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Title: Wounded and a Prisoner of War - By an Exchanged Officer
Author: Hay, Malcolm V. (Malcolm Vivian)
Language: English
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"... and it is the greatest danger that remains to be encountered by
the Anglo-Saxon race."

--JOHN DALBERG ACTON: _The Rise of Prussia_.

[Illustration: Entente Cordiale.

CAMBRAI, _Nov. 12, 1914._]

A Prisoner of War



William Blackwood and Sons
Edinburgh and London



  CHAP.                                PAGE

  I.    THE FIRST TEN DAYS                1

  II.   THE RETREAT                      47

  III.  CAMBRAI                          83

  IV.   LE NUMÉRO 106                   117

  V.    STORIES FROM LE NUMÉRO 106      158

  VI.   CAMBRAI TO WÜRZBURG             188

  VII.  WÜRZBURG                        231

  VIII. WÜRZBURG TO ENGLAND             285


  ENTENTE CORDIALE, CAMBRAI, NOV. 12, 1914.      _Frontispiece_

  TAISNIÈRES-EN-TERACHE, AUGUST 16, 1914.        _Facing p._  4

  LE COLONEL FAMÉCHON                                 "      84

      CIVIL, CAMBRAI                                  "      90

  L'HÔPITAL "106"                                     "     118

  M. VAMPOUILLE IN THE SALLE CINQ                     "     122

      ERSTE BAYRISCHE RESERVE CORPS                   "     138

      OCTOBER 1914                                    "     148

      MEDICAL STAFF AT CAMBRAI                        "     150

  FOUNDLINGS FROM LA BASSÉE.                          "     160
      _Photo taken at Cambrai._

  BRITISH SOLDIERS AT THE "106"                       "     166

  A WARD AT THE "106"                                 "     180

  M. LE VICAIRE-GÉNÉRAL                               "     184

  FESTUNG MARIENBERG                                  "     230

      MARIENBERG                                      "     236

      COURTYARD                                       "     284

Wounded and a Prisoner of War.



Already on the shore side the skyline showed oddly-shaped shadows
growing grey in the first movement of dawn. From the quay a single lamp
threw its scarce light on the careful evolutions of the ship, and from
the darkness beyond a voice roared in the still night instructing
the pilot with inappropriate oaths and words not known to respectable
dictionaries. There is not much room to spare for a troop-ship to turn
in the narrow harbour, and by the time we got alongside the night was

The few pedestrians abroad in the streets of Boulogne at this early hour
stood watching what must to them have seemed a strange procession. As
the pipes were heard all down the steep, narrow street, there was a
head at every window, and much waving of flags and cheering--"Vive

The way through the town is long and steep. The sun made its heat felt
as we neared the top of the hill and passed long lines of market carts
waiting for examination outside the Bureau de l'Octroi. Half a mile
farther on, beyond the last few straggling houses, there is a signpost
pointing to the Camp St Martin. Here, in a large field, to the left of
the road, stood four lines of tents of the familiar pattern. The ground
was fresh and clean, for we were first in the field. From the Camp
St Martin a beautiful view is obtained over the sea, whence the breeze
is always refreshing even on the hottest morning of the summer.

The country round Boulogne is steeply undulating pasture-land, hedged
and timbered like a typical English countryside. From the Camp St Martin
the lighthouse of Etaples can be seen, a white splash where the
coast-line disappears over the horizon; and on such a day as this, when
the haze of the sun's heat makes all distant objects indistinct, even
the most powerful lens will not show more of the English coast than just
a shadow that mixes with the blur of sea and sky.

The streets of Boulogne were busy all that day with marching troops. At
the quayside, transports arrived from hour to hour and unloaded their
unusual cargo. From a point on the shore where Lyon and I were bathing
close to the harbour entrance, we could see far out to sea a large
ship, escorted by a destroyer. As the ship came nearer, her three decks
appeared black with innumerable dots as if covered by an enormous swarm
of bees, and when she passed the narrow entrance of the harbour we could
see the khaki uniform and hear the sound of cheering. Cheering crowds
lined the passage of our troops, but it seemed to me that the people
showed little agitation or excitement, and that anxiety was the
prevailing sentiment.

News from the front there was none. No one knew where the front was. The
"Evening Paper," a single sheet, printed in large characters on one side
only, confined itself to recording that Liége still held out, and that
General French had gone to Paris.

The battalion paraded at 10 A.M. next morning at the Camp St Martin for
inspection by a French General. In all armies the ritual of inspection
is much the same, but on this occasion the ceremony had a special
interest from the fact that never before in history had a British
regiment been inspected by a French General on the soil of France. The
General was accompanied by two French Staff Officers, one of whom was
acting as interpreter, and from the scrap of talk which reached my
ear as they went past, it seemed that conversation was proceeding with
difficulty. "En hiver ça doit être terriblement froid," remarked the
General. "Demandez leur donc"--this to the interpreter--"si les hommes
portent des culottes en hiver"!

Leaving St Martin's Camp late on Sunday evening, entraining in the dark
at Boulogne, the long day in the heavy, slow-moving train before we
reached our detraining station at Aulnois, were experiences which then
held all the interest and excitement of novelty. From Aulnois to the
village of Taisnières-en-Terache is a pleasant walk of an hour through
a country of high hedges enclosing orchards and heavy pasture-land. The
sunlight was already fading as we left the station, and when at last our
journey's end was reached it was pitch dark.

M. le Maire had plenty of straw, the accommodation was sufficient, and
billeting arrangements were soon completed.

[Illustration: Taisnières-en-Terache.

_August 16, 1914._]

Our host, a fine-looking old man, tall and broad with large limbs,
abnormally large hands, and something of a Scotch shrewdness in the look
of his eye, had served in 1870 in a regiment of Cuirassiers, and showed
us the Commemoration medal which had been granted recently by the French
Government to survivors of the campaign. We sat down in his parlour
about nine o'clock to a very welcome meal, and at the conclusion various
toasts were drunk in the very excellent wine of which our host had
provided a bottle apiece for us.

A sentry stood on the road outside the farmyard gate, where,
fortunately, there was not much chance of his getting anything to do.
His orders were to challenge any party that might come along the road,
and not to let them proceed unless they could show the necessary pass.
These passes were issued at the Mairie to all the inhabitants of the
commune, and no one was allowed out after dark except for a definite
purpose and at a stated hour which was to be marked on the pass. So
it was fortunate that no one did pass along that night, as a nocturnal
interview between our bewildered sentry and a belated French pedestrian
would undoubtedly have aroused the whole company, and I might have been
hauled out of bed in the early hours of morning to act as interpreter.

The next day, the 17th, Trotter and I were ordered to go off to
St Hilaire, about ten miles distant, to arrange billets for the
battalion. We started off on horseback in the cool of the morning, glad
of the chance to see something of the country and to escape the daily
dusty route-march.

St Hilaire is a picturesque village situated on the side of a hill
overlooking a large tract of country, with a fine view of Avesnes, the
_chef lieu d'arrondissement_. In the absence of the Maire the selection
of billets was rendered very difficult, as many of the principal houses
in the village were locked up, and no one could tell us if they would
be available. After much perspiring and chattering in the hot sun, the
distribution of accommodation for men and horses and the chalking up of
numbers at every house was finally accomplished, in spite of the fact
that at each house-door stood a generous citizen who insisted on our
drinking mutual healths in cider, beer, and curious liqueurs.

By the time we reached Taisnières it was getting dark, and we were held
up on the outskirts of the village by a sentry belonging to the Royal
Scots, who would not let us in without the password. Neither of us
had the least idea what it was, and the situation was saved by the
appearance of a N.C.O., who at once let us through.

On reporting at headquarters we found that orders had been changed,
and our destination was to be not St Hilaire after all, but a village
farther north called St Aubin. And so the day's work was wasted.

At St Aubin there was no difficulty about billets. The Maire had
everything made ready, so that when the battalion arrived, tired and
hungry after an early start and a dusty ten-mile walk, it was not long
before dinners were cooking in the farmyards, and much scrubbing and
cleaning of equipment was in progress all down the village street.

The money for paying out the troops had been sent in 20-franc notes,
presumably through some error on the part of the paymaster, so that the
notes had to be taken to the nearest bank and exchanged for the newly
issued 5-franc notes. The adjutant asked me to get a conveyance of some
kind in the village, and to proceed to Avesnes, where the Sous-préfet,
who had been warned of my arrival, would give all facilities for
changing the money. A large bag of English silver which had been
collected from the men was also to be taken that it might be exchanged
for French money. A fat innkeeper offered to drive me into Avesnes,
and after many delays and much conversation our "equipage" was
ready. Captain Picton-Warlow, who had appointed himself escort to the
expedition, looked with some dismay at the dilapidated conveyance. The
horse was of the heavy-jointed, heavy-bellied variety that seems always
to go more slowly than any living thing. The cart is hard to describe,
although of a kind not easy to forget once one had been in it for a
drive. The body, shaped like a half-circle balanced on springs, was
supposed to hold three people. The equilibrium, we found, was maintained
by the passengers accommodating their position to the slope of the road.
The driver addressed the horse as "Cocotte," and we were off, creating
much amusement through the village--Picton-Warlow, big and tall, perched
up alongside the driver, trying with some appearance of dignity to
maintain his balance and that of the cart.

Seven kilometres is more than four miles and less than five, and
although that is the distance from St Aubin to Avesnes, we managed to
spend over an hour on the road. Cocotte, being weak in the forelegs, was
not allowed to trot downhill, and could not be expected to do more than
crawl uphill with "trois grands gaillards comme nous sommes," said our
conductor. On level ground we advanced ("elle fait du chemin quand même
cette pauvre bête") at a cumbersome trot. An endeavour to get more speed
out of the driver by explaining that we had to be in Avesnes in time
to change some money before the banks closed met with no success. "The
banks at Avesnes have been closed for three days," said he; but if
the Messieurs wanted change, what need to go so far as Avesnes when he
himself was able and willing to provide "la monnaie" for a hundred, two
hundred, even a thousand francs. However, we required far more than
our good friend could supply, and besides, there was the expectant
Sous-préfet, who should not be disappointed, so on we jogged. Avesnes
came in sight long before we got there, as the town lies in a valley.
Our horse and driver, equally frightened at the steepness of the hill,
proceeded with exasperating caution. Half-way down the hill tramcars and
slippery pavements reduced our rate of progress still further, until the
jogging of the strangely balanced cart turned into a soothing rhythmic
sweep from side to side.

"Halte! Qui vive!" Our challenger, _un brave père de famille de l'armée
territoriale_, would not let us pass without a long gossip, his interest
being chiefly centred in "le kilt." The horse having been wakened up,
we proceeded at a decorous pace through the town and stopped outside
the Café de la Paix. On the way through the streets we had attracted a
certain amount of attention, and as we neared the café the nucleus of
a fair-sized procession began to accumulate. After our descent from the
cart the procession became a rapidly swelling crowd. Telling our driver
to remain at the café to wait orders, I asked where the Sous-préfet
could be found. Monsieur le Sous-préfet was not at his bureau, "mais à
la Sous-préfecture en haut de la ville; nous allons vous y conduire tout
de suite." And up the street we all went, Picton-Warlow most embarrassed
and suggesting schemes for the dispersal of the crowd.

The Sous-préfecture, on top of the hill, is a large comfortable-looking
villa, surrounded by quite a large garden, palm-trees, and flower-beds,
with an imposing stone entrance-gate. Opposite the gateway is an open
square, behind us were the curious crowds of Avesnois. In front, to our
astonishment, the road was blocked, and two sides of the square filled
up by a whole brigade of the British troops. A hurried consultation with
Picton-Warlow as to our next move allowed time for the crowd behind to
form up on the remaining side of the square in the evident expectation
of some interesting military ceremonial. The entrance to the
Sous-préfet's house was guarded by an officier de gendarmerie on a
black horse. We advanced towards this official, and after mutual salutes
requested to see the Sous-préfet. "M. le Sous-préfet was receiving the
generals, but would be quite ready to receive us too." As there was
no other way of escaping from the crowd except through the gateway, we
marched off up to the house, determined to explain the situation to the
servant who opened the door, and ask leave to wait until the Sous-préfet
should be disengaged. The door was opened by a servant _en habit noir_,
behind him on a table in the hall we could see caps with red tabs and
gold lace. "It is about time we were out of this," said Picton-Warlow.
The domestic in evening clothes, doubtless thinking we were some kind
of generals, said in answer to our request to be allowed to wait that
we would be shown in at once. It was useless to explain that this was
precisely what we wanted to avoid, and as I could get nothing out of the
stupid man but "ces messieurs sont là qui vous attendent," we determined
to beat a retreat. However, the obtuse domestic was equally determined
that we should not escape. On the right side of the hall in which we
stood were two large folding doors. Suddenly, and after the manner of
Eastern fairy tales, these huge panelled doors were flung open. The
servant had disappeared and we two stood alone, unannounced, on the
threshold of a large drawing-room where "ces messieurs" were sitting in
conclave. For an instant we stood speechless and motionless, taking in
at a glance Madame la Sous-préfete in evening dress seated at the
far end of the room, on her right General M., on the other side a
brigade-major, two French officers of high rank, and a whole lot of
Frenchmen in evening dress with decorations and ribbons, all seated on
chairs in a circle, a very small fragile Louis XV. table in the middle.
The sudden appearance in the doorway of a kilted subaltern with
two money bags slung over his shoulder did not seem to astonish
the assembled company, with the exception of General M. and his
brigade-major. I looked round for some one to apologise to for our
intrusion, and was about to make a polite speech to the lady in evening
dress, when a gentleman dressed in black silk, slim and courteous,
advanced into the middle of the room. It was M. le Sous-préfet. In the
name of France, in the name of the Republic and of the Town Council
and citizens of Avesnes, he welcomed us. He went on at some length,
dignified as only a Frenchman can be, and most flattering. I began to
feel like an ambassador. When the address was completed, I replied to
the best of my ability in the same strain, expressing our devotion, &c.,
to France, the Republic, Avesnes, and our consciousness of the great
honour that was being done to us, ending up with an apology for
intrusion upon their deliberations, and proposing to retire to the place
whence we had come.

But the Sous-préfet would not hear of our leaving; "Quand Messieurs
les Ecossais viennent à Avesnes il faut boire le champagne." With these
words he led me forward, Picton-Warlow following reluctantly in the
rear, and introduced us to Mme. la Sous-préfete. Picton-Warlow, after
shaking hands with the gracious lady, took refuge on a chair next the
brigade-major, while I was taken to the other end of the circle and
introduced to M. le Maire. The money-bags had escaped notice, and I
was glad to get rid of them by placing them under my chair. The circle
broken by our unexpected arrival now re-formed, and as we sat waiting
for the champagne, I was informed by my neighbour the Maire that the
gentlemen in evening dress were members of the Conseil Municipal of
Avesnes who had been summoned by the Sous-préfet to do honour to General
M., whose brigade was to billet in or near the town. Not many
minutes passed before the champagne arrived, ready poured out, the
glasses carried in on a large tray by the daughter of the house, a
self-possessed young lady of perhaps fourteen years of age. Close
behind followed a younger brother in bare legs, short socks, and black
knickerbocker suit, carrying a dish of cakes and biscuits. With a glass
of champagne in each hand, our host crossed over to General M. and
pledged a lengthy toast in somewhat similar style to the speech which
had been made to me. "I drink," said he, "to the most noble and the most
brave, as well as the most celebrated of British Generals." During the
delivery of the address General M. looked most uncomfortable, especially
when his qualifications and qualities were being enumerated; in reply,
he made a very gracious bow to the Sous-préfet, and we sipped healths
all round. After the champagne had been drunk the party became more
animated, and formed into groups, in each of which was a distinguished
guest struggling with unreasonable French genders, and I was presently
able to explain quietly to our host the motive of our visit. M. le
Sous-préfet had never had any word of such an errand; he said that the
banks would be shut for another week, but suggested that the Receveur
des Impôts would be able to provide such change as might be required.
Meantime Picton-Warlow had been talking to the Brigadier, who had by now
realised and was most amused at the situation. When we got up to bid our
adieux, I heard the General say--_sotto voce_--to Picton-Warlow, "For
God's sake don't go off and leave us here alone." When I turned round at
the door and saluted the assembly there was a distinct twinkle in M.'s
eye, and I think the Sous-préfet was not without some slight quiver of
the eyelid as he bade us a cordial farewell.

The "Bureau du Receveur" was open, but there was no one about save the
caretaker, who informed us that the "patron" had gone off with all his
clerks "to see the English march round the town." We directed our steps
towards the swelling sound of pipe-and-drum band, and mingled with the
crowd lining the main boulevard which encircles the upper part of the
town. P. W. made friends with a French soldier who was in charge of a
motor-car which was held up within the barrier formed by the circular
manoeuvre of the Brigade. It appeared from what this man said that the
citizens of Avesnes had made great preparations to welcome the men, and
that they were so disappointed on hearing that the troops were under
orders to march farther north that General M., at the Sous-préfet's
request, promised to march his men three times round the town. The whole
population had turned out to witness the parade, and there did not seem
to be much chance of retrieving the Receveur des Impôts from among the
enthusiastic cheering mob that swelled around. Our new-found friend,
the French soldier, now took us under his wing. He set a number of
his friends to hunt down the line, and several civilians joined in the
search, among whom was our burly driver, who had got tired of waiting
for us at the café. As we were now seated in the motor-car, and had
accepted the owner's kind offer to drive us back to St Aubin, we told
our fat driver that his services and that of the horse and cart would
not be required. Some one then came running up to say that M. le
Receveur des Impôts had been found and was now at the Bureau.

The business of changing the French notes was soon carried through, but
the English silver could not be changed, as the rate of exchange was a
matter on which discussion might have lasted the whole afternoon.

When M.'s Brigade had finished their last lap we in the motor-car were
then able to proceed with our commissions. The first stop was at the
chemist's. Picton-Warlow stayed in the car. The chemist greeted me as
an old friend, and I presently recognised him to be one of the
gentlemen who in evening dress had taken part in the reception at the
Sous-préfecture. He was now standing at the back of his shop
in the middle of a group of stout, middle-aged, and severely
respectable-looking citizens, to whom he was telling the story of the
day's adventure. After my arrival the conversation came gradually
round to a discussion of the Entente Cordiale, and the alliance
Franco-Ecossaise, until I felt that a request to purchase tooth-paste
would be almost an indiscretion.

Outside, a crowd had again collected, and Picton-Warlow, sitting
unprotected in the back of the car, was an object of respectful yet
insistent curiosity. Here was a chance to see "le kilt" at close
quarters. The good citizens (and citizenesses too) climbed on to and
into the car to see and feel "les jambes nues! mais en hiver ça doit
être terrible!"

Picton-Warlow refused to sit in the car at our next stop, and so we went
together into "Le Grand Bazar." "Avez-vous des plumes, de l'encre, et du
papier à écrire?" "Mais ou, Monsieur, on va vous faire voir cela tout de
suite." And we were led round the shop to inspect the trays wherein it
is the custom of bazaars to display their stock.

Simple-minded inhabitants of a wild and mountainous region (les
Hig-landerrs) are no doubt unaccustomed to the splendour of bazaars, so
the shop-girls watched with expectant interest. Picton-Warlow selected
the best shaving-brush (this for the Adjutant, whose kit had got lost)
out of a tray of very second-rate brushes with nothing of the "Blaireau"
about them except the name. "Tiens," said one of the girls, nudging
another, "Il s'y connait, le grand! Il a pris le meilleur du premier
coup!" "Mais parle donc pas si fort, je te dis que 'l'autre' comprend."
While "le grand" was making his purchases, a French reservist, the
only other customer in the shop, looked on with absorbing interest. The
_brave poilu_ could no longer contain his curiosity, and began to follow
"le grand," pretending to take an interest in the pens, ink, and
paper. Just as "le grand" was choosing an indelible pencil, the _poilu_
ventured to stretch out a hand and feel the texture of his kilt. "Mais
comme ils doivent avoir froid en hiver! Les jambes nues," he said,
addressing me; and then as "le grand" turned round, "Pardon, quel rang?"
"Capitaine," said I in a solemn voice. The _poilu_ in horror stepped
back a pace, saluted "le grand." "Pardon, mon capitaine, je ne savais
pas." "L'autre qui comprend," then explained the significance of stars
and stripes, and with great difficulty persuaded the abashed and no
longer curious soldier that we were not in the least offended at his
unintentional breach of discipline.

We had to drive up to the barracks in order that our driver could get
his _permis de rentrée_, and, refusing with regret the hospitality of
the officer in charge, we started off for St Aubin, arriving back in
time to pay out before night had fallen. Before turning in I went down
to the end of the village to settle up with the fat innkeeper; we had a
farewell drink of wine, and I paid him five francs, his own price, for
the hire of Cocotte and the carriole.

The five officers of D Company were billeted alongside H.Q., who were in
the big house. Our tiny cottage consisted of two small rooms adjoining
the kitchen, inhabited by an old couple, who, when I came in that
evening, were sitting silently over the dying embers of the kitchen
fire. The picture of the old man, small of stature and wizened in
features, and very poor, is still vivid in my mind. Life had left its
mark most distinctly upon him. One could see how from early morning to
late at night he had from childhood toiled over the hard earth which had
drawn him down, until now his back was bent as if still at labour, even
when at rest by the fireside. The two did not speak when I came in, but
sat watching the fire. No other light was in the room. An occasional
flicker from the hearth lit up the walls of brown-coloured plaster,
the clean but badly-laid tiles, an old cupboard of polished walnut,
the kitchen table, also old, and black from smoke and much polishing. I
asked the old man if he would wake me at four. "Mais oui, Monsieur,"
he replied, "nous nous coucherons pas, nous autres, nous restons pour
garder le feu, et si vous voulez de l'eau chaude demain matin on vous en

These good Samaritans had provided beds for the five of us, and they
were to sit up and watch the fire.

The bedroom next the kitchen contained no furniture save the four beds,
each of which was provided with a straw mattress, but no sheets or
blankets. Captain Lumsden occupied a tiny room at the back--so small
that it was more cupboard than a room. It was here that the old people
slept. The bed, which took up nearly the whole space, was covered with
clean white sheets and an eider-down quilt, very new looking, as if
they were used only on special occasions. Lumsden would have spread his
valise on the floor had there been room, as the bed was at least a foot
too short for his long limbs.

About an hour before dawn the old man came in with a jug of hot water
and a stump of candle. After a very rapid shave, I hurried out into the
darkness with a little Chinese lantern bought at the Grand Bazar.

We messed with H.Q. at the auberge just opposite, and thither I went as
assistant P.M.C. to make sure breakfast would be ready. The oil-lamps
were lit in the long low room, and hot _café au lait_, with round loaves
of bread and _fromage de Marolles_, had been laid on the table. A large
dish of steaming bacon came over from the cook's fire, which was in the
orchard behind H.Q. This was the last substantial breakfast that any of
us were to get for many a long day.

All the marching had so far been done along pleasant country roads
through a country of hedges and orchards, very like central and southern
England. But the aspect changed when, shortly after leaving St Aubin, we
reached the Route Nationale. The battalion wheeled to the left, and we
were marching down one of the _chaussées pavées_ which are a special
feature of Belgium and Northern France. The _chaussée_, or centre of
the road, is paved with large uneven cobbles, on a width of eight to ten
yards. On each side of the paved roadway a macadamised surface, about
three yards broad, slopes away at a steep camber to the well-kept grass
_accôtement_, which would be very nice to walk on were it not for the
narrow channels every twenty or thirty yards draining to the deep, clean
ditch, which runs outside the line of beautiful trees that flank both
sides of the road.

We marched straight through the town of Maubeuge, which was full of
French soldiers of the Territorial Reserve. The pavement in the town
is atrocious, and made my feet sore; the sun was hotter than ever; the
dust, being now largely coal-dust, was more unpleasant than before. We
halted for a few minutes just beyond the bridge over the railway, where
British troops were unloading guns from long lines of trucks. When I
turned from watching the station I found that my platoon had got mixed
up with a lot of French reservists, and that an unofficial and very
dangerous rifle inspection was taking place, which was fortunately cut
short by the order to "Fall in" coming down from the head of the column.

Shortly after crossing the railway the road turns sharply to the right,
past an antiquated bastion, reminiscent of Vauban; by the roadside is a
finger-post pointing to Belgium. What we saw on rounding the corner was
strange, and at first inexplicable: it was as if a tornado had visited
the spot. Where a row of cottages had been was now a shapeless mass of
ruins. The ground was covered with huge trees lying across each other,
the branches fresh and green, the roots broken and torn as if by some
high explosive. The French had been clearing a field of fire. Beyond the
entanglement of the fallen trees a network of barbed wire was being laid
on a depth of some two hundred yards.

About two miles out of the town we passed the trench, of which rumour
had reached us at our first billets. At Taisnières we had heard that
15,000 people were digging trenches in front of Maubeuge! The trench,
deep and broad, stretched away on both sides of the road as far as the
eye could see, and probably encircled the whole of Maubeuge. The road
itself was blocked by barbed-wire entanglements, a space being left in
the middle wide enough for the passage of a single cart. In a wood some
few hundred yards behind the line of defence was a very cleverly-hidden
field fortification, in which, no doubt, some of the famous 75 mm. guns
were concealed.

All along the road for a distance of several miles men were working hard
to clear a field of fire, hacking off branches, cutting off the tops
of trees and blowing some up by the roots. A field telephone along the
roadside connected these working parties with the observation officer of
the battery.

At 2.15, tired, hot and hungry, we entered Joigny la Chaussée, a long
straggling village, one side of the road in Belgium, the other in

Dinner was a very poor affair that evening--thin, watery soup with
slices of bread soaked, omelette stiffened with some ration bacon.

Next morning, while we were having breakfast of café au lait and partly
developed omelette, our hostess bewailed lugubriously the prospect of a
German invasion, thus showing in the light of subsequent events that
she appreciated the military situation far better than we did. "Ils vont
tout piller, tout prendre de ce que nous avons, ces sauvages!"

On leaving Joigny la Chaussée we were back again on the highroad,
forming part of a long column which was moving in the direction of Mons,
distant some ten to twelve miles. Our enemies that morning, just as on
the previous day, were dust, cobble-stones, and the sun.

Shortly before midday the battalion halted at a level crossing on the
outskirts of Mons, and then turned to the left down a side road which
runs along the railway line, opposite a small station. The rest of the
column marched on over the railway and through the town.

We spent most of the afternoon waiting by the roadside; the men sat
down, some on the road, some in the ditch on the railway side, all
thirsty, hot, and hungry. The inhabitants of the locality, a straggling
suburb, brought along some loaves and cheese, which did not, however, go
far among so many. Then came a woman with two jugs of what looked like
wine and water. The first man to reach her, instead of drinking the
stuff, washed his mouth with it and spat on to the road, and all those
who followed did the same. "They do not seem to like it," said the
woman as she passed me with the empty jugs. "C'est pourtant très
rafraîchissant, de l'eau sucrée avec un peu de menthe." Peppermint-water
does not suit the Scotch palate!

Captain Lumsden and I went off to search for an estaminet to try to get
something to eat, and we had not far to go. But the new-found estaminet
did not lay itself out to supply anything but thin beer and short
drinks. However, we got two pork cutlets and some eggs, and were sitting
half-way through this welcome meal when A---- M----, with some other
officers, having discovered our retreat, entered and ordered lunch,
but with little success. The two pork cutlets and six fried eggs
had apparently exhausted the resources of the establishment, and the
new-comers had to content themselves with bread and butter, Dutch
cheese, and the thin mixture, yellow in colour, slightly bitter to
taste, which in this misguided locality is called beer.

On getting back to the road we found that most of the officers had
settled down to sleep in the ditch on one side of the road, and most of
the men followed their example on the other.

Train-loads of refugees, mostly women and children, were continually
passing through the station.

It was nearly four o'clock when at last the order came to fall in. We
marched back past the level-crossing and followed the railway line for
a short way along a narrow paved road leading to the little village of
Hyon, situated on a hill immediately to the right of Mons, where the
Chateau de Hyon overlooks the plains and stands out distinctly in the
picturesque landscape.

The sun had not long set when the men were settled down in billets, and
cooking-pots stood smoking in the village street, where the afterglow of
sunset still held off the twilight.

Through the still air came the hum of an aeroplane, which soon was
floating over the village, about 2000 feet above our heads, spying out
our position--unmolested and unafraid, the first German Taube!


    "_From the Camp before_ MONS,
        _September 26_.


  I received yours and am glad yourself and your wife are in good
  health.... Our battalion suffered more than I could wish in the
  action.... I have received a very bad shot in the head myself, but
  am in hopes, and please God, I shall recover. I will not pretend to
  give you an account of the battle, knowing you have better in the

  Your assured friend and comrade,


Quoted in the _Tatler_, Oct. 29, _1709._

The war of 1914 is in many ways an illustration of Alison's remark that
battle-grounds have a tendency to repeat themselves, for to a student of
Marlborough's campaigns the whole battle-line of Flanders is familiar.
In 1709 the confederate armies, British, Dutch, Prussian, under
Marlborough, numbering about 95,000 strong, succeeded by rapid marches
in cutting off Mons from the French who were marching to its relief.
After a most sanguinary battle, which took place on the 11th September,
the French were forced to retire.

Between 1709 and 1914 no military comparison is possible owing to the
new factors which have entered into the operations of war. Moreover,
in 1709 the opposing forces were approximately equal. Still it is
interesting to note that in 1709 the French, although beaten and
compelled to retire, suffered less, owing to the strength of their
position, than the confederate army, and that the French retreat from
Mons was accomplished in perfect order.

The aspect of the country stretching northwards beyond the village and
woods of Hyon is probably much the same to-day as when Marlborough's
troops camped there in the autumn of 1709. From the dominating woods
of Hyon the ground slopes very gradually, and is divided into irregular
plots of cultivated ground, groups of farm buildings, and patches
of woodlands; farther down the valley away to the right are some
considerable villages; near at hand on the left lies the town of Mons,
partly hidden from view by a piece of rising ground.

On leaving billets at Hyon on Sunday, 23rd August, each company marched
out with separate orders to take up the position to which it had been
detailed the night before, and it was about 6 A.M. when D company
reached the appointed spot on the main road from Mons. There had been
rain in the night; the sun was already high, but as yet no summer haze
impeded the distant view. Vainly did field-glasses explore the country
for some sign of the enemy, and we little imagined that through the far
distant woods the Huns were once more descending upon the Hainault. We,
resting in the shade of the long avenue of trees, had not yet realised
the imminence of great events.

In the days of peace, when soldiering was mostly confined to a
manoeuvring space on some open heath, and the route-march along the
King's highway, the word "battlefield" had lost its meaning, and was a
contradiction in terms in its literal sense. Fields were always "out
of bounds." Since landing in France we had not yet lost the fear of
cultivated ground, and at every halting-place precautions were taken to
prevent troops straying off the highway; and when in billets, entrance
into orchards, gardens, and fields surrounding the village was strictly
forbidden. We had marched along many miles of long straight dusty road
between the pleasant trees, and halted many times by a roadside such as
this, when nothing but a shallow ditch and the conventions of soldiering
in peace time prevented our entry into potential battlefields. The word
of command to fall in had for so many years been followed inevitably by
a simple "quick march," and so on to the next halt.

Now, with the command "_left wheel_, quick march," we left the straight
road and entered the cultivated fields, marching across a piece of bare
stubble, then over some thickly growing beetroot still wet with dew, and
again without hindrance, for there was no fence on all the land; across
yet another plot of stubble up to the edge of a large cabbage patch,
where two sticks were standing freshly cut, and stuck into the ground as
if to mark the stand for guns at a cover shoot.

In front the unencumbered ground, cultivated in narrow strips, sloped
evenly down to a main road which crossed our front diagonally, and
formed an angle on the left, but out of sight, with the road we had just
left. At this point the angle of the roads held by C Company on our left
flank was hidden from view by a piece of rising ground. On the right
flank and at a lower level, No. 14 platoon had already started digging
their trench in a stubble field: beyond this, and in the same line, was
a plantation of tall trees, with thick undergrowth.

The Route Nationale, with its usual border of poplar-trees, cuts
diagonally across the patchwork of roots, stubble, and meadow. The
distance at its nearest point to our trench, which is now traced out on
the edge of the cabbage field, is just about 400 yards; 50 yards farther
down to the right, on the far side of the road, there is a large white

Beyond the road the fields carry a heavy crop of beetroot, but there
is here no great width of cultivated land. The irregular border of the
forest reaches in some places to within four or five hundred yards of
the road, forming a barrier to the searching of a field-glass at 1000
yards from our position. Away to the right the valley opens out like a
map, with villages dotted here and there among green plantations in the
middle distance, and beyond a great rolling stretch of country looking
to the naked eye like some large barren heath, but showing in the
field-glass the patch-quilt effect of innumerable tiny strips of
variegated cultivation.

On such a day as this, when the sun is shining in the distant valley,
while thick clouds above shade and tone the light, one can see farther
yet to where fields and woods and villages fade together in the blue
distance, with here and there a darker tone of shadow, and sometimes the
sparkle of sunlight on a distant roof.

There was nothing in all the prospect to give the slightest hint of war.
No traffic stirred down the straight avenue of poplars; distant patches
of open country away to the right where the sun was shining remained
still and deserted. Overhead the clouds had been gathering. The trench
was nearly completed, when the rain came suddenly and with almost
tropical force, blinding all view of the landscape.

I determined to pass away the time with a visit to the white house by
the roadside, and at the same time get a look at our trench from what
might soon be the enemy's point of view.

The village on the road and on our flank (half left) consisted of a
dozen houses. Every house was shut up. The warm rain poured in torrents,
and the village appeared to be deserted. I turned and walked slowly down
the road towards the white house.

I can still see in my mind's eye the picture of this roadside inn as I
saw it that morning, as none will ever see it again.

The house stood back a little from the road; two steps above the
ground-level one entered the estaminet, a large airy room, a long table
down the centre covered with a red-and-white check oilcloth. Outside
stood a number of iron tables and chairs on each side of a sanded level
space for playing bowls or ninepins. Beyond this a garden, or rather
series of rose bowers, each with its seat, a green patch of long grass
in the centre, and high hedges on the side nearest the road, and on the
side nearest the cultivated fields and the woods beyond. In one of the
rose bowers in the garden I found a sentry peering through the hedge.
I was struck with the air of conviction with which, in answer to my
question, he said he had seen nothing. The tone showed how convinced
he was that this was simply the old old game of morning manoeuvres and
finish at lunch-time.

In my own mind such an impression was fast fading. The barricaded silent
village up the road had helped to create a sense of impending tragedy.
But the mask of make-believe did not quite fall from my eyes until I
met the woman of the estaminet, a woman who came out of the white house
weeping and complaining aloud, with her children clinging to her skirt.
Her words I have never forgotten, though at the time I did not realise
the whole meaning they contained, nor that this woman's words were the
protest of a nation.

The Germans were close at hand, she said, and would destroy everything.
What was to be done, where was she to flee for safety? Her frightened,
sobbing voice, and the frightened faces of the children, these were,
indeed, the first signs of war! I told her the truth that I knew
nothing, and could give no advice as to whether it was safe to stay or
flee, and as I left the tidy sanded garden and stepped on to the main
road she raised her voice again with prophetic words: "What have we
done, we poor people, 'paisible travailleurs'? What have we done that
destruction should now fall upon our heads? Qu'est ce que nous avons
fait de mal!"

The warm sunshine was pleasant after the rain. Not a sign of life on the
long straight road. Four hundred yards away a soldier was still planting
cabbages along the top of our parapet. I watched his work for a moment
through my field-glasses, and then turned and looked across the road at
the thick undergrowth beyond the cultivated ground. If the woman of the
estaminet was right, even now those woods might conceal a German scout.

If at the time such a thought passed through my mind, it scarcely
obtained a moment's consideration, so difficult it was then to realise
the change that had already come upon the world. How incredible it is
now that at the last moment of peace the prospect of real fighting could
have still seemed so remote.

Somewhere hidden in the memory of all who have taken part in the war
there is the remembrance of a moment which marked the first realisation
of the great change--the moment when material common things took on
in real earnest their military significance, when, with the full
comprehension of the mind, a wood became cover for the enemy, a house a
possible machine-gun position, and every field a battlefield.

Such an awakening came to me when sitting on the roadside by the White
Estaminet. The sound of a horse galloping and the sight of horse and
rider, the sweat and mud and the tense face of the rider bending low
by the horse's neck, bending as if to avoid bullets. The single rider,
perhaps bearing a despatch, followed after a short space by a dozen
cavalrymen, not galloping these, but trotting hard down the centre of
the road, mud-stained, and also with tense faces. A voice crying out
above the rattle of hoofs on the roadway: "Fall back and join H.Q."

Now that the sound of cavalry had passed away the road was quiet again.
There was no stir around the white house, no peasants or children to see
the soldiers, no stir in the fields and woods beyond.

Behind the closed shutters of the white house the tearful woman of the
estaminet listened in terror to the sound of horses' hoofs, and crouched
in the silence that followed. I returned slowly across the drenched
fields filled with the new realisation that this trench of ours was "the

The trench, three feet deep and not much more that eighteen inches
broad, formed a gradual curve thirty to forty yards in length, and
sheltered three sections of the platoon. The fourth section was
entrenched on higher ground a hundred yards back, protecting our left

At some distance to the rear stood a pile of faggots, which we laid
out in a straight line and covered with a sprinkling of earth to form a
dummy trench.

The dinners were served out and the dixies carried away, still in peace.
The quiet fields and woods, with the sun now high in the heavens, seemed
to contradict the idea of war. Searching round the edge of every wood,
searching in turn each field and road, my field-glasses could find no
sign of troops, and nothing disturbed the Sunday morning calm. Then,
far away, a mile or more along the border of a wood, I saw the grey

A small body of troops, not more than a platoon, showed up very badly
against the dark background; even as I looked again they had disappeared
among the trees. To the left of the white house, beyond the road
and beyond the beetroot fields, the thick brushwood which skirts the
cultivated ground becomes more open, and here the sun throws a gleam
of light. Here, it seemed, were many shadows. At that moment German
snipers, unknown to us, were already lying somewhere on the edge of
the wood. The sound of bullets is most alarming when wholly unexpected.
Those German scouts must have been using telescopic sights, for they
managed to put a couple of bullets between Sergeant Lee and myself.
Still more unexpected and infinitely more terrifying was the tremendous
explosion from _behind_, which knocked me into the bottom of the trench,
for the moment paralysed with fright.

The battery behind the woods of Hyon had fired its first range-finding
shell rather too low, and the shot ricochetted off a tree on the road
behind our trenches.

The situation in front of the trenches had not yet changed, as far as
one could see, since the first shot was fired. An occasional bullet
still flicked by, evidently fired at very long range.

The corner house of the hamlet six to seven hundred yards to our left
front was partly hidden from view by a hedge. The cover afforded by this
house, the hedge and the ditch which ran alongside it, began to be a
cause of anxiety. If the enemy succeeded in obtaining a footing either
in the house itself or the ditch behind the hedge, our position would be

One of my men who had been peering over the trench through two cabbage
stalks, proclaimed that he saw something crawling along behind this
hedge. A prolonged inspection with the field-glasses revealed that the
slow-moving, dark-grey body belonged to an old donkey carelessly and
lazily grazing along the edge of the ditch. The section of my platoon
who were in a small trench to our left rear, being farther away and not
provided with very good field-glasses, suddenly opened rapid fire on the
hedge and the donkey disappeared from view. This little incident
caused great amusement in my trench, the exploit of No. 4 section in
successfully despatching the donkey was greeted with roars of laughter
and cries of "Bravo the donkey killers," all of which helped to relieve
the tension.

It was really the donkey that made the situation normal again. Just
before there had been some look of anxiety in men's faces and much
unnecessary crouching in the bottom of the trench. Now the men were
smoking, watching the shells, arguing as to the height at which they
burst over our heads, and scrambling for shrapnel bullets.

The German shells came in bunches; some burst over the road behind,
others yet farther away crashed into the woods of Hyon. At the same time
the rattle of one of our machine-guns on the left and the sound of
rapid rifle fire from the same quarter showed that C Company had found
a target, while as yet we peered over our trenches in vain. I will not
pretend to give an account of the battle of Mons, "because you have
better in the prints," and because my confused recollection of what took
place during the rest of the afternoon will not permit of recounting in
their due order even events which took place on our small part of the
front. The noise of bursting shells, the sound of hard fighting on our
left, must have endured for nearly an hour before any attempt was made
by the Germans, now swarming in the wood behind the white house, to
leave cover and make an attack on our front. From the farthest point of
the wood, at a range of 1200 yards, a large body of troops marched out
into the open in column, moving across our front to our left flank,
evidently for the purpose of reinforcing the attack on C Company.

At 1200 yards rifle fire, even at such a target, is practically useless.
It was impossible to resist the temptation to open fire with the hope
of breaking up the column formation and thus delaying the reinforcement
operations. "No. 1 Section, at 1200 yards, three rounds rapid." I bent
over the parapet, glasses fixed on the column. They were not quite clear
of the wood and marching along as if on parade.

At the first volley the column halted, some of the men skipped into
the wood, and most of them turned and faced in our direction. With the
second and third volleys coming in rapid succession they rushed in a
body for cover.

All our shots seemed to have gone too high and none found a billet, but
the enemy made no further attempt to leave the wood in close formation,
but presently advanced along the edge of the wood in single file,
marching in the same direction as before, and affording no target at
such a distance.

Various descriptions of the battle of Mons speak of the Germans
advancing like grey clouds covering the earth, of "massed formation"
moving across the open to within close range of our trenches, to be
decimated by "murderous fire."

On every extended battle line incidents will occur affording
opportunities for picturesque writing, but in the attack and defence
of an open position in the days of pre-trench war, excepting always the
noise of bursting shells, the hum of bullets and the absence of umpires,
the whole affair is a passable imitation of a field-day in peace time.

Our position at Hyon, important because it dominated the line of
retreat, was weakly held. We had practically no supports. The German
superiority at that part of the line was probably about three to one in
guns, and five or more to one in men.

The enemy attacked vigorously, met with an unexpectedly vigorous
resistance, hesitated, failed to push their action home, and lost an
opportunity which seldom occurred again--an opportunity which has now
gone for ever.

With half the determination shown at Verdun the Germans could have
captured our position with comparatively trifling loss, turned our
flank, and disorganised the preparation for retreat.

The steady hammer of one of our machine-guns and a renewed burst of
rapid fire from the rifles of C Company made it clear that an attack
on the village was in progress. Then the battery whose first shell had
nearly dropped into our trench put their second shot neatly on to the
red-tiled house at the left-hand corner of the village.

A shell bursting over a village! Who would pay attention now to such a
detail when whole villages are blown into the air all along a thousand
miles of battle?

Twenty feet above the red tiles a double flash like the twinkling of
a great star, a graceful puff of smoke, soft and snow-white like
cotton-wool. In that second the red tiles vanished and nothing of the
roof remained but the bare rafters.

Now our guns were searching out the German artillery positions, and sent
shell after shell far over our heads on to the distant woods; and
now the German shells, outnumbering ours by two or three to one, were
bursting all along the woods behind our trenches and behind the main
road. The noise of what was after all a very mild bombardment seemed
very terrible to our unaccustomed ears!

Still the rattle of a machine-gun on our left; but the bursts of rifle
fire were less prolonged and at rarer intervals, so that the pressure of
the German attack was apparently relaxing. The surprise of the day came
from our right flank.

Here the main road ran across and away diagonally from our line, so that
the amount of open ground in front of No. 14 Trench was considerably
nearer 600 than 400 yards--the whole distance from this trench to the
road being bare pasture-land, with scarcely cover for a rabbit. No. 14
Trench extends to within a few yards of the thick plantation which runs
almost parallel with our line. The cover is not much more than two
or three acres in extent, and on the far side of the wood the line is
carried on by another company.

I was on the point of laying down my glasses, having made a final sweep
of the ground, including a look down to No. 14 Trench, when something
caught my attention in the plantation, and at that same moment a body of
troops in extended order dashed out of the woods and doubled across the
open meadow. The sight of these men, coming apparently from behind
our own line and making at such speed for the enemy, was so entirely
unexpected that, although their uniforms even at the long range seemed
unfamiliar, I did not realise they were Germans. A volley from No. 14
Trench put an end to uncertainty. The line broke, each man running for
safety at headlong speed; here and there a man, dropping backwards, lay
still on the grass.

In the centre of the line the officer, keeping rather behind the rest,
stumbled and fell. The two men nearest him stopped, bent down to assist
him, looking for a moment anxiously into his face as he lay back on the
grass, then quickly turned and ran for cover. A very few seconds more
and the remaining racing figures dodged between trees on the main road
and found safety.

When the rifle fire ceased, two or three of the grey bodies dotted about
the field were seen to move; one or two rose up, staggered a few paces,
only to fall at once and lie motionless; other two or three wriggled
and crawled away; and one rose up apparently unhurt, running in zigzag
fashion, dodging from side to side with sudden cunning, though no
further shot was fired.

The German attack now began to press on both flanks--on the left perhaps
with less vigour, but on the right an ever-increasing intensity of rifle
fire seemed to come almost from behind our trenches; but on neither left
nor right could anything be seen of the fighting. The ceaseless tapping
of our two machine-guns was anxious hearing during that long afternoon,
and in the confusion of bursting shells the sound of busy rifles seemed
to be echoing on all sides.

Three German officers stepped out from the edge of the wood behind the
white house; they stood out in the open, holding a map and discussing
together the plan of attack. The little group seemed amazingly near in
the mirror of my field-glass, but afforded too hopelessly small a target
for rifle fire at a 1000 yards' range. The conference was, however, cut
short by a shell from our faithful battery behind the wood of Hyon. A
few minutes later, the officers having skipped back into cover, a long
line of the now familiar grey coats advanced slowly about ten yards from
the wood and lay down in the beetroot field; an officer, slightly in
front of his men, carrying a walking-stick and remaining standing until
another shell threw him on to his face with the rest.

Our shells were bursting splendidly beyond the white house, with now and
then a shell on what had once been the red-tiled corner house, and now
and then a shell into the woods beyond where the German reserves were

Two or three lines of supports issued forth from the wood, and the first
line pushed close up to the white house; but as long as we could see to
shoot, and while our shells were sprinkling the fields with shrapnel,
the enemy failed to reach their objective and suffered heavy casualties.

After the sun had set the vigour of the fight was past, and in
the twilight few shells were exchanged from wood to wood, although
machine-guns still drummed and rifles cracked, keeping the enemy from
further advance. And now, far in the distant valley--perhaps fifteen or
twenty miles away--the smoke of exploding shells hung in white puffs on
the horizon, and the red flame of fire showed here and there a burning
village in the wake of the French Army.

General French had by now received the news of the retreat from
Charleroi, and the retreat of the British Army was in hasty preparation;
but from us all such great doings were hidden.

Although it was now too dark for accurate shooting--for even the road
and the white house were fading into the dusk--we had selected a certain
number of outstanding marks easily seen in the twilight: a stump of a
tree, a low bush, and a low white wall--points which the enemy would
have to cross should they attempt to approach the house from the left
flank. A remnant of the twilight remained when the Germans left the
cover of the beetroot field, and with my field-glasses I could just
manage to see when they passed in front of our prearranged targets, to
see also the sudden hail of bullets spatter on the road and against the
white wall among leaping, dodging shadows. On the right the machine-gun
was silent for a space. In front dead silence round the familiar shadows
of the white house. Then a voice broke out of the darkness, and a sound
as of hammering on wooden doors. What followed, and what atrocious deed
was committed in the night, none can ever surely tell.

The voice shouted again, "Frauen und Kinder heraus!" No description can
convey the horror of this voice from the dark, the brutal bullying tone
carrying to our ears an instant apprehension. More hammering, and then a
woman's screams--the brutal voice and piercing screams as of women being
dragged along, and the French voice of a man loudly protesting, with
always the hard staccato German words of command; then yet another
louder shrieking, then three rifle-shots, and a long silence. A long
silence, and never more in the night did we hear the man's protesting
voice or the terrified shriek of women.

The silence was broken by leaping, crackling flames, and in an instant
the white house was a roaring bonfire. Fiercely danced the flames,
carrying high into the night their tribute to German efficiency!

During the long silence after the three shots, we had all seen with
eyes straining through the darkness, how shadows were at work round
the walls, and one shadow on the roof whose errand there was at first a
mystery, but was quickly explained in the light of the great blaze which
rose up instantaneously from a spark kindled in the darkness of the

In the ring of light thrown by the blazing house, the trees on the
roadside, the out-houses beyond the courtyard, and even, for a short
way, the beetroot fields, showed vividly against the black arch of
night. Here, on the fringe of light in uncertain mist of mingled smoke
and darkness, it seemed as if men were grouped revelling over the
night's work. Now that the roof had fallen in, clouds of smoke hung low
over the fields and the red-hot glow gave little light. Only every
now and then a flame, shooting high into the thick darkness, threw a
momentary gleam on a wider arch and showed the black shadows of men
dodging back into the safety of the night.

The work was well and quickly done. The pleasant roadside inn where I
had idly wandered in the morning was now a smouldering ruin.

There is no excuse for this ruin of a Belgian home. The burning was
deliberate, and carried out with military precision under orders given
by the officer in command, serving no conceivable military purpose, and
prompted solely by a spirit of wanton destruction.

The story of the three shots in the dark will, perhaps, never be clearly
told, but there can be little doubt--there is none in the minds of those
who heard--that both the women and the man were brutally murdered.

Nearly a thousand years ago this same land was laid waste by the Huns,
who left a memory that has lasted down to the hour of their return,
for "it is in memory of the Huns," says an ancient chronicle, "that
the province received the name of Hanonia or Hainault," a name which it
retains to this day.

Again, after a thousand years, the Huns have risen and left a track in
Europe for the memory of many generations.



Captain Picton-Warlow came up and whispered the order to retire. We
had lain for many hours in front of our trench with bayonets fixed,
expecting an attack at any moment, finding alarm in every shadow and
fear in the rustling of night breezes.

There was safety for a time on the main road, and relief in the
companionable formation of fours from the isolation and responsibility
of trenches.

During the few moments' halt before marching down the road we heard
how C Company had suffered heavy casualties. Major Simpson--reported
mortally wounded. Lieut. Richmond--killed.

A few hundred yards down the road a machine-gun flashed red in the
darkness; just before reaching it we turned down a side road to the
right and joined on to the rest of the battalion. Here, by the roadside,
close up against a grassy bank, a number of men were resting, some
huddled up, others lying quite still. Almost at once the battalion moved
on again, leaving the kilted figures by the roadside.

Less than an hour after leaving the main road we halted on a steep
hillside meadow. The order was given to lie down, and for the two or
three hours of the remaining night the companies slept on the field in
column of fours.

The sloping hillside where we had spent the night breaks at its
crest and drops steeply down to the village of Nouvelle, and the rich
pasture-land with tall poplar-trees in ordered array. Beyond the ground
rises suddenly, with patches of cultivation sloping up to the skyline
in gentle undulations. Twenty yards below the crest of the hill, three
hundred yards from a small plantation, two field-guns lay abandoned in
the open. D Company, posted two hundred yards from the village, were
scraping into some sort of cover by the roadside, when a well-timed
shell burst right between the two guns, followed by half a dozen more
along the ridge of the hill. The enemy was ranging the village, and soon
two shells burst among the poplar-trees close to our "trenches," now six
inches deep into the hard chalk rock.

We left the village just in time. Marching through the empty street
between the shuttered houses I caught a glimpse of the two abandoned
field-guns, and of a team of horses galloping along the ridge under
the blazing shells. The guns were saved, but I never heard if the two
gallant riders obtained recognition of their gallant deed.

For several miles our road ran alongside the railway and through open
country. Pleasant in the cool morning air, and peaceful until about
9 A.M., when the enemy began to shell the road from the wooded hills
on our right flank. The battalion then crossed the railway, and two
companies entrenched across a wide stretch of open pasture, facing the
direction in which we had been marching, protected from the right to
some extent by the railway embankment.

The enemy occupied a position among slag-heaps and factory chimneys
about 4000 yards to our front, and as our own guns were only 200 yards
behind, the noise of the artillery duel was prodigious. On this occasion
the heavy guns from Maubeuge did very useful work. The big shells could
actually be seen sailing along like monster torpedoes, and at each
explosion among the slag-heaps an enormous cloud of dust rose into the

Our trenches possessed few of the desiderata carefully laid down in the
Field Service pocket-book. The parapet was far from bullet-proof, the
bright yellow clay against the green must have been visible for more
than a mile, and the average depth of the trench was certainly not
more than a foot. Shells were bursting here and there, sometimes far in
front, now far behind, along the railway line and only occasionally over
the trench, for the Huns had not yet succeeded in locating our battery.
Probably they were somewhat disturbed by the "Jack Johnsons" from
Maubeuge. At eleven o'clock our guns retired and we followed suit, each
platoon retiring independently. While No. 13 re-formed along a high wall
surrounding the woods and garden of a small chateau about a quarter of a
mile behind the trench, we had a narrow escape from disaster, as a shell
landed just beyond the wall, killing two men and some horses.

We marched to Bavai without further incident, entering the town soon
after dark. Here was all the confusion of retreat. Heavy motor-waggons,
some French transport, staff officers' cars with blinding headlights,
and vehicles of every description obstructed our progress through the
town. I remember seeing a London taxi, one of the W.G.'s, loaded with

A mile outside the town we turned into an orchard and bivouacked for the
night, first dining on strong tea and a ration biscuit.

There was vigour and cheerfulness in the warm sunrise, and the battalion
quickened its step and recovered its usual cheery spirit as we left the
woods and entered the open country, marching down a narrow macadamised
road, avoiding the horrors of the paved Route National. Later on in the
morning, one of the first duels between a British and a German aeroplane
took place right over the road. The Taube, at about 4000 feet, was then
following our march, having not yet observed, as we had, 7000 to 8000
feet up among the clouds, a tiny speck, gradually growing bigger. Then
the Taube took alarm and turned at full speed for the German lines.
The speck, now seen to be a British aeroplane, dropped straight down to
within a few hundred feet of the German machine, which was circling and
dodging at various angles, striving in vain to escape. A puff of smoke
from the British machine sent the enemy crashing to the ground.

Along the dusty road, marching in the hot sun with no knowledge of
our destination or reason for such incessant toil, halting for short
minutes, enough to ease the pack and rest the rifle and then on again,
until the alternate marching and halting becomes the whole occupation
not only of the body but of the mind--the eye finds no charm in pleasant
countryside, and the mind gathers few pictures; the endless road, the
choking dust, the unvaried pace in the hot sun.

On again through paved country towns where the hard stones are hot to
weary feet, down to peaceful villages in fresh green valleys and up the
long steep slope on the far side and again on, now across open country,
now through the shade of green woods. Here by the village pond a
pedestrian might well sit a while and smoke his pipe, watching the
children paddle in the brown water under the shade of ancient trees.
Often a glimpse through open doors showed cool tiled kitchens with
peasants at the midday meal. Many shops in the village street were
closed, with the reason therefor chalked across the shutters, "Fermé
pour cause de Mobilisation." At the Mairie, and sometimes at street
corners, large yellow posters, still fresh and clean, called reservists
to arms in the name of La République.

We found many such towns and villages, with groups of men and women
outside the numerous estaminets, offering bottles of beer and wine, or
cigarettes; others with large buckets of wine and water. Glasses of wine
and water were quickly seized, emptied in a few steps, handed back to
some spectator farther down the line, and passed back again to the wine

There had been some thunder early in the afternoon, and overhead the
storm-clouds were lowering.

Another long weary climb along the straight dusty road to reach a
large open plateau, where an advance-guard of the 4th Division was
entrenching, for during all that day of our long march the 4th Division
was detraining, and part of this force took up a position north of

Large drops of rain were falling as we reached the crest of the hill,
and soon a smart shower cleaned the road of dust, giving a new coolness
to the air and a new vigour to the weary column.

After the long lonely road it was heartening to see the British troops,
a mere handful of men, making ready against the vast armies of Germany,
whose advance-guard were now hard on our heels.

That afternoon and all that night the 4th Division, newly landed from
England, fighting odds of at least ten to one, held off the German
advance, and then rejoined the line of battle in the hours between
midnight and dawn.

Many months later a prisoner at Würzburg, an officer of the King's Own
(4th Division), told me a story of that night's battle. When leaving the
village of Bethancourt, fighting every foot along the village street in
the darkness of the night, with the Germans pouring in at the far side
of the village, Lt. Irvine and Sergeant ---- entered a house where one
of their men had been carried mortally wounded. They went to an upstairs
room where the dying soldier had been carried. Irvine was at the foot of
the stairs and Sergeant ---- still busied with the wounded soldier, when
a violent knocking was heard at the street door. Just as the door burst
open and the Germans were pouring in and up the stairs, the Sergeant
came unarmed out on to the landing. Sergeant ---- was a big powerful
man, who had held a heavy-weight boxing championship. Without a moment's
hesitation he picked up a big sofa which happened to be close beside him
on the landing and crashed it down on the head of the nearest German,
breaking his neck and throwing those behind him into a confused mass at
the foot of the stairs. Irvine emptied his revolver into the struggling
mass, the Sergeant dropped over the banisters, and both escaped unharmed
through the back of the house. Sergeant ---- was killed in the trenches
next morning.

Now that the 4th Division lay between ourselves and the enemy, a halt
was made on the slope of a long straight hill, and the cooks began to
serve out dinner. It was half-past five. The rain poured heavily. Major
Duff and I sat by the roadside comparing notes and searching for a
solution of our continued retreat. We knew nothing then of von Kluck's
attempt to outflank the French army.

For the first time since we had left Bavai a motor-car came down the
road, making in the direction of the 4th Division, and going dead slow,
as the tired men lying on both sides of the road left little enough
space in the centre. The driver stopped and shared our wet seat on
the bank. It was a strange meeting for the three of us. Now Duff and
I sought information from this driver friend of ours, a distinguished
member of the House of Commons, acting as Intelligence Officer, and this
was the answer to our inquiry: "We are drawing the Germans on!"

Three or four shabby cottages and a whitewashed estaminet stand by the
roadside on top of the hill, overlooking the valley of the Sambre.

A few miles farther on, where a road branches off from the main road to
Cambrai, and curls down the face of a steep hillside, Solesmes, hidden
in the valley, shows the top of a church spire. The householders of
Solesmes were putting up their shutters as we passed through the town,
and less than an hour later shells were bursting over the pleasant

Not many miles away to the left lies Landrecies, which R. L. Stevenson
refers to, in 'An Inland Voyage,' as "a point in the great warfaring
system of Europe which might on some future day be ranged about with
cannon, smoke, and thunder." That evening the prophecy was fulfilled.

Caudry was reached at dusk, and here we heard the welcome news that
our billets were close at hand. For two more miles along a narrow road,
through the soaking rain, the battalion dragged slowly along. During
the long twenty-five miles from Bavai to Caudry, the longest day of the
retreat, very few men had fallen out; though all were weary through want
of food and sleep, and many feet were blistered and bleeding, every man
had kept his pack and greatcoat. The column slept that night crowded
under the humble roofs of Audencourt.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the chill light of dawn trenches were being dug outside the village.
The line to be held by the battalion extended as far as Caudry, and the
position of No. 13 platoon was about half-way between Audencourt and
Caudry, close to a small square-shaped plantation. The rear of my
platoon had just cleared the wood when a shell burst overhead, and we
had the unpleasant experience of digging trenches under fire.

When at last we were under cover the shelling ceased, having caused no
casualties at our end of the line, although some damage had been done up
among the leading platoon, now entrenched about 500 yards to our left,
their left resting on Caudry.

From information received long afterwards, the explanation of this
early morning attack is as follows: German scouts had, on the previous
evening, already located our position in the village of Audencourt, and
a battery, placed behind Petit Caudry either during the night or very
early in the morning, had ranged the little square-shaped wood from
the map, and as soon as their observation man, who was probably in the
church tower at Bethancourt, saw No. 13 platoon marching past the wood,
he signalled to the guns to open fire. (These guns were almost at once
driven away by the troops occupying the village of Caudry.)

The ground in front of our trenches slopes gently down to the Route
Nationale Caudry--Le Cateau, which at this point runs on an embankment
and is lined with fine old poplar-trees. This road was our first-range
mark--350 yards.

Beyond the road the ground rises at a fairly steep slope to the village
of Bethancourt.

At the edge of the village, on the ridge of the hill, the gate-post of
a small paddock was our second-range mark--900 yards. Between the Route
Nationale and the village the land is open pasture, so that no accurate
ranges could be taken between 400 and 900 yards. The ridge of the hill
runs at a slightly decreasing slope down to a small wood; on the right
of this is a stubble field, and to the right again, on the far ridge of
the hill, are beetroot fields through which a telephone wire runs, the
range being 1200 yards. Caudry was on our left, with the houses of
Petit Caudry just visible on our left front; on our right the village
of Audencourt, with two platoons entrenched strongly. Behind lay open
country, stretching back about 400 to 500 yards to the road between
Caudry and Audencourt; again beyond that for at least half a mile open
country interspersed with small thickets.

For nearly half an hour after the shelling ceased the countryside
resumed its usual aspect. First the church tower of Bethancourt, then
house by house, the village itself came into the full light of the
rising sun, whose rays soon reached our newly dug trench to cheer us
with their summer warmth. Captain Lumsden came along to supervise the
clearing of a field of fire between our end of the line and the Route

Our trench was dug in a stubble field where the corn had just been
stooked, and it was now our business to push all the stooks over. This
gave occasion for a great display of energy and excitement. When the
stooks had been laid low we made a very poor attempt to disguise the
newly thrown-up earth by covering the top of the trenches with straw,
which only seemed to make our position more conspicuous than ever. The
trench was lined with straw, and we cut seats and made various little
improvements. Then our guns began to speak.

At the corner of the village of Bethancourt there stands (or stood that
morning) a farmhouse. In the adjacent paddock two cows were peacefully
browsing. The first shell burst right above them. They plunged and
kicked and galloped about, but soon settled down again to graze. Several
shells hit the church tower; the fifth or sixth set fire to a large
square white house near the church on the right. Our gunners made good
practice at the two cows, and shell after shell burst over or near their
paddock, from which they finally escaped to gallop clumsily along the
ridge of the hill and disappear into the wood, no doubt carrying bits
of shrapnel along with them. For at least half an hour our guns had
everything to themselves, and it must have been a most unpleasant
half-hour for those who were on "the other side of the hill."

About 9 A.M. the German artillery got to work. Many attempts have been
made to describe the situation in a trench while an artillery duel is
in progress, but really no words can give any idea of the intensity of
confusion. On both our flanks machine-guns maintained a steady staccato.
All other sounds were sudden and nerve-straining, especially the sudden
rush of the large German shell followed by the roar of its explosion in
the village of Audencourt, where dust and _débris_ rise like smoke from
a volcano, showing the enemy that the target has been hit.

The Huns evidently suspected that the little wood on our right rear is
being used to conceal artillery, for they dropped dozens of shells into
it, doing no harm to anything but the trees. The noise of the shells
bursting among the branches just behind us was most disturbing.
Sometimes these shells pitched short of the wood; they were then less
noisy, but far more unpleasant in other respects. Just when the uproar
was at its highest a scared face appeared over the back of my trench and
stated that four ammunition boxes lay at the far corner of the wood
at our disposal, please. The owner of the face, having delivered his
message, rose up and returned whence he had come, doubled up yet running
at great speed.

By about ten o'clock it became obvious that the artillery duel was not
to be decided in our favour, and, moreover, that it would not as at Mons
end in a draw. I counted the number of shells going south and north; the
proportion was about 7 to 1.

Gradually the number of our own shells grew less and less as our
batteries were silenced or forced, or perhaps ordered, to retire. As
this went on it became evident--far more evident than at Mons--that we
were up against overwhelming odds. The rush of shells reached a maximum,
and then for a space there was silence. Pipes and cigarettes, up to now
smoked only by the fearless ones, for a short time appeared on every
side, and conversational remarks were shouted from one trench to
another. The respite was brief, and its explanation at once obvious when
a Taube came sailing above our line considerably out of rifle-shot. It
did not need great skill or experience in war to know what might now be
expected. The aeroplane came over early in the afternoon, and less than
half an hour after it disappeared the German artillery reopened fire.

This time the wood and the village were spared, for the Huns had
silenced our guns and obtained exact knowledge of the position of our
trenches, over which their shells now began to explode.

The German infantry first came into view crossing the beetroot fields on
top of the hill on our right front, where the telegraph poles acted
as the 1200 yards' mark. Through these fields they advanced in close
formation until disturbed by the attentions of a machine-gun either
of ours or of the Royal Scots (who were holding the other side of
the village of Audencourt). It was not long before we had a chance
of getting rid of some ammunition. German troops, debouching from the
little wood where the cows had taken refuge earlier in the day, now
advanced across the stubble field on top of the hill, moving to their
left flank across our front. My glasses showed they were extended to not
more than two paces, keeping a very bad line, evidently very weary and
marching in the hot sun with manifest disgust.

The command, "Five rounds rapid at the stubble field 900 yards,"
produced a cinematographic picture in my field-glasses. The Germans
hopped into cover like rabbits. Some threw themselves flat behind the
corn stooks, and when the firing ceased got up and bolted back to the
wood. Two or three who had also appeared to fling themselves down,
remained motionless.

The enemy, having discovered that we could be dangerous even at 900
yards, then successfully crossed the stubble field in two short rushes
without losing a man, and reinforced their men who were advancing
through the beetroot fields on our right.

Great numbers of troops now began to appear on the ridge between
Bethancourt and the little wood. They advanced in three or four lines
of sections of ten to fifteen men extended to two paces. Their line of
advance was direct on the village of Audencourt and on the low plateau
on our right, so that we were able to pour upon them an enfilade fire.
They were advancing in short rushes across pasture-land which provided
no cover whatever, and they offered a clearly visible target even when
lying down. Although our men were nearly all first-class shots, they did
not often hit the target. This was owing to the unpleasant fact that the
German gunners kept up a steady stream of shrapnel, which burst just in
front of our trenches and broke over the top like a wave. Shooting at
the advancing enemy had to be timed by the bursting shell.

We adopted the plan of firing two rounds and then ducking down at
intervals, which were determined as far as could be arranged for by the
arrival of the shell. But the shooting of the battalion was good enough
to delay the enemy's advance. From the 900-yard mark they took more than
an hour to reach their first objective, which was the Route Nationale,
400 yards from our nearest trench. Here they were able to concentrate in
great numbers, as the road runs along an embankment behind which nothing
but artillery could reach them. This was the situation on our front at
about three o'clock in the afternoon. I happened to look down the line
and saw Captain Lumsden looking rather anxiously to the rear. I then saw
that a number of our people were retiring. There was not much time to
think about what this might mean as the enemy were beginning to cross
the road; we had fixed bayonets, and I thought we would have little
chance against the large number of Germans who had concentrated behind
the embankment. For a long time, for nearly an hour, the British guns
had been silent, but they had not all retired. With a white star-shaped
flash two shells burst right over the road behind which the Germans were
massed. Those two shells must have knocked out forty or fifty men. The
enemy fled right back up the hill up to the 900-yard mark, followed by
rapid fire and loud cheering from all along the line.

The Germans were now re-forming on the hillside, and a machine-gun
hidden in the village of Bethancourt began to play up and down our

The bullets began to spray too close to my left ear, and laying my
glasses on the parapet I was about to sit down for a few minutes'
rest, and indeed had got half-way to the sitting position, when the
machine-gun found its target.

Recollections of what passed through my mind at that moment is very
clear. I knew instantly what had happened. The blow might have come from
a sledge-hammer, except that it seemed to carry with it an impression of
speed. I saw for one instant in my mind's eye the battlefield at which
I had been gazing through my glasses the whole day. Then the vision
was hidden by a scarlet circle, and a voice said, "Mr H. has got it."
Through the red mist of the scarlet circle I looked at my watch (the
movement to do so had begun in my mind before I was hit); it was
spattered with blood; the hands showed five minutes to four. The voice
which had spoken before said, "Mr H. is killed."

Before losing consciousness, and almost at the same time as the bullet
struck, the questioning thought was present in my mind as vividly as if
spoken, "Is this the end?" and present also was the answer, "Not yet."


My knowledge of subsequent events is based partly on information
obtained from Private, now Sergeant, R. Sinclair, who was next me in
the trench, and at once bandaged up my head with his emergency
field-dressing. It was still day when I came back to life. My first
consciousness was of intolerable cramp in the legs. When Sinclair saw
that I was breathing, he laid me down on the straw at the bottom of the
trench and tried to give me a drink out of my water-bottle. I was unable
to move any part of my body except the left hand, with which I patted
the right-hand pocket of my coat, where I had carried, since leaving
Plymouth, a flask of old brandy. Red Cross books say that brandy is
the worst thing to give for head wounds; but Sinclair poured the whole
contents down my throat, and I believe the stimulant saved my life. I
have been told that while I was unconscious Captain Lumsden came down
the line to see what could be done for me. After drinking the contents
of my flask, I remember sending him up a message to say I was feeling
much better; and the answer came back, "Captain Lumsden says he is very
glad indeed you are feeling better." Sinclair dug in under the parapet
and made the trench more comfortable for me to lie in; shells were
bursting overhead, and several times I was conscious that he was
covering my face with his hand to protect me from the flying
shrapnel. During the rest of the afternoon I had alternate periods of
consciousness. I sent up another message asking how things were going,
and the answer came back, "Captain Lumsden is killed."

When I next regained consciousness Sinclair told me that the enemy had
again reached the Route Nationale. "But don't you worry, sir," he said,
"we'll stick it all right; they won't come any farther."

Just after midnight the order came to retire.

Sinclair and the other occupants of the trench lifted me out, this
operation coinciding with a fusillade from the enemy, who from their
position on the road were firing volleys into the night--a great waste
of ammunition. Still, the bullets must have been close overhead, for the
men put me back into the trench, jumped in after me, and waited till all
was quiet.

The second attempt to get me out was more successful. I was laid on to
a greatcoat and lifted up by six men. It is probably not easy to carry
along such a burden in the dark, and they made a very bad job of it.
Some one suggested that a substitute for a stretcher could be made with
three rifles, and the suggestion was at once adopted with most painful
results. I still remember the agony caused by the weight of my body
pressing down on my neck and the small of the back, while my head, just
clearing the ground, trailed among the wet beetroot leaves. The distance
to the little wood was not great, but to me the journey seemed to take

As the men struggled along with their awkward burden, shadowy forms of
the retiring company passed close by in the pitch darkness of the night.
"Lend a hand here, some of you chaps," said Sinclair; "here's a wounded
officer. Come on, Ginger." Ginger, a big stout fellow, volunteered to
carry me on his back, and asked me if I could hold on. He got me on to
his back, and I held on with my left arm round his neck; but we did not
go for more than a hundred yards or so--the dead-weight was too much for
his strength--when the party came to a halt.

During the whole of that night I was only intermittently conscious of
what was going on around me. The only men I remember speaking to after
I had been laid down are the Regimental Sergeant-Major and Lieutenant
Houldsworth. The Regimental Sergeant-Major laid his mackintosh on the
ground for me to lie on. To Houldsworth I said what a fine thing it was
the men carrying me out of the trench; and he replied, "It is nothing at
all, but very natural," or words to that effect.

My one fear at this time was to be left behind and taken prisoner,
and the one hope, a very forlorn one, was that the battalion
stretcher-bearers would be able to carry me away. But I heard some one
in the dark say that there were no stretchers, and that orders had come
to retire and leave all wounded.

There was shuffling about of men and whispered orders, then the not very
distant tramp of marching along the road, a sound which grew fainter and
fainter, till all in the night was silent: the battalion had gone.

After an indeterminate time--perhaps half an hour, perhaps an hour--I
opened my eyes. I was not alone. Two kilted forms, indistinct and
vaguely familiar, were seated on the ground close beside my head.

"Who are you?" I said, "and what are you doing here?"

"Macartney and Sinclair," replied the voice.

Macartney was the soldier who had acted as servant for me since leaving
Plymouth, but the name of Sinclair was not familiar. "Who is Sinclair?"
I asked; and I remember the words of his reply: "The soldier, sir, who
looked after you in the trench."

Each effort of speech and thought resulted in a short period of

When I next recovered there was the sound on the road of marching men.
Sinclair went off to find out who they were, and ask (vain and foolish
hope it now seems) if they had stretchers or an ambulance!

He came back to say that two companies of the Royal Scots were marching
down the road; they had no stretcher-bearers; the Major in command of
the party, when he heard that Sinclair and Macartney remained behind,
ordered them to rejoin their battalion. This the two soldiers at first
refused to do, and only left on receiving a direct order from me.
Sinclair went off first. Macartney stopped behind a moment to speak.
"Have you any last message to send back to your family?" was what he
said. But to this question I distinctly remember answering "No"; and
also saying, or perhaps only thinking, that I would be my own messenger
home to Scotland.

Macartney also disappeared into the night, and this time I was really


What had happened in the meantime to the battalion which had marched
off in the dark while I lay at the corner of that little wood does not
belong to the story, but the adventures of the soldier who sat so long
in the night by my side have an indirect bearing on my own history.

The following letter was written by Sinclair at Caudry, and posted on
his escape from enemy territory:--


  DEAR ----,--This last week has been the worst week I ever put in in
  my life. Since Sunday morning, 23.8.11, we have been fighting
  nearly every day, and to make it worse, we are being driven back
  by overwhelming numbers, but hope to get support soon. As I am in a
  house in this town, and can't move from the garret lest I be seen,
  as the house is now in the hands of the Germans, but, thank God, the
  people I am with are our friends, I know I will be safe till some
  arrangement is made about getting away. I am not the only one that
  is here; there are some poor fellows who have been in a cellar here
  since our retreat from this place. I know you will be wondering why
  I am left at the town, so I will try and explain. The officer who
  was in the trench with another four men and me was shot through
  the head early in the engagement, but after a while he came to his
  senses, but found he had lost the power in his legs and right arm.
  Well, as it happened that I was next him, it fell to me to make him
  as comfortable as possible, as it was impossible to get him shifted
  before dark.

  We held the trenches till about 12 P.M., when we got the order to
  retire. When the officer heard that we were to retire he seemed very
  much cut up about it, as it meant that he would be left behind to be
  taken prisoner.

  We did not care to leave him, so four of us put him on a coat and
  carried him about ¼ mile to where the regiment was to meet; when
  we got there we found there were no stretchers to put him on, so
  another officer gave us an order to leave him, and then decided to
  leave two men with him. Well, as we were left to do our best for
  him, by this time the battalion had passed, and not a stretcher was
  to be found.

  Hearing another regiment passing, I sent the other man to try and
  get a stretcher or a horse; but when he asked for a stretcher, the
  officer of the other regiment asked what it was for, then told him
  he was to go back at once and leave a water-bottle and take
  any message, and that both of us were to fall in in rear of his
  battalion at once. When our officer heard of this he told us to obey
  orders, so what could we do? We made him as comfortable as possible,
  then went to rejoin the battalion, but found that we had missed the
  road they had taken, so we were lost.

  We decided to sit in a field till daylight came, and with it came an
  officer of the Royal Irish, and four men who were in the same boat
  as ourselves. So we joined with them to try and find our way, but we
  did not get more than three miles when we ran into the enemy,--then
  it was every man for himself. I heard after from the village people
  that five of them were made prisoners. Anyhow I have not seen any of
  them since.

  Well, when I got away I hid at the back of a garden; they made
  search for me, but I happened to escape from their view. I had to
  sit in the same spot for over seven hours till all the Germans were
  clear of the place, and they were a mighty lot to pass. However,
  after a time the man who owned the garden got his eye on me; he
  then started to work about his garden. When he came up my length he
  dropped a loaf from under his jacket; it was very acceptable, as I
  was feeling very hungry. I thought it was about time I was moving,
  but did not know which way to go. I then decided that I would go
  back and see how my officer had got on, but did not get far when
  I struck into another lot of the enemy, and had to sit tight for
  another two hours. After that I got the place where our officer was
  left, but found that he was away from that place. I have since heard
  that he is in hospital at this place--Caudry. I then thought it
  would be advisable to make for Maubeuge, as I knew that there was
  a large fort there; but when I made inquiries from the people as
  to the direction, all they would tell me was that the enemy was all
  round, and it would be impossible to get away from here.

  In fact, I had been very lucky to get as far as I did without being
  caught, so they advised me to hide my kit and rifle, and put on
  civilian clothes till such time as the road gets cleared of the
  enemy. After having changed my clothes, one of them brought me to
  this town, and left me at this house....

  _P.S._--I am trying to escape from this place to-night.

    7485 Pte. R. SINCLAIR,
        D Co.,
            ---- Batt.,
                ---- Inf. Brigade,
                      3rd Div.

The night passed slowly by the little wood among the beetroot, where
I had been left with my rolled-up mackintosh for a pillow, and a
shell-torn greatcoat for shelter from the drizzling rain. On my left the
burning village of Audencourt, less than half a mile away, lit up the
night with a steady glow which occasionally leapt into flame. On the
right, some distance away, a house, or houses, flamed high for a long
time, and then all was black and dark again. The slowly moving dawn
showed that I was lying within ten or twelve yards off the road which
runs from Beaumont across the fields to the road between Caudry and

As I looked towards Audencourt a man in khaki came running. At the sound
of my whistle he leapt aside like a deer, then when he saw me lying, ran
up. I asked to be lifted down into the sunken road, as I was afraid of
lying out in the open on account of possible shell fire. The soldier (a
man in the Irish Rifles) took me by the shoulders and dragged me down
the bank, made me as comfortable as he could, and then ran off down the
road, crossed the road between Caudry and Audencourt, and disappeared
across country. Hardly had he disappeared from view when two shells
exploded somewhere behind me.

It was now clear, but not full daylight. Two French peasants came up the
road; I tried to call to them with the purpose of getting carried away
on a cart, and so avoid being taken prisoner. But the peasants were
frightened to come near me; they made a detour in the field, and joined
the road again fifty yards higher up.

The first I saw of the Germans was a small party of about seven or eight
advancing across the field on my left in extended order. The one nearest
to hand saw me, and calling the others, they all came and stood on the
road in a circle. Their attitude was distinctly sympathetic, but I was
too far gone to struggle with their language.

I watched these men following the line taken by the Irish soldier, and
wondered if they were tracking him, and would overtake him.

Before very long another and larger party appeared beside me on the
road, but I was quite unable to speak to them, and after stopping to
stare, they went on their way.

The whole tide of invasion was now sweeping over the land. Several
Uhlans galloped past across the fields, and the road from Audencourt,
which was about 150 yards from where I lay, was filled with a procession
of machine-guns and transport waggons.

For some inexplicable reason I now tried to get away. By seizing a tuft
of grass in the left hand I could move along a few inches at a time.
After advancing in this manner about a foot along the edge of the road,
I collapsed from exhaustion, and drew the greatcoat over my head. I do
not know how long I had been thus covered up when I heard a shout,
and peeping through one of the holes in the coat saw a German soldier
standing on top of the bank. He was gesticulating and pointing to his
revolver, trying to find out if I was armed! but he soon saw I was past
further fighting.

He offered me a drink from his water-bottle, and pointed to the Red
Cross on his arm. I can never hope to convey to any one what a relief it
was to me to see the cross even on the arm of an enemy. The man asked
me if I could walk, tried to lift me up, and when he saw I was paralysed
said he would go for a stretcher.

"You will go away and leave me here," I said.

"I am of the Red Cross," he replied; "you are therefore my Kamarad and I
will never leave you."

I gave him my whistle. Before going off to seek for help he stood on top
of the bank looking down on me where I lay, and pointed once more to the
Red Cross badge. "Kamarad, Kamarad, I will come back; never fear, I will
come back."

I covered up my head again and fell into a semi-conscious stupor.

The sound of a step on the road aroused my attention, and for a brief
instant my eyes seemed to deceive, for they showed me the tall figure
of an old man dressed in a white overall. Behind him were two youths
carrying a stretcher.

The figure spoke in French: "Are you a wounded British officer? There
are three that I am looking for; do you know where the others are?"

I told him our trenches were close behind; and as he and his acolytes
were off at once for further search, leaving the stretcher on the road,
I added, "First put me on the stretcher." To lie on the stretcher after
the hard ground was inexpressible relief to my paralysed limbs. Soon the
white figure returned. "We have found them, but they are both dead, _et
un d'eux a l'air si jeune_." The sun was shining with vigorous warmth.
One of the boys shaded my head with his cap, and we were about to start
when my friend of the German Red Cross appeared on top of the bank with
a stretcher. At the same time our little group was joined by a young
Uhlan officer. The German Red Cross man wished to transfer me to his
stretcher, and the old man in white was determined not to let me go. The
beginning of a discussion instantly ceased on the arrival of the
German officer, who, speaking French with ease, turned first to the old
Frenchman, "Where is your Red Cross armlet? What authority have you to
search for wounded?"

The old man drew from his pocket a Red Cross badge, which seemed
sufficient authority. The officer, sitting on his horse between the two
stretchers, then looked down at me, "Choisissez," he said.

I answered him with a smile, "J'y suis j'y reste."

The German Red Cross soldier came up to my stretcher and took my hand,
"Adieu, Kamarad."

The young German officer leant over and offered me a piece of chocolate.
"Why have you English come against us?" he said; "it is no use. We shall
be in Paris in three days. We have no quarrel with you English."

His eyes sparkled with the joy of victory, yet as he rode off I knew
that some day his turn would come to lie even as I was.

At the entrance, or near the entrance to the village of Caudry, we were
stopped by another officer on horseback. This time the colloquy was in
English. "Officer? What regiment? Good! What Brigade?" "I don't know."
"How many divisions were you?" "I don't know." "Ah, you won't tell me,
but I know there were four divisions. We have captured men from many
different regiments. Pass on."

On the way through the village the stretcher party was held up by the
passing of a grey-coated infantry regiment. I have in my mind just
a glimpse of the houses in the village, and one of them wrecked by a
shell, but I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open when my stretcher
was put down outside the school, which had been turned into a
field-ambulance during yesterday's battle.

The French have many qualities, but order in emergency is not one of

A crowd of civilians blocked the entrance to the school, and swarmed
chattering around my stretcher: "Il est mort! Mais non il n'est pas
mort, il respire! Mais je dis qu'il est mort!"

I settled the discussion by opening one weakly indignant eye.

On being carried into a room which is on the right as you go in at the
lobby, I was put on a table. Part of the crowd from the street followed
on behind. Some one at once took my boots off, and forgot to give them
back again. The doctor took off my bandage and applied something which
felt like snow to the top of my head, then whispered in my ear, "Do not
speak, do not think; keep quiet if you wish to live."

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Meubles vous
      à la Maison_

      160 RUE ST QUENTIN,

  _Specialité de
  Bureaux Américains._

  _Livraison à domicile._

The furniture had been removed from la maison Camille Wanecq and the
shop turned into a hospital ward. The tall grey-bearded man in the white
coat, who had taken complete charge, brought me to this house, which was
opposite his own. Here on the night of the 26th word had been left
that three British officers were lying wounded near the village of
Audencourt. At daybreak M. Heloire had put on his white overall (he is
a veterinary surgeon), set out with a stretcher, and searched until he
found me lying by the roadside.

Still under the guidance of M. Heloire, I was taken through the shop up
to a room on the first floor. The staircase is very steep, and they had
great difficulty with the stretcher. I distinctly remember wondering if
a coffin would present equal difficulties on the way down.

For the first time I began to feel great pain in my feet. There was also
an awful twitching, jerky, sawing movement of the right arm, over
which I had no control. This spasmodic movement was only stilled by the
injection of morphia.

When the effects of the first injection began to pass off, I was
conscious of some one sitting by the bedside, and, feeling very thirsty,
I asked the shadowy form "à boire." The shadow did not respond, and
after a while made the following remark: "I dunno what 'e is saying; 'e
must be off his chump."

My brain was scarcely able for thought in more than one language, and it
was after a long pause that I said in English, "Who the devil are you?"

The voices said they were English Red Cross soldiers, and had been sent
in to look after me by a tall old gentleman dressed in a white coat.

Now this most excellent M. Heloire had acted as he thought for the best,
but the result was not at all a happy one for me. Whenever I wanted
anything the soldiers went downstairs and brought up somebody to whom
I had to interpret my requirements. In my exhausted condition this was
impossible. The request for a drink and the short conversation with the
soldiers had nearly finished me off, but I made one more effort to a
large French-speaking shadow. I said, "Renvoyez les anglais."

And so the English soldiers were sent away, and I came under the care of
Marthe and Madeleine.

To my dim consciousness all persons were manifest as shadows. Marthe and
Madeleine took turns watching me day and night. Marthe sat weeping; a
long, long way off her shadow seemed, yet in an instant that same shadow
was bending over the bed. "A boire." The water remained untasted; some
of it trickled down my face. Then they tried in vain to get me to suck
the liquid up a straw. I could hear every word spoken in whispers round
my bed. "Il faut aller chercher M. le Curé et M. Heloire," and some
one at the door murmured in a low voice, "Il va mourir cette nuit le
pauvre." My own thoughts were monopolised by the thirst of fever. Deep
black shadows now hovered round my bed. There seemed to be two--one
larger and more active than the other. A voice full of pity asked me if
I wished to make my confession. The possibility of speech was far away,
and even to think was an effort that seemed dangerous. Seeing that I
was too weak to make any response, the two Curés administered Extreme
Unction. The sound of prayers, which seemed so far away, mingled with
the tramp of soldiers, martial music, the rattle of wheels on the
cobble-stones, the ceaseless tumult of invasion which for two days and
two nights rolled on through the paved streets of Caudry.

It was indeed a feeble dam which from the 23rd to the 26th had held
back such a torrent as, while I lay there listening, was flowing on
triumphant and irresistible.

Early next morning M. le Curé returned.

"Yes," said Marthe, "he is better; see, he can drink from a glass."
Marthe and Madeleine were arranging a table, some one in the room was
weeping, the shadows moved and prayed.

There is between life and death a period when the normal process of
thought comes to an end--a new mode of consciousness is taking the place
of the old--the soul, standing on the threshold, looks back at the body
lying helpless.

During the night, in that little room in Caudry, while Marthe sat by my
bedside and wept, I was slowly discovering another self, distinct from
the body lying on the bed, and yet connected with it in mist and shadow;
and this was the shadow of death.



"En haut! Montez au numéro sept," shouted a shrill female voice; "c'est
un officier, il faut le mettre au numéro sept."

And so I became No. 7, Hôpital Civil, Cambrai. My room was a small one
on the first floor; the furniture consisted of two beds and two iron
stands. The floor was polished, the walls painted a dull brown, the door
of iron, with upper panel of glazed glass. It was some time before these
surroundings presented themselves to my view. At least forty-eight hours
I remained without much consciousness, thankful in my lucid intervals
that the jolting of the cart which brought me the eight miles from
Caudry had ceased, thankful for the soft bed and the quiet cool room.

I wonder if Dr Debu remembers his first visit to me as well as I do? My
memory of all that happened during these days is very clear.

I could not yet see faces, to me nurse and doctor were different
coloured shadows, yet I remember well the nurse whispering to the
doctor, "He is very bad," and the doctor answering, "Oui! mais je
crois qu'il va s'en tirer." I do not remember exactly when I began to
recognise faces and to speak. They told me later, but at the time I did
not realise that the words came singly and with great difficulty, as if
the language was unfamiliar.

My powers of speech were stimulated by a visit from Madame la Directrice
of the hospital, who came to my bedside speaking with weird gestures in
a strange tongue. It occurred to me that she might perhaps be trying to
speak English, and so I addressed her slowly as follows: "Mettez vous
bien dans la tête, Madame, que je parle le Français aussi bien que
vous." After that day no one in the hospital made any further attempt to
practise English at my bedside.

The adjoining bed was occupied for a short time by a French Colonel, who
had been shot through both thighs and seemed in great pain. The whole
night long he kept up a constant groaning, with intermittent exclamation
in a loud voice, "Je suis dans des souffrances atrrroces." These
Marseillais are a most talkative race. This one was also very deaf.

[Illustration: Le Colonel Faméchon.]

Attempts at conversation with me were hopeless, as he could not hear
my whisper. However, he found consolation by talking to himself about
himself most of the night.

When the nurse came in next morning she paid no attention to the old
Colonel, whose wounds, although severe, were not dangerous, but after
taking my temperature she looked anxiously at the thermometer.

My temperature was up two points!

That morning the Colonel was removed to another part of the hospital.

As the window of my room could not be opened, I was taken into an
exactly similar room on the opposite side of the corridor. This was a
pleasanter room than the other, it got the morning sun, and the window
opened on to the kitchen garden. Shortly after moving into this room two
visitors came to see me. One was M. le Médecin Chef, who was afterwards
imprisoned at the Hôpital 106. At this time, however, he was allowed by
the Germans to visit the hospitals. I was quite unable to speak the day
he came to see me, but was able to recognise and wonder at the French

My other visitor was a German officer. I can only vaguely remember that
he was tall, well-built, and I think wore a beard. He spoke English
fluently, and said that he used often to visit Cairo many years ago,
when one of the battalions of my regiment was stationed there. I asked
him if he would send news of me to England. He sat down by my bed, and
put my name and regiment down in his note-book.

The post-card he sent, which reached the War Office _viâ_ Geneva, was
signed von Schwerin. It may seem a small thing to be grateful for, but
the sending of that post-card was a very hard favour to obtain and a
very great favour to be granted.

During the first few months of the German occupation of Cambrai no
messages or letters were allowed to leave the district, and the severest
penalties were imposed on those who were caught attempting to get
letters out of the country. It was said that two German officers were
sent home in disgrace for writing to Geneva on behalf of a wounded

On September 15 a French Red Cross nurse came in to see me at 10 o'clock
in the evening. She was a tall, fine-looking woman, dressed in a large
heavy coat. After asking my name, she said she had a letter to give me
from an officer of my regiment.

The letter, written in pencil, on a page from an exercise book, was as


  MY DEAR M.,--So glad to hear you are going on all right, as I heard
  you had a bad wound in the head, which sounded serious. I saw
  a priest a few days ago who told me there was an officer of my
  regiment at Cambrai, and I presumed it must be you.

  I also heard you were brought to the hospital the day I was brought
  in, but had left by the time I got here.

  I hear our regiment was captured _en bloc_ at Bertry; they marched
  slap into the Germans in the dark, so we may be better off where we
  are. I hear M., M., and L. were killed the day we got wounded.

  We are very well done here; it is rather an amateur show, but every
  one does what they can for us. I got a bullet across my scalp, but
  it is nearly healed now, and I am up and about. I expect ---- Btt.
  must be in the country by now somewhere, but I don't know.

  I hope this finds you in good spirits. I think we may hope to be
  relieved soon.

  Best luck.--Yours ever,

    A. A. D.

  A nurse from Cambrai is here who has kindly volunteered to take this
  back with her.

       *       *       *       *       *

The nurse told me that she was returning to Caudry next day and would
take back an answer. She also added that my friend hoped to escape.

Next morning I was able to scrawl two or three lines, holding a pencil
in the right hand and pushing it along with the left.

Major D. succeeded in getting away from Caudry, and after many
adventures crossed safely over the Dutch frontier.

During the first month of my stay in the hospital, with a French
surgeon, French nurses, and French soldier orderlies, there was little
to remind me of the fact that I was a prisoner of war.

No one in the hospital believed that the Germans would remain at Cambrai
for more than a few weeks. The arrival of the French troops was expected
and hoped for from day to day. Optimists declared that in a week the
city would be delivered, and only the most pessimistic put off the
joyful day to the end of September. The prevailing belief that the
Germans would soon be driven out of the country was strengthened by
the vague reports of disaster to the German arms which were current in
Cambrai after the battle of the Marne.

At this time every story, however improbable, found ardent believers.
French and British troops were seen hovering on the outskirts if not at
the very gates of the city. It was even asserted that somebody had seen
Japanese troops! 200,000 of whom had landed at Marseilles some few days
before! The suppression of all newspapers left the universal craving for
news unsatisfied, and the daily paper was replaced by short type-written
notes which were secretly passed from hand to hand. I remember the
contents of one of these compositions which was handed me by a visitor
with great parade of secrecy and importance.

It was composed of brief short sentences: "Cambrai the last town
in German occupation. Germans retiring all along the line. Maubeuge
re-occupied by French and British troops. Revolution in Berlin. Streets
in flames. Death of Empress."

All such absurd stories probably emanated from a German source and
represent some obscure form of German humour.

The most exciting incident which took place at Cambrai in September was
the visit of two aeroplanes, either French or English, which flew over
the town just out of rifle range.

The aviators were greeted with a tremendous fusillade, which was started
by the sentry on the church tower close to my window. For nearly ten
minutes rifles, machine-guns, and artillery kept up a steady fire. The
nurses who had rushed out to see the aeroplanes soon came running back,
as bullets were falling on the hospital roof.

The sequel of this first air raid was long a subject of discussion.
The Germans allege that bombs were dropped by the aviators. The French
declare that German guns fired at them from outside the town, and that
the shells fell and exploded in the town.

The casualties were 7 civilians and 15 Germans killed, and a number of
wounded. Seven horses were killed on the Place du Marché.

When the firing ceased a poor woman and her little child of three years
old were brought into the hospital very severely wounded. The mother's
leg had to be amputated, and the poor little baby had one of its arms
taken off.

Although the German authorities blamed the British, it is hardly likely
that bombs were dropped on Cambrai in September 1914, and there can be
little doubt that the damage was caused by German shells.

During the first two or three weeks of my stay at the hospital I
saw very little of either the surgeon or the two nurses, with whom
afterwards I came to be on terms of great friendship. At that time the
number of wounded was so great that the nurses had not a single minute
to spare.

The hospital was overflowing with the wounded soldiers; many died within
a few hours of arriving, and many more died in the operating-room. The
number of severe cases was so great that it was impossible that all
should receive the needful attention in time. Dr Debu spent twenty-four
hours at a stretch in the operating-room.

More and more wounded kept arriving, until every bed was occupied and
wounded men were lying in the corridors, and many were turned away from
the door because there was no room.

[Illustration: Docteur Debu, Chirurgien-en-Chef, Hôpital Civil,

From the 27th of August to the first days of September, the increasing
number of deaths in the hospital made it more and more difficult to make
arrangements for removing the bodies to the cemetery. It was therefore
suggested that graves should be dug in the hospital garden opposite my

The graves were actually dug, but were too shallow and could not be
used. The open trenches remained empty for some weeks, until some of the
wounded soldiers took on the job of filling in the earth.

Two nurses had charge of the ward and rooms on our floor--Mlle. Waxin,
one of the hospital permanent staff, and Mlle. Debu, the surgeon's

Mlle. Waxin had also charge of the operating-room; she was as clever as
a surgeon and as strict as a gendarme with her patients. Rather
under the average height, her figure inclined, but very slightly, to
plumpness. Very dark eyes that could sparkle and also look severe. A
young, round, rosy, but very determined face. A typical French girl.

Mlle. Debu, although without hospital training and with no previous
experience of nursing, volunteered from the first day of the invasion
to help in her father's hospital. Mlle. Debu showed the true spirit of
France. She was only nineteen. Never for a moment did she lose courage.
From the very start she worked with the skill and endurance of a trained
nurse, and her face, ever quick to smile, never betrayed, even for a
moment, the fatigues and worries of the day.

When the rays of the morning sun lit up the top of the glass door it
was time for breakfast, and punctually to the minute Mlle. Debu appeared
with a cup of chocolate which she made for me herself. "Bonjour,
Monsieur le numéro sept," the brown eyes twinkled and the dimple smiled
at the daily jest.

The days passed very slowly. I was too weak to read, and even the
occasional visit from a wounded French or British soldier was more than
my head could bear. Every afternoon, at about five o'clock, a body of
German infantry marched past the hospital, singing the Wacht am Rhein in
part-song, an unpleasant daily reminder of the conqueror's presence.

In the room opposite there was a German officer who spent most of
the day walking up and down the corridor whistling a hackneyed and
out-of-date waltz tune. He always whistled the same tune, and it got on
my nerves. The nurse told me that there was nothing the matter with
him except an alleged pimple on his foot. This officer must have been a
delicate specimen of German militarism. He was known in the hospital as
"Parapluie," owing to the fact that when setting out one evening to dine
in town he borrowed an umbrella to protect his uniform from the rain.

A regular plague of flies was one of the minor discomforts which had to
be endured during the day. Mlle. Debu stuck a piece of fly-paper to
the gas chandelier which hung in the middle of the room, but only a few
dozen flies fell victims to greed and curiosity, and the others seemed
to take warning from the sad example. At meal-times there were always
crowds of these uninvited guests, who, from the contempt with which they
treated me, were evidently quite aware that I was unable to drive them
away. One fly, rather bigger than the others (Alphonse I called him),
was very persistent in his endeavours to land on my nose. When tired of
this game he would leave me for a while and circle round and round the
fly-paper, always about to land, and yet always suspicious of danger.
The career of Alphonse was cut short by a method of attack which is
probably considered by the insect kingdom as contrary to the rules of
civilised warfare. One afternoon Madame la Directrice brought up a box
of powder which she said was guaranteed to destroy all the flies in
the room in half an hour. The windows were shut, and the powder was
sprinkled all over the room and all over my bed. In about ten minutes it
was impossible to breathe. The powder got into my eyes and lungs, and
I had to ring and ask for the windows to be opened. But the flies had
succumbed, and poor Alphonse was swept up off the floor next morning
along with at least a hundred of his companions.

I gathered a great deal of information about what was going on in the
hospital from watching the glazed window in the door.

One morning I said to Mlle. Debu when she brought in breakfast, "Who was
it died in the ward last night?"

The nurses always tried to hide from me the large number of deaths that
took place in the early days, but I knew all about it from studying the
glazed window through which the outlines of passers-by could faintly be
distinguished. One man followed at a short distance by another meant a
stretcher was being carried past. It is not hard to guess what is the
burden of stretchers which are carried out of the ward when the dawn is
just breaking. At this hour the hospital is at its quietest. But in the
garden the sparrows twitter and chirrup that it will soon be time to
get up. An early and hungry blackbird will sometimes whistle one or
two impatient notes to hasten the coming of day. When the new daylight
enters my room with its fresh, clean morning air, the first picture
shown on the glass door is that of two men marching, with an interval
between. They wear slippers and make no noise. And many months after the
name of the burden they carry on the stretcher will appear on the Roll
of Honour--"Previously reported missing--now reported died of wounds as
a prisoner of war."

It is usually about eight o'clock that the surgeon's visit takes place.
First there is the rattle and jingle of bottles all along the corridor,
which heralds the advance of the portable dressing-table. This table
runs on rubber wheels, and is fitted with an ingenious basin in which
the surgeon can wash his hands under a tap which is turned on by
pressing a lever with the foot. Sometimes, when the door of my room
has been left ajar, I can see as they pass the surgeons in their white
overalls followed by the nurses and orderlies. There are one or two very
serious cases which have to be dressed by the surgeons, but the visit is
chiefly an inspection. Cases where the balance lies between amputation
and death have to be submitted to the sure judgment of Dr Debu.

During the early days there was a long waiting list for the
operating-room, as there was scarcely time even to deal with those who
were in immediate danger of death.

In the majority of the cases brought in the wounds had not been dressed
for several days. Men had remained three or four days at the place where
they had been struck down. Others were put into farmhouses with broken
legs or arms, and left unattended for a fortnight. Others again--and
they were very numerous--had been brought into Cambrai by the Germans
and deposited in some temporary ambulance-shed, and left with scarcely
any medical attention, their wounds dressed perhaps once a week. When
such poor sufferers as these arrived at last at the hospital, it was as
a rule too late for anything but amputation, and often too late even for

One evening, about the 10th of September, a German officer arrived at
the hospital with an order that all wounded Germans should be at once
taken to the station. There was at this time, in one of the rooms
adjoining mine, a German officer who had been shot in the bladder. Mlle.
Waxin had charge of the case, and, thanks to her careful nursing, there
seemed to be some chance of his recovery. When the order came to move
all Germans, Mlle. Waxin protested that if this officer were moved he
would die. But the Germans refused to listen to her, and took their
officer off to the station. That same evening the poor fellow was taken
back from the station, and died in the hospital within an hour of his
return. Next day a large number of French and British wounded were taken
away to Germany.

The vacant beds were at once filled with cases brought in for operation
from the various temporary hospitals. Among the new arrivals were
several British officers, two of whom, Irvine in the King's Own and
Halls in the Hampshire Regiment, were put in the room opposite mine.
Halls had been shot through both ankles, but after a few days managed to
hobble across the corridor to pay me a visit. A French officer, wounded
in the knee, used sometimes to come and see me, but I have forgotten his

It was on a Sunday that the sad announcement was made that my two
newly-found friends were to be taken away to Germany. Halls said it was
such bad luck to be carried away just as the French were about to enter
the town!

The French soldier-orderlies all left the hospital at the same time
as Halls and Irvine, and the duty of looking after my room fell to an
individual named François. Cheerfulness was his only virtue; laziness
and dirt were his principal and more obvious vices. François was a young
fellow of nineteen, formerly a bargee working on a neighbouring canal.
Owing to an accident which happened about a year before war broke
out, his leg had to be taken off, and he was afterwards kept on in
the hospital to act as handyman. In spite of his wooden leg he was
wonderfully active, and when aroused was capable of doing a lot of work.
François invariably wore a very large and very dirty cap, tilted right
on to the back of his thick, black, curly hair. The cap and the fag-end
of a cigarette sticking to his under lip were permanent fixtures. His
breath smelt of garlic and sour wine. The only person in the hospital
to whose orders he paid the least attention was Mlle. Waxin, and it was
only under her severe eye that François made any use of broom or duster.

On fine afternoons during the last week of September I was taken out on
to the Terrace on a stretcher. Irvine was also lifted out in a chair,
and looked very thin and pale. Like most of us in the hospital, he had
been wounded on the 26th August; the wound was a very severe one, the
bullet having actually hit the edge of his identity disc. Two other
subalterns in the Manchester Regiment were both lying out on stretchers,
and we had a talk with Captain Beresford of the Worcesters, who was
already so far recovered from a bullet in the lung that he was able to
walk. Several wounded French and British soldiers were also taken out to
enjoy the sun.

One of the Frenchmen I at once recognised to be a Curé. His figure was
more suited to the soutane than to the uniform of a Pioupiou, and a very
pronounced accent betrayed the fact that he belonged to the Auvergne
country. His comrades were evidently in the way of teasing him about his
accent, and a great discussion was going on (with much winking at me by
the other soldiers). In what part of France was the best French spoken?
M. le Curé addressed me as an impartial witness: "N'est pas, mon
capitaine, nous autres dans le midi de la France nous parlons plus
grrammaticalemaing que les habitans du Nord--nous avons un peu
_d'assent_ mais nous parlons grrammaticalemaing." My verdict being in
M. le Curé's favour, he entered into animated conversation, delighted,
he said, to meet "_enfaing_" some one who could explain to him a
question in which he was much interested but of which he understood
nothing: "Qu'est que ce que le 'homme-roulle'?" It was time to go in,
so we parted, and my inability to answer his question remained
undiscovered. I never saw the Curé again, and was told he had been taken
off to Germany.

Among the lesser discomforts of the early days in the Civil Hospital was
the ordeal of being washed, which I only went through twice in the first
three weeks. The nurses could not think of washing patients, as they
had not time to dress all the wounds that required urgent attention, and
therefore the washing was done by François, and it was a sort of job to
which he was evidently quite unaccustomed.

The impossibility of getting any sleep, the pain from lying in one
position, and the irritation of repeated mustard plasters (which were
brought up and applied by François), soon became relatively unimportant
in the presence of a new trouble. One evening something in my head began
to throb. It felt like the steady regular beat of a pulse deep inside.
When Mlle. Waxin came to see me that night I told her about it. Of
course, as all good nurses do, she said it was nothing, but she would
speak to the surgeon. Next morning Dr Debu, after examination, declared
that an abscess had formed in the wound owing to the presence of a bone
splinter. This would necessitate a small operation.

My first acquaintance with the movable dressing-table, which carried a
fearsome collection of surgical weapons, took place at nine o'clock that
evening. Mlle. Waxin started the proceedings with a shaving-brush. After
lathering the top of my head, she then shaved the hair off all round the
wound, and I was ready for the surgeon's visit. When Dr Debu came in, he
said it would be better if I could manage to do without an anæsthetic.
"How long are you going to be?" I asked.

"Not more than a minute."

The apprehension was worse than the reality. A quick movement of the
lancet laid open the abscess and disclosed the jagged splintered edge
of the skull. With a pair of pincers the surgeon broke off one or two
pieces of bone about the size of a tooth, then jammed in a piece of lint
soaked in iodine. The whole affair lasted two minutes. From now onwards
my head had to be dressed every day, and a piece of lint nearly a
foot long was pushed in every morning to keep the wound open, and any
splinters that could be found were snipped off with the pincers.

Now that the pressure of work in the hospital was somewhat relieved, my
two nurses would sometimes come and sit in my room, and I was cheered
with a regular afternoon visit from some of the nurses from neighbouring
hospitals. Mlle. L'Etoile and her friends used to bring me books,
boxes of the sweets known as "Bétises de Cambrai," peaches, nectarines,
grapes, and long, fat, juicy "poires Duchesse," the largest and sweetest
pears I have ever tasted. Afternoon tea "avec le numéro sept" was a
cheerful and often noisy meal. It was such a relief to forget for a
moment the presence of the Boche and to hear the sound of laughter.

In addition to my friends who were regular visitors, we had occasional
visits from curious but well-meaning strangers. Some people find it
impossible when visiting hospitals to get beyond the everlasting phrase,
"Where were you wounded?"

The limit of conversational inanity was reached by one of these casual
visitors, a stout blonde dame. Our conversation ran as follows:--

"Bonjour, bonjour; vous êtes un officier anglais, n'est-ce pas?"

"Mais oui, Madame!"

"Où avez-vous été blessé?"

"A la tête...."

"Vous restez couché comme ça toute la journée?"

"C'est que j'ai la jambe paralysée."

"Et vous n'avez pas eu de blessure à la jambe?"

"Rien du tout."

"Alors vous étiez donc paralysé avant la guerre!!!"

"Ce qui prouve," as one of my nurses said, "que toutes les bétises de
Cambrai ne sont pas dans les boîtes à bonbons."

It was about this time that a visit was paid to the hospital by Mgr.
l'Archevêque de Cambrai, who went round all the wards with kind words of
consolation for each one. The Archbishop hesitated on the threshold of
my room, and was about to pass on, fearing no doubt to disturb me, and
perhaps foreseeing the probable difficulties of conversation.

"Entrez donc, Monseigneur," I said; "Veuillez prendre la peine de vous

The Archbishop was quite taken aback, and I could see Mlle. Waxin behind
was convulsed with inward mirth. She said to me afterwards, "Où êtes
vous allé chercher de si grandes phrases?"

His lordship came and sat by my bedside for a few moments. He is a man
of great personality and charm, who gives an impression of strength and

After the Archbishop had gone, Mlle. Waxin told me that the vacant bed
in my room was to be occupied by a British officer. This turned out to
be Wilkinson in the Manchester Regiment. The manner of his arrival next
morning was somewhat peculiar. The door opened slowly, and a large,
very tall man, dressed like a nigger minstrel in black-and-white striped
pyjamas, and covered with bandages, hopped across the room on the left
leg; with three vigorous hops he was sitting on the bed. His right foot
was bandaged, also one of his hands. Nothing could be seen of his face
but a nose and one eye.

"Thank goodness there is some one to talk to," was what the strange
figure said. Then followed the necessary mutual explanations.

The only method of movement possible to Wilkinson was hopping, at which
he had become quite an expert. Shrapnel bullets had lodged themselves
all over his body, fortunately avoiding vital spots. The worst of his
wounds was a fractured jaw, which gave him a great deal of pain, and
made chewing of food impossible.

When Mlle. Waxin came in to dress my wound, some of the other nurses
sometimes came out of curiosity, as the working of the brain was quite
visible. The pushing in of long pieces of lint and the removal of
splinters, which took place every morning, was quite painless, and only
took a few minutes. But it usually took the two nurses half an hour to
dress the various wounds of the new arrival, and on the first morning Dr
Debu extracted a bullet from just under the skin below the small of the
patient's back.

Shortly after Wilkinson's arrival a most tragic event took place in the
adjoining ward.

In some mysterious manner the electric bells ceased to ring every
evening about nine o'clock. This was a very serious matter, especially
as the night nurse that particular week--Mme. Z--was very slack about
her duties, and never went round the hospital during the night to see if
all was well. The disturbance started about eleven o'clock, with a dull
thud as of a body falling, followed by shouting and rattling of the iron
tables on the floor of the ward. The noise, heard through closed doors,
was sufficient to wake Wilkinson. The shouting ceased for a moment, only
to start afresh with new vigour. Wilkinson took two hops across the room
and opened the door; the tables still rattled, and the calls for help
continued. A French soldier, with one arm in a sling, clothed in nothing
but a nightshirt, came walking gingerly down the corridor in his bare
feet. When he saw our door open, he came in to tell us all about it. A
soldier who was badly wounded in the head had suddenly become delirious,
torn off his bandages, and fallen out of bed. There was no one in the
ward able to help the poor fellow, who lay moaning on the floor in a
state too awful for description. The bells did not ring, and there
was nothing to be done except shout. The French soldier went along the
corridor to the head of the staircase to call for the night watcher.
After quite a long time some one downstairs woke up to the fact that
there was something wrong. The night nurse appeared, followed by the
night porter. They lifted the dying man on to the bed, bandaged up his
poor head, and gave him a strong injection of morphia. One of the
French soldiers told me some time after that the poor fellow died quite
noiselessly in the middle of the night, but I knew early that morning
when a stretcher passed the glass door that the tragedy was over.

Mlle. Waxin used often to tell me about the different cases under her

I was never able to get the name of one of her favourites whom she
called her "petit anglais." This was a young Irish boy badly shot in the
stomach. Dr Debu told me that he might live for several months, but that
there was no hope of recovery. The dressing of his wounds was nearly
always done by Mlle. Waxin, under whose gentle hand he never complained
of the awful agony from which morphia was the only relief. Although the
ward in which he lay was on the ground floor, we could sometimes hear
the screams of agony upstairs, screams which no one but Mlle. Waxin
could silence. "C'est mon petit anglais qui m'appelle," she used to say.

It is remarkable that no matter how badly a soldier is wounded, even
when he can neither eat nor drink, he will be soothed by a cigarette.
The Frenchman above mentioned, unable to eat, unable to speak, and
scarcely conscious, his brain bleeding from a great hole in the skull,
was yet able the day before he died to smoke a cigarette. "Le petit
anglais," who was never free from pain, found his greatest joy in the
few cigarettes that Mlle. Waxin, in spite of the shortage of tobacco,
brought to his beside every morning. It was very hard to get any tobacco
in Cambrai until late in October, when the Germans allowed it to be
imported from Belgium.

One of the nurses who was able to speak English used sometimes to come
and see me, and one day she brought me the following note from a soldier
in my own regiment who was in one of the wards downstairs:--

    No. 0000, Pte. N. N.,
          B Co.,
      1st ---- Highlanders.

  DEAR SIR,--I was sorry to hear that you had been one of the unlucky
  ones, along with myself, to be put aside and away from the regiment.
  I hope that you will pull through all right. I am getting on, but
  it is my legs that are all the hinder. It was a very bad place I was
  wounded in the stoumick. Now, dear sir, I hope that you won't think
  me forward in asking you for a favour. If you would let me have
  the advance of 2s. so that I could get some tobacco, as I have lost

    N. N.

This man recovered, and was exchanged many months afterwards.

Another young Irishman, who was a great favourite, had been badly
wounded in the foot. It was found necessary to take the foot off, and
after the operation, when Mlle. Waxin went to console him, she found him
lying with his face to the wall, silently weeping.

"I was going to scold him for being such a baby," she said to me
afterwards, "but when the English-speaking sister explained to me the
reason of the tears, I felt like crying myself."

"It is not the pain, sister, that troubles me," he said to them,
"but you see with a wooden leg I can never go back again to the old

On 9th Oct. we had a very strict inspection of the hospital, and a great
number of the remaining British wounded were put down on the list of
"transportables." The French nurses always sent off the British wounded
dressed in French uniform, as it was a fact notorious at Cambrai that
the Germans robbed British wounded of their uniform. In many cases
German soldiers took greatcoats away from wounded men and gave a
five-mark piece in exchange. The ill-treatment which was specially shown
to British soldiers on the journey to Germany was the principal reason
why the French, whenever they could get a chance, disguised our wounded
soldiers in French uniforms. The fact that, in the early days of the
war, British prisoners were invariably treated worse than the French
cannot be denied, and will be amply proved from the evidence of returned
prisoners, and from other sources of information at present unavailable.
It is the truth that nearly all British soldiers taken prisoners and
sent to Germany during the first months of the war were made the object
of special contempt, neglect, or cruelty. Such conduct undoubtedly
constitutes a departure "from laws of humanity, and from the dictates
of the public conscience," which are supposed to govern the conduct
of civilised nations.[1] To ill-treat or insult a wounded and helpless
enemy is the most despicable offence a soldier can commit. Men who do
these things dishonour the name of soldier.

[1] See Convention concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land: The
Hague, 1907, p. 47.

The meaning of war without chivalry was first brought home to the
inhabitants of Cambrai when they saw the way the victorious Germans
treated the unfortunate wounded who had been brought into the town
from the neighbouring battlefields. During the first week of September
hundreds of wounded, French and English, were sent to Germany packed
in cattle trucks, with no medical attendance, no food, no water. It was
only natural that in our hospital both nurses and patients should dread
the days when German officials came round searching for cases that could
be considered "transportable." The inspections which took place on
the 9th and 11th of October were carried out with great severity. My
companion Wilkinson was taken away, and many were put down on the list
who were quite unfit to travel.

Great consternation was created in the hospital on the evening of the
11th, when an order arrived that the whole male staff of the hospital
was to report forthwith at the Kommandantur. This was the end of
the Civil Hospital as a French hospital. The doctors (except Debu),
orderlies, and assistants were marched off to the Kommandantur at seven
o'clock that evening, and spent the whole night in a cold unfurnished
room without food or drink. Next morning the whole party, with two
exceptions, were told that they were prisoners, and had to leave at once
for Germany. The two exceptions were one of the surgeons, who was able
to make up a plausible story, and François, whose wooden leg saved him
from a German prison. Next morning the hospital was taken over by the
Germans, and French orderlies were replaced by German soldiers.

The operating-room was shared between the French and German surgeons.
Dr Debu operated in the morning on the French and British, and in the
afternoon the room was occupied by German surgeons, the chief of whom
was Professor Fessler, a celebrated authority on gunshot wounds. The
French nurses at Cambrai told me that they found the German surgeons
were, as a rule, quite indifferent and careless in causing pain to the
wounded, of which fact the following incident from my note-book is an

"_Oct. 16th._--Dreadful screams from downstairs, lasting two or three
minutes. Mlle. Waxin tells me it is only the German surgeon starting to
operate before the ether had taken effect."

An exception must be made of Professor Fessler, who was always most
humane in the operating-room. Professor Fessler once said to Mlle.
Waxin, "If the men who are responsible for war could be made to realise
the horror of the operating-room, war would always be avoided." A
dying Frenchman was brought in one afternoon in the hope that instant
operation might save his life. Professor Fessler performed the operation
at once, working with the utmost care, as Mlle. Waxin told me, to avoid
giving the poor sufferer unnecessary agony.

The numbers of German patients in the hospital increased day by day,
which we took as a hopeful indication that the Germans were not having
things all their own way. We had several German officers about this
time, and I used to hear about them from Mlle. Waxin. One of them, who
was very seriously wounded, insisted upon being dressed by the French
nurse, and would not allow the Schwester to touch him. The officer in
the room next mine was dying of chest wounds complicated by pneumonia.
During the night, through the thin partition, I could follow every sound
of his death agony--the groaning, whistling laboured breathing, the
whispering of nurses, the low steady tones of prayer, and then silence.

A very different death scene took place in the hospital a few days
later. A German officer was brought in badly shot in the stomach.
After his operation he was told that food or drink during the first
twenty-four hours would be fatal. He ordered his servant to fetch him a
bottle of champagne, drank half of it down and died within five minutes.
A bestial and truly Hunnish death.

Now that the Germans had installed themselves in the hospital, there was
an end to the pleasant afternoons on the sunny terrace. I was no longer
lifted out of bed to sit in a chair, nor was I able even to sit up
in bed lest some German should see me and mark my name down as
"transportable." The hospital gate was now guarded by a sentry, and
no visitors could enter without a written permit from the German
authorities, who imposed their authority throughout the whole hospital,
without meeting any effective resistance until they encountered Mlle.
Waxin. German authority said that a German Schwester would, in future,
assist the French nurse in the operating-room. Mlle. Waxin declaring
that she would allow no one to interfere with her work, locked the room
up and put the keys in her pocket. German authority, after threatening
imprisonment, exile, and other dreadful punishments, had to climb down.
It would have been easy to take the keys or to force the door, but
the services of Mlle. Waxin were indispensable, and it was obviously
impossible to compel her to work against her will. So the German
Schwester was dismissed. The morning after this matter had been settled
another storm arose, when Mlle. Waxin's father came to pay his daily
visit and was stopped by the sentry. The determined young girl went to
the German Head Surgeon and declared that she refused to work in the
hospital unless her father was allowed to visit her at any time of the
day or night without hindrance.

After the first few days the friction between the French and German
hospital staff began to grow less. The German nurses, although good at
sweeping and cleaning, had little or no training at Red Cross work, and
were very glad to leave the dressing of complicated injuries to Mlle.
Waxin or Mlle. Debu. The night orderlies were stolid, silent, very
willing and obliging. The German surgeons from all accounts behaved with
tact and courtesy.

This comparatively peaceful state of affairs was upset by the visit of
an extremely ugly, very cross and disagreeable individual, with a grey
ragged beard, whom we christened "le père grigou." His chief business at
Cambrai was to compile lists of "transportables." Grigou, a personage
of high rank, was the senior medical officer at Cambrai. To our great
horror he made the Hôpital Civil his headquarters, and on the day of
arrival paid a surprise visit to my room. But not quite a surprise
visit, for Mlle. Waxin had wind of his coming and had made all
preparations. She bound an extra bandage round my head, took my pillow
away, and drew the window curtains. When Grigou arrived I was lying flat
on my back in semi-darkness, breathing heavily. My eyes, bloodshot from
ten minutes' hard rubbing, looked vacantly up at the ceiling. As Grigou
bent over the bed I heaved a long tremulous sigh. Grigou consulted with
his colleague, and the verdict was that it was doubtful if I would
live till next morning! My name was of course put down on the list of
"non-transportable." If Grigou, who visited our floor every day, had
seen me, or any German had reported that I had been seen sitting up in
bed, our harmless trick would have resulted in my immediate departure
for Germany, and my nurses would have got into serious trouble, so I had
to live up to my supposed dying condition. Grigou did not remain with us
more than a few days, but even when he had left the nurses did not dare
to take me out on a stretcher or even to put me into a chair.

At this time the other bed in my room was occupied by a soldier of the
Middlesex Regiment. His case was an example of the terrible results
which came from delay in attending to shell wounds. After lying out two
days he was taken to Cambrai, and remained for more than a week in a
German ambulance with little or no attention. A German surgeon opened
his leg without using an anæsthetic. Perhaps there was none to be had.
As a result of this the poor fellow's nerve was completely shattered.
When he came under Dr Debu's care it was hoped that his leg might be
saved, and a further opening was made just below the knee. The dressing
of this man's wounds was a sight not easily forgotten. When the nurses
entered the room with the dressing-table he begged them to leave him to
die. While the bandage was being unrolled he sat with chattering teeth,
his face twitching with nervous apprehension; the leg was dreadful to
look at, the flesh just above and below the knee lay folded back, raw
and discoloured, with rubber tubing protruding from both sides of the
calf. It was a hopeless case, and the attempt to save his leg had to
be given up. After the amputation he suffered far less pain, but never
recovered his self-control. On 20th October he was taken away to Madame
Brunet's Convalescent Hospital, reserved for amputated cases, where he
died just before Christmas.

It had been decided by the German authorities that beds in the Hôpital
Civil were to be reserved solely for cases requiring operation. Dr
Debu therefore found that it was no longer possible for me to stay, and
arranged for my being sent to another hospital.

On the 21st October I was taken away from my kind friends, and for
the first time carried by Germans on a German stretcher. Outside the
hospital a motor ambulance was waiting. The night was dark, wet, and
very cold. My leg was soon numbed with cold, as the ambulance did not
start for nearly a quarter of an hour. Through the open end I could see
a flickering street lamp which threw glinting reflections on the wet

A martial step, with the clink of spurs, woke echoes down the silent
street; a German officer passed, came into view for an instant under the
lamp, then clanked away into darkness.

The ambulance driver and another soldier, who had been conversing
together in low tones, stood rigidly to attention until the sound of the
officer's steps had died away in the distance. Then the French soldier
for whom we were waiting was carried down and placed in the ambulance
beside me, the door was closed, shutting out the cold air and the
dripping street. "Eh bien, mon lieutenant," said a voice from the
stretcher, "nous voila partis! My father was taken prisoner in 1870,
and voila, I am now also a prisoner, but that is nothing--_on les aura_,
cette fois ci, on les aura ces sales têtes d'alboches!"



The school building, hurriedly transformed on the outbreak of war into a
hospital, forms three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth side of which is
blocked by a high wall, so that in the courtyard thus formed the sun can
never shine.

This was the hospital of the French Red Cross--L'Hôpital Auxiliaire du
Territoire, No. 106, Union des femmes de France. The accommodation for
patients is limited to five rooms, all of which look on to the dismal
courtyard. "Salle un," to which I was taken on arrival, the only room at
all resembling a hospital ward, is a long lofty room running the whole
length of one side of the quadrangle.

Along each side of the room beds of various sorts and sizes were ranged
several yards apart. Mine was a large and brand-new double bedstead
with large ornamental brass knobs. The sheets were of the finest Cambrai
linen. Under several layers of blankets, and surrounded on all sides by
hot bricks wrapped in flannel, I soon began to recover from the effects
of my journey in the ambulance.

The first thing that struck me about my new quarters was the number
of nurses and orderlies, most of whom were local volunteers whose
experience of hospitals dated from the German invasion. They were
relieved from night work by a number of extra volunteers attached to the
hospital, who each took one night a week.

[Illustration: L'Hôpital "106."]

It was now past eight o'clock, the nurses had all left, and the night
staff--three youths from the city--had taken off their bowler hats,
retaining their coats and mufflers, and sat themselves at a table near
the door. At the far end of the ward a tall young German soldier sat
working silently at his table far into the night. He belonged to the
motor transport, and was suffering from earache--so much I had gathered
from the nurses. I speculated that perhaps he was working to pass
examinations for a commission; the little lamp burning late,
the absorbed attitude of the student, seemed incongruous in such
surroundings. In the bed opposite mine lay a badly-wounded German
officer, shaded by a screen from the lamp round which the night-watchers
sat reading. These were the only two Germans in the hospital. Presently
the studious German put aside his books, retired to bed, and the
ward was silent. The services of the orderlies did not seem to be
required,--one sat for a while aimlessly turning over the leaves of an
illustrated paper, then rested his head awhile upon the table, and
was at once asleep. From the bed opposite there came a gentle tinkling
sound. One of the watchers, a young lad, still a schoolboy, crossed
the ward on tiptoe and bent over the wounded man, whose whisper was too
feeble to reach my listening ear. The light was turned on, the sleeper
resting on the illustrated paper awoke, left the ward, and returned
after a few minutes with the night nurse. Now that the screen was moved
I could see that the face in the bed opposite was that of a young man,
perhaps not more than nineteen; it was the face of a gentleman and a
soldier, but drawn, pinched, more yellow than reality in the gaslight,
gasping with pain, gasping for morphia. When at last the merciful
injection had been given, "Merci, merci," said a strengthened voice;
"merci, vous êtes tous si bons pour moi." The screen replaced, the gas
turned low, the watchers returned to their table, and all was quiet
again till dawn.

Next morning just before ten o'clock the ward was visited by two
surgeons, one a German, the other my friend from the Hôpital Civil,
Dr Debu. By the dull light of a wet October morning they examined the
wounded German officer. From Dr D.'s face I knew the case was
hopeless. Still, an operation might save life, if not the leg. When the
stretcher-bearers came to carry the young officer away he thanked the
nurses for their kindness, speaking perfect French with pathetic accents
of real gratitude. He asked that the chocolates, cigarettes, &c., on his
table should be distributed among the French soldiers in the ward, and
again expressed his thanks, and asked pardon for the trouble he had
caused. The operation was unsuccessful. He was taken, such are the
coincidences of life and death, to the same bed as I had occupied at the
Civil Hospital--numéro sept--where a few days afterwards he died, but
not before his mother, in mourning already for two sons, had been called
from Germany to his bedside.

No special accommodation was provided for officers at the 106 Hospital.
There was a French officer in Salle 5, on the ground floor, and it was
arranged that I was to be taken downstairs to his ward.

The worst ward in the hospital was undoubtedly No. 5. The room had
formerly been a classroom for junior pupils. Poor little children! how
miserable their lessons must have been in that damp sunless schoolroom.
On the courtyard side, facing north, the light is obscured by a large
wide verandah; on the south side the ground of another small courtyard
is five or six feet higher than the level of the room.

Of the Salle cinq I have many pleasant memories, but my first impression
of it--a picture which I cannot forget--was sadly depressing. The room
is a small one, not more than 36 by 20 feet. One had the impression of
entering a basement, almost a cellar. The windows were all shut. Judging
from the heavy fetid atmosphere, they had not been opened since the
declaration of war.

Except for a small open area in the centre, the whole floor-space was
filled with beds, which were ranged all round the room, each one close
up against the other. In the corner next the door one bed, standing by
itself, was occupied by the French officer, X., a reserve Captain of
the Colonial Infantry. My bed was also a corner one. On one side stood a
cupboard in which bandages, morphia, and other necessaries were kept.

Salle 5 was not only the worst ward, but it also contained the worst
cases. This was probably owing to the fact that the nurse in charge,
Mme. Buquet, was the most efficient nurse in the hospital. The number
of beds was thirteen. No. 1, known as "le Picard," was a cheery, jovial,
hardy little fellow, who had lost a leg. No. 2, Sergt. Blanchard,
suffered from a badly suppurating wound in the thigh, and was taken away
for an operation to the Civil Hospital, where he died a few days after.
No. 3, Chasseur Alpin, shot through the chest about an inch above the
heart. A very serious case. No. 6, left arm amputated, right leg and
foot shattered. Nos. 8 and 9, very bad gangrenous leg wounds. Both died
shortly afterwards.

[Illustration: M. Vampouille in the Salle Cinq.]

Under the circumstances it was perhaps only natural that on my arrival
into the Salle cinq I was rather depressed. Most of the poor fellows
in the ward were in continuous pain, but the only one who made audible
complaint was No. 6. This man was a Charentais from Cognac. His wounds,
although very terrible, were yet not so bad or so painful as those of
many others who suffered in silence. No. 6 never ceased day or night,
except when under the influence of morphia, from groaning and whining
about his foot; he was known in the ward as "Oh mon pied!" On the
afternoon of my arrival No. 6 came near to death--nearer even than he
did on the day when a German shell blew off his arm and destroyed most
of his right leg. No. 6 was sitting propped up in bed, when suddenly his
head fell back, his thin yellow face turned a pasty white, and he lay
back apparently a corpse. Fortunately an orderly was in the room at the
time, and help was immediately forthcoming. About a dozen nurses crowded
round the bed. There was nothing to be done. The doctor was sent
for, also the Curé. "The man was dying;" "he was dead." "No, he still
breathed." Then some one made an intelligent suggestion. "Look inside
the bed." The bedclothes pulled down revealed a dreadful sight, which
explained at once what had happened. The whole bed was soaked in blood.
A blood-vessel had burst in the wound and the man was bleeding to death.
The bleeding was easily stopped by the application of a tourniquet, but
it was doubtful if any man could live after the loss of so much blood.
Doctor and Curé arrived together as No. 6 was beginning to come round.
The tourniquet had been applied just in time.

No windows were left open during the night.

Café au lait came in next morning at 7.30, and was distributed by
Pierre, the orderly, a most willing and really excellent fellow. During
breakfast one window was opened about three inches. As soon as breakfast
was over the window was closed, the breakfast things removed, and the
nurse began to prepare for the morning's work.

Mme. Buquet, head nurse of the ward, wife of a well-known French
surgeon, was assisted by two volunteers from Cambrai, Mlle. Marie and
Mlle. X. The dressing of wounds is quite a simple, straightforward
business when the wounds are clean, but it is a very different story
when there is gangrenous infection. No. 1, "le Picard," whose bed was
just opposite mine, gave no trouble; his stump had nearly healed up and
required very little attention. A deal of time was given to No. 3, the
Chasseur Alpin; the bullet wound had made a small hole just over the
left nipple, and the dressing of it was most painful to watch, as the
poor boy evidently suffered great agony, though he never cried out or
complained. No. 6 provided what one might call "le pièce de résistance."
He began to howl before he was touched, and during the whole time his
wounds were being dressed he continued either to shout or groan, or
repeat his favourite exclamation, "Oh mon pied, mon pied!" Picard used
to jeer at him for making so much fuss. "There is no one in the ward who
makes such an infernal row as you do." No. 6 replied that no one in the
ward suffered so much pain. This statement met with vigorous opposition
from all over the room; even No. 3, who could scarcely breathe, was
roused for the first time to husky speech. "Some of us suffer in
silence: you should do likewise." In the heated discussion which
followed No. 6 forgot for a time all about his bad foot. Poor No. 6 was
in a minority of one. He was told that, though we were all very sorry
for him, we objected to the continual groaning and shouting, which could
do no good, and only disturbed those who suffered far worse pain in

Nos. 8 and 9, the two beds nearest to mine, were the last to be dressed
that morning. No. 9, whose bed was so close to mine that there was only
just room between for the nurse to stand, was badly shot in the upper
part of the thigh. The wound was in such a condition that there was no
hope of recovery. A stream of dark-green gangrenous liquid poured out
of the wound at the first washing. I covered up my head under the sheets
and lit a cigarette, but even so could not escape from the sickening

Owing to the serious condition of most of the wounded, the limited
number of surgical instruments, and the cramped space in which the work
had to be done, the dressing of wounds went on the whole morning, and
was seldom finished before midday. During all this time the windows
were kept shut, until just immediately before lunch, when one window was
opened--not too wide, lest too much of the foul putrid atmosphere should
escape and let in some of the clean air of a fresh autumn morning.

After lunch, M. le Médecin Chef Faméchon and Capt. Viguié came to pay
us a visit. The Médecin Chef is a man between sixty and seventy years of
age, tall, straight as an arrow, dignified, reserved, almost austere in
manner, _au fond_ the kindest and best of men, as I found out later
on from personal experience. He was taken prisoner at Arras, and now
remained a prisoner in this hospital. Thus do the Germans observe the
Geneva Convention.

The Médecin Chef and Captain Viguié shared a small room at the other
side of the hospital. Viguié, who had formerly occupied my bed in Salle
5, used to come every morning to visit his old friends. The visits were
always an occasion for the exchange of humour between Viguié and myself,
in which combats Viguié, possessed of a Parisian quickness of repartee,
always came off best. Perhaps it was the case as Mme. Buquet said, that
I suffered from "du retard dans la perception." We all used to tease
Viguié, and I used to greet him in the morning as "vieux coco." "Dites
donc, Monsieur l'Ecossais," was the usual answer; "nous n'avons pas
gardé les cochons ensemble." It has taken nearly a year and a half to
find the correct answer to this pleasantry--an answer which I could send
to my friend in his German prison, only that the Boche might refuse
to pass it. "Non, mon ami, mais nous avons été gardé ensemble par les

My diary states that "on October 26th I got up in the evening and
had dinner at the table. There is great excitement in the hospital on
account of large bodies of German troops having passed through the town.
This is supposed to be a retirement." This opinion was strengthened by
the visit of a simple-minded citizen of Cambrai, who came in with the
news that "Metz had fallen." Stupid stories such as these were believed
for a time by a great many people. "The smell in my ward is not so
strong to-night. I have succeeded in getting a window kept open."

"October 30th. M. Heloire, the Veterinary Surgeon from Caudry, came to
see me yesterday." Perhaps it was because he was not wearing the white
overall that I did not recognise the tall, erect, grey-bearded man, who
stood at the door of the Salle cinq and looked anxiously round the ward.
Presently he came over to my bedside and stood looking. Then he spoke
some commonplace, but not until he mentioned Caudry did I realise who
it was. Labouring under a racial disability, I struggled to express my
gratitude, but M. Heloire put an end to my efforts. With tears rolling
down his cheeks he embraced me tenderly and thanked the _Bon Dieu_ that
I was still alive. "They said at Caudry that you had died on the way
to Germany, and so I came to ask the truth as soon as I could get a
permit." We talked of many things, and M. Heloire refreshed my memory as
to many incidents of my short stay at Caudry which I had forgotten. He
told me among other things that when I was carried on a stretcher out of
La Maison Camille Wanecq and put into the cart, the villagers standing
by, who were not quite sure if my immediate destination was to be
the hospital or the churchyard, were overcome with astonishment at my
exclaiming, as the stretcher was lifted on to the cart, "En route la
marchandise!" "Every day," went on the old man, "for days after you had
left, my little granddaughter, who is only eight years old, begged to be
taken to the place where grandpère had found the poor wounded officer.
One Sunday afternoon, when it was fine, we went for a walk along the
road that you must so well remember--the cart road from Caudry to
Beaumont. When we reached the place, the ditch by the roadside, where,
the morning after the battle, after much searching, I found you lying,
my little girl, asking me to show her exactly where you had rested,
picked from the spot some of the grass and a few common wild flowers to
keep as a souvenir of grandpapa's wounded soldier."

On that same evening, after M. Heloire had gone, I made another friend,
M. Vampouille, a Belgian, the proprietor of a small pork-butcher's
business, Rue de l'Arbre d'Or, Cambrai. M. Vampouille worked in the
hospital during the day when his business would permit, took one night a
week in the Salle cinq, and was to me a faithful and devoted friend, to
whom I never can hope to express as I would my admiration and deepest
gratitude. Vampouille himself would be much astonished to hear me
express such sentiments, for the kindness which always took thought
and trouble, the tact and common-sense which made his companionship so
agreeable, are natural virtues of which he is wholly unconscious.

At the 106 we had no restrictions as to visits; at all hours of the day
numbers of people used to visit the wards, many came out of curiosity,
and such visits were for me at any rate a penance, chiefly owing to the
prevailing mania for shaking hands. At times whole families, dressed all
in deep mourning, would drift into the room and stand awkwardly grouped
at the foot of my bed. "Allons ma petite Françoise, va dire bonjour à ce
brave soldat," and the whole tribe would come, one after the other, to
perform the ceremony of "le shake-hand." After this function followed
the inevitable question, "Where were you wounded?"

My method of dealing with this question always amused Mme. Buquet.

"Où avez-vous été blessé?"

"A Caudry."

"Oui! mais à quel endroit avez-vous été blessé?"

"A l'entrée du village!"

"Oui, mais dans quelle parti avez-vous été blessé?"

"In the head, that is why I wear these bandages."

"Go, Françoise, say au revoir to the poor wounded soldier."

The function of le shake-hand having been re-enacted by each member of
the family, they passed on to the next bed.

I had many friends whose welcome visits helped to break the monotony
of hospital life. Mlle. Waxin and Mlle. Debu used sometimes to come and
talk to their old "Numéro Sept," and tell me all the latest news.
From them I first heard of poor Captain Lloyd, an English officer very
seriously wounded, who occupied my old room in the Hôpital Civil. I
wrote a short note to Lloyd, expressing my sympathy, and next morning,
when Dr Debu made his daily visit to the ward, I asked him to take it
back with him.

There must be some special department of the German Staff solely
occupied with the task of thinking out new things to make _verboten_.
It is incredible, but true, that the Germans had forbidden any
intercommunication between wounded and dying soldiers in the different
hospitals, and so my correspondence with Lloyd was carried on secretly
through the kind offices of Madame Buquet. Owing to her knowledge of
German, Mme. Buquet was able to obtain a permit to visit the Hôpital
Civil, and every day at 2 P.M., instead of taking her daily walk, she
went to visit poor Lloyd, who was feeling rather lonely, and longed, as
he said in one of his letters, to talk once more to a fellow-countryman.

It was after dinner on All Saints' Day, November 1, that I made my first
attempt to walk without any one's help. I got outside the ward and along
to a door which led into the courtyard. The night was clear and still,
the wind cold and restless. I stood awhile on the wet gravel of the
court, looking up once again at the clouds playing among stars by the
light of a rising moon.

"Vous n'êtes pas fou," said a voice from the doorway. "We looked for you
everywhere; you will catch your death of cold out there in the dark."

"You cannot understand," I replied, "how good it feels to stand once
more on the soil of the earth and look up into the heavens."

Two of the worst cases, Nos. 8 and 9, were taken away during the night
to the Civil Hospital for a fruitless operation. In the afternoon, it
being La Fête des Morts, Madame Buquet went to the military cemetery.
Even the frozen soul of a German staff officer could not forbid the
citizens of Cambrai to visit their dead.

In the military cemetery of Cambrai, visited on this day by crowds
of mourners, the French and British soldiers are buried together in a
common tomb, under a single wooden cross. There are several such tombs
in the cemetery, and each to-day is covered with wreaths. A row of long
black crosses, with name and regiment painted in white on each, marks
the resting-place of the officers. The same order prevails in the German
quarter of the churchyard.

In all the surrounding countryside at Caudry, at Le Cateau, in village
churchyards, in open fields by country roadsides, beside the plain
wooden cross which marks the soldier's grave, some one to-day has laid a
wreath and knelt in prayer.

At this time large numbers of troops were constantly passing through
the city, coming from the direction of St Quentin and leaving in that
of Valenciennes, from which point they proceeded to reinforce actual or
impending attacks on Arras and Ypres. According to the universal
opinion of Cambrai, the departure of the Germans from the city was to be
expected at any moment.

The sound of the cannonade at Arras could be heard quite distinctly, and
when the wind was favourable the boom of the big guns seemed nearer
than ever. "They were coming nearer," said the citizens of Cambrai with
mutual congratulations. The inevitable morning salutation now became,
"Bonjour, bonjour; the guns sounded nearer last night and they will soon
be here--listen! comme ça roule."

A gentle westerly wind carried to our ears the sound of the distant
guns, like an echo of a distant thunderstorm.

One evening, late in November, a still clear night, when the cannonade
could be heard more distinctly than usual, Captain Viguié and I stood
out in the yard for a long time listening. To the long loud rumble of
the German cannon we could hear, after an interval, a faint and more
distant answer--an answer that spoke, as it were, in another tongue. It
was the French 75!

It was obvious to those who did not yield to vain hopes that the German
occupation of Cambrai was being organised on a permanent basis. Very
few German soldiers remained billeted in the town. Numbers of them were
constantly coming back on short leave from the front, and from them the
story of the new trench war gradually became known to us all.

The Military Governor of Cambrai occupied the Town Hall, now known as
the Kommandantur. The French préfet having fled the city on the approach
of the enemy, a successor was appointed by the Kommandant, and the
administration of the city proceeded under German supervision and
according to the usual German methods. Edicts were published at regular
intervals declaring some new thing to be verboten, and always under
penalty of death. Such things as bicycles and sewing-machines were
requisitioned and might not be retained under penalty of death. Any
person at Cambrai or in the district found, after a certain date, in
possession of pigeons of any kind would be condemned to death.

The old Cathedral had belonged for years to the pigeons, who, suspecting
no danger, fell an easy prey, and for several days afforded fine game
to the German sportsmen. Mlle. Marie, who passed the Cathedral every
morning on her way to the hospital, told me that there were still a few
survivors who, having learnt the lesson of their comrades' fate, circled
high round the Cathedral tower or remained anxiously perched on some
lofty gargoyle.

The "Cambrai" pigeons were presented to the Hôpital 106 by the Secretary
of the Kommandantur, and thus did not meet with the final indignity of
being eaten by the enemy.

A typical illustration of German morality is afforded by an edict which
was published in Cambrai towards the end of November. All able-bodied
Frenchmen were ordered to present themselves at the Kommandantur on a
certain date, and were to be sent to Lille to dig trenches. Only a
small number of men presented themselves on the appointed day, and were
offered the job of digging trenches at five francs per day. Those who
refused would be sent to Germany. Not more than twenty or thirty men
accepted the proffered wage, and the remainder were sent to a German
prison. Owing to the failure of the citizens to respond in sufficient
numbers to this demand, the town of Cambrai was fined a large sum of

A declaration, printed in French and German, of which I have seen a
copy, was posted all over Cambrai under the heading, "Who is responsible
for this Terrible War--ENGLAND." Only the German mind could have
produced such an extraordinary document, in which England is accused,
among other crimes, of "having abandoned Belgium to her fate." Most of
the French population of Cambrai were much entertained by the clumsy
anti-British propaganda which emanated from the Kommandantur.

Another large poster appeared in all parts of the town stating that the
British had been convicted of using Dumdum bullets. A British rifle,
with ammunition, was on show in a shop window in the market-place, and
the German soldier in charge explained to those who stopped to look
that the hollow thumb-piece of the cut-off of the British rifle had been
designed explicitly for the purpose of manufacturing dumdum bullets. By
inserting the point of a bullet into the recess and giving the cartridge
a rapid jerk, the pointed end broke, leaving a square ragged surface.

In their dealings with the civilian population of Cambrai the Germans
showed how they utterly failed to understand the French mind.

Salle cinq vastly enjoyed the visit of a certain German officer who came
ostensibly to inspect, but in reality for purposes of propaganda. The
man's name is unknown to me. He was always referred to among ourselves
as _l'imbécile_. He was so short of stature that the long Prussian cloak
reached almost to the ground, and a more fatuous face I have seldom seen
on any man. He spoke French fluently but ungrammatically, and with a
pronounced German accent. "Ponjour, Matame; here we are all French,
is it not? Your so beautiful Paris I so much admire." The "imbecile,"
having gone round the ward, stood at the bottom of my bed facing the
centre of the room, and entered into amiable conversation with Mme.
Buquet and the other nurses.

He held forth at some length on the amenities of Cambrai, and expressed
delight that the fortunes "of this terrible war" had been the occasion
of his meeting and learning to love still more the French people, whom
he had always held in such esteem.

"It is not the French who are the real enemies of Germany. If we had
not been forced to do so by the treacherous English, never would we have
invaded the soil of France. Ah, those English, what barbarians, what
uncultured savages, such different types from those I see around me

At this point Mme. Buquet, catching my wink from behind the "imbecile's"
back, nearly exploded with laughter, which she, however, managed to turn
into a coughing fit, and the Salle cinq listened eagerly for more.

We heard the whole pathetic story of how Germany had been goaded into
war. Paris now was safe. The German armies thirsted solely for English
blood. When England had been crushed, then France and Germany would fall
into each other's arms and all would be forgiven and forgotten.

The "imbecile" departed, satisfied that he had sown good seed. Mme.
Buquet, with tears rolling down her cheeks, was too exhausted for
laughter. The Salle cinq remained silent for a while, stunned by this
wonderful exhibition of stupidity.

Picard, the one-legged soldier, idiomatically expressed the thought of
the Salle. "Eh bien, il n'a pas peur celui là," which remark might be
translated: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

The Inspecting Officer, who came round every two or three days, was
General Oberarzt Schmidt. In addition to this more or less regular
visit, there was another doctor named Meyer, who was charged with making
up lists of "transportables." Every one naturally wished to put off the
evil hour of departure to Germany as long as possible, especially as
hopes were still entertained by many that the French troops would drive
the Germans out before Christmas. Meyer only paid one visit to the Salle
cinq, on which occasion its inhabitants appeared all to be on the point
of death!

The list of Salle cinq showed that there were ten French and one
British. Meyer stopped at the foot of my bed and turned his cold
cod-fish eyes at me. His finger reached for pencil and note-book.
Mme. Buquet saved my name from going on his list by declaring that my
paralysis was such that I could neither move nor speak. The cod-fish
eyes looked hard at me: "Können Sie Deutsch verstehen?" I gazed at him
with dropped jaw and vacant eyes, shaking my head very slightly. There
were no "transportables" that day from the Salle cinq.

Meyer was cordially detested by the whole hospital staff, by reason of
the contemptuous insolence of his manner. His hatred of the English was
fanatical. Mme. Buquet once asked him if there was any prospect of an
exchange. "Of the French, yes," he replied; "of the English, never!"

[Illustration: General Oberarzt Schmidt, Königliche Erste Bayrische
Reserve Corps.]

General Oberarzt Schmidt, a very different type, was a tall, big-framed,
and full-bodied man, large in the belly, bulging at the neck, with
a pinky-red face and a large square head, bald on top, fringed with
short-cut grey-blond hair. He spoke no English, and only a half-dozen
words of French. It would be difficult to find an attractive feature
in the face of General Oberarzt Schmidt. The large mouth which droops
shapelessly to one side is decorated on the upper lip with a few clipped
badly-grown blue-grey bristles. The eyes, small and shifting, are almost
colourless. Whatever his true character may have been, to us at the 106
he was always courteous and well-behaved. He used to come to the Salle
cinq every week, and often remained to talk to Mme. Buquet, who, owing
to her fluent knowledge of German, was able to obtain from Dr Schmidt
a certain amount of latitude regarding the question of the
"transportables." It was thanks to Mme. Buquet that the two French
captains, whose wounds were completely healed, were able to remain at
106 for several weeks after they were fit to travel.

At the Hôpital Civil, the German weekly inspection, when carried out
by such men as Grigou, was a merciless visitation, and for those whose
names went on the list there was no reprieve. But at the 106 we suffered
from no such unreasoning severity. Doctor Schmidt was often induced to
postpone the departure of any soldier really unfit for the journey.

"'Tetanus' made the night hideous with groaning and moaning, so that
no one could get any sleep." This entry in my diary refers to a young
Breton soldier who was isolated in a room opposite the Salle cinq. The
word "room" gives a wholly wrong impression of the place where this
unfortunate man had to be put. In one corner stood an old and useless
bath, in another two broken bedsteads; the rough flooring was littered
with rubbish. The walls had never been papered, the plaster still hung
in patches, cracked and yellow with damp. A wooden partition half-way
up to the ceiling divided the place off from the corridor, and thus the
moans of the dying man could be heard distinctly in our room. There was
no other accommodation in the hospital wherein a patient, such as this
one, could be isolated. Tetanus was very common at Cambrai. We had eight
cases at the Hôpital Civil, six of which died. Very little treatment
could be given, as there was no anti-tetanus serum to be had. The horror
of tetanus is unique, for there is no disease so insidious, so sudden in
its effects, and so terrible in its end.

For three days the man lived in a semi-unconscious condition. The first
evening we could hear him moaning, a low, steady, pitiful moan. About
the middle of the night there was a sudden silence, then a crash, and
a sound of struggling. M. Vampouille, who was on duty that night in our
ward, rushed across the corridor and, by the light of a match, bent over
the man's bed. It was empty! From the middle of the room came again the
low moaning sound; the unfortunate man had struggled out of bed in a
fit. The stitches of his leg, which was amputated above the knee,
had burst, and he lay in a pool of blood. M. Vampouille's further
description of the scene is too awful to dwell upon. From that evening
of November 4 until the morning of November 7, almost without a stop
day and night, there came from that room the most mournful lamentation,
loud, deep, and sonorous, though it came through teeth clenched in the
rigor of the dreadful disease. Through locked jaws and motionless lips
came the sound that expressed the sole thought of his mind. There is
no phrase or turn of writing that can express the pitiful, appealing,
struggling effort of the dying soldier to articulate this dying call for
his mother. For three days and three nights, first strong and loud, then
weaker and weaker, his constant call was "Maman, Maman," expressed in
this awful moaning. On the third day I went in to see him. A nurse
was attempting to force some warm milk between his teeth, but with no
success. It was better to let him die in peace. He did not look more
than nineteen. Sweat ran in trickles down the pale face wrinkled in
agony. His thick black hair fell low down over clammy forehead and
temple. The blue-grey eyes stared fixed and sightless. The moaning was
now low and weak, but one could hear that the call was still for "Maman,
Maman." Early next morning I woke while it was still dark, sat up in
bed and listened. From somewhere in the hospital there came a swishing,
gurgling sound very like the whistling noise of a turbine engine. Still
half asleep, I sat wondering what kind of engine it could be. When day
dawned the swishing, whistling noise had ceased, and the suffering of
the poor Breton boy was over. Mme. Buquet was very late in coming to the
ward that morning. She told me that the last few minutes before the
end were quite peaceful. M. le Vicaire-Général administered the Last
Sacraments, and Captain Viguié spoke in the dying man's ear the only
earthly consolation that remained: "Mon garçon, tu meurs pour la

In many respects life in the Salle cinq now began to be much easier. As
a result of my insistent propaganda in favour of fresh air, I obtained
some small concessions, and succeeded in obtaining a number of adherents
to the policy of the open window. The worst cases in the ward had been
taken away; those that were left gradually got better, and even No. 6 in
the corner began to improve. In the afternoon I played bridge with the
French captain and some other friends who used to pay me regular visits,
or discussed the gossip and news of the town with Vampouille. First of
all there was that most excellent M. Herbin, a big, strong, hearty
man, certainly well past fifty, with honest brown eyes that looked you
straight in the face, showing that his heart was in the right place,
as the saying is. My friend was a man of few words. "Allons, mon pauvre
vieux, ça va bien hein! la santé?" "Très bien, mon cher ami." "Tant
mieux. Tant mieux." And the Boches? We used to talk of them.

Cambrai was like a city stricken by the plague. Most of the shops had
their shutters up. No one went abroad for pleasure, one stayed at home
these days; and the "place publique," with its German military band
which played every day at 4 o'clock, the café where one used to take the
evening "Pernod"--such places were now the haunt of the Boche.

M. Herbin owned a draper's shop, his speciality was ready-made clothes,
and his business was practically at an end. At the time there was very
little cash in circulation at Cambrai. Notes for 1, 2, and 5 francs
were issued by the Town and the Chamber of Commerce, with an inscription
stating that "this note will be cashed by the Chamber of Commerce
100 days after the signature of peace." The German usually paid for
everything with "bons de réquisition." These vouchers were guaranteed by
the German Government only when stamped by the Kommandantur.

During the first few weeks of the German occupation officers and men
made a practice of entering shops, taking whatever suited their fancy,
and then, by way of payment, offering the helpless tradesman a scrap of
paper covered with unintelligible hieroglyphics. These scraps of paper
were absolutely worthless. It was the German idea of humour thus to
rob the unfortunate tradesman by presenting him in return for his
merchandise with a written statement certifying "the bearer of this is a
silly fool." A still more Germanic humour found its expression in coarse
vulgar filth. When the bewildered shopkeepers brought their promises to
pay to the Kommandantur for verification they were greeted with jeering
laughter. German humour finds its happiest element in all that concerns
the lowest functions of the body, and doubtless the story of such vulgar
jests at the expense of a helpless enemy were repeated with much gusto
by the elegant fraus of the Fatherland.

Among other visitors whom I was always glad to see were M. et Mme. Ray.
The latter used to come to the Salle twice a week during the afternoons,
so that Mme. Buquet could get off duty. Mme. Ray was an incorrigible
optimist. Every movement of German troops, whether entering or leaving
Cambrai, she always referred to as a retirement. Whenever the wind
changed and the sound of guns was more distinctly heard--the French
were advancing. On Christmas day, she used to tell me, we will be "in
France." I rather think that these opinions were expressed for the
purpose of cheering up the Salle cinq, for Mme. Ray was too sensible a
woman in other matters to be in reality so lacking in judgment in this
particular case.

M. Vampouille came every afternoon, except when detained by his
business, which at this time consisted chiefly in killing pigs to make
sausages for the German soldiers--sausages which they had to pay for
in hard cash, as Vampouille always refused to deal in vouchers. My kind
friend never came to see me without a "surprise," a little parcel which
he brought in his pocket--a slice of "pâté," or ham, or "saucisson à
l'aile," and many other tit-bits.

During these days there was a great scarcity of decent tobacco, although
there was plenty of what was called "Belgian tobacco." It is difficult
to suggest what this stuff might have been. It was sold in large square
parcels, covered with blue paper, labelled "Tabac Belge," and cost one
franc for a very large-sized packet. Once a week a woman came into the
hospital yard bearing on her back a large basketful of tobacco, cigars,
and matches with which she had travelled on foot from Belgium. The
cigars only cost three sous for two. I never made any attempt to smoke
them, but once out of curiosity I dissected one and made a strange
discovery. The outside leaf was cabbage, stained dark-brown; it came off
quite easily and disclosed a second and a third cabbage leaf of a light
yellow colour. Inside these three layers of cabbage leaf was a hard
rolled cylinder which, as it would not unroll, I cut into two pieces
with a sharp knife. The cylinder was filled with small shavings
and dust, whether from fag-ends of cigarettes or merely from street
sweepings, it was impossible to tell. I have seen a soldier achieve the
wonderful feat of smoking one of these cigars to its hot and bitter end.
This was Picard, the one-legged man of Salle cinq--Picard, who smoked
all day and most of the night, quite indifferent as to the substance he
put into his clay pipe as long as it would produce smoke.

M. Vampouille succeeded where many other friends had failed. He found a
supply of "English Tobacco." A patriotic marchande de tabac had buried
the most valuable part of her stock in a back garden rather than let the
Boches have the advantage. There were three four-ounce tins of Craven
Mixture and three boxes of cigars "Bock." It was indeed a luxury to
smoke real tobacco and real cigars.

"First flakes of snow. Result, windows shut tight day and night. Next
day a stove was put into the middle of the room, which is now so stuffy
that one can hardly breathe even with the windows open. To-day, November
16, I began to walk with two sticks."

My good friends, the two French officers, had at last to go, and it
was a very sad day for us all. The list of transportables, a short one,
included five or six French soldiers. They made a very sad picture as
they limped painfully out into the yard and were helped up to a seat in
the ambulance, each one carrying on his back a large bundle containing
socks, a shirt, and as much meat and bread as could be taken by a
wounded man on such a journey. Mme. Buquet went down to the station with
the two captains. We were glad to hear that they were given good berths
in a hospital train, and thus were able to make the long three days'
journey in comparative comfort--a good fortune which in those days was
invariably denied to British officers, even when very severely wounded.

On 25th November I got away from the ward and the fruitless struggle for
fresh air by taking Captain Viguié's bed in the tiny little room shared
with le Médecin Chef. The room was long and narrow--perhaps 20 feet by
5,--with only just room for two beds, the washing-stand, and a small
table where the doctor and I used to sit and play piquet--a game at
which I had neither skill nor luck, for when our games came to an
end the doctor had scored over 5000 points to the good! A welcome
interruption to our card-playing was the visit of Mme. de Rudnickna, a
charming Polish lady who was nurse at the Hôpital Notre Dame, where she
for many months nursed two British officers--Major Johnson and Lieut.
Foljambe, both very seriously wounded. She saved Lieut. Foljambe's life
by careful nursing, when the doctors had given up hope, and she did
everything that could be done to make easier the slow decline of Major
Johnson, who, mortally wounded in the spine, lived till the first day of
1915. Mme. de Rudnickna came two or three times a week with a delicious
"Chausson au pommes," and sometimes a bottle of Vin d'Oporto to liven up
the grey, dull winter afternoons. One day she brought me a copy of 'The
Times' for November 19th, the first English newspaper I had seen since
August 12th.

[Illustration: Taken at l'Hôpital Notre Dame, Cambrai, October 1914.]

In a much-thumbed copy of the 'Figaro,' dated October 25th--a copy
which, it was said, had been dropped from an aeroplane, and which we
secretly circulated from ward to ward--we read the story of Ypres, vague
reports of which we had heard from German soldiers, who were told by
their chiefs, and firmly believed, that the objective now before
them was first Calais and then London. We heard that, once Calais had
fallen--and who could doubt that it would fall?--the famous big guns
that had done such deeds at Liége and Antwerp would batter down the
defences of Dover and sweep a passage across the Channel for the German
troop-ships. It was Bismarck, I think, who, looking over London from
the top of St Paul's, exclaimed regretfully, "Was für Plünder!" On this
"Plünder" the mind of the German was now fixed; and soldiers billeted in
the town talked grandly of the punishment to be inflicted on England for
having treacherously hatched a cowardly plot for the destruction of the
German Empire.

The bulletin of war news, posted up each morning outside the
Kommandantur, boasted each day of the capture of countless Russian and
French prisoners. One day in November the Cathedral bells were rung
to celebrate the victory of German arms in the East. All such official
displays of cheerfulness could not hide from our observant notice that
all was not well with the German armies. The glorious victories always
took place at the other end of Europe.

But nothing was published officially about the military situation on
the Western front. German soldiers back from the trenches of Arras spoke
bitterly of their failure to capture the French positions. Rumour said
that the German casualties between Arras and Ypres amounted to over
100,000 killed. Arras was known to us as "Le Tombeau des Allemands."
Reports from Valenciennes told of crowded hospitals, train-loads of
wounded, and train-loads of dead. Somewhere behind the line of battle,
not very far from Cambrai, there are large brick-fields. Here it was
that a crematorium was built. A tale was told of trains that passed in
the night, of open trucks in which men, limp and with nodding heads,
stood upright, packed in close array. By the light of some dim country
station lamp the corpses in their blue-grey uniform had been seen and
recognised, though hidden by blood and earth, fresh from the field on
which they had fallen. Even for the Boches this was too horrible an end,
to travel in such manner to the grave, strung together like bundles of

At times it would seem as if Martin Luther was right when he wrote in
1527 that the Germans are "a heathenish, nay utterly bestial,
nation." But I do not hold with the judgment of this first apostle of
frightfulness. The German nation consists of the High Command, with its
hordes of obedient slave-drivers, and the rest of the nation, which in
the inner chambers of the High Command is referred to as the mob--die
Menge. The High Command is certainly heathenish, and may be looked upon
as utterly bestial, in view of the fact that they have replaced the
elementary principles of honour by some sort of jungle law of their own

[Illustration: Germany at Home! A Member of the Medical Staff at

But there are still symptoms of humanity left in the mob, something of
human sympathy and of the brotherhood of man, which even at Cambrai made
itself felt on rare occasions. Such an occasion was a visit to the Salle
cinq of Herr Arntz. It was at the time when I was confined to bed,
as much by the fear of Germany as by the paralysis, and on one of the
darkest days of November. Mme. Buquet sat by my bedside, as she often
used to do of an afternoon when the day's work was over, and spoke of a
German who had called at the hospital a few days before, asking for her
by name. He had stood out in the corridor waiting for her to come, bare
headed, closely cropped, in the uniform of a private soldier, and not
until he spoke did she recognise a friend. They had not met for
three years, and the place of their parting--the Black Forest in the
spring-time. Herr Arntz, then a young student in chemistry on his
holiday tour, had now passed his degree as Doctor der Chemie. In spite
of weak eyesight and the wearing of blue spectacles, he had been called
up shortly after the outbreak of war, and was doing railway duty at
Cambrai. So much and more had Mme. Buquet told me of her friend on that
afternoon when he came again to see her.

It was cold, dark, and inhospitable in the corridor, and she brought him
into the Salle cinq, where the gas lamps, which had just been lit, gave
the room a touch of homely comfort. Perhaps it was the Numéro 6 who had
called for morphia, or some other wounded man who required attention,
so that Mme. Buquet left her friend sitting alone not very far from my
bedside. I cherish no friendly feeling towards any Boche, yet there was
something about this one which commanded my attention. This was not
the manner of our usual German visitors--to sit there quietly and as if

I started conversation with a hybrid sentence in French and German,
which encouraged Herr Arntz to draw up his chair closer to my bed. There
was nothing remarkable in the subject of our conversation. His attitude
towards the war was that of a fatalist towards an earthquake; he showed
a real sympathy for my state of health and the effect of my wound,
choosing strange and almost unintelligible phrases in his efforts to
speak the French tongue.

"Ah, mais 'le cerf' il n'est pas touché," then you will get well. That
was good. And to me when I would speak of der Krieg, "let us forget it
for a moment." How could this quiet gentleman and I, lying sick, be at
war? Was it indeed wrong, as many said at the 106, thus to converse with
a Boche? Should I have refused my hand at parting? My friend, so I must
call him for his kindness, lies in an honourable grave somewhere along
the long battle line. A year later, promoted from guarding railway
stations, blue spectacles and all, he "fell at the head of his company."
One of the mob--die Menge.

_St Andrew's Day._--Captain Lloyd is very much worse. Mme. Buquet goes
to see him every day at 2 P.M., carrying a note from me and a custard
pudding made by Mme. Tondeur. There was never a more motherly soul
than Mme. Tondeur. And there never was a cook so excellent and yet so
good-tempered, so pestered with visitors in the kitchen, yet always
smiling and with a kind word for each one. Wounded men able to hobble
out of the Salle cinq, or down from the other wards upstairs, loved
to sit in a corner of her kitchen and peel potatoes or wash dishes
and listen to the day's gossip. What with nurses and orderlies, stray
visitors from the town, soldiers on crutches, all congregating in the
kitchen, which might have been the H.Q. of the hospital, it was indeed a
wonder that Mme. Tondeur could produce such an excellent dinner.

When M. Vampouille, of his own idea and specially to please me, cured a
piece of bacon à l'anglaise, Mme. Tondeur and I put our heads together
over the cooking of bacon and eggs. The simple barbarity of English
cooking is always puzzling to French people. My dish, which started
on the range as bacon and eggs, arrived on the table as an omelette au

What a sordid thing is a boiled potato in comparison with "des pommes
frites"! We had fried potatoes one day a week, on which occasion all
available hands were turned on to the work of peeling and slicing, no
unskilled labour, when wastage is not to be endured. For every ward
there was a large dish piled high, golden, crisp, and scalding hot
and appetising--good to take with one's fingers like fine pastry, very
different from the soppy, flaccid, colourless British imitation.

Every morning Mme. Tondeur prepared the custard pudding in a small dish,
which was then wrapped up in a napkin ready to be carried by Mme. Buquet
to our poor friend at the Hôpital Civil. "Ah, mon Lieutenant," she used
to say, "what a joy it is to do something to help, even if so little. I
also have a son in the trenches, and I pray le bon Dieu to send him back
to me, even with a leg or an arm less I would not complain. Si seulement
je le savais comme vous!"

Here in England, far from the presence of war, it is impossible to
realise the suffering of these unfortunate people in the North of France
who have never been allowed to get news from the trenches, who will
not know of the death of husband or son for months and years after. No
correspondence is allowed even with neutral countries. Though the land
under German occupation is a place of misery and desolation, it has one
redeeming feature--there are no pseudo-conscientious objectors. German
invasion and occupation of Britain would not be too high a price to pay
for the extirpation of this national dry-rot.

One who has lived long months among these despairing people writes to
say how hard it is for those outside the German zone to realise the
misery of invasion. "Old men and little children work in the fields
with neither horses nor oxen nor ploughs. In many places German soldiers
plough and sow, desecrating the soil of France.... And when in France I
hear it said that the war is without end, that the strain is too great,
I think of those who live in the invaded districts, those who are exiled
from France under the enemy yoke and yet do not despair, but wait with
patient confidence for the hour of deliverance; perhaps they have some
right to say the strain is hard to bear."

I do not envy the man, be he ploughman, starred tradesman, or merely
possessed of a sickly conscience, who can apply for leave to stay at
home, while old men and little children till the fields of Northern
France without horses, oxen, or ploughs, under the hard rule of the Hun.

We were a sad party on that St Andrew's Day at the Hôpital 106. Mme.
Buquet came in the afternoon rather later than usual to the little room,
where the old Colonel and I sat playing piquet, bringing sad news from
the Civil Hospital. Poor Captain Lloyd was not expected to live more
than a few hours.

We sat silently while the twilight melted into darkness. When a friend
is dying those that watch and busy themselves with small services can
find therein some small consolation. But we, weighed down in mind,
powerless to influence in any degree the inevitable order of fate, found
the pattern of the universe a hard reading.

To die is unimportant and common to all, the only important thing is the
manner of our leaving. Captain Lloyd, my friend whom I have never seen,
showed how the spirit of a man can rise above the saddest catastrophe of
war and throw a gleam of light on the apparently hopeless and senseless
maze of human misery.

Mme. Buquet used to come every afternoon straight back to my room after
her visit to the Hôpital Civil, and her report to me never varied. "He
never speaks of himself, but asks insistently for news of you." His eyes
lit up on hearing that I could walk with crutches. "Do tell him to be
careful and not try too much;" and to-day, and on this sad St Andrew's
Day, his last words to Mme. Buquet showed the full measure of unselfish
thoughtfulness: "Do not let him worry, do not let him know how weak I

It was quite dark when M. Vampouille came in. He would not suffer the
darkness even after hearing the sad story, but lit the gas and kept a
cheery manner. "It is something to know," said he, "that there are 'de
si braves gens de par ce monde.'"

St Andrew's Feast was not forgotten that evening. Monsieur Vampouille
had brought me a scarce and much-valued delicacy which was prepared with
special care by Mme. Tondeur and served up at dinner as a savoury. There
was no escape from the six large healthy snails sitting in their shells
enthroned on pieces of toast soaked in oil and vinegar mixed with
chopped onions and garlic.

From Mme. Buquet there was a flower-pot with some early primroses and a
note, "To the Scotch Lieutenant on St Andrew's Feast Day."

These gracious incidents, as R. L. Stevenson remarked, are distinctive
of the French people, and "make the ordinary moments of life

Also I had almost conquered my insular prejudice against the eating of
snails, which are really quite succulent when served with such a sauce.



Behind one of the hospital wings there is a tiny garden walled in on
all sides by high buildings. Here were some mouldy-looking pear-trees, a
ragged gooseberry bush, and a patch of ragged cabbage-stalks. The ground
was thickly covered with rotten leaves; in one corner empty broken
rabbit-hutches, pieces of broken furniture, broken bottles, and
miscellaneous _débris_ gave an additional note of depression. Still it
was a change from the dulness of the courtyard, and the garden, such
as it was, became the object of my daily excursions. The gardener, now
digging trenches in some distant part of France, might never dig here
again, but his two little children played at soldiers every afternoon
among the decayed leaves. A large shed at the end of the garden, which
had at one time been used as a wash-house, now falling to ruin, still
contained a rusty boiler and some broken wash-tubs. In one corner, piled
one on top of the other, stood six or seven roughly-hewn coffins made
out of old packing-cases.

Le Picard was often a partner in these explorations round the dead
garden, and together we visited the coffins. "Ça voyez vous," said this
one-legged philosopher, "ça c'est le dernier costume."

Entrance to the hospital through an archway under the building was
barred by a massive wooden _portail_. One morning, when the bread-cart
had left the gateway open, Picard and I took up our stand on the
threshold and looked out into the street. The houses opposite the
hospital are modern and uninteresting, walls covered with dirty white
plaster, shutters closed and in need of paint. Farther down on the
right, as you stand at the hospital door, the street, as it nears the
Place Publique, begins to curve, and here were old houses with their
quaint roofs grouped picturesquely against the dull sky, where heavy
clouds prepared to renew their steady downpour.

The street was empty. Farther down there are shops, but they are closed.
A German soldier came clattering along the pavement. Just as he reached
the hospital we two standing at the door caught his eye and aroused his
curiosity to such an extent that he stopped, stared for a moment, then
walked backwards for quite a long way and nearly bumped into an officer.
A few sad-looking women, carrying baskets and bundles, stopped in the
middle of the street and feasted their eyes on Picard. "It stirs the
heart," said they, "to see the French uniform." These poor people made
a collection of their scarce sous and presented Picard with one franc
fifty. The children gathered in such numbers that I had to ask them to
move on for fear of the Germans.

After the children had gone, a little girl, perhaps ten or eleven years
old, came shyly up to the door. Under a threadbare cloak, which in the
cold wind and rain afforded small protection to her tired little body,
she carried a bundle of picture post-cards. Her present errand was not
concerned with asking for charity. She came quite near without speaking
or looking up, and stretched out a thin grimy little hand to give me a
two-sous piece. Having given me the two sous and rendered me speechless
with mixed emotions, she turned to run, but Picard stopped her. "Wilt
thou not show us the pretty post-cards, my little one?" "That I cannot
do," came the resolute answer; "they are not mine to give away, and they
cost two sous each to buy." But I, being obviously the possessor of two
sous, was allowed to see the post-cards, and in exchange for my two-sous
piece chose a view of the Place Publique.

[Illustration: Foundlings from La Bassée.

Photo taken at CAMBRAI.]

At this time the army of occupation at Cambrai was the 6th Bavarians. On
the whole, the behaviour of the Bavarian soldiers was excellent.
Cases of rioting and drunkenness were rare, and we heard no stories of
atrocities such as the Germans were guilty of in Belgium.

Picard and I stood at the hospital gate every morning for several days
in succession, and in no case were we greeted with insults, although I
found later on from personal experience that even a severely crippled
enemy was not safe from the insulting jests of a German soldier. Of
course we always saluted any officer who passed, and our salute was
always punctiliously returned. Sometimes a private soldier saluted, and
one day two tall bearded reservists stopped, crossed the street, and
gave me a packet of cigarettes. Next morning we found the gate closed. A
note had been sent from the Kommandantur stating that "it was forbidden
for soldiers to stand at the door of the hospital." The watchful
"Verboten Department" scored another point and deprived us of a harmless

A German orderly came on the 17th December with the following strange
message: "The General is coming to inspect the hospital, and wishes to
know if the Scotch officer would be good enough to wear his uniform."
Being deficient of sporran, glengarry, kilt apron, S.B. belt, brogues,
and spats, my "uniform" consisted of the khaki tunic, kilt, kilt pin,
hose-tops and flashes, grey woollen socks, and black cloth snow-boots.
On a black glengarry made by M. Herbin to my design I wore the cap
badge, which I had fortunately taken off and put in my pocket when
sitting in the trenches on the morning of the 26th August. I was making
the best of this strange equipment when the arrival of the General
and his Staff was announced. They were waiting for me in the corridor
outside the Salle cinq. The picture of this group of German Staff
officers is one not easily forgotten. I turned slowly in at the door
with crutch and stick, laboriously dragging one leg after another,
rested against the wall, and saluted. Among the group I recognised Dr
Meyer, scowling and ill at ease; also General Oberarzt Schmidt, who,
eager to show me off as being his own particular prize, was at once
snubbed by the General, and subsided into a dignified silence. These
Staff officers were all big heavy men of the usual German type, but the
General, small, slimly built, with a light grey moustache, had an air
of distinction that was almost French. His manner also was tactful and

After a preliminary question about my health and inquiry as to my white
hair, which I had to explain was probably due partly to shock and partly
to my head having been so long bandaged up, the conversation got beyond
the little German I possessed, and one of the big Staff officers came to
the rescue in fluent but guttural English. They could not believe that
the kilt was worn in the winter-time, and seemed to think that it was
only a parade uniform. Many questions were asked about the advantages of
the kilt as fighting kit. I said that it was a very adaptable uniform,
good both for fighting and for running away. This remark was recognised
to be a joke, and translated as such to the General. I was asked how
many regiments in Scotland wore the kilt, and if all the Highland
regiments were composed of Highlanders.

"No," I said in reply to another question, "we do not wear trousers even
in winter."

"Schrecklich kalt im winter," they repeated, nodding at each other

With a polite wish for my speedy recovery the General intimated that
the parade was at an end. The Staff clicked its heels and saluted--even
Meyer had to swallow his hate and follow the example of the senior

Outside the corridor, Mme. la Directrice and some of the nurses were
standing at the foot of the stairs ready to accompany the officers round
the hospital, but the General passed by and went out into the court
without taking any notice.

The inspection was over.

A lady who lives near Caudry came to see me. She told me that the graves
of the British soldiers, both in the churchyard and in the fields around
the village, are well cared for by the villagers, and that a
large number of identity discs had, with the consent of the German
authorities, been locked up at the Mairie. Near the little wood between
Audencourt and Caudry, on the spot where we had dug our trenches on
the morning of the 26th August, there are buried seventeen soldiers and
three officers.

About the middle of December the Médecin Chef was taken away to Germany.

A number of causes now contributed to make life at the 106 wholly
unendurable. An entire absence of discipline among the hospital
orderlies and the constant squabbling of the nurses had been points
which the doctor and I used often to discuss and deplore. Now that the
restraining influence of the doctor's age and rank was no longer with
us, the evils of disorganisation became every day more apparent. The
"Directrice," or head matron of the hospital, was wholly incapable, and
by her tactless mismanagement set the whole hospital by the ears. The
orderlies grew noisier and more slovenly every day. Youths who had
no occupation in the hospital, and only appeared at meal-times, were
allowed to air their opinions in endless discussion. Noisy, chattering
visitors strolled in at all hours of the day, and there was no corner of
the hospital safe from invasion. Quarrels among the nurses reached such
a stage of bitterness that many were not on speaking terms. Friends
whose kind visits I had always welcomed now came rarely or not at all.
It was evident that such a state of affairs portended something more
serious than tactlessness or mismanagement. The gossips of Cambrai were
busy with many stories to the discredit of Mme. la Directrice, but it
seemed to me unreasonable that the voice of scandal should be concerned
with a plain-looking woman the wrong side of forty. The whole affair
may have been merely foolishness and vanity, but it was certainly
an indiscretion on the part of Mme. la Directrice to receive in the
courtyard of the 106 Hospital, from the hand of a German orderly,
bouquets of white chrysanthemums presented with the compliments of a
German officer.

Every morning at 11 o'clock I paid a visit to the Salle cinq. Many of
the older inhabitants had gone, some to Germany, others now rested in
what Picard calls le dernier costume. No. 6 still complained unceasingly
from his corner bed. No. 3, the Chasseur Alpin with a bullet through the
chest, had recovered from various complications and was now able to
sit up in a chair. Among the newcomers were three English soldiers. Ben
Steele, a reservist from Manchester, had one bullet through his arm
and one through his leg. Both wounds were healed, but the leg remained
stiff, swollen, paralysed, and the pain was ceaseless.

The story of his wound is one of those ugly tales of atrocities
committed by individual German soldiers, for which the German Army,
with its perfect discipline, cannot escape responsibility. Ben was badly
wounded in the arm, and was left lying in the trenches when his company
retired. "I got that in fair fighting," said Ben, pointing to his
wounded arm. He told me the rest of the story briefly, and did not care
to refer to it again. "When the Germans came along they shouted 'Hands
up.' I was lying in the bottom of the trench. I lifted my left hand, but
a German soldier, jumping over the trench, fired down at me point-blank,
and the bullet, which went through my right thigh, knocked me
unconscious." Ben was sent back to England a few months later, and will
probably be crippled for life.

On December 5th a party of convalescent British soldiers arrived from
the Civil Hospital, among them R. Anderson, a reservist from my own
battalion, L.-Cpl. M'Donald, Royal Irish, and James Prime, Rifle

I can never forget the four days these men spent with me at the
106--first, because they were such good companions, and second,
because two of these men subsequently met death at German hands under
circumstances of revolting inhumanity.


            Pte. R. ANDERSON.
  L.-Cpl. M'DONALD.      Mme. BUQUET.      Pte. JAMES PRIME.

British Soldiers at the "106."]

Prime represented all that is best in the typical English soldier. He
came from the Midlands, the heart of England. It was a treat for me to
sit and listen to the story of his short battle experience, which, a
plain and common tale in these times, acquired enthralling interest from
the graphic language and quiet humour of the speaker.

Irish, Scotch, and English, we all gathered in the Salle cinq and forgot
our troubles, present and impending.

Prime was a born story-teller. He possessed the rare faculty of making
pictures in the minds of his hearers. He showed me a photograph of his
wife and children, and I can well remember the description of his home
in England. We found a subject of mutual interest in the keeping of
poultry on the "intensive" system, and discussed the respective merits
of Wyandottes, Leghorns, and Buff Orpingtons.

"Bob" Anderson, when I first saw him, was sitting dressed in blue coat
and red kepi at the refectory table with Prime, M'Donald the Irish
Lance-Corporal, and half a dozen French soldiers. Right glad I was to
hear the familiar accents of my native land!

Anderson could give me no news of the battalion, as he had been knocked
out at the same time and place as myself. On the whole, the Germans had
so far treated him fairly well. "It was surely the whole German army,"
said Bob, "that marched along the road near Audencourt when I was lying
in the ditch with a broken leg, smoking my pipe. They didn't take much
notice. At one of the halts a German stepped out of the ranks--'Hullo,
Jock, what's ado wi' you?' said he, and gave me a drink out of his
water-bottle. This was a German who had lived for fifteen years in
Glasgow! The next halt was a different story. Several of the Germans
gathered round, shook their fists at me, and one of them snatched the
pipe out of my mouth and threw it away."

M'Donald, who soon after died a hero's death at Wittenberg, was a
young fellow not more than twenty-one or twenty-two, quiet, sad, and
delicate-looking. He had quite recovered from a dangerous wound in the
chest, though he was still weak and walked with difficulty.

A photographer came and took a group of the British soldiers, who were
mostly dressed in French uniform, and next day they were all taken off
to Germany. Their departure for Germany was such a day of sadness for
us who were left behind, that it seems as if we must have had some
premonition of the future. The men went off loaded with as many parcels
as they could carry--shirts, socks, tobacco, food, a bottle of wine in
each greatcoat pocket, and five francs each from the Hospital Funds.

Of the three soldiers, Anderson is the only one who has lived to tell
the story of what befell after leaving the courtyard of the 106 on
Dec. 7, 1914. Anderson survived, was eventually exchanged, and we met a
year later in Millbank Hospital. The following is the story in his own
words, taken down in shorthand. It is a story which bears the stamp of
truth in every word, and is corroborated in every detail by a Government
report published in all the daily papers on April 10, 1916:--

"When we left Cambrai Station, we were sent in a hospital train to
Giessen; it took us three days. We had one basin of soup each day, and a
piece of bread.

"When we got to Giessen we were taken to a waiting-room at the station
and bad used. All the English were put on one side, called 'English
swine' and that kind of thing. We were then taken in a motor ambulance
to the Town Hall in Giessen. We were three weeks in that hospital and
the food was all right there, but we, especially the English, were
bad used all the time by the orderlies. There were four English
altogether--M'Donald, Prime, and myself, and another chap in the Wilts.
We went from there to Giessen camp, a great big French camp, and had
to march two and a half miles with two sticks; I was nearly dead when I
reached that camp; it was all uphill, and a crowd behind us shoving us
on. We were there three days, then had orders to fall in and march to
the station again. We started to march to the station, but I was not fit
to do it, and some one stopped me in the town, put me on a car, and took
me to the station in the car. We got to Wittenberg the next day, and as
soon as we arrived in Wittenberg all the people were at the station,
a big crowd, men and women. They all had big sticks, some had bars of
iron, and we had to run the gauntlet of this,--of course I could not do
so. I got one terrible kick, but anyhow I managed to get into camp, and
as soon as we got into camp we got knocked about by the Germans, and
everything was taken from us.

"Of course the food was horrible all the time. We had heard stories
about typhus in the camp, and the French doctors inoculated us. I
took ill about the beginning of February, and the Frenchman took my
temperature, which was very high. He ordered me to the hospital, but
there were no stretchers to be got. Six men carried me down to the
bottom of the camp, about half a mile, and dragged me into an empty
bungalow. It was in the same camp; there was no isolation. I was put on
the floor amongst a lot of Russians; there were very few beds, and I was
on the bare floor. In the camp there was one bed between three men,
and I had left my bed in the camp. I lay on the bare floor all the
afternoon; no orderlies were there; nobody came near me. The soup came
up at night--just the same ordinary rations as we got in camp. The soup
came up in a wooden tub without a cover, and they had to carry it about
half a mile from the cook-house, and it arrived at the hospital full of
dust and dirt--at the door of the hospital. The strongest that were able
to get it got it, and the weakest lay without. That is a fact. I lay
there about three or four days, when some Englishmen volunteered to come
down and look after us.

"I took typhus first: when I was in hospital four or five days, Prime
was carried there; he was put down on the floor, and died four or five
days afterwards. Sergeant Spence of the Scots Guards was with him when
he died. Just before the end they got him a ramshackle bed made up with
boards, no mattress.

"The place was a long, narrow hut, whitewashed all over, and about one
hundred men in it, absolutely packed, and not more than half a dozen
beds at the first. We lay on the floor. There were stoves, but hardly
any coal. No one brought in any food. You had to go outside to get
it, and the orderly would give you some soup in your basin if you were
there. Those not fit to rise from the floor got none unless a comrade
brought it to them.

"The French doctors came round, but what could they do? They had nothing
to give you, and could do absolutely nothing.

"The Germans had all left the camp as soon as typhus broke out. They
built up wooden shoots to put the food down. When parcels from home came
they went down the shoot.

"When the beds came in carts they were lifted over the barbed wire. No
Germans came in.

"There were never enough beds, and men were lying on the floor all the

"We had nearly 100 deaths a day at one time. The total population of
the camp was about 16-17,000, with only about six doctors, French and
Russian. Then we had six British R.A.M.C. doctors--Captain Sutcliffe,
Major Fry, Captain Fielding, Captain Vidal, and Mr Lugard. Major Fry,
Captain Fielding, and Captain Sutcliffe took the typhus and died. I
never got a wash all the time I was there until I was able to go to the
tap. There was one fellow, a private in the Gordons, who never had his
wound dressed; it was running all the time. He died of pure neglect and
typhus. A man died next me with his clothes on, never had them off, even
his greatcoat on. Our clothes were running with vermin--millions!

"You could not get dressings or bandages. I have seen men with open
wounds who have had to wash their bandages, and hang them up to dry
before they could put them on again.

"M'Donald volunteered as an orderly in the Typhus Ward, and when he came
along he was only one day on duty when he took typhus. He got better,
but declined because of the starvation diet. I had him out walking for
a little bit up and down, but he was very weak, a living skeleton. He
would fall down, and I told him to try and get up and walk a little bit.
'Oh, Jock,' he says, 'I'm no' fit.' 'Come on,' I said, 'try.' He got a
parcel from home--one from his mother--just before he died. It was just
from hunger and neglect.

"Things were getting that bad about the month of April that the Germans
began to get a little afraid, and started a new hospital--about half a
dozen of huts. It was isolated from the camp, and we moved there about
the beginning of May.

"Things gradually got a little better after that, but January, February,
and March were three awful months.

"The Germans did not come back into the camp till the month of August.

"After I was better of the typhus I was back in the same camp. All food
was thrown over the barbed wire. Even packets were sent down the shoot.
The Germans never came near; you would see them outside the wire. Just
before the American Ambassador came there was a new thing for carrying
down the food--something like a dustbin with a lid on. The shoot is
still there, but is not used. After the Ambassador came we put in a
claim, saying we had been passed as unfit for military service, and men
who ought to have gone home last August had had it cancelled at the last
moment; but we heard no more. The American Ambassador said that must
be the Government's fault; he would see about it. He sent us a lot of
games. We were only allowed to play games between the huts.

"The camp was run by the Russians, and nobody to look after us. The
Germans never came in; you could do what you liked as long as you did
not go too near the wire, when they used to sound the alarm. When the
alarm sounded at night we had to run into the park, and if you did not
get into the park soon enough they fired at you. They fired one night
and killed six Frenchmen. One of the Royal Irish who came up with me had
a bullet right past his ear,--I suppose it made him pretty nippy.

"We got no clean clothing or a change. The English were all in rags:
you would not know they were soldiers at all to look at them. Just three
days before the American Ambassador came, when they heard he was coming,
they paraded us all up and looked at our underclothing. We got a shirt
and a pair of socks to smarten us up. You could never get hot water; but
the day that the American Ambassador came the Germans came round in the
morning and told us that if any of us wanted hot water, to send two men
out of each room to the cook-house and get as much boiling water as we
wanted. We wondered what was up: we were saying there was something up
that day. The Ambassador asked us what clothing we had. He made a
great improvement: we got shirts and overcoats, but they took all our
overcoats away.

"He asked a lot of men if they had had typhus; he seemed to know all
about it. Just previous to that, a Mr Jackson from the American Embassy
came. It is wonderful how things got about the camp. This was shortly
after the typhus was cleared out, but he did not come into the camp.
There were about thirty yards of space between the wires, and he
could not speak to any of us; he just went round. There was a crowd of
Germans; but when Mr Gerard came himself he came into the barrack-room
and asked one man a question, then another.

"There was a German who could speak English, but he never came near
them. Mr Gerard seemed to go about the thing very business-like: he was
not afraid. He was very keen on getting hold of any man who had been out
working and had come in again to camp. Some had not been paid. They were
only paid 30 pfennigs (3d.) a day for a hard day's work. The camp was
working at a big factory, and you had to get up at 4 in the morning,
and they drove you into a big square like a sheep-pen and put all the
English together. We called it the Slave Market. They drove you into
this pen, and the gangers would come in the morning and take you out. 'I
will have you,' and 'You come along with me,'--just like a slave market.
We had to get up at 4 and went out at 5. You were put in the slave
market at 5.30, and worked from then till 6 at night--and very hard work
too. We were working on building a big factory where they were making
hand-grenades--very intricate machinery. Nobody seemed quite to know
what they were manufacturing there. The men were carrying the stone for
the building. One German who could speak English told one of my chums
that the factory was for making hand-grenades.

"They gave out an order that there was to be no smoking in the
barrack-room, as the French had refused to allow German prisoners in
France to smoke, so they would stop it there. If they caught a man
smoking, and they had a stick, he got it. There were no orders printed
to tell us what we had or had not to do. They never deliberately tied an
Englishman to a post, but I have seen them doing it to Russians, tying
them up to the post. If you did anything that did not please them, you
were put in the coal-hole, we used to call it, the place where they get
the coal-briquettes from, and kept without food for three days--only
bread and water, solitary confinement. Many an Englishman got that. We
used to carry down some of our dinner and slip it into them.

"The day the American Ambassador came, Captain Vidal looked well after
it, and anything that was done he reported it at once. I think he had
been saying something to the American Ambassador, and one of the Germans
had overheard it. When the Ambassador went away, he struck Captain Vidal
with his sword. We heard that was the reason why Captain Vidal did not
come with us, as there was an inquiry about it at the time. Then Major
Priestly was in solitary confinement for a while--I don't know what he
had done; we heard that he was found with a revolver, but we could not
say. He was isolated away from the officers altogether for close on
two months--never saw him. He is back again in camp now. We read in
the 'Continental Times' that he was going home on the 3rd September--or
August--but some proceedings were being taken against him. It said in
the 'Continental Times' misbehaviour,--I suppose in looking well after
the wounded--or something like that.

"One day we had to pass the German doctor and then went back to
barracks. Heard no more until six days afterwards, and the 1st December
a German came up about 8 A.M. and formed us up in the barrack-room. Some
of those going home had a new shirt given them. A Russian was stopped
and told to take off his clogs and give them to that Englishman. Then we
went to Aachen. A complaint had been sent to Wittenberg about us;
they were kicking up a terrible row for sending us away like that. The
officer commanding the camp asked us where we came from. When we said
Wittenberg, he said he thought so. We looked such awful sights--filthy;
and we were supposed to be dressed coming away. We were very well
treated at Aachen--they always do so. Every one was nicer than another,
to try and create a good impression. We knew what it was.

"I was sorry for two chaps. One of the London Scottish had been there
fourteen months, and had a bad wound in his leg, and could not move his
leg. He was sent back because he was a non-commissioned officer. Another
man, a sergeant, with his leg off, could speak Hindustani, and I think
that was the reason he was sent back, but I am not sure. His leg was off
to the thigh. He was with the Lugard party. A lance-corporal, with
his arm off, was also sent back, after thinking he was going to be
exchanged. None of the non-commissioned officers got away from that

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a corner of the hospital courtyard where in December the rays
of the sun will fall for the space of an hour, illuminating first the
big high wall which shuts off light and air from the north-west, then
throwing upon the ground itself a triangle of light which gradually
broadens, loses shape, and fills at last the narrow passage between
the courtyard and the dead garden, but stops short of the broken wooden
paling, throwing no cleansing ray on the dismal rubbish-heaps, leaving
undisturbed the sepulchral clamminess of the shadows beyond.

In days of peace this corner was surely favoured by the school children.
From the high wall to the gable of the main building stretches a single
heavy beam, which had perhaps once been painted green, but was now green
with the mould of decay. A few rusty rings and hooks, from one of which
a piece of sodden rope still hung, showed to what purpose the beam had

The rain, which had been falling steadily, as it seemed, day and night
during November, was checked by the first threat of frost, and during
the fortnight before Christmas we had bright and cheerful weather. A few
convalescent patients were tempted to take a seat in the sun, and came
to notice the hour, early in the afternoon, when the triangle of light
first strikes the high wall.

We had a bench placed against the wall (it was a very tiny one, and
belonged to one of the junior classrooms). Picard, myself, and two
French soldiers from Salle un were at first the only _habitués_; none of
the British soldiers remaining at the 106 were able to leave their beds,
and most of the other Frenchmen were either too weak or too frightened
of fresh air to come out and sit in the yard.

It is a common failing of human nature to feel comforted at the sight of
other people's misfortune. So it was that the sight of a French soldier
who had been shot in the head aroused in me not only the interest of
pity, but also, I must confess, a sense of superiority at finding some
one worse off than myself. Jean was the name we called him by. No one
knew his real name or his regiment, or the place where he was born, or
any details of how he had been wounded. His wound in the head was on the
left side, almost exactly in the same place as my own--the bullet had
made the same furrow, all the symptoms were identical, the right leg
dragging, the right arm hanging, the slow elephantine movement; but
there was a difference, said Dr Debu, between the two points of impact.
In the case of Jean the impact of the bullet was a hair's-breadth more
to the front of the head, only the difference of perhaps a tenth of a
millimetre. And so it was that poor Jean had lost not only the power of
motion on the right side, but also speech, memory, and understanding.

[Illustration: A Ward at the "106."]

All these faculties might return in time (doctors are optimists _par
métier_), but at present understanding was limited to questions of the
most primitive order--cold and heat, hunger and thirst; speech to a moan
which signified no; memory to events of the past forty-eight hours, so
that Jean knew nothing of the war, of his regiment, of his home; his
face with his dropped jaw and vacant look was already the face of an

One morning in the refectory Jean fell off his chair on to the floor,
grew purple in the face and foamed at the mouth. Urgent messengers flew
off to fetch Dr Debu, and we all thought it was the end of Jean, until
my nurse of the Salle cinq suggested epileptic fits, an opinion
which was subsequently ratified by the doctor's verdict, "epilepsie
Jacksonienne." Jean did not appear again in the yard until nearly a
fortnight after this incident, and his place on the bench in the sun
was taken by another whose name, according to his own statement, was
"Mahamed, son of Mahamed."

Mahamed was still limping badly from a shot wound in the calf. He did
not look more than nineteen, and came from near Oran. His knowledge
of French was confined to "Merci le Madam," with a shining smile, and
"Alleman grand cochon."

Mahamed, having discovered my knowledge of a few words of his native
tongue and my acquaintance with his native country, followed me
about like a shadow. For many months his feelings had perforce been
suppressed, and now presuming too greatly on my supposed fluency in
Arabic conversation, the poor fellow sat on the little bench in the sun
pouring out his story.

We had the story nearly every day, and I began to put bits of it
together. Of one thing he was quite certain, namely, that the "Alleman"
was a pig and son of a pig, and that his other ancestors were of most
infamous repute. In the mixed lingo of the bench, the same declaration
was made every day at the close of the sitting, when the sun went
behind the high wall: "Alleman no bon, kif kif cochon Yhoudi ben Yhoudi,
Sheitan ben Sheitan, Halouf ben Halouf."

"Ça c'est tout de même vrai," said Picard the one-legged, patting his
stump thoughtfully and pulling volcanoes of smoke from his clay pipe.
"Alleman kif kif cochon." "Le Boche voyez vous," said Picard, addressing
the bench party, which was slowly moving back to hospital, "le Boche ça
a des petits yeux de cochon, c'est blanc et rose, comme le cochon,
ça mange.... Ah, les Boches Halouf ben Halouf," and Picard hurriedly
finished his discourse out of respect for M. le Vicaire-General, who had
just joined the group.

"Bonjour, M. le Vicaire, you're just in time," I said. "Nous disions du
mal de notre prochain." "Il n'y a pas de mal à ça, Monsieur le Curé,"
interrupted Picard, "puisque nous ne parlions que des Boches." "Voyons,
M. le Curé," this aggressively, "the Gospel tells us to love our
enemies. Do you love the Boches?" This question, and the spirit in which
it was asked, was significant of the new atmosphere which had begun to
permeate the Salle cinq after the arrival of the French soldier who
had declared himself an enemy of fresh air. Gradually this man's evil
influence pervaded the whole ward, just as the evil thing he stood for
had permeated all France before the war.

M. le Vicaire-General came to the Salle cinq nearly every day, visiting
each man's bedside, and no man, except one, however unspiritual his
past, could resist the charm of the old priest, in whose smile shone an
unselfish soul.

The "enemy of fresh air" was known to the British soldiers in the ward
as "Judas Iscariot." When the priest came near his bed, Judas shook his
head slightly and smiled an almost imperceptible smile, with all the
air of saying, "La religion c'est pour les enfants, les femmes et les

It was some sneer from Judas that prompted Picard's question.

"Voyons, M. le Curé, aimez vouz les Boches?"

The old priest looked at Picard's honest troubled face and answered

"Mais puisque l'évangile nous ordonne de nous aimer les uns les autres
et surtout d'aimer nos ennemis, il faut toujours faire son possible
pour suivre ce divin conseil et je peux dire que j'aime les
Boches--mais--chez eux--pas chez nous."

In Germany, just as in England, Christmas is kept with great feasting
and rejoicing, and during the week preceding Christmas M. Vampouille was
hard at work making sausages for his German customers, who were to hold
a festive meeting at the Kommandantur. Great preparations were also
being made at the 106, and the staff of the hospital, forgetting for the
time being their private squabbles, joined with our friends in the town
in preparing a Merry Christmas.

Christmas morning. Mass at 10 o'clock in Salle un. M. le Vicaire-General
preaches a tactful sermon on "resignation." After Mass candles on the
Christmas tree are lit and presents distributed.

The altar was erected at the extreme end of Salle un, and very
artistically decorated with palms, laurel branches, and holly; behind
the altar were two large flags (home-made) of England and France; on the
right was a large Christmas tree.

[Illustration: M. le Vicaire-Général.]

All patients who were fit to be moved, except Judas Iscariot, were
carried up from the Salle cinq and grouped near the altar. In the bed
nearest the altar a British reservist lay with a shattered spine, still
alive, still conscious, still able to speak, the lower half of his body
lifeless since the 26th of August 1914. This was his last week on earth.
"Here's a funny kind of Christmas," he whispered; "next Christmas we'll
be at home, shan't we?"

On my right, close to the altar steps, sat Picard, beyond him Mahamed
ben Mahamed looking puzzled and depressed, and at the end of the row a
lady on crutches, dressed in deep mourning, who had lost a leg during
the aeroplane fight in September. The other wounded were seated in beds,
packed in double row, half-way down each side of the ward, the remainder
of which was filled with friends from the town.

Madame Tondeur was busy in the kitchen with three turkeys to roast and
carve into very small pieces, so that every one might get a taste. The
plum pudding being very small, was reserved for the Salle cinq. Printed
directions on the tin suggested that the pudding could be eaten cold or
boiled for "half an hour." Perhaps this was a misprint for "half a
day." After the half-hour's boiling, the pudding still seemed to have a
compressed appearance, and looked very diminutive under its large stick
of holly. Madame Tondeur herself carried the flaming pudding into the
Salle cinq, divided it up into twelve portions, the indigestible but
fortunately small fragments were duly eaten, and the ancient tradition
of Christmas remained for us unbroken.

Between Christmas and the New Year it was decided that my name was to go
down on the list of "transportables," and that I would have to join the
next party for Germany. Thinking over the last few days spent at the
106 Hospital, I remember first of all the parting words of my nurse:
"In days to come try and remember the bright side of your stay here and
forget the days of darkness." And here I may say in plain words what I
feel most deeply, although these words cannot be read for many months,
perhaps years, by those to whom I would wish to address them.

Many a limbless British soldier owes his life to the surgeon of the
Civil Hospital. The question in those days was not merely "Will an
operation save life?" but rather, "Is there time to operate on those
whose lives might be saved?" Dr Debu proved himself to be the man for
such an emergency. United to great skill, he possessed great physical
strength and powers of resistance to fatigue. For three days and three
nights he operated almost without taking time for meals or sleep.

For the devoted kindness of the French doctors and nurses, both of
the Hôpital Civil, the 106, and the other ten or twelve hospitals of
Cambrai, who for many months under conditions of great difficulty and
danger, without many of the most necessary medical appliances, worked
night and day to save the lives of British soldiers and to ease the
last moments of the mortally wounded, I feel that this very inadequate
expression of gratitude must be set down.

There are many other kind friends at Cambrai whose kindness I can never

Consider my situation at Cambrai: unknown, cut off from all intercourse
with the world, about to start off for a German prison, and without a
sixpence. I did not like to ask a loan from my kind friends, who
had already given me a complete outfit of underclothing and toilet
necessaries. On New Year's Day the subject of money was broached by
M. Rey in a straightforward business-like manner. "You are shortly going
to Germany," he said; "even in prison money is useful; you will need
some money; we have brought you some." The sum M. Rey proposed to give
me was £50! We decided that half this sum would be ample, and I gave
M. Rey a receipt "payable après la guerre."

After these true friends in need had left, M. Vampouille came in to sit
with me, and he made the same suggestion about money, and insisted on my
accepting a further sum, the loan of which, he said, is granted on
one condition only: "You must not pay me by cheque, you must come
yourself--after the war!"

Next morning a decrepit omnibus driven by a German soldier came to take
me from the Hôpital 106 to M. Brunot's Hôpital Annexe, from where, after
three days, I was sent off to Germany.




I had been four months in hospital when my name was put down on the
list of "transportables," and a place was reserved for me in the "Zug

These trains were made up according to the output from the different
hospitals along the front, chiefly from Lille, Douai, Cambrai, and
St Quentin.

After the pressure of traffic consequent on the rush back from the Marne
had subsided, a regular hospital-train service was inaugurated, and
trains direct to Munich were run once a week.

When I expressed some fears to Dr Schmidt as to how I would be treated
on my journey, he laughed, saying something about German culture, and
that one must not believe all the tales one hears about the Germans. At
any rate, he assured me I had nothing to fear, for instructions had been
given to pay every attention that the nature of my wound required, and I
was to travel by a special Lazaret with a comfortable bed and plenty of
good food from a restaurant car.

In the light of subsequent experiences I am sometimes rather suspicious
of my friend's kindly intentions. The German idea of humour is so
different from any other. I often wonder if Dr Schmidt had been "pulling
my leg" in his clumsy German way.

However, when the motor ambulance came to fetch me at 10 A.M. on the
6th of January, I started off on my journey quite free in my mind from
painful anticipations. I pictured to myself a comfortable hospital
train, with perhaps a German Schwester to look after the worst cases,
and if not a made-up bed, at least a stretcher on which I could rest my
paralysed limbs.

On arriving at Cambrai station I found that the "special hospital train"
consisted of ordinary 3rd-class corridor coaches, which were packed with
French and English wounded. I was helped along the train by two kindly
German soldiers, and lifted up into a 2nd-class carriage, where I was
warmly greeted by a French Army doctor, like myself _en route_ for a
German prison.

One side of the carriage had been made up as a bed, and the nice white
sheets looked most inviting. However, my satisfaction with what I
supposed to be the arrangements for my comfort was short-lived. I had
scarcely time for more than a few words with the French doctor when
a German officer, a lieutenant, appeared at the door. His message was
brief and easy to understand. I was to get out.

In spite of my protests, this officer attempted to make me climb down on
to the platform, but as this was quite beyond my powers, he allowed me
to crawl along the corridor. At the far end of the train was a 3rd-class
corridor coach of the usual Continental type, with hard wooden seats,
the partitions running only half-way to the roof. This coach was full of
wounded French and English soldiers, among whom I recognised several who
had been in hospital with me, but I was not allowed to speak to them.
At the end of the coach was a compartment, one side of which had been
transformed into a bed by nailing up a board against the seat, which was
covered with straw.

I was assisted on to my bed of straw by a German N.C.O., who, along with
three other soldiers, all with loaded rifles and fixed bayonets, took up
all the remaining room in the carriage. It was evident that I was to be
efficiently guarded.

I took no notice of my escort, but kept an eye on the platform, as I
wished to get a hold of some German officer of high rank, in order to
protest against my removal from the 2nd-class carriage. Presently an
inspecting officer, a captain, I think, came along the train.

I explained to this officer that the wound in my head was only newly
healed, that I was still quite paralysed on one side, and that Dr
Schmidt had arranged (as I thought) for my proper accommodation on the

I requested permission to be allowed to travel along with the French
officer from whose company I had been somewhat rudely shifted.

The German officer, standing on the platform, listened to what I had to
say, and when I had finished he got on to the footboard, looked through
my carriage window at the wooden bed, the straw, and the three sentries,
and then I got my answer: "Das ist schön für einen Engländer."

This was my first lesson in German Kultur. I thanked the contemptuous
German most heartily, and I fancy that my exaggerated politeness
somewhat annoyed him.

Although I did not appear to be taking any notice of my sentries,
I could not avoid catching the eye of the man opposite, who kept on
glaring at me with a most objectionable persistency.

I looked at him in my most benevolent manner, but made no attempt at

When presently the others got up and went out into the corridor, this
man's conduct became most alarming. He was evidently under stress of
some strong emotion. Suddenly his whole manner changed. Laying a finger
on his lips with a warning gesture, he bent towards me and said in a low
tense voice, "Moi aussi je hais les Allemands."

In spite of the hatred in his voice and the bitter look which
accompanied the words, I did not show much eagerness to follow up this
somewhat startling opening for conversation. I was rather afraid of some
trap. One had heard stories of prisoners on the way to Germany being
taken out of the train and shot on the accusation of having spoken of
the Fatherland in an unbecoming manner or on some similar trumped-up
charge. All attempt at further conversation was, however, put a stop to
by the return of the other sentries.

The soldier opposite, whether friend or foe I knew not, remained silent
and motionless in his corner, although from time to time he favoured me
with a malevolent stare, while his companions took hardly any notice
of me at all. It was some time before another opportunity occurred
for private conversation. However, at some country station the three
soldiers got out to get a drink of coffee, leaving me alone with the
mysterious sentry. Again his manner changed, and again bending forward,
he hissed with a hatred in his voice that seemed very genuine, "Moi
aussi je hais les Allemands."

And then in atrociously bad French my "friendly" enemy threw light on
his mysterious behaviour by explaining that he was a Pole, and was
under orders to join at Valenciennes some reinforcements that were being
hurried up to Arras. "I have to go on," he said; "I cannot help myself,
but I will never aim straight at the French or English."

I suggested that he might perhaps manage to get taken prisoner, but
he answered that it would be most difficult, as all Poles were kept
separate from their fellow-countrymen and closely watched.

Any shirking in the firing line would mean instant death at the hand of
some Bavarian comrade.

He begged me not to betray by any word or sign that we had conversed
together, because he was looked upon with suspicion by the other
soldiers, and for that reason had feigned intense hatred of the English.
This was the explanation of the malevolent stare at me. At this point
the other sentries returned, and no further opportunity for conversation

My newly-found friend was evidently worrying over his miserable lot. He
took out a well-thumbed Feldpostkarte, and as he read one could see that
his thoughts were far away with the wife and children from whose side he
had been dragged to fight for the hereditary enemies of his country.
I shall not easily forget the sadness of the man's face,--a young face
with very dark, dog-like eyes. There was nothing smart about him; he was
indeed rather more dirty than even a travel-stained soldier from Poland
had any right to be. As I looked at him I thought of the countless
numbers of German soldiers whose lives had been sacrificed in vain
efforts to capture the French position at Arras. And this man was to be
one more. His fate was perhaps the hardest of all. For him there would
not even be the soldier's last consolation of duty done. As the train
drew up at Valenciennes the soldiers in my carriage began to put on
their equipment, and when the train had stopped they all got out. My
Polish friend went out last, and as he left the carriage he turned round
and bade me with his eyes a silent and almost appealing farewell.

Valenciennes is an important junction, forming a central point from
which the railway line branches off to both the French and the English
front. Moreover, the principal base hospital had been transferred
here from Cambrai early in October, so I was not surprised to find the
platform crowded with Red Cross attendants, stretcher-bearers, doctors,
railway transport officers, and soldiers representing all parts of the
German Empire. Now that my Polish friend and his two comrades had gone
I was left alone with the fat _unterofficier_, who took the first
opportunity that was offered of exercising his authority over me.

It was a very mild evening for January, and as I soon got tired of
watching the crowd of German soldiery, whose presence in France is an
outrage that cannot be fully realised by merely reading about it in the
papers, I leant out of the window on the opposite side of the train. The
contrast was striking. Not a soldier was in sight, and the little French
town, as far as one could see from my carriage window, seemed abnormally
quiet. To make complete the illusions of peace, a grey-headed French
railway employee in his blue blouse came sauntering down the line.

When he reached my carriage and saw the British uniform, he cordially
wished me good-evening, and asked where I had been wounded. I did not
get further in the conversation than to return the "bonsoir" when my
sentry rushed across the carriage, threw up the window, and in a voice
meant to be most terrifying thundered out that "to speak out of the
window was 'verboten.'"

I said I was sorry, but did not know it to be "verboten." This
inoffensive remark produced a regular parade scolding, accompanied by an
interesting exhibition of eye-rolling, which forms an important part of
German military discipline.

The lecture ended up with a dramatic pointing of the finger to an
enormous high-up stomach and "Ich verbiete." I said "All right."

This seemed about to cause another storm, so I hurriedly translated it
into "Ist gut."

My guardian, still rumbling, went out into the corridor; I opened the
window again, and the train moved slowly out of the station.

The train did not stop again till we were well over the Belgian

I did not see any frontier marks, nor did we stop at any frontier
stations. A rough calculation, however, of the distance we had gone from
Valenciennes showed that we must have reached Belgium about 6 A.M.
As the train was now going very slowly, I was able to observe the
countryside with more attention, and I was eagerly looking out for some
landmark that might enable me to recognise the road along which we had
marched on our way up to Mons nearly five months before.

Our first stop in Belgium was at a small country station, the name of
which I have forgotten. This place must have been just on the fringe of
the fighting during the last week of August. It was here that began the
trail of the Hun.

The station was a complete wreck, and in the adjoining village only one
house seemed to have escaped destruction. Temporary shelters had been
rigged up with corrugated iron all along the platform, at the end of
which was a wooden Red Cross dressing-station.

These dressing-stations have been set up at every station, however
small, all along the line between the German frontier and the front,
and form a striking example of German organisation and efficiency.
They consist of two small rooms, one of which can be used as an
operating-room, and is stocked with first-aid appliances and a small
pharmacy. The whole building can be taken down and set up elsewhere in a
very short time.

The country now presented a melancholy sight, and as the railway line
itself had been much damaged, the speed of the train was reduced to a
crawl over the numerous temporary wooden railway bridges.

In Belgium the railway line was always strongly guarded, while in France
I hardly noticed any troops except at the railway stations. From the
moment we entered Belgium it was evident that a great number of soldiers
were billeted in the villages and towns, or rather in the huts that had
been constructed amidst the ruins. In fact, the German soldiers seemed
in this district to have taken the place of the Belgian population, as
between the frontier and Mons I do not remember seeing a single Belgian.
Of course, at this time I did not know that thousands of Belgians had
fled to England, nor had I heard anything more than vague rumours of
German atrocities, such as the burning of Louvain and the indiscriminate
murder of the civilian population in many parts of Belgium. I was
therefore somewhat at a loss to understand why the railway line was so
very much more carefully guarded in Belgium than it was in France, and
why the civilian population seemed to have almost disappeared.

As we began to enter the mining district in which the town of Mons is
situated, I looked out of my prison window with renewed interest at the
more dominant features of the landscape, which I could now recognise
quite distinctly.

At one place the line followed for a short time the very road along
which we had marched on the 22nd August, the day before the battle of
Mons, happy in our ignorance of all that was to come.

It was along this same straight road lined with tall poplar trees that
the grey-clad German soldiers had been rushed on in motor-cars, that the
hundreds of machine-guns and light artillery had hurried with the hope,
that was so nearly realised at Le Cateau, of destroying what was left of
the little British army. Further on the line skirts the now famous Canal
de Condé.

The effect of the German shell fire was very noticeable along the banks
of the canal. Most of the houses within a hundred yards of the water had
been totally destroyed, so that the ground between the railway line and
the canal was now fairly open. On the right side of the line the damage
had not been so considerable; still, even on that side fully fifty per
cent of the houses were roofless. As far as a limited view from the
railway would allow me to judge, I do not think the upper part of the
town was much knocked about. Most of the German shelling on the 23rd had
been directed on the British positions along the canal, and any damage
that was done in the town itself was probably caused by the British
guns' attempt to check the German advance through the town later in the

The lower part of the town of Mons reminded me of the streets of
Pompeii. The silent ruins had been abandoned even by the German
soldiers. Here and there some rough attempt had been made to provide
shelter, and we passed a few miserable women and children who were
standing grouped in the doorways of their shattered homes. We entered
the station of Mons at about 7 P.M. Here, as far as could be seen,
everything seemed quite normal, and no traces were visible of the storm
that must have raged all around during that eventful August day when
British troops had paid their flying visit to the town.

The platform side of the train was quite deserted, so I turned my
attention to the other window, and was presently accosted by a German
railway soldier. I at once surmised from his opening remark and
evil-looking face that he was intent on "prisoner baiting." I naturally
pretended not to understand, and he thereupon became most annoyed. The
expression of his humorous thought was that "the English were all going
to Berlin, and the verdammte English would verdammt well stay there for
ever." I shook my head and said "nicht verstehe."

Then followed a sort of pantomime repetition of the same idea slowly
spoken in simple words. Again I shook my head. Then a brilliant idea
struck him: "Parlez vous Français?" "Oui," said I. But all the French
he could muster consisted of "A Berlin." This was yelled out in a loud
voice with great enthusiasm.

I then constructed a sentence in very bad German to the effect that our
train was not going to Berlin but to Munich. This got rid of him, as
he evidently thought it was hopeless to make the thick-headed Engländer
understand his subtle German humour, and off he went shouting "A Berlin,
A Berlin!"

The fat N.C.O. who had been standing in the corridor during this
interview now came into the carriage, and I asked him if there was any
dinner going, and was told that it would be brought along presently. It
was not long before a party of soldiers appeared carrying two dixies of
soup, a plateful of which was handed up.

It was thin vegetable soup, tasteless and stone cold. This was the
"dinner from a restaurant car" that Dr Schmidt had told me about! My
appetite would not rise to more than a spoonful of it, and I do not
think even Oliver Twist would have asked for more. Fortunately my kind
French friend at Cambrai had provided me with a parcel of food, and
I thought the time had come to take stock of its contents. I asked
my corpulent attendant to reach me down the parcel, in which I found
several "petit pains," some ham, and a large lengthy German sausage,
upon which, as it rolled out of the paper, my guardian cast a swift but
appreciative eye. I thought it might be a good idea to try and bribe
him into a good temper, and ventured to ask for the loan of a knife! My
request having been complied with, I sheared off a large piece of the
sausage and stuck it on the end of the knife as I handed it back to its

A grateful grunt showed that my offering to the stomach had found a weak
spot in the enemy's armour, and from that moment we were comparatively
friendly. After I had eaten some bread and ham I asked for something
to drink, and was told that nothing was to be had except the thin cold
soup. I had saved one or two cheap cigars from the hospital, and I
settled down as best I could to smoke one of them.

I have forgotten to mention that there was a Red Cross attendant on
the train, whose occupation consisted in slouching in the corridor and
staring out of the window. He was a short, thick-set man, one of the
dirtiest-looking I have ever seen in uniform. He wore a once white
linen overall and a Red Cross badge on his arm. I do not know if he was
qualified for Red Cross work, as he made no attempt or offer to help me
or any of the other wounded men. Shortly after leaving Mons I began to
feel symptoms of a bad headache coming on, and so I asked my guardian if
there was a doctor on the train and if he could give me some aspirin. My
request was passed on to the Red Cross attendant, who said he would go
and ask the doctor.

It was now dark, and the train stopped at many small stations, at each
of which numbers of soldiers were billeted. Some of them always came
up to my carriage to show off their knowledge of English. One or two
of them were very rude, but the majority were merely interested and
addressed me quite politely, sometimes in fluent English. One man I
remember, who spoke just like an Englishman, said that he had been
twelve years in England with a German band and knew all the coast towns.
This fellow said he was very sorry "that England had made this War," as
no Germans would like to go back there any more.

At several stations other German bandsmen spoke to me out of the
darkness, and sometimes they climbed up on to the footboard and
attempted to enter into discussions as to who started the War. England,
of course, was declared to be the aggressor and originator of all the
trouble, and some surprise mingled with hatred was expressed at her
action in thus attacking, for no apparent reason, a pacific industrial
country like Germany. Of course I was not in a position to argue the
point, and generally contented myself with asking whether they thought
we had prepared an Expeditionary Force of 70,000 men to attack 7,000,000

These men belonged for the most part to the Landsturm, and one of them
told me they had been in billets for over two months. They seemed quite
cheerful at the prospect of going nearer the firing line.

Conscription is, from the Germans' point of view, simply organised
patriotism, although ignorant opponents of National Service are fond of
sneering at the German conscript and assert that he will only fight when
forced on with revolvers. I wish that some of our stay-at-home sneerers
could have seen these crowds of German conscripts and heard the singing
and laughter. If cheerfulness be one of the first qualities of a
soldier, these people possessed it to a very high degree.

At one station a soldier who was, I think, rather full of beer, hung on
to the footboard outside my window and attempted to be offensive in a
mixture of German and English. His peroration was coming to an end as
the train began to move, but he clung on and delivered his final shaft:
"England is the enemy and will be punished." However, his own punishment
was near at hand, for when he attempted to jump off the train, which was
running fairly fast, he made a false step and fell heavily on the back
of his head, and, as it seemed to me, right under the wheels of the

My sentry, who under the influence of sausage had become quite
communicative, remarked that the man was drunk and deserved all he got.

Symptoms were now developing of a serious headache such as I had
experienced once before in hospital. On asking the Red Cross attendant
if he had taken my message to the doctor, I was told that it would have
to wait till the next stop, and by the time we got to Charleroi I was in
the fast grip of an acute neuralgic attack.

Entrance to the platform at Charleroi had evidently been _verboten_,
for there was no one on the platform, although a great crowd of soldiers
could be seen at the far end of the station, which was brilliantly
lighted with electric arc lamps.

I again asked my sentry to get me some relief. He was quite sympathetic,
and I think began to realise that I was getting rather bad. He told me
that the Red Cross attendant had gone to the doctor and would be back
before long. The very great pain was made worse by the knowledge that
the two or three tablets of aspirin, for which I had waited so long,
would afford instant relief. At last the Red Cross attendant came along
the corridor and made some sign to the sentry, who went out to speak
to him. They talked for a long time, and seemed to be arguing about
something. Every minute was more painful than the last, and then, to my
relief, the sentry came back. I stretched out my hand for the aspirin.
"Nichts," he said, "the doctor sends a message--'tell the Englishman not
to smoke cigars and he will not have a headache.'"

Looking back now on this incident I am inclined to acquit the German
doctor of all blame, although at the time I was full of wrath at what
I supposed to be callous indifference and cruelty, surprising even in a
German member of the medical profession. The most likely explanation
is that the dirty Red Cross attendant had never taken my message to the
doctor at all.

The only thing now was to get some sleep while the train was at rest,
as I knew that when the jolting began again sleep would be quite

My desire for rest was not, however, to be satisfied, for the sentry
leant out of the window on my side of the carriage and started a
conversation with somebody on the platform. I was surprised to hear
that he was talking to a woman, and on looking up to see who it was, a
pleasant voice bade me "Good-evening" in perfect English.

A pretty, young Red Cross nurse stood there at the window. The sight of
her, the kindness with which she spoke, the sympathetic look, were for
a moment as unreal to me as the memory of a dream. "Is there anything I
can do for you?" she said; "I hope you are not very badly wounded." As
soon as she knew of my headache she went running along the train, and
was back almost at once with three large tablets of aspirin. "I am
so glad to be able to help you," she said; "I promised my friends
in England that I would do all in my power to help the poor English

I could not find words to thank her then, and I cannot find them now.
Never did I need kindness more, and never was a kind deed more kindly

Before the train started off again the good sister came back to ask how
I was feeling, and wished me well on my journey.

The relief to the pain was almost immediate, and in spite of the
renewed joltings, and the hard bed which afforded small comfort to a
semi-paralysed man, I slept soundly for the rest of the night.


The day had not long dawned when I awoke so cramped and stiff that I
could hardly move, but still refreshed by much-needed sleep, and above
all free of the previous night's headache. My sentry, who had also
slept well, was good enough to ask how I felt, and said we were going to
Aachen, but he could not or would not say if this was to be our ultimate

We reached Aachen about 8.30, and a more miserable morning could not
be imagined. It had evidently rained hard all night, and the downpour
showed no signs of abating.

Looking out at the pretty little town half hidden in the mist that hung
over the wooded hills, I was wondering if this was to be our journey's
end, when I saw what looked like two British officers walking along
the station road. There was no mistake about the British warm coats! Of
course they were Germans, who doubtless found the British uniform more
suited than their own to the steadily drenching rain.

Our journey was not, however, to finish here, for soon the sentry, who
had been standing in the corridor, came back and said that we had to
change and get into another train.

When lifted down on to the platform I was too stiff to walk even with
the crutches, and had to be taken across the station on a stretcher.
There were several other stretcher cases--about ten or twelve--but the
majority managed to hobble along by themselves.

We were a most miserable-looking party; all the men, both British and
French, were dressed in French uniforms, and one or two, whom I spoke
to, said that they had had no food since leaving Cambrai.

The train into which we were now being packed was of a more antiquated
type than the one we had left. A very narrow corridor ran down the
centre of the coach, the narrow wooden seats on each side being made to
hold four people. It was with great difficulty that I crawled along the
corridor through the crowd of wounded soldiers, mostly French, who, too
miserable, too hungry and too cold for speech, were trying to huddle
together as well as their wounded condition would allow.

The corridor led into a carriage with four very narrow wooden seats,
which were occupied by four British soldiers and one stout sentry. This
was to be my accommodation for the rest of the journey. I pointed out
to my sentry, who had followed me from the other train, that it was
impossible for me to travel otherwise than lying down, and that even
for able-bodied passengers the carriage was overcrowded. Also I demanded
anew to be allowed to travel with the French doctor, whom I now saw
being escorted along the platform to the rear end of the train. My
protest was of no avail, and on inquiring who was the officer in charge
of the train, I was told it was the doctor who had refused the aspirin,
so concluded that further expostulation would be useless. My luggage,
consisting of a small canvas portmanteau and a brown paper parcel with
the sausage, &c., was now brought along, and took up what small space
remained in the carriage.

We were now five wounded men and two very corpulent sentries, and the
problem of how to divide the available space presented some difficulty.

Two of the men, like myself, were unable to travel in a sitting
position. We had four seats, one of which was more than occupied by the
two sentries. The other three had to be given to those who could not sit
up, and so the remaining two men had to lie on the hard floor.

Although all these men had been very severely wounded, and were still in
great pain, they had no thought for themselves, but insisted upon doing
everything that they could to settle me as comfortably as possible. My
bag was put at the end of a corner seat, and, making a pillow with my
greatcoat, I was able to get into a half sitting, half lying, and by no
means comfortable position, but the best that could be done under the

A British Tommy's cheerfulness is irrepressible. The knocking about
may have been severe, the situation may be desperate, and the outlook
depressing, but you will nearly always find the British soldier cheerful
in spite of all.

I remember an old monastic exhortation written in the eighth century
entitled, "De octo principalibus vitiis," where sadness is bracketed
along with pride, covetousness, lust, and the other familiar vices,
while cheerfulness is placed high on the list of virtues. I can now
appreciate the old monks' valuation of cheerfulness, and for the lesson
I have to thank those wounded soldiers in the railway carriage at

They were as cheery as soldiers on furlough. For nearly four hours the
train waited just outside the dripping station, and we spent most of the
time laughing! In fact, we were so hilarious that I think our sentries
got suspicious; at any rate they were considerably bewildered at our
strange conduct. We none of us had much to laugh at. The most helpless
man in our carriage was a young fellow of nineteen in the K.O.S.B.'s,
whose leg had been broken just above the shin, and a piece of the bone
knocked away. This man was subsequently exchanged, and we journeyed home
to England together. Two other men had bullet wounds in the thigh which
were still septic; and the fourth, an Irishman from Carlow, had been
very badly wounded in the face, having lost the sight of one eye, was
also deaf in one ear and shockingly disfigured.

The rain still poured heavily down, and we were still, at 12.30 P.M.,
outside Aachen station.

At last a man who looked like a soldier of high rank, but was merely the
station-master, came in, escorted by a German private, to count us. He
informed our sentries that we were about to start for Mainz, and
before going out the German soldier snatched the French képi from the
disfigured Irishman and gave him his German round soft cap in exchange.
It is a cheap and very common method of obtaining a war trophy.

It was now time to make inquiries about lunch, and we were told we would
get nothing till we got to Mainz at seven o'clock.

Every one of us had been supplied by the kind French people at Cambrai
with bread and cold meat, chocolate and biscuits, so that we were able
to make quite a decent meal. Still I made a point of always asking
the Germans for food before using our own. It was with the greatest
difficulty that we at last got something to drink. Our sentries did not
show any ill-feeling, and it was not their fault that nothing was given
us; it was simply that no arrangements had been made. At about four in
the afternoon we each got a cup of what was meant for tea, and this was
the first liquid we had had since the previous morning.

The sentries were provided with coffee and sandwiches at every station,
which was always brought to the carriage by women dressed in uniform.
They belonged to an association which has been formed for the purpose of
supplying soldiers on transport duty with hot drinks.

I inquired of one of these ladies if there was not an association for
supplying prisoners of war with food and drink, and was rewarded with a
solemn serious negative.

The train did not get on very fast, and we stopped a good many times
just outside the stations--waits lasting sometimes over an hour.
Although the amount of data regarding the internal conditions of a
country which can be obtained from a carriage window on a journey such
as we were making is certainly not extensive, still I noted a good many
interesting points.

Civilians, of course, were few and far between. At the stations and in
the public places, and as far as I could see in the streets, nearly
all were in uniform, young and old. Some of the older men wore very
quaint-looking garments. I have seen more civilians on the platform
of one English country station than I saw at all the German stations
together between Cambrai and Würzburg.

Railway work, such as unloading coal, &c., from the trucks, was being
done by boys of twelve to fifteen, working in gangs of about six, doing
the work of two or three men. _All_ the railway engine-drivers and
employees I saw were men obviously above military age.

The stations are all under military control, and transport work is
carried on by soldiers.

Troop trains passed incessantly. The men, who I should say were about
twenty years old, were cheerful and always singing, just like our
own troops are fond of doing, only the Germans sing much better! They
shouted out greetings to the wounded Germans on our train, and looked
with curiosity at the French and British soldiers. When the troop train
happened to draw up opposite us, sometimes a fist would be shaken in the
air, accompanied by what sounded like very bad language. But the general
spirit shown by these young German troops towards our train-load of
wounded prisoners was that of contempt and pity of victors for the
vanquished. The men were splendidly equipped, and many regiments
carried a long spade strapped on to the back of their kit, the iron head
stretching high above the helmet. I remember starting to count the troop
trains, but I cannot find any note of the number in my diary. I should
put the number we saw in one day at from fifteen to twenty.

In the public squares of the smaller towns, and even outside some of
the country villages, groups of youths, almost children, were being put
through elementary military exercises.

The train stopped at one small countryside station, and I got a very
good view of some German troops having a field-day. They were preparing
to advance on the village through some woods, and the sight reminded me
of the German attacks on our trenches at Mons.

Nothing that I could observe from my carriage window spoke more
eloquently of the efforts Germany was making than the goods traffic
which passed along the line or lay shunted at the stations.

The very trucks themselves were eloquent of war and of Germany's success
in war. Belgian rolling stock was very much in evidence, and it was
depressing to see the well-known French vans with the inscription,
"hommes 40, chevaux 12," familiar to all who have travelled in France.
There were also a few strange-looking waggons, either Russian or Polish.

Nearly all the goods trains were carrying war material. Long trains were
standing on the sidings with Red Cross ambulances on every truck.

We passed countless numbers of trains loaded with broad wooden
planks and stout larch poles, doubtless intended for the erection of
earthworks. Most instructive was the sight of one long train of about
thirty trucks loaded with private motor-cars of all sorts and sizes,
which had been hurriedly painted with grey stripes and some sort of
notice indicating Government service. Once we passed a train with heavy
artillery on specially constructed waggons, and we saw several trains of
ordinary field artillery. These trains of troops, munitions, motor-cars,
coal, and a hundred other weapons of war that were hidden from view,
the whole methodical procession of supplies to the Front, were most
suggestive of power, of concentration, and organisation of effort. Most
impressive was this glimpse of Germany at war. It is difficult to convey
the impression to those who have not seen Germany in a state of war. Men
who have been at the Front see little of the power which is behind the
machine against which they are fighting.

I do not think many people in this country, even in high places, have
yet understood how great, as to be almost invincible, are the military
and industrial resources of Germany.

The strength given by unity of purpose, by self-sacrifice of individual
to national requirements, by organisation of disciplined masses, is the
strength of Germany, behind which is the all-prevailing spirit of the
motto, "Deutschland über Alles," the Fatherland above all things,
and before all things. The end justifying the means in the name of
a perverted patriotism, whose end is self-glorification, whose means
include among other horrors the murder of an innocent and defenceless
civilian population.

This German patriotism, a monstrous caricature of the noblest of
virtues, is the only ideal which the brutal materialism of Prussia can
still pretend to claim for its own.

Chivalry, honour, and a fair name, the ideals for which men will
cheerfully die, Germany has destroyed and buried in the wreckage of
Belgian homesteads.

In my carriage-window conversations with German soldiers, to whom it
might have been dangerous to express myself as frankly as I have just
done here, I always felt that I was dealing with people possessed by an
"idée fixe." Evil, as long as it was German evil, was right.

Pride has brought these people to believe that all law, religious and
ethical, should be subservient to the interests of the Fatherland. The
German pride is something quite apart from the common conceit with
which all men and all nations are afflicted, for the foolish British
bumptiousness, which of late years has not been so much in evidence, due
to ignorance and want of intercourse with Continental nations, does
not strike deep enough into the national character to affect the moral
sanity of the race. But German pride working through several generations
has apparently destroyed all sense of right and wrong. It has become,
therefore, impossible to convince the German people of wrong-doing.

I once ventured to say, in answer to one man who was very indignant
with "England's treachery" (he was a kultured man and addressed me as
a "hireling of La Perfide Albion"), that at any rate we had not invaded
Belgium in breach of a solemn treaty. I fully expected to be chastised
for my boldness, but my remark did not arouse any indignation. I was
told quite simply that "even if there was any truth in my statement the
necessity of Germany was supreme and above all."

Deutschland über Alles.

At most of the stations we stopped at, men used to come into our
carriage out of curiosity; some of them were rude and insulting, but
very often they were eager to enter into conversation.

At one place an _Unterofficier_, who understood a little English but did
not speak it, kept on repeating in German that England had made the War
and tried to catch Germany unprepared, and that we were mobilised for
war in July. I did not answer him, but turned round to the wounded
soldier next me and said to him, "When did you mobilise?" All the men
answered in chorus, "On the 5th August." "I don't know when you Germans
mobilised," I said, "but you were fighting in Belgium on the day we

In most of their conversations the question of who was going to win was
not raised, for the Germans consider that they have won already, and
they have no fears of being unable to maintain the territory they have

The prevailing sentiment towards England was contemptuous. I remember
some soldiers at one place reading the news to my sentry out of a German
paper, and one of the items was "Kitchener has organised an army of one
million men." This statement caused considerable laughter, and when the
sentry returned to our carriage I asked him where the joke lay. England,
he then explained, for years had employed a small number of paid men to
do whatever fighting was needed, and the nation could not now be drilled
and made soldiers of, as they were not animated by the martial, manly
spirit of Germany, and those few that did volunteer--he used the word
with contempt--would require at least a year's training.

From such conversations as these, and from reading the German papers, I
am convinced that the strongest ground of confidence the Germans possess
is their contempt of England's military power. The Germans know far
better than we do the weakness of our voluntary system. They know that
if the full power of the British Empire was brought against them, defeat
would in the long-run be inevitable. But they believe, and I think
rightly believe, that this can never come to pass without organisation
and discipline of the whole country. No disaster to the German arms on
the field of battle would have an effect on the morale of the German
people such as would result from the knowledge that the English had
recognised the principle of National Service.

But as long as England remains "le pays des embusqués," German opinion
will not be influenced by speeches on England's grim determination made
in Parliament or leaders written in our morning papers: Germany knows
that grim determination is shown not in words, but in deeds.

The day when England consents to the great sacrifice and faces the stern
discipline of conscription, the present unshakable confidence of the
German people will be changed into apprehensive despair.

I have interrupted the thread of my story to reply to those people who
keep on telling us that we have done splendidly, that no one else could
have done what we have done; that our voluntary army of one or two or
three million men, whatever it may be, is the most wonderful creation
of all history; and so on to the Navy and its great deeds. The litany of
praise is familiar to all, and a good deal of it is true.

But the point to be considered is not what we have done, but what we
have left undone, since nothing less will suffice than the maximum
possible effort.


I forgot to mention that either at Mons or Charleroi, I am not sure
which, a sheet of paper containing all the latest war news, some printed
in English and some in French, was handed to all the prisoners on the
train. I have kept this interesting document, the heading of which is as
follows: "A short account of facts from Official German and Foreign War
Reports. 'This english [_sic_] is also published in German and
Spanish.' Free of charge from the Publisher, Mrs von Puttkamer, Hamburg,
Paulstrasse 9/11."

This sheet, which purports to contain the war news for November, is
evidently a monthly concoction. I append some extracts:--

  _Nov. 1._ "Turkey declares the 'holy War.' 2000 armed Bedouins
  attack Egypt. As a result of bad treatment 17 Germans die in the
  English Concentration Camp at Farmley."

  _Nov. 5._ "Field-Marshal French meets with a bad accident. Conquered
  English cannons placed for exhibition before the Hamburg Town Hall,
  amidst the plaudits of the people."

  _Nov. 6._ "As a counter measure all Englishmen in Germany between
  the ages of 17 and 55 interned at Ruhleben by Berlin."

Then follows a long list of German victories on all fronts, with just a
passing reference to the loss of the _Emden_ and the fall of Tsingtau.

  _Nov. 15._ "Storm of indignation from all Mohammedens over the
  English attack against Akaba, the Holy City of Islam. Lord Roberts
  dies in London at age of 82."

  _Nov. 17._ "As a result of German submarines in the channel no more
  English transport of troops takes place."

  _Nov. 18._ "The Times says that it is becoming clearer every day
  to prominent patriots of Germany, that it is not possible to beat
  England. 'As I also belong to the leading men mentioned, I attach
  great importance to it, to prove well founded the fact that, in my
  opinion, England is already beaten, as an England that hides its
  fleet in such a war as this, and does not venture to sea, has ceased
  to be the England of old. It has once for all renounced its right
  to speak when a question of the European balance of power is dealt

  _Nov. 22._ "Successful fight of the Turks against English and
  Russians at Schotel-Arab. 750 English troops killed and 1000
  wounded. The Turks reach the Suez Canal."

  _Nov. 25._ "The Turks controll [_sic_] the Suez Canal at Kantara."

The total number of prisoners claimed to have been captured in the month
of November works out at 268,508, and on one single day, the 14th Nov.,
10,000 guns and a quantity of ammunition were taken as booty.

Mrs von Puttkamer must have taken considerable trouble with this
singular document, and I cannot understand with what object it was
distributed broadcast among the prisoners. The only result of reading
such an obviously biassed account of the war was that, as we had no
means of discriminating between what was true and what was false, we did
not pay the least attention to any of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The three wounded men who had been over four months in bed, and whose
wounds were not yet healed, were now suffering a great deal of pain
from the cramped position, the jolting of the train, and from want of
nourishing food. They had tried to get some relief by lying on the floor
of the carriage, where they finally settled together in a heap.

The sentry, with whom I was by this time on the best of terms, began to
grow sentimental at the thought of meeting his wife and children, with
whom he was to spend a week's leave in the neighbourhood of Coblenz. I
tried to find out if he had heard of any talk about a proposed exchange
of prisoners, but he could not or would not give me any information.

Light was failing as we reached the Rhine valley. The train crawled
slowly under the shadow of the vine-covered cliffs, far to the west
the rain-clouds were drifting away as if driven by the last rays of the
setting sun, which they had hidden during the day. We had no light in
the carriage, and the blackness of the interior darkness was relieved
only by the twinkling lights on the distant banks of the Rhine. By the
time the train reached Coblenz the wounded men, though not asleep, were
in a condition of dormant torpor, while the sentries slept heavily,
dreaming, no doubt, of their soon-once-more-to-be-met buxom fraus.

At Coblenz most of the German wounded who had started with us from
Cambrai came to their journey's end, and the station was crowded with
Red Cross people who had come to meet them. There were no serious cases,
nearly all arms and a few superficial head wounds. Here also we saw the
last of our two fat sentries, and their place was taken by two men who
belonged to some very antiquated sort of Bavarian Landsturm, harmless,
inoffensive creatures both of them. They actually put their rifles up
on the rack, whereas the other sentries had clung tight to theirs on
the whole journey from Cambrai. We immediately got permission to smoke,
which had been refused us before, and I again made inquiries about
food and drink with the usual result. No arrangements had been made
for feeding prisoners, and as our own stock of food was getting low an
effort had to be made to get something done.

It was not long before the doctor in charge of the Coblenz ambulance,
tall and thin, with a black beard, came along inspecting the wounded. He
asked if there were any men who required to have their wounds dressed,
explaining that we would get to our destination the next day, and he
would not dress any one except if absolutely necessary.

The men said they preferred to wait, and I then pointed out to
the doctor that the accommodation for five badly wounded men was
insufficient, so that they had to lie on top of each other on the floor,
and that we had been given practically no food since we left Cambrai.

The doctor answered that no other accommodation was available, and he
expressed some indignation at our not having had any food, promising to
send some along at once. We got some nice hot coffee, a large piece of
German black bread, with a roll and sausage each, and made our first
meal at German expense.

After the train started on again the big sentry, who looked rather like
a Scotch Highlander, and came no doubt from the mountain forests
of Bavaria, produced a couple of night-lights, with whose slender
flickering the carriage was dimly lit up.

Our new sentries had no idea of discipline or duty whatever. They seemed
to look upon themselves as showmen travelling with a collection of
curious beasts, for at every station where we stopped people took it
in turns to come right into the carriage, and we met with considerable
annoyance and impertinence from many of them. One German, who said he
was shortly going to the front to kill some Engländer, tried to drag my
greatcoat from me, but this was too much for the sentry, who ordered him
to desist.

Owing to the constant entry of these unwelcome visitors it now became
impossible to think of sleep, for whenever I tried or pretended to doze
I was pulled up and asked to answer some impertinent questions.

The type of German soldier that now began to predominate was of a far
different class to what we had met with before. It is probable that
the men we had conversed with between Cambrai and Coblenz had been to a
certain extent tamed by experience at the front, whereas the older and
more ignorant class of Landsturm, who at every station forced their
attentions upon us, spoke to us and about us as if we were dangerous
criminals, and on several occasions if it had not been for the sentries
we would have been roughly handled.

It was at Aschaffenburg, on the Bavarian frontier, that we had occasion
to be really alarmed at the hostile attitude of the crowd on the station

We reached Aschaffenburg at three in the morning, and were informed that
we were to stop there for five hours. There was nothing for it but
to try and get some sleep; this, however, was not to be allowed. A
curious-looking mob of men dressed in bits of all uniforms collected
outside our carriage and proceeded to go through a pantomimic exhibition
of hate. The leader of this mob was a nasty-looking ruffian, more than
half drunk, who kept calling on us to come outside and fight; also
threatening to come inside and cut our throats, and brandishing a big
pocket-knife, he looked quite up to doing it. However, the mob, which
was getting more and more excited, was eventually dispersed by an
officer, who rebuked them for insulting men who were defenceless and

After the dispersal of this collection of ruffians, who looked as if
they had stepped off the stage of a comic opera, we still continued to
be plagued by a constant stream of visitors. One group of these soldiers
came in about five in the morning and behaved with great rudeness and
brutality. The wounded men had by this time settled on to the floor of
the carriage, all in a heap, and had fallen off to sleep.

The sentry was telling our visitors that one of the Engländer had been
shot in the face and was badly disfigured; whereupon a German soldier
pulled the poor fellow out of the sleeping mass on the floor and sat him
upon the seat, the others standing round pointing with their fingers at
the poor mutilated face with coarse jeering laughter. The young Irish
soldier sat patiently through it all--his blind eye was a running sore,
the torn cheek in healing had left a hideously scarred hollow, and
the mouth and nose were twisted to one side. His condition would have
stirred pity in the heart of a savage, and yet these Germans laughed and

This scene comes back to me with a fresh bitterness when I see the
able-bodied young civilians in this country--they must number several
millions--who should be ashamed to be seen alive until the perpetration
of deeds such as these have been brought to account.

This poor fellow came from County Carlow. Is there a man in Carlow or in
all Ireland who could have witnessed this scene unmoved?

So much stronger is the impression of things seen than things heard
that, although I have second-hand evidence of far worse horrors--of
wounded men shot, of men of a well-known regiment kicked and beaten
along the road to a German prison--none of these things, no atrocity of
Louvain, no story of women and children tortured, has moved me so
much to a deep loathing of Germany as the pathetic sight of this young
Irishman and his heartless tormentors.

Reading this morning's _Times_, I find that Mr T. P. O'Connor used
in the House of Commons the following words: "The Irish people have
a loathing of the very name of conscription." I have no means of
ascertaining how far this be true, but whether true or not, I know that
if the Irish people could see this war as it really is, as the Germans
have made it, there is scarcely a man throughout the length and breadth
of Ireland who would not make any sacrifice in order that such horror
should be avenged.

From three to half-past eight we had waited at Aschaffenburg subjected
to a continuous round of insult, painfully cramped on the hard benches,
and half frozen with the cold of a frosty January morning, so that it
was a relief when the train at last moved on.

Our route now lay through the beautifully wooded hills of the Bavarian
Highlands, and the countryside reminded me in many ways of Speyside. The
air blowing from the spruce woods was most refreshing, and in spite
of the cold we were glad to have the pale winter sunshine streaming in
through the open windows.

Our train was now reduced to two coaches, which had been hitched on to
a local country train, and so we advanced more slowly than ever, and
stopped at the very smallest stations. We seemed at last to be getting
away from the omnipresent German soldier, for the wild-looking country
through which we were passing did not look as if there had ever been any
inhabitants, and on the station platforms an occasional soldier on leave
was the only reminder of war that could be seen.

The sentries, perhaps relieved at being in their native wilds, became
quite talkative, and we were soon on most friendly terms. As no
breakfast was to be hoped for from any of the stations, we agreed to
pool what provisions we could get together between us. I had nothing
but half of my German sausage, the other men had some bread, and the
sentries produced two bottles of cold coffee, so we were all able to
make quite a good meal.

This surprising atmosphere of cordiality was marred by a visit of
inspection. A very shabby _Unterofficier_ suddenly opened the door
leading into the corridor, and proceeded to pour a volume of abuse on
us all, finally settling upon me as being the only representative of the
enemy who seemed to understand what it was all about.

I did not indeed understand very much, but could gather that the
substance of his complaints was that we were too comfortable, and should
have been travelling in a truck! After this excited individual had
passed away, I asked the sentries what all the discourse was about, and
they said that the fellow enjoyed getting a chance to scold somebody,
as he was constantly in trouble with his superior officer, and got more
than the usual share of slanging that falls to the lot of the German

On leaving Aschaffenburg we had been definitely assured that our
destination was Nuremburg, and for that reason, when at about 11 o'clock
the train entered the picturesque valley of the river Main, on the banks
of which the town of Würzburg is situated, I little thought that here
was the end of our journey, and here was to be our future prison home.

Hardly had we drawn up at the station when it became obvious that our
destination had been reached.

A number of Red Cross officials were on the platform, which was lined
with stretchers. There was no time for more than a hurried farewell, but
before leaving the carriage the young Irishman, whose name was Patrick
Flynn, begged me to accept the only thing he had to give me as a
souvenir, and pressed into my hand a Belgian five-centime nickel coin,
which I shall always keep in remembrance of the unselfish kindness with
which these poor wounded soldiers treated me on our long and painful

[Illustration: Festung Marienberg.]



  "Turbatus est a furore oculus meus; inveteravi inter omnes inimicos
  meus."--_Psalm_ vi. 8.

On our arrival at Würzburg, before leaving the railway carriage, all
the soldiers except myself were handed a slip of coloured paper marked
"Hütte Barracken No. 14." A most unpleasant-looking person, who spoke
a little English, and wore a very superior air, was in command of the
stretcher-party that carried me across the station. I kept asking for my
luggage, a hand-bag and a fragment of the German sausage which had been
left in the carriage, and was told it would follow later, and meantime
was, like myself, safe in good German hands. However, my valuable
belongings were eventually put on the stretcher beside me. While
waiting on the platform my English-speaking attendant volunteered the
information that there were already over 200 British officers in the
place. This was lying for lying's sake, or perhaps it was a lie told
to the wrong person, and should have been reserved for the citizens of
Würzburg. The morning was a bitterly cold one, and the arrangements
made for our transport from the station gave us the full benefit of the
freezing north-easterly wind. The vehicle into which the stretchers were
lifted does not deserve the name of ambulance, nor had it any pretension
to the title, for it was not even honoured with a Red Cross. It was
just a common lorry, such as is used in the district for carting wood,
covered with a tarpaulin supported by a longitudinal bar on transverse
stays. The tarpaulin, which had been rolled up on one side while the
stretchers were being placed in position, was rolled down again. A
German ambulance man jumped up behind and off we went. Each stretcher
was provided with a blanket, which afforded some small protection from
the cold blast which blew through the open end of the cart. None of the
soldiers with whom I had travelled from France were in this cart, and at
first I thought that all the occupants were Frenchmen. But the man next
me was an Englishman, dressed in French uniform, who had been with me in
hospital at Cambrai. His face was so drawn and haggard that I had some
difficulty in recognising him. This poor fellow would not answer me
at first, and then whispered that he did not want the German Red Cross
attendant to know that he was an Englishman, and hoped to pass for a
Frenchman as long as possible, so as to get better treatment. The other
Frenchmen lay silent and motionless, worn out with exhaustion and want
of food. By slightly rising on my side, I could see following far behind
us a long string of carts similar to our own. The wind, which was now
chasing here and there some few fine drifting snow-flakes, had doubtless
kept the streets clear of pedestrians, and there were few spectators of
the dolorous procession. Some small boys fell in behind, and played at
soldiers escorting a convoy, marching in step and singing in tune, only
to be chased away presently by a watchful policeman. We crossed a stone
bridge over the Main and almost immediately turned in, on our left,
through the high wooden palisade which surrounded the hospital huts--our
temporary destination.

The tarpaulin was quickly rolled up, and my four companions lifted down
on their stretchers and taken away. My stretcher was lifted on to the
ground, and remained there for five or ten minutes, close to a group of
officers, one of whom appeared very annoyed at my having been brought to
the wrong place; he presently came up and politely asked me my name and
rank in very good English. This, I afterwards discovered, was Dr Zinck.
He told me that I was to be sent up to the fortress. I was helped off
the stretcher, and, owing to the cold, had great difficulty in hobbling
along, and was very relieved to find that I was to drive up to the
castle in a comfortable motor _coupé_, probably the one used by the
doctor himself. A hospital orderly got up beside the driver, and a very
tall sentry, who had great difficulty in getting in his rifle with the
bayonet fixed, squeezed in beside me.

The Festung Marienberg, about a mile outside the city of Würzburg, is a
place of great architectural and historic interest. Previous to the days
of heavy artillery, the hill on which the fortress is built provided a
naturally impregnable site, which had been used for defensive purposes
from the earliest times of which any historic trace has been recorded.
When St Kilian in the seventh century brought Christianity to Franconia
from far Iona, he was at first very successful at the "Castellum
Virtebuch," and converted the Frankish commander. A few years later a
chapel was built within the walls, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and the fortress became known as Festung Marienberg.

In the middle ages the castle was famous as a stronghold of the warrior
bishops of Würzburg, and stood firm during the revolutionary periods
which followed on the teachings of Huss and Luther, even when the
surrounding country had been laid waste, and the town of Würzburg
captured by a rebel army. Once after the peasant army had been betrayed,
surrounded, and almost annihilated, the unfortunate survivors were
taken away to the Festung Marienberg. "Thirty-six of them," says a
contemporary writer, "had their heads cut off, and the council and
aldermen have been taken prisoners; God only knows what will be done
with them." It was a common punishment in those days for a prisoner to
have his eyes gouged out, or his fingers chopped off. At the present
time these somewhat barbaric customs have been considerably modified,
and although the Rittmeister who was in command of the fortress during
my residence there did not resort to such extreme measures in dealing
with his prisoners as had been found necessary in the sixteenth century
by the Margrave of Brandenburg, he did his best, as I was soon to find
out, to make us feel the burden of captivity.

As the motor began to climb a rather steep gradient, the silent sentry,
with a wave of his hand, introduced me to the outer battlements of the
Festung Marienberg. Between this outer wall and the castle moat, the
long steep slope on the west side has been laid out as a garden with
shrubs and well-grown trees. "There," said my sentry, "is where the
officers can make their daily promenade." This I need hardly say was not
to be our privilege. The second wall is of great thickness, so that the
entrance is like a tunnel, the gradient of the road being so steep as to
bring the car down to the first speed. We cross a courtyard with stables
on the three sides, and then pass through a third doorway, and drive
over the moat into the main court of the castle.

This inner court, of oblong shape, is some 60 to 70 yards long and about
30 broad.

On two sides were the soldiers' quarters, built in the middle of the
eighteenth century. The ground floor on the left was used as a stable,
and above the stables were the prisoners' rooms. A fifteenth-century
chapel stands in the far corner on the site chosen by St Kilian. An
aggressive watch-tower, dating from the eleventh century if not earlier,
tall and massive, is the most interesting feature in the curious medley
of architecture, which presents a graphic picture of the castle's

The motor drew up at the far end of the court. I was then helped out of
the car and formally handed over to a German N.C.O. named Poerringer,
who had charge of the prisoners, collected their letters, &c., &c.,--in
fact he was our jailor.

[Illustration: The Courtyard and Chapel, Festung Marienberg.]

We entered the fortress buildings through a small doorway in one of the
old towers, and the broad spiral stairway proved almost too much for my
powers of locomotion. However, with a helping arm under each shoulder,
they got me along. Half-way up the stair we turned through a door on our
right, which led into a large and very medieval-looking guard-room, a
long, low room faintly lit up by narrow windows deeply set in immensely
thick walls. In one of these window recesses was a desk and chair barred
off from the rest of the room with temporary wooden cross-bars. I was
led into this cage, and told to sit down and wait to be interviewed by
Mr Poerringer. My luggage was brought up and put down beside me, and a
sentry took his position near at hand.

After a few minutes' rest I began to look around, and as my eyes got
used to the dim light I saw my friend the French doctor sitting on
a chair farther up the room within speaking distance. A thoughtless
_Bonjour, Docteur_, raised the wrath of the sentry, who turned in my
direction and grunted out a sentence which ended in _verboten_.

The guard-room then began to fill with soldiers; the loud tramping,
the guttural words of command, the curious antique unmilitary-looking
uniform, the crowd of squat, slouching, and for the most part bearded,
round-bellied creatures, formed in the dim light a picture that might
have belonged to a land of gnomes, wicked princes, and enchanted

Such at least was my first impression. Our middle-aged sentries in broad
daylight were anything but romantic. Their uniform consisted of Hessian
boots, civilian trousers, and dirty green jacket, and always a big black
leather belt to keep in the rebellious stomach. They appeared most of
them to be wood-cutters, charcoal-burners, workers in the beautiful
forests of Franconia, who did not take kindly to the monotonous duty of
guarding prisoners, and to a discipline little less strict than that of
the prisoners themselves.

After the ceremony of changing the guard had been completed, and all
arms had been examined to make sure they were loaded, Mr Poerringer, who
was in undress uniform, and did not go about with a ridiculous bayonet,
came back with some papers which had to be filled in, and by virtue of
which my official status as a prisoner would be completed. My luggage
was examined courteously and as a matter of form. I was asked if I had
any fountain-pens, maps, or firearms! concealed in my belongings.

So far, conversation had been carried on in English, of which my jailor
could speak but little.

Before leaving Cambrai I had forgotten to look up the most commonly used
German word for "paralysed," and the friendly Highland sentry in the
train, whose German was no doubt not of the best, had told me that the
correct word was "Gicht." I tried this word when explaining the cause of
my lameness to Mr Poerringer, and was much astonished at the result. "Is
that all that is the matter?" said he; "you will soon get cured
here." Weary of trying to make myself understood, I protested somewhat
impatiently in French that there was not much point in bringing a
half-paralysed man into such a carefully-guarded prison. With a most
Parisian accent he replied: "Oh, vous êtes paralysé, moi qui croyai que
vous aviez la goutte!"

We now, of course, got on very much quicker with the filling-in of
papers. One entry, headed "Request to Prison Governors," I wished to
fill up with a request to be sent back to England, according to rules
laid down in the Hague Convention. Mr Poerringer shook his head, and
said there would be no exchanges until the war was over. My request for
a room to myself, so that I could hope for sleep, was not passed, no
such room being available, and the column was left a blank. In this
first interview Mr Poerringer was trying hard, probably under orders, to
put on a fierceness of manner which was obviously quite foreign to his
nature. I subsequently found that in dealing with the prisoners, both
French and English, he always displayed a kindly courteousness which was
strikingly in contrast with the behaviour of his superior officers.

Still escorted by a watchful sentry armed to the teeth, I was assisted
up the broad spiral staircase to the door leading into the prisoners'
quarters. Mr Poerringer pressed an electric bell, and yet another
heavily-burdened warrior appeared who led us into a broad,
stone-flagged, whitewashed corridor, well lit with large windows
overlooking the courtyard, a cold inhospitable-looking place. A more
welcome sight than any I had for a long time been accustomed to was that
of two British officers hurrying forward to meet me, one of whom was
Irvine, who had been with me in the Civil Hospital at Cambrai, and was
much surprised to see me on my feet again. We all marched along to the
room which had been allotted to me--the smallest of the five rooms which
opened into the corridor, occupied by nine French officers, who were
then seated at a long table enjoying their midday meal. My new-found
British comrades introduced me to the senior officer, Colonel Lepeltier,
who welcomed me with the greatest kindness, and offered me the best that
could be supplied from their private store of food and drink, including
a bottle of very excellent Bavarian beer, for which, after the
exhaustion of the past few days, I felt most thankful. The room, which
served as living and sleeping room for ten officers, was none too large.
The furniture consisted of the large wooden dining-table, a small wooden
table and chair for each officer, two washhand-stands, and two chests of
drawers shared among the lot. We had, of course, no carpets, wall-paper,
or curtains, and no facilities for getting hot water. Two windows looked
out over the Main, between them a large and very efficient stove. I
looked with apprehension at my "bed"--a wooden plank scarcely three feet
broad, on iron trestles; at the "mattress"--a coarse linen sack open on
one side, and stuffed with straw, renewed, I was told, once a month. The
two English officers, Irvine and Reddy, with an English civilian, Parke,
lived in a large room adjoining ours, along with ten French officers.
Two other large barrack-rooms were also occupied by French officers, the
total number in the fortress at the time being between forty and fifty.

It was arranged that I should take my meals in the adjoining room, where
the Englishmen had their three beds together in a corner known as "the
English Club." On the day of my arrival the "Club" held a long sitting,
which was attended by many of the French officers, eager to hear what
news there might be from Cambrai. Time passed quickly that afternoon.
Irvine had much to tell me, and many questions to ask about friends
at Cambrai, and Captain Reddy and Parke gave me an outline of their
misfortunes. Reddy had been more unfortunate than any of us. He was
travelling in Austria before the war broke out, and was arrested on his
way home before war had actually been declared. Along with Parke and a
number of British civilians, men and women, who were travelling in
the same train, he was stopped at Aschaffenburg and taken first to the
police station and then to prison. The whole party were locked up in
separate cells to be searched; even children of eight or ten years were
dragged screaming with terror from their mothers, and locked away by
themselves. I do not remember many details of the story, but Reddy and
Parke told me that it was a very near thing for them both; they were
suspected and vehemently accused of being spies, of which baseless
charge there was, of course, not the faintest shred of evidence.

I was glad to learn that the austerity of our prison life was mitigated
to some extent by permission to buy extras in the town. A list
of commissions was made up weekly, and might include jam, honey,
cream-cheese, dried fruits, articles of toilet, and beer. Every prisoner
was entitled at this time to write one letter a day. A hot bath was to
be had once a month, prisoners being taken down in batches under strong
escort to public baths at Würzburg. The doctor came once a week to see
all who needed attention; an occasional inspection, and a weekly visit
from the hairdresser, completed the list of important events in the
deadly dull routine.

The food supplied by the authorities was, on the whole, of bad quality,
badly cooked, and insufficient.

  Breakfast at 7 A.M.--A roll of potato bread, and a cup of tea,
  coffee, or milk.

  Lunch at 12.30--Soup, which varied from day to day in colour but not
  in taste, or rather lack of taste.

  One dish of meat with cabbage and a potato. The meat was almost
  always pork, disguised in strange manner. Once a week we had "beef,"
  very tough and quite uneatable. Probably horse-flesh.

  Dinner--Cold pork and cabbage, sometimes varied by scrambled eggs
  and salad.

  Lights out at 10.


The English Club usually spent the interval between dinner and bed in
a game of cards, but on this my first night I was too tired to make a
fourth at bridge, and hobbled off to my own quarters under the severe
gaze of three unfortunate sentries who had to spend most of the night
marching up and down the cold clammy corridor.

On arriving at "Room 52" the noisiest game of cards in the world, known
as "La Manille," was in full swing, the air was thick with tobacco
smoke, and empty bottles of beer stood in serried ranks on the table.
Monsieur l'Abbé was playing with the Doctor against Colonel Lepeltier
and another officer whom I privately nicknamed "Granny." Granny's main
ambition in life seemed to be to escape from fresh air, and even in the
close atmosphere of tobacco smoke and fumes from the red-hot stove he
was wearing all the underclothing he could put on, and round his neck a
huge muffler.

The presence of M. l'Abbé in the uniform of a private soldier was the
result of an appeal by the Pope to the German Emperor to allow priests
serving in the French army the same privilege when taken prisoners as
are accorded to officers.

I cannot describe Colonel Lepeltier better than by saying that he
represented the typical soldier of Napoleonic days. His career in
Saharan and Moroccan campaigns had already proved him to be a leader of
no ordinary merit. He possessed a great number of medals, which, as a
prisoner, he did not wear, and had been wounded almost as many times as
he had been decorated. It was impossible to get from him any account
of his adventures in the present campaign, but I gathered from what
his brother officers told me that he had behaved with extraordinary
gallantry at Charleroi, and fell riddled with bullets when leading the
last remnant of his regiment in a counter-attack to save the rest of the
Brigade. He had been hit in the leg, his right arm, pierced by a bullet,
was withered and useless, and three other bullet-holes in different
parts of his body brought to fifteen the total number of wounds received
during his military career. His wonderful cheerfulness was an example
and a consolation to us all. I remember when we were all discussing
how long the war would last--this problem was always a subject of
speculation and conversation--Colonel Lepeltier declared that no one
should give any thought to themselves, or worry about the probable
length of their imprisonment. "I don't care," said he, "if we are here
for seven years. J'ai confiance dans la France. La France triomphera
et tout le reste m'est egal." The doctor was quite remarkably like
the white rabbit in 'Alice in Wonderland,' plump, short, blonde,
closely-cropped hair, a tiny moustache, an apologetic air, and an
aggravating habit of continually saying, "Ah, pardon." At 10 o'clock
M. l'Abbé, who was the last up, put out the lamps on the table. Candles
were blown out one by one until the only light left was that of a single
candle by the bedside of a young cavalry officer who spent most of his
time reading in spite of the continual noise. To keep a candle alight
after "lights out" was an offence which, in our room, met with instant
punishment. "Rosteau, Rosteau!" some one shouted, and I never knew if
this was a slang word of warning, but it was always followed, as in this
instance, by a whizzing boot hurled at the offender's head. This was the
signal for the despatch of projectiles of all kinds,--tin boxes with a
bit of coal inside hurtled across the room and fell on or by the enemy
with a deafening crash, hair-brushes, slippers, stale rolls of bread,
were flying in the dark from one side of the room to the other. The
performance was generally closed by Colonel Lepeltier, whose orders for
silence were always instantly obeyed. To break the silence of the night
was against the unwritten law, except for one purpose--to stop snoring.
Here it was Granny that was the chief offender. In spite of the hardness
of my bed, and the impossibility of turning round without falling out, I
think that I might have got some sleep if it had not been for Granny--a
most kindly, lovable man by day, but an aggressive, vulgar fellow at
night, for whose blood I have often thirsted in the early hours of the
morning. The usual method for stopping snoring was to whistle loudly. If
this did not produce the desired effect, a clever shot with a boot was
sure to be successful in rousing not only the snorer but the whole room.

Shortly after six o'clock the day began with the entry of our French
orderly--we had one to each room--with the morning ration of bread on
a large tray: two small rolls to each man. After the rolls had been
distributed round the five rooms, the cups of coffee, tea, or milk were
brought along in the same way. This was breakfast. I tried the coffee
one morning, found the tea just as bad, and finally settled down to hot
milk. Getting up was of necessity regulated by the fact that we only
possessed two washhand-stands among ten people. With washing, dressing,
and shaving, I generally managed to spin the time out to about 10
o'clock, at which hour I used to take up quarters in the English Club
for the rest of the day. The room which my English comrades occupied
possessed many advantages over my own: it was far larger, and owing to
the presence of a strong fresh-air party, the windows were kept open
continually. In my room, where the stove was always at a white heat,
fresh air was looked upon with disfavour; the windows were opened a few
inches while the room was being dusted, or when tobacco smoke was too
thick, and I, as a lover of fresh air, was in a minority of one. In "53"
room the partisans of fresh air included not only the three Englishmen
but the senior and more assertive of the French officers. In spite of
the unanimity which reigned in room "53" on this debatable subject of
windows open or windows shut, party strife was nevertheless very much in
evidence, and centred chiefly round the question of noise. The room
was divided into as many sections of opinion as the French Chamber of
Deputies. Five officers hailing from or about Marseilles, who lived in
a row at the far end of the room, represented the ultra Radicals. They
declared for the unlimited freedom of man, and elected to make as much
noise as suited them at all times of the day or night. O---- belonged
to a party by himself. He was to sing and whistle whenever the spirit
moved, but when he engaged in writing and reading, as fortunately was
often the case, the rest of the world was not expected to interrupt. The
English party, openly setting its face against noise of any kind at all
times, was supported somewhat weakly by two or three adherents who were
not strong-minded enough to accept the whole of our Party Policy,
and were inclined to advise moderation in all things. Our political
opponents--the Meridional ultra Radicals--were known as the Gollywog,
the Calendar, the Owl, the Pup, and Consul. The Owl and the Calendar (so
called because he only shaved on Sundays, and the day of the week could
therefore be known from the colour of his chin) were comparatively
silent partners to the conspiracy of noise, but the Gollywog, Consul,
and Pup made up amply for their deficiencies. Their favourite occupation
consisted of inane discussion shouted across the room. "Et autrem_ain_
je dis que dans le service il faut tutoyer les hommes. J'ai trente-cinq
ans et je sais ce que dis." "Eh! mon bon." This to the protesting Pup.
"Vous n'avez pas le droit de parler, vous êtes jeune, vous sortez de
l'oeuf, vous sortez de l'oeuf." This expression of contempt for the
youth of the Pup was always the last word of the Gollywog, who would
strut up and down the room shouting, "Maintenant vous n'avez rien à
dire, vous sortez de l'oeuf, vous sortez de l'oeuf." Consul, so called
chiefly on account of his agility and quickness of movement, famous also
for an entirely original method of consuming bread and cheese, took part
in noise along with the others of his party more often in chorus than in
solo, but none of them except the Gollywog had any idea what a nuisance
they were to the whole room.


At 10.30, in answer to a great shouting of "Promenade, Promenade"
from room to room, those who wished to go for a walk in the "garden"
assembled together at the end of the corridor. The garden entrance was
at the far end of the courtyard, and in spite of the moat and the triple
lines of battlement, the promenading party always crossed the court
under escort. It took me about five minutes to cross the yard. Irvine
and Reddy always stayed behind to help me along. We were never allowed
to start without an extra guard, sometimes two or three, but generally
one soldier, rifle loaded and bayonet fixed. Our sentry must have felt,
and certainly looked, extremely ridiculous escorting a cripple at the
rate of seventy yards in five minutes. What we used to call the garden,
Baedeker briefly refers to as follows: "Visitors are admitted to the
terrace (view of town) on application to the sentry (fee)." The terrace
extended about a hundred yards in length between the barrack buildings
and the moat. The total breadth is not more than about fifteen feet.
Most of the space is taken up with flowerless flower-beds, extending
the whole length of the terrace, with a double row of vines. A narrow
pathway about four feet broad was all the space available for exercise.
Doubtless the view from the terrace is very fine, and perhaps worth a
"fee to sentry," but we were very tired of it. On the right, across
the valley at the highest point of the wooded hill, stands the
Frankenwarte--a hideously ugly watch-tower; lower down, about half-way
to the river, the "Kapelle," a pilgrimage chapel, looked after by
religious, whom we could sometimes see walking about their garden, black
dots on the far hillside. The Ludwigsbrücke crosses the Main far away
below, and twice a week at the same hour we used to watch a regiment of
infantry cross the bridge, and the strains of the "Wacht am Rhein"
could faintly reach our ears when the wind was favourable. A group of
factories form an ugly background to the whole picture, but we found in
them a cause for rejoicing, the tall smokeless chimneys bearing witness
to the stoppage of work and to the power of Britain's fleet. Three
sentries were always on guard during our daily walk, one at each end of
the garden and one in the middle, although the only means of exit was
to drop down a precipice. The wall on the moat-side bore an interesting
inscription to the memory of four French soldiers who had fallen at the
spot when the castle was stormed in 1796.[2] A number of cannon-balls,
half embedded high up in the masonry of the barrack buildings, testify
to the inefficiency of artillery in the days when our great-grandfathers
were at war. There was one feature about our terrace promenade which
attracted more attention from the promenaders than the view over the
town or the fresh air from the hills. I cannot give a fair picture of
the Festung without referring to it and to some unpleasant details
which the fastidious reader may like to skip. In the very centre of the
terrace, hard up against the path, is a large cesspool covered over
with two very badly fitting iron lids. The sanitary arrangements for the
whole fortress--that is to say, prisoners and guard--are contained in a
wooden shed, which stands in the centre of the courtyard just opposite
the windows of our corridor. Alongside this shed is another cesspool,
fortunately properly closed in. This cesspool is emptied once a week or
once a fortnight into an _open cart_, which then proceeds to our garden
to be emptied. This process goes on the whole morning. On this day it is
impossible to keep the windows open in the corridor, and a visit to the
terrace is, of course, out of the question. Even on the next day the air
is most unpleasant, and if there is any rain the cesspool in the garden
overflows, and the narrow path is turned into a stream of sewage.

[2] General Jourdan was surprised and heavily defeated at Amberg and
Würzburg on the 24th August 1796 by Archduke Charles, brother of the
Emperor of Austria.

As the castle clock strikes eleven, the terrace party are marched back
across the courtyard by a strong guard, and I follow slowly in rear,
with a sentry all to myself, dodging manure-heaps and tacking to avoid
pools of dirty water and tracts of nameless mud, so that my snail-like
progress causes no little worry to the attentive sentry. I spoke to the
doctor one day of the absurdity of not allowing me to crawl across the
yard without a soldier with bayonet fixed, but the doctor rather had the
better of me, for, said he, "The sentry is not provided as an escort,
but as a guard of honour!"

Opposite the old doorway entrance leading up to our cold corridor there
is another door with a stair leading up to some rooms which are occupied
by the permanent staff of the fortress, perhaps by the men who, in times
of peace, collected fees from visitors to the castle. In the morning, on
our way out, the window above the doorway was always filled with three
smiling baby faces, and on a fine day two of the children always took
their stand outside the door. Francie was the name of the eldest little
girl. She was not more than eight years old; she wore a neat little blue
frock; her hair was of beautiful fairness. She was a great friend of
Reddy, and always answered his "Guten Morgen, Francie," with smiling
shyness. The fat baby, not very clean, with tousled, flaxen curls, could
only just walk, and held nervously on to his sister's little finger.
Francie at first was very frightened at my appearance, hobbling along
on crutches, and the poor little baby fell right over and began to howl
right lustily. But Francie soon got to know me nearly as well as Reddy,
and her pretty smile was the brightest thing in the whole of Festung

The midday meal was at 12.30. Brown bread, ground-nut butter, and
Gruyère cheese were extras that could be ordered at every meal; and the
French orderly, when he came in to lay the table, was greeted with cries
from all in the room, each officer shouting out for what he required.
"20 pf. de beurre" brought a small pat of quite edible butter, 25 pf.
was the price of a fairly large-sized helping of brown bread, and 10 pf.
for a thin slice of cheese. Cheese and butter were expensive items, as
by the time all the thumb-marks had been scraped off, the ration was
much reduced in size. The soup was doled out in the kitchen, which, I
have forgotten to mention, was at the end of the corridor and the door
guarded by a sentry. The loaded soup plates were brought in on a large
tray carried by two orderlies. The plates were generally full to the
brim, and the orderly would seize one plate in each hand, planting a
large and very black thumb right into the swirling soup. Waves of soup
then splashed on to the floor or disappeared up a dirty sleeve. I never
ate soup while at Würzburg, and even now seldom do so without thinking
of the black thumb. The next and final course came in on the trays as
before, and was served on oblong plates divided up into four square
compartments--meat in one corner, potatoes in the second, and sauerkraut
in the third, the fourth being left to eat out of. A knife and fork was
provided for each officer, who had, however, to buy his own glass;
and in our room, by very special favour, we had been allowed to buy a
coloured cotton table-cloth. It was very seldom that any satisfaction
could be got out of the meat course, which was almost always pork in
some shape or form, and the mainstay of every repast was provided from
our private stores of cream, cheese, honey, and brown bread. Supper was,
as I have said, merely a slice of cold ham or a sausage and potatoes.
The "Gehaltsabrechnung" for this not very luxurious fare was 31 m.
70 pf. per month. Officers of the rank of lieutenant were paid 60 m. a
month, from which a deduction was made for board.

We were allowed to see two German papers--the 'Kölnische Zeitung' and
the 'Lokal Würzburger Anzeiger.' These papers arrived after lunch, and
anything of interest was translated aloud for the benefit of the club
by Reddy, who knew German thoroughly. The former showed a disposition
to break forth into sensational headlines, and was rabidly and sometimes
comically anti-English. On the occasion of the Heligoland fight, one
paper announced in large print that the British battle-cruiser _Lion_
had been sunk. In next day's paper we discovered, hidden away in a
corner, the statement that the _Lion_, crippled beyond repair, had been
towed into port, and that the _Blücher_, owing to an accident in the
engine-room, had unfortunately sunk on her way back to harbour. News
from the British front was not often given much space, and it was
easy to guess that at the time there was nothing much doing in that
direction. The news from Soissons was naturally made the most of, and
was very disheartening reading.

I remember how amused we were at the account of a coal strike in
Yorkshire. This, we were all convinced, was an ingenious German lie.
Much as we used to long to see English newspapers, I am now thankful
that we were not allowed to see them, and that my fellow-prisoners are
still confined to sceptical reading of the 'Kölnische Zeitung' and can
enjoy undisturbed their own imaginary picture of Britain at war, which a
knowledge of the truth would quickly dispel. The long dull days of life
at the Festung Marienberg recall a memory of much yearning for news of
England, of speculation as to the date of our liberation, and above all,
of an intense desire to witness some day the defeat and humiliation of
our insolent enemy. But the misery of inactivity when so much is needed
to be done, the monotony, the aimless futility of existence that is
no longer useful, this is the real trial which makes imprisonment
intolerable. There are few prisoners in the Festung Marienberg who would
not joyfully exchange their lot for that of a Welsh miner, and work till
they dropped for enough bread to keep body and soul together. The mental
sufferings of those who are imprisoned in Germany is intensified by the
fear that others who have not learnt the truth from bitter experience
will not believe. We, in the fortress, knew the power of Germany--could
feel it in every incident of our lives. We lived in the very midst of
an organisation which moves as one for one purpose--the destruction of
European civilisation and the substitution of Teutonic conceptions.
The truth which years before had sounded incredible, when voiced by the
authority of Lord Roberts, and had been dismissed by the majority of the
nation as the senile vapourings of a decrepit Jingo, this truth was now
as familiar to us in the Festung as the air we breathed.

What if the nation still fails to understand? If a message could come
from our imprisoned countrymen in Germany, from our long-suffering
allies in Belgium, whose integrity we guaranteed by a solemn promise
which we made no arrangements to keep, from all who know by hard
experience how Germany treats those whom she has conquered, such a
message would declare that no sacrifice can be too great provided the
military domination of Prussia is finally destroyed. Those who have felt
the power of the enemy know also that if we are to be successful nothing
less than the maximum effort is demanded. What this means Britain as yet
does not begin to understand.



"_Sunday, Jan. 10th._--Mass, 8.30. Snowed a little."

M. l'Abbé officiated. Very nearly all the French officers attended Mass.
From my room two were either too ill or too lazy, and Granny, who, in
the early hours of the morning, was frightened of catching cold, did not
appear outside the bedclothes. The officer who used to read at night,
at whom boots were thrown every evening on the stroke of ten, declared
himself to be a Pagan, and so he also remained in bed. The choir loft of
the chapel had been set aside for the use of the prisoners, and thither
we were escorted down a dark stair and long corridor by the usual armed
sentries, one of whom remained with us in the church. The body of the
church was filled with German soldiers. During Mass the organ was played
and hymns were sung by the German part of the congregation. After Mass
was Benediction, when it was our privilege to sing. Colonel Lepeltier,
with a very powerful voice, acted as leader of the choir, the Frenchmen
singing with great _entrain_, as if to let the enemy know they were not
downhearted. On this Sunday M. l'Abbé preached a short sermon on the
gospel of the day, but this privilege, no doubt displeasing to the lower
part of the congregation, was afterwards withdrawn, and on the following
Sundays we had to endure a discourse from a German priest.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Monday, Jan. 11th._--Snow. A sentry committed suicide last night in
the corridor. Great excitement among the Germans."

It was very early on Monday morning, long before daylight, that a noise
of running feet outside the door of our room showed that something
abnormal had happened.

Colonel Lepeltier ordered every one to stay in their beds, and we
speculated vainly as to the cause of the uproar until the orderly came
in with "Breakfast." A sentry had shot himself through the head, and
was lying where he had fallen at the far end of the corridor, guarded
himself now, poor fellow, by a brother sentry. No one was allowed out
of his room until the corpse had been removed, which was not done until
several officials had inspected the remains. When the inquest was
over and the corridor cleaned up, a stain on the stone floor and a
bullet-hole in the wall remained to tell the tragic story. Snow was
falling that afternoon, and there was no chance of getting out to the
terrace, so that the rest of the day had to be devoted to Poker and
Bridge, games of which all were heartily sick. Reading was difficult on
account of the ceaseless noise kept up by Gollywog and his merry men.
Our game of Bridge was played at the end of the dining-table, the other
end being occupied by chess, of which the Gollywog and Consul were the
chief exponents. In the hands of these experts chess became the noisiest
of all parlour games. They played on the co-operative system, two
players sitting at the board, the others standing up at each side of the
table. No piece was moved without great discussion, conducted in a
loud voice, with much gesture. As soon as a piece had been moved the
chess-board became a sort of storm centre into which even non-players
seated at the far end of the room would recklessly plunge.

As a result of one of these discussions two of our southern friends
quarrelled in real earnest, and most dramatically vowed to fight a duel
at the close of the war. Reddy suggested it was a pity to put off the
encounter indefinitely, and meantime proposed the use of coal buckets at
fifteen paces. Strangely enough this real quarrel brought peace to the
room for a few minutes, but the parties soon made friends again and
the noise went on with renewed vigour. At seven o'clock the table was
cleared and laid for dinner.

Dinner as usual, cabbage and cold sausage, the latter somewhat more
palatable when fried on the stove to black crusty cinders.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Tuesday, Jan. 12th._--Doctor's visit. I asked to be exchanged. There
seems to be some hope."

This first meeting with the doctor was to me a cause of much
apprehension. In the event of an exchange of prisoners, it was in this
man's hands that the final decision would lie as to what prisoners were
unfit for military service.

Shortly after 11 A.M. a French officer told me that the doctor was
visiting my room. The corridor was very cold that morning, and, partly
from the cold, partly from nervousness, my entry into the room where the
doctor was waiting was most impressive. For the moment I lost control of
my limbs, and nearly collapsed into the doctor's arms.

Dr Zinck is a small fair-haired man, about thirty years of age. He
speaks English with fluency, having lived for some years in New York.
He had visited Scotland, and stayed, he said, at Skibo with Andrew
Carnegie. When no other German officer was present his speech and manner
with me was always polite, sometimes verging on kindness. Whilst I
was resting on a chair he made an examination of my head, and read the
certificate which Dr Debu had given me at Cambrai. This document, I was
glad to see, seemed to create a favourable impression. He then asked me
to try and walk with one stick only. In attempting to do this, which at
times I was well able to do, my right leg, fortunately, refused to move
forward. The doctor took down some notes in his book and seemed to have
quite made up his mind as to the hopelessness of my condition. In answer
to my inquiry, "There will be no exchange of officers," he said,
"and you will never get any better." The latter part of this not very
cheering remark was fairly satisfactory, as it meant that if ever there
was to be an exchange, my name would be on the list. The hardships at
the Festung which I felt most keenly were the hard straw bed and the
impossibility of getting the hot baths which at Cambrai had afforded me
so much relief. The doctor offered to give me some morphia pills; but
these I refused to take, and asked to be given a proper mattress, or to
be allowed to buy one. On a subsequent visit he informed me that this
could not be permitted, adding that he "dared not do too much for the
English." Such, to the best of my remembrance, were the very words he
used, seeming genuinely ashamed at having to refuse such a request.

When Dr Zinck paid me his next visit, he was accompanied by the
Rittmeister Niebuhr, the officer in command of the fortress. It would be
an unwarrantable insult to the German army to say that the Rittmeister
was a typical German officer. Medium height, sparely built, sallow
complexion, dark hair and moustache, with his burlesque swagger and
affectation of dignity and authority, he was such a caricature of a
German officer as may be seen in a comic illustrated paper. Hatred
of the English and a bullying manner appeared to be his chief
qualifications as Fortress Commander. A safe occupation this to worry
defenceless prisoners, and one more suited, perhaps, to his capabilities
and inclination than a soldier's work at the Front. My first
introduction to this unpleasant individual was when the doctor brought
him to see me in answer to my request for hot baths. I was lying in the
English room on the corner bed, known as the Club Sofa. I struggled
up into a sitting position, and saluted the visitors to the best of my
ability. The Rittmeister did not deign to take the slightest notice. Dr
Zinck explained that I had asked for hot baths three times a week, and
requested permission to hire a carriage down to the public baths. The
Rittmeister, with an insolence of manner worthy of Hudson Lowe, told the
doctor to say to "Dem Mann" that the monthly bath, graciously allowed
to officers, according to the wise German regulations posted up in every
room, for the purpose of personal cleanliness, quite sufficient was.
During the whole conversation I was continually referred to as "Der
Mann," which, according to German etiquette, is, from one officer to
another, the height of insolence.

Once a month eight officers at a time were allowed down to the public
baths in the town. Those who could walk were escorted down by half a
dozen guards, and the walk must have been a welcome relief from the
monotony of the fortress. Later on, after I left, Reddy got leave to be
taken down to the dentist, and wrote to say how delightful it was to
be seated for a short time in an arm-chair. It is not often that a
dentist's chair is looked upon with such favour. Those who could not
walk down to the town were driven in a sort of prison van; most of
the invalids were from my room--Colonel Lepeltier, Granny, and
three officers, who were still very lame, one of whom has since been
exchanged. Irvine, who was not quite up to walking, and myself, very
nearly filled up the van. After we had got in there was not much room
for the two sentries, who, like most of their kind, needed a lot of
accommodation. It was, however, quite impossible to get the rifles in
with the bayonets fixed. After one or two attempts, and after sticking
the point of their bayonets nearly through the roof of the van, they
finally gave it up, unfixed bayonets, and sat holding them in their
hands. The windows of our carriage were of frosted glass, barred right
along inside and out, so that we could see nothing of the town as we
went along. A quarter of an hour's drive brought us to our destination.
The van turned into a large covered yard, in one corner of which was a
large motor waggon and a pile of worn-out knapsacks, boots, and military
kit of various nature. From this yard a flight of stone steps led
down into a basement where some men were making packing-cases. A long
corridor led to the bathing establishment, which was very clean and
tidy. The accommodation was, however, limited--four baths and four
shower-baths. Irvine very kindly helped me in and out of my bath and
assisted me to dress, the sentries meantime keeping a sharp look-out
outside my door. When we had finished, the old woman in charge of the
establishment came round with Mr Poerringer, who had driven down on the
box-seat, and collected a mark from each of us. As I was ready dressed
before the rest of the party had quite finished, I made a start down the
corridor, so as not to keep everybody waiting. This was at once noticed
by one of the sentries, who zealously followed behind me; whereupon I
reduced my speed to the slowest possible crawl.

On our return journey one of the party produced a flask of what is known
in the fortress, and perhaps elsewhere, as "Quetsch," a very fiery,
sweet-tasting, white liqueur. We all took a nip, and I ventured to offer
some to our melancholy guardians. To attempt such familiarity was, of
course, a serious breach of regulations, and they shook their heads
regretfully. They were a most amusing-looking pair, sitting very
squeezed up, opposite each other, in the corners nearest the door, each
gripping firmly to his bayonet, both of them short and round and solemn,
like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Jan. 15th._--Inspection."--A general inspection of the fortress was
carried out every two or three months. The inspection on this day--the
only one which took place while I was a prisoner--resulted in my getting
into trouble with the inspecting officer, who, as I had been warned by
my fellow-prisoners, would be on the look-out for any pretext to punish
the English. I was sitting at the dining-table in the English room, with
my back to the door, when the inspecting party came suddenly in. I could
not turn round to see, and did not know who the noisy visitors were
until I saw that every one in the room was standing to attention. I
slowly rose from my chair and, leaning both hands on the table, managed
to keep a fairly good balance, which I nearly lost in taking my pipe out
of my mouth. When the group, which consisted of the Inspecting Colonel,
the Rittmeister, and Mr Poerringer, came opposite to where I was
standing, they stopped and looked at me. "Who is that fellow?" said the
Colonel. "What is he doing here? He is surely not an officer. He is not
standing at attention, and has only just deigned to remove a pipe
from his mouth. Has he been wounded?" "No," promptly responded the
Rittmeister, but Mr Poerringer stepped forward and corrected him. They
then passed round the room and went out without further observation.
Five minutes later Mr Poerringer came in and said that the Colonel
wished to speak to me in the corridor.

Outside the door was the inspecting officer--large, not very tall,
somewhat red in the face, no doubt a pleasant enough man after his
second bottle of wine. I leant against the wall and saluted by lowering
my head on one side and endeavouring in vain to raise the right arm to
meet it. Mr Poerringer and the Rittmeister stood frozen to attention,
whilst the Colonel delivered a long statement to the former in order
that he might translate it for my benefit. I was being severely
reprimanded. Apparently the meanest soldier in the German army was a
better-mannered man than I was. Of course, bad manners was only what
might be expected of a British officer. If I did not know how to behave,
they would soon teach me, &c., &c., &c. Every word of this tirade, most
of which I understood, was then repeated in French by Mr Poerringer, and
his translation was certainly milder than the original. The Rittmeister
stood by with an evil grin. When they had all finished, I told Mr
Poerringer that I was physically incapable of showing such outward signs
of respect as were due the inspecting officer, and that my failure
to show him honour was not due to any desire to be discourteous. My
explanation really seemed to me--unable as I was even to stand without
crutches--almost an insult to such common-sense as a German officer
might be supposed to possess. My court-martial of three then withdrew
further up the corridor, consulted together, and sent Mr Poerringer to
me to say that "in view of what I had said, the Colonel had very kindly
agreed to overlook my offence, and therefore I would be let off the
punishment of cells."

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Jan. 16th._--Hairdresser. The Rittmeister calls again." Once a week
came a gold-spectacled, middle-aged hairdresser, accompanied always by
a sentry with the ever-loaded rifle and the everlastingly fixed bayonet,
who stood behind the chair in which the officers took turns for a shave
and hair-cut.

In the afternoon we had another call from the Rittmeister, whose visit
this time was the most exciting incident which took place during my
stay at the Fortress, and was for a long time the subject of animated
discussion in all the rooms. The whole affair really began and ended
with Gollywog. Mr Poerringer came in about four o'clock and said that
the Rittmeister wished to speak to Lt. C----. Gollywog went out into the
corridor, remained absent for fully five minutes, and came back with the
Rittmeister, who advanced into the middle of the room and ordered "All
English officers to leave the room." This was most interesting, and the
four of us went out into the corridor greatly wondering what new game
was being played. After about a quarter of an hour the Rittmeister came
out and went off down the corridor, whereupon we hastened back to hear
what had happened. The Rittmeister had made a most genial and polite
speech. He had heard that the English officers had not been behaving
properly, that they were quarrelsome, disagreeable men, and so on, for
a good few minutes, ending up with a request that the French officers
would kindly come to him if they had any complaint to make, however
small, concerning the conduct of the English, who would then promptly be
put in cells. "Bobjohn," a Lieutenant de Reserve, who knew German very
well, replied briefly on behalf of the French officers--that they
were all, English and French, brothers-in-arms and firm friends. The
Rittmeister then went off in a very bad temper, disappointed that his
clumsy plot to get the English into trouble had been a total failure.
We were all indeed more amused at, than angry with, the Rittmeister's
impertinence, but many of the French officers thought that Gollywog's
part in the affair was open to suspicion; in fact, he was suspected of
having complained to Mr Poerringer. I think it, however, more likely
that the sentries, who were always spying and trying to see what was
going on in the room, had something to do with it. Next morning I
happened to meet O---- in the corridor and immediately started swearing
at him in a loud voice. He grasped the idea at once, and I could see the
nearest sentry watching us narrowly. Sham fights between the French and
English were started at intervals during the day, with the door left
wide open so that the sentry could get a full view. In my room great
annoyance was expressed at the whole affair, and Colonel Lepeltier
declared that the Gollywog's conduct was open to very grave suspicion.
As a matter of fact, hardly any of the French officers were on speaking
terms with the Gollywog, and so this rather unpleasant incident did not
make any difference to his relations with his fellow-prisoners.


"Send me a post-card when you have time," writes a friend from Germany;
"letters and post-cards are the only things we live for." And so it was
at the Festung Marienberg. Two or three times a week Mr Poerringer would
come in with a bundle of letters and call out the names of the lucky
ones, the officers all crowding round with eager faces, listening,
waiting, hoping. Two officers only sat apart and watched, not without
envy. One, a Frenchman from Lille, could never hope to hear from
his wife or family, as communication with invaded territory is not

The day after my arrival at Würzburg I wrote three letters--one letter
home, one to X.Y.Z., one to the American Ambassador in Berlin. At that
time there was no restriction as to number, although later not more than
one letter a week was allowed. I could not hope for news from home till
the end of February, as six weeks was generally the time which elapsed
before an answer came from England. Irvine told me that on arriving at
Würzburg he had written informing the American Embassy at Berlin of
his position, and that in reply the Ambassador expressed a wish for
information concerning the whereabouts of British officers. I therefore
wrote to the Embassy stating the fact of my arrival at Würzburg,
explaining the nature of my wounds, enclosing a copy of the certificate
from Dr Debu also--and this was the part I feared might not pass
the Censor--asking the Ambassador to put my case before the German
authorities at Berlin.

By the same post I wrote to X.Y.Z., whose letter to Captain S---- had so
providentially fallen into my hands at Cambrai. In this letter I gave
a list--in answer to her inquiry--of all officers and men of whom any
information had reached me at Cambrai. I also drew a pathetic picture
of my own situation, enclosing a copy of the much-copied medical
certificate, and begging X.Y.Z. to use influence on my behalf.

While at Cambrai and Würzburg two questions were constantly in my
mind--first, Would there be an exchange of officers? second, If there
was to be an exchange, how was I to make sure that my case would not be

Pope Benedict XV., although I knew it not, was working hard to obtain
a satisfactory reply to the first question. The happy solution of
the second must depend on my two letters to Berlin and on the wide
circulation of my medical certificate.

This certificate was a most alarming piece of evidence as to my
condition, and I am glad to say that the event has so far proved the
medical diagnosis to be a pessimistic one.

Medical men have told me that in nine cases out of ten such injury as
is mentioned in this certificate results in the inconvenient habit of
a spasmodic falling on to the floor, attended with foaming at the mouth
and other unpleasant symptoms, all of which are included under the
mysterious title "Jacksonian epilepsis." On account of this medical
certificate, which more than hinted at the probability of my acquiring
such unpleasant accomplishments, I was known to my friends in the
fortress as "Jackson."

My two letters had been sent off on the 10th of January. Mr Poerringer
very kindly gave me this information, he himself being the Censor. On
the 26th January my first letter arrived, the first letter since my
leaving England six months ago. It was from the American Embassy.
Reading my name and address on the envelope, I began to feel a "person"
again. The world outside the fortress was more real to me from that
moment than it had been for many months. The letter dated 21st January
acknowledged receipt of my communication of 9th January, and regretted
to inform me "that the question of exchange had not yet become an actual
fact, and that the exact provisions whereby exchanges, when actually
effected, will be governed have not yet been determined.... As regards
the approximate date in the future at which the exchange of wounded
prisoners will take place, the Embassy regrets to be unable to give you
information. Negotiations are on the way, but no definite agreement has
yet been reached." During that afternoon my letter was a subject of much
argument. Never did I dare allow myself to read into these sentences any
hope of freedom. It is better for a prisoner to live with no prospect of
release than to hope vainly and be disappointed. So the letter was put
away and kept out of mind as far as was possible.

A few days afterwards I happened to meet Mr Poerringer in the corridor.
He bade me good morning with even more than his usual kindness, and
produced a letter. This was from X.Y.Z., and reading this letter over
now, it seems hard to believe that when I read it in the fortress I
dared not find in it any hope or any reasonable ground for hope. "I will
certainly do my very best," says the letter, "to get you included among
those for exchange. I gave your medical report to the American Consul,
... and he has promised to go into the whole matter thoroughly with the
authorities. The matter of exchange will take some time to arrange, I
believe, so don't be too disappointed if you don't hear something at
once." Here, at any rate, was the definite statement that there was to
be an exchange, yet it was still a struggle in my own mind between
hope, and fear that dared not hope, and fear was still the conqueror. Mr
Poerringer came into our room with some papers very shortly afterwards,
and I asked him if it would be any use asking for an interview with the
officer commanding at Würzburg. Mr Poerringer's reply roused the whole
room to attention: "Vous allez probablement aller en Angleterre."
Nothing more would he say, except that a letter had arrived about me
from the War Minister. All my friends crowded round to discuss whether
any credence might be placed in Mr Poerringer's information, and the
verdict was that it would not be safe to take him at his word. Little
belief existed among my fellow-prisoners, even after Mr Poerringer's
statement, of the possibility of any exchange taking place. The odds
laid during my first week at the Fortress against my being exchanged
were 20 to 1. That evening, in spite of all the favourable signs, odds
of 10 to 1 against were offered and taken.


Life in the Festung was becoming very hard. Snow had fallen heavily. For
several days, owing to alternate frost and snow, the courtyard, whether
a mass of slippery ice or of penetrating melting snow, was now a barrier
to the garden, across which I dared not venture. The corridor was so
intensely cold that it was no place for me to take exercise in. My only
relief at this time from lying on a bed was to take a few turns up and
down the room during the hour of the promenade, when all windows were
wide open. Every inch of the picture as seen from those windows is
familiar to me. Far away, beyond the low vine-covered hills, now deep in
snow, the spruce woods stand out pitch-black on the all-white horizon.
More distinct than usual in the snow were the quaintly-shaped roofs of
ancient houses and the numerous steeples and church towers for which
Würzburg is celebrated in guide-books. Traffic on the river had ceased,
for the big, broad barges were ice-bound, and only in the centre of the
stream the yellow water ran freely, hustling along great lumps of ice
and melting snow. Over the bridge ran the electric tram lines that
connect the town with the large suburbs on our side of the river, and
the cold air--it was now freezing very hard--carried with distinctness
the clanging, whining sound of the passing trams.

Wooden huts, surrounded with a high paling, lay right below, but the
distance was just too great to enable us to see if they were inhabited
by French or English prisoners. Away beyond the huts were large stone
and brick barracks, from where on Sundays a band was wont to come forth
and march close up to the fortress,--a real German band this, they
played extremely badly.

During the time of the hard frost a field close by the barracks had been
flooded and turned into a skating-rink, where all day long the skaters,
black dots in the distance, circled round on the white board.

The steep avenue leading down from the fortress through the wooded slope
was at this time an object of interest. A number of small boys were
enjoying themselves tobogganing down the rough uneven surface, running
races, upsetting and rolling down the slope head over heels in the snow,
with cries of joy and laughter. Some forty feet below the window, along
the parapet of the inner battlement, two sentries stamping out a path
on the snow looked up from time to time with suspicion at the figure
leaning out of the prison window. Night was falling. The two sentries
were impatiently waiting to be relieved. At last the relieving party
appeared, escorted by a corporal; with due ceremony the guard was
changed and the new sentries began their dreary tramp with rifle slung
over their shoulders, beating hands and stamping feet against the
ever-increasing cold.

Large electric arc-lamps had recently been fixed outside the windows,
so that a strong light was thrown on the parapet and wall below, and the
sentry could see to shoot any one, utterly foolish, who should attempt
to climb down from our window to the parapet--a place, even when safely
reached, from which there was no possibility of further escape. Electric
light is used most lavishly by the town of Würzburg, and the effect
of the twinkling lights of the city, seen from the fortress, is very
beautiful, but one must be in the right mood to appreciate such things.

"Shut the window, Jackson, and let's have a game of poker." This was the
voice of "Bobjohn"--the best of friends. I have said too little of these
friends of mine--both French and English--too little of their kindness,
patience, and unselfishness with one who was often irritable and

       *       *       *       *       *

"_28th._ Zeppelin. A great rush for the windows."--I did not realise
before how tremendously big these Zeppelins are. It was a grand sight
to see the grey-white ship, big as an Atlantic liner, sailing over the
river, and to see it turn and come straight towards the castle on a
level with our windows. When only some few hundred yards away, so near
that we could see the features of the men in the passenger car, the ship
turned again and circled round the fortress, and from the windows of the
corridor we watched it disappearing into the sunlight over the distant

This evening was marked by the arrival of a parcel of books, Tauchnitz
edition, which we had been allowed to order. No doubt the publishers are
glad of the chance to unload their stock of British authors, as,
after the war is over, there will not be much demand for the Tauchnitz

Early in February another guest arrived at the fortress--another member
for the English club. This was Foljambe, from L'Hôpital Notre Dame,
Cambrai, who had made a very good recovery from severe wounds. Our new
comrade, still very weak, only able to walk a short distance,
arrived late in the afternoon, and was allotted a bed in my room. His
experiences on the journey from Cambrai were very similar to mine.
Although I have little direct evidence of how the Germans treat our
soldiers, the information which Foljambe gave me on the subject is

Foljambe, before coming up to the fortress, was put by mistake and left
for nearly an hour in a soldier's Lager on the outskirts of Würzburg,
and his story confirmed what the French orderlies had told us about the
ill-treatment of the English soldiers.

"The English soldiers," said Foljambe, "go about like whipped dogs."
Most of them were ill from want of food and warm clothing. Any excuse
was seized upon to inflict hard punishments, and the constant bullying
which was permitted, if not actually ordered by the officer in charge,
made the men's life a perpetual torment. Foljambe had no time to get
many details from the men, as the Germans hastily removed him from their
company as soon as they found out that he was an officer.

On the field of battle no danger could silence the cheerful jest of
these brave men; in hospital no suffering had been able to damp their
cheery courage. The picture of these same soldiers cringing, looking
from left to right when spoken to, as if to avoid a blow, is one upon
which I cannot allow my thoughts to dwell.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Feb. 11th._--Nothing to record." This is the last entry in my diary.
The doctor came again with the Rittmeister, and spent a long time by the
bedside of Lieut. C----, who had been shot through the sciatic nerve,
and was apparently permanently lame. They left the room without taking
any notice of me. This was depressing.

It was understood that C----'s case for exchange was being considered.
Dr Zinck had taken no notice of me on this occasion, probably because my
case had already been decided; but this view did not occur to me at the
time. A rumour had been going round the rooms that an exchange of French
officers, but not of English, would shortly take place.

The afternoon, my last in the fortress, passed slowly and sadly, like so
many others. Poker had long ago been abandoned. Bridge was played with
small enthusiasm.

A visit to the big room near the end of the corridor helped to pass away
the evening. Here Captain D----, owner of some big mills in the north of
France, showed me a working model loom which he had made out of firewood
with no other tools than a penknife. With the loom he was weaving a
"carpet" the size of a small pocket-handkerchief.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Feb. 12th_--_Der Tag._--At 9 A.M. I was shaving at the toilet-table
in the window recess when Dr Zinck came into the room alone, which was
unusual. He walked over to where I was sitting, and the following was
our brief but exciting conversation--

"You are happy now."

"Why should I be happy this morning," said I, "more than any other

"But don't you know? You are going back to England."

Then for one brief moment I believed, but yet tried to keep from showing
my joy, lest perhaps the news were false.

The doctor walked up and down the room in silence, then turned to me
with a worried look. "Don't say anything about what I have told you. You
and C---- are going away, but I should not have told you. I did not know
you had not been told." And then he left the room.

Some one announced that the van in which we used to go down to the baths
had arrived in the yard, presumably to take me away. On going into the
corridor to see this welcome sight I met Reddy and Irvine hurrying to
hear the news, which, of course, had at once been spread throughout the
Fortress. We were standing in the corridor talking, when Dr Zinck ran
up. "_Nix, nix_," he said, with his Bavarian accent, "there will be no
exchange with England, on account of the submarine blockade. A telegram
has come from Berlin. You are not going away."

Hope and despair now fought confusedly; where was the truth? Colonel
Lepeltier comforted me with his assurance that the doctor's last
statement was a lie; that Dr Zinck had become frightened lest the
Rittmeister would be angry at my having been told the good news too

Certainly the van was still in the yard, the horses had been unyoked.
There might be hope after all. I went as usual to room "53," lay down on
the corner bed--the Club sofa--for the last time took up the book I had
been reading the day before, found my place--the last chapter of 'David

I had reached and nearly finished the last page, when the door was flung
open and the Rittmeister entered in the well-known manner, suddenly, and
with a quick look round the room, as if hoping to catch somebody up to

As soon as he came into the room I knew instinctively what he had
come for: while trying to get off the bed to salute I heard the
much-longed-for word "Austausch." "You must leave at once," he said--"at

Reddy helped me off the bed and down the corridor, to say good-bye to my
friends and get my luggage.

Mr Poerringer and the Rittmeister followed behind, the latter, as Reddy
remarked, eyeing me narrowly. I took longer than usual in this last walk
down the corridor.

The Rittmeister followed into the room, went over to C----, and told him
he was to leave next morning, then walked round the table past the bed
where I was sitting, and left the room without further sign or word.
I said good-bye to Colonel Lepeltier and my new friends, and as it was
midday Mr Poerringer suggested that I should stop for a few minutes in
room "53" to get some lunch.

The meat course on that day was a dish of tripe which few of us could
face, and while I was eating my bread and cheese Reddy made up a parcel
of bread and Leberwurst for me to take along.

Mr Poerringer stood by the window watching, orders having been given
that I was not to be left alone.

When Mr Poerringer remarked casually that the train left in half an
hour, and that if I missed it there would be no other, I did not wait to
finish the bread and cheese.

Reddy put the parcel of food into one pocket of my greatcoat, a small
bottle of beer in the other, and I bade adieu to my friends, feeling
quite ashamed of and yet unable to hide the joy of my going.

Reddy for the last time helped me down the stairs and into the van. Mr
Poerringer got in beside me.

I said good-bye to Reddy, and for a moment felt miserable at leaving so
kind a friend to endless days of a misery from which I was now free.

As the van moved off he waved his hand with a cheery smile, and then
turned away up the spiral staircase.

Mr Poerringer sat silent in a corner of the carriage (the same vehicle
in which we had gone down to the baths). We crossed the courtyard,
passed the entrance to the terrace, the sentries guarding the bridge
over the moat. We entered the tunnelled archway, went slowly down the
steep hill, and drove through the last barrier. These things I could
see, for the window was open.

My thought was still struggling with the realisation of what these
things meant, and of what lay beyond these prison walls, when, as we
drove into the main road, Mr Poerringer broke the silence, and there was
a tinge of envy in his voice, "La guerre est fini pour vous," he said,
"La guerre est fini pour vous."

[Illustration: Festung Marienberg--Entrance to Inner Courtyard.]



"La guerre est fini pour vous."

The van drove slowly down the road which runs along the outer
fortification of the Castle. Mr Poerringer did not speak again, and I
was silently trying to grasp the reality of the situation.

We stopped at the hut hospital barracks where I had been taken on my
arrival at Würzburg five weeks before. Mr Poerringer got out and saluted
Doctor Zinck, who was waiting outside the gates. The Doctor caught my
eye and grinned from ear to ear, behind the back of some other officers;
probably he would have spoken to me had it not been for their presence.
I smiled at him rather feebly. At this time my mind contained but one
idea--the fear that something would occur to prevent my departure from
Würzburg. I was frightened to speak lest some word of mine might be made
an excuse for detention. The four British soldiers who now got into the
van were evidently in a similar state of mind. Two of them had travelled
with me from Cambrai. We none of us spoke. The door of the van shut
out the face of the still smiling doctor (bless the man! he was perhaps
really pleased to see me safely off), and we jogged slowly on.

Our conveyance stopped in the goods station yard. Three of the soldiers
managed to hobble along without help, but the fourth, the same young
fellow in the K.O.S.B. who had travelled in my carriage from Cambrai,
had to be carried on a stretcher. I followed very slowly across the
railway tracks, and then along the platform to where our train was
waiting. Two first-class carriages were reserved for us, one for the
"Offizier" I heard them say, and another for the men. The train was
full, and passengers at every window stretched out their heads in
curiosity, but none made any remark. We did not stay many minutes in the
station. As the train moved off, Mr Poerringer was talking to some of
the station officials and did not look up. He had not spoken to me since
leaving the gates of Marienberg, and perhaps had mistaken my state of
stupor for sulks.

It is not often that events in life will so be shaped that the highest
state of happiness can be obtained merely from the fact of finding one's
self alone in a railway carriage. The absence of a sentry made itself
pleasingly felt. The sitting on a soft cushion was a long-forgotten
source of contentment. In my selfish joy I nearly forgot the friends I
had left at the Festung.

On the left side of the line as you leave Würzburg, the Fortress stands
out on the hillside at a distance of something over a mile as the crow
flies. The windows of my former quarters, where we used to stand and
watch the trains, could just be recognised, and as I looked a white
sheet was waved up and down from the English room. I answered back with
my handkerchief, waving it until the Festung Marienberg had passed out
of view.

The soldiers in the adjoining carriage, having discovered that a
communicating door between our two carriages was open, came in to
keep me company. M----, in the K.O.S.B.'s, remarked that this was a
pleasanter journey than the last we had performed together. I asked him
about the other men who had been in our party, but he had lost sight of
them. M---- looked thin and pale, and in far worse condition than when
he left Cambrai. He told me that he had been kindly treated in hospital,
but had been given very little nourishing food. Another man who was
wounded in the spine and had been in another ward in the same hospital,
said the treatment was fair but food short. All the other men complained
of the want of food. They said that the able-bodied prisoners were most
willing to work to escape the monotony of prison life, but that they
were given so little food in the work camps that many of them were
unable to stand the long hours, and had to return to hospital.

My recollection of this part of our journey is most vague. I took a
childish pleasure in recognising the country through which we were
passing, and in comparing my feelings on the two journeys. Near the
first little country station after you leave Würzburg there is a large
nursery, and a large notice put up by Herr Somebody with the words
"Baumschule." Farther on the train passes close to a large quaintly
roofed building bearing the inscription "Jägerhaus." On the journey from
Cambrai I had noticed these things, and my thought, anxious to get away
from reality, had speculated about the Jägerhaus and its past history,
and had wondered if the owners of the Baumschule sold plants at a price
cheaper than obtained at home.

But now, during the first few hours of the journey, my mind was
incapable of taking in impressions. We stopped at Aschaffenburg,
probably outside the station. I have no recollection. We stopped many
times in the afternoon, but we took little or no interest. The men had a
very small piece of black bread each, and I gave them my Leberwurst and
the brown bread. Darkness came down soon. We stopped at stations now and
again, and rejoiced each time the train moved on.

Night had long fallen when we made our first change. I do not remember
the name of the station, but the place appeared to be of considerable
size. We were helped out of the carriage by Red Cross attendants, and
saw no soldiers with fixed bayonets. I was offered the choice of a
stretcher or a bath-chair, and chose the latter. The night was dark and
wet, the station badly lit up.

We were taken along the platform and put into the Red Cross
dressing-station, which contained a sofa, two arm-chairs, an
operating-table which looked as if it had never been used, and a glass
cupboard with medicine bottles, rolls of lint, &c. An oil-lamp hanging
from the ceiling threw a dim light.

After five minutes' wait an official looked in at the door, and was
about to pop out again, when I asked a question: "Can we have something
to eat?" The official said "Wait," disappeared, and promptly returned
with three of his fellows. They were surprised at hearing we had not
dined (it was, I think, now about 9 o'clock), and seemed doubtful if
anything could be done in the absence of special orders. The situation
was made easier by my offering to pay. "Für alle?" they said. "Yes, für

I was wheeled off at once in the bath-chair still farther along the
platform to the station restaurant, a small tidy room with half a
dozen small tables covered with clean white table-cloths. A waiter came
forward, helped me into a chair, and presented the menu. I ordered a
beefsteak, with potatoes and peas. It was pleasant to sit down to a
clean white table-cloth, with a plate (instead of the trough used in the
Festung) and knives and forks and spoons.

Presently the beefsteak arrived, beautifully cooked and daintily served.
I asked for some beer, but this was "verboten." "Well, then, bring me a
tumbler and a corkscrew," said I, withdrawing from my greatcoat pocket
the bottle of stout which Reddy had given me on my departure from the

The price of this excellent dinner was 1 m. 75, including a cup of
coffee. This was at a time when Germany was reported in our papers to
be suffering from shortage of food supplies. The menu offered a great
variety of dishes, and the only evidence of scarcity to be noticed was
the small-sized ration of bread with which I was served.

After the coffee, and cigars! the Red Cross official came in to say that
it was time to take places in the train. This time we had no longer the
luxury of a first-class carriage, but still there was plenty of room,
as we had a whole coach consisting of four or five third-class
compartments. The men said they had been given a very good dinner, for
which no payment was demanded.

Just before the train started our party was increased by the addition
of a sentry. The men had all settled down to sleep in the different
compartments, and the new arrival shared a carriage with me.

He was of a very different type from the soldiers who had guarded us on
the other journey--a young man, probably of good position, and certainly
of good education, very fat, unhealthily so, quite bald, and wearing
gold-rimmed spectacles; he spoke with a North German accent, very
difficult for us to understand. He desired nothing better than
conversation, and told me all about his own adventure with the army that
marched on Antwerp, where he had contracted typhoid fever which had left
him bald and short-sighted. He was now condemned to transport work for
the duration of the war, and did not hesitate to say to me that the
prospect was distinctly disagreeable. We both agreed that war was
unpleasant for every one concerned.

Our ultimate destination was Flushing, but my friendly fellow-traveller
only expected to go with us as far as Osnabrück, at which town we could
not hope to arrive before midday of the day after next. The train we
were now in contained a number of wounded Germans. They came along the
corridor during the night and made friends with our party. Some of them
could speak a little English. Like all the other German soldiers I have
heard discussing the war, these men expressed great reluctance to
return to the front, and were hopeful that the war would speedily be
terminated. This is probably the normal attitude of every soldier on
both sides.

The German soldier is oppressed by the unexpected duration of the war.
He is apparently victorious on all fronts, and still the war drags on.
When he goes home on leave there is not much to cheer him up. Every one
seems to be in mourning, and all his friends of military age are away.
There is one thing only that enables him to face the hardships of war
with unquestionable courage. From childhood he has been taught that the
highest virtue in a man is loyalty to his Kaiser and the Fatherland.

German patriotism finds its expressions in personal loyalty to the
Kaiser, and devotion to the Fatherland which is almost fanatical.
Some people would say that conscription has played a large part in the
development of this national religion of patriotism, but the history of
the German people can hardly be brought to support such a proposition.
Nor does the mere fact that patriotism is taught in the schools provide
a sufficient explanation.

The source of a flourishing, vigorous patriotism may often be discovered
from a study of economic conditions. That patriotism is affected by
economic conditions must at once be admitted. In a State, for example,
where the majority of the population are slaves, patriotism will be
confined to the slave-owners, who will fight vigorously to prevent their
slaves being captured by foreign slave-owners. An agricultural country,
where the majority of its inhabitants are owners of the soil they till,
affords the most favourable environment for the growth of patriotic
sentiment. The Serbians are without doubt the most patriotic people that
history has ever known, and Serbia is a country almost entirely devoted
to agriculture, where the great majority of the inhabitants are owners
of the soil, so that, in the mouth of a Serbian peasant the words "my
country" refer to something more than an abstraction.

But German patriotism stands likewise on a sound economic basis, for
Germany possesses an enormous agricultural population, the greater
proportion of whom are owners of the soil--the figures, according to
last available statistics, being 86 per cent of the total population
of the country. Starting with these favourable conditions, the German
Government worked hard during peace-time to strengthen by education and
discipline the instinctive patriotism of the citizens. Loyalty to the
Kaiser and Fatherland, respect for the army, the duties of a citizen to
the State, are lessons that the German child is taught at school.

In addition to the economic and educational, there is a third
factor--and most essential of all--in which Germany is by no means
wanting. This third factor is the influence of history and tradition.

"C'est la cendre des morts qui créa la patrie."

       *       *       *       *       *

A consideration of these three influences, economic conditions,
educational appeal to the intellect, historical appeal to tradition,
will help us to understand the power of German patriotism.

In one of the thoughtful editorials to which readers of the 'Irish
Homestead' are accustomed, I find condensed into a single phrase the
idea which I have been struggling to express. "Duty to one's race,"
says "A. E.," "is not inevitable. It is the result of education, of
intellectual atmosphere, or of the social order."

It is very necessary, but very difficult in war, to keep in view the
best side of the enemy's national character. Now among the doctors,
hospital attendants, officers and men of the German army with whom
I came in contact during my stay in Germany, I occasionally met with
straight-dealing and kindness. Three there are among them to whom I
would gladly give my hand. But though in the main the Germans are a
treacherous race, coarse in pleasure, bestial in drunkenness, viciously
brutal in war; they are also brave, disciplined, and patriotic. When the
Fatherland is seen to be in danger they will fight to the last loaf, to
the last cartridge, to the last man. There will be no sudden collapse.
There will be no surrender by attrition. Ours is no easy road to

The night was well on before our visitors retired to their own
compartment. The gold-spectacled, bald-headed escort fell into a heavy
sleep, uninterrupted by the frequent stopping at cold, dark, and lonely
stations, where the train would sometimes remain quiet and peaceful for
perhaps a quarter of an hour, but always started with a sudden rattle
and jerk just as I was thankfully dozing off.

Of the following day I have little recollection. Early in the morning
we changed trains at a small junction. It was bitterly cold, and the
platform, which was covered with snow, was deserted. No stretchers or
stretcher-bearers were provided, and those of us who could not walk
were wheeled across the station in a truck by two aged porters. Before
starting afresh we had a cup of hot coffee and a very small roll of
bread each.

The railway now ran through a hilly and thickly wooded country, and our
speed, which had never been very rapid, was much reduced by long curved
gradients. Snow lay thick on the branches in the dark spruce forests.
Rosy-faced children, well wrapped up, on their way to school, stopped
on the hard frozen road which ran beside the railway line to watch the
train go by and to wave their hands and cheer. A pale wintry sun crept
round the horizon.

The railway carriage was almost as cold as the corridor in the Festung
Marienberg. Yesterday's feeling of joy merely at the fact of being
outside the Fortress was now giving way to impatience at the length of
our journey and the slowness of the train.

The picture changed in the afternoon. The train was crossing the broad
corn-lands of Westphalia, which, as one huge field, stretch away to the
horizon. Here and there were patches of snow, but no hedges, walls,
or fence of any kind, and scarcely a tree, can be seen to break the
monotony of the landscape. The farmhouses, few and far apart, present a
lonely and desolate appearance.

Yet another month and the newly-sown grain would be sprouting, and six
months would see the rich harvest, and perhaps the end of bread tickets
in Berlin, for Westphalia is the granary of the German Empire.

Shortly after dark we again had to change trains. The platform was
crowded with soldiers and civilians. The snow had given way to a
drizzling rain, and as our train was not yet in, we sat waiting
on high-backed wooden seats, surrounded by a curious and not too
well-mannered crowd. I remember one ugly old man with a pointed grey
beard, who shook his fist at us and was full of hate, until the loud
voice of a N.C.O. ordered him to move on. The moment the order rang out
the crowd lost interest in our presence, and the irascible old man was
one of the quickest to move.

It was a great relief to hear that another night was not to be spent in
the train, as the effects of cold and the fatigues of the journey were
beginning to tell on the weaker members of the party. However, we still
had three hours to travel before reaching the place where we were
to stay the night, and where, the escort said, rooms in a hotel were
awaiting us.

It was about ten o'clock before we reached our destination. I am not
sure of the place, but think it was Cassel. The station was a large one,
and lit up with powerful electric lights. Our train carried a big load
of civilian passengers, chiefly women, a great number of whom--in fact,
nearly all--wore deep mourning. We had to wait till the platform was
clear before the stretcher-bearers came to carry us off.

I do not like being carried on a stretcher without straps. That evening
at Cassel we had the best kind of stretcher, with a pillow and blankets
which were tucked in all round; and then with a big strap across the
chest and another about the ankles, one felt quite secure.

We were first taken to the buffet, which is at the far end of the
station from our arrival platform. On reaching the buffet we were
unstrapped, so we could sit up and take a cup of warm milk, which was
served out by uniformed women attendants. We remained in the buffet
about half an hour. My stretcher was close beside a table at which four
big bony women dressed in black were drinking hot coffee. A typically
German notice printed in large characters hung in a conspicuous position
on the wall:--

  Speak German! Do not use enemy language!
  "Adieu" is French; say instead--
  Gott beschütze Dich.
  Gott segne Dich.
  Auf wiedersehen.
  Auf baldigeswiedersehen.
  Auf sehrbaldigeswiedersehen.
  Auf ein Rechtherzigesfrohesbaldigeswiedersehen.

We had not seen any official frightfulness for a long time. Some person
in authority now came in to the restaurant and lost his temper--not with
us, but with the fact of our being in the restaurant. There was no
one in charge of our party, so the cursing fell upon the restaurant in
general; and shortly after the irate person had departed we were carried
away by stretcher-bearers to the waiting-room, which was a few yards
farther down the platform.

Here we had to spend the rest of the night, and nothing was said about
the hotel and comfortable beds for which our escort in the train had led
us to hope. The waiting-room was furnished in a style common to most big
Continental stations. The arm-chairs, upholstered in dark-green plush,
were ugly and uncomfortable. The two sofas were designed to repel
the weariest of travellers. Although large and lofty, the room was
efficiently heated by four large radiators, and four enormous crystal
candelabra hung in the centre.

At the far end of the room, which was in semi-darkness, as only one of
the candelabra had been turned on, a lady in mourning was sitting alone
at a small round marble-topped table. When the stretcher-bearers
had gone, the lady spoke to us in perfect English. "Are you the poor
soldiers who are going back to England?" she said. "How glad you must
be! I read about the exchange of prisoners in the paper." This lady was
of German birth, and had lived most of her life in Australia. She said
the nations of Europe had gone mad, and that "this exchange of prisoners
was the first sign of sanity that she had seen since leaving Australia."
She asked if we had had any dinner, and said it was too late now to get
anything to eat, but that if we rang the waiter would serve hot coffee.

In answer to the bell the waiter came at once, and I asked him if we
could have some beer. He seemed to hesitate a minute until I produced a
20-mark note. The beer was brought in tumblers of frosted glass about a
foot high. It was the best Pilsener. Britain can brew nothing to touch
it. There was nothing in the waiting-room just then really altogether
German except the beer (and the ugly, uncomfortable chairs). There was
very little German about the waiter, who while waiting for our glasses
to be emptied, entered into fluent conversation with one of the

And the astonishing subject of his conversation was league football.
The wounded soldiers, who were inclined to be sleepy when the Australian
lady was bewailing the European situation, were now thoroughly enjoying
themselves. The waiter told us that he had toured the North of England
with a German football team during the winter of 1912-13; he knew all
the professional clubs, and was personally acquainted with many of the
favourite players in the north country.

One of the wounded men--Private Henry, Lancs. Fusiliers, who was an
expert follower of league football--started a friendly but determined
argument with Fritz (as they called the waiter) as to the merits of the
different teams.

Fritz was a real football enthusiast. "I shall never play again," he
said; "I am to be called up in a few weeks, and even if I get through I
can never play in England again."

"Cheer up, Fritz!" I said; "you have got the best beer in all the world,
and as we are not likely ever again to get a chance of drinking it, you
had better bring in another round."

Some of the Red Cross attendants who were on duty in the station that
night, young fellows of fifteen or sixteen, paid us a visit but did not
stay long; they could not join in our conversation, and they refused my
offer of beer with a regretful "verboten."

A soldier friend of Fritz's came in to see us. He had been slightly
wounded in Russia some six weeks ago, and was now on his way to the
Western Front, much depressed.

Fritz promised to bring in coffee and rolls at six o'clock (our train
was to leave at seven). Two of the soldiers slept on the floor, and
two dozed in the arm-chairs. Even the fatigue of the journey and the
soporific influence of beer did not suffice to induce sleep on the sofa.

Our escort of the previous day joined us at the train next morning. Only
a single third-class carriage was provided for this part of our journey,
and as it was a very narrow one we were all most uncomfortable. We would
reach Osnabrück at 11 A.M., and there, we were told, "the exchange would
take place." I speculated wildly as to what form or ceremony would be
followed. The local morning paper threw some light on the subject with
a statement "that the wounded English officers and men about to be
exchanged were to be assembled at Osnabrück from all parts of Germany
previous to being sent over the frontier."

The train seemed to go slower than ever. We came to a part of the line
which had been flooded, and a squad of men were repairing the track and
rebuilding a bridge. The men were of military age, and our escort said
they were Russian prisoners. I noticed in many places along the
line that a lot of rough ground had been broken up and brought into

Now this work requires able-bodied, healthy young labourers, especially
when trees have to be felled and roots removed, and there is no doubt
that the prisoners of war are being used for this purpose. Indeed, most
of the agricultural work is carried on by prisoners, so that the full
strength of Germany's enormous agrarian population is released for the
fighting line.

We had to change trains once more (the seventh or eighth change since
Würzburg). Our escort, who like ourselves was impatient at the continued
delay, expostulated with the station-master, who explained that we had
followed a circuitous route in order to leave the main lines free for
the passage of troop trains. Large bodies of troops were at that time
being shifted from East to West or from West to East.

The day dragged on, eleven o'clock passed, the hour we were due to
arrive at our destination, and still the train monotonously bumped along
the single track of the badly-laid country railroad. Our third-class
carriage was very cramped and uncomfortable. Such carriages are really
not "third-class" according to English notions. But we did not worry
about mere physical discomfort. I do not know what my wounded comrades
had in their minds. They hardly spoke. But the expression in the face
of each man had been changing from the moment they had left the hospital
hut _Baracken_ at Würzburg.

In my own mind a change had also been working since leaving the Festung
Marienberg, with its omnipresent sentries, noisy barrack-rooms, and
insolent, ill-mannered commander.

Now that I was no longer treated like a dangerous criminal, I began to
think and act in a more rational way. But the change was very slow. For
long after I had reached my own home I retained a silent and suspicious
manner, which was surprising perhaps to those of my friends who did
not know the full story of the Festung Marienberg. I have drawn no
exaggerated picture of that prison. I am afraid there are places even
worse than Würzburg, although in other prisoner camps, such as Crefeld,
Neu Brandenburg, Stralsund, the conditions are very different, and
from trustworthy accounts I believe that at Stralsund in particular the
officers could not wish for better treatment. They are allowed to play
cricket, football, tennis, &c., whenever they wish. They can even visit
the town under escort, and have a three-hole golf-course, which one of
my friends there tells me is "bogey nine." I am thankful that, owing,
I believe, to the action of the American Embassy in Berlin, the four
British prisoners whom I left behind at Würzburg have been sent to
another Fortress in Bavaria, where they are allowed a considerable
amount of liberty, and where life is much more endurable than it was at
the Festung Marienberg.

On arrival at Osnabrück at 1.30 P.M. on Saturday the 14th February, my
experience as a prisoner of war in Germany came to an end. From that day
to the crossing of the Dutch frontier on the night of Monday 16th, I
was treated with all possible kindness, and every material comfort that
could be wished for was offered or provided. I was no longer treated as
a prisoner.

Two private motor-cars were waiting at the station to take us to the
hospital. Three of our party went off in the first car, and I with the
remaining soldier was lifted into the other, and carefully covered up
with warm rugs by the officer who had come to meet the train. Both cars
were driven off to the hospital, where my companions were to be lodged.
The sun was shining frostily as we drove through the bright clean town,
which is more Dutch than German in appearance.

The car stopped in a narrow street opposite a verandah, with a flight of
steps leading up from the pavement. On this terrace or verandah stood
an old man, short, and heavy about the stomach, dressed in black
old-fashioned clothes. He approached me with a bow, washing his
hands with invisible soap, "Goot Morgen, sir," "Goot Morgen,"--more
washing--"Is there anything I can do for you? You ask me. Komm this
way, please." He crossed a large entrance-hall. The floor was tiled and
slippery, so that I could scarcely walk on it. Sofas were set all round
and down the centre, and one or two wounded German soldiers sat reading.
They paid very little attention to our arrival. I was shown into an
enormously big hall containing about 200 beds. This (from the stage at
the far end) had doubtless been a music hall.

The room, which was lofty, but not well lit up, except at the stage
end, where there was but a single large window, had been freshly painted
white. The beds were ranged all round, and a double row down the centre.

Everything in the room was new. Beds, sheets, blankets, none had ever
been used before. By each bedside was a small iron table, and behind
each bed hung the patient's hospital outfit, the ugly striped pyjamas
and red felt slippers. Everything new and spotless.

The bald, gold-spectacled escort carried in my luggage, and bade me an
almost affectionate farewell. I was becoming quite inured to surprises
of this kind.

In spite of a notice on the wall which said that lying down on the beds
in the day-time is strictly forbidden, I lay down on the bed nearest the
door and tried to forget my excitement in sleep, but before very long I
was aroused by voices from the other side of the screen at the door, and
R. D. R. walked round in his kilt, looking just the same as when I had
last seen him at Joigny la Chaussée.

"Well, I am glad to see you," he said; "we heard you were killed, and
then we heard you were in England."

"How have you got into this party?" I replied; "there is nothing much
wrong with you."

Four other British officers followed in behind R.D. I had expected to
see a far more crippled band. Major D---- was the worst of the four.
One arm was badly paralysed. He spoke with difficulty, a bullet having
grazed his windpipe leaving a nasty scar, and he had one or two other
bullet wounds in the leg.

M---- and W---- were very lame; each had a broken leg, badly set and
short. Captain M---- had nothing wrong with his arms or legs, but a
shrapnel bullet had hit him in the face, gone down through the roof of
his mouth, and stuck somewhere in his neck, which was bandaged up.

The worst case of all was H----, who presently came in, supported and
half carried by two orderlies. No man in this war has had a nearer shave
than H----. He was shot through the base of the neck, and the bullet
chipped the spine, causing partial paralysis on one side and complete
paralysis on the other. I think it was his cheery spirit and sense of
humour that helped to keep him alive.

All of us had long stories to tell. W---- had the most to say, having
been shut up for three months with some Russian officers who knew
neither French nor English. The remainder of the party all came from
Crefeld, which is not many hours by train from Osnabrück.

For some reason the new arrivals were not allowed to have a bath. We
were told that anything we fancied either to eat or drink could be
ordered for dinner, but that if we did not wish to pay for our food,
the ordinary hospital fare would be at our disposal free of charge. We
ordered, and were served, a first-rate dinner.

During the afternoon a party of French officers walked into the ward.
One of them was rather lame, but the others seemed in very good health.
Surprise at the meeting was mutual. They spoke but little English. When
we said that we were the prisoners about to be exchanged, these poor
fellows had just for a moment a gleam of hope that they also by some
mistake were to come with us. We had been together only a few minutes
when a soldier came in and took them away. In the short time I had,
however, found out that these French officers had no complaint to make
of the treatment they had received, and they informed me that a special
difference was made in their favour as compared with the British.

Soon after a most excellent dinner, we were glad to turn in. German beds
are made in some strange manner. The bedclothes are not tucked in at
all, but are folded across the bed in a puzzling sort of way. However,
the bed was extremely comfortable, and I slept soundly, the first time
since leaving Cambrai.

The next day, Sunday 15th, was a very long one. We were not allowed to
leave the ward, which, on account of its huge size, the lack of windows,
and the uniform whiteness, was a most depressing place. In the afternoon
some kind of religious service took place in the adjoining ward--at
least we heard singing of hymns to the accompaniment of a powerful
organ--and the proceedings, whatever they were, terminated with
"Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles."

The event of the evening was the announcement that next morning we were
to appear before a Medical Board, and immediately after would leave for
Holland. This piece of information was received with calm. For my part I
still had some of the old reluctance to believe in good news, and Major
D---- spoke the thought of all when he said, "We are not yet out of the
wood." H----, the most crippled of the party, was the only optimist.

Next morning, shortly after ten o'clock, I was crossing the outer
hall--that is to say, I was creeping round by the wall, not daring to
venture across the well-polished floor--when the Board emerged from a
doorway behind me. They stood and watched me make a laborious circuit
back to our room.

We stood to attention, those of us who were able to stand, while the
seven or eight German officers filed into the room and took their seats
at the table which runs across the whole breadth of the ward, opposite
the entrance door. These were men of high rank, and all of a large size
except one stout, short fellow, who acted as interpreter. Our names were
called, and the examination proceeded in order of seniority. There was
no hesitation about any one until Captain M---- was called. His case was
the subject of a certain amount of guttural discussion. R. D. R. was the
last and longest to be examined, and his fate hung in the balance. The
Board seemed to be of opinion that he was not to be exchanged.

The discussion lasted but a few minutes, during which R. D. stood pale
and with anxious eyes. They again began to question him. "How many
years' service did you say?" "Three." "Can you drill troops?" "Very
little." "Are you qualified to teach musketry?" "No."

Again the withered hand was examined to see if any sign of life could be
found in the blue twisted fingers.

I think the casting vote in R. D.'s favour was given by the senior
doctor, the only one of the party who was in mufti, and one of the few
really human beings I have met while in Germany.

Before going out the senior officer present (a General) made us a speech
in German, which was translated to us by the interpreter somewhat as

"It is all right! You have all passed, and it only remains for you each
to come and sign the necessary papers in the doctor's room. The General
wishes to know if you have any complaint to make about your treatment,
and if there is anything you are not satisfied about the way you have
been treated while in Germany you must tell us about it. We wish you to
make now any complaints. We want you to be satisfied. You must go back
to England contented." "We want you to go back to England contented." He
repeated these words several times, walking up and down the room as he
spoke, looking round with a quick glance at our faces, while the Board
in the background nodded approval.

There were no complaints. I thought in silence of my journey from
Cambrai to Würzburg, and of the Rittmeister at the Festung Marienberg.

Here was the explanation of the sudden change which began the day of
departure from the Festung, the explanation of the first-class carriage
at Würzburg station, the indifferent attitude of the crowd on our
journey, the good-fellowship of sentries, the free and friendly
intercourse with wounded German soldiers, the attention and luxuries
provided at Osnabrück. "They" wanted us to go back to England contented.

After the Board had gone the interpreter came back again to make
sure--"Please, gentlemen, mention anything. You are all satisfied. Is
good, that is gut," and out he went at last rubbing his hands.

"They" had evidently given orders that the about-to-be-exchanged
prisoners were to be treated with kindness, just as "They" on a former
occasion had given orders that British wounded prisoners, officers and
men, were to be treated with a special insolence and brutality.

This affectation of kindness now at the very last moment, the
hypocritical pretence, was more repellent than even the insolence of the
Rittmeister Niebuhr.

There was, however, one member of the Board whose kindness was really
genuine. This was the senior doctor in civilian clothes.

When I went along to the room where the papers had to be signed, he
made me sit in his arm-chair and examined my head. I cannot explain the
difference between his manner and that of the others. Kindness, in the
others so evidently sham, official, and by order, with him was second

"You will get well, quite well in time," he said, "but it will be very

"Let me take your arm, you must not fall on the slippery floor. You
might hurt yourself badly and not be able to leave us to-night."

Even if I had not understood the German words, there was no
misunderstanding the sympathy in the tone of his voice.

The word of deliverance came that evening while we were at dinner. We
were told that two motor-cars and an ambulance waited at the door, and
in a very few minutes we started off for the station. As the night
was dark and wet, there was some delay before the cars could find the
platform our train was due to start from. We drove into the station by a
goods entrance, and the cars halted quite near the train. In addition
to ourselves, a large party of wounded soldiers, about 120 of them, were
bound for the frontier.

As I made my way slowly along the platform I saw several of these poor
fellows standing about on crutches, one or two of whom I had met before
at Cambrai. They were very cheery, and it was cheering to see them and
hear the familiar query, "Are we downhearted?" with its answering roar
from the train-load of cripples. But the thin pale faces and ragged
clothes bore witness to the misery from which they, the lucky ones, were
now to be released.

After waiting for nearly two hours, a German officer of high rank came
along to make a final inspection. He asked us if we had any complaints
to make, and again repeated the hypocritical phrase, "We want you to go
back to England contented." And at last the train moved off. Osnabrück
is only forty miles from the frontier. The suspense and worry of the day
had told on all of us, and when the much-longed-for moment arrived, and
the train actually crossed the frontier, we had all fallen asleep.

Würzburg and all that nightmare in German hands were already slipping
far away into the past. The reaction found expression not in hilarious
excitement or placid contentment, but in an exceeding weariness of
mind and body. Quite early in the morning the train stopped at a
small station well over the German frontier. Two ladies came along the
corridor with baskets full of cakes, oranges, tobacco, and other gifts.
"Oh, you poor men," said a voice in English, "is there anything we can
do for you?" It was the first Englishwoman's voice we had heard for a
long time (it did seem such a very long time since we left Southampton

The voice and the kind words acted as a stimulant, almost as a shock.
Although the incident may seem to be a trivial one, it is stamped in my
memory, for it awoke the memory of all that England is, of kind human
sympathy, of those qualities so little understood by Germans.

We reached Flushing about 11 A.M. The British Consul and a number of
very kind people came to meet the train and escorted us to the hotel
which is just opposite the station. Owing to a very bad headache I had
to spend the day in bed.

Those of our party who were able went for a walk as free men in the
streets of Flushing. They saw the arrival of German prisoners from
England, and compared their well-fed appearance in smart clean uniforms
with the ragged miserable state of the unfortunate British soldiers.
About seven o'clock we were allowed to go on board the steamer. In the
dining-room of the hotel I met Major Chichester, who had arrived with
all the one-armed and one-legged men from Madame Brunot's Hospital at
Cambrai. Many stretcher cases were carried down the gangway, some
with bandaged heads and smiling faces; but one or two stretchers were
completely covered over, and one dared not think of the burden they
carried. Yet others there were who, going back to England, would
never see England again. "Are we downhearted?"--the cry was raised
at intervals, and from every quarter of the ship came the answer in a
convincing chorus.

During the long and very rough sea passage my mind was taken up with the
misery of the sea, which in a bad sailor is able to dominate all else.
However, the discomforts of the sea journey only intensified the relief
of landing on English soil at last.

It was about 8 P.M. before the hospital train was ready to start for
Charing Cross. At the end of the saloon in which we were travelling a
large gramophone was playing a lively and rather catching air. I asked
an orderly the name of the tune, and he, looking at me with an air of
suspicion and hesitation, not knowing the tune was unfamiliar to us,
replied at last, "It's a long long way to Tipperary."

Indeed the way had seemed long.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

All words printed in small capitals have been converted to uppercase

The oe-ligatures have been replaced by "oe".

The following modifications have been made,

  Page 125:
  "Famechon" changed to "Faméchon"
  (After lunch, M. le Médecin Chef Faméchon and Capt. Viguié)

  Page 152:
  "smypathy" changed to "sympathy"
  (he showed a real sympathy for my state of health)

  Page 165:
  "," changed to "."
  (than tactlessness or mismanagement. The gossips)

  Page 173:
  quotation marks inserted
  ("The Germans did not come back into the camp)

  Page 254:
  "corrider" changed to "corridor"
  (was at the end of the corridor and the door)

  Page 255:
  "tablecloth" changed to "table-cloth"
  (been allowed to buy a coloured cotton table-cloth)

  Page 304:
  "exggerated" changed to "exaggerated"
  (I have drawn no exaggerated picture of that prison)

Not modified but retained as printed:

  Page 70:
  The date mentioned "23.8.11" might actually be "23.8.14".
  (Since Sunday morning, 23.8.11, we have been fighting nearly)

  Page 167: "kepi" / Page 211: "képi"

  Page 24: "new-comers" / Page 165: "newcomers"

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