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Title: 'Brother Bosch', an Airman's Escape from Germany
Author: Knight, Gerald Featherstone, 1894-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "'Brother Bosch', an Airman's Escape from Germany" ***

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                            "BROTHER BOSCH"



                        CAPTAIN KNIGHT, R.A.F.

                       LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
                   _London: William Heinemann, 1919_

                           To the Memory of

                           CAPTAIN MORRITT,
                           LIEUT. MEDLICOTT,
                            LIEUT. WALTERS,

                      WHO, BEING LESS FORTUNATE,

    Belovèd Country! banished from thy shore,
    A stranger in this prison house of clay,
    The exiled spirit weeps and sighs for thee!
    Heavenward the bright perfections I adore
    Direct, and the sure promise cheers the way,
    That, whither love aspires, there shall my dwelling be.



"The spelling of the word 'Bosch' was the customary one in the German
prisoners' camps from which the author made his escape, and is
retained for the sake of local colour."


     P. 25, line 6 from bottom, _for_ "_weis_" _read_ "_weiss_."

     P. 43, line 14, _for_ "balolaika" _read_ "balalaika."

     P. 47, line 10 and p. 55, line 16, _for_ "_Weiswein_" _read_

     P. 51, line 7, _for_ "Hammelin" _read_ "Hameln."

     P. 126, line 20, _for_ "Pupchen" _read_ "Püppchen."

     P. 159, line 16, _for_ "Briefeasten" _read_ "Briefkasten."

                            "BROTHER BOSCH"

                  (An Airman's Capture and subsequent
                         Escape from Germany)

                               CHAPTER I


It was November 9th, 1916. I lay in a state of luxurious
semi-consciousness pondering contentedly over things in general,
transforming utter impossibilities into plausible possibilities,
wondering lazily the while if I were asleep. Presently, to my disgust
an indefinable, yet persistent "something" came into being, almost
threatening to dispel the drowsy mist then pervading my brain. The
slow thought waves gradually ceased their surging, and after a slight
pause began to collect round the offending mystery, as if seeking to
unravel it in a half-hearted sort of way. They gave me to understand
that the "something" recurred at intervals, and even suggested that it
might be a voice, though from which side of the elastic dividing line
it emanated they were quite unable to say. With the consoling thought
that voices often come from dreamland I allowed the whole subject to
glide gently into the void and the tide of thought to continue its
drugged revolutions. The next instant a noisy whirlwind swept the
cobwebs away. I knew that the voice was indeed a reality, for it
delivered the following message: "A very fine morning, sir!" Obviously
my dutiful servant desired me to rise and enjoy the full benefit of
the beautiful day. Agreeing with Harry Lauder, that "It's nice to get
up in the morning, but it's nicer to stay in bed!" I am sorry to say I
cunningly dismissed the orderly with a few false assurances, turned
over on my side and promptly forgot all about such trivial matters.
Conscience was kicking very feebly, and just as sleep was about to
return, the air commenced to vibrate and something swept overhead with
a whirling roar--an "early bird" testing the air. Galvanised into
action by this knowledge, I sprang out of bed, and seizing whatever
garments happened to be the nearest, was half dressed before I had
even time to yawn! Then snatching up my map, coat, hat, and goggles, I
burst from the hut and began slithering along the duck-boards towards
the hangars, at the same time endeavouring to fasten the unwilling
hooks of my Flying Corps tunic and devoutly hoping that I should not
be late for the bomb raid. For weeks we had been standing by for this
raid in particular, the object of which was to bomb Douai aerodrome.
This was a particularly warm spot to fly over, for in these days it
was regarded as the home of "Archies" and the latest hostile aircraft.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the general feeling of the
squadron was that the sooner it was over the better for all concerned.
Arrived at the sheds I was relieved to find that I was in good time,
at all events. The machines (two-seater artillery machines, then
commonly known as "Quirks") were lined up on the aerodrome with bomb
racks loaded, their noses to the wind, awaiting the signal to ascend.
I saluted the C.O., waved to a friend or two and climbed into the
pilot's seat of my waiting machine. Then, adjusting the levers, I
signified to the waiting mechanics that I was ready for them to "suck
in" (an operation necessary prior to the starting of the engine).
Having made sure that everything was O.K. and waited for the others to
ascend, I took off and, after climbing steadily for some time, took up
my specified position in the formation. For some time we circled about
over a pre-arranged rendezvous, until joined by an escort of fighting
machines and another squadron of bombers, and then settled down to
business. Flying straight into the sun we soon arrived at and passed
over the irregular spidery lines of trenches (those on Vimy Ridge
showing up particularly clearly), and continued forging ahead, past
many familiar landmarks, always in the direction of Douai. I for one
never dreamt of being taken prisoner and had every intention of making
a record breakfast on my return. My engine was going rather badly, but
the odds were that it would see me through. Only too soon the
anti-aircraft started their harassing fire, throwing up a startling
number of nerve-racking, high explosive shells, each one a curling
black sausage of hate and steel splinters. When we were some way over
my machine lagged behind the rest. The engine spluttered
intermittently and could not be induced to go at all well. As my
machine became more isolated I cast anxious glances about and was soon
rewarded by seeing two wicked little enemy scouts waiting for an easy
prey (at that time they did not usually attack a formation, but waited
behind for the likes o' me). While one scout attracted my attention on
the left and I was engaged in keeping him off by firing occasional
bursts, a machine gun opened fire with a deafening clatter at
point-blank range from behind. In an instant the surrounding air
became full of innumerable tiny, brilliant flames, passing me at an
incredible speed like minute streaks of lightning, each one giving
forth a curious staccato whistling crack as it plunged through or
beside the tormented machine, leaving in its wake a thin curling line
of blue smoke. I was in the middle of a relentless storm of burning
tracer bullets, vying one with the other for the honour of passing
through the petrol tank, thereby converting my machine into a seething
furnace. Having no observer to defend my tail I turned steeply to meet
my new adversary. However, before completing the manoeuvre I
received another deadly burst of fire, which, though it somehow missed
me, shot away several of my control wires. What happened next I cannot
be sure, but the machine seemed to turn over, and my machine gun fell
off with a crash. This took place at an altitude of six thousand feet.
My next impression was that I seemed to be in the centre of a whirling
vortex, around which all creation revolved at an extraordinary speed,
and realised that my trusty steed was indulging in a particularly
violent "spinning nose dive." A "spin" at the best of times rather
takes one's breath away, so, shutting the throttle, I endeavoured to
come out of it in the usual way. To my surprise, the engine refused to
slow down, or any of the controls to respond, except one, which only
tended to make matters worse.

The one thing left to be done was to "switch off" and trust to luck.
This, however, was more easily decided on than accomplished, for by
this time the machine was plunging to earth so rapidly, with the
engine full on, that I felt as if I were tied to a peg-top, which was
being hurled downwards with irresistible force. Fighting blindly
against the tremendous air-pressure, which rendered me hardly able to
move, I forced my left arm, inch by inch, along the edge of the
"cockpit" until I succeeded in turning the switch lever downwards. A
glance at the speedometer did not reassure me, the poor thing seemed
very much overworked. Descending very rapidly I kept getting a glimpse
of a pretty red-roofed village, which became ominously more distinct
at every plunging revolution.

I vaguely thought there would be rather a splash when we arrived at
our destination, but at eight hundred feet Providence came to the
rescue. I heard the welcome cessation of the wild screaming hum of the
strained wires. After switching on, the engine informed me with much
spluttering that it was sorry that I should have to land on the wrong
side, but it really had done its best. I had just managed to turn
towards our trenches, when the scout pilot, seeing I did not land, at
once followed me down and with its machine gun impressed on me that
the sooner I landed the better. As I was then a long way over the
lines, sinking fast towards the tree-tops, I had no alternative, so
endeavoured to reach the village green. By this time the machine was
literally riddled with bullets, though, luckily, I had not been
touched. Before landing I overtook a German horseman, so thinking to
introduce myself I dived on him from a low altitude, just passing over
his head. Well, scare him I certainly did, poor man; he was much too
frightened to get off, and seemed to be doing his best to get inside
his would-be Trojan animal. The machine landed on a heap of picks and
shovels, ran among a number of Huns who were having a morning wash at
some troughs (or rather I should say, a lick and a promise!). They
scattered and then closed in on the machine. I ran one wing into a
post, and tried the lighter, which did not work. I was a prisoner.
Undoubtedly, the next German communique announced that the gallant
Lieutenant X. had brought down his thirtieth machine; it is probable
that this gallant officer had heard strange rumours of what lay behind
the British lines, but preferred cruising on the safer side. I could
hardly believe that these grey-clad, rather unshaven men who jabbered
excitedly were genuine "Huns." I was furious and very "fed-up," but
that did not help, so turning in my seat and raising my hand I said,
"_Gutten Morgen_." This surprised them so much that they forgot to be
rude and mostly returned the compliment.

                              CHAPTER II


The immediate treatment I received was rather better than I had
expected. Several officers came forward, and one, who held a revolver,
told me in broken English to get out. So leaving my poor old machine,
we proceeded to the village headquarters.

Photographers appeared from nowhere and I was twice "snapped" on the
way, though I'm afraid I did not act up to the usual request, "look
pleasant." On arriving at a small house I was received by a German
general, who looked rather like an Xmas tree, the Iron Crosses were so
numerous. As I stood to attention he politely inquired if I spoke
German, even condescending to smile faintly when I replied, "Ja, un
peu!" At first when I answered a few preliminary questions he was
politeness itself. He then asked for my squadron number, to which I
could only reply that I was sorry but could not answer him, whereupon
he pointed out that it was of no military value whatever, and that it
was only to assist in my identification in the report of my capture
which would go to England. So thoughtful of him; such a plausible
excuse! Of course I remained silent, whereupon "_la politesse_"
vanished and an angry Hun took its place. He screamed, threatened, and
waved his arms about, but as I did not seem very impressed at the
display, he rushed out of the room, slamming the door and not
returning. Oh, for a "movie" camera! A Flying Corps officer then took
me in a car to an aerodrome, and told me I should have lunch with the
officers at the chateau, where they were quartered. Here I met about
nine German airmen, who greeted me in a typically foreign manner. They
seemed quite a nice lot on the whole, though I did not know them long
enough to really form an opinion. Soon a good German gramophone was
playing and lunch began. The food was rather poor, but champagne
plentiful. During the meal the gramophone, which was nearest to me,
finished a record, so getting up I changed the needle and started the
other side. But it wasn't the "Bing Boys" this time! Strange to say,
they were quite astonished at this performance, thinking, perhaps,
that I could not change the needle. Afterwards, at coffee, a
lieutenant asked me what we thought of their flying corps, to which I
replied that I thought it was all right. He seemed quite prepared for
this, and hastily said that I must remember that they had fewer
machines. I think it must have occurred to every captured airman how
splendid it would be to steal an enemy aeroplane and fly back, then
after a graceful landing report to the C.O. that you had returned.
These flights are not infrequently pleasurably accomplished in
imagination, but such opportunities do not often, if ever, present

Just before leaving the chateau, I excused myself and got as far as
the back door, where I had to explain to some German orderlies that I
was only trying to find my coat. I was taken by car to corps
headquarters at another chateau, where I saw some young officers,
elegantly dressed, lounging about. After much useless bowing and
scraping I was again interrogated by an objectionable colonel, but
they seemed used to failure, and soon ceased their efforts. A major
who assisted spoke English well, and made himself quite pleasant till
I left. On hearing that I was in the Devons he told me that on leaving
the university his father had sent him to live at a small village near
Barnstaple, where he had remained for several years. Doubtless, a
hard-working man of leisure! He seemed a very able officer, but
decidedly young for a German major. On being told that all leather
goods were confiscated, I was forced to give up my Sam Brown belt much
against my will. They seemed very familiar with the movements of our
troops, and I noticed that though their telephones were rather large
and clumsy they carried slight sounds very distinctly, so much so,
that when at the other end of the room I could hear practically the
whole conversation.

Towards evening the major told me to get ready to go to Cambrai, and
at the same time said, that as my leather flying coat was also
confiscated they had cut off the fur collar, which he then handed
back. This rather annoyed me, so I told him to keep it, which incident
I regretted afterwards. However, he lent me a German coat, which was
some comfort. On the way to Cambrai we again passed near the lines,
some British star shells being plainly visible. What a difference a
few kilometres make! The Germans depend on their railway transport
more than we do. Certainly their road transport cannot be compared
with ours. We passed a few cars and motor lorries, the majority giving
one the impression that they were falling to bits, so noisy and shabby
were they. I only saw two or three motor cyclists the whole time, and
those I did see rode machines of an antiquated pattern. We passed a
lot of horse transport, nearly all the ambulances in the district
being horse drawn. Most cars, including our own, were only capable of
emitting useless squeaks on emergencies.

Soon we entered Cambrai, an old, picturesque French town, and drew up
at the entrance to the citadel, where a guard allowed us to enter. I
was then left with a Lieutenant Schram, the intelligence officer, who
gave me coffee and cigars and plied me with questions. He was very
anxious to discover all he could about our tanks, and possessed many
supposed models, mostly not in the least like them. He emphasised the
opinion that, of course we should not get Bapaume, at the same time
allowing he thought there might be a moving battle in the spring. From
his conversation I gathered that they were very familiar with
formation and movements of most of our Colonial units. The
_tête-à-tête_ at an end, I was taken to my quarters, a bare
whitewashed room, containing one French flying officer, two British
lieutenants, if I remember rightly, both in the D.L.I., having been
taken near Bapaume, and also a Canadian sergeant-major. It is
unnecessary to say how pleased I was to see them. Some one had
acquired a portion of an old magazine, which was much sought after, it
being the only means of passing the time. Our sleeping accommodation
consisted of two old straw mattresses, one on the floor and the other
on a shelf above.

Being tired we slept soundly, but in the morning we were horrified to
find we had not been alone, but that quite a varied menagerie had
shared our couches with us. Why the blankets did not run away in the
night I cannot think. The Huns promised to have lots of things done
but never did anything, in fact, they lie as easily as they breathe,
even when there is nothing to be gained by it.

A comparatively nice N.C.O. was in charge of us, called Nelson! We
afterwards learnt that his father had been English, and that his own
knowledge of England appeared to be confined to an Oxford restaurant.
One day when our lunch, consisting of black and watery soup, was
brought up he sympathetically remarked that it was a pity we could not
have chicken and ham. I wonder what he would have done had some one
enticingly rattled a shilling on a plate?

During the day we were allowed to walk round the barrack square for
about three hours with eighty British and a hundred and fifty French
soldiers, some of whom were daily detailed to work in the town. I
noticed that the Germans were inclined to treat our soldiers the
worst, frequently shouting threats at them in their guttural
language. In the evenings I sometimes managed to get downstairs with
the men, and in this way was able to join in some impromptu
sing-songs. Sanitary arrangements were very bad and disinfectants
unknown. We were allowed to buy a little extra bread and some turnip
jam at exorbitant prices, which helped us considerably, as breakfast
consisted only of luke-warm acorn coffee, lunch of a weird soup
containing sauerkraut or barley, supper of soup or tea alternate days.
We amused ourselves by carving our names on the table, or by drawing
regimental crests or pictures of Hun aeroplanes descending in flames,
in out of the way corners. On being told that toothbrushes were out of
stock (I do not think they ever were in), I manufactured a home-made
one on boy scout lines. It consisted of a small bundle of twigs and
splinters tied together (like a young besom), and though it did its
work well, the morning sweep was decidedly painful.

                              CHAPTER III

                            ADVENTURE NO. 1

After remaining there a week we were told that we should leave the
next morning for Germany, which we should grow to like very much!
During our stay, except for a few exciting intervals when British
machines passed over the town, we had plenty of time for meditation,
and usually when darkness fell could see by the gun flashes that the
evening strafe was in progress. This always reminded me of an argument
which had once taken place in our squadron mess, late one evening
before turning in, during which I had expressed the opinion that
should any one with infantry experience be forced to land the wrong
side just before dark, provided he could avoid Huns, it might be just
possible for him to return the next night through the trenches. Now I
felt it was up to me to prove it should such an opportunity present

Cambrai citadel is both solid and imposing, and must have proved
itself a formidable fortress. Crowning a slight eminence, it
overlooks most of the town. On the three sides are ramparts, varying
from about twenty to sixty feet in height, while on a fourth it is now
bounded by barbed wire and high railings, with only a slight drop on
the other side. At the main entrance the road crosses the old moat and
passes under a massive archway which adjoins the guardroom. All the
approaches to the outer walls are guarded by quantities of barbed wire
and numerous sentries.

After a thorough search I at last discovered a small round hole in the
wall of an outbuilding near the roof, through which I decided it would
be possible to squeeze, in the dusk, unobserved by the sentry. The new
German coat I had received on the way had been again in its turn
exchanged for an old French one. This I took to the men's quarters
and, finally, after hunting the whole place, found an old German coat
hanging up. After bargaining for some time I made my fourth exchange,
and returned successful. Later in the afternoon an English N.C.O. told
me that he had heard of my search and presented me with an old German
fatigue cap which had been unearthed somewhere by his pals.

Now having everything ready I determined to try my luck about six
o'clock that evening before being shut up for the night. After
learning some new German words likely to be of use, such as "wire
entanglements," "dug-outs," etc., I returned to my room and waited. My
plan was to follow the gun flashes, which in all probability would
lead me to the Bapaume area, where I expected to find some wire or
wooden posts, which I should carry with me as I approached the lines,
and endeavour to avoid suspicion by mingling with working parties as
an engineer. If thus far successful I hoped to repair the German wire
entanglements, which in this district were much damaged by our shell
fire, and eventually slip away and get into touch with our patrols.

At a quarter to six a German flying officer entered our room and
invited me to dinner at their Cambrai headquarters, assuring me that
there would be plenty to eat and drink. (I expect after skilfully
mixed drinks they hoped to loosen my tongue. When a Hun lays himself
out to be pleasant it is almost certain that in some way he expects to
benefit by it.) If you wish to realise how tempting this offer was,
live on a watery starvation diet for eight days and then be given the
opportunity of a good meal. However, when I excused myself on the plea
of being a little unwell, "Mein freund" was quite non-plussed. While
he was still trying to extract information, unsuccessfully, from the
others, I left the room after pocketing a slice of bread.

Once in the outhouse I chose my time and, climbing up to the hole in
the wall, squeezed myself through with difficulty, for it was only
just large enough. When the sentry's back was turned I dropped to the
ground on the other side, about ten feet below, making considerable
noise. I was now past the line of barbed wire, but there still
remained the ramparts to negotiate. Never having been able to see over
this point from our quarters we had no means of ascertaining the drop
to the ground below. The corner of the ramparts I was making for was
under forty yards away, but it took me about three-quarters of an hour
to get there, crawling on crackling dry leaves under the shadow of the
wall. The slightest noise would probably have attracted the sentry's
attention and caused him to switch on the electric light, which they
all carry slung round their necks. Oh! what a noise those leaves made!
Just before I got to the wall I heard rather a commotion outside the
guardroom, and although expecting to get at least a night's start
before my absence was discovered, concluded that I had already been
missed. (Afterwards I found that this was indeed the case, as the
German flying officer on leaving had told the commandant that I was
unwell; a doctor was then sent up, but I could not be found.) Getting
up, I ran to the wall and looked over. In the dusk I faintly
distinguished some bushes below. The glance was not reassuring, but
"the die was cast," and over I went. I shall always remember that
horrible sensation of falling. It took longer than I expected to reach
the ground. Instantaneously there flashed through my brain a formula I
had learnt at school, _i.e._, that an object falling increases its
velocity thirty-two feet per second. I now realised for the first time
how true it was. The drop was somewhere between twenty and thirty
feet. Just near the ground my fall was broken by my being suspended
for the fraction of a second on some field telephone wires, which
broke and deposited me in the centre of a laurel bush, which split in
half with a crash. It is not so much the fall but the sudden stop
which does the damage. My breath being knocked out of me and seeing
several floating stars of great brilliance, I vaguely wondered if I
were dead, but I was considerably relieved to find that this was not
the case. No bones broken, only some bruises. As I was getting to my
feet I heard some one coming down a gravel path which passed beside
me. Crouching down, I saw it was a civilian, who proceeded to light a
cigar and passed on. I followed suit by lighting my one and only
cigarette, and after cutting a stick, entered a darkened street,
externally a perfectly good Hun.

But even German soldiers are subject to restrictions and I might be
asked questions. Consequently, my one idea was to get out of the town
as quickly as possible. I met two French women, to whom I explained my
position, and asked the nearest way into the country. They were
frightened and unwilling to talk at first, but when I opened my coat
and showed them the British uniform underneath, they pointed to a road
which I followed. Soon the town was left behind and I was making for
the gun-flashes and crossing a turnip field. Swinging along at a good
pace the turnip-tops whipped my boots and made quite a noise. Suddenly
a challenge rang out from a small railway bridge. "_Halt! Wer da!_"
(On these occasions it seems as if one's heart has been put to the
wrong use, it being really fashioned to be a pendulum for a
grandfather clock.) The next second an electric light was switched on,
but I had already fallen among the turnips, endeavouring to make a
noise like one (a turnip). Then ensued an interesting silence fraught
with many possibilities. Did the turnip's voice deceive the Hun? At
any rate the light was soon turned off, much to my relief; then
quietly I slipped away. After about an hour's walking across country I
came to what I supposed to be a stream, showing up in the moonlight,
with a few bushes growing along the side. Walking parallel to it for a
few yards and not seeing a bridge, I thought it might be quite
shallow, so tested it with a stick. Imagine my pleasant surprise when
I found that it was not water at all, but a narrow white concrete
path, evidently newly made. I noticed that nearly all roads running
parallel to the front had a very deep trench dug on the east (German)
side. Presumably, these were later used considerably when we were
engaged in shelling the roads. Soon I came to the Cambrai Canal, which
had to be crossed, and as it was the middle of November it gave me the
shivers even to look at the dark water. After walking some distance
down the tow-path, I encountered a Hun. Though not feeling at all bold
I said, "_G'nacht_," which I felt sounded feeble, though I knew it to
be the correct thing in some parts of Germany. To this he replied,
"_Abend_" (evening). (Quite a valuable lesson in the usual custom
among soldiers.)

Skirting a few houses and a timber yard I approached a large
well-built iron railway bridge spanning the canal. Climbing over some
barbed wire I cautiously mounted the embankment. Looking along the
bridge I saw there were two lines separated by some arched iron
girders. From recent experience I knew that this must be strongly
guarded, but reasoned that if I closely followed a train I should in
all probability find the line free for a few seconds. Presently a
freight train came rumbling along, and I rushed after it in a whirl of
air, in my haste almost being knocked down by the end carriages. As
the bridge was rather long and the train going fast, in a very short
time I was being left stranded. When I was nearing the other side I
stopped an instant to listen. It was just as well I did. Not more than
three yards away, on the other side of the ironwork, a man spoke in
German and was immediately answered by another, who turned on his
light and commenced walking towards the end of the bridge I was making
for, to return to his old beat on my line. There was no time to lose,
so rushing back on tip-toe and down the embankment I fell over the
barbed wire at the bottom, which painfully impressed on me its
disapproval of my conduct.

After following the canal for a few hundred yards there seemed no
alternative but to swim across, so in I went, greatcoat and all. It
was awfully cold. At first my clothes and fleeced-lined flying boots
held the air and supported me, so that I lay on the surface of the
water as if bathing in the Dead Sea, feeling very ridiculous. But only
too soon everything filled up and I felt like a stone. Swimming as
silently as possible, I had almost reached the opposite bank, feeling
very tired, when I saw something glisten just in front which looked
very like a bayonet, and a man's voice shouted "_Hier_." Picture the
situation: a dark but starry November night, Hun sentry guarding
barges, and a poor wretch floundering about in the water, then you
will not be surprised that my heart after jumping into my mouth,
worked overtime again! The Hun thought I was a dog; I must be one
without delay if I wished to preserve a whole skin, so after a
spluttering growl I turned back with new energy, swimming like a dog
and whining softly. After again calling to me several times he threw a
few things in my direction, which fortunately went wide. I then swam
round a barge and with a great effort pulled myself out of the water,
rewarding the Hun, who was now calling a friend, with a final bark. I
ran across a field with the water pouring from me. I did not think one
could be so cold, an icicle was warm in comparison! With numb fingers
I wrung some of the water out of my clothes, and with chattering teeth
considered the situation. Here I was, still on the wrong side--the
only thing left to try was a village bridge. Again following the
tow-path I neared some lights, which proved to be a hospital, and
found myself in an apparently unoccupied station-yard, among a number
of large heaps. On raising a corner of a tarpaulin which covered the
nearest I recognised the familiar wicker crates, which contained
something heavy. It was an ammunition dump! I soon found the name of
the station on the deserted platform--Mannièrs.

As I was leaving the dump, thinking of a possible future, and what a
lovely explosion one well-directed bomb would make, I heard some one
coming towards me. At once hopping off the road I crouched against one
of the shell heaps where the darkness was more dense, my weight
causing the wicker to creak. But the seemingly deaf individual passed
by and I breathed again. Entering the main village street at a good
pace, whistling a German tune, I was accosted by two Huns carrying a
heavy basket on a stick. One inquired of me the way to some
headquarters. I dared not stop, so turning my head, growled out a
sullen "_Ich weiss nicht_" (I don't know). They seemed grieved at my
bad manners, but were soon left behind. Although it was very late a
number of troops were still singing uproariously in the various
estaminets which I passed. On turning a corner I saw the village
bridge and on it a sentry box. While I stood in the dark shadow of a
house a small party of Germans, carrying saddlery, overtook me.
Tacking myself on casually behind some of them we all passed over the
bridge quite happily, and feeling in a cheeky mood I wished the sentry
"good evening."

Once more I was passing swiftly over the country, devoutly hoping
there would not be any more canals. Several hours passed uneventfully.
Some of the concrete paths leading in the right direction afforded
excellent walking. They were mostly new and appeared to be only laid
on the mud without any foundation. On a small rise I came upon a
trench system under construction (probably the now famous Hindenburg
line), which I examined. The few dug-outs I saw were incomplete, the
trenches rather wet and shallow and not yet sandbagged. After crossing
two lines of more or less continuous trenches I inspected the wire
entanglements, wooden posts (charred, so as not to show up in aerial
photographs) and iron corkscrews which were already in position, but
only a little fine and barbed wire as yet, which was quite easy to get
through. Although the firing had died down it continued sufficiently
to enable me to keep my direction. Just as I was leaving these
trenches behind my progress was arrested by a sudden jerk, and I found
myself lying face downwards full length in the mud. A carefully laid
wire had tripped its first "Engländer"! I was now plastered with mud
from head to foot, and getting up in a very bad temper determined that
at least that portion of wire should not interfere with another
Britisher. After a short struggle I succeeded in tearing it up and
went on my way somewhat appeased.

The front was now quite quiet, and after many falls, footsore and
tired, I came to a large wood (the Bois de Logeost) a little before
dawn. In this I hoped to find cover for the day, but it was full of
transport, and many dim lights proclaimed the presence of huts. I had
been walking parallel to it for some distance when a British aeroplane
dropped some bombs too close to be pleasant, causing quite a stir in
the wood, shortly followed by an anti-aircraft gun opening fire not
far away. I have never felt so small in my life, and while tramping on
in a dejected manner, in imagination I was flying once again over the
lines, the occupied territory lying below me like a map: but in spite
of the tranquillity of the scene (for in this pleasant dream not a gun
was in action) I became conscious of a disturbing element somewhere,
something was out of place. To what was it due? Then all at once I
realised that it was all connected with an infinitesimal object which
wandered aimlessly about among the German batteries, and yet attracted
every one's attention. Vaguely I wondered what it could be? Then the
dream slowly faded, and as reality took its place I knew that I was
that atom! When things were quiet again I distinctly heard plonk,
plonk, plonk, the sound made by hand grenades, rising from the lower
ground in front, this was soon followed by the fainter cracking of a
machine gun and a brilliant Verey light, which I concluded was from
three to four miles away. All at once, just beside me, there was a
blinding flash, immediately followed by a deafening roar and the
screaming hiss of a shell, the latter lasting several seconds, then
slowly dying away into the night with a sigh. One of the German
heavies had fired from a neighbouring clump of trees. Had my skin been
any looser I should certainly have jumped out of it. Very soon I heard
the distant explosion of the bursting shell--Cr--ump, and then dashed
off in the opposite direction.

                              CHAPTER IV


The country was very bare and the lines so close that there were no
hay or straw stacks about. The stars were beginning to fade from the
sky, so hastily retracing my steps for about a mile, in search of
cover, I almost fell over a tiny straw heap in the middle of a field.
It was close to a village, but as no tracks passed anywhere near it I
decided that this should be my hiding place for the day. After eating
the remains of the black bread, now a sloppy mass in my pocket, I
emptied the water which still remained in my flying boots and placed
them in a side of the heap to dry, just below the surface. Wrapping my
slightly drier overcoat round my feet for warmth, I wormed my way into
the centre, and pulled the straw after me. The bottom of the heap was
wet and contained mice, which squeaked when my teeth stopped
chattering for a few seconds. I tried meowing, but they were not taken
in for long! Sleep was out of the question, and there was nothing else
to do but watch the cold grey fingers of light creeping through the
wet straw. From my knowledge of the front, I gathered that I had
arrived north of my objective, where the Huns were expecting our next
attack, and the trenches were strongly held. Had I a sporting chance
or were the odds against me too great? If the latter was the case and
it was impossible, I prayed that I might be recaptured before making
the attempt the next night.

The minutes passed like hours, but at last the sun rose, evidently
very much against its will. About ten o'clock next morning I faintly
heard the thud of horse's hoofs approaching at a canter from the
direction of the village. At first I thought nothing of it, but as
these grew rapidly louder and louder, my uneasiness increased and I
lay perfectly still under the straw. The horse came straight to my
heap, and stopped dead at the German word of command, "R-r-r-r-r"
(whoa!). Soon the rider uttered an exclamation and, leaning over, drew
out a flying boot, to my dismay, but as this was wet, muddy and old
looking he soon threw it down again. In the meantime the horse kept
sniffing and nibbling at the straw which thinly covered my face, and I
felt inclined to repeat to myself an old nursery rhyme: "Fe, fi, fo,
fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" As the brute continued
blowing the straw from my face, I tried to make him desist by
returning the compliment by blowing back at him. He jumped and threw
up his head, but now his curiosity being thoroughly aroused returned
to his explorations with renewed vigour, partly uncovering me. I did
not move, but knew that the game was up when the rider drew his breath
in sharply. Looking up I saw surprise written on every feature of the
bearded Hun N.C.O. He was a thick-set man with a revolver holster at
his belt. I had no chance of resistance, as the country was quite open
and my boots were off, so sitting up I greeted him with a "_Gutten
Morgen_." He saw that I was an English "_Flieger_" (airman), but
firmly refused to believe that I was an officer. He told me I was near
Achiet-le-Petit, and then motioned me to go with him to the village,
which I did. (An account of the foregoing episode appeared in the
German papers later.)

We went straight to the village headquarters, where there were several
officers spotlessly dressed in blue or field-grey, against which my
tramp-like appearance formed a strange contrast. They were quite
decent, with one exception, a sour-looking captain, and were rather
amused than otherwise, even allowing a Frenchwoman to make me some
coffee. When I remarked on the wonderful way in which the Germans had
traced me from Cambrai, they laughed and said my discovery was purely
accidental, the N.C.O. having been detailed to find some straw for the
transport. I was sent back to Cambrai in a wagon with an armed guard
of three, exclusive of the driver and the mounted N.C.O. I was very
annoyed on being told that the latter would receive the Iron Cross,
and tried to impress on them that my discovery was entirely due to the
horse, who deserved a bran mash. It was bitterly cold and, on passing
through every village, I was made to remove my coat to show the
inhabitants that I was a prisoner. I was quite pleased when we arrived
at our destination.

The commandant received me with a growl, and I was taken to the
guardroom, where the same Hun N.C.O. casually informed me that I was
to be shot. In an unconvincing way I told myself this was nonsense.
The next move was not at all reassuring. I was marched through the
back door into a tiny courtyard, accompanied by the sergeant of the
guard and several privates armed with rifles! I am glad to say that
the bluff was soon over, and I was put into a half dark stone cell. In
a short time I was fished out to see Lieutenant Schram, who told me
that I was the first to escape from there, but that I should never get
another opportunity. He went on to say that when my disappearance had
been discovered the previous evening, it was thought that I had
closely followed the flying officer who had asked me to dinner when he
left through the main gate, until the broken wires were found. Men and
trained dogs had then endeavoured to trace me, but that,
unfortunately, they had all gone the wrong way!

When I was taken back at the end of the interview, a sergeant-major
and a corporal thought they would have some fun at my expense. They
opened my cell door and then led me to a comparatively comfortable
room close by, and asked me which I preferred. However, I upset their
calculations by entering my original cell and sitting down. As the
result of an argument which ensued I was put into the better room,
where I fell asleep. This comfort was only short-lived, and soon, by
order of the commandant, I was put into the original cell again. It
snowed all the next evening, and when the sergeant brought me my
watery supper, I asked if he would stand my boots by the guardroom
fire that night as the fleece held such a quantity of water. He seemed
surprised at my request, but said that he would ask. He soon returned
and said that it could not be done. It was four days before I felt at
all warm, my clothes drying on me all the time. I have since been
told that Lieutenant Schram, while speaking of me later to other
captured officers, asserted that he dried all my clothes for me. Yet
this same gentleman during his first interrogation asked me why we
English called them uncultured!

On the afternoon of the fourth day I was ordered to get ready to
proceed to Germany, as enough prisoners had been captured at the
Beaumont Hamel show to make up a large draft. At the main entrance I
found a group of about twenty officers, composed of eight or ten
Zouaves and the remainder British. Then off we went to the station in
high spirits, for it is not often that one gets a chance of a tour in
Germany, _via_ France and Belgium, free of charge!

                               CHAPTER V


Our guards had mostly been selected from different regiments, on
account of their being due for leave in Germany. The officer in charge
travelled separately. He had recently been wounded, and had seen
rather more of the British than he cared; in consequence he was almost
human! Not yet being dry and now having no overcoat, I felt decidedly
cold. We arrived late at St. Quentin and settled down for a long wait,
but our good spirits were infectious and, besides, some of our number
had with them a surplus of turnip jam, and we were allowed to sing.
This we did with a vengeance, and it was indeed curious to hear the
desolate waiting-room echoing the popular strains of: "Pack up your
troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile." This impromptu
concert delighted the French, who joined in as best they could. Soon
we had quite a little audience of solitary Huns, who peeped through
the open door and listened to the "Mad English," open-mouthed. At
last the express steamed in from the south-east and in quite an
exhausted condition we were graciously shown in to second-class
compartments in a way which clearly said "Second class is much too
good for you."

After a tedious journey, during which we received something to eat, we
arrived at Cologne about eleven o'clock the next morning. The station
contained almost every variety of Hun. These people represented the
cowards who in 1914 had flung stones at and otherwise insulted those
brave men of our old regular army, who stopped at this station, packed
in cattle trucks like animals, mostly wounded and dying. Nearly two
years of war have passed since then, bringing with them suffering and
a certain refining influence which had not altogether been without its
effect. Now, though most of them stared rudely, few showed signs of
open hostility. Following our officer down some steps and winding
subways, we were approaching a large restaurant, when a rather senior
Hun officer ran after us, cursing us in German for not saluting him
when we had passed him on the platform! One of the British replied,
"_Nix verstand_" (_No compris_). Whereupon he went away thoroughly

One of our party, a major of the 9th Zouaves, who spoke German very
well, asked if we might have some refreshments, to which the officer
acquiesced. We entered a large and almost unoccupied room separated
from the main dining-hall by a glass screen, and took up our positions
at a table by the window. Immediately outside towered the famous
cathedral, shutting out most of the sky, the spires and countless
pinnacles showing up to great advantage in the sunshine. Soon a waiter
appeared with a menu containing a list of weird dishes, the most
popular of which was a very thin slice of sausage reposing on a very
large slice of black bread. This cost one mark (but perhaps they saw
us coming!). Great excitement was caused when some one found it was
possible to obtain goose, but as our very limited supply of money was
almost exhausted this had to be ruled out. The fish salad when it
arrived was _peculiarly_ nasty. It was almost raw and had an
overpowering flavour of mud! Beer did not seem to be allowed, but a
tip soon settled that, and we all received large glasses of light
lager. The people in the hall were a funny-looking crowd but quite
amusing to watch, mostly drinking quantities of beer and regarding us
with sullen curiosity through the glass screen. The majority of the
men were ugly and square-headed, with closely-cropped hair, reminding
one of a group of convicts. Some of the girls, however, gave us
encouraging smiles.

When the bills were being settled up, there strode in an angry German
major, complete with helmet and sword, who entered into a violent
conversation with our unfortunate officer, who stood at the salute
most of the time. After making a noise like a dog fight he departed
with a final gesticulation in our direction. We did not know what the
row was about, but suppose that the officer in charge had been thus
strafed in public, either for bringing us there or allowing us to have
beer. At any rate, we were hurried out to await our train on the
platform. A small circle soon formed round us, largely made up of
sailors, whom we concluded must be on indefinite leave. As our train
was steaming up a civilian gave vent to his feelings by fixing his
evil eyes upon us and at the same time moving his lips with a deadly
purpose, cursing us inaudibly. I should never have thought a face
could express such condensed hatred. He must have been conversing with
his Satanic Master. However, as we only smiled sweetly in return, he
cannot have felt much satisfaction. Before getting into our train we
spent our last few _pfennigs_ buying sweets at an automatic slot
machine. The acquired sweets were wrapped in a paper covering, on
which different notices were printed, the majority were to this
effect: "Remember the shameful _Baralong_ outrage, in punishment for
which our airships shall devastate the Eastern Counties of England and
destroy London." We showed this to our guards, who firmly believed
that it would shortly come to pass, and could not understand our
amusement. A few minutes out from Cologne, as we went rushing over a
long iron bridge, we celebrated our crossing the Rhine by winding up
our watches and singing the popular song: "When we've wound up the
watch on the Rhine."

In the late afternoon the train passed through Essen, the blast
furnaces casting a lurid light on the surrounding country. Travelling
northwards we ran into snow, which, when we alighted was quite deep.
This was our destination, Osnabrück. At first it looked as if we
should have to walk to the camp, but the German officer was, luckily,
able to hire two brakes, and away we went. Osnabrück is an old town
with a population of about 60,000. We drove past numbers of children
and dogs revelling in the first winter sports, utterly regardless of
their country's serious condition. On our arrival an officer and
several N.C.O.'s took all particulars and descriptions. It was only
then that I discovered, to my astonishment, that my eyes were blue.
Next we found a hot shower-bath in store for us, during which
procedure all our clothes were taken away on the excuse that they were
to be disinfected. We enjoyed the bath very much and were longing for
a clean change, but were disgusted to find that this was not
forthcoming, and that we had to put on the same torn and muddy clothes
once more, which the Huns had only removed to search. We were then
locked in a room for ten days and told that we were in quarantine, no
account being taken of the three weeks or a month that some of us had
already spent in the German lines. The whole thing was a farce. We
could then buy a change of underclothing, and daily consumed
prodigious quantities of Dutch chocolate, also procurable from the
canteen (which I afterwards bought in Holland for one-tenth of the
price). Some of the British who had been in the camp for some time
managed to get books and a little food in to us. A great deal of our
time was occupied in making out orders for things we wanted from home,
edibles taking by far the most important part. Every evening after
supper we always drank the King's health in tea. Though the quality of
the beverage was weak, our loyalty had never been stronger. When extra
dull our home-made band played some rousing selection; my special
instrument required much skill, and consisted of the dustbin lid and a
poker. The climax was reached one day when the sentry entered with a
paper from the canteen, announcing that the British claimed to have
shot down two Zeppelins in flames over London.

Eventually the tenth day passed and we were free to go in with the
others, who at once made us welcome. Owing to the monotony of camp
life it is very difficult to write a consecutive account of the daily
routine, which would be of any interest to the reader. I shall
therefore only outline certain points under various headings, which I
venture to hope may not prove a source of boredom, judging from the
numerous questions contained in letters of enquiry directed to me.

ACCOMMODATION.--The main three-storey building was a converted German
artillery barracks, with the gravelled courtyards used for exercising
divided by a disused riding-school. The prisoners consisted of about
seventy-five French, living on the ground floor, and eighty-five
British, mostly R.F.C., taken at the Somme, living on the second
floor, and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred Russians on the
third. The rooms each contained from four to ten beds, according to
the size, which we usually stacked two deep so that they should take
up as little space as possible. With the aid of wall paper, deck
chairs, tablecloths and the like, obtainable at the canteen, together
with pictures from home, some of the rooms looked very cosy indeed.
Each one contained a stove, which at first we were able to keep well
supplied, as it was possible to buy coal in addition to the ration,
though latterly there was a considerable shortage. Mattresses were
either spring or made of old straw, and sometimes contained little
creepy-crawlies. My record evening catch numbered twenty-five, and
this little collection afforded some exciting races. By the way, I
might add that if one puts a match to them they go off "pop." The
Germans rendered slight assistance, but the Keating's contained in our
parcels soon got them under way. The sanitary conditions were not
good, but I must admit to having seen a little disinfectant. Part of
the time we were allowed a common room of our own, but latterly had to
share one with the Russians. Washing was sent to the town weekly. A
medical orderly was on the premises during the day, and a doctor came
two or three times a week. Before leaving we were inoculated against
smallpox, typhoid and cholera. This was a most obnoxious proceeding
which took place every six or seven days, until the doctor had jabbed
us all six times in the chest with his confounded needle. French and
Russian orderlies were provided, each detailed to look after one or
two rooms.

RECREATION.--At first it was possible to play football, but that was
soon stopped. Rackets, boxing and a sort of cricket were played in the
riding-school; once or twice a week we organised a concert or a dance,
theatrical costumes being hired from the town on parole. The Russians
had a really first-class mandoline and balalaika band, with which they
played many of their waltzes and curiously attractive folk-songs.
During these concerts a certain Englishman solemnly sang some new
Russian songs, learnt by heart, of which he did not understand a word.
A young Russian used to make up into a delightful girl, who, with a
partner, danced a cake-walk, accompanied by the blare of their new
brass band. Mandolines were soon in vogue and most rooms could boast
of several. As we were mostly beginners the resulting noise is best
left to the imagination. Whist drives, bridge tournaments, etc.,
helped to pass the time, and a good many of us improved the shining
hour by learning French, Russian or German in exchange for lessons in
our own language.

The winter brought with it many snow fights, and a successful slide
which I started, though popular, resulted in many bumps and bruises.
The bottom of the slide led into some barbed wire--which was decidedly
dangerous. One fatal day I finished the course with three Russians and
a fat Australian on the top of me, unintentionally making a
first-class broom; first I passed over a sharp stone, and then came to
a stop on the barbed wire fence. (Some of the marks caused by this
episode remain with me to this day.) We had one or two nice walks
weekly, on parole, escorted by a German officer. One day, during a
long walk through some pine woods, we had reached the top of a hill
when we came upon a large slab of rock, about four feet thick, resting
on two smaller ones, with a broad crack right through it near the
centre. The German officer told us a legend about this, which affirms
that at this spot somewhere about the eighth century Emperor
Charlemagne met some heathen chieftain, who having already heard of
his feats of strength promised to become a Christian should he be able
to split this rock. The emperor took up a sledge hammer and with one
tremendous blow broke the rock in two. (He must have been _some_ man!)

TREATMENT.--When I first arrived the commandant, who was a major, was
quite popular, granting all reasonable requests and not bothering us
the whole time, consequently we did our best to avoid trouble; but we
were in Hunland, therefore this state of affairs could not last long.
The commandant was soon replaced by a colonel with a white beard and a
benevolent aspect, though in reality he was inclined to be vicious and
most unreasonable. He was soon followed by two junior officers,
Lieutenants Briggs and Rosenthal. The former was an officer of the
Reserve, one of the nicest Germans I have ever met, and I can almost
safely say a gentleman. He did all that he could to avoid friction and
make things run smoothly. Rosenthal was a Regular officer and a
typical Hun, who was sent round the various camps to make things
generally uncomfortable for the inmates, in which capacity he was a
great success. He made promises but very rarely fulfilled any, smiling
to your face and at the same time arranging to have you punished. He
crept along the passages in thick carpet shoes after lights out,
spying on our movements, and was twice discovered listening at a
keyhole to the conversation. After having been there a month I spent a
fortnight in solitary confinement for my Cambrai escape, at which I
cannot complain, and came out on Christmas Day. Later on, while at
this camp, I carried out two sentences, each of three days, for
slight offences.

PARCELS AND MONEY.--We received parcels of food and clothing from six
to eight weeks after first writing for them. For the most part these
came regularly, only a few being lost. This was a good thing for us,
the camp authorities often providing for a meal only some raw fish and
garlic or uneatable gherkins and dry black bread! Trunks, suit cases,
and other heavy articles came by the American Express and were longer
on their way. Parcels of food were opened, and the tins taken intact
to one's individual locker, where it could be obtained most mornings
at a given hour. As required the tins were then opened by the Huns and
the contents placed in jars or dishes, which one must provide before
it can be taken away. Sometimes whole rooms decided to mess together,
sharing all their parcels, but more often two or three friends
arranged their own little mess.

Letters at first came quickly, but were often delayed by the German
censors at this camp, who, I believe, dealt with almost all British
communications to prisoners in Germany. Money is obtained by signing a
cheque, which is cashed in a week or two by the American Express. Even
after America's entry into the war money could still be obtained
through this company (which is, I believe, German owned). German daily
papers are procurable at most camps, and usually contain a more or
less intact British official communique, which is translated by some
German scholar and posted up. A map of the front is usually kept by
the prisoners and corrected from time to time. Christmas was
celebrated by every one and the canteen _Weisswein_ soon bought up.
The Germans put an illuminated Christmas tree in the dining-hall, but
unfortunately counteracted their display of good feeling by decorating
the large portraits of the Kaiser and Hindenburg, who stared down at
us from the walls and quite spoilt our already nasty food. On New
Year's Night we collected on the stairs, and joining hands with a few
French and Russians, sang "Auld Lang Syne," and scampered back to bed
before the wily Huns appeared on the scene.

One day when drawing our parcels we received some little cardboard
packets of compressed dates as usual, but this time a small white
strip of paper was pasted on the outside of each bearing the words,
"Produce of Mesopotamia under British occupation." This must have been
pleasant reading for the Huns. At last, one morning we were informed
that in three days' time we were to proceed to an "All British" camp
at Clausthal. Before our departure our Allies gave two farewell
concerts in our honour, which were a great success, for when we left
they knew that they were losing most of the "life" of the camp.

Living on our floor with a room to himself was a French captain of
extremely doubtful character; he was a heavily built, bearded man of
middle age whom nobody liked. I was told that in civil life he was a
professional agitator! Now he confined his energies to making trouble
between the different nationalities. He was always hanging about where
he wasn't wanted, poking his nose into other people's business, and
what was even more suspicious, he appeared to be on the best of terms
with the Germans. He wore a long row of medals, which were inclined to
change from day to day. Some senior French officers inquired if he had
the right to wear them, but he refused to recognise their authority.
Some Britishers had also been caught in a mysterious way just before
attempting to escape. The last night before our departure we thought
we would at least show him that he was not popular. Over a dozen of us
burst into his room, armed to the teeth, and holding him on to his bed
covered him from head to foot with treacle, jam, coffee grounds, ashes
and water, at the same time doing him no bodily injury. I expect he
thought his plight more serious than it really was, for the whole
place echoed with his shouts for help. Unfortunately for him the
French on the floor above, being greatly pleased at the proceedings,
only turned over and went to sleep again. When, after a few seconds,
we bolted to our rooms he rushed down to the orderly's quarters,
exclaiming, "I am dying--I am covered with blood!" This sounded
terrible, but when a match was struck revealing nothing but treacle
and jam they could scarcely conceal their merriment. Later on the Huns
arrived and succeeded in obtaining most of our names, but even they
thought the affair quite a good joke. The next morning most of the
French collected quietly near the gate to give us a "send off," but
the commandant, after screaming and being very rude to every one had
them locked in their rooms. He turned his back on us when we left,
only Lieutenant Briggs having the decency to salute.

                              CHAPTER VI


It was just like house moving. The heavy luggage was sent in advance,
but we preferred to carry our dearest belongings. Many of us must have
resembled fully-equipped pedlars or super-caddis-worms carrying their
houses on their backs, but in our case these were not composed of
sticks or dead leaves, but provisions, gramophones, mandolines, pots,
kettles, etc., tied together with string, the rattle of which appeared
to amuse some of the civil population. Some time after leaving
Osnabrück the train stopped at an out-of-the-way station near
Hildesheim, close to a group of men working on the line. At once a
solitary khaki-clad figure detached itself from the rest and came
towards us at the run. It turned out to be a British Tommy bubbling
over with pleasure at seeing some of his own race to speak to at last,
after having Russians and Huns for his companions for many months. We
gave him a summary of the latest news and all kinds of tinned foods.
The other Russian prisoners soon followed him, looking half starved,
and clamoured for bread, which we had just time to give them when a
bad tempered Hun drove them back to their work.

Towards evening we passed through Hameln? (better known to us as
"Hamelin"), but saw no signs of the Pied Piper. Now there was a man
who was not brought into the world for nothing, but used his genius to
the destruction of small Huns! The higher the train climbed into the
Hartz Mountains the deeper became the snow. From the dimly-lighted
carriages we could sometimes see the dark outline of high wooded hills
between the snow flurries. A little before midnight we stopped with a
jerk and were told to "_Aus_." As I followed the others into a
restaurant winter garden affair, five minutes after our arrival, I was
delighted to hear several small gramophones already playing
"Bric-a-brac" and other selections from musical comedies, each
insisting that its was the only tune worth listening to. Owing to the
conditions escape was out of the question; the Germans did not
therefore worry much--in fact, coming up in the train a rather nice
N.C.O. at last yielded to my entreaties and sang a verse of the Hymn
of Hate, accompanying himself on my mandoline.

After standing two hours in a queue at the bar I managed to procure
some quite good wine which made us feel almost at home. For the rest
of that night it was almost possible to imagine oneself free, but
snowed up. The next morning, on hearing that the camp was about two
miles away, we inquired if some of the larger suit cases might be left
behind as the walking was so heavy, to be brought up later, at an
extra charge, by the station sleigh, which came up to the camp every
day. But we might have known that it would only be a waste of breath
asking the Huns to help us in any way. (Later, when some very senior
British officers arrived, bound for this camp, they received
identically the same treatment.) After an uphill struggle we reached
the camp, and were kept standing quite unnecessarily for
three-quarters of an hour in a snowstorm before being admitted to the
dining-hall. On entering I was lucky enough to run straight into an
Australian flight commander, who had often taken me up in my observing
days at my first squadron, then at a village behind Ypres.

The camp is well situated, being almost surrounded by pine forests,
which cover most of the Hartz Mountains. If the day is at all clear a
high and rather rounded hill is visible to the eastward, conspicuous
for its bleakness, standing well above the dark intervening fir-clad
hills. This is the Brocken, the highest mountain in Northern Germany,
on the summit of which Goethe's Faust was evolved. It is difficult to
realise that it is, roughly, 5,000 feet above sea level, or the camp
2,000. The ascent in this part from the foot hills being gradual, the
surrounding country is not so imposing as one would expect. Outside
the camp is a small picturesque lake, which was frozen over most of
the time. On a clear evening it was fascinating to watch the superb
soaring of the buzzards. It seemed as if their telescopic eyes could
make out the wings on some of our tunics, for with a jeering cry they
would commence gliding in a vast sweeping circle with scarcely a
movement of their wings, every feather under perfect control, until at
length they disappeared into the endless blue. We still have a lot to
learn, but talk of the "homing instinct," if only a few aeroplanes had
been handy I know which would have made the quickest non-stop flight
to "Blighty."

The next day a number of Belgian officers left to take up their abode
in the quarters vacated by us in Osnabrück, many of them resplendent
in their tasselled caps, and a few wearing clanking swords which they
had been allowed to retain in recognition of the gallant way they had
defended some of the Liège and Antwerp forts. With them went two
Belgian officers, who, curiously enough, could not speak their lingo.
This was not surprising, however, as their real names were Captain
Nicholl, R.F.C., and Lieutenant Reid, R.N. It appeared they intended
to jump the train before reaching their destination and have a try for
the Dutch border. German trains often go slowly and stop, but as luck
would have it this one, as we afterwards heard, refused to do anything
of the sort. Whether Captain Nicholl succeeded in getting off I do not
know, but Lieutenant Reid, seeing discovery imminent, jumped through
the carriage window and broke his ankles. They were both taken to
Osnabrück and Nicholl was sent back under arrest. After three weeks
Lieutenant Reid returned, lame, but quite cheery. As he was under
arrest, however, we could not learn much of their treatment, though it
was common knowledge that he had left hospital _very_ soon, and was
made to walk up from the station as best he could. His sentence was
lengthened by some days on the charge of answering his wrong name at a
roll call on arrival at Osnabrück, but as he was quite unable to stand
this was obviously a fabrication.

When we had been there about ten days a lot more British officers
arrived from Friedburg, where they had received quite good treatment.
Many of the prisoners at this camp had been taken at Mons, La Cateau
and Ypres, and were consequently a little out of date. They could
hardly realise what a "Somme barrage" was like, and were therefore
known as the "Bow and Arrow" men! On the journey to Clausthal two of
them managed to jump from the train and got clear away. About this
time five Italian officers were warned to leave the next day. The
preceding night, after supper, Colonel Bond (K.O.Y.L.I.), after a
short speech, proposed the toast "_Viva Italia_," which we drank in
canteen _Weisswein_, or imitation port, to which a senior Italian
officer enthusiastically replied with a "_Viva Inghilterra_." After
their departure the camp contained British only, the remaining number
of officers being a little over three hundred.

ACCOMMODATION.--The principal building, in which about half of us
lived, was a _Kurhaus_, or small hydro, in peace time, with a large
dining-hall at one end. The smallest bedrooms were occupied by one or
two senior officers, while the remainder held about half a dozen. A
shower-bath was on the premises. The rest of us were quartered in
three temporary wooden barracks, where most of the rooms were rather
over-crowded, holding from six to eight fellows.

RECREATION.--At a portion of the grounds was a fairly steep incline
and on this we made a short toboggan run, banking the snow up steeply
at the turn to avoid going through the barbed wire. In many instances
it must have been amusing to watch a small sleigh being steered by a
novice, with fat individuals sitting on the top of him, trying to
avoid the young trees, usually without any success. Unfortunately for
me I had a nasty knack of always being in the worst crashes. It is
impossible to find a more effective way of destroying boots than
continually steering with one's feet. Other people displayed their
extensive knowledge of winter sports by ski-ing, or rather lying on
their backs, unintentionally waving their skis in the air. This soon
had to be abandoned, however, as the weather soon became uncertain,
often changing from a hard frost to a violent thaw every two or three

A naval officer in my barrack received a miniature billiard-table,
which became immensely popular. Cards, roulette, ping-pong and chess
greatly assisted in passing the time. We also had quite a good camp
library, the books mostly having been received from home. I often
heard it remarked that life there was one long queue, and it was not
far wrong. Often one passed the morning waiting one's turn for the
"tin room," or newly arrived parcels, while soon after lunch it was
customary to see the more patient individuals already lining up chairs
and settling down to their books, to wait for hot water which was sold
at tea time. All this may sound most enjoyable, but I will now
endeavour to explain a little of the wonderful system then in vogue at
this camp, the only object of which seemed to be to remind you in an
objectionable manner that you were a prisoner on every possible

TREATMENT.--When we first arrived the commandant was not so bad, but
after several visits from corps headquarters at Hanover, he resigned
his post, it is said, on the grounds that he could not treat British
officers like common criminals, as he was supposed to. I think this is
highly probable, though I cannot vouch for the truth of the assertion,
it being only hearsay. He was replaced by a fat and rather harmless
dug-out captain, who proved to be only a pompous figurehead. The camp
was entirely run by the second in command, Lieutenant Wolfe. In
England persons of this type are so rarely met with that our language
does not contain the necessary words to describe them adequately. In
Germany they are comparatively common, therefore, collectively they
may be put down as belonging to the "super-swine class"! Wolfe was
arrogance personified. He possessed a closely-cropped bullet head, and
a round, somewhat bloated pale face, near the centre of which gleamed
two small, cold, calculating blue eyes; the whole effect so strongly
resembled a white pig that among ourselves he was usually known as
"pig face." He belonged to a reserve Hanoverian regiment, and was a
schoolmaster by profession. It is small wonder that children under
such authority never learn to know the true meaning of the word
"kultur." Somehow he knew about the treacling affair at our last camp,
for after getting our names from Osnabrück, he strained every nerve to
get us court-martialled and punished. Two or three times a week we
criminals had to assemble outside his room at an appointed hour. After
a long wait "My Lord" strolled in, usually an hour late, walking very
slowly, chewing a cigar. At first he only produced a small packet of
papers, on most of which our individual statements were written, and
asked absurd questions through an interpreter. But as time went on the
case assumed larger proportions, and the bundle of nonsense increased
to an enormous size. At almost every visit we had to sign some new
document certifying that we understood the latest communication on
the subject from headquarters. After much hard work "pig face"
achieved his object, and we were warned to attend a court-martial at
Hanover. However, this is worthy of a separate chapter.

One day an impossible staff captain arrived from Hanover to inspect
the camp. He was a large, arrogant bully, who brought with him two
detectives for the purpose of searching our rooms and kit for
forbidden articles. We will not waste time discussing his manners; he
had none. The detectives seemed quite decent, and therefore cannot
have been properly dehumanised by the powers that be. In German camps
it is forbidden to sit or lie on one's bed during the day, unless one
has reported sick at roll call. This captain suddenly entered a room
in our barrack and surprised a Scotsman lying on his bed reading a
book. Seeing that the culprit had his clothes on, he screamed out such
a stream of unintelligible curses and threats, that had a similar
noise taken place at the Zoo, I am sure the keepers would have rushed
out to stop the monkey fight. The Scotsman waited until this torrent
had somewhat abated, then slowly getting to his feet, he drawled out
in a bewildered way, "And how's your faither!" It is doubtful whether
the startled captain understood this kind inquiry or not, but he
rushed out of the room and, grabbing a sentry's bayonet, returned and
stuck it in the boards at his feet. Ours was the next room he
favoured. Without the semblance of a knock he burst in, and as nothing
of importance had been found during the search, swaggered up and down
in a most offensive manner with his nose in the air. In a few seconds
he came to a stop beside me and shouted that he wished me to stand to
attention, half dressed as I was (having just been searched). This was
just about the limit, so pretending not to understand what he meant I
turned round and busied myself with my clothing, at the same time
humming softly to myself the air of "Pack up your troubles," to
relieve my feelings and stifle a desire to give him one under the jaw.
On a word of command two scared sentries appeared, having been ordered
to take me to the guardroom immediately. The usually harmless
commandant was so frightened that he rolled his eyes and screamed
after me, when exhaustion put an end to the captain's song. It was
pitiable to see two such men possessing not an atom of self-control
between them, but it was not so amusing as one might think. It
certainly looked as if I should be murdered without delay. I was put
into a room adjoining that occupied by the main guard, where I
remained for three hours. During this period I got into conversation
with some of the soldiers and was surprised at the bitter way they
spoke of Lieutenant Wolfe, so much so that if he returned to the front
I should be inclined to think that the quarter where his greatest
danger lay was not in front but behind.

When I had the room to myself I spent the time exploring for useful
articles. My oft-interrupted search resulted in the discovery of a
heap of things in the far corner. At length an officer arrived and
informed me that I should only receive three days' "_stuben_"--arrest
(solitary confinement). After which I was released. On re-entering the
camp I did my best to look innocent, though, as luck would have it, I
was really the richer by a couple of maps, a compass and some candles!
One of the orderlies in the camp was a cobbler, but though the Huns
frequently assured us they would provide him with the necessary tools,
it took two months for their promise to materialise. During this
period my already patched boots threatened to give out altogether. I
wrote a note to the commandant, explaining that I was daily expecting
boots from England, but as these appeared to have been delayed, asked
that I might be allowed to order some canvas shoes at the canteen in
the meantime. The next day the interpreter handed me the answer:
"Order leather from England, and have the boots resoled." I could not
help smiling, and casually remarked that it was worse than useless.
Whereupon he snapped, "What, you say that the commandant's note is
useless? All right, I will you report."

In due course the usual notice was posted up to the effect "That the
English Ober-Lieutenant Gerald Knight would for gross insolence the
next three days in arrest spend." Usually, roll call took place
outside the main building, and as it generally meant standing in water
or melting snow, was not particularly pleasant. Wolfe very often
managed to take these parades, and did not miss this excellent
opportunity for showing his authority. After arriving late he would
stroll up and down the line, hands in pockets, looking as dignified as
possible, always wasting time. "_Appel_," when properly conducted,
never lasted more than ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. On one
occasion, Wolfe, who was well protected against the cold, kept us
standing in a blizzard for an hour and a half, during which time he
counted us five or six times, obviously for his own amusement. It was
bad enough to have to stand there oneself, but it was much more
annoying to watch our senior officers, majors, colonels, and a
major-general, awaiting the pleasure of a conceited German lieutenant.
Almost every day some new order was issued, for the most part
affecting little things, for example--stating that in future no food
would be allowed in the rooms. A few days later it was not allowed in
the cupboards standing in the passages. Soon it was only allowed in
the dining-hall, where the accommodation was quite inadequate. One day
two fellows were quietly walking down a path near the wire, when a
sentry raised his rifle and threatened to shoot them if they did not
at once go further from the wire! They refused to move, and told the
sentry that they had a perfect right there. Whereupon the man at last
lowered his rifle. On a complaint being made, Lieutenant Wolfe,
knowing that few people were about, ingeniously squashed the case by
refusing to take the matter up unless six witnesses were produced.
There was a second lieutenant, junior to Wolfe (commonly known as the
Worm!), who arrived after receiving promotion from the ranks. He was
rather a miserable sort of person, inclined to follow Wolfe's example
in most things. He was for ever on the prowl and it never occurred to
him to knock before entering a room. Once he came into our room and,
assisted by two guards, removed the mirror, shaving tackle, hair
brushes, etc., from the window, placing them on the wash-hand stand in
the darkest corner of the room. After this performance he drew himself
up sedately and exclaimed, "That is the way we do things in Germany!"
These little incidents are most annoying at any time, but especially
so when one is wearing boots possessing good kicking qualities.

It was not until May that the snow finally disappeared and we were
treated to a spell of warm weather, during which every one did their
best to get sunburnt, and set to work on the new tennis court we had
permission to make.

Lizards and frogs appeared from nowhere and endeavoured to inform us
that spring was approaching. It is curious the way camp life again
makes one childish and easily amused. For instance, it was quite a
common occurrence to see a small crowd of fellows looking excitedly at
something. On closer investigation it in most cases turned out to be a
toad or a worm. As it became dry underfoot we were able to go out for
walks on parole with a German officer. The stout commandant usually
took us, and not only did he make himself quite agreeable, but also
chose some very pretty paths among the various pine woods. One
afternoon two fellows succeeded in cutting the outside wire in broad
daylight and getting into the woods unobserved. Seeing his opportunity
a tall Canadian, named Colquhoun, hastily gathered up his valuables
and dived through the inviting gap in the wire (which had been
cleverly cut behind some young fir trees and up beside a post). He was
just disappearing into the woods at record speed (the sentry's back
being still turned) when he was seen by some children playing on a
hillock a little way off. They at once made a noise, and several of
them rushed down to tell the sentry. That man, however, was much too
grand to listen to "kids" talking nonsense, so drove them off with
many threats and violent gestures. When the escape was discovered,
green-uniformed soldiers of Jaeger regiments and mounted foresters
scoured the woods for nearly two days without any success. Shortly
after a notice was posted up stating that when the escaped officers
were recaptured, they would in all probability be tried by
court-martial for breaking their parole in looking for hiding places
when out for walks; this, needless to say, was all nonsense, the
officers in question being miles away by that time.

This notice could not be regarded in any other light than that of an
insult to British officers in general, causing much resentment. All
future walks were voluntarily given up, and at evening "_appel_" all
parole cards, without exception, were returned to the Huns by mutual
consent, to avoid any insinuations of this sort in the future. After
being out for about a fortnight the outlaws were all recaptured and
taken to Ströhen, where I afterwards met them. The first two put up a
very good show, being recaptured in an exhausted condition by a road
guard, twenty odd kilometres from the frontier, much to their disgust.
My friend, the Canadian, fought a good fight against an unkind fate.
While washing in a stream one night he was taken by a man with a
revolver looking for an escaped Russian prisoner. He was then put into
prison at a men's camp, where he succeeded in obtaining some
wire-cutters from other Britishers. Forcing his way through the
skylight into a dark and rainy night, he dropped to earth, cut the
wire and was again free. The drop previous to cutting the wire had,
however, damaged his compass, which stuck and led him south instead of
west. Three days later he was taken near a bridge over a river by men
and trained dogs, and transferred to a town prison. There I believe he
received quite decent food, for which he was very thankful. During the
late afternoon some children came to annoy him by shouting rude
remarks from the passage. Even these little wretches were of some
use, for at their departure they touched something on the outside of
his door which jingled, and turned out to be a bunch of keys, which he
was able to get possession of by pulling them through the sliding
panel used by the guard for spying on the prisoner. When it was dark
the adventurer produced the keys and by dint of much labour succeeded
in opening his own cell and walking out.

At the back of one of the nearer buildings he discovered a bicycle,
which he appropriated without a second thought. Having discovered his
whereabouts he struck north to get into his original line, and was
unfortunately discovered by some N.C.O.'s the next day in almost a
starving condition repairing his bicycle in a shed. After such an
attempt as this it is indeed hard to return to serve one's sentence at
a camp prison or fortress, knowing full well that, although having
done one's utmost, even the slightest official recognition is out of
the question. After the second escape the Hun in charge of the men's
camp 'phoned to Clausthal, stating that the officer had been
recaptured. Wolfe hearing the joyous news started out to bring back
the truant as a lesson to others. "But when he got there the cupboard
was bare," so he returned to the "Hartz-Gebirge" empty-handed and
disconsolate. The only really decent German at the camp appeared to be
an "_aspirant_," or first class warrant officer, who treated us quite
fairly when opportunity offered; however, his superiors saw to it that
this was not often.

PARCELS.--These arrived fairly well, but were periodically hoarded up
by the Huns for a week or ten days, where we could not get them
without any previous warning. When drawing food all the tins had to be
left behind until wanted for immediate consumption. It was therefore
very difficult to lay in a supply against such emergencies. During
these periods most messes determined, if possible, to have a meal of
sorts at tea-time. Gradually, as the provisions got lower and lower,
the menu read somewhat as follows: Tea (no milk or sugar); very
limited black bread, thinly spread with soup essence, or _café au
lait_ (when the dripping, lard or potted meat had finally vanished).
The meal itself was rather nauseating, but afterwards it was most
gratifying to be able to say that you had had tea! When this playful
little "strafe" was removed by an order from Hanover the accumulated
parcels nearly caused the death of the Germans working in the
distributing room. Letters were very slow in arriving. Once a general,
while inspecting the camp, entered the parcel room, where he saw an
English captain assisting with the sorting of the parcels. On finding
that he spoke German well the general advised him to devote his spare
time to the further study of that language, which he said would be
very useful to him later. The captain was notorious for saying exactly
what he thought, and be hanged to the consequences. His reply must
have been more than the German bargained for: "Sir, I do not intend to
waste my time learning a dead language!" It is probable that the
general had had previous dealings with the British, and therefore
possessed a sense of humour so rare to the Teuton, for he passed on
without awarding the expected punishment.

                              CHAPTER VII


It is not usual to boast of the fact that one has been
court-martialled, but I would not have missed this experience for
anything. Early in the morning of May 15th, 1917, we twelve
gaol-birds, after being carefully searched, left for the station
escorted by eight guards. During the march I began softly humming a
tune, but was at once silenced by an angry sentry, who told me that no
noise of any sort was allowed. Turning to the N.C.O. I remarked that
although he appeared to be in charge of the party he had not objected
to my behaviour, and added that this seemed almost as if the private
was exceeding his duty. This appealed to the dignity of his position,
and although he evidently did not like me, he told the sentry off. On
reaching the station we had an unpleasant surprise, for there,
awaiting us on the platform, was our old friend, Wolfe.

In the early afternoon we got out of the train at a small station and
were told that we should have to wait some hours for the connection.
The senior member of our party inquired whether it was possible to get
anything to eat, as it was already very late for the midday meal.
Wolfe said he would try and led us into the restaurant, where a waiter
inquired if we would have white or green beans. These dishes sounded
so tempting that we ordered mixed. When the result was served (beans
stewed with gravy and a little potato), it certainly greatly exceeded
our expectations, being really appetising. When this was finished a
resourceful member of the party produced some cards, and poker became
the order of the day. The game was still in progress when one of the
others called our attention to the Red Cross collecting box on the
table. In trying to decipher the appeal for subscriptions for the
wounded, he had made a great discovery. Actually beside the red cross
in a small circle made by a rubber stamp were the words, "_Gott strafe

Naturally, this display of childishness amused us greatly, creating a
general laugh. This frivolity in the face of a court-martial was more
than Wolfe could stand, so after one withering glance in our direction
he turned his back on us and stalked majestically from the room.
Luckily I had in my possession a good supply of tin canteen money
(which was valueless outside the camp); this was at once transferred
to the box as quickly as possible. It isn't often that an Englishman
has the pleasure of subscribing to his own special hate box! I am
simply longing to know if the money was eventually returned to the
camp for its equivalent value. Should this book in the near future be
read in Germany, as I expect it will, would some kind Hun take the
trouble to satisfy my curiosity? "Royal Air Force, England," will
always find me.

About six o'clock that evening we reached Hanover and were marched off
through some of the main streets to an unknown destination. The town
is all right; it is the people that spoil it. Proceeding down some
broad streets we passed some very fine buildings, statues and
fountains. Once a well-dressed woman unintentionally crossed our path,
with the result that a sentry roughly threw her aside without a word
of apology. Passing through a small park we halted before a low,
dirty-looking stone building, with every window strongly barred.

Presently Lieutenant Wolfe emerged with a smile of welcome and bade us
enter. In a small courtyard a German N.C.O., with a loud rasping
voice, ordered the prison guard to take us to our quarters. After
much jangling of keys we were separated, to our amazement, and each
one of the party locked in a cell by himself. Near the ceiling was one
small window about two feet square. On examination this exit proved to
be guarded with fine wire netting and thick iron bars firmly embedded
in cement. As usual, there was a special spy-hole in the door which
had to be covered on the inside. Attached to each end of the bed were
two strong shackles, evidently intended to fasten the occupant down if
necessary. We afterwards learnt that this was the garrison prison, it
being considerably worse than the civil one. It does not seem
surprising that they are able to maintain their iron discipline, if
they resort to these methods. I think the reader will agree that this
is hardly a fit place to lodge officers who, as yet, were only
awaiting their trial. Several times I faintly heard the whirring of
aeroplanes outside, but only managed to see one by pulling myself up
to the window. We relieved the monotony a little by whistling to each
other in the Morse code what we thought of the Huns for putting us
there. The thickness of the walls, however, soon put a stop to this.
During the night I was awakened by several thuds, followed by a crash,
which came from somewhere overhead. This puzzled me at the time, but
the next day I found the noise had been caused by one of our party
rat-hunting with the aid of a boot which had landed on a tin basin
instead of the rat.

The next morning the man with a voice like a nutmeg grater released us
from our cells, and after a few preliminaries we were marched off
across the square to a large building, which we entered about ten
o'clock. Then ensued a long but interesting wait, during which we
watched all sorts and conditions of Huns passing up and down the main
staircase. Amongst them we saw several colonels, a general and a very
smart monocled major, whose helmet was rather the shape of a
fireman's, showing that he was in some crack cavalry regiment--dragoons,
I think. They mostly wore pale blue-grey overcoats, and their buttons,
sword-hilts and golden eagles on their helmets glittered exquisitely.
The general appearance was smart enough, but everything seemed a
trifle overdone, giving one the impression that they had just stepped
out of a bandbox. Had a British officer been standing beside these
Germans, wearing his sword, the contrast would have been a strange
one, for while looking just as smart the uniform would have had the
appearance of being infinitely more serviceable. There passed quite a
number of Hun privates with downcast eyes, having just received their
long sentences. An interpreter having nothing to do, tried hard to
prove to us that the U-boats would very soon bring England to her
knees, but gave up the attempt on receiving an invitation to the camp
to watch the daily arrival of the over-laden parcel cart.

Eventually we were ushered into the court, bareheaded, trying very
hard to look meek. The opening questions and formalities took up a lot
of time, and it really was a terrible strain trying not to laugh when
the interpreter solemnly explained to a German captain that one of our
party belonged to the _Middlesex_ Regiment. Before getting to business
our individual conduct sheets were read out, mine being about as black
as it could be. At our request two French majors from Osnabrück were
present. Both spoke well on our behalf, explaining that this could
only be a quarrel between the French and British in any case, but that
they were delighted at what had occurred, and most certainly did not
wish to prosecute. Everything went in our favour, and, when the
treacling was described, even the presiding Hun general laughed. The
public prosecutor, as usual, asked for the maximum punishment, 600
marks fine or 100 days fortress. Whereupon the court rose and left the
room, looking justice itself. On their return it was announced that
the junior three of our party, who had not actually entered the
Frenchman's room, were let off with a caution, and that all the rest
were each fined five hundred marks, or fifty days in a fortress. This
showed how they wanted our money; of course the whole thing had been
arranged beforehand. On inquiring what the money would go to support
we were told that it would probably be the war loan. A few minutes
later, after leaving in a rebellious mood, we were lucky enough to
meet the two Frenchmen, from whom we learnt that they too had spent
the night in cells in the same prison. Later on I was given to
understand that before a subsequent court-martial two British officers
spent the night on a sort of mattress in a corner of the guardroom.

The return journey was accomplished without incident, except for an
attempt on our part to speak to a captured guardsman, who was loading
trucks, which was promptly squashed by Wolfe snapping out "_Das geht
nicht_." Nevertheless, a tin or two of food found its way out of the

The weather at Clausthal, after a brief interval of snowstorms, became
beautifully warm, and the prospect of spending the summer in the Hartz
Mountains was almost alluring. About this time General Friedrichs (in
charge of prisoners of war) made a speech in the Reichstag, in the
course of which he stated that the English treated their prisoners
better than any other nation (or so the translation read), and went on
to say that in return English prisoners must receive good treatment,
so that at the conclusion of hostilities they would take back good
remembrances of Germany to their own country. In my case things
certainly did change (I expect as a result of the speech)--for the
worse. A week later thirty-five officers, including myself, were sent
to Ströhen, a camp which will certainly be remembered long after peace
is declared, but I doubt if the memory will be a pleasant one.

                             CHAPTER VIII


Previous to our departure Wolfe personally searched our belongings.
Although a long journey lay in front of us, he only allowed each
individual to carry two small tins of food. In reply to our protests
he said that, as things were always well arranged in Germany, our
luggage would therefore arrive at the same time as ourselves. This
was, of course, absolutely untrue, but we had to submit. During the
great search Wolfe, seeing that I was wearing a belt made of plaited
string (Yes, Mr. Wolfe, the belt in question was made of blind cord
cut from the _kurhaus_ windows!), and noting that it was something
unusual, ordered me to leave it behind. Taking it off, I politely
handed it to him, and expressed my hope that he would keep it as a
souvenir! With a charming smile he replied, "Three days _stuben_
arrest," which I acknowledged with a bow.

Outside the camp, on our way to the station we looked back and saw the
roll call was in progress. Thereupon we gave three cheers for the
many friends we were leaving behind us, in spite of the fact that
Wolfe and the commandant were on parade. We travelled second class and
at one station were even allowed to buy beer; our guards were quite
reasonable, and things in general went off pleasantly. We stayed some
time at an out-of-the-way station east of Osnabrück, where quite a
crowd of children collected. They scrambled excitedly for the sweets
and cigarettes which we threw them. Arriving at a little station
called Ströhen, which seemed to be on a large moor, we got out and
started for the camp, the German officer bringing up the rear in a
victoria. After ten minutes' walking down a lonely road we made out a
group of low wooden huts surrounded by high arc lamps and wire, on a
desolate moorland. Surely this could not be our destination, the good
camp we had been led to expect.

But after inquiring our guards told us it was, although they were
nearly as much surprised at its appearance as we were. At all events
we were determined to hide our feelings and look cheery. Quickening
our pace we approached the camp singing the almost forgotten song,
"Tipperary," were marched through the gates, and halted in front of a
small group of German officers, in the centre of the camp. We at once
distinguished the commandant, a major, with a first class iron cross
hanging from his collar. He was rather short and stout with a square
face; his grey whiskers terminated in a small double-pointed beard;
this completed his "Hunnish" appearance! With his hands behind his
back he welcomed us with a sullen stare, all the while puffing
stolidly at his cigar. Had the Huns rehearsed this scene for a week
they could not have given us a more heathen reception. No one even
made a show at politeness by a nod or a salute. A stout and ugly
sergeant-major (named Muller), wearing a gaudy blue and red uniform
and sword, bawled at us to dress by the right, as if he were
addressing a squad of recruits. He very nearly exploded when we
ignored his insolent words of command. A rather common little
interpreter commenced calling the roll, beginning with a captain, but
only shouting his surname, to which there was no response. When his
voice gradually rose to a shriek the Englishman stepped out and said,
"I suppose you mean Captain so-and-so." The interpreter explained
matters to the commandant, who must have realised that they were in
the wrong, for in future we were addressed by our proper rank.
(Victory No. 1.) We were each given a disc, on which was stamped our
camp number (mine is now residing at home), and shown into our rooms.
Late that night about two hundred fellows arrived from Crefeld, and
Muller, finding he could not intimidate them, made such a noise that
he was "choked off" by the commandant. We learnt that this place had
been built as a Russian reprisal camp, but that lately Roumanian
officers had been confined there. We were the first British these
people had ever had to deal with. Hence their very bad manners!

Now in a camp of this sort it is very necessary to stand up for one's
rights when treated unfairly, otherwise the Germans soon forget that
you have any rights; at the same time, if the treatment is fair, one
does one's best to avoid friction. The best instance of a result of
the former treatment occurred the next afternoon. When some of the
Crefeld party, who had been allowed to bring provisions with them,
found that it was not possible to obtain hot water for making tea,
some inventive person at once started a little fire of sticks outside
my room. Almost immediately a N.C.O. leading half a dozen armed men
appeared on the scene and told the offender in a dreadful voice to put
the fire out at once. Instead of complying the culprit dodged into a
barrack and out of a window on the opposite side and disappeared.
When the Huns were able to comprehend the audacity of this move they
had to put the fire out themselves. Half an hour later a sentry,
seeing three fires burning in the same place, strolled over and
quietly informed those concerned that fires were not allowed, and that
unless they were put out he would have to make a report to the
commandant. The result was that they were at once extinguished with
the aid of sand. Our baggage did not arrive for nearly a week; then,
instead of being given out, it was locked up for another five days
before we received it all. During this time we had to live on the
German food as best we could.

ACCOMMODATION.--Our quarters consisted of three long and two smaller
badly made huts, divided into rooms containing, mostly, two or six
officers. The mattresses were mostly dirty and hard, being stuffed
with paper and cardboard, which formed sharp edges and lumps. The
first week about ten of us found "creepy crawlies," and shortly before
our departure I succeeded in attracting some while in the camp
hospital! The Huns provided us with the German equivalent for
"Keating's" after much agitation, after making us pay for it. The
doctor said that the newly captured prisoners must have brought the
creatures into the camp. That may have been true in a few cases, but
even so they are to blame for not making adequate arrangements to
prevent it. We each received a tin basin, but the washing was all done
at three pumps outside. All the drinking water was derived from this
source, and had a strong and disagreeable taste. A few feet away from
each pump was a stagnant pool into which the waste water flowed. I
think it is reasonable to suppose that a good proportion of it, after
filtering through the sand, was pumped up again. In spite of these
trifles we were told that the water had been analysed and passed by
the medical authorities. I suppose both the colour and flavour were
only due to the presence of iron, in which case I have no doubt it was
an excellent tonic. I should have liked to have seen the doctor's face
had he been made to swallow a glassful. I am thinking of forming a
company for the purpose of building a hydro on the site of the old
camp, so that every one may have an opportunity of enjoying perfect
health by taking the Ströhen waters. I hope the reader will assist me
by buying shares in this excellent concern. (A large cemetery will, of
course, be necessary, but grave-digging should not prove to be
expensive, the soil being very light!)

The safest and most comfortable place in the camp was the small
hospital, which was under the care of a very decent corporal in a
Brandenburg regiment. The dining and common rooms were in one long
barrack, divided into two sections. At one end of the latter was a
canteen of sorts, which ultimately improved considerably. The sanitary
arrangements were most primitive, the breezes constantly reminding one
of their inefficiency. For the first month the weather was glorious,
and during the evening stroll round it was maddening to watch the red
sun slowly sinking behind the distant woods to the westward, showing
us the way to Holland and freedom. The journey by train would have
been accomplished in a few hours under ordinary circumstances. It was
almost incredible to think, though it was only too true, that a few
strands of wire and some grey-clad sentries could keep us confined in
this desert-like camp, containing neither grass nor trees, isolated
from all the pleasures of summer. Whenever there was a wind we enjoyed
a whirling sandstorm. Often I have seen it so thick as to temporarily
obscure the further camp buildings. If we had only been allowed camels
and facilities for exercising, we should soon have looked upon a
journey across the Sahara as mere child's play. After a victory (real
or imaginary), or an anniversary, it was with very rebellious feelings
that we watched the German flag fluttering in the breezes. I did not
mind the coloured one quite so much, but it was almost more than I
could stand to see the pale yellow flag, framing the treacherous
scraggy black eagle, flying over my head. In one part of the camp
there was just room for a game of tennis. Several classes were formed
for learning languages, and indulging in "physical jerks" (culture),
though I'm sorry to say I much preferred watching and jeering with the
ever increasing majority.

Occasionally sports days were organised, which went off in style, the
chief items being short races, jumping, cock-fighting, also a
competition which necessitated each individual eating a sticky bun
dangling from a tightly stretched string without using his hands. This
may not sound much of a feat, but when one realises that the bun
consists of a chunk of stale black bread exuding coarse treacle, the
difficulty will be better understood. Several canaries had been
brought along from the former camp. In one instance a man in the
Flying Corps, possessing a sitting bird, carried her so carefully that
she never left the eggs and eventually reared her young at Ströhen.

Latterly chip carving became the fashion, as it was then possible to
obtain the necessary articles from a German firm through the canteen.
Concerts were frequently held, and as the camp contained very
considerable talent, we had some really first class performances,
after being allowed to hire a piano from the nearest town. One day a
new lot of orderlies arrived and took up their quarters in a barrack
separated from our part of the camp by some wire. Among their number
was a private called Cheeseman, a born comedian, who used to get up
sing-songs and sketches; the star turn, however, was a selection from
his orchestra, which he used to conduct with a broomstick from an
inverted bucket. The instruments were two mandolines, one banjo, one
mandola, a tin whistle, an accordion, a rattle, a comb, and a lump of
iron. Somehow the performers played in tune, but they always sent us
into fits of laughter, and even amused the watching Huns. Although
Cheeseman often disappeared into cells for several days, he was never
really squashed and always reappeared with a new joke. I was lucky
enough to receive a good assortment of flower seeds from home,
including sunflowers, sweet peas, nasturtiums, etc.; these I
immediately planted in a tiny museum-like garden, and tended
carefully, in the hope that some day the plants would assume large
enough proportions to enable me to believe temporarily on special
occasions that I was actually amid the flowers of good old England. In
my case the deception was fortunately not necessary, as I was
destined to enjoy the real thing, though unfortunately in hospital.

TREATMENT.--The first roll calls, though unnecessarily long, were
quite entertaining. They were conducted by a guards lieutenant with a
pronounced limp, who went by the name of "Cork-leg." Even when
speaking of a matter of no importance his voice would become louder
and louder until it threatened to reach a shrill scream. On one
occasion when the interpreter was not present, some unoffending person
asked the Hun a question in English. Cork-leg replied, with a dreadful
roar, that we must understand that the language of the camp was
German, and German only. Things were going a little too far, so every
time the gentleman gave expression to his thoughts in too vehement a
manner most of us whispered a long-drawn "Hush." The parade being in
square formation, when he turned suddenly to arrest the offender, he
found those facing him wearing an air of injured innocence, while
those in his rear continued the good work. This had the desired
effect, and although it meant "_stuben_ arrest" for several fellows,
the officer soon realised what an ass he was making of himself and
became almost normal, with the result that things went smoothly for a

Soon after our arrival, a fortnight, to be correct, the newly
captured infantry officers, numbering about fifty, were ordered to
give up their steel helmets at a given roll call. This naturally went
against the grain. The owners mostly destroyed the rubber padding and
hid the helmets, resolving that at least they should not benefit the
Hun. At the appointed time eight instead of fifty were surrendered to
the officer on duty. On the morning of the twelfth of June a number of
German soldiers set to work with poles and hooks to drag the pools for
submerged helmets. By and by they succeeded in picking out quite a
number of those steel fish, every additional one landed calling forth
a subdued cheer from the onlookers. In the afternoon, having nothing
to do but kill time, I strolled out of a barrack, my hands in my
pockets, with no immediate objective in view. Outside a few Germans
were still fishing for helmets, while half a dozen Britishers were
lazily watching operations. After joining them for a minute or two I
turned to walk over to another building. True, there were some
sentries with fixed bayonets lounging about, but that was nothing
unusual, for they might well be in charge of the orderlies who were
working near by. I had not gone ten yards when a tall, unshaven
_Landsturmer_ swung round and barred my way. He told me with a snarl
that I was not allowed there and motioned me back with his hand. I
told him that I was not aware of any new order and only wished to go
to the neighbouring building. Whereupon he repeated his words in a
still more offensive tone, and brought his rifle to the ready. (Even a
German sentry is supposed to be reasonably polite when addressing an
officer prisoner for the first time, but this man was purposely rude.)
I replied that if he addressed me as a British officer and not as a
dog I should obey him at once, otherwise I should remain where I was.
After a few more unintelligible threats he advanced, brandishing his
weapon, at which I turned sideways to call to a German N.C.O. and
protest against such treatment. The kindly sentry aimed a smashing
blow at my left foot, which I was luckily able to partially deflect by
a slight movement of my knee. Things were certainly quite disturbing,
for the next instant he stuck the bayonet almost through my right
thigh. The proceeding was not particularly pleasant, feeling very like
a sharp burn, but I was almost too surprised to realise fully what had
happened, so consequently remained standing where I was. Vaguely I
realised that the sentry had withdrawn his bayonet for another thrust,
this time evidently intended to enter my body. Glancing down I saw
that my trouser leg was saturated and streaming with blood, which was
even welling out of my shoe on to the ground, showing that an artery
had been severed. Not being particularly partial to bayonet thrusts, I
decided that I could now abandon my argument without loss of prestige.
I succeeded in hobbling a few yards to the rear, at the same time
holding the artery above the wound in an endeavour to check the flow
of blood. This, however, did not prove very successful, the sand
continuing to turn red behind me. Just as I was in the act of falling,
a number of our fellows, seeing what had happened, rushed up and
carried me hastily into the camp hospital, where a tourniquet was
applied and the doctor sent for. The time was then a quarter-past
three, and the doctor did not arrive till after seven o'clock. I
rather fancy if an accident of that sort had occurred in an English
prison camp containing over four hundred German officers, it would not
be necessary to wait almost four hours before the arrival of a
qualified doctor.

At the best of times a very tight tourniquet is distinctly
uncomfortable. The medical orderly thinking that I should lose
consciousness and seeing the commandant enter the room, explained the
circumstances and asked if he might give me a little brandy. After
due consideration and much chewing at the ragged end of his eternal
cigar, he replied that as water would be given to a wounded German
soldier, it was good enough for me. Though I pretended not to hear,
these remarks impressed me considerably. The N.C.O. looked after me
very well, and early next morning took me to the station in an
ambulance on my way to Hanover Hospital. Two private soldiers acted as
stretcher-bearers, with the N.C.O. in charge. When the train arrived
it was found that the stretcher was too broad to go into a carriage,
so I travelled in the luggage van, among trunks, bicycles and baskets
of fish. The Germans were quite jolly and sang a few songs, while I,
in a half dead condition, endeavoured to accompany them on my beloved
mandoline. At Hanover I was dumped down at a Red Cross centre below
the station to await the ambulance. Soon quite a pretty nurse (for a
wonder) came up and inquired if I was English. I could not resist
replying in German: "Yes, sister, I am one of those _Schweinhund
Englanders_!" To my surprise she seemed quite embarrassed, and hastily
answered me that they did not say that _now_. (Emphasis on the _now_.)
In the conveyance I lay beside a wounded German private, also bound
for hospital. When my curiosity had broken the ice, he told me that
he had just returned from the Messines Ridge, where he had acquired a
great respect for British artillery and mines (though he himself was a
sapper). The Hanover hospitals which usually take in prisoners are
Nos. 1 and 7; to my relief I was taken to No. 1, which is recognised
as the best. I received practically the same treatment as the German
patients, and occupied a room with three other British officers. Some
of the food we received was quite good, a little fresh milk and
butter, and one or two whitish rolls of bread, and, of course, the
usual doubtful soups. Immediately outside the window was a large
flowering acacia tree, looking delightfully shady and cool after
Ströhen desert. Another luxury we sometimes enjoyed was strawberries,
which the German orderly bought in large quantities, afterwards
selling them to some of the doctors and nurses as well as ourselves.
At frequent intervals a band outside played a very ordinary
uninteresting dead march, announcing each time a German (usually a
patient) had gone "West." Soon after my arrival I saw a Zeppelin
flying very low over the town. I was delighted and remarked to a Bosch
that it was the first Zeppelin I had ever seen. He was quite indignant
and told me that I ought to know that it was a Schutte-Lanz, a new
type of airship. My education must have been sadly neglected!

Bayonet wounds are, for several reasons, liable to become septic;
mine, however, healed up remarkably quickly, saving me endless bother.
In a fortnight I started back to the camp, accompanied by a N.C.O. and
a private, who helped me slowly along. We went by train, without
causing much interest. This was a good thing, for it is very hard to
look dignified when feeling like nothing on earth, and looking as
white as a sheet. Many of the small boys were dressed up as soldiers
in one way or another, and I twice saw a small ragamuffin band with
tins for kettle-drums. Just wouldn't there be a fine scrap if a
similar band of London children had suddenly rounded the corner!
Personally, I would back the cockney spirit against any other. This
was my second visit to Hanover, and on no occasion had I seen a motor
other than the one ambulance car, though I heard two in the distance.
Owing to the scarcity of rubber I was surprised at the number of
bicycles present in the streets, but closer inspection proved that
that difficulty had been overcome by a clever invention, by which the
shock is lessened by an outer wooden rim held in position by strong
springs, which are compressed as they take the weight. During the
train journey my escort, as usual, drew my attention to the splendid
way in which the Germans treated their prisoners by allowing them to
travel second class. They simply would not believe that German
officers in England always travelled first. The private, who owned a
cigar factory in Hanover, became quite chatty and seemed very anxious
to know if I thought the trade relationships between England and
Germany would be the same as ever after the war. He was very surprised
and, indeed, quite distressed when I told him that I thought there
would be a considerable change--it seemed that the idea had never
occurred to him before.

I was not sorry when the camp was reached and I entered the little
camp hospital to remain there for another two weeks. Several fellows
having escaped from the camp temporarily, the commandant got the sack.
Many speculations concerning his probable successor were indulged in,
and I think the general opinion of the camp was that the newcomer
might be better, though he could not be worse. We soon discovered our
mistake. His first appearance was not exactly promising. Two fellows
while walking round the camp suddenly heard a stream of abuse
violently directed at them, and looking up, they saw the commandant
coming towards them through a gate in the wire, fairly bursting with
rage. His unreasonable complaint was that he had not been saluted
while entering his office outside the wire! The offenders were at once
packed off to cells for two or three days. The next day a few
Britishers arrived from another camp, and while they were waiting
outside to be admitted, a small and orderly crowd collected on the
inside to see if they could recognise any one, or exchange a few
remarks. Being unable to walk much I watched the proceedings from the
window of my room and was able to see everything that took place.
Without any warning the mad commandant rushed out of a building and up
to the wire, where he screamed at the little gathering like a madman,
making violent motions to show that they were to go back. It is
perfectly legitimate to stand in a group as long as every one behaves
and no one touches the neutral zone wire. One must stand somewhere. In
this case he had absolutely no right to order a move. The interpreter,
who happened to be near, walked up and said that the commandant
desired us to go away, whereupon the officers began to disperse,
wishing to humour him. I was startled to see two soldiers come through
the gate with fixed bayonets in a quick business-like way, to drive
the fellows back faster, evidently by the commandant's express orders.
The younger of the two guards went straight up to an unoffending
medical student, a Lieutenant Downes (S. Staffs.), who was then
turning round, and pricked him in the stomach with his bayonet. To
prevent the steady pressure making the slight wound worse, Downes
seized the end of the rifle and, jerking the point out, swung it to
the right, and then turning round walked quickly back. The sentry,
after running past several other officers, overtook him and, to my
horror, stuck the bayonet into his back. After continuing his walk for
a few steps Downes collapsed and was at once carried into hospital,
the next day being taken to Hanover. The wound was very serious,
however; we received a message from the hospital a few days later
stating that the bayonet had penetrated into one lung, but that he was
getting on well and would probably soon recover.

The same sentry, in his eagerness to obey orders, tried to bayonet a
Captain Woodhouse, but as his prey jumped back just in time, only
succeeded in cutting the skin. By this time a large crowd had
collected, which the sentries continued slowly forcing back, although
they were then fifty yards from the wire. As the news spread the crowd
became larger, but remained ominously quiet, the two Germans not
seeming to realise the danger of their position. It is the worst
feeling I know to watch a cowardly display of this sort and yet be
able to do absolutely nothing. It only needed a spark to set
everything in a blaze, which must have ended in the guard being turned
out for machine-gun practice. Meanwhile, the news reached some
Britishers who were half-way through a concert. By mutual consent it
was at once broken up by the singing of the National Anthem. Every one
outside at once stood to attention and heartily joined in the last few
bars. It was the most impressive scene one could possibly imagine. I
am sure that no one who had witnessed it would in after years, without
feeling murder in his heart, watch a man belonging to the mongrel
breed, which is not infrequently seen sitting down while everybody
else is standing for the National Anthem, only being forced grudgingly
to his feet by public opinion, even then not removing his hat unless
it is knocked off. I am convinced that if Ramsay Macdonald and a few
of his colleagues could have spent a week in a bad German prison camp
they would be only too willing to instruct their misguided followers
in singing "God Save the King," in the spirit and way in which it
should be and was sung at Ströhen on July 15th, 1917. The situation
was saved.

Our senior officer took advantage of the pause at the end while we
were still under control, standing at attention, and told us to
separate at once, as he would do everything that was possible. At this
Israel departed every man to his own tent. The major asked for an
immediate interview with the commandant, but the German captain who
had entered replied that that was unfortunately impossible as that
officer had gone out at lunch time and would not return till late. It
was a most "kolossal" lie, but I do not think that the captain should
be saddled with it, as he was, doubtless, acting under instructions.
Most of those present, including myself, would have sworn on oath that
we had seen the commandant a few minutes before and that he had caused
all the trouble. But then what is one to do? Of course the usual
complaints went (or rather were supposed to go) to higher authority
(ambassadors and the like), but no satisfaction was obtained. It seems
not unlikely that they all found their way into the office waste-paper
basket by the most direct route.

Again, a few days later about a dozen fellows were watching a party of
Germans, under a _Feldwebel_ Pohlman, digging up an old tunnel which
had fallen in near the wire. Everything was quiet and Pohlman was
even talking naturally with one of our number, when I noticed him turn
and speak a few words to the sergeant of the guard, who turned and
entered the guardroom, evidently in a hurry. Knowing that this
Pohlman, in spite of his oily manner and smug appearance, was a Hun in
every sense of the word, I kept my weather eye open, warned the others
and strolled off. A few seconds later four of the worst sentries in
the place, having entered the camp unobserved, came running round the
corner of a shed, their bayonets drawn back for thrusting, obviously
having received orders that the next victim had to be finished off,
the object, I suppose, being either to teach us a lesson or cause a
mutiny. Some one shouted a warning to three fellows who were standing
talking to each other unconscious of their danger, but before they had
time to realise their predicament the sentries were on them. The Huns
singled out a Captain Wilson (R.F.C.), and before he could get away,
surrounded him, while one villainous-looking little Hun lunged
straight at him. By a quick movement Wilson avoided the thrust and
succeeded in breaking away, the bayonet passing through his clothes.
The guard continued to press every one back into the centre of the
camp, very serious trouble again only just being avoided.

Another incident of this sort happened a few days later, when to our
surprise some strong sherry arrived at the canteen, and was soon
bought up by the thirsty prisoners. I think there was another object
in view, as well as a desire to make money. Towards evening some
Englishmen were sitting near the wire, close to where the sentry who
had assaulted Downes was stationed. One of the fellows, feeling a
little cheerful, amused himself by alluding to the bravery of the act.
At the worst this was only a case calling for a little solitary
confinement. I suppose the sentry passed the word along to the
guardroom, for soon three sentries passed through the camp,
metaphorically whetting their bayonets, going towards the scene of the
disturbance. Before reaching it they unslung their rifles and fixed
their bayonets, doubled round the corner of the building, expecting to
surprise the unfortunate Englander. But to their disgust they only
found empty chairs and returned very dejected.

After this episode we had a dance in the dining-room, several fellows
making up into the most charming girls, and did our best to forget our
unpleasant surroundings. At ten o'clock, when we had gone to our
barracks, according to the rules, Pohlman conducted an armed party of
half a dozen Huns with fixed bayonets round the huts and every part
of the camp, but failed to find the excuse he was longing for. Now
what about the Cambrai officer's question, "Why do you call us Huns?"
_Why, indeed?_

The German captain nearly always took roll call. Though fairly
harmless, he was quite mad. He seldom brought an interpreter on parade
and made long speeches and read orders to us, all in German, the great
majority, of course, not understanding a single word! One day we heard
the new commandant was coming on parade for the first time that
evening, so therefore looked forward to some fun. When the time for
the roll call arrived we were inspected as usual, and were standing
waiting, when the little captain suddenly drew himself up to his full
height, and screamed out: "_Augen Rechts--Augen Links--Gerade Aus_."
As we were standing in three sides of a square it was an order to make
every one face the commandant with a martial air. The net result of
this "Double Dutch" was that everyone broke into an amused smile,
which increased almost to hysterics when we caught sight of the
recipient of this honour. The commandant was a tall, doddery,
antediluvian Prussian colonel, with long grey moustaches, the very
image of the Monkey Brand advertisement, only perhaps not quite so
good looking. Why he did not fall over his trailing scabbard in every
step remains a mystery to this day.

There was another curious little trick the captain sometimes indulged
in. In the middle of delivering a tirade he would suddenly point to
heaven with a dramatic gesture, as if to prove the truth of a recent
statement by invoking the Kaiser's God. Perhaps some day he will learn
that the popular spirit of Germany lives not above but very far below.

Soon after our arrival the prison was enlarged, as it always has to be
when the camp becomes British. Fellows were often sent there for an
offence about which they had never heard, without being able to say
one word in self defence. In about two months I believe nearly half
the camp had been in "clink." Until latterly it was forbidden to open
windows at night, but being English we took the law into our own hands
and continued opening the windows, refusing to be deprived of fresh
air in the stifling heat. This naturally resulted in more prison,
which at first relieved and then increased the monotony. Though it is
hardly credible, our colonel had to carry out a sentence of three days
"_stuben_ arrest" for losing his poker! About this time an Australian
was put into prison for a trivial offence which had been committed by
some one else, and did not even receive his sentence for three whole

While in "jug" in this camp we were not allowed parcels, writing
materials, books or smokes. We complained about this to a general who
inspected the camp later; he expressed surprise at this state of
affairs and had things partially rectified. For about two months all
cigars and cigarettes received in parcels were stopped, the only
reason given being that in some cases they had contained poison for
destroying cattle. Not only were chances of destroying cattle
exceedingly small, but we offered to smoke any cigarette they chose to
give us from our parcels to prove the falsity of the charge.

By an agreement between the Governments those serving terms of
imprisonment for offences committed before the 4th of August, 1917,
were released, a great number of the gaol-birds being sent to Ströhen.
Residing in prison was a captain who made a hobby of being
court-martialled. Under this new ruling he was taken out of cells for
a few days, only to be put back to await trial for the trumped-up
charge of having poison tablets on his person when recaptured after
his last escape. I believe the only tablets he carried were either for
purifying water, or Horlick's malted milk. Every one recaptured when
trying to escape in the late winter of 1916 or the following spring
received a sentence of five months' imprisonment, a fortnight the
original punishment, and the remainder as a supposed reprisal for the
sentence given to escaping Germans in England.

The food given us was very bad indeed, though the list must have
looked quite nice on paper. Apart from the eternal and loathsome
gherkins, of which no mention was made, it asserted that we received
fish twice a week! The Tuesday fish was of a dried variety, and had
such a delicious smell when cooked that it was impossible to enter the
dining-room when it was on the prowl! While that on Friday consisted
of heaps of old mussels containing quantities of sand and young
pebbles, known amongst ourselves as those ---- barnacles, scraped from
the ships at Kiel. The whole time I was there I never once had an
opportunity of buying any fresh fruit, though it was summer time and
we could have paid good prices. The only result of my bayoneting
episode was that the sentry was congratulated, and I was warned for a
court-martial! When a staff captain arrived from Hanover to collect
the evidence for the approaching trials, quite a cheery little crowd
of accused officers were awaiting him. Several of them were to appear
on two or three charges, and three R.F.C. officers were to be tried
for dropping leaflets in the German lines. I believe it came to
nothing in the end, as there was not enough evidence to convict them.
Captain Scholtz and Lieutenant Wookey do not seem to have been so
lucky. When my turn came, several German witnesses were produced who
swore that after being struck on the foot with the butt, I had jumped
forward to seize the rifle, asserting that the sentry had only acted
in self-defence. (Such a truthful race!) When the captain was taking
down my statement, we frequently got off the subject altogether. All
of a sudden he would assert that the English had started the war and
ask me the reason for their doing so. Thoroughly roused, I would reply
that it was nonsense and he must know it. Then ensued an amusing but
fiery argument about the neutrality of Belgium, the use of native
troops, and frightfulness in general. His plea was that poor little
unoffending Germany was only standing up for herself against a set of
blood-thirsty enemies who wished to crush her. Needless to say, I did
not feel much like sympathising. When we finally got back to business,
all particulars were taken as a matter of form, my slaughterer's name
and address being taken down. Before my departure I managed to get a
glimpse of it when the captain was out of the room. I do not suffer
from loss of memory!

The all-absorbing problem of camp life is escaping. Up to this time
half a dozen fellows had succeeded in getting away from the camp, but
were afterwards recaptured. I will endeavour to give an outline of the
several attempts and the difficulties to be overcome, which must of
necessity be very curtailed, this book not being originally written
for the benefit of the "Bosch." The most usual way is to cut the wire,
but where sentries are numerous the undertaking is both difficult and
dangerous. It is most natural to try stunts of the sort under cover of
darkness. At this camp, however, the paraffin arc lamps were
particularly brilliant, and when star-gazing on several occasions I
have seen rats and mice scuttle across the white sand some distance
away. Though storms often raged during the day, the wind almost
invariably blew itself out towards night, leaving a dead calm, broken
only by the tramp of sentries or the distant rattling hum of a
nightjar. It is a brave man who, having determined this mode of exit,
leaves his hut when others are sleeping, and vanishes. Presently, if
he gets safely across the intervening ground, the faint yet feverish
snipping of wire-cutters is heard, each time being followed perhaps
by a slight "ping" as the strained wire separates. The ensuing silence
is almost heart-breaking, for in contrast something else may at any
instant be increasing its tension, a sentry's trigger-finger. One
stormy night, when in hospital, I had reason to believe that an
officer would make an attempt in that part of the camp at a given
hour, so had an excellent chance of watching operations, which was not
wasted. I went to the window and settled down for a long wait. Outside
it was still raining, the sentries being in their boxes. A little
before the time I caught sight of a dark figure which clambered out of
the orderlies' hut and crawled into the neutral zone up to the outside
wire, which he lay parallel to and commenced to cut. To my surprise,
another figure joined him from the hut and lay there waiting; this was
an orderly who had decided to join at the last instant. In about one
and a half minutes a large enough gap had been cut, and the
adventurers crawled through it, and were preparing to make a dash into
the darkness when a sentry spotted them and stepped out of his box.
Having burned their boats, off they went. The sentry ran a few steps,
then, stopping abruptly, raised his rifle and fired. It was an anxious
moment for the onlookers; the fugitives already knew the result,
while, as yet, we did not. However, to our relief, the ghost-like
figures continued their flight until they were swallowed up in the
darkness, and the reflection of the artificial light on their wet
rain-coats became too weak to give away their position. In their
anxiety to leave the camp behind they tended to separate, but both
fell headlong into a deep ditch, where they met again. In their first
dash one of them dropped most of the provisions, which the Germans
discovered and brought back to the camp in triumph. Six days
afterwards they were recaptured, thirty kilometres from the border.
Two officers cut the wire in broad daylight, when the nearest sentry
was busy opening a gate admitting some orderlies. They left the camp
by way of a ditch without being seen, crawling as they had never
crawled before, their heads showing above the level of the fields,
like two wobbling cabbages going for a hurried evening stroll. Their
success was short-lived, for, only an hour afterwards, they were
spotted and chased by some farmers, being finally brought to a stop by
a man with a shot-gun. Another couple left the camp by the following
ingenious method. A captain, who spoke German like a native, dressed
up in the clothes of a Hun private (somehow acquired). Some of the
essential things were missing, and had been manufactured in secret,
such as a cap and a painted wooden bayonet, with a lovely coloured
tassel. When everything was ready, about ten o'clock one morning, a
perfectly good German private marched an R.F.C. lieutenant, disguised
as an orderly, who carried two buckets (containing their kit), up to a
gate in the wire, which he rattled to signify that it must be unlocked
immediately. The sentry came along, unlocked the gate, and let him
out. They proceeded to the road, which they followed for a short
distance. That afternoon, while crossing a wild bit of country, they
had the misfortune to be recaptured by a shooting party, being first
completely surrounded by the beaters. Two other officers got out
separately in an ingenious way, the first being recaptured crossing a
bridge over the Ems, quite near Holland; the second lost direction,
and was retaken four days after, having got thoroughly lost. One
unlucky person was collared just outside the wire, dressed as an
orderly, and was taken straight to prison to enjoy a period of perfect

I worked in several tunnels at different times, fitted with air pumps
and perhaps even electric light--who knows? Digging oneself out is, at
the best of times, a slow and difficult proposition, which is almost
invariably discovered sooner or later. The humorous side of tunnelling
is so pronounced that, could "Bairnsfather" view one such episode,
our bookstalls would shortly be surrounded by eager crowds, clamouring
for the first edition of "Fragments from Germany," depicting
mud-bespattered "Old Bills" crawling for their very lives down narrow
tunnels, closely pursued by the wily Hun!

About this time I made my second attempt to escape, and succeeded in
getting outside the wire for the time being, early one afternoon
during bathing hours, only to discover that my proposed hiding-place
was occupied by Germans. After sitting solemnly beside my kit for an
hour, expecting discovery every second, I was lucky enough to return,
unmolested, with a party of bathers. During this period of anxious
waiting I was surprised to find that the thought of losing my
carefully prepared outfit was considerably more distressing than the
actual prospect of imprisonment.

                              CHAPTER IX

                        "AN OUTLAW ONCE AGAIN"

When a sufficient number of officers had collected for baths at a
little gate, a sentry allowed them to pass through it and along a
short, wired path, or bird-cage (as we called it), and thence into the
bath-room. This room was situated about ten yards outside the wire, in
the middle of a wooden barrack, running parallel to, and about fifteen
yards away from, the wire. It is subdivided to form a dressing-room
and a place for the shower baths, every exit being strongly barred,
and a sentry stationed at the door. After a minute inspection of every
nook and cranny, I found that it was just possible, by standing
upright, to squeeze into an alcove, about eleven inches deep and a
foot wide, in an angle formed by a wall and the brickwork of a chimney
which projected into the room.

Though in full view of the door, it was partially hidden behind an
empty stove. I reasoned that, should a well-made dummy wall obscure
the aperture, it would take a very observant sentry to detect anything
amiss. As a last resource, even should it be noticed, it might pass as
something to do with the heating of the adjacent room. After weighing
up the chances of success for several days, I decided that it was
worth trying. When the measurements had been taken, behind the Bosch's
back, I set to work to manufacture the false wall.

Most of my friends ridiculed the idea, calling my pet wall a doll's
house and other insulting names, and bestowing on me much superfluous
sympathy and pity. They argued that it had not been done before, and
was, therefore, impossible, doing their level best to stop me
embarking on such a mad enterprise. At first they almost succeeded in
their object, but, knowing that most ordinary people remain in a camp
indefinitely, working on more orthodox lines, I determined that I
would put it to the test, if only to prove them wrong, or land myself
in prison. One infantry officer, who had previously been through a
course of camouflage, gave me his moral support, which counted for a
good deal.

The wall was made of cardboard sewn tightly on to a light wooden
frame, the whole being made in three sections, which, when fitted
together, reached the height of about eight feet six inches. The top
section was fitted with a leather hinge, which allowed the upper half
of it to slope back at an angle of forty-five degrees, so that the
hiding-place should not appear to be hollow. When at last the doll's
house was finished, it defied all efforts to whiten it, and seemed to
have a rooted objection to being made to resemble the dirty whitewash
of the bath-room. I tried melting old whitewash (scraped off the
walls) with gum and hot water, but it either fell off when dry or
showed the wet cardboard plainly through. Chloride of lime proved
equally useless. Only a little white paint was procurable, but this
was altogether too smooth and shiny. One day, when the three sections were
drying outside on the sand, a German _feldwebel_ (sergeant-major--commonly
known as a "fieldwobble") came along, and inquired if I was making a
model aeroplane. When I replied that his surmise was correct, he asked
me, with a slow smile, if I intended flying away when the machine was
completed. The wicked old creature departed, highly amused at my
answer, "Yes, I hope so." Certainly many a true word is spoken in

After a week's experimenting with useless colouring mixtures, I was
almost in despair, when the desired effect was produced by coating the
cardboard with a thick cornflour paste, finally toning it down with a
mixture of cobwebs and mud.

Though on three separate occasions I had everything ready for the
final test, it was not before August 16th that conditions were at last
favourable enough to risk my welfare for the next few weeks. A little
before five o'clock I entered the bath-room, accompanied by several
assistants. Our journey thither was rather amusing, though the
slightest accident would have meant much "_stuben_ arrest." It is not
easy to walk naturally when carrying a young wall out of sight under
one's coat, which is doing its best to give the show away by shedding
bits of plaster which fall to the ground and leave a trail, reminding
one strongly of a paper chase.

However, the sentries noticed nothing unusual. As soon as the Hun's
back was turned I slipped the sections together and squeezed into the
alcove, into which I was securely fastened by a friend, who whispered
that everything looked O.K., and asked me to be sure and write to him
when I got to England. Whether this was meant or not I do not know,
but at any rate it was just the encouragement I needed. It was an
anxious moment when everybody left the room with a final "Good luck,"
and I heard the sentry approaching to make sure that nobody had been
left behind. Previously I had determined not to watch the Hun, as my
gaze might render him more liable to look in my direction. Now, under
the stress of circumstances, this seemed a physical impossibility, and
all good resolutions went to the winds. I glued one eye to the
spy-hole and saw a German standing only a few feet away, with his back
to me, puffing solemnly at a long pipe, a rifle slung over his
shoulder. Almost immediately, as if in answer to my concentrated gaze,
he turned and looked straight in my direction. I promptly shrivelled
up to nothing, and developed acute suspended animation. I simply dared
not breath, and felt as if my thoughts were becoming audible. My
relief was indescribable when he turned away, and left in an ordinary
manner. Though one crisis was over, the strain had been such that it
took me several minutes to "defossilise" and grasp the fact that,
somewhere in the dim distance, the chances of success were increasing.

A few minutes later a N.C.O. came in, and searched about for soap. As
he was pocketing some small bits left behind, my wall threatened to
fall outwards, but I managed to hold it steady until he went away. A
five-and-a-half hour wait lay in front of me, and, my prison being
dark, stifling and hot, the time passed intolerably slowly. After
waiting patiently for what I judged to be anything from half to
three-quarters of an hour, I would glance at my watch, only to
discover that, in reality, four or five minutes had passed. My primary
success was evidently well known inside the camp, for most of the
fellows taking their evening stroll cast anxious veiled glances in my
direction, from the wrong side of the wire.

It was with both pleasure and anxiety that I watched the darkness
slowly closing in, though I felt inclined to disbelieve that "Time and
tide wait for no man." Half-past ten did eventually arrive, and with
it the now unwelcome time for action. Slowly, and with infinite
caution, I stepped out into the room, and replaced the wall to give
some one else a chance later on. Most of my kit was in the stove, and,
as there were no fire-irons about, considerable noise was made lifting
the iron top and extracting the contents with my fingers. Everything
was now squashed into a sort of pack, and I approached the window on
tip-toe. Within the camp all was quiet, but there, just outside,
passing and repassing on his beat, often not ten yards away, was a
particularly young and active German sentry, stepping quietly, with an
elastic tread. He held his rifle in his hands, and gazed intently into
the camp, as if expecting some shooting practice. When he reached the
end of his short beat, I opened the door with many misgivings, and
crept along a passage to the back of the hut. Entering the empty
wash-room, I saw that my information had been correct, the windows
were not barred. In an adjoining room several Huns were settling down
for the night, their light showing under the door.

I had almost reached the nearest window when, with a most appalling
crash, I overturned an empty bucket in the dark. Listening an instant,
I heard surprised voices and waited for no further developments, but,
coat, pack and all, jumped through the half-open window and fell into
a ditch below. Struggling up and tripping over another wire, I landed
in another ditch. After leaving this my way lay beyond the shadow of
the hut across a cultivated patch of moor, planted with potatoes,
which was illuminated by the arc lamps. I covered this in record time,
everything rattling and seeming to make a most deafening noise, as
though all the devils in Hell were after me with red-hot pitchforks,
expecting to hear a bullet whistle by every moment. However, nothing
happened, and when several hundred yards away, I halted for about ten
minutes to listen for the bugle sounding the alarm. It would have been
some satisfaction to know that the camp was buzzing like a bee-hive,
and all on my account! But, owing to the clever way in which my room
mates worked it, my absence was not noticed, and so this pleasure was
denied me.

I shouldered my heavy pack and started out over the heather in the
direction indicated by the stars. The greatest obstacles were the peat
bogs, into which I often sank knee-deep, and had to crawl out. After
about two hours rough walking, I was lying among the heather resting,
when I was startled by a slight noise like the rattle of a chain.
Looking up quickly as the moon came out from behind a cloud, I saw a
dark shape, which seemed to move considerably closer and a little to
the left, as I watched. A general survey of my position was not
reassuring, for, in the light, I could distinctly see half-a-dozen
more dark forms situated on my front and sides at regular intervals,
mostly in a crouching position. Instantly I thought that somehow I had
been traced by dogs, and that these were sentries. Knowing the gentle
way in which the inmates of this camp were treated, I must confess
that I was very scared. I had not even a stick; besides, one could
wish for a more congenial meeting-place to accost gentlemen of this
sort than a lonely moor at midnight. Behind me was a long cutting,
filled with dark water, from which peat had been taken; into this I
cautiously slid up to my shoulders, and waited developments. Nothing
happened, and, as I became colder and colder, I began to think that,
after all, I had been mistaken. Was it possible that they were only
heaps of peat? At last I summoned up enough courage to crawl out and
approach one of the mysterious forms. Still nothing happened, and my
confidence increased considerably. I had only gone a few yards when I
saw that it was actually only a heap of peat with a large piece lying
near the top which protruded sideways, this having formed the supposed
sentry's head. Even then I did not feel quite convinced until I
administered a hard kick and there was no retaliation.

During the night I passed several villages, and once found myself
among a lot of small apple trees, which I shook violently. Down
tumbled some unripe fruit. It did not take long to fill my pockets and
clear off at full speed. Towards morning I lost sight of the camp
lights, and, entering a small fir plantation, arranged a good
hiding-place and soon fell asleep. In less than an hour I awoke in a
soaking condition, and sat up with a start, the only result being that
the movement shook the fir branches over my head, and a shower-bath
ensued. The next day I enjoyed five thunderstorms! No sooner had one
passed over than another came up. My home-made tent, a large sheet of
green oilsilk, smuggled from home, kept off a good deal of the rain,
but, nevertheless, I had a good opportunity of studying the condition
of a half-drowned rat. In spite of the wet and the presence of some
large wood-ants, I rather enjoyed the sour apples, the first I had
tasted that summer. Once during the afternoon a red squirrel came
jumping over the fir needles, and looked up impudently into my face.
The sight of so much ugliness almost overcame him, but he managed to
scamper off at a good speed. I tried hard to attract this, my only
friend, by pretending to be Hiawatha, and calling him an
"_Adjidaumo_," but this only hurried his retreat.

My food consisted mostly of chocolate and biscuits, though, for the
first three days, I did not feel at all hungry. Water was very scarce,
but I received more than my share a few days later. The third night,
leaving the moon behind, I climbed over a barbed wire fence, and found
myself among a lot of large and boney black-and-white Holstein cattle.
Murmuring soft German words of endearment, I approached the nearest
cow in the hope of obtaining some milk. However, these good creatures,
thinking it a most unusual milking hour, were not having any, and
showed their disapproval of my conduct by careering madly round the
field, making a fiendish noise, which caused the author of the
disturbance to take to his heels for fear of discovery. A little later
I changed my tactics. After stealing several luscious apples, I
presented them to another walking milk-tank. The creature had a softer
heart, and succumbed to the temptation. Everything went according to
plan, for, while she munched the apple contentedly, I proceeded to
fill a large tin mug several times over. I tramped for ten nights, and
only missed my milk three times. Another night, passing in front of a
farm-house, I came upon a full milk-can standing by a gate; the
contents not only filled my water bottle, but even satisfied me.

One morning, after an unusually long march, I flopped down and went to
sleep in an overgrown ditch, surrounded by gorse and broom. The sun
was just rising when I awoke with the idea that I was lying on a bed
of pins. The idea grew to a firm conviction when an involuntary
movement of mine considerably increased my discomfort. As I lay trying
to solve the problem in a semi-conscious condition, the solution ran
across my face; it seemed to have a great many legs. As my fingers
closed round it I received another violent pin-prick, but held on
manfully and, with an effort, forced myself to look at my prey. It was
a gigantic angry wood-ant, which hung on to my finger for all it was
worth. Considering the two things which terrify me most are ants and
centipedes, perhaps the reader will understand my perturbed state of
mind when I found myself lying beside a large ants' nest, being slowly
devoured by its inhabitants, like a fat green caterpillar. As if
propelled by a rocket I sprang up, and ran up and down the short ditch
at full speed. When fatigue had brought me to a stop I was delighted
to find that they had mostly been shaken off out of my clothes. It was
impossible to find a resting place free from ants, the whole place was
infested with them. In my efforts to avoid them I climbed to the top
of a thick pine tree, but even there my little friends were parading
along the branches. The day proved to be so hot and thundery that,
before twelve o'clock, the milk in my bottle turned solid and had to
be eaten like junket. It was with great satisfaction that I watched
the darkness setting in, for, under its protection, I was enabled to
leave the unholy spot and continue my nightly travels.

One of the things which had troubled me considerably when planning my
escape was how to reset my watch should it go wrong. As it was, the
village clocks kept me well informed by striking the hour with much
vigour. The next day, as I lay hidden at the edge of a very young
plantation, a party of labourers with scythes assembled not far away.
After leaving their coats and, presumably, their provisions behind,
they proceeded to cut the grass along the edge of the plantation and
in a neighbouring field. As I lay "doggo" I formulated many plans for
stealing their food to replenish my store, but finally decided that
the risk was too great. Only once did I think that I had been
discovered, for, as I was passing my time in a wood by carving a
souvenir stick, something burst close beside me, making quite a
commotion and breaking many twigs. Just before the branches closed I
caught sight of a fluffy white tail. After all it was only a
frightened deer.

Late on the sixth night I was walking fast along the side of a road
which led through a forest when, stopping an instant to listen, I
heard a low voice shout about forty yards in front. Then some one
approached with a previously concealed lantern. Instantly I jumped
over the ditch, hoping to get away under the trees unnoticed.
Unfortunately, I landed on some dry twigs, which crackled at every
step and betrayed my presence. Remembering the deer incident, I
emitted a loud, coughing bark, such as those animals make, and crashed
through the undergrowth, making as much noise as possible. To my
relief I saw that the man with the lantern turned back to his post to
rejoin his companion--presumably the ruse succeeded. It was just as
well I was not caught here, for now I have reason to believe that I
was close to an important aerodrome, and that this was a
guard--possibly against espionage.

The distance covered was, roughly, a hundred and sixty miles, and,
during the whole period, only once did I recognise the name of a small
town on a milestone, which told me I was going in the right direction.
The fact of having no one to talk to for so many days, combined with
the uncertainty of it all, had the most depressing influence. While
waiting for the long days to pass, killing countless mosquitoes, I
frequently wondered if the stars could be purposely leading me in the
wrong direction, or if peace had been declared, and I was on an
unnecessarily tiring walking tour. As I was approaching a busy
railway, I frequently heard thuds and crashes, or, if the wind was
steady, a faint roar, which, I afterwards found, was caused by the
continued traffic and shunting of trucks. This troubled me quite a
lot, for it sounded exactly like an intermittent bombardment, and not
infrequently increased in volume, until I am convinced an old soldier
would have sworn it was a distant barrage. I pictured my arrival at
the frontier only to learn that Holland had decided to be in the
fashion, and was therefore running a little war on her own, on the
popular Bolshevik excuse of upholding the cause of democracy. The only
thing left for me to do would have been to have turned about and,
after many trials and hardships, succeed in getting into Switzerland,
where Fate, with a smile on her face, would probably have arranged to
have me shot by accident while on my way through Zurich, during the
subsequent riots.

Our "_moutons_" in the meantime, have been straying badly; it is,
therefore, our duty to leave dreams to take care of themselves, and
return to the subject without more ado. When I had been on the loose
for a week the country became very flat and sodden--water was
everywhere. Most of the roads were banked up to guard against flood,
while all ditches were transformed into small canals. Trees became
scarcer and, consequently, the daily problem of finding effectual
cover increased in difficulty. Nearly all the seventh night I followed
a tow-path at the side of an important canal, which led in a northerly
direction. Innumerable movable bridges, traversing the lesser
waterways which flowed into the big canal, had to be crossed. This
procedure was more alarming than one might suppose, as the frail
bridges shook at the slightest touch, and also advertised my crossing
to the inmates of the usual adjoining lodge by magnifying every little
sound. Most of the way, moored at the water's edge, were barges laden
with peat, containing all sorts of dogs; in fact, in several instances
they seemed to be veritable floating dogs' homes. These creatures
barked as if paid to, and were usually sympathetically answered by
dogs some distance in advance, thus inadvertently proclaiming the news
of my arrival. Once two men came out of a cottage twenty yards ahead,
and, stopping in the path, turned round and watched me approaching.
That time I really thought the game was up. It was absolutely
essential to maintain a bold exterior, despite the fact that my
breathing apparatus almost ceased to work. Slouching quickly along, I
whistled a bar or two of "Püppchen." Curiously enough my presence at
that time of night created no suspicion, for I passed them without
being spoken to. Before taking a road leading to the west, I sat down
and dissolved my last Oxo cube in a mug of cold, greenish canal water.
The meal is prepared as follows: First suck your middle finger until
it tastes clean, then stir the Oxo until it is dissolved (this usually
takes about half an hour). Before drinking the concoction it is
necessary to remove any dead fishes that may be floating on the
surface, and also make certain that none of the Oxo is wasted by
remaining underneath the finger nails.

At intervals I was very gratified to see that the sky, to the north
and north-east, was illuminated by distant searchlights. As several
naval bases lay in that direction, it is reasonable to suppose that
the Huns were expecting a visit from our airmen. After following the
road for over an hour, I procured some excellent apples at a wayside
farm-house, and beat a hasty retreat. As time wore on and the milk
carts began rumbling on their rounds, I quickened my pace and
commenced a desperate search for cover. Leaving the road, I headed
across the fields, and after jumping, or falling into, several flooded
ditches, came to an overgrown marsh. A few yards from _terra firma_
was a large sallow bush, growing on a tiny island. After getting
thoroughly wet, I succeeded in crawling on to this and screening my
headquarters from prying eyes with green rushes. As it became lighter,
I heard occasional voices and peculiar creakings, the cause of which I
could not interpret, and might well render my position unsafe. The
anxiety was increased when a large, dark shadow loomed out of the fog
and threatened to completely swallow my little island. All at once the
curling white mist drifted away, and everything was explained in an
instant. The terrifying shadow resolved itself into the great
red-brown sail of a passing barge. I was lying close beside the
tow-path of a canal. Just as the sun had risen over the trees and the
mists were beginning to disperse and float upwards, another noise
attracted my attention, which developed into a deep throbbing roar.
Looking up, I saw three large "Zepps," flying low, and rolling
slightly in the stiff morning breeze, returning to their lair after a
strenuous night out. As they passed over the school-children in a
neighbouring village cheered excitedly.

Except for the usual mosquito bites and inability to sleep, the day
passed uneventfully. When darkness fell and all was quiet again, I
once more saddled up and started out, this time earnestly hoping, yet
fearing, to reach the river Ems, which had to be swum whatever
happened. About midnight I came to something concrete at last--a
long-expected railway. After a short reconnaissance, I crossed this,
and made my way over the fields towards the all-important river, which
flowed parallel to the frontier and about twenty kilos away from it.
Every few yards I came to a dyke, which always had to be passed
through if the direction was to be kept. It was an odious experience,
for, no sooner did I emerge dripping from one than it was time to
enter the next. About three o'clock, after milking several cows and
swimming a few small canals, I passed through some open flood-gates,
built in a grass ridge made to keep the water from encroaching on the
low-lying farms, and came upon a most disheartening sight. Beyond
several hundred yards of dangerous marsh flowed the river, looking
very white in the deceptive light of early morning. The wavelets
formed by the steady wind and the current were making a faint, but
disconcerting, noise. Though it was only just possible to discern the
opposite bank, there seemed to be a similar line of marshy ground
between it and the water's edge. I determined to see if it was
possible to get through the marsh with any degree of safety, but gave
up the idea when some of the old decayed reeds on which I was standing
suddenly gave way and let me through into the water up to my waist. No
matter how good a swimmer, a reedy swamp is more than one can contend
with, therefore I gave up the idea. Crawling out and walking a little
way along the bank, something loomed up in front of me out of the
darkness, which turned out to be a long iron bridge. Looking
cautiously along it, I saw a couple of dim lights burning near the
other side. What an easy way over; how I should have loved to stroll
across; but it could not be, for a German guard was waiting there to
receive me with open arms. Reluctantly I turned away and struck
inland, intending to travel parallel to the river for some distance
and then try my luck at another place. Shortly afterwards, when
tramping along on the grass at the side of a road in search of a
hiding-place, I heard footsteps approaching. At either side of the
road grew a row of young trees, but, unfortunately, the trunks were
not large enough to hide behind. The conditions were such as to render
discovery inevitable should a hasty retirement be effected. For
several precious seconds I stood paralysed with indecision, seeing my
danger, yet unable to avoid it; meanwhile it seemed that cruel fate
was carelessly deciding my destiny, weighing freedom against captivity
in a balance, which my indecision was slowly causing to turn against
me. For a brief period my brain refused to work, except vaguely to
bring to my notice a few lines from "Eldorado," which affirm that
there exists a loophole of escape in every difficult situation. This
seemed to affect my present critical position, though it in no wise
suggested a course of action.

As I looked at the dyke which ran along at the side of the raised
road, calculating that the noise made by a passage through it would
only lead to detection, I clearly remembered an incident in "Lorna
Doone," in which John Ridd, when a boy, had completely avoided
discovery by his enemy (Carver Doone) by submerging himself in a
stream and breathing through a straw. Without waiting to remove the
pack, I followed his example by throwing myself on my face and
crawling backwards on to the tangled reeds, which parted with a
squelch and let me through into the stagnant water. The dyke proved to
be deeper than I expected. My feet barely touched the bottom, so that
I was literally clutching a straw to keep myself up. As the footsteps
passed I kept my face and head under the surface, and trusted to
Providence. When all the sounds died away, it took me some time
struggling with mud, weeds and water, before I could extricate myself
from that confounded ditch. I do not make a good water-rat; I would
therefore suggest to the German authorities that they should train
water spaniels, and not police dogs, for pursuit of prisoners in the

I had only been walking for a little while when the distant rumble of
a milk-cart reminded me that it was past time to hibernate. Then began
the usual desperate search for cover. It became lighter and lighter,
and, just as the mist was about to rise, I saw the faint outline of a
clump of trees several hundred yards away. Plunging through more
dykes I arrived at the trees, only to find that they were growing in a
small garden and orchard which surrounded a large farm-house. As no
one appeared to be stirring, and the discovery of an immediate
hiding-place was essential, I commenced explorations. The privet hedge
surrounding this oasis proved to be very thin and there were no
convenient little bushes. I had just borrowed a good supply of apples
from mine host, and had almost decided to seek shelter in an outhouse
as a last resource, when I came upon a fair-sized heap of sticks, over
which a hop plant sprawled, forming a straggly green covering. There
being no better place, I decided that the hop would have to serve as
my headquarters for that day. I was just moving some of the sticks
when something caused me to remember the lateness of the hour. From a
pigsty a few yards away came expectant squeals. The occupants
doubtless imagined that I was arriving with their breakfast. As I was
getting ready to crawl into the sticks, I caught sight of a little
patch of washing close by, lying spread on the grass at the corner of
a small green lawn. When the good lady came for her washing she would,
in all probability, discover me, which would never do, as it would
lead to all kinds of little unpleasantnesses. In a very short space of
time I had moved the white handkerchiefs and collars to another
corner of the lawn, not far away, and returned to the heap. I was
beginning to tunnel into the sticks, when I heard a man's voice,
followed by the clatter of milk cans. Diving into the small hole
already made, I wriggled for all I was worth towards the centre,
dragging the pack after me. It sounds quite simple; all you have to do
is to wriggle; but, in reality, it is surprisingly difficult. When I
tried to force an entrance every dead bough in the heap seemed to
break with an ear-splitting crash, while all the smaller twigs
crackled in chorus. The most peaceable sticks developed sharp spikes,
which stuck into me. Even when I had removed a particularly
objectionable one barring the way, another would shoot out and grasp
my pack, causing an additional delay. Eventually, in a scratched and
weary condition, I got under the centre of the heap, where I lay
feeling none too secure. Although I was forced to keep still for fear
of attracting attention, I managed to nibble the stolen apples and
take stock of my surroundings. The light shone through the pale green
hop leaves, revealing many hairy caterpillars, incessantly gorging.
Inside the heap lived innumerable spiders and other horrors. These
believed in making their presence felt when I did not deign to notice
them. It was a very uncomfortable procedure, drying slowly in a cold
wind. Once, when the leaves blew on one side, I caught a glimpse of a
pear tree swaying overhead, and a dark, forbidding sky in the
background. That day I enjoyed two heavy thunderstorms. At first the
leaves kept off most of the rain, but it soon battered down with such
violence that the former became limp and hung down, leaving me almost
exposed. Everything became saturated. A steady stream of water poured
off the sticks and ran down my neck, while the insects eagerly sought
shelter in my clothing. When the first storm was over, and I lay
shivering in the bright interval, two children came out of the house
and played about in the garden, running several times round and round
my heap. It was such a strain lying absolutely still that I almost
welcomed the second thunderstorm, though it completely soaked
everything that the first one had overlooked. Never in my life have I
passed such an uncomfortable day. But, in the end, discomfort is
preferable to actual danger in an adventure of this sort. At least so
I thought in those days. As it is beyond me to convey to the reader
any adequate idea of the unwillingness of the minutes to resolve
themselves into hours, I will not attempt the impossible. Towards
evening some one fired a shot-gun just beyond the privet hedge.
Naturally the explosion caused me to jump, but that was nothing to the
fright I experienced when it struck me that it might be a small boy
out rat shooting, as vermin always run to a conveniently close heap of
sticks for shelter. However, the person did not come my way, and in
any case it is probable he was only after wild duck, which frequent
most of the dykes. At last, when I could stand it no longer, I
scrambled out into the dusk, guiltily ignoring the fact that I was
running an unnecessary risk by starting on the war-path an hour too

                               CHAPTER X

                                THE EMS

There was no one about, so, after enjoying a good stretch, I pushed
through the privet, jumped a narrow dyke, and started out over the
low-lying fields towards the high grassy barrier which advertised the
approach to the dreaded river. It was almost dark when I came to
another portion of the winding, snake-like barrier, which curved out
as if to meet me. Approaching it, I found that a thick and apparently
endless prickly May hedge grew along the base. Getting through it
proved to be such a painful proceeding that it seems probable that as
soon as the hedge saw an Englishman coming towards it, it sharpened
its claws and resolved to defend the way to the frontier to the last
thorn. Of course I may be wrong in my surmise, but I well remember
that, when I began extracting thorns afterwards, it was like plucking
a pin-cushion. Crawling on hands and knees up the slippery grassy
slope, I soon arrived at the top and, scrambling to my feet, looked
eagerly towards the unknown West. The grassy barrier rose to an even
height of about thirty feet above the low-lying country. On one side,
the nearer dykes dividing the fields showed up a dull white in the
semi-darkness; while on the other, beyond a narrow fringe of swaying
reed-grass, ran the broad dark river. Although a steady wind was
blowing, it was not quite as strong as on the previous night, the
noise of the ripples breaking on the shore not being so pronounced. As
I had not been dry for several days, the prospect of a prolonged bathe
was not at all alluring. The longer I looked towards the opposite bank
the more distant it appeared to be, and the greater became the width
and volume of the river, until it seemed to be quite impassable.
Hesitation meant failure, so, running down to the water's edge, I
began to undress quickly. All at once it struck me that it would be
foolish to wrap all my earthly belongings in one bundle, for, should
it come to grief on the way over, I should have a decidedly cool time
of it after my arrival at the other bank of the river.

Besides, it would be most undignified to be compelled to walk up to a
German sentry and address him thus: "Please, sir, I am suffering from
loss of memory and seem to have mislaid my clothes; would you be good
enough to supply me with a few, as fig trees do not abound in these

Therefore, spreading my sodden waterproof on the ground, I deposited
in it my tunic, shoes and now half-empty pack. Stuffing all the vacant
space tightly with grass, I secured the corners by binding them
together with my braces and bits of torn handkerchief. To complete the
operation, I fastened my souvenir walking-stick (which, though large
and clumsy, was exceedingly precious) to the bottom of the bundle in
order to improve its floating capacities. Passing through the thin
edging of reed-grass, I stepped into the shallow water and felt my
feet sink into the deep mud, which gurgled hungrily and sent little
lines of bubbles up to the surface. In a few strides I was out of my
depth and amid the swirling eddies, which sought to drag me off down

Fortunately the water was warm and the bundle floated well.
Considering the fact that I had already been tramping for eight days
on short rations, it is not surprising that I found swimming against a
steady wind to be very tiring. I kept the bundle well ahead by giving
it a good push every few strokes, when I overtook it. After swimming
for several minutes, I unconsciously changed my direction a little, at
the same time giving the bundle another push ahead. At this part the
river curved slightly, and the result was that the wind caught my
worldly belongings and whirled them off down stream. Signalling to the
engine-room for full speed ahead, I dashed off in pursuit, soon
overtaking the runaway bundle. By this time, being very out of breath,
I hung on to it, and was delighted to find that it would practically
support me. I had been swimming for some little time and it seemed
probable that my objective would not be far away, so, looking up at
the stars and noting where the west lay, I raised myself in the water
and looked for the opposite bank. Curiously enough, it seemed almost
as far distant as it had been at first. Instinctively I looked back,
and there, only a little way behind me, was the shore I had just left.
I must admit that the sight was not encouraging. Well--hanging on to a
waterlogged bundle and swallowing tadpoles would not help matters, so
I settled down to business, swimming steadily on my side, but often
changing the stroke, and heading a little up-stream to counteract the
force of the current.

Ever so gradually the water became calmer and the shore more clearly
defined, until I could see a fringe of weeds similar to the one I had
left. Vaguely I wondered if it would be really worth the extra effort
required to actually reach it. It seemed so easy to give up. Just as I
felt my remaining strength slipping away at each stroke I touched some
soft warm mud. Mud as a rule does not have a stimulating effect on
one, but then the very touch of it put new life into me. Dragging my
bundle, I made a final effort to get ashore, but fell in the shallow
water, where I lay utterly exhausted, hardly conscious of my
surroundings, my head sinking gradually lower and lower. It must have
been the objectionable taste of the muddy water which brought me to my
senses sufficiently to enable me to leave the river for a more
congenial resting place, namely, some grass at the edge of a field.
When at last I got up, feeling very cold, and untied the bundle I
found that everything was absolutely soaking. Assuredly there are many
more enjoyable pastimes than putting on wet clothes in a cold wind in
the dark.

When everything was ready for the night's tramp, I discovered that my
cap was missing, and after a short fruitless search, decided to leave
it behind. Tired, shivering, and hatless, I started off into the West,
reckoning that now the frontier could not be much more than a night's
march away. No sooner had I crossed the little stubble field than I
came to a ridge, beyond which the ground dropped several feet in a
steep slope. As I moved down this incline towards what appeared to be
a hedge, the ground became quite wet. Suspiciously I looked ahead into
the darkness towards what seemed to be only an expanse of lower
ground. Near the hedge the water rose over my ankles, but I forged on,
determined to know the worst. I was not long in suspense, for the
hedge in front rustled (a thing that well-trained hedges do not do),
and I knew that it was another long line of high reed-grass. Fearfully
I parted this with my hands, and there, in front, lay a rippling sheet
of water, fully as wide as the river I had just crossed. With a thump
my heart went down into my boots, and the little devil of despair
whispered that I must be near the mouth of the river, on an island, a
prisoner of my own making. (In truth, this was very nearly the case,
for, as I feared, I was very far north, this accounting for the volume
and width of the river.) This stretch of water was totally unexpected.
Had I been fresh and known my whereabouts, it would have formed a
formidable enough obstacle; as it was, I had already done more than my
share of bathing for that night, and knew that I was in a totally
unfit condition to attempt another long-distance swim.

Obviously the first thing to be done was to make certain that I was
indeed on an island, so I proceeded to take stock of my surroundings.
I noticed that, except for the rough patches on the water which caught
the wind, the surface was comparatively smooth, and there was no sign
of a current. Walking a few yards to the right, I saw that the line of
the old river and this strip of unknown water converged, leaving
little hope in that direction. I therefore turned about, and started
off to my left front. Evidence that the cereal crop had been carted
quite recently was plentiful, for there was short, fresh stubble, cart
tracks, and the impression of horses' hoofs. This pointed to the
encouraging fact that I was not on an island, horses and carts not
usually being transported by barge or aeroplane. I had not followed
the tracks for more than fifty yards when they turned straight towards
the water. The next minute I barely stifled a yell of delight, for
there, staring me in the face, was a sort of pontoon bridge,
stretching away into the darkness. On closer inspection, I found it to
be composed of bundles of brushwood which were held together in some
mysterious manner, and appeared to lie on the water. The surface of
the bridge was in very bad repair and, as some of the top bundles of
sticks were missing or pointing upwards at an angle, progress was very
slow; but, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling, I got along at quite
a good pace. Once it seemed that I should have to swim a short
distance, but I found it to be unnecessary, as only the top layer of
the bundles was missing. Nearing the other side, I made out a factory
building of some sort, with a high chimney, a little way from the end
of the bridge, and heard the occasional bark of a watch-dog. Try as I
would, I could not move an inch without causing a number of sticks to
crackle loudly--it was almost as bad as crawling under the heap of
sticks the morning before. Fortunately the wind must have drowned any
noise made, or carried the sound away, for, though the dog continued
to bark intermittently, it cannot have been aware of my presence.

Skirting the factory, I went across country, avoiding roads and houses
like poison. The land was very low and flat and the dykes very
numerous, sometimes whole fields being practically inundated. The only
things that tended to relieve the monotony were the solitary gaunt
willow trees, most of them mere shells of their former selves, which
stood out from the misty darkness, black and threatening, like grim

Everywhere was water, water, water. Every few seconds I was up to my
waist in it. Often I tried to jump a narrow dyke and misjudged the
distance, or got a bad "take off," owing to the softness of the
ground; this usually resulted in my falling with a splash into the
middle. I think the most aggravating thing of all was to make a really
good jump and land on the other side, just beyond the water-line, on
all fours, only to find that I had not enough impetus to remain there,
as the ground was sloping. Sometimes I was able to save myself by
jabbing my stick into the ground, though, more often than not, this
was impracticable, and my hands could find nothing firmer to catch
hold of than a few tufts of grass, which almost invariably gave way,
causing me to do a graceful but involuntary backward dive into the
dyke. As constant exercise of this sort is very tiring and the weight
of water contained in one's clothes greatly hinders freedom of action,
my progress was necessarily rather slower than usual. A little after
midnight the ground became harder, and I soon found myself once more
on a moor, wandering along a narrow sandy track, among deep heather
and broom bushes. Just as I was getting a little drier and it seemed
as if the watery nightmare was over, I ran into a series of peat bogs,
many of them more dangerous than those I had encountered my first
night out.

I found the best way to cross a narrow strip of marsh was to make a
rush to the firm ground, as these tactics did not allow enough time
for my feet to sink in very far. Once the little track I was
cautiously following ended abruptly at the edge of a particularly
watery-looking bog, which not only barred my way in front, but also
curved round on both flanks. In order to avoid this _cul-de-sac_ it
would have been necessary to make a wide detour, the accomplishment of
which would have involved the wasting of much valuable time. Selecting
a point where this strip of marshy ground appeared to be the
narrowest, I retreated a few steps, gathered myself together, and,
after a short run, attempted to take the bog by surprise and get
across before it was quite ready to receive me. Wallowing towards the
other side, I felt my feet sinking deeply into the decayed peaty moss,
which gurgled expectantly. I was almost over when suddenly, in a
second, I sank almost to my waist. Immediately throwing myself on my
face, I scrambled forward, and digging my stick into the firm ground
in front, pulled for all I was worth. I was almost free when my poor
stick broke off with a resounding crack, leaving the top half in my
hands. This I again drove into the firm ground, and with a final
effort, drew myself out. After a short rest, during which I mourned
the loss of my beloved stick, I went on my way determined not to risk
a passage over any deceitful bogs in the future unless it was
absolutely unavoidable. Very soon the heather became scarcer, and once
again I was among dykes and flat, misty, green fields.

For the next two or three hours I ploughed along towards the west,
climbing over barbed-wire fences and wading through dykes, unless I
was lucky enough to find a plank or small bridge spanning the latter.
Scarcely perceptibly the darkness of the eastern sky changed to a dull
cold grey and the landscape became clearer, revealing the bare
motionless arms of several windmills stretching out into the clearer
air, some distance away, in different directions. I roughly judged
that I could not be far from the frontier. I might even have crossed
it! Though I did my best to suppress undue optimism, this last rather
improbable idea persisted in occupying my thoughts. It is true I had
seen nothing recently on the way to arouse suspicion, but, owing to
the marshy nature of the country, the guards might well be few and far
between. The spirit of approaching dawn lent a faint tinge of colour
to the lonely sweeps of white mist drifting slowly above the flat dark
fields, and, settling down over the dykes, it commenced to unravel and
piece together the ghostly confusion of dim blurred shadows and
grossly exaggerated reflections crowding on the smooth, oily surface
of the water, until they began to assume a definite shape. I could
almost imagine that I was gazing at one of Tingue's early-morning
landscapes, so unmistakably Dutch was the scene. Having got thus far
no speculations of any sort could be indulged in, the price of
uncertainty being too great. A distant village clock chimed four, each
beat vibrating clearly in the still air. The crisis was at hand.
Having successfully evaded capture during the eight preceding nights
and days, the very thought of failure was unbearable, and compelled me
to face the eternal problem of seeking adequate cover for the day at
an earlier hour than usual. I therefore commenced a search without
delay, experiencing the while, I am convinced, most of the alarming
sensations felt by many fat, juicy worms who, having lost their
burrows, are endeavouring to avoid contact with all marauding "early
birds." The first glance revealed not so much as a bush or hollow
willow tree in the immediate vicinity, but in a few minutes I made out
a number of heaps of some sort away to the right, through the
semi-darkness, so went to make a closer inspection, only to find that
two rather broader dykes than usual sought to bar the way. When on the
march a prolonged wetting is naturally most unpleasant, though the
continued motion tends to dry one's clothes somewhat by shaking out
much of the water. However, there being no alternative, I plunged into
the first dyke, which proved to be quite deep, making it again
necessary to swim a few strokes. I discovered a plank across the
second one, and, passing over, found myself in a stubble field among a
number of corn stooks. There being no better cover, I realised that I
must hide in one of these little stacks, and chance my luck. The
problem was to ascertain which part of the field was least likely to
be overrun by people and dogs. A short inspection showed it to be very
long and narrow, while several indications went to prove that the last
of the crop had been cut near my original point of entry into the
field; this was, therefore, the most desirable part to stay in, as it
would naturally be the last to be carried. When people walk through a
field they are most liable to wander along near the edges, or go
through near the middle; consequently I chose a stook situated between
the two, and about thirty yards distant from the end of the field.
These heaps were rather too small to form a safe hiding-place, while
an unusually large one would, in all probability, attract attention.
It is reasonable to suppose that, should a general enlargement be
effected embracing a number of stooks in one area, the result would be
hardly noticeable. Removing my pack and coat, I set to work
transporting two oat sheaves from each of the stooks in the next row
for a length of about fifty yards, and adding them to the row in which
my nest was planned to be. To avoid suspicion, I made the now depleted
stooks up to their usual strength by again borrowing the same number
of sheaves from each of the heaps in the row still further beyond.
After repeating this strenuous operation a number of times the desired
effect was produced, most of the heaps in my corner of the field now
being considerably larger than the rest. Surely it was a good omen
that my fat sheaves had devoured many of their leaner brethren, even
though the number was not restricted to seven, as in Pharaoh's dream.
The value of making oneself as comfortable as possible under adverse
conditions cannot be over-estimated, for it not only stimulates the
instinct of self-preservation, but renders one in the best condition
to face the task ahead. Exposure and fatigue gradually wear down one's
powers of resistance and bring with them the feeling that nothing
matters. This is to be avoided more than anything, for it introduces
the personal element into all reasonings, often forcing a decision
against one's better judgment. Having chosen my special heap, I
arranged it in such a way as to leave me as much room for movement as
possible in the centre. As I exchanged the wetter sheaves for
comparatively dry ones, the prospect of once again being warm was
delightful and caused me to work with a will. Everything was almost
completed, and I was just strewing a little dry straw on the ground
between the sheaves, to serve as a mattress, when suddenly a man's
voice hailed me, in unmistakable German, from a distance of about
fifty yards: "_Was machen sie da_?" ("What are you doing there?"). Any
doubts as to which country I was in were rudely dispelled. For a
moment I was completely at a loss for an answer, then, bending down, I
seized the loose sheaf (which was to have acted as a door to my
palace) and placed it against the others, and, turning round, replied
in low German, "I am only replacing these, which have fallen down."

Two workmen were standing just beyond the dyke, having evidently
approached by an unobserved track, and were now gazing suspiciously at
me. There being no more prostrate sheaves, I could not very well throw
some down and then pick them up again, for the action would not have
been at all convincing. I therefore had to content myself with
smoothing the side of the stook in a business-like way, trusting that
the uncertain light would not disclose the insanity of my actions. In
a few seconds I moved to another stook, and was commencing to stroke
the sheaves, when the same voices demanded, in a peremptory manner, to
know what I was really doing. It was a case of bluff, so, busying
myself with the heap, I snapped out, "Ach! go away, I have a lot to
do." From the murmur that reached me it was obvious that this abrupt
answer was puzzling them considerably. My position was still extremely
unsafe, for border folk are usually of a very suspicious nature, which
is intensified by the activities of war. At the best of times my
excuse would have been feeble enough. Ordinary people don't usually
rise at four a.m. for the purpose of walking round a soaking field
stroking sheaves of corn. Besides, it was not unlikely that I was
talking to the owner of the field. Whether they saw the brass buttons
on my service jacket, or merely felt that I was wanted, I do not know,
but they walked quickly towards the plank spanning the dyke which
divided their field from mine. Directly they reached it one of them
shouted something that I could not understand and was immediately
answered by a third person, away in the mist. Once across the plank
the men, after jabbering excitedly, came towards me at a quick run.
Needless to say, it is extremely dangerous to be chased in bare
country of this sort just when the day is breaking and the fields
rapidly filling with workers, for once the alarm is raised the result
is almost certain to mean capture. This time, however, it was not a
matter of choice; my hand had been forced, compelling me reluctantly
to play my last card. Picking up my pack and coat, I ran as only once
before in my varied career--the night when I almost felt the
pitchforks belonging to the little devils which chased me away from
Ströhen camp. After running about a hundred yards, trusting to the
mist and uncertain light to partially screen my movements, I turned
aside and dived headlong into a stook, pulling the straw after me. In
a few seconds my pursuers drew level and, to my intense satisfaction,
passed on, breathing heavily. This is the last I saw of these two
eager sons of the Fatherland. For all I know, they may be still
following the excellent example afforded by "Charlie's Aunt."

                              CHAPTER XI


I was now in a small wet stook, very cold and hungry. It being too
light to risk a return journey to my carefully prepared nest, I had to
take things as they were, and fell to wondering what it must feel like
to be in a nice warm bed. The day proved to be one long nightmare. By
careful observation I saw that a number of girls were working on the
same crop, luckily at the other end of the field. They appeared only
to be gleaning, but as it was quite likely this was preparatory to the
carting, I resolved to keep a very sharp look-out to avoid being
transfixed by a pitchfork and hoisted on to a cart. About
breakfast-time a peculiar noise came from somewhere quite close, so,
parting the corn carefully, I peered out in that direction. There, to
my horror, were three men scything the rushes along a ditch which
passed a few feet from me. The heap was a small one, and, therefore,
to avoid detection, I endeavoured to put the best part of it between
myself and them when they were working the closest to me. The
completion of this operation naturally left me a little exposed on
what I supposed to be my safe side. The men had almost passed, when I
happened to look away from the ditch and saw a farmer standing beside
the very next heap to mine, surveying the crop, his hands in his
pockets. Somehow or other I wriggled back unobserved, and lay
shivering with a combination of cold and fear. After half-an-hour's
wait, I again looked out cautiously, and was relieved to find the man
gone, though there seemed to be even more people in the neighbourhood
than before. To add to my discomfort the breeze increased to quite a
strong, piercing wind, which whistled in and out among the
corn-sheaves until I felt very like an ice-cream in a refrigerator.
Even then there were more trials to come, for, not only did the grain
pour itself into my clothes, eyes and ears, but also mixed with the
crop was a large proportion of barley or bearded wheat, which took a
truly fiendish delight in slowly but relentlessly making its way up my
sleeves or down my back. In this predicament it seemed almost
unthinkable that I should ever have been so foolish in my schooldays
as to pick barley heads and deliberately put them a little way up my
coat-sleeves, the barbs downwards, expressly for the pleasure of
feeling them crawling up my arms. Most of us do curious things in our

Suffice it to say that, in spite of all convictions to the contrary, I
was still in the heap, unmolested, when the afternoon resolved itself
into evening and the labourers left for their homes. A little before
nine o'clock, after a short but drenching shower, I could stand it no
longer, so crawled out, damp and cold, but still almost glad to be
alive. Looking towards the west in the fading light, I saw a large
shape moving slowly from left to right through the country, roughly a
couple of miles away. It could only be a sail. With a sinking feeling
I realised that in front lay at least one more canal which must be
crossed. (This canal, I afterwards discovered, was actually in
Holland.) Although I did not feel desperately hungry, I somehow felt
that I was getting near the end of my tether; my food, also, was
dwindling and could not last more than two days at the outside, for I
was already half-way through my emergency ration, a tin of Quaker
oats. Strange to say, porridge is nothing like as nice eaten raw.

As soon as it was dark I started out, resolved not only to be
extremely cautious, but, at the same time, to get as far as possible
before the next day overtook me, time now threatening to form one of
my most formidable adversaries. Travelling across country, I soon came
upon a long road bordered by trees, so hid in the edge of some beans
to make sure that all was clear before venturing across it. Almost
immediately I heard voices not far distant, and presently a man on a
bicycle rode past. When everything was quiet again I managed to step
across the road unobserved, feeling sure that another danger point was
past. The night being cold it may be imagined that I was scarcely
overjoyed at finding it necessary to wade or swim through another
short series of dykes; this was, however, the case. Drawing near to
the dreaded canal, I noticed that on either flank, some distance away,
were clusters of rather brilliant lights. Presumably this pointed to
the fact that these lights were placed at points of special
importance, such as strongly guarded bridges, in which case it seemed
probable that the canal might form part of the boundary line. In order
to avoid the slightest rustle which might attract attention, I rolled
my raincoat and secured it over one shoulder, "bandolier fashion." I
next covered the brass buttons of my tunic with mud, to prevent their
reflecting the rays of a possible flashlight, and, after smearing some
dirt on my face and hands, moved forward once more, prepared, in case
of discovery, to make a dash towards the west regardless of the

In a few minutes I saw, by the even line of the higher ground in
front, that I had almost reached the raised canal, and was just
preparing to mount the short, grassy slope when I came upon a
hard-worn narrow track running along near the edge of a rather wide
dyke, which separated me from the embankment. The dyke being in the
lee of the wind it seemed advisable to ascertain whether it was
possible to cross by any plank or bridge which might be in the
vicinity in preference to going through it, for, though one may be
able to get into a dyke quietly enough, the getting out is a very
different matter when the sides are steep and one's clothes full of
water. Walking along this path very warily for about twenty yards, I
was lucky enough to discover a plank leading across (for except for
the faint silhouette of the top of the embankment against the sky,
practically everything was hidden by the darkness). Though the plank
bent threateningly I succeeded in crossing it, and crawled to the top
of the rise. A glance revealed a broad, reed-fringed canal, reflecting
little dancing lights on its wind-swept surface--the stars which had
the audacity to peep out from between the clouds. I could hear the
splashings of a water-rat actually swimming at that time of night for
the fun of it! Quickly crossing the tow-path and parting the reeds, I
followed its example, and, not waiting to remove pack, clothing or
shoes, swam towards the opposite bank as silently as possible. It can
only have been a few yards across, but I remember feeling almost as
tired as if I had swum the Channel. This was the tenth night of my
escapade, and the strain was certainly beginning to tell. As I was
leaving the canal behind some wild duck rose from a dyke close by me,
with much flapping of wings. If their desire was to frighten me they
certainly achieved their object.

When, after an hour or more, I continued plodding along without seeing
anything unusual, I could not help again wondering if I was still in
German territory. My curiosity increased when two motor cycles with
powerful headlights went by on what appeared to be a main road. I had
not seen anything like that for weeks, so resolved to go along the
road myself in the hope of seeing some other strange sights.
Immediately on arriving there I had to take cover in a corner of an
orchard to avoid another light, which was rapidly overtaking me. From
this point of vantage I was soon able to see that the light was on a
bicycle, and the rider not a tin soldier, complete with helmet and
curling moustache, but a peaceably dressed young woman. Encouraged by
the promising trend of events, I stole some apples and made my way,
munching and shivering, towards a little group of houses, hoping to
discover some writing which might prove which country I was in.
Eventually I found a letter-box and feverishly endeavoured to
decipher, in the semi-darkness, a long word printed in black letters
on a white background. With a sinking heart I slowly made out the
letters B--R--I--E. Was it necessary to read any further? Surely this
was proof positive that I was still under the gentle sway of the
Kaiser! What else could the remainder be but "fkasten," completing the
German word for letter-box. With almost a feeling of resignation, I
continued to wrest the remaining letters from the darkness. The
expected F was a very peculiar shape. No, it was a V, after all! With
every letter my hopes rose as I spelt out the remaining E N B U S. I
do not profess to be a German scholar, but I do know that the word
"BRIEVENBUS" does not adorn their letter-boxes in the ordinary course
of events. Feeling vaguely happy, but still haunted by the first
syllable of the word, I made my way further into the village. At first
all seemed quiet, but presently I heard a couple talking near the
entrance of a house. Creeping up as close as I dared in the deep
shadow of the building, I strained my ears almost to dislocation to
catch a few words of the conversation. The language they were speaking
struck me as peculiarly ugly, and did not seem to lend itself readily
to the uses to which they were undoubtedly putting it. The fact that
they were not speaking ordinary German did not necessarily mean that
the language was Dutch, for it might have been some border dialect.
However, I could restrain myself no longer, so, walking up to the man,
I addressed him thus in German, with as much nonchalance as I could
command: "Can you tell me if I am in Germany or Holland?" He did not
seem to grasp the question at once, which in itself was a good sign,
though it lengthened my breathless suspense. I believe I would
willingly have murdered him if, by doing so, I could have had the
answer an instant sooner, for so much depended on it. All at once he
straightened himself up and, in a surprised voice, replied, "Holland!"

I should never have believed that one simple word could have meant so
much. The news so completely overwhelmed me that, for a few seconds, I
failed to grasp its import. Then, springing forward, I seized and
shook his hand so violently that it almost threatened to fall off, at
the same time showering explanations at him in a hundred and one
different languages, in the hope that he would understand one of them.
Needless to say, at first the unfortunate Dutchman was rather
perturbed at being so cordially greeted by some one he must have
thought to be a dangerous lunatic at large, though I consider that he
stood the ordeal very well. I think the girl was the first to really
grasp the situation, for, to my surprise, she congratulated me in
broken German, and insisted on shaking hands, too. In spite of the
good news I was still wet, cold and hungry, and the prospect of again
sleeping in a warm bed was very alluring. I therefore inquired the way
to the nearest hotel, and was told to make for a larger village, some
three kilometres distant. I asked if there was any possibility of my
taking a wrong turn leading back into Hunland, and being assured there
was none if I followed the main road, started off in the best of
spirits. It was just like walking on air. My dreams of freedom had at
last come true. Though it was after one o'clock, I encountered several
people and each time inquired the way, thus making assurance doubly
sure. I can hardly attempt to describe the strange exultant feelings
which surged through me as I marched along, conscious of having left
"Brother Bosch" behind.

Eventually, singing a marching song, I rounded a corner and found
myself in a village street, almost opposite a house in front of which
hung a sign, just distinguishable in the darkness: "Hotel Van Dijk."
Regardless of the fact that I did not possess a cent, I proceeded to
knock loudly on the front door. After a few minutes my efforts were
rewarded by hearing an upstairs window open, and being told in Dutch
to go away. However, my mind being made up, I persisted in making more
noise than ever. Seeing his protestations were in vain, and evidently
scenting something unusual, I understood "mein Host" to say that he
would come down. My knowledge of the laws of internment of a neutral
country being very limited, it behoved me to act with extreme caution
if I wished to follow in the footsteps of brother escapers, whom I
knew had preceded me to England.

Though I had committed no act of war, such as crossing the frontier
carrying arms, I did not feel very sure of my ground. Therefore when
the elderly innkeeper, holding a flickering candle, shot back the
bolts, he found me wearing only a khaki shirt and grey flannel
trousers, the soaking raincoat and tunic having been hurriedly
secreted in my pack, so that he could not assert that I was in uniform
when he first saw me, in case the subject should be raised later. As
soon as he heard the facts of the case, the Dutchman motioned me to
accompany him along the street, which I did wonderingly. I imagined
myself shortly being interviewed by a fat, sleepy-eyed and pompous
burgomaster, who would either fall upon my neck, or order me straight
back to Germany. After half-an-hour's walk, when my guide halted
beside a long wooden hut and knocked vigorously, I decided that there
was nothing to fear in that direction, for no such distinguished
person would deign to live in so humble a residence. Presently, in
answer to our repeated efforts, we heard several grumbling voices, a
door was opened, and I was bidden to enter. As soon as I was
accustomed to the glaring gas-light, I experienced a considerable
shock. Occupying the whole length of the room in which I stood was a
double line of beds, mostly containing sleeping men, and from the
walls hung many greenish uniforms, rifles and bayonets! On recovering
from my first surprise, I turned to a fully dressed soldier I took to
be a sergeant, who by this time, presumably, understood that I was an
escaped "Inglesman," and asked him, in German, for an explanation. In
the midst of his almost unintelligible reply I caught the word
"_Grenswacht_" (frontier guard). Seeing that we were at cross
purposes, the sergeant roused a man who spoke very fair English and
acted as interpreter. I soon learnt that I was in the local
headquarters of the Dutch Frontier Guard, and would have to remain
there until seen by an officer the next day. This suited me only too
well, so having duly impressed the fact that I was not in uniform, I
retired to a bed arranged for me in the N.C.O.'s room, and commenced
to pull off my wet clothes.

Meanwhile tongues had not been idle, and eager, curious faces began to
peep at the "stray dog" through the half-open door. Just as I was
about to turn in, curiosity could be restrained no longer; the room
filled with noisy young fellows, who took up a position round my bed
and proceeded to bombard me with questions. It was all so well meant
that I endeavoured to give them a brief outline of my doings, in
German. The idea of an Englishman speaking German was evidently quite
beyond their comprehension, for, judging by many doubtful looks of
astonishment, it seemed that the general impression was that I was a
camouflaged Hun. As they all persisted in talking at once, I put an
end to the argument by disappearing under the bedclothes. About ten
o'clock the next morning I awoke, feeling stiffer than ever before,
the slightest contraction of a muscle resembling the jerking of a
rusty wire. However, when a soldier, seeing that I was awake, brought
my breakfast, I sat up with remarkable agility and devoured every
crumb. Never have I enjoyed a meal more. Every additional mouthful of
the deliciously fresh Dutch cheese and new bread seemed to receive a
still more exquisite taste when I thought of the Irish stew I had
missed when standing behind my imitation wall at Ströhen. It was not
until after a thoroughly good scrub and a cold bath that I could screw
up enough courage to look at myself in a mirror, and, prepared as I
was, the sudden reflection of the wild-eyed, bearded tramp
considerably surprised me. A little before lunch, having obtained some
dry underclothing, I was sitting on my bed, extracting a selection of
barbed wire and splinters from my hands with a large needle, when a
Dutch officer walked in to see the curiosity. He greeted me cordially
in very good English, introducing himself as Lieutenant Hoffman, in
charge of the local detachment of the Frontier Guard, and asked me to
lunch with him at his hotel.

On the way thither I could not help being very impressed by the design
and beauty of the village. The houses were mostly large, with
spacious, well-kept gardens, the streets clean and the general
atmosphere of the place spoke of great prosperity. Hoffman took me to
a barber, who performed for a long time, but in the end turned out a
comparatively respectable human being. At lunch I met another Dutch
officer, also an English scholar, who, after hearing the latter part
of my experience, told me that I must have actually walked along the
German sentry's path, just beyond the canal, the night before. Having
had no escaped prisoners in that district before, they had a
disquieting idea that I should very likely be interned. I learnt that,
in all probability, I should proceed to a larger town for further
examination the following day, and gathered that, in the meantime, it
would be advisable for me to remain close to my headquarters and
refrain from wandering about by myself, the frontier being too close
for safety.

Shortly after lunch the two officers entered the room, carrying a
couple of sporting guns, and announced their intention of spending the
afternoon at a canal on the frontier duck shooting, and said that I
might expect them back about tea-time. Being a prisoner no longer the
very thought of seeing grey-clad sentries standing at their posts
appealed to me so much that I begged to be allowed to accompany them,
deciding to run the small risk such a visit might entail. Hoffman was
considerably surprised at my proposal, but said I could come at my own
risk if I thought I had known him long enough to be able to take his
word. He reminded me, at the same time, that one can easily step over
a frontier line, intentionally or otherwise, and produced a loaded
automatic pistol from his coat pocket as if to back up his argument,
asking me to choose my course of action. For a few seconds I reasoned
with myself and then accepted, it seeming perfectly obvious that
Hoffman would never have shown his hand had he intended playing a
crooked game. Just before starting the innkeeper lent me a civilian
cap and overcoat, which gave me a sense of security and enabled me to
set out with the others if not a perfect, at any rate a passable

Presently we arrived at a bridge-head, where the Dutch guard turned
out and saluted, when, it must be confessed, I felt a trifle nervous,
being then almost on the frontier. The formalities over, we left our
bicycles in the guardroom and, crossing the bridge, proceeded along
the tow-path at the side of the canal. There, sure enough, were the
grey-clad sentries, standing near their boxes along a little raised
path, at intervals varying from one to two hundred yards. Seeing that
our presence seemed to occasion considerable interest on the part of
the sentries, I inquired the reason from one of my companions, and was
informed that only persons in the company of Dutch officers were
allowed where we were walking, in the neutral zone dividing the two
countries. Curiously enough the water dog, whose duty it was to start
the birds from among the reeds, was English and went by the name of
"Tom." Fortunately he was very obedient, for had he once crossed
between the extenuated lines of grey men Tom would have afforded the
Huns some moving target practice, which in all probability would have
resulted in his contributing to a sausage machine. I am sure I do not
know what I should have done if this had happened while I was with the
party, for Tom, when feeling lonely, used to run straight up to me,
wagging his stumpy tail and looking up with eyes which so plainly said
that he was indeed glad to meet a fellow-countryman, for, though
Dutchmen were kind enough to him, the scent was somewhat different.

Towards the end of the afternoon we came to a place where the frontier
line gradually converged, running parallel to, and about twenty-five
yards away from, the canal, just the other side of a dyke at the
bottom of the embankment. It must have been somewhere here that an
unseen hand had unconsciously guided me to safety through the darkness
of the night before. I selected a particularly Hunnish-looking sentry,
who was standing beside a painted black and white box, with a long,
wicked-looking and old-patterned bayonet gleaming above his slung
rifle, and, hailing him casually, remarked that it must be weary work
doing nothing, and inquired if he was tired of the war, to which he
replied with a sullen "_Ja_." Undismayed by his dismal expression, I
inquired if they ever had any escaped prisoners in those parts. This
time he did not deign to answer, but merely shook his head solemnly.
By removing my coat I could have easily disillusioned him, but,
remembering that a rifle bullet is not a thing to be trifled with, I

Feeling my triumph complete, I turned and limped away, still hardly
able to realise that only a few hours before I had unknowingly paraded
along the same little raised path which the Germans were so jealously
guarding. Of all my escapes this was the most inexplicable. To what
was it due? Certainly not to my own initiative alone. Man's extremity
is indeed God's opportunity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Supreme in the world of red tape, far above the ken of misguided
mortals, lives an omnipotent being--the Censor. In imagination, he
sits in a huge armchair, wreathed in tobacco smoke, casually sorting,
from piles of manuscript, the sheep from the goats. The former are
destined to be smothered in official stamps and coloured inks, while
the latter are cast ignominiously into the gigantic waste-paper
basket. Though this little sheep, in particular, may have a little of
its wool shorn off, I trust that it may eventually avoid the rubbish
heap. For this reason I must ask the reader to be contented with a
very curtailed and disjointed account of the remainder of my

       *       *       *       *       *

In due course I was placed in a quarantine camp, to remain there until
a given number of days should elapse, when, on being pronounced free
from infection, I should be allowed to continue my journey through
Holland. The camp contained a number of German deserters who, it
appeared, crossed the frontier in this district at the average rate of
one per diem, having for the most part arrived direct from the front,
with every intention of leaving their beloved "_Vaterland_" behind for
ever. They made no secret of the fact that they hoped to be able to
emigrate to England or America as soon as it was all over. Several of
them were N.C.O.'s, wearing the black and white ribbon of the Iron
Cross, to all appearances good soldiers whom their relentless system
had forced to desertion rather than the terror of the British guns.
The Germans occupied a separate hut, and were kept strictly to
themselves. This probably saved a lot of trouble, for, judging by the
spirited way they occasionally sang "_Deutschland, Deutschland über
alles_," accompanied by an accordion, the spirit of patriotism and
savage "kultur" still flowed in their veins. Doubtless the first
German band to return to England will be composed of the most gentle
peace and beer-loving Huns that ever visited our favoured shores.
Whatever the nature of the welcome and guarantees extended to them by
our English "Bolsheviks" (who even now have the audacity to advocate a
policy of "shake and be friends"), their lives will not be at all
secure when they come in contact, as they ultimately must, with
Britishers who have been most brutally treated and forced to work as
prisoners in the German salt mines, men who have come to know the
truth of the saying, "Once a Bosch, always a Bosch," during their stay
of several years in Hunland. I feel genuinely sorry for the very few
really nice Germans who certainly do exist (several of whom I met
during my captivity). However, considering that their influence has
been practically _nil_ in the War, on account of their being in such a
minority, I suppose they will be bound to suffer with the rest.

The number of escaped French and Russian soldiers was surprising.
However they must have had many excellent opportunities, while
working in the fields near the frontier, to cross the dividing line.
It did not take me long to discover three British privates, who were
distinctly bored and very pleased to see me. The eldest was a South
African, escaped from a reprisal camp, while the other two belonged to
the Warwicks. Though little more than boys they had in all probability
seen more of the hardships of life than many men of treble their age.
Great excitement prevailed when, by dint of much cajoling, I managed
to procure a mandoline from the town, for, though the meals were very
much looked forward to and enjoyed, the rest of the time passed very
slowly. It is not easy to play tunes to satisfy the cravings of
different nationalities at a moment's notice. A few Russians flung
themselves about to the lilt of some of their rowdiest cake-walks,
while the "Marseillaise," seeming a universal favourite, was
repeatedly called for. On the morning of the fourth day three
weird-looking figures, wearing a queer mixture of ready-made Dutch
garments, entered the camp with a guard. I could scarcely believe my
eyes when I recognised some of my former companions at Ströhen. Two of
them, Captain Harrison, of the Royal Irish, and Lieutenant C. F.
Templar, 1st Gloucesters (since then, I regret to say, killed in
action), were "old Contemptibles," having been captured about the
beginning of the War, while the third, Lieutenant J. Insall, V.C.,
R.F.C., had been in captivity two years. They had all made many
previous attempts to escape, and consequently had sampled many German
prisons, and now at last succeeded. Captain Harrison, I have since
heard, was again captured, during the German advance in the spring of
'18, but was fortunately able to regain our lines the same night. Our
delight at meeting again outside Germany was mutual, and, having so
many notes to exchange, the time then passed much more rapidly. After
various communications with the British authorities, we were
successful at last in getting in touch with the British Minister at
the Hague, who almost immediately obtained our release from the
quarantine camp, to the unbounded astonishment of the local Dutch

       *       *       *       *       *

Receiving an invitation to visit Sir Walter Townley (British
Minister), I proceeded to the Hague, freed at last from the annoying
formality of being continually escorted by an officer or guard.
Imagine my pleasure at once more sitting down to afternoon tea in an
English drawing-room. I shall never forget the kind thought and
solicitude of my hostess, Lady Susan. I almost seemed to be in

Before catching my train back, I engaged a taxi and tried to see as
much of the town as possible in the time. The driver understood but
little of my directions; the sight, however, of a few _guldens_ caused
him to drive so recklessly that I thought my last hour had come. It
seemed that we must be leaving the path strewn with luckless victims.
Arriving at the Palace of Peace, where the nations had so
unsuccessfully beguiled each other with "smooth words, softer than
honey," I succeeded in inducing my charioteer to come to a standstill.
Alighting, a policeman informed me that the building had just been
closed, but pointed out the highly ornamental metal gates, which, at
the cost of 40,000 marks, had been presented by the Kaiser Wilhelm a
few years before the War. Espying on them angels of peace carrying
palm branches, I could contain myself no longer, so delivered an
impassioned harangue to the astonished Dutchman on the subject of
hypocrisy, in a mixture of German, French and Dutch. Presently, seeing
a large crowd gathering around us, I concluded my remarks with a
substantial tip, and signalling to "Mynheer Mercury," was once more
whirled into space.

       *       *       *       *       *

The convoy, in formation, steamed through the neutral waters towards
the open sea. On board were a party of women and children, proceeding
from Germany to England for repatriation. Several of them must have
been in Germany an exceedingly long time, for they could only speak
broken English, while some of the children, having evidently been born
there, could speak no English at all. Soon the ship began to roll
gently in response to the ever-increasing swell. As the White Ensign
fluttered happily from the stern, most of us took advantage of the
still comparatively calm sea by parading along the deck in company
with a British commodore, confidently straining our eyes to catch a
first glimpse of the approaching escort; and it was, unfortunately,
obvious that every one on board did not share our good spirits. As the
disconcerting movements of the ship increased, the Anglo-German
element, pale-faced and dejected, assembled amidships, and forming a
small, huddled group, hastily commenced to put on their cork jackets
and life-belts, evidently preparing for the expected impact of the
dreaded torpedo. Just then, as the look-out, attracted by some specks
of foam emerging from the grey, misty horizon, signalled that a number
of ships were fast approaching, they could stand the strain no longer,
so, breaking into a weird German chant, they wailed disconsolately.
Could it be that the victorious German fleet, of which they had so
often heard, was at this very moment bearing down upon us? Perish the
thought! The specks of white grew larger with alarming rapidity. It
was not until the British destroyer flotilla was almost on us that we
could discern, behind each dividing mass of curving foam, the sinister
and capable grey shapes of Britannia's watch-dogs moving swiftly, in
perfect harmony with sea and sky. As if inspired by one mind, our
guardians turned about, and silently taking up their respective
positions at a reduced speed, they passed with us safely along the
King's Highway!


                             PHILIP GIBBS
                        ON THE WAR IN FLANDERS

     I. The Battles of the Somme
                              6/- net

    II. From Bapaume to Passchendaele
                              6/- net

   III. Open Warfare         10/6 net

                 London: Wm. Heinemann, 21 Bedford St.

                        _OTHER RECENT VOLUMES_

By F. Tennyson Jesse. F'cap 8vo.
                         3/- net

A woman's account of woman's work in

THE LOVERS. By Elizabeth
Robins Pennell. F'cap 8vo.
                   2/6 net

A true love story of the war.

By Enid Bagnold. F'cap 8vo.
                    2/6 net

"Here is a book that will live on."--_Morning

                  London: Wm. Heinemann, Bedford St.

                          Transcriber's Notes

The list of other volumes in the collection has been moved from the
front of the book to the end.

Obvious typographical errors have been fixed. See the list below for
details. The original errata in the book has been included.

                             Issues fixed:

page 5--typo fixed: changed 'stacatto' to 'staccato'
page 25--errata typo fixed: changed 'weis' to 'weiss'
page 32--spelling normalized: changed 'guard-room' to 'guardroom'
page 43--errata typo fixed: changed 'balolaika' to 'balalaika'
page 47--errata typo fixed: changed 'Weiswein' to 'Weisswein'
page 51--errata typo fixed: changed 'Hammelin' to 'Hameln'
page 55--errata typo fixed: changed 'Weiswein' to 'Weisswein'
page 75--typo fixed: changed 'Middlesessex' to 'Middlesex'
page 103--spelling normalized: changed 'gaolbirds' to 'gaol-birds'
page 111--spelling normalized: changed 'bathroom' to 'bath-room'
page 126--typo fixed: changed 'Pupchen' to 'Püppchen'
page 127--typo fixed: changed 'farmhouse' to 'farm-house'
page 152--typo fixed: changed 'Strohen' to 'Ströhen'
page 159--errata typo fixed: changed 'feasten' to 'fkasten'
page 165--typo fixed: changed 'Strohen' to 'Ströhen'
page 167--spelling normalized: changed 'guard-room' to 'guardroom'
page 171--typo fixed: changed 'uber' to 'über'
page 172--typo fixed: changed 'Strohen' to 'Ströhen'

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.