Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Oct.20th. Sunday. A Service was held in a small room in the canteen, conducted by a Mr. Williams who had been Chaplin to the Kaiser’s Mother. Nice fellow but owing to the presence of the German interpreter who was with him the whole time, he could give us no news. Another innoculation in the afternoon – this time for cholera and my arm was rather sore later in the day. Ivan Hay (5th Lancers) – a cousin of the Dudleys – came to tea. He had been a prisoner since August 26th, 1914 but did not look it. He told us plenty of interesting things about his early experiences. Nearly all the “tea” was provided by Hay! White bread, syrup tea with milk and sugar, cake, biscuits. Hay had been getting parcels from home via Holland. We did enjoy a real “blowout” – the best we have had for five weeks. Re-arranged the room in evening, and papered wall behind beds with brown paper which was a great improvement as the whitewash kept getting on our clothes. Three double beds on one side of the room and two tables in the middle. The iron beds had wooden slats underneath, on top of which were straw filled paliasses and two blankets.


Oct.21st. Wingers and I got our first letters this morning. I had a letter from Dad and postcards from Mother and Katherine. A cheque made out in favour of Swiss Red Cross was the first information my parents had of my survival. Everyone excited at the prospect of more letters and parcels. My chest felt stiff from innoculations so stayed in bed. Not so cold today and blue sky. Our room begins to be quite comfortable. We have bought a teapot and becoming quite civilised. Walked for two miles in afternoon and hopes of a real walk tomorrow if weather holds. Anteroom being papered dark red and should be comfortable.


Oct.22nd. About twenty of us went for a walk this morning with one of the Lieutenants, lasting just over an hour.

The country very pretty with pine covered hills, white houses with red roofs and roads without hedges. My flying boots hard to walk in but greatly enjoyed being relatively free for once. We got a good view from a hill just above the Lager on which are two lone trees, known as Max and Moritz or Adam and Eve. Lovely day and not so cold. Meat for dinner and stewed plums. Tea with Maxwell, Blain and Griffiths (all R.F.C.). Almost as good as being at home! Tea, cakes, butter, biscuits, jam and Patum Peperium. Went to concert given by Russians. Their orchestra with balalaikas combined with guitars played very well. Some sang and others told what we gathered were funny stories, judging by the laughter and applause they created.


We did not see much of our captors except on morning and evening Appel. A group photograph of the British prisoners was taken by a local photographer who also took individual photographs. But when it was printed, the Commandant sitting in the middle of the front row was blotted out.


Oct.23rd. Helder had his first Russian lesson and after tea we were all innoculated against typhus. I did not feel well that evening, my chest was sore for a few days. Cooked sardines and tomatoes on our stove – very good!


Oct. 24th. Got up late – bath at 11.00, followed by a walk.


Oct. 25th. Had another walk after lunch and we went across a railway line into some pinewoods. This sort of life makes one feel slack and flying boots make walking tiring but it was good to be out again. People we met showed no active hate, but some did not seem to approve of us. On the whole they showed only an attitude of curiosity. We were not allowed to walk on the pavement and had to stick to the road. Lieutenant Klöcker was in charge. The barber came after tea-time and I had my hair cut.


Oct. 26th. Several letters from home and I hope to get a parcel tomorrow. Bad lunch – thin soup, potatoes, sauerkraut, microscopic piece of cheese. Rumours that there will be only one meal per day next month but parcels should arrive soon. Griffiths, (2nd Lieutenant Royal Welsh Fusiliers and R.F.C., an observer in 70 Squadron) gave us some cooked ham which we fried on the stove. We had our second shot of typhus innoculation and in the evening gave a concert to the Russians in our anteroom. This went off well but nothing very great in the way of performance. “Tipperary”, “Old Cock Robin” went down well and the Russian chorus sang the Volga Boat Song. At the end both National Anthems were sung and as we left the room, a German Lieutenant appeared and we thought we were in for a strafing. He had only come with the Camp Commandant’s compliments to say how pleased he was that we had enjoyed ourselves together. The anteroom looks nice and comfortable with its walls papered a dark red with white painted dado and doors, blue curtains and furnished with card tables and deck chairs.


Oct.28th. Another walk today with the tall Lieutenant. We hear of a great scandal about the French Captain Allouche whom we all loathe. He has been trying to set the Russians against us. Yesterday when the Spanish Ambassador came to inquire into charges made by the Russians that canteen prices were excessive, he shoved his spole into the wheel and claimed the prices were quite reasonable, so he put his foot in it. It is curious how all the other nationalities seem to loathe the French. In every other Lager, they are hated like poison by the other Allies. Luckily there are only a few here and as we get on well with the Russians, we take no notice of them. Captain Allouche was the only French man in the camp when we arrived and we suspected he had been planted by the Germans as a spy. Having apparently given away an escape plan, it was decided to deal with him. During the night several officers entered the small room in which he slept, threw cold water over him and plastered his private parts with jam. He came rushing down the corridor shouting “Au Secours” and was rescued by sentries and taken to the Kommadantur – that was the last we saw of him.


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