappointment on many
faces when they do not get one is clearly marked. A letter from May
arrived this evening saying that she had received one from me dated
August 1st, must be the one I wrote in the school yard in Hal, Belgium,
after we were captured. Some of the 158 Reg. (Padderborn) all back from
the front. E. Wounded, I believe they lost a lot of men.
Maxwell gets a parcel at last. I am glad as I have had 4 also 4 letters
previously to his getting it. We hear that we are all to soon move to
winter grade huts which will be warmer. It is very cold in the tents.
I am lucky to have a sound roof over my head and a comfortable bed.
Our bucket of hot cinders from the C.H. warms our place a treat and
the mess tin of coffee is warming over the lamp for supper. There is
also a piece of cold pork to go with it in the box.
Still very cold I go into one of our largest tents and see a Miniature
Monte Carlo lots of the French and few English have gaming tables going
gambling for cigarettes and chocolate etc.
We get one of the Russian soldiers in our hut, nice fellow well dressed
and an aviator. He pulls out a tin of English ham and tongue and some
good cigarettes. My cold is a little better. Max receives a £1
does not know where it comes from.
A little warmer. Our Russian friend settles down alright he is well
supplied with money, so are his three chums 2 cpts, 1 S.M. 1 a private.
Maxwell gives me two mks so buy cigarettes and tobacco also feels quite
strange to be in possession of money again. Our Russian friends make
cocoa and buy us butter. What a job it is to make ourselves understood,
with all we get on well some of the Russian words want a lot of tongue
I hear there are letters for me so hope to get them tonight.
Sunday, I clean the Church ready for service quite a job to get the
The Irish are formed into one company and put into a tent on their own.
We do not know the reason for this yet, it is causing a lot of discontent
in the camp as all Irish are British and like to be considered so. In
a speech The
. Ways the Irish are
formed thus by the wish of the
.. and that they will be well
treated as he knows the English are no friends of the Irish. They are
also promised more food and straw and other things. Lamps are hung in
the tent occupied by the Irish N.C.'s but the men do not want to be
separated. The Senior Irish N.C.O.'s are worried as a lot of responsibility
rests on their shoulders. Receive a letter from Mother at Aldershot
spend hour with Russian.
Mild. Get out of bed at 10pm and sort some of the books and mags that
are given out to each. Cray is a rubber ink stamp, James Mayall and
a P.O. Stamp Margate, my own book sent out. I did not get. The S.M.
reads out my name for two parcels to be issued tomorrow. The Senior
Irish N.C.O.'s R.C. sent in to the Commandant the following letter:-
On behalf of the Irish R.C.'s now prisoners of war in the Camp under
your command, we, the undersigned desire to tender to His Majesty the
German Emperor our thanks for his Imperial consideration of our situation.
We fully appreciate the kindness extend in:-
Grouping us together under one roof.
Assuring us of better food and decreasing the amount of fatigue work
to be performed, but request we must beseech His Imperial Majesty to
withdraw these concessions unless they are all shared by the remainder
of the prisoners as in addition to being Irish Roman Catholics, we have
the honour to be British Soldiers. Thanking you in anticipation of this
appeal reaching his Majesty the Emperor, through the German Authorities
Thomas Crooke C. Arms 18th R.I.R.
John Brown C.S.M. R.M.F.
H. McCready C.S.M. Lancs Fusiliers
Patrick McEvoy S.C.M.
Thomas R. Collins Sgt. R. Scots
Maxwell C.S.M. Lancs. Fusiliers
J. Walsh Sgt.8 Gloucester Reg.
A Frenchman was buried this afternoon. Coffin in the ambulance wagon.
An Englishman was buried this morning the ambulance passed the camp
as I was getting up. French, Belgian, Germans follow.
Beginning to rain. Last night I received a P.C. from mother she does
not know I have received parcels yet. A German artist is painting one
of each corps in the camp today he has our Russian friend who does not
seem to like sitting.
Our Winter quarters are still being built. The other two Camps are all
in huts. The large canvas tents are being taken down. Ours is the only
canvas Camp left now. The N.C.O.'s who sent in a letter to C re Irish
R.C.'s were sent for and told that the Emperor had no time to look at
such things so the Irish Company remains as it is. Yesterday I saw 3
W. Sketches, they contained news of Lorna Roberts death. I get two parcels,
one from May and one from Mother. Cake, Chocolate, cigarettes, and apples.
They do taste fine being the first I have tasted since coming out. Our
Russian friend likes it.
Today I had a chat with a Frenchman who tried to escape from Wessel
near the Dutch Border, 15 tried including 2 English 2 French only got
away, remainder were caught in a wood 2 miles from the Frontier. They
had burrowed a hole through a latrine (30 metres) 2 English did not
get a chance to leave the hole. Remainder were seen by cyclist who reported
them to a party of Germans who were out shooting, they went into the
wood and were surrounded by party including two soldiers. They report
being roughly treated, put into prison and sent to our Camp for punishment
this being the worst Camp. At Wessel they had more privileges. Their
civilian clothes, money, etc were taken from them.
I receive letters from home dated 5th November. The P.C. I got 4 days
ago was dated 11th November. Ours is a merry little party in our hut
C.S.M. Maxwell, McEvoy Brown R.M.7. S.D. Fountain R.M. 4 Sgt. Collins
R. Scots a Russian Aviator Cpl, myself McCready lives next door. C.S.M.
Trailor S. Lancs C.S.M. Bullock R.I.
We read or walk about all day sometimes play cards during evening our
Russian friend plays spoof. I have started Monte Christo a good book
lent to me by C.S.M. Brown. An apple went down well for dinner.
Letters from Jack and John. Hope Jack sends off cigarettes before my
card to him arrives or I shall not get them this month I reply to them
also write to Mother, Wife, Jack my Brother and Aldershot. A tall S.M.
of Artillery who has been in Cap as long as myself I find out today
is a Margate man and an ld St Johns school boy. Bob Morrow. Often heard
of him but never had much to do with him before enlisting. We have a
long chat he was captured same day as myself. Each thought we were the
only Margate man in the Camp. He remembers my father well. It has been
raining all day. Pass the evening away at cards and reading.
Raining again. Receive card and letter from Aunt Rachel. I reply for
smokes, gloves, books. Things about the same in Camp. Get a drink of
Rum during the evening. A Belgium comes round with a bottle. Don't'
know how they got it 25 pf a drink. Last of my cake goes tonight.
Still a bit damp, hear a great deal of chanting and singing going on
down the Camp. Must be the arrival of fresh recruits. I write to May,
Mother, Jack C John and send cards in.
Do not feel up to much pains up and down my left side same as I used
to get in Warrington. Sleep well until about 4 each morning, do not
sleep much after that. Write to my boy and Cpl Keel. We hear the Irish
R.C.'s are going to a better camp and the remaining English move to
next Camp into Wooden Huts.
Today we have the order to move, so pack our kit. It is wonderful, what
stuff we have got. My clothes that were sent out are surplus as the
German stuff is good.
My Corp march over, we find the place very muddy. A German Officer halts
us outside a hut and calls out for 24 Sgts and Cpls. He pulls the Frenchmen
here and there, bundling them in their places. He then puts us in a
bunk. The remainder of the men going into the main building. A Sentry
is put at the door to prevent us going out. All the time it is raining,
a few minutes after we are put out again and marched down the other
end of the Camp for straw beds passing through some German recruits
quite young chaps, they laugh and shake their fists at us, anyhow we
do not get our beds so march back. As soon as we get back we go back
to our former hut only to find the people we left their packing up they
(the R.C.'s) are going to other huts. We have our tea and carry some
stools, table etc back. I feel rather bad, stiff in all my joints, we
are packed tight. Will be better when the other huts are full up will
. A bit. Get postcards of Wife and Mother and The Boy
both very good. McCready goes with the Irish. Read out for parcel.
Sunday. Feel Bad. Scarcely able to get up so lay in bed all day. We
got straw beds from our own Camp. Cpl. Cameron is sent off to Irish
Camp. No chance of getting parcel today the weather is damp and cold
and the Camp in an awful state.
A fine warm day. I feel a little better before going to bed Sgt Fontain
R.M.F. gave me a dose of chlohydyne. We light a fire which gives off
splendid heat. A small round stove on which we can boil water or fry
bacon etc. I get my parcel during the evening. The shortbread is broken
up, but goes down grand. There is also Xmas Pudding and smokes. The
place is very warm at night there being no ventilation. 18 of us now
English, French, Belgian, Russian. When other huts are built we shall
have more room. I had a game of draughts with a Russian Sgt Major he
belongs to one of the Guards Regiments.
A shower of water pours down in the corner I am sleeping someone knocking
in a nail loosened one of the boards in the roof. The huts have only
the one thickness of boards, so if the planks do not fit close in comes
the rain and wind. The Irish all still in Camp only altogether now C.S.M.
McEvoy comes in to see us. Tells us they have coal, light and no work
to do and that they have more freedom going almost where they like.
Receive another parcel from home. Syrup, cocoa Milk Chocolate, Muscatels,
Almonds, Vest, H.K.
. Socks and scarf. Maxwell gets a few things
from Capt. Lyles wife. We do look forward to these parcels as they contain
the only luxury we get. I am getting quite a stock of kit. Rains all
Still a bit wet. My Russian friend who took a drop too much wine (wherever
he got it from) wakes up with a fat head. I got a German jacket yesterday
makes me feel warmer on going out of the hut as it gets very warm when
the fire is going.
Sgt. Collins brings us a lamp up from the Irish side, they having three
are good enough to bring us one up. A bit better weather today, drier.
A little Frenchman speaking German comes round to see us, he goes out
to the town and buys all sorts of stuff, wine, rum, candles, sweets,
smokes etc. tonight he brought in some mutton cutlets.
Weather very bad up till Sunday.
My teeth in front ache I get no sleep during the night. Fountain gives
me a dose of Chlorodyne. Still I do not sleep and find my top lip all
swollen in the morning, but the pain is a little easier. Had card from
We have a parade at 3am have to turn out but go back to bed as soon
as it is over and remain there all day until evening. Fountain brings
in a bottle of wine for Xmas Day. Get a card from my wife. Think I will
send for some money. Our R. Friend seems to have plenty he buys us lots
of stuff. Met Officer of R.E.A. tonight knew my Father in Law in North
Camp, he goes by the name of Wagy.
Turns cold. Our Russian friend receives two parcels from Russia containing
all sorts, sweets, chocolate, cigarettes, tea and some pated fish rows
also biscuits. He must be well to do as all his stuff is good he seems
so pleased to have got them. My face is a little better although swollen
. I play crib all evening. Up in one corner are three Russians talking
next to them a Belgian, a Sgt. Asleep then some French, one playing
a mouth organ and myself and three others in the centre of a small table.
The stove is going with some water on to make cocoa. We generally retire
about 9pm. The .............Sgt. taps the sleeping Belgian Sgt. And
shouts "Louse Louse"!!! he jumps up in a fright thinking the
German Sentries are after him, he causes a laugh. The time our Russian
friend moves the quickest is when he hears the German shout "Halt"
as he knows they are not particular as to how they use their rifles.
Still rather cold. I get two boxes from Jack Cutt they are welcome as
I have run short I also get a card from home. I am getting tired of
the continual dinner of soup, I never finish a tin full of the stuff,
a piece of meat is dropped in a little larger than a walnut. It is cooked
separate now not with the vegetables. We still get sausage almost every
day. Am much surprised at a letter from Jack ............. saying that
he is married and appointed S.M. of 8th Reserve Battalion Lancs. Fus.
I can scarcely imagine him as a married man. The war is the cause of
A rather cold day. Does not seem at all like Xmas Eve. I make a start
to learn a little Russian. Seems rather difficult as the pronunciation
Cold but a splendid day. We all start by wishing each other a Merry
Xmas then turn out and attend Devine Service in one of the huts. Maxwell
and I have a walk. A few letters and parcels are given out also some
coal and buns, our Xmas present from the Germans. 6 cigarettes we received
yesterday. An hour before dinner I tie my pudding up in a piece of flannel
that we were issued with as sacks and put it on the fire in a basin
of water with another basin over the top . Four of us sit down round
our small table for dinner at 1pm. Menu:- Thick soup, turnips, potatoes,
meat, caviar, sardines, white rolls and butter, Xmas Pudding, Muskatels
Almonds, Bordeaux wine, Tabenes Wurygarten (a white wine). English and
Russian cigarettes and Mexican Cigars . Quite respectable food, a French
..... Officer Algerian Regiment, joins us for some wine, we form quite
a merry party, conversation is made fairly easy by S.D. Fountain of
the Munsters who speaks fairly good French and a little German. The
Russian speaking good German. We exchange addresses and promise to send
After tea we play cards finishing up with a game of spoof. The Russian
and a French ...... Officer joining us. One thing truck us all today
and that was during the Service this morning a German under Officer
one of our camp officials came into the hut where we were, had a look
round, with his hat on and smoking a cigar. He then, taking off his
hat walked down between us and back again out the door. He may not have
known and perhaps it is best he did not the feelings of all of us at
A fine morning, very cold, we spend the day much the same as on Xmas
day we get a little extra food. During the afternoon, Maxwell and I
visited one of the other camps saw B.M. Wright Sgts. Richardson and
Hudson. They are sleeping in the stables and are cramped for room, sleeping
in the stalls. They are not as well off as we.
Turns out very wet. I attend a service spend afternoon at learning Russian
and evening at cards, not quite the correct way of spending Sunday evening.
Still very wet, I buy the first edition of a French paper that some
Frenchmen are publishing. Some parcels arrive tonight, none for me.
A lot of parcels come into camp (no luck). We in our bunk watch the
old year out and the new one in. A Frenchman plays a mouthorgan and
we have a dance and a few songs. Bob Cheeseman gives us a turn he is
very good at this. Some of his impressions would not do for a public
music hall. Our fellows are singing and cheering especially the Scotchmen
and outside the Camp we can hear the Germans singing and cheering. At
12 midnight our chaps sing The King and give him their loud cheers.
A German sentry fires his rifle to celebrate the occasion. The Russian
Under Officer, a French Sgt. Frome by name, Maxwell, Fountain and myself
have a small glass of white wine and smoke a cigar. It is the first
time I have missed sending mother either a card or letter on her birthday.
I thought of her directly the new year commenced. We get to sleep about
1 am. Two days ago I received a jersey from my brother.
Things have been progressing much as usual. Yesterday there was a little
excitement in Camp as we were told that a German General was inspecting
the Camp, however, he did not turn up. It has been snowing all night.
The trees round the camp look lovely with their coating of white but
the Camp is always the same when we get rain or snow, a mud swamp. The
wooden solid boots come in very handy for going about in this weather.
5 cases of scarlet fever last week. The two or three new huts are not
quite ready, so we remain crowded. I receive a card from Jack C. Telling
me there is some money on the road. Being absolutely broke it will be
very welcome although being without money for so long one does not notice
Raining heavily for the last 3 days without stopping. I have not been
well, pains all around my heart, especially when I take a deep breath.
Russian has a parcel. They keep Xmas up for three days in Russian today
is the 2nd day. For dinner he has a small tin of caviar small roes of
fish, small round tin cost 12 marks, we also have some Russian cake
and sweets followed by R. Tea and cigarettes. This morning the Germans
come down the hut to turn the men out, there was a lively jump round
for about 5 minutes especially for the French as the tall German N.C.O.
who came with the sentries has a particular liking for the French. I
am told that there are 5 M 30 Pf. in the office for me. We hear very
little news. The bombardment of Hartlepool etc, the sinking of the 'Ferandable'.
The allies taking the offensive etc. Have only two of Jack C's smokes
left, they have lasted well.
One of the Russians here, who I believe is a Pole, does not seem very
popular with the other two who are Russians. He does not seem well disposed
towards us and it is easy to see he thinks himself superior to us all.
He is very fat for a young man and is always eating, spends a lot of
time in the Cookhouse with a Polish Cook who works there. I like my
tea without milk have got to prefer it so, especially with a piece of
lemon in it. Have missed two or three days at my Russian just got started
again tonight when we were interrupted by a Frenchman reading to his
French chums from a paper dated 22nd December.
Sunday, still raining today. We get a little excitement the Camp is
being thinned out, as the two new huts are finished. We go on parade
with all our kit (in the rain) and remain there for ¾ of hr.
After which we march back Sgts and Cpls. Go from our bunk leaving 8
Sgts which is lot more comfortable. There being now in our bunk Sgt
Maxwell, S.D. Fountain myself English, one Russian and 4 French Sgts.
I receive a letter from my Brother dated December 7th, one card from
Mother dated December 18th. My Brother in his letter says there were
cigarettes in with the jersey he sent. I did not receive them. The issue
of oil is stopped we have enough for two nights. By that time I hope
the electric light will be up.
Still very wet, one continual downpour. I was at the gate this morning
with the men of my Corp who were going on fatigue. Saw a German N.C.O.
get hold of a Frenchman and send him rolling in the mud. Was sport to
see the other French scatter and to hear our fellows laugh, although
the poor Frenchman must have been wet through. It is much quieter with
the others out of the bunk. Wish the B had been sent he is always scratching
himself and puts himself into everything especially where he is not
Still raining. Last night we had a little excitement did not notice
the time slipping by had some tea and fancy pastry that the Russian
had bought, before going to bed and were just making our beds when a
German N.C.O. with two sentries opened the door, two electric torch
lights were flashed into the room behind which we could see the bayonets
shining. They kicked up an awful row saying we ought to be in bed. They
took a whole candle that we had on the table away with them and called
us English as they went. Did not mind the language as much as the loss
of our candle which cost 3d.
Today there are two parcels for me but do not get them on account of
being lots getting to the office for them. It is still raining hard
everywhere flooded and our men have still to go out every day at 7.30
sometimes walking miles and the majority of them have only sabots to
wear. These wooden shoes wear the heels of socks out very quickly.
Still raining had to get up in the middle of the night to move my bed
as the rain comes through in different places. I get my two parcels,
one from Mother and one from my wife, both have cake in, also cigarettes,
we have some of the cake for supper for tea we had Maxwell's Xmas pudding,
a tin of salmon some wine etc and had a regular jolly evening playing
cards. There being only 6 we get Sgt. Burrell to come in for the evening.
After 9 o clock it becomes a bit risky as we never know when the German
sentry will come round. About 9.30 I went out on and round to the window
and shouted out something in German, it was comical to see the way everyone
scattered and the light go out.
Another very wet day, we cannot move out all day our Belgian Sgt left
the bunk for another yesterday. I did not mention that the English and
French N.C.O.'s went down for a hot bath, my hair all had to come off,
Still very wet, got a touch of tooth ache. I received 4 cards from home
and one letter from J. Cate everything alright at home. I write 5 cards
goodness knows how I am going to get them away as the Germans will not
let us send but one each. During the evening we learn a couple of French
No rain today but very windy hope in dries the camp up a little. Went
to church No. 7 Canteen and after dinner 4 of us got a pass to visit
the other two camps. We go to Stables see Jock Wright Hudson they tell
us that it is 8 men to a loaf tomorrow in their Camp. They cannot send
cards for us so we go to No. III Camp in a wood. A much cleaner camp
than the other two, pass one of the R.M.F.C. a private who had been
shot through both yes he was being led about by another man, it was
a sad sight but he seemed cheerful. We go into one or two of the huts,
see Bob Morrow, but he says he cannot get cards away as they are so
strict. This afternoon our Russian had his friend from the Hospital
up to see him as nice a fellow (Russian) speaking 3 languages. All of
us have some of the cake I had sent out with some tea. I gave B.D. Fountain
my boots and he have me a new pair that he had sent out as they are
too small for him. Feels quite nice to have a pair of boots on instead
of these wooden soled clogs.
Fine cold weather yesterday I had two parcels from home containing Tooth
powder, cocoa, pillow, and chocolate. I sent a card to May asking her
to get my staff kit from the Depot, I had to send it there in mobilisation.
Yesterday also a German N.C.O. came round to inspect the huts on coming
in he said Good Morning Englishmen we thought he was rather polite the
next minute he roared at Maxwell because he was not standing to attention.
Today we got a Belgian to put an electric light in the bunk a few pence
does the trick. The Belgian works with the German workmen in Camp putting
up the lights. I have had the last two evenings walking with our Russian
friend trying to pick up a little of the language. Just before bed we
all have a hand at cards gambling with matches which I night mention
are ½ marks per pkt. (about 5 ½ ).
Have had two parcels since 20th cake etc. from home, pack of cards from
Jack Cale. Weather has been cold today it is snowing. One fellow has
had a Football sent out it is quite treat to see the ball going. A match
is played every afternoon in a space of two small poles in the middle
of the ground and two long trenches where the ground is being turned
over. Today someone kicked it against the barbed wire surrounding the
Camp and punctured it, it was mended for the next day. Fountain and
I have started learning The Russian Alphabet, we find it very difficult,
especially as the Russian want to learn English. Our fellows still go
out on fatigues in the cold rain, and snow. Most of them have no overcoats
and are cold miserable figures walking about. We are comfortable in
the bunk, getting all sorts of extras, bacon, cheese, butter, prunes,
sugar and a tin of meat now and again. All got from various places through
the kindness of one or two people. We have to be up by 7.30 as we never
know at what time the German Under Officer will put in an appearance.
The German staff start very early and finish late they have plenty of
work. There does not seem enough to do it comfortably. One morning we
scrubbed the floor. The Russian did not like it, it was laughable to
watch him keep looking at the floor he thought it would not dry and
when we had finished he got cinders from the fire and rolled them along
the floor where his mattress was to dry the place, needless to say the
day being cold and windy the place was soon dry. We made the French
Sgt. (Chef de Company) a French bed. One night, another night we had
a sp0oon on a piece of string let down onto the Russian's shelf, Burrell
worked the string kicking up an awful row after we had gone to bed.
Our last hour every evening 8 till 9 is generally spent at cards then
some cocoa and bed.
Sunday, no church today, we hear Mr Hales has been sent to Munster.
Have had plenty of snow and frost making the Camp very slippery, snowballs
and slides everywhere. Our fellows get together in groups and attack
the French there was some fare scraps occasionally someone looses their
temper which ends in a fight. The French always use their feet and if
they can grab anything such as a broom or bowl they use them. A small
hut containing 5 cells is put up, a sentry always on duty, a man is
awarded 1, 2 or 3 days and he has to wait for a vacancy, get tiny bread
and water and no blankets during the time he is in. Now and again we
see an English Paper or a part of one got through hidden in a parcel.
One came in the bottom of a cake. I got another parcel from home cocoa,
tea, chocolate etc. they come through regular enough for me. Some men
have not received parcels sent off months ago. P.C.'s take longer for
everyone. Do not seem to make much headway with Russian language.
A lot of clothing (under clothing) is issued, some having belonged to
Sailors as their initials are seen on them. Our bunk is fairly comfortable
now with electric light etc. No need to buy candles which cost 2 ½
and 3 each. Some of the Frenchmen get all sorts of stuff in to camp
and sell it. Jam, Chocolate, Honey, Sweets etc. How it is obtained,
I cannot say, except that it must be done when they go out on fatigue.
All one corner of the Camp is a small Monte Carlo, almost all run by
Frenchmen. There is a barbers shop in almost every hut where you can
get a good shave or haircut by first class French barbers.
Sunday. During the week we have had snow and frost with now and again
a cold wind. On Thursday I had a parcel containing my civilian overcoat
and a scarf. I hope I shall be able to look after them as I do not really
need the coat having received a warm jacket from the Germans. On Friday
I received another parcel, cake, chocolate etc. Maxwell also had three
in one night our supply of extras seems to keep just nice. Our Russian
seems disappointed at not received any and does not like to eat the
things we get, but we make him, he has plenty of money but of course
there is so little one can buy. The Canteen only sells Bacon, blacking
blankets, socks etc. Three times during the week both English and French
received a paper "Continent at Times said to be an American publication.
All sorts of things are said against us. The paper is sorry for the
French and Belgians angry with The Russians for their cruelty and more
than angry with The English for their greed of Gold Trade etc. I am
keeping some copies goodness knows whether I shall be allowed to take
Saturday the 6th we had a concert in our bunk starting at 7 Sgt. Miles
R.F.O. played his concertina, songs were rendered by Bd Cheeseman R.F.
Grundy L.F. Cpl. Jackson R.E. Sgt. Prompe 67 French Inf. We had cocoa
and biscuits for supper and finished up with the English and French
National Anthems at 11pm. It was a bit risky as you never know when
the sentries are coming round and if we had have been caught we should
have got into trouble and probably got 1 or 2 days each in the cells.
We should have been waiting a vacancy. Time seems to drag with no news
from the front. The paper we get is full of German victories not a single
defeat a thing scarcely to be expected in a war such as this. An Englishman
yesterday got top heavy on Brandy I think he was locked up and all fatigues
returning to camp were searched but with out effect. Still you can get
a drop of brandy or rum almost at any time if you know at which particular
hut to go to. Went to church today 9.30am. The Mayor had been to Munster
for 2 days and was then sent back, all a mistake ought not to have been
sent. He was given 3rd class fare, but on return was given 2nd. Soup
has just arrived for dinner, soup soup, soup everyday, just about fed
up with it and so strong and thick (I don't think).
Sunday a beautiful day. I attend divine service in No.9 canteen after
we have the usual roll call that takes place every Sunday morning. It
has been a funny week as regards weather one day snow another frost
then wet and windy. There have been Infantry training going on all round
quite young looking fellows. I do not notice many officers especially
for the number of men, they are well disciplined these young soldiers
too much really although off parade they go about anyhow and seem much
like ourselves. Our Russian gets a parcel of tea, sugar, socks, mitts
from a lady in Farnboro who has heard that we have some in our camp.
I get a card from May dated 4th February and two days after one dated
11th January. There must be more knocking about somewhere. Get a card
from Jack Cate I answer it asking for a pipe. Our Russian wants an English
pipe so I send for one also write to May and the boy a card. Read an
account of the Naval Battle in the North Sea, scrap of old paper that
came in a parcel. I hear that Sgt. Burrows of ours has been killed with
7 other men. Little bits of news come through now and again. We have
had stewed fruit for dinner 3 days this week quite a treat as we still
get the same kind of food issued. Cheese (small ones and very very high)
fish (herrings pickled) and of course sausages. Soup every day not so
tick or nice (if you can ever call it nice) as it used to be. We make
tea every afternoon and cocoa or beef tea for supper getting to bed
anytime after ten. A black blanket up at the window hides the electric
light. Fine day no coal or coke is issued, we have always managed a
fire some how or other to boil water. Sir Lees Knowles sends out pipe
and tobacco to some of our fellows some of them are not in Senne in
fact we do not know where they are, so we have them to other men of
the regiment. I get one of the pipes as a keepsake having met and spoken
to Sir Lees Knowles in London at R.H.& M. Tournament 1908. I think
I am getting fat my jacket feels dreadfully tight around the stomach.
We had a concert in our bunk passed away an evening French and English
songs, impersonations, music, concertina and mouth organ. Made some
tea before breaking up, also had some bread, jam, French ginger bread,
dates and sweets. Finished up with English and French National Anthems
and a Russian song that we had heard Zlenvinsky sing.
Today the French did not turn out on fatigue at 2pm so German sentrys
came and turned them out at the point of the bayonet, they moved quick
enough then, some going through the windows, they were all made to do
an hours drill some of them 2 hours. A Bunk went up the road this morning
and some guns were fired later. A notice was posted up saying that 21,000
Russians had been captured. I received a parcel from May, cocoa, tea,
mustard, and smokes on the 1st inst also a card on the 14th dated the
4th of February giving Stan's weight 2st 10lbs height 3ft 4 inches.
Maxwell and I get one sheet each given to us, feels quite clean to get
into it at night. In German paper today Greece at war with Turkey and
Japan mobilizing against China, also railway trouble in England men
want 3/- a day more.
Weather has been fine since 17th but cold and frosty at night and well
into the morning. Today we have no coal and it is very cold with a little
snow on the ground. Mr Hales having been sent to the Officers Camp,
Gutersloh, I believe there was no church service. On the 23rd inst.
I received a parcel from May, Mayor etc. P.C.'s are very rare have had
3 this month and one of those dated 29th January from my boy other two
from May and Mother. Fever has broken out in one of the huts no. 10
Camp. They are isolated by having a barbed wire fence put round the
hut and wire up at the windows. The N.C.O (sgts 2
get two sheets given to them . Frenchmen and English in the Barracks
room are very often fighting. The Frenchmen will pick up the first thing
he can lay his hands on and go for the Englishman. The basins are mostly
used and they make a nasty wound. As soon as they have got the first
blow in they turn round and fly. The French will use their feet if they
have nothing to hit with. Two of our fellows (Gordon's) were fighting
outside the C. House. A German under officer stopped them and told them
to wait until they got back to Old England. The football is out everyday,
it is a treat to get a kick now and again. Everyday we hear of Russian
and French losses, prisoners, guns war material etc, very little news
of the English. Yesterday 24th a lot of Belgian coats and tunics were
issued to those having bad clothes. One of my corp received a R. Marines
blue jacket. We had a concert during the evening our bunk was full and
we had some good turns. An acrobatic turn hand balancing by an Englishman
Cpl. MacManus of the Norfolks, a Birmingham man and a young Frenchman
came in with a violin, he was a splendid player, was from an orchestra
in Bordeaux, he was only a little man with a torn French tunic with
about 2 buttons on it, a pair of civilian trousers to short for him
and a pair of wooden shoes on (Sabots). He stood in the centre of the
room and played to us for half an hour. We had some tea and finished
up at 11 pm. We are having a concert in Camp next Sunday. The French
have a small band 3 or 4 instruments and have been practicing for the
last 2 weeks.
Sunday , today we had a concert in Camp No. 3 Hut. We booked 5 seats
last night 30 pf each. The place was almost full when we went in. Zuolinski,
Fountaine, Maxwell, Burrill and myself. A small stage, with platform,
blanket, three old pictures and with candles above to throw the light
on the performers. The orchestra composed of two violins and a clarinet
opened the show. Soon after the commencement the Commandant and two
or three German N.C.O's came in. The English gave a small sketch. "Only
a Jew" and also had a fairly decent choir. The French gave a long
comic sketch. The explanation of both sketches was on the programme
one of which I have got and hope to get back to England with me. Cheeseman's
turn went down very well causing much laughter. The French in their
sketch were dressed in appropriate civilian clothes even to clean collars
and ties. A French Sgt. taking the part of the woman had two dresses,
one a bright red fashionably cut costume trimmed with white and the
other an evening orange coloured gown. He was got up well, they actually
had a small meal including some red wine during the first part of the
sketch. The hand balancing show we could not see very well as they had
to perform in front of stage on the floor even then the roof only being
12 ft from the ground, they could not do their best work (Cpl. McManus,
Cpl. Le Gaas). I don't know how they keep so fit on the food. The show
lasted about 3 hours, the Commandant staying the whole time.
Weather has been bad plenty of snow and rain although not very cold.
Makes the Camp so muddy 4 or 5 inches of mud. Today the 5 Russian civilian
prisoners who were firemen in C. House leave the camp. One who stayed
for a short time moved bunk (John Peterson) was very decent and we shall
miss him. Yesterday I received a P.C. from mother dated 21st January.
My health has been very good, only feel fat. No 10 camp are still wired
off on account of fever, although no more cases have occurred. We did
except to hear some on account of so called blockade by submarines.
It has been raining hard all this week. The place is one mass of mud
3rd I receive 3 parcels,
a cake from May and some cigarettes from Mrs Le Huracy, Guernsey. 4
Mags. Sent from mother were taken from me but given back to me the next
morning by the Comdt. A letter was in one of the pkts of cigarettes
from Mrs L.H. I received 3 cards from on 4th two dated 22nd February
and 1 the 16th. Today the Bread ration has been cut down 10 men to 1
loaf, almost ½ rations as it was 6 men to a loaf previously to
this. The fellows take this action mildly I haven't heard a grouse get.
The same as when it was cut down from 4 to 6 men. We all think the same.
Lots of the French are to be seen ploughing the land round the camp.
Very little coal is issued and that only when it is wet. Then again
for every 3 or 4 lumps of coal as it is called we find that 90% hard
coke. We are allowed to write letters now, twice a month and a P.C.
once a week. I have a bath once a week in a wooden bucket, late at night.
I used soft soap last night and the water cold sometimes we heat it
up over the fire. This morning a German came in and wanted Zlovinskey's
kettle needless to say he did not get it because we did not understand
him so he went away. I hear there is shortage of copper in the country
of course we cannot believe anything we hear. The only paper we get
in the "Continental Times" and that is full of abuse against
English especially and yet one day it had in it that "Abuse is
the sincerest form of Flattery". They accuse The Tuscans (French)
of cutting off German's heads, noses etc. I have several copies of this
paper that I hope to get home. This week a dog was electrocuted on the
wire surrounding the Camp. It got through the 1st wire barrier and put
its paw on the live wire netting. It gave one yell and died its paw
being burned off up to the knee. I receive a card from Jack Catt 23rd
February one from wife dated same.
Sunday a service is held taken by R.A.M.C. Officer. Its turned very
cold with bitter wind.
Sunday the weather has been cold and wet all the week. We had one box
of coal and coke mixed given to us but thank goodness we have had a
fire every day by obtaining cinders from the cookhouse an orderly man
going up to the C. House about 5 am and getting the cinders as the fires
are drawn from the boilers without a fire we would not be able to have
our afternoon tea and cocoa at 9 pm. 10 to a loaf does not allow much
bread and the soup is nearly always either turnips, beans or soucrout
every day. The meat now for each man is very small. It is cooked separate
from the soup and cut up in the C. House each man receiving a piece
about the size of two lumps of sugar. We are getting herrings two or
three times a week they are very good only rather salty. The sausage
white or red is a mystery now and then we get a nice skin full of brawn.
The sausage or brawn will not keep more than one day. Grundy our orderly
man sprained his L foot rather badly so we bring him in the bunk to
sleep and I take on the job of looking after it, after a few days it
came out black and yellow and he feels better although it is a bad sprain.
In H they get very little to eat so patents tell us that come out, I
receive a parcel from Mrs Wavenport containing a box of biscuits, cake
of gingerbread butterscotch, and a singlet. A Pte. of ours gets a similar
parcel with a large tin of lice destroyer included. It will be very
handy during the summer. Even now we find them on us occasionally. I
received a P.C. from May saying she has received my kit from the Depot
also one from mother and Stan. Mrs L Hurcay also sent me a box of cigarettes
I send her a card. Last Thursday the 11th, German Doctors came and inspected
every man that was in Camp. Each Doctor taking a hut, this is the first
inspection of its kind since we have been here and then quite a third
of the camp were out on fatigue. Jack Carr's pipe baccy and holder arrive
safe the Russian is very pleased indeed. Maxwell also receives a pair
of puttees for him. Almost every night we play whist for an hour before
going to bed. There are still troops going through their training here
and now the majority of them hate the English. Yesterday a corp were
marching up the road and one fellow, he looked about 17 drew out his
bayonet and shook it at us. Today there is another concert. Some of
the profit obtained from these concerts goes to men in the camp who
have not received a parcel from home. Today also was issued a copy of
"Continental Times" first column headed "Kitchener's
Army on strike". They will not cross the Channel because of the
German Submarine Boats. We hear that 80 French 25
And 1 English prisoners have come into the camp captured just lately
at "Le Basse."
Sunday all the week the weather has been wet, things going much the
same a usual. Could not get out much for our usual walking exercise.
During the week I received a parcel of clothes from Bury, do not know
who they came from, only know that some of the things were made at a
Grammar School in Whitefield. I send a letter and card home and receive
a P.C. from May who is at Aldershot for 2 wks. More copies of the "Continental
Times" full of abuse against England as usual. I saw a whole "News
of the World" news quite different in that especially as regardings
blockade and the methods the Germans attack our merchant men with their
submarines. There was 3 or 4 columns of casualties in as well. I see
8 of my Regiment including Dr. Patterson, Cpl. Gregory, and G. Marsden.
I receive a parcel from home containing Salmon, Sardines, Tinned Pears
etc. The one sent off on 1st March has not turned up yet. Had so many
troops, round for the last 2 wks only a lot of men 40, 45 years of age
have been turning up for duty. We do not get many people round of a
Sunday now very few women. I expect the weather is against them coming.
Today an awful accident occurred in the Camp. A German workman was electrocuted
on the live wire surrounding the Camp. Not only killed but half burnt
up as well.
We had just finished scrubbing our bunk out when there was a shout and
we rushed out to the wire only a few yards from our hut. There was a
large crowd and pushing my way through I saw this German laying underneath
the wire. He had been digging underneath it and his hand had touched
it burning it off, do doubt he died instantly. S.M. Wells of the R.I.
came with a long piece of wire to throw on the live one to cause a short
circuit, but it went on the wire above the man and some of it dropping
on his clothes instantly set light to it causing large flames at once.
It was horrible to see the man burning with no one to help him. The
wire was buzzing all the time with the smell of burning flesh, he burnt
for over an hour and it was three quarters of an hour before the current
was turned off. He was removed about dinner time by English and French
prisoners. The sight will never leave my memory. Tonight about 20 French
captured a week ago came to my corp they had new grey coats and they
Sunday, things have been much the same as usual I received 2 parcels
from home and one from Mrs Davenport on 23rd and on the 26th another
of clothes from Mrs W. Today a German Aeroplane flew of the Camp the
only one we have seen. Weather has been wet. Received two P.C.'s from
wife who is at Farnborough. Opposite the Camp there is a small Camp
containing about 10 huts better than ours. Soldiers are being fitted
out every day all sorts and conditions of men many appear to be past
middle aged. We do not hear many complaints now from our chaps against
the sentries. The men being older seem to have more respect for us with
of course an odd case here and there. One Under Officer is a mark on
Frenchmen. Two days in succession he caught Frenchmen coming into Camp
with potatoes down their trouser legs he gave them something to go in
with. Today also (28th) Maxwell Fountaine and myself paid a visit to
No 1 Camp to see several of our friends. We also saw some of the Hindu's
all fine men I believe they are going away to another camp.
My corp as well as myself were vaccinated and inoculated today on the
arm and over the heart. All prisoners are being treated the same. The
food is still the same 10 men to a loaf, we eat very little of the soup
which is always either horse beans or rice with a square inch of meat.
The food we get in our parcels keeps us going fairly well. The loaf
of bread I got from home we have never finished talking about.
Easter Sunday a very wet day and not at all like Easter to us. We have
had our photograph taken and it turns out satisfactory. Our Russian
friends when they met this morning kissed each other 3 times on each
cheek a custom that takes place in Russia at this time. Last night Zolinskey
had a parcel just in time for tea so we had tinned Sturgeon in tomato
sauce, dates, nuts, peaches and a cake tasting very strongly of rum
quite a royal feed. After which we smoked Russian cigarettes. It is
a great treat to have our bath every Sat. morning and the system is
very good (shower bath). On the ground where the tents occupied by us
last summer have been taken away, our fellows have made a football pitch,
goal posts made from pine trees. I represent my corp on the General
Frenchmen all carried away every day on stretchers to Hospital. The
majority of them here are old men and must feel the strain of this kind
of living. Concerts are still held every Sunday. Every morning the French
sous officers do some form of gymnastics. They do not hurt themselves
at it. A small rope was brought out for a tug of war 8 a side. Directly
they took the strain the rope broke and needless to say all their legs
Easter Monday, I am up early as the English Sgts all playing the French
Sgts. At football. I play right half back we havn't a strong team that
is why I am playing. Kick of 8.45. The field although proper size is
all sand and makes it very heavy going. The French put up a good game
but are no match for us. We won 8-2 one of their goals being scored
by their own backs. Maxwell was knocked over and on getting up he fainted
but was soon better. I was knocked over twice by the French and each
time the Frenchman would say "Pardon" or Excuse Me" on
the whole it was a good game and made me fairly stiff the next day.
I went to a concert at 2 , very good turns. One Belgian Adj. came on
in pink tights short skirt etc. he made a nice looking girl only could
not sing very well. Cheesman and his troupe were very good causing roars
of laughter from both French and English. We also had a turn from No
III Camp Monsieur le Docteur Guillon, Hypnotist and Mesmerist, which
whether fake or otherwise was very good. Several N.C.O.'s Sgt. Majors
and Sgts. came in from other Camps. Saw Bob Morrow he tells me of a
Margate man named Hewely who is in No. I Camp. After tea there are sports
for prizes, consisting of tobacco, socks, sweets, scarves, mitts, and
Keatings Powder etc. given by Cpl Humphreys R.E. not a bad day considering
Things much the same as usual. Not had yet my usual weekly parcel. Get
my first letter from home this year. Had a good many P.C's but this
is the first letter.
Go down to Hospital and get inoculated again saw a Batt. Of Inf. Drilling,
also had a chat to one of the English fishermen. They were captured
off Scotland had been out fishing 5 weeks and did not know that war
had been declared. A German Gunboat stopped them, took the crew off
and sunk their boat (a steam trawler) with £600 worth of fish.
The crew was made up of men from 62 or 63 to boys of 15 and 16 all of
which are still here. I saw one old man 62 come into the Hospital while
I was there.
Sunday. On the 17th received 2 parcels, one from home another from Mrs
Davenport. Wrote two letters home saying that I had not received any
for 3 weeks just as my letters had gone the parcels turned up. Five
came into our bunk so we have a fresh supply of food having run out
a week ago. We had such a find feed, today especially, tea, eggs and
bacon, sardines, white bread, stewed apricots with custard and tea.
Sgt. Mees A.S.S. and myself arrange about taking the Sgts and upwards,
in physical training every day for one hour. I am inoculated for the
3rd time on the 19th. The weather is grand, clothes have been sent out
by our government, service dress, socks, G. Coats, shirts, boots, gloves
etc. The 'Gordons' hand in their trousers and have to take there kilts
A parcel for me tonight. Today when drawing the bread (still 10 men
to one loaf) several rats nests were discovered, plenty of young rats
not long born, the bread store is full of them. They live under our
huts as well. Get my photograph taken, a man is allowed in from Paderborn
to take them.
Sunday. My photograph turned out alright. I sent one off on the 22nd
to May and Boy. Also received a letter and P.C. from J.C. on the 23rd
very good photograph of him. I exchange some of my photos for French
and Russian ones. Our friends, the Russians have to leave Senne. Our
friend Zarolinsky is very sorry to leave us and he says he has been
very happy with us and says he is more fond of the English than ever
he was the French he did not like. He left us at 6 am on the 23rd for
Minden an hours ride from here. The Russian from Hospital Rosamayer
came in on the 21st and stayed the night in our bunk. They all got dressed
and then all sat down in the bunk before going, a Russian custom. After
they had gone we had our weekly bath, enjoyed by all of us. Zarolinsky
gave me a bound Russian book to remember him by. I hope I am able to
get it home. Many of the men are getting fitted out with the service
dress from home and I must say they look better. Black overcoats, brown
boots and different kinds of S.B. jacket. I get a pair of trousers and
my boots changed, the ones Fountaine gave me were not quite large enough.
Almost every other day, troops in small numbers and mostly well grown
men go from here each day proceeded by a flag and the men put pieces
of fur trim in their helmets and in the muzzle of the rifles. Being
grown men many with beards you could see by their faces that they realized
what they were off to. Very few women are seen with the men. Only now
and again you will see one on the arm of her husband going to the station.
On Sunday we get a great many women round the outside of the camp, but
very few civilians everybody has a uniform. Two of our hut are isolated
on account of disease, they are both wired in.
This week the weather has been very warm indeed. I received photo and
letter from J.C. also card from home dated 16th April. All seem to get
very few cards and letters and what do come are 3 weeks or a month old.
Our people write more often than that, that we are certain. Parcels
we receive fairly regular, I have another tonight. I and my corp are
inoculated for the fifth time on the 29th the German Doctor that did
me was not very particular how the needle went in my chest I felt it
very much and on opening my vest after returning to camp, I found my
vest and chest covered in blood. We have permission to do Gymnastics
on the football field. The majority of us cut drawers down making them
into shorts, wear boots and singlets. Sgt. Mees and I take half the
W.O.s B.M.s and Sgts each using the forms from the huts we do an hours
work every morning enjoyed by all.
All the German and French troops are interested and we all talked about
a great deal but still we carry on, our men in the other 5 camps do
not look as well as our men no doubt we are in the best in Senne. We
have nothing to complain of our Commandant. The English all speak well
of him. Another French Sgt comes into our bunk from N. France where
he has been in Hospital making 7 in our bunk. The Church Army send us
out small parcels containing food and clothes. Rumours of a big Battle
in Belgium have been going round all this week. The C. Times comes out
as usual full of abuse against England. This morning we jumped out of
bed in a hurry the C.O. coming round camp at 6 am. From the 1st May
everyone has got to turn out at 5am quite a change as our time is usually
8 to 9am.
Sunday. It rained all day everything looks so fresh afterwards. The
trees and bushes round the camp are all green again. It seems only a
few weeks ago since the leaves dropped off. A concert was to have taken
place in the open air but had to be cancelled on account of rain. Received
card from Mother dated 26th April.
Fine weather again, up at 6am now sometimes before. A German N.C.O is
in charge of our corp not that it makes much difference as he is up
to the present alright. Every cop has its German N.C.O. now who takes
the corp up to the gate for fatigues. An issue of the C.T. tops the
bill so far as regards the Hate of England. We still continue our hour
Gym work every morning with sometimes a football match after. Some sort
of a garden is being made in one corner of the camp. Outside the huts
our men have made little ones of sand and stones, giving the huts names
such as "The Wee House " "Rety" "Carlton"
"Working Mens Club" etc.etc.
Sunday, A very warm day has been so all the week. Every morning we have
been out for our gym work with exception of one day. On that day my
corp were inoculated for the last time, everybody glad, six times on
the left chest muscle is enough with vaccinations added. I receive parcel
from home, also P.C.'s and letter dated May 2nd from Mother, May and
Jack Catt who has sent me 7/6. The S.M.'s Staff Sgt, went for a walk
today. Mees and myself expected to go but the R.W.O. S.M. Gable R.F.A.
said no. The A.G. seem to be nobodys children other Reg. Staff Sgt such
as Sgt Maxwell Gun Sgt were allowed. We run out of food for weekend
plenty of tea and cocoa but no eatables, slingers until parcels turn
up have to go on old menu. There seems to be a general run of bad news
in camp, has been all week. Italy expected to join one day, not the
next Constantinople never to be reached etc. etc. Our troops keep very
lively and look on the whole, well. Parcels are cause of this, no parcels
and always soup, although there is plenty of that would soon pull us
down again. Sausage and cheese sometimes and herring or whiting is issued,
the whiting when boiled is very nice and tastes like haddock of course
they are smoked. The German officials in our camp are very good we have
no complaints against them. The N.C.O's (German) of Corps seemed to
have been selected for another job. We get on well with our chap. My
health is excellent.
Rather dull (holiday). Went to church today first time for some time.
We march down to Soldiers Home a find building near Senne. A German
minister conducts the service in English it was a very pleasant change.
Many German soldiers were marching away when we went in. Many civilian
people were walking round and were quite interested in us. The trees
look lively with their new leaves, everything so fresh. Away to the
N.E. is a long range of big hills. They look best at night just as the
sun is going down. They are one mass of green. The ground round the
camp is all being cultivated by French soldiers, many of the English
have also gone on different farms. Everyday some are
Several Canadians came in last night captured at Ypres. My last P.C.
from May tells me she has not heard for such a long time. All here get
the same news from home. I have a new collar put on my coat and after
being washed it looks decent. All our chaps look better since receiving
clothes from home. Many French are carried to Hospital each day (ill).
I saw a very large airship pass across the hills to the N. of our camp,
caused quite a stir. It was painted yellow and had two cars, must have
been 10 miles away. Received two letters from home, glad to hear that
they have news of me at last. I learn for the first time that my Bros,
has been married since Sept last. They seem in good spirits at home
which is a great relief to me. Today I was told by a friend that I looked
much older, did not surprise me (this would put years on anyone).
A change in the weather this last few days has been wet and cold have
had to cancel our gym. Sgts. And upwards have to wear a piece of red
and white ribbon in between their 3 and 4th button on their jackets
for the information of French and Germans as to our rank, seems strange
as our stripes are plain enough.
Going up to Mee's bunk I saw a group burying the cheese they were issued
with quite a solemn procession needless to say they were Englishmen
very few of which can eat this particular brand of cheese, it speaks
for itself. I have a parcel to draw tomorrow dated May 4th.
Whit Sunday. Forgot it was my birthday until evening, weather is still
fine. Our fellows are still being sent out on the various farms whether
they like it or not they have to go.
Great news today we hear that Italy is at war. I start to learn French.
A few of our Sgts. Have started, some of the French sous officers are
learning English. Our classroom is the Wash House.
A P.C. from home and a parcel from Mrs D. With cigarettes 40 tins. How
I am going to get to the other camp I don't know. We asked permission
on the 25th as I wanted to see ............ of the Buffs. We were told
quite sharply that it was not allowed. Everyday I except to hear that
we are not to go on the fottball ground.
180 workers go away today (English and some French ........... goes
with them every other day parties are going out to different places
farming they tell us? I receive my parcel dated 11th May also one from
Mrs D. 40 tins cigarettes. The cigarettes case I sent for, for the Russian
arrives and with it a card from J.C. and a letter from mother. The night
(10 o clock)
Before the large party of farmers went some of our chaps marched up
and down between the huts singing the "Farmers Boy" until
the German guard, 30 of them came in and then there was a scattering.
We are only 6 in our bunk now 3 French and 3 English, it is quite comfortable
but for the food. The dinners we scarcely touch potatoes and carrots,
potatoes and turnips. Potatoes and rice with a square inch of meat two
potatoes and the meat on a tin lid does me for tea we manage 3 or 4
days each week to have a tine of fish or salmon with tea. Mees, Firth
and Crabtree from 10 corp usually come down after dinner for mug of
tea. Today the tea being short we shall have to tell them them the bad
news. My health is still good nearly every Englishman wears a pair of
white shorts (German drawers cut down) during the hot weather.
Sunday, weather still splendid since 1st of month we have seen plenty
of troops about a lot of young fellows from front being trained for
officers they seem to be a class similar to our public school boys many
of them have the iron cross. Many pass us while we are out in the field
for gym they simply look at us and very seldom pass any remark quite
different to when we first came. Yesterday I had 3 teeth out. Two French
dentists attend camp every morning just their little bag of instruments
and cocaine very rough and ready. You sit facing a window around the
crowd all the patients in the Hospital hut to see the operation, somebody
gets a basin of cold water and you try and joke with those around as
though it is nothing. He put cocaine in around each tooth and in the
roof of my mouth leaves you for a few minutes then comes and cuts the
gums and takes the 3 out in no time putting each one in your hand as
it comes out. It was a very neat job considering the rough surroundings
and the crown were disappointed and I felt no pain, only a little after
the effect of the cocaine has worked off. We receive another consignment
of biscuits, herring and cheese from Depot. About 240 of our men have
been sent out farming?
It is said that 300 Russians are coming here. My parcels still turn
up every week received one from Miss Webb last week. Heard three newspapers
read yesterday, all good news with exception of Airships over Margate
and Ramsgate. Ramsgate suffered from the visit.
Our chaps still in excellent spirits due a great deal to the food etc.
that we received from home. 25 cigarettes were given to every man yesterday
sent from Tab arm. My Gyme squad had their photograph taken in the field
last week also two football teams. A German took them.
The weather is very warm scarcely a breath of air even laying down during
the afternoon with only a sheet on, you sweat. The German troops must
find it very warm training. The flys too are more numerous. A few Russians
come in today. The Church Army send out parcels for us, clothing, butter,
biscuits and tins of potted meat. Our own Regt. People also sent out
biscuits and tins of meat etc. We can do with them as we practically
live on what is sent out all we can eat of the dinner is the two or
three potatoes (if there are any in) and the meat.
Sunday since the 9th the weather has been splendid very warm during
day cold at night. All the German speaking Russians about 130 that came
here have been sent away working.
I have all parcels from home up to one dated 8th June also two from
Mrs D. Letters and P.C.'s up to same date. I get Stans photo and am
having a frame made in the carpenters shop by a F.man. I make a complaint
to the German Under Officer in charge of camp about my money nearly
a month since it came and on the 10th June I had not been paid. Many
others besides myself got their money two days after my inquiring about
it. Whilst out with the football one morning in the next field one of
the gym class accidently kicked the football on to the road where it
rolled under the feet of a company of German Inf. Who happened to be
passing. The looks of the troops because of this would have killed us
if looks could kill. An Officer or U. Officer shouted out for about
5 minutes and then went up to our camp office evidently to complain.
We heard nothing of the affair, only the next night a few young German
soldiers were playing with a ball for an hour so even to a German a
football cannot be such a very harmful object. We are living fairly
well just now having a decent supply of tinned stuff, boiled rice and
currants and raisins or dried fruit made a nice change now and again.
Of war news we hear little from the German side. Gunner Harris R.F.A.
died last week he was a fine big fellow and well known boxer. One of
the English Fishermen has died. I had two more teeth out about the 14th
one gave trouble otherwise am A.1. Plenty of troops still about here
always .......... or singing during the night.
Sunday weather still very warm. We have had a few sharp showers but
not enough to revive the crops they must be in a bad way for water.
On the 25th the R.A.M.E. left here for England. We all turned out to
see them go at 7.15am and gave them a good cheer. Someone shouted "are
we downhearted" and there was a shout of "No!!!". We
spoke to the R.A.M.E. Officers the night before also with Mr Habs the
minister who has also gone, he came up to our bunk had tea with some
of our Sgts. An English minister travelled from Berlin gave us a service
on the 29th it being a holiday. He is the only English minister in Germany
being attached to one of the Royal Churches in Berlin. He bucked us
up and indirectly told us everything was A.1. Nearly every evening now
there is a football or rugby match the Gordon's have a good rugby team.
Last night we had a severe thunder storm but today it is as hot as ever,
28 Sgts. and 2 Sgt. Majors have left here to form another camp. Volunteers
were called for and as no one volunteered we had to draw for it. I have
to stay, am rather glad as we are settled here. 70 French Sgts. Also
leave today for another camp. The place seems quite empty. I am given
a job in the Camp Post Office makes a change and passes the time away.
There is a good deal of work especially in sending farmers parcels out.
The Bks. Are being white washed. We clean our bunk out there are only
3 of us in now. I had a walk to the station a few days ago was quite
a treat as I have not been in the town for several months. Saw a German
soldier with a copy of The Times, should like to have read it. We had
a farewell concert in the wash house last night every other week we
have a Band concert now we are allowed to sing again. When the Band
played "Its a long long way to Tipperary" the boys let it
rip. Have not had a letter or card for nearly 3 weeks. Last parcel dated
21st June. Health still good. Feel quite fit thanks to food from home,
very seldom that we eat the soup?, issued nearly always horse beans.
I have got one of the regulation beds from S.M. Mendes R.A.M.E. who
has gone home.
Today we had the white washers in, they are spraying the Barracks with
lime with a machine like a garden spray to make our hut look better.
I use a brush. We are only 3 in the bunk now 87 French Sgts. Having
been sent to another camp. It is a treat to be on our own, we can keep
the place cleaner. I am employed in the Camp P.O. also as Camp Librarian
although I haven't got the books yet. The R.M. wants to get rid of them
so I shall have to take them soon. The Camp seems very empty today the
13th some of our Sgts. Had to go out on fatigue. Yesterday was my boys
birthday wonder whether I one from Mayor and friends of Margate also
P.C. from J. Catt, Sapper R. Enow.
I quite expected him to go all our fellows in good spirits thanks to
food from home goodness knows how we should get on without it. Boiled
bacon, cabbage and potatoes if only some conditions it would do them
Between two and three hundred Russians have come into the Camp. Nearly
all Poles they must be very hungry they are round the different huts
in no time looking for bread and anything else to eat. They are also
a good stamp of men. I have received my 2nd parcel from Mayor and Friends
of Margate also some artificial roses from Mrs Davenport for Minden
Day. I send her a P.C. Receive my first letter from May for a month
in between that time only had one letter from Mother. We have had plenty
of rain, weather quite cold and damp. I have a cold through the change.
Our hut looks very nice now it has been white washed the bunk especially.
I have all the library books in one corner we don't intend having any
more French in they will not clean the place. Our food supply still
keeps fairly good seldom touch the food issued. Hate what we would be
like if we had to live on it, I don't know.
Minden Day, Sunday. We were up at 8 and putting our roses in our caps
and went to Church. Naturally many questions were asked both by French,
German as to why we were wearing them. Some of the ...... are in our
camp. I gave them some that I had left, to wear them on the 1st. A German
clergyman took the service in No 9 Canteen. Saw a great many young German
Under Officers seemed to be of the student class nearly all had swords
on. Every German either has a sword of a bayonet on. Just before going
to bed Maxwell and I had about 3 pints of lager the first for 11 months.
I had some two days after we came here. My roses I was told to keep
by me until next Minden Day as none may come out next year quite a cheerful
prospect. I hear that my Grandfather Sayers and Uncle Frank are both
dead. I feel very sorry for the old chap as he has always been very
fond of me and I was hoping to see him after the war is over. Uncle
Frank I have only seen once at his Mother's funeral. Weather has been
very wet all month. Should have liked a good walk out in the country
walking on sand all day long makes one so fed up with walking. A few
days ago we had a roast half leg of mutton with some new potatoes and
cabbage, talk about a feed it tasted fine, only those who have been
without such a feed for so long can understand. Now and again we get
a steak or small piece of pork and with things we get from home we rub
along fine. Sugar we find hard to get, although we have never been without
it for long. News from England as to how the war isw progressing comes
through now and again. Things seem at a standstill in the West. In the
E there has been plenty of trotting backwards and forwards. The majority
here feel as if we are here for the winter again but as long as we win
we don't mind how long we stay. We hear that at the Irish Camp there
has been trouble there. Talk of the formation of an Irish Brigade. Visit
of Sir R.C. etc. all sorts of rumours. I am glad I stayed at Senne as
we are fairly comfortable and have a good Commandant and my work in
the Camp P.O. passes the time away fine.
Weather since August 1stchangeable not as warm as this time last year.
I am sorry the gym work has dropped most of the Sgts. are employed now
during the morning. Almost every evening we play either football or
rounders. Last night we beat the French team at rounders. 2 days ago
we heard of the fall of Warsaw and today we hear the British are advancing
in the West. Everyone here have been eagerly waiting of the long talked
of offensive in the West. The "Continental Times" always publishes
our casualties and are proud of the numbers. They never publish the
German losses. Last night I received a parcel from Rochester from Mr
Spoor. Last Sunday we had a good concert. French sketch, English sketch,
shadowgraph by Sgt. Hobbs "Rat catching in Senne" was very
laughable. We have plenty of rats here.
Sunday, I and several others went down to the Soldiers home for church
service, only about 40 of us from the 3 Camps, so many away working.
Had a nice service (a German clergyman). Weather dull and raining quite
different to this time last year. We have still a good many Russians
here, their clothes are not nicely fitted, makes them look so untidy.
They are not the duty people we were led to believe they are by C. Times
etc. They are always round the bunks after bread, they eat a lot their
issue in their own country being 2 lbs per day, here they get nothing
like that quantity. They nearly all speak German using that language
amongst themselves. I near hear them talking Russian unless it is to
say something they want no one else to understand. I get a nice parcel
from home on the 17th. The Church Army still sends us out food, thank
goodness. I don't like to think of having to be without our parcels.
It is not often we run short when we do, our tempers run short as well
we are always rubbing one another the wrong way until a good feed puts
things right. I have plenty of books to pass the time away with a visit
to the other bunks the evenings pass away. Football and Rounders pass
some of the eveni9ngs away. Asking permission to go out to the football
field one night I was snapped at by the German No!!! He balled at me
I thought a lot but said nothing, not wanting 3 days in jail.
Sunday, yesterday 4 wounded went home from here two men who had lost
and arm each, Sgt. Lawrence R.B. who had lost his right eye. I gave
him a few buttons for Stan also Wife's address, he took many letters
with him. At the gate they were searched two letters were taken from
them one belonging to R.S.M. Bell, G.H. and another belonging to L.C.
Holyhock N.F. one of the camp orderlies naturally he lost his job and
they both have had parcels and letters topped and the cases have been
forwarded onto the General. The parcel censors have been more strict
although today 24th, strange to say there was only one official in the
P.O. watching the censoring of parcels to go out to men farming, etc.
Yesterday 4 officials were on the go keeping quite a sharp outlook,
saw some artillery today (24th) first for about 9 months, Germans very
happy over the fall of Warsaw and general Russian retreat. They are
always winning winning winning they never lose according to their own
reports. A bad piece of news makes them very bad tempered, they cannot
stand defeat. Many French Sgts. Come back from the marches they seem
to have been having it rough. Their return is due to the French releasing
the German prisoners from Morocco.
Today the 26th fever in camp 10 corp hospital wired off for 14 days.
Hundreds of rats live under the huts, I have several bigs ones also
some kittens almost wild one came in our bunk and slept on the foot
of my bed for about 2 hours.
Still have plenty of rain R.S.M. Bell goes in ......... for 10 days
and is relieved of his corp. We hear that the loast lot of wounded that
left here have arrived home. Mr Williams the English clergyman from
Berlin gave us a service on 31st August told us of his visit to other
camps. Get a letter from Wife saying she is home for 3 wks. Have a nasty
sore on my arm result of insect bite, bad for a week do not get to my
work in P.O. Today the German Minister who travels the different camps
gives us a service on the Football field he speaks splendid English
after the service we hear that the Germans are taking the Copper canteens
from the Russians. Many of them have them and those that .........................
them get some extra food. I have started making a necklace from horse
hair. Many of the French are to be seen making different kinds of chains.
The hair is brought in to camp by Russians who go out cleaning the German
horses(.............). The majority of us seem quite settled for another
winter. Every German I speak by them shortly. The French Sgts. Having
returned from the marshes we hope to start our French class next week.
Sunday today I was up at 6am to attend church service at the Soldiers
Home. There were only 3 of us from this Camp (II) more from 1 and 3.
The German minister held a short service for us. It was a lively walk
there and back the weather beautiful. On the way back we passed a German
Officer who much to our surprise said good morning to us. Got my parcel
from home, one from Major. I have a bad place on my arm result of fly
bite. Had to knock of work for 10 days started again yesterday.
A memorial is being erected over the graves of all P of W who have died
here. Money subscribed by prisoners. Very few Soldiers here now compared
with a few months ago seem to be chiefly O.T.C. We can see the troops
out of the huts on the other side of the road, out every afternoon and
evening drilling. They consist chiefly of elderly men who do guard here
they practice bayonet fighting somewhat after the style as we used to
do years ago, doing all sorts of fancy points and ferries.
A beautiful day cold but bright. A few of us attend church service at
Soldiers Home. It is about the only time we see men of the other Camps.
Things are going much the same as usual always searching for news. The
only time I hear any in the P.O. is when the Germans have a success.
I was bad for two days last week cold in the head. The place on my arm
does not heal up. The General Commandant of the District was up yesterday
a curious ........ the new latrine recently built was opened. A new
cookhouse is being erected on the same ground as the old one only built
higher. I don't suppose it will make the food any better after it is
cooked. One day I saw the sausage for dinner (awful looking stuff) being
brought up in the hand cart, the bottom of which was covered in coal
dust, there was nothing laid in the bottom of the cart to keep the sausage
clean. We hear that the German 2nd in command here is for the front.
Two or three nights a week some news is sent up to the Guard House just
outside the railings and is read out by the Comd. Of the Guard after
that the men give the official "hachs". Everything is terribly
official here anyone with a piece of gold lace on their collar is "it"
with a capital I.
Yesterday a large yellow airship passed over the Camp only a few hundred
feet up, two cars painted grey. L16 marked on the envelope during the
evening an aeroplane flew over at great height. 5... of our men come
back from farming the trouble with the sentries they all go in the camp
prison goodness knows now long they will be there it is some time as
a rule before they get tired. Today we had a service at the Soldiers
Home and after we went to a very good concert. The band is improving
having a piano makes a difference also a cornet.
My Regiment I hear has been doing good work in the Dardanelles 3 V.C.'s
for the landing. Weather is bad again wet and damp.
Sunday we hear very good news from our front. You can always tell when
the news is not good for the Germans as they are so sullen when things
go against them. The two Russian Officers pay us a visit coming into
our bunk to return some library books. 9 pm one night they asked me
for one to take with them and seem so pleased when I gave them one saluting
us many times after the style of the Continental Officers who put their
hands up to the salute and then keeping the hand there they keep bowing.
They speak well of the English Soldiers. Every day they have been here
English food has been taken down to their bunk also cigarettes and tobacco.
They came with the shoulder straps on but I notice they are going away
without them. They have had to take them down to enable them to return
to the Officers Camp. They would have been taken of them if they had
not have taken them off. Today we had a service in the No. 1 Camp. The
preacher a German, speaks excellent English he has been two or three
times before. Parcels still turn up safe thank goodness we are living
fairly well off our own food from home. The fly sting on my arm mends.
Get a lovely boil on my seat very painful for 3 days until Sgt. Geffrey
Hants squeezes it out for me. Maxwell, Ashworth and myself are having
our food on our own now much better that all of us putting our food
together. Weather has turned cold getting more like winter. The leaves
on the trees are turning brown, they will soon be dropping. I did not
think last year when I saw them drop that I would see the same again
Sunday, weather has turned a little cold and damp. Many of our chaps
suffering from colds, sore throat etc. Went to Soldiers Home for Service
at 6 pm. Many of the fishermen were there poor beggars, looked miserable
and cold, looked as though they had been hunted from pillar to post.
I saw them on parade as we passed their camp going to the Soldiers Home.
Very quiet outside the Camp, not many troops about, some days we hear
the M.G.'s firing and at night we can see them practicing with rockets.
Our Sentries outside the Camp are mostly old men and men having been
badly wounded. Many of them get bread etc. and send it home to their
wives. I know that happens for a fact. Many of us never touch the German
K bread now, only when we have our bread arrive bad from E. We had a
good concert, the band is improving there being about 10 of them in
it now. French and English gave a small sketch each. My parcels and
letters still turning up alright.
Sunday, weather turned cold and damp attend Church at Soldiers Home
coming out at 9.15 am. We pass about 100 young German Under Officers
can hear two or three speaking in English saying he had a son. Two parcels
from home last week the usual one from Mayor etc. does not come until
19th. Two or three nights I have noticed the remains of the dinner being
taken out of the Cookhouse and put straight into the swill cart. There
are swill tubs outside the latrines which are always full of the Germans
food which is not so good now as it was this time last year. The majority
of the English never touch it, unless it is fresh cow cabbage that is
in mess. The horse beans, chicken meal etc still turn up but thank goodness
we do not need to depend on it. Today 19th 9 British Prisoners come
in from the front captured on 23rd September. They speak of our men
at the front as being in the best of spirits etc. The German Staff of
our Camp have all been medically inspected again they do not seem at
all keen to pass the Doctor. Maxwell has a nasty letter from Major Smythe
Depot L.F. accusing him of not distributing Reg. Parcels properly. A
strong reply is sent back by the order of our Commandant who is himself
surprised at the way in which the letter was written. There is talk
of the English all being put together. We get on very well with the
French now that we do not have to eat and sleep with them, our men take
one end of the hut and the French the other. The same with bunks. The
concert party have had a row over the possession of certain instruments
but we hope that it will be cleared up so as to enable us to have concerts
again. With my little knowledge of French they became more interesting.
Bed every night now at 9 pm and up at 7, parade on the football field,
breakfast at 9 then to P.O. to get the farmers and workers parcels from
office and after that if there is time a kick with a football on the
field. After dinner as a rule go up and sit with Billy Mees for the
afternoon making horse hair chairs or doing a little French. if there
are any papers have a look at them. We have tea at 2pm, proper old women,
we call ourselves, now and again we get a little brandy. After tea usually
a walk if not attending French class (in the washhouse) cocoa for supper
then bed. That has been our daily programme lately. My parcels I receive
as soon as the cart comes up from the principal P.O. generally at 5
The concert party have split up so now we have the Concert room turn
about. Last Sunday the French had theirs and today we had ours, had
a very good house. French and English. Bob Cheeseman is the chief attraction
a little sketch "Black Justice" went very well. Money to start
was obtained from private individuals and with another house the same
as today the debt will be paid off. Our Band was good, the brass instruments
make a lot of difference. Has been wet for 2 who pass the Camp is up
to your ankles in mud again. Parcels and letters still turn up alright.
A pig sty has been built in the next compound, electric light put in
quite a grand office, a few days ago about 5 Officers come to inspect
it, pigs have not turned up yet, plenty for them when they do as the
swill cannot be carried away quick enough now. Have started a Boxing
Club and gym class every evening in one of the empty huts, everyone
keen. Do not seem to progress very grand with French language so have
got hold of Frenchman to talk to for 1 hour every afternoon. Some of
the chaps live with them therefore talking to them all day more or less.
Our old friend S.D. Fountaine at Lilsborn is having a good time so several
men have told me who have returned from that place. 36 of our men came
in from different parts this week. Today October 30, 16 men came in
from Munster captured in the Sept. Addrs. All been wounded. Majority
Kitcheners men one young fellow only 17. Hear through Mrs Davenford
that Major Woodman my Corp officer is killed in France.
Have had plenty of rain lately, No 1 camp has been broken up. Majority
have come here including all English, 12 month to the day they went
away to No 1, they come back to us. They are not allowed to bring their
beds or mattresses, yet the French of No 1 who came up the day after
the English have German transport and bring everything they require.
No. 1 English bring their corps of drums and one set of pipes. The big
drum is made of Tin covered with sacking, there are 3 side drums half
a dozen flutes, triangles, bells and bones. They march round camp now
and again. Today the 14th they parade round the camp with the artists
who are taking part in The English Concert. The Concert Committee had
to hold a matinee to allow everyone to see the show which was very good.
We have boxing every night in the Theatre. Gym work we used to do in
No 1 but the hut is occupied now. Plenty of work in parcel office now,
one day we handled 1,000 parcels, half or more censored and sent off
to farmers. Mees and I had a walk down with the cart to the station
one day quite miserable in the Town. Everything has a miserable aspect
everybody seems fed up, quite a different spirit that prevailed this
time last year, it has died away apparently.
Our Drums have played once or twice round the Camp makes us think of
home to see them march and play well known tunes. On the 24th we had
our first boxing show. I am on the Committee, had to raise 100 mks to
buy wood for the stage, so had to make it a success to pay prize money
came to 85 mks. C.G.M.S. Sunker K.O.L.R. was ref., Mees and myself did
the judging Cpl. Kelly Cheshire the Champion of Welsh and N. Commands
gave 6 ends exhibition spar work and 3 other men. The Band was in attendance,
15 Germans, 2 Priests were there and I can say from remarks passed and
they were sitting at the back of me, that they were pleased some of
them never having seen a show before. Everything went off well and we
found ourselves 10 mks to the good to be used for the next show. As
soon as we can clear ourselves properly, surplus money goes to poor
soldiers in the Camp. My parcels turn up alright and this week 2 from
wife 1 from Mayor etc. 1 from Mrs D. 1 Bread parcel from Astley North
.............. My Corp was isolated on the 26th, case of fever, having
the library at our end we are not included . Everybody seems to be going
in and out in spite of wire and sentries who don't bother their heads
much. Getting very busy in parcel office nearing Xmas.
Sunday, I went to the French Concert, beginning to understand them better
now although, do not find much time to converse for long with them,
all my mornings are taken up in the Camp Post Office. Afternoon with
exercise and evenings with school and Boxing. Our Drums are improving,
once a week they beat retreat and every Sunday they play for half an
hour up and down the Camp. Many men are being taken out to different
places for work, 100 or 50 at a time. On the Farms the men as a rule
are treated very well, but have to work hard. The extra freedom counts
for a lot and if they can get the chance they escape across to Holland.
Mothers parcel from home not one from Mayor turned up last week first
time they have been late for some time, they come eventually but the
bread goes bad. My side is bad again this year pains up and down over
heart, dull just enough to be a nuisance especially every morning before
I get up not so bad during the day. Very little war news comes into
Camp .........., not at all like Xmas. Most of us wonder whether we
have got another long year to spend here. As I write, news has come
in that Rumania has declared war on Bulgaria but whether true or not
J no' sais pas.
Have been very busy in the parcel office working up until 7 pm every
evening. From 21st to 24th 16700 parcels have come into Senne .........
for our troops. The number we have on our books about 3,500 men. The
German officials are more than surprised as they understood that England
is blockaded and that we cannot get food in etc. What their papers tell
them and what they actually now see for themselves is quite a different
thing. I receive all my Xmas parcels with exception of usual from Mayor
etc. One large Xmas tree has been issued to each corp. We cut the top
from ours and had it placed in a box and put on the bunk table. Put
some green stuff round the shelves etc. made this look as much as possible
like Xmas. After tea we set the beds back against the walls laid the
table with clean white towels, Xmas tree in the middle, cigarette cards
coloured paper etc. on branches cakes, fruit, sweets tobacco etc. laid
out round it.
About 22 of us altogether had a few songs also a turn on gramophone
brought by Lt. Anderson G.H. R.S.M. Gable, S.M.S. Firth, Charles Jones
came in at 9 pm Bill Mees and myself made some cocoa, cut the Xmas pudding
up all hot and while they were eating it, went up to have a nip came
back for a few minutes and then went out again to S.M.'s bunk to finish
the night. There were only 8 of us S.M.'S Gable, Firth, Maxwell, Jones,
........ Sgt. Mees, Crabtree and myself. We had a rare old talk and
sing song. We all had to sing something each and we all did. Some people
at home would have given quid's to have heard my song. Firth rolled
home first and got to bed, remainder stick it for another hour. We then
went out in force to visit Sgt. Jeffries bunk where about 14 Sgts slept,
got round his bed wished him a Merry X etc. gave him a song and amidst
the growls of all proceed to wish Firth the same, he was too full for
words so we were just about to give him a 2nd verse when a German Under
officer came in said something about being after one o clock, so we
went out and down to No. 2 corps bunk to convey our respects to Jack
Wright door locked (sensible crowd) so we sang round the window until
Jack opened the window smacked Maxwell on the head said how pleased
he was to see us etc. just getting interesting when 2 Germans came along
so we thought it best to retire which we did to the best of our ability
when I get to bed I felt as though I was crossing the Irish Channel.
A Merry Xmas shouted someone, woke me up, but my head felt very heavy,
had to go on parade at 9 so had to turn out. bfter parade went to see
Bill he was queer and nobody would let him alone. We got him out for
parade at 11.30 to receive 6 cigars from ............. (Xmas Box) and
to hear drums play. Same little crowd as yesterday just warmed ourselves
with a little drop in S.M. bunk. Then went up to Firths until 2 pm.
Maxwell sang us a few songs a thing he had never done for 12 years as
that was the last time he felt in the humour. He told us all about the
"Boys of Wexford etc." only it made him as thirsty anyhow
we escorted him home. I laid him on his bed, I did manage my dinner.
Roast Turkey, peas, English potatoes that mother has sent me out and
my Xmas Pudding, not too bad under the circumstances only we had to
go on parade at 3 pm. Maxwell could not get there being (csank) German
for ill. Though my head was aching but I felt very happy. Had about
1 hours sleep after parade, had tea (half a pound of steak and onions).
Max ate his dinner and we felt good went to concert which was good and
finished up with a conflab in the bunk feeling different than the previous
Had a band concert 2 hours after tea. Germans would not let us have
lights (officially) until 12 mid night after concert we returned to
our bunk and watched the new year come in all the English were singing
and 12 o clock was struck on all sorts of tins from the Boxing gong,
to empty neat or fruit tins.
My mother's birthday, band and drums played on square during morning
quite a change. I forgot to mention that aq collection of food from
the English was given to Russians poor bounders they were pleased, one
of them thanked us from the stage during a break in concert. We are
living very well still, thanks to parcels from home.
Has been wet all the month. On the 9th the Rev. Williams the English
clergyman from Berlin held a service, was quite a treat to hear him
speak he told us that he visits all the P OF W camps. We are very busy
in the P.O. working all day up till 7 pm each night. Could get rid of
parcels only the German Officers cannot supply sacks, some of the parcels
have been hanging about 4 or 5 days. Later we get some empty sugar sacks
and by the 16th we get going regularly again.
On the 15thinst the English and French are separated again. The French
taking the lower row of huts we take top. I am glad as we get in a good
bunk with plenty of room. The case of books which forms the library
is put in. We have two orderly men in passage as well. Inside the bunk
are S.M. Firth who is now R.S.M. having been informed from home. Maxwell,
Crabtree, Mees, Hodson, Hepburn, Williams (Bandmaster) and myself. I
think I mentioned that the R.C. Church was burnt down, it was a paltry
little place and was burn out in half an hour. The Theatre has been
moved to a small low hut originally built for French wounded and is
not suited for what we want it for too many supports and we cannot get
permission to move them. I received underclothing from Regimental Depot
but no boots which I could do with they turn up about the 26th Jan.,
JANUARY 30TH 1916
Mrs Williams paid us another visit took a service and told us to keep
the flag flying. Have had no concerts this month on account of the German
officials refusing to allow the hut to be altered. 3 or 4 of the centre
uprights must come out to enable the stage to be built with effect.
All the Barrack Huts have the beds in now 4 beds in one piece 2 men
sleeping above 2 below.
Sorry to say we have got to have them in the bunks our present beds
made by ourselves are very comfortable and make the room look more so.
The big wooden beds look awkward. We have to have two in each bunk.
4 French have escaped this month, one English Lc. Ash R.B. who went
with them was caught, on account of this we have another parade at 13.00
each day. Lc Ash has a twin Brother here they are so much alike that
on was able to take the place of the other for 3 or 4 days without it
being noticed. One worked in the piggery to other in the latrines the
one who stayed just went into the piggery did a little work then ran
to the latrines and did a little there, saying good morning to the same
German twice. When the escape was made known. Both the German i/e piggery
and i/e of latrines claimed J. Ash belonged to them it was very laughable.
Ash, with a German hanging on to each arm swearing he was their man.
What a difference in the manner of the Germans today and in his manner
towards us 12 months ago. They are glad to take any food we will give
them especially to send home to their people. We feel and they know
that we are independent of them for food and clothing. With all the
food etc coming as it does we feel that independent spirit more than
ever, although the British never lost it. It is in us and the Germans
will never drive it out now. My flannel vest arrived from home just
begin to want them mine are full of holes. Have had sore chest for over
a week one little sore sport just under the collar bone right side.
Everyone tells me I am getting fat, quite a change for me as they always
used to say I was quite the reverse. The one big ? "When is it
going to end" We receive very little news unless the Germans have
a slice of luck then we know about it. Individually I know for a fact
they dread going to the front.
We have got the new beds, one in bunk and the other in passage so keep
my own bed. Sometime ago I wished to visit Paderborn. Having to have
a reason for going I say I am visiting dentist. I receive permission
from the General yesterday so set off at 9 am and go by train the journey
taking 20 minutes, quite strange to enter an railway carriage again.
The first thing I notice on nearing Paderborn is the number of Churches,
recognised by the number of spires. I count 10 on one side of railway.
It is a fairly big place 30,000 inhabitants. But how quiet it is and
the number of women in black is noticeable also lack of traffic and
business. Place is very clean and so are all the people, everything
seems very neat. The poorest seem to look neat in keeping with everything.
I go to the dentist and he examines my teeth and I decide that if possible
to obtain money I will have them done. Have a bit of chat with dentist's
wife, the first woman I have spoken to since leaving France. We walk
round the town and do some shopping catching the 12 o clock train to
Going to Paderborn again our (Sgt. Bartly and myself) escort is an Under
officer known in Camp as "The Black Prince". He takes us in
a great many shops. Into one , a milliners there were about 40 German
Girls we were well looked at. The same
Swine" cry is over there is quite a different look in their faces
now. My teeth are not quite ready. Have borrowed money to get them 40
Go into Paderborn our friend the B.P. cannot come with us this time
so go in with one of the German parcel staff. I get my false teeth cost
35 mks. They fit well only feel queer, especially when we go into a
coffee house and get a cake and cup of coffee. We started back at 2.30
pm. Rather busy in Paderborn, market day, Many women in from the surrounding
districts with baskets of butter and eggs.
Had a nice band concert during the evening.
Weather has been very cold, we have had snow and rain, icicles 2 and
3 feet long hanging from roof. Much illness, colds, sore throats, boils
etc. about. I keep very well and have got very fat, send some photos
of our mess home. I wonder what they will think we don't look ill. We
hear of great Russian victory against Turks. The Germans also claim
victory against French at ........... Air raids over England seem quite
common but damage even to German reports very little. We have many men
in Arrest Bks. For refusing to work. They keep coming in. My staff clothes
arrive from England feels nice to have a change.
Month comes in fine. Our Theatre carpenter has made the Athletic Club
a Box horse and parallel bars, we start class every afternoon at 5.
Weather turns cold again about 4th of Month have little snow. Parcels
not arriving punctually. My last letter from home was dated 17th January.
We have now a pipe band as well as drums. The bands play on alternate
days. The pipes look fine being all Gordon's. My false teeth that I
bought in Paderborn are settling down in my mouth a treat although I
must have another trot into town to have a look found.
Last week 14 French Lts. Came into camp the same number I believe have
gone to Senne I and III, some of them captured only last month at Verdun.
On the 12th I played for E. Sgts against the French Sgts. Two officers
played for the French and played a good game too. We beat them 5 - 3.
Two or three of our chaps are making regimental badges with lead moulding
them with sand and getting them gilt at the theatre workshop. Some have
even made a good imitation of the iron money that is issued in camp.
No letters from home for over a fortnight. Weather not bad. We have
our box horse out every afternoon give the boys a run over and parallels
are almost ready.
Last night there was some excitement in camp the bunk at one end of
the theatre occupied by French N.C.O.'S was suddenly surrounded by armed
Germans whistles blew all along the road outside the camp. A German
one knew by the name of the D of W Morme entered the bunk revolver in
hand and told all to put their hands up with the exception of two British
N.C.O's living there who only laughed. The theatre runs parallel with
the wires about 30 yards from them. The French had a splendidly constructed
tunnel from their bunk to 5 or 6 yards the the other side of the wire,
electric light runs into the end of the tunnel for working. With expert
French miners working in the tunnel at the time escaped through another
tunnel leading up somewhere inside the camp. All the French of the bunk
were confined in the arrest barrack the 2 or 3 English who were in the
bunk at the time speaking to the two who lived there were let off. Today
all sorts of Germans from the General downwards have been in to see
the work. Being St. Patrick's the Drums started to play at reveille
but were stopped by the Germans. I also had a small wet at 11am. All
amusements stopped until further orders.
Sunday amusements may commence again so we have a French - British concert
during the evening.
40 English Sgts and one Sgt. Major are sent to ................. about
80 French go as well including my ....... the Sgt. F.I.E. concerned
with the building of the tunnel. Have only had one letter from wife
for the past month although my last parcel was dated March 7th.
The land all round the camp is being cultivated. The work being done
by civilian P of W. The number of G. Troops about are small mostly young
The weather is fine and dry although last week we had snow then hail
and then rain all the same week. A light railway runs past our camp
on the side of the road with a branch line running into camp to the
cook house. Our parcels and coal etc. are run up on this. The Germans
make great use of these light railways. I am getting rather stout I
must weigh quite a stone more than usual. Our Commandant has left us,
has got the push so it is said. Some time ago everyone was stopped 20
fg. From their money orders sort of Barracks damages. Today all those
who were stopped this sum have to parade at 3.30 to receive it back.
My health is good better than ever, I haven't smoked this year and I
certainly feel the benefit of leaving it off as I used to smoke so much.
MARCH 2ND ?
Very warm during the afternoon, 15 of us all ranks went for a walk across
the plain over the ...... area towards Liffspringe. We were out about
3 hours, quite a treat to get outside the
wire. The Out of Work Marine took us with 3 sentries. After tea we had
Highland Dancing and a concert by the band outside our hut. Sgt. Fountaine
returns from Lisborn on the 1st has had enough but on the whole has
not had a bad time.
Tomorrow is Good Friday on the 17th inst we had a Boxing Meeting in
the Theatre. Mees and I were judging ...... of the Kings Own Refs the
fight of the night was between Cpl Kelly Cheshires and Pte Murray G.H.
Was a splendid bout Kelly winning (6 rounds). We had a full house plenty
of French and Germans. The Germans in particular take a keen delight
in our boxing. They get in free everyone else paying either ½
m, or 20 fg. The majority of the credit from the club is being spent
on a Sports Meeting on Easter Monday as near as possible as a meeting
at home. Small prizes 5m, 3m being 1st. I am getting a little of my
fat of using punch bag every afternoon for about an hour 18 to 20 rounds.
Not much news from home, letters or PC's parcels as usual, thank goodness.
Easter Monday. Weather turned out grand after being very bad two days
previous. Held some sports, marked a running track out in front of the
cookhouse 200yds round. Pegs of wood strung with bits of rag tied on
to mark the track, 100 yards we run on the straight from camp gate to
S.M.'s bunk. Rather heavy running on the sand. Germans would not let
us on football field. Bands (3) were playing during afternoon. Military,
Pipe and Drums. 2 fellows did clowns and another policeman. Everything
went off splendid thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We gave the Russians
a race 6 times round. They stood to attention to start the race took
off their coats and caps after the first round and put them on again
for the last. The Boxing Club ran everything, prizes were not big 1st
3 mks. perhaps 5, 2nd 2 mks.
Sunday. The Camp P.O. staff had a walk today. We trekked off at 1.30
Bill Mees and myself in shorts and khaki looked like two boy scouts.
Went through Lippspinge a well known watering place. Plenty of hospitals
but very quiet. Bill and I were behind and came in for a deal of attention
from the girls on account of our bare knees don't know what they would
have said to a Highlander in a kilt. Everywhere very clean, children
all looked very neat and tidy. We stopped for a rest just outside the
town and they flocked round Bill myself and another two sat down under
a tree and soon there were 40 or 50 little girls and boys round us.
We gave them chocolate and biscuits. 2 or 3 little girls who were near
me I gave 10pg pieces to. It was surprising how they took to the "Englanders"
after a few minutes. The French they would have nothing to do with,
I think they were sorry to see us go. We reached Camp at 7 pm all feeling
pretty tired. Our Military Band was playing when we got in. Have had
no letter for a long time one P.C. came last night.
Camp III have been broken up and have come to us. Bob Morrow sleeps
over me now. 150 N.C.O.'s and men including No III Band go out working
somewhere. They gave us a concert the night before they went.
The Camp is being .............. of men after a few days out many come
back into the prison hut for refusing to work at aviation station building
Receive letter from mother it is one month since I received a letter
from Wife. Mees and I hear from Cpt Betts who is ......... of Gymnasia
Irish Command. Tells us the A.G.S. is almost 1100 strong about 5th.
A Frenchman threw himself in the live wire surrounding the camp during
the night. I saw him the next morning just his head and shoulders on
the bottom of the wire netting. He must have died instantly. He was
left there until dinner time the following day. Myself and a few more
went out for a walk on the 11th was very merry on arrival back at Camp.
Weather for some time past has been cold and rainy quite different to
last year. R.S.M.Gable C.S.M.'s Wells and Jones left here for Switzerland
towards the end of last month about 40 went some of them far from delicate.
The Germans claim a big victory over the English Fleet in the N. Sea
on the 1st of June. On the 5, a telegram W.T.B. receives saying that
Lord Kitchener drowned on his way to Russia. The "Hampshire"
on which he was travelling having struck a mine in the N. Sea.
From reports the food question is getting very serious from conversation
that we have with individual Germans of the working class, things must
be very bad. Men over 40 up to 46 and 47 are being sent to the front.
.......... is a very sore point with them, there are a few troops knocking
round training many of them having been to the front before going through
courses. Bill and I still do a bit of work every evening, weather permitting
we have a small class and are trying to work up a display for Whit Monday.
Parallel bars and horse etc. Our Band has been reduced somewhat more
of them having to go working.
A large party of Russians come in on the 1st of June, about 200 all
fine big men and very clean looking nearly all German speaking (Poles)
they were put among the British to live but by the 6th inst they had
all been sent away working. Many British have been sent to Poland working.
Everything at home A.1. Received letters from C.S.M. Thomas A.G.S. he
was at Warrington before me. Have two days in bed with my back quite
a severe attack the bad weather make many of us queer. Stoves have been
taken away so we cook on biscuit tins in the pit built for that purpose
just outside our bunk.
Waterloo Day especially for prisoners of War Senne II. Our new Commandant
(the 3rd to have the job) orders us to pack every bit of our kit and
to parade as for moving and to leave Bks in a clean condition. All of
us have plenty of food and clothing much of which would be destroyed
on our leaving for England or France. But is absolutely necessary for
us here not knowing how long we are here for, everyone had as much as
they could carry and we formed up outside the cookhouse. The Germans
then went round collecting everything that was left, clothes in plenty
but no food not even German bread. The German under Officers cannot
understand yet they look upon us as criminals yet and think we ought
to be subjected to all sorts of degrading things. Our first Commandant
is the only one who understood and treated us as Prisoners of War not
Many of chaps buried their food in boxes. I saw many of them digging
it up before bedtime. We were all delighted with the English Naval victory
and the Russian victories over the Austrians. Sorry to hear of L. Kitcheners
Have had nothing but rain for the last month more like March than June.
Scarcity of food very noticeable, potatoes in camp about 80 lbs per
day for whole camp. Thank goodness food from home turns up safe but
for that, we should merely exist.
The weather up until today has been rotten, nothing but rain, reports
coming in from the country through our men working say that crops are
ruined. Several Germans who work in camp who are farmers say the same.
We havn't such a nice staff in camp as we used to have. One Sgt especially
who cannot, even after all this time, be convinced that there is a vast
difference between "prisoners" and "Prisoners of War".
He thinks we all are very bad men having committed an awful crime. The
Bks have been whitewashed and the same done to the outside of the different
offices. The big offensive all round is worrying them also the shortage
of food. Never see a potato now. The German soldiers themselves are
living on the same food as issued to our men and which we never touch
and never will do while our parcels arrive safe.
Minden Day. Weather has been warm for 3 days S.M.'s Gable, Rogers and
Wells and about 30 N.C.O.'s and men return from "Manheim"
where they went to pass for Switzerland and failed. They don't look
very well as they have been without parcels for several weeks, they
get them all tomorrow. Parcels are being delayed for some reason or
other. We have been without bread several times. We have 3 boxes of
army biscuits stored away and some oxo and soups in case we are without
parcels for some time. The German food is simply awful, we couldn't
live on it although we might exist. Went down with parcel wagon saw
some German Troops recruits and old men mixed. A most awful looking
crowd they seemed to find it a trouble to walk. Some of them were practicing
bomb throwing (a ball size of a small football on a strap.
The prizes for best garden in camp were awarded today, 1st Gordon's,
second French. Adgts bunk 3 Russian bunks. Weather still warm. Two wagons
of potatoes came in yesterday more than half rotten of this year's crop.
We hear Sir Roger Casement was strung up this morning.
Weather has been very unsettled lately. Yesterday all concerts were
stopped with the exception of Band music. The new theatre only just
finished, a decent place used as a school during the day. Last Sat.
was standing among hundreds of others watching German Troops marching
down the road 3 or 4 officers in front, few minutes after they had passed
one of the officers came into camp on his horse rode up to me and asked
in a mixture of French English and German as to why I did not salute
at the same time shaking his whip an inch from my face. Being only one
out of hundreds who were standing it must have been my staff clothes
that attracted his attention. Had to go to office, had my name taken
and came away, I thought I was for prison. At once everyone seemed surprised
because I seemed to have to represent the camp on account of nobody
Our Sgt. Majors since being turned into W.O's class 2 have turned all
sgts living in their bunks to be turned out so that they can live by
themselves 6 in a bunk having with them the C.Q.M. Sgts. Mees and I
go into a corner of the Barracks room as Sgts are living in the bunk
in our room and we did not want to turn them out. Whether S.M's keep
quite apart and Mess apart at home I don't know it is evidently their
wish here. Instead of assisting in maintaining our rank as British N.C.O.'s
they have lowered us in the eyes of the German Authorities. Our Mess
now consists of Crabtree, Mees. Bullberry and myself we are quite comfortable
but rather cramped 9 Sgts sleeping in one corner of the room. A young
Belgian has been killed on the electric wire running round the camp,
he was cutting sods for a garden that is being laid out near the camp
entrance and I believe touched the wire with the shovel the current
drawing him on. It is impossible to get on to the wire from outside
camp as the wire is netted on the inside it is quite easy to get between
the barbed wire.
Weather very unsettled more like November. News is generally good quite
different to this time last year the Russians being in retreat.
Weather has been better this month so far Romania has declared war and
already have lost according to German reports 20,000 men prisoners.
We still hear of our people pushing in the west R on the E and I against
Austria. Air Raids in England and of one zep being brought down near
London. Practicing with M.G.'s yes on every day round the camp. Our
treatment just about same as usual nothing more excitement takes place
in camp than when the Commandant turns up. We have inspection of different
articles of clothing each day. Today we had to wear greatcoats and while
on parade the Germans go round the rooms and collect all spare ones.
The Staff Bk is always full. A Sgt. Major of the R.W.R. had one night
in there he came out with more friends on him than he took in. He was
awarded 5 days but got out on the 2nd. S.M. Gable has been sent away
from Camp to Minden I hear but one can never tell as some of the N.C.O.'s
men from here landed in Russia Lebare etc. Mees and I spend our evenings
at Gym we have an iron horizontal bar outside the theatre near the football
We live quite well on our parcels. Today for instance we have Beef (Bully)
green peas, English potatoes, apple duff made with English flour and
apples, with tea or cocoa. A feed that would make many people outside
the camp gasp German food we never touch. Bread we get from Switzerland
plenty of it could do with some food which is under 3 weeks old nice
Weather has been very nice for past 10 days, cold but bright. Clocks
today are put back 1 hour. About 50 French left here last week for Switzerland
on their way to France all Red + people. Mees and I finish working in
P.O. on account of the N.C.O. in charge (British) not being satisfied
with our work. We cannot agree with him so finish. New C.S.M. AND N.C.O'S
put in charge of the two British Corps. Everyone except Germans pleased
with news in general from all fronts. Zeps are also receiving a different
reception in England. Quite settled for another Xmas, times goes quickly
with us it is the future that seems to trouble us although we have no
doubt as to the formal result.
9 of us Sgts are still living in Bk room although there are only 4 and
5 Sgt. Majors living in bunks. Have started a Gym class in gym (Theatre)
for S.M.'s and Sgts one hour each evening. An American parson has promised
us a horizontal bar. We are making mats from sacks and shavings.
Weather has turned very cold, frost very noticeable every morning. Have
2 days in bed, cold in head. Having no work the time seems longer. Gym
class still going in Theatre but don't know how long it will be allowed.
We are still very crowded. Men having come back from working parties.
Nine Sgts. are still living in Bk room. We find it very cold and draughty
4 Sgt. Majors in next bunk havn't heard of them inviting anyone to live
C.S.M. Sinker is still very bad in hospital. Yesterday we had German
parson to give us a service in the Theatre. Only band concerts are allowed,
get one each Sunday either French or English. Letters are coming in
good time from 8 to 10 days parcels are taking from 3 weeks to one month,
bread is nearly always bad.
This morning C.Q.M.S. Sinker died in hospital (phnumonia) was buried
on November 2nd 30 went from this Camp, 10 or 12 wreaths were in the
gun carriage sent from different camp. Before his illness he was in
good condition always keeping himself fit.
Sgts. Williams, Hubbard, Piper and C.S.M. Rogers with a few men left
today for Switzerland.
Start on new billet. Station fatigue. Get to Railway Station twice a
day, unload the mail when it arrives. I have 10 men and one Cpl with
me. It makes a nice change getting out each day almost always troops
arriving or leaving Senne most of them look as though they have had
enough. Men of all ages and sizes mixed together a great many wear the
ribbon (black with white edges) in the button hole of their tunic.
Pte. Pallett, Bedford Regt. Died today in Hospital result of strain
whilst on Station Fatigue. A few French leave for Switzerland weather
is cold but bright.
Singing concerts are still forbidden. Band Concerts only allowed.
Xmas passed very quietly. Sgt Crabtree and I who now mess together went
and spent the day with R.S.M. Firth C.S.M.'s Maxwell and Morrow had
a few drinks but did not arrive in same state as Xmas before. Have had
a young Officer in Camp since before Xmas 2nd Lt. Harbourne 2nd Man.
Regt. C.S.M. Maxwell with several other W.O.'s and N.C.O.'s leave us
for Minden at the beginning of Jan and a few days after our Camp Senne
II is broken up and cleaned for occupation by German Troop-s. A part
of the Wood Camp Senne III is given to us being wired off from Civil
............... by two rows of barbed wire. The British Troops have
one hut the S.M.'s Cams's taking the bunks. Sgts. have one corner of
hut shut off with blankets about 15 ft squire. 11 Sgts. sleep and Mess
in this space. Soon after we have left G. Troops come into Senne I and
II new Inf. Battalions and M.G.'s a great many young lads who do not
look well. Turnips with potatoes being the chief fare. There does not
seem the spirit in them that there used to be. I am still going to Station
twice each day. Mails do not come so often now that the new system of
sending parcels has started. Have not had a fresh potato for 3 weeks
and this is not by far my first period without them fresh meat is now
out of the question. By careful searching you might find a few pieces
now and again. We still can, by very careful management live from what
we get in our parcels. S.M. Firth has gone to Glutersloh Officers Camp
in charge of orderlies there.
Letters are as scarce as parcels now. Coal allowance stopped today after
5 weeks of very hard frost and snow has turned to rain. 5 degrees of
frost must be registered before we can have coal. See many women working
about Camp clerks, cooks etc. on the railway they wear knickers and
gaters some of them on the passenger trains look smart cannot say same
of those on Goods trains, who wear thick G. Inf. Boots with felt tops.
Several cases have occurred of our parcels being rifled during their
journey to Senne. On going to Goods shed one morning saw one wagon full
of sacks 4 or 5 of which were cut to pieces tins of food packets of
biscuits oats, etc. all over floor of wagon. My party were not allowed
to remain while it was empted for a very good reason I guess. I reported
this of Feldwebel in charge at Kommandtour but nothing to my knowledge
has come of my report. At the station is a little German boy same age
as Stan who is often with us he has taken quite a fancy to the Englanders
very often obtaining a few Pfs before we leave each afternoon. I often
picture my boy who must run about much the same. We still are without
permission for concerts. Our Theatre is occupied by French Red Cross
Committee being full up with biscuits and clothes. Shall be glad to
get to work again, I miss my gym work since coming to this camp. Meet
young fellows from Ramsgate, Martin, Lancs. Fus. Is in hospital suffering
We went out on parade as usual at 7 am had been there about 10 minutes
when an order was issued for everyone to parade with their kits, food
etc. A quarter of a hour was given to us for to us for us to collect
our goods. We all got out what we could not carry such as cooking utensils
etc. we laid outside our chancing the result. As soon as we were out
German soldiers came into the camp taking possession of every hut and
commencing a systematic search in every possible hiding place. Another
party commenced searching the huts of each company, each man as he is
finished being taken out of the gate into the wood that surrounds the
camp; .... and all. The British being the last company were about two
hours in getting out. As soon as we were out the same thing took place
again. This time the job was performed by young German troops, who took
a keen delight in the job seeming much surprise at sight of our belongings
especially food, soap, clothes, needless to say money (German) maps
compasses if found were taken. Meanwhile inside the camp we could see
them at work digging under all the huts scrapping over the ground where
we had been standing carrying all sorts of material to the C.O.'S office.
The Germans were relieved by others to go for their soup (we had some
at 2 pm) the work going on all the time. At 6 am we were taken back
to our rooms and what a sight, beds turned over blankets all over the
place paper pulled down from walls, cushions opened, our redx reserve
store at the end of our hut was opened, some of the tins of food opened,
cigarettes gone, new shirts taken and old ones left in. One tine of
fruit we found carbolic powder. Our utensils placed outside our hut
were intact. No reason for all this was given, two footballs missing.
The British N.C.O.'s having been taken from the letter office we do
not get letters very often, parcels turning up about once a week. Weather
still very cold, was snowing this morning. Went to station to unload
a mail. Splendid news from W. Front and from Bagdad that town having
been in B. Hands for some weeks.
Ordered to parade with kits again we go out same as in last occasion
but quite a different thing occurs. All N.C.O.'s French and English
go to front, some are sent out of gate kit and all and taken charge
of by German FF.W. Not having divided food properly some left have no
food and vice verse. We cannot pass them any. They are taken to the
........... and from there the next day are sent to Minden. I saw them
next morning at the Station S.M.'s Morrow, Berry, Sutherland Sgt. Crabtree
are there also many ..............including Wells and Clouter they ..............................
sent off without least warning.
OCTOBER 10th 1917
A few weeks after many of the Sgt. Majors etc. were sent to Minden we
return to our old camp. We're allowed two journeys across only. We managed
somehow and have been settled quite quietly up till this date.
The state of the camp is the best it has ever been. The Germans do not
worry us which is the main thing. British have 2 huts 4 bunks 5 St.
Majors and Sgts to each. S.M. Dowing, Cpl.Austin Mx Rgt. And several
others went to Switzerland a few days ago complemental exchange. Has
been great talk of an agreement between British and G. Gov. For internment
of Officers N.C.O.'S some men to Holland. Anxiously waiting events.
I still work at Station. Two Cpls. One L.Cpl., 5 Belian Civilians and
myself for British phts. About 1st October a French Sgt. Was killed
playing Rugby. Ten French teams were playing with4 British to make up.
He ran into a big Frenchman breaking the 7th cervical vertebra died
two days after. The present time is the most quiet we have had in Germany.
They can give us very little food but our parcels arrive fairly regularly,
letters take longer.
Everything continues quiet in our camp. I continue down the station.
Many girls work down there pressing straw in bales for transport to
the front. Cpl Tabb R. Fus. And I have many talks with them and they
all wish the war finished all of them being in a bad way for food and
clothes, they will do anything for food. Xmas passes very quietly, Most
of my time is spent at the station. In camp I generally have a trot
round the Camp after tea for an hour Tabb and I became chums and manage
to pass away a few hours knocking around.
There is an animal show every weekend sometimes a concert and football
match every Sunday, so we don't knock a long ball.
Parcels turn up fairly regular and the potatoes, cabbage, carrots etc.
we get off the Russians who steal them from the football field where
they are earthed. We cook our food in the bunk and live decently. 1917
- 1918 The first N.C.O from our camp Sgt. Oliver MX Reg leaves for Holland
on Xmas Day. Two other parties go in January and my turn draws near
but when the names came out I have been missed, not very nice especially
when the time comes for me to go the next time we are told that we have
got to wait another fortnight as the A.M. Corp are going. That fortnight
seems as though it would never pass. I had finished going down to the
station 3 or 4 weeks ago. Cpl Tabb taking on the job. So all my time
and that of the other 22 N.C.O's was spent in saying wonder if we shall
really get away. Shall not feel safe until I am out of it etc. etc.
Anyhow we were ordered to parade at last on the 19th February 1918.
The boys in camp gave us a send off, it was very hard to leave the Tommies
behind as all of us had been together most of the time and a few who
had been friends for a long time had to part. We had a night at the
bath house, saw the place where Pte Barry of the S. Gas. Was shot dead
by a German only a few weeks past. The place was full of fleas could
not get much sleep. We left at 6.30 am the 20 and got to Paderborn at
7.15 there we had to wait until 2.15 pm being put up in one of the large
sheds used by the German troops when waiting there. We reach Cologne
at 11 pm passing many interesting sights. Near the big towns it was
pitiful to watch the poor people crowding into the trains with potatoes
on their back going home. They were put right up tight in the 4th class
carriages, women, children, old men and cripples, all out working. At
Cologne station we get our Grub out and had a feed. You could see the
people look amazed when we got our white bread, meat etc. out they couldn't
understand it at all. One thing they never interfered with us nowhere
quite a change from my passing through that same station in 1914. Aachen
was reached at 4.30 am 22 inst there we were put up in a large school
fitted up as a Hospital. We met another party of N.C.O's and Officers
at Cologne and at Aachen we met more coming in different parties from
other camps. Altogether there were 300 of us with 50 Officers (about)
included. This place was clean, sprung beds and comfortable after the
old Camp. We were allowed down in the school yard for 2 hours each afternoon
and were allowed to mix together all day with the exception of one morning
the Officers were kept in a young Officer having tried to escape being
caught on the border and sent back to his Camp. I think my time in Senne
was easy to what some of them had. Many of them being in 10 or 12 different
camps including some in Austria and Russia. The food there was the usual
German soup but was served up cleaner but we all had plenty of everything
with us so it was not really needed. Some of our kits we looked at majority
not everything went off smoothly. We left Aachen on the morning of the
22nd February and reached the border at 3 pm where we saw the Dutch
and German Sentries facing one another. It was a great relief to see
that double line of sentries and to get behind the Dutchmen. At Vento
the first Dutch station the German Guard left us, thank goodness we
have seen the back of them. The Dutch people here gave us a fine welcome
some food and smokes lots of them speaking English. After an hours wait
we went on, being cheered all along the line getting chocolate and smokes
at different stations. We stopped at Rotterdam 1 hour and reached Scheveningen
at 10 pm prompt. Here there were plenty of our people there to meet
us also a Dutch guard up from our ?
We eventually managed to get to a Hotel just by the station after struggling
through the crown. There were ladies Dutch and English General Sir Hanbury
Williams the Dutch Commandant and several foreign officers. Several
pretty little speeches were made. The General saying he was "Damned
glad to see us". Cheers were given for King and Queen Alexandra
and others after which we moved to the Hotel de Galleries for a feed.
It was a treat to get going on a fresh piece of meat and to sit down
comfortably with ladies looking after us. We managed to get to bed about
12 m.n. Four or five of us in one room. It was a treat to get into a
sprung bed, I slept like a top. We were at the Hotel 3 days and all
the time I kept meeting old friends visited the Hague the first day
fine wide streets cocoa for breakfast with cheese or jam twice each
week. Cocoa for tea with soup (water) the dinner is not up to much the
veg and potatoes are mashed together so that if you are lucky you may
get a few potatoes. Have a couple of Dutch friends Harry van Brakel
and Ben Shoemaker. The latter I spent a good deal of time with his father
having 4 or 4 ? different tailors shops in Holland go up to his house
I dined with his father and mother and one at one of the Hotels afterwards
going to the French Opera "Madam Butterfly" spent a very nice
evening. Also been to both Football match and Basketball matches with
him. Mees and I busy with class of N.C.O.'s Boxing. Turning them out
as Instructors. We have Boxing Show coming off on the 16th inst. Usually
spend our evenings at Bioscope finish up at Cafe until 12am. Bread riots
in the Hague "Food shortages".
First letter from May since my arrival.
On 17th inst we had our second Boxing Meeting in Zoo very good show
cleared itself few days before was at Belgian social saw boxing, fencing,
sabre, foil, epee, highland dancing. About 8th of month Boxing in Zoo.
One of our light weights faught a Dutchman and beat him. Dutch method
rather wild plenty of swings and footwork needs improving. Very nice
weather now everyone in summer clothes. Wagen Street is worth a visit
walked into cafe rather late a few nights ago just of bottom of this
street ladies there rather easy going not having much money didn't stop
long. At end of April had Dance in Gym (select) did my first dancing
got on fairly well barring mistakes had dance in our Group Dancing Hall
last Tuesday 15th did more dancing. Ben Schoemaker and John brought
us two Dutch girls and we had a very nice evening. We have another tomorrow
23rd. 3 of our chaps have died here. Dutch people are beginning to take
to us very well every day there are football, hockey or cricket matches
on Heschan Abbey ground. I don't see much as we are a long way 3 kilometres
away and work in gym prevents me going up. I think we are liked much
better than the Gs. Cheesman an old Senne Theatre turn comes over. I
expect my chum over anytime now as July 1916 fellows are arriving
SUNDAY JUNE 16TH
Went up to Houttrust a big sports ground to watch a large Gym Display
by the combined Gyms in the Hague. The girls were smarter than boys
positions better and movements smarter. 100 working together in free
gymnastics, after gymnastic games, throwing the javlin, disk, hammer,
horizontal parallel bars, horse jumping, racing etc.etc. One thing noticeable
a large crowd of spectators who appreciated everything done on the field
by clapping and cheering.
Had dance in group, plenty of Dutch girls I make arrangements to take
two of them to Sgt's. Ball on the 20th (Zoo) which turned out fine there
being about 300 couples on the floor. On the 22nd we had Boxing Championship
Finals in the Zoo. The place was crowded and there was some good fighting.
The British Commission for Exchange of P of W. Sir W. Townley and staff
from B. Legation were present .S.W.T. presented the cups and medals
after the show. Got a P.P.P. parcel from home on 23rd (Ernie Tobb comes
over from Germany) we went with Ben to the "Scala" saw the
devine "Knipen Me".
Am still busy with boxing classes, have another Dutch Officer for a
Canadian Sports today saw my first game of baseball.
Had nice dance in our group plenty of Dutch girls, never missed one
Ernie and I with Nat and Johnson went to Voorbacg by electric train
took boat out for afternoon splendid weather plenty on canal. Had a
camera with us took half a dozen photos had a really good time, landed
home about 9 pm finished up with dinner at the "Prince Leopold".
Last Sat. 6th was Anglo Dutch Boxing all our chaps won their fights
H. Weight scrap rather a farce Berry 80 kilos Blake 109 kilos and 48
The 6 Regiments keep up Minden Day on the Racecourse "Woundigt"
sports for cadets etc. tea and after dancing in the grass. Photographs
Working in new gym Heseum Abbey. Refresher course for Officers and N.C.O.'s
Afternoon, fencing for staff. No signs of exchange taking place. Ride
into a girl with my bike we both come off girl sprains her ankle on
to her face. This happened returning from dance just by Peace Palace
11.15pm. I cart her home she has to stop in for 3 weeks. Aug. 9th had
a dance in our old gym very nice little show, enjoyed by all. We all
feel the shortage of food especially after our work in the gym. Have
dinner in Y.M.C.A. but Heseum Abbey where we get a better issue than
in the billet.
Rain practically everyday for past 3 weeks. Had one good evening with
a Belgian. Lady Contesse Van der Burch did us very well. We3 are now
receiving ration on Bully Beef from England. One tin per man every two
days, also two Army Biscuits. The Dutch only supply meat or fish each
Sunday. I manage to buy a bread card each week. LS bread costing 47
cents rather dear but useful. Had Sgt's dance in Zoo on 17th rather
crowded. We still have one in our group each fortnight. Have 4 fellows
for Boxing lessons. Peter William Hendrick W. Clerk (Navel Officer)
Frederick Jacob Spenbury (Clerk) Erwin Vervbit a Belgian who is going
to England to join the army as and Officer next month, and a Dutch Sgt.
Don't know his name yet. Receive 300 cigarettes from Mother. Have got
to know very nice Dutch family Hart 107 Tasmanstraat. The 3 girls always
come to our Dance. I also take 2 to the Sgt's Dance each time very often
spend an evening at their place makes a pleasant change. One speaks
Englsih, another French and the other is learning English, so have some
sport when we all commune to talk anyhow they all dance well so we get
Moved up to the Hotel des Galleries on 7th November nearer Gym. Here
we are A.1. Mark and I in one room, food better. War being practically
over there is plenty of excitement. Our last group dance at Town the
hall place packed good sport all girls sorry we are leaving. Took bike
to Ben Shoemaker to sell for me. I stopped to down a drop to much wine
same every time I visit there. Have got over the Spanish group feel
much better. We pack up our gym. Capt. Henslow said goodby our names
being forwarded to the General for our work here. I get a Boxing Certificate.
Anxiously waiting for news to pack up for Blighty not that it excites
me much wish I could be as happy as some who are going.