Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Alexander diary, 1917-1918 / Roy Alexander
[J.W. Savage & Son,
Rubber Stamp Makers,
152, High St., Southampton.]
Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd,
97 Clarence St.
Thu. 31st May
The "Wairuna" was ready to sail from Auckland last night, but, delayed by firemen "on the spree", did not get away till 2 am this morning. She is carrying a general cargo for San Francisco as consisting of wool, hemp, kauri gum etc, and nails. She goes direct to San Francisco, and from there probably goes to England via Panama under Admiralty instructions.
Captain. H. Saunders
Chf Officer McKenzie
2nd " Rees
3rd " P.S. Isbister
Chf Engr. Currie
2nd " McCaughey
3rd " Bish
4th " Campbell
Complement 42. all told.
Thu. 31st May. (cont.)
The "Wairuna" was pushing along through the islands of the Hauraki Gulf when I came out on deck. Glorious weather. Being the first steamer of the "tramp" order I have yet been on, the old tub has been of some interest today. She has iron decks, (except for a wood-covered walking space on the port side); the officer's cabins open off a small saloon under the bridge: the engineers have a special row of cabins on the lower deck.
Meals are served: Breakfast 8. Dinner. noon. Tea. 5.30 p. (Unholy hours) The food is quite good, but the table can scarcely be called a Festive Board. The Old Man is a rather quiet Englishman, the Chf Engr. is a Melbourne Scotsman who endeavours to always say and do the "correct thing" (he never opens his mouth unless to eat or to bring out platitudes)
Thu 31st May (cont.)
31st May (cont.)
The Juniors recover the use of their tongues later we have quite a jolly little card party in Ree's cabin. Rees, by the way, was torpedoed on the "Ashburton" in the Bay of Biscay recently.
Fri. 1st June
Weather still perfect. Sea quite calm. Complete all details of installation today. Wireless Receiver working very well had VIS (Sydney) VPD (Suva) etc. last night.
The Captain calls me into his cabin and "supposes" I had "better see this".
"This" is the wireless distress code on encountering enemy raiders!
And 36 hours out of port he "supposes" that I should see it!!
Sat. 2nd June
Weather perfect. Dead calm. We pass through the Kermadec Group today. Sight Macaulay Isld in early morning and the cliffs of Sunday Island were visible ahead at noon. After dinner I had a siesta; the steward who brought tea at about 3 pm telling me we were then passing the Island. At the same time Jock, from his cabin next door, called out to me to come and see a steamer which was lying
there off the island. We had just rounded the northern cape of the island, and a large, black vessel was lying in the shelter of a group of rocks some distance S. from us. She was rather suspicious, especially when one considered that her description tallied almost exactly with that of the raider "Moewe", but Jock was of the opinion that she had called in for water whilst en route from Panama to N.Z.
Sat. 2nd June.
I returned to my interrupted tea still rather suspicious taking the precaution of closing switches and preparing for transmission from the accumulators, since the dynamo was not then running. No signs of life in the 'phones. At 4.45 pm. there was a rush on deck a 'plane motor could be heard just outside and I got on deck just in time to see a bomb drop off the port bow and a message attached to a sandbag fall on deck from a seaplane just overhead. The machine was a small two-seater biplane a German Naval Ensign was clearly visible flying from one of her stays and she was flying so low that her pilot and observer could be distinctly seen. The latter was apparently ready to do some serious bombing. I made for the bridge for orders, but before I reached the companionway instructions came down "not to use the wireless"!
2nd June (cont.)
I found the Capt. standing at the door of the Chart-house with the Chf. Engr. He repeated his instructions to do nothing, so I asked for, and obtained, permission to destroy the wireless station. Then followed a busy half-hour smashing up the work of the last fortnight. I first put the codes, logbook etc overboard. The complete receiver was wrenched from the table and followed the papers. In fact, when I finally closed the Wireless Cabin door and slipped out to see the Hun boarding party coming towards us there was very little of the gear left.
By this time we had, under instructions from the 'plane, steamed in towards the raider, which steamed slowly round us. A launch was coming towards the "Wairuna": it came alongside at the after well-deck & a party of armed sailors, led by an officer, swarmed over the side.
Each had evidently been allotted his station by pre-arrangement one I noticed particularly was the big German who at once went aft, lowered the Red Ensign and hoisted the German Flag. The Officer told our crew they were to perform their usual duties, he then asked for the Capt. and a little later came along to the saloon for a meal. He sat next to me, and from his appetite he was evidently no dyspeptic. he had a genuine fondness for second helpings. He turned out to be Leutnant Dietrich, and was Mines Officer on the raider.
Spoke good English, had an oily manner. The latter took in our damned fool of a Chf Engr; who commenced gassing about a seaplane he had seen a few days ago in Auckland Harbour.
This information came rolling out without any questioning whatever from Dietrich, so he should certainly get some profitable information when he commences "pumping".
2nd June (cont.)
At abt 6 pm Deitrich sent for me. He had just discovered that the installation was missing. He asked for an explanation. He simmered a little when I told him that the gear had gone overboard. He then gave instructions for the Chf, 2nd, 3rd officers & myself to prepare to be taken on board the raider, all others to remain pro. tem. on board here. Rees, Isbister, and myself climbed down the "Wairuna"'s side from the starboard well-deck into the waiting motor-boat. She crossed at once to the raider, some few hundred yards off.
As we neared her we could make out the seaplane moored on the after-well deck. We climbed a rope-ladder to the after-well deck. A group of Officers were waiting at the top of the ladder to receive us, the senior (presumably) saluted each of us as we came over the side. The German crew hundreds of them were ranged around the decks watching us.
We were taken in under the poop-deck an evil-smelling hole with a row of tin basins ranged along the side. `The iron deck was covered with rails mine rails.
We were asked to strip and hand over all our clothes and were then made to
scrub daub ourselves with caustic soft soap. We took this bath surrounded by dozens of staring Huns dressed in white canvas uniforms. Our clothes, meanwhile, were being thoroughly searched; every scrap of paper was removed from the pockets by a beautifully garbed Crown-Princish officer whom we christened "Little Willie" "The Beautiful Hun" on the spot. During all this time we were clad in nothing but prepared-for-the-worst expressions, and were kept busy answering or evading all sorts of questions.
2nd June (cont.)
Finally we were passed by a doctor, our clothes we given back to us (my lot minus a long scarf which had taken the fancy of some German gent.), we were graciously permitted to dress and were then sent down a wooden ladder-way into the hold; the Prisoner's Quarters.
We could not see anything for a few moments but a smoke haze and the excited crowd of grimy, half-dressed Britishers who bombarded us with questions. Later we discovered the place to be the upper nr 4 hold previously used as a mine chamber. Through holes in the bulkhead we were shown over 200 mines resting on long rows on the mine-rails in nr 3 hold. In nr 4. were herded together a queer collection of nearly a hundred prisoners.
In one corner a group of niggers were squatting on their haunches and chattering in another an Irish-Liverpool fireman was torturing a waltz out of a concertina to a rapt group of assorted cockneys, & other former occupants of the foc'sl. A small corner was partitioned off for officers prominent playing bridge being the venerable looking Captain of the barque "Dee" a pious white-bearded old fraud who bore the classic sobriquet of "Mudguts".
An armed sentry marches to and fro among the prisoners night & day. Finally, we were each given a hammock of brown canvas & a blanket; slung same in a corner of the bulkhead up against the mine-chamber and tried to sleep.
Yesterday's events seemed unreal dreams on awakening this morning. But the brown hammocks swinging in rows quite brought back the reality of things.
"Breakfast" was at 8.
On the tables (bare, of course) were a couple of dishes of bread vile-smelling blackish dough which resembled nothing so much as well-chewed "Spearmint." Black, sugarless coffee came along also was very good.
We mess in the partitioned off "Officers Quarters". Dinner (at 11.30 am) was considered "special", being Sunday. Consisted of soup, a small piece of Hamburger steak & large quantities of dried potatoes.
The method of serving is rather funny. A steward carries along a couple of tins to the galley for each table; he returns the tins to the head of each table and serves out the contents to the expectant "diners".
Certain stewards are permanently assigned to
those our tables the only difference with the crew is that each man takes his turn as "peggy", as the steward is called.
The "Wairuna" was brought alongside the raider this morning and the work of plundering her commenced in earnest. We were allowed up on the poop deck in the afternoon: coaling planks & baskets were rigged between the two vessels & a big coaling party had commenced to transfer coal. I obtained permission to go on board the "Wairuna" to "bring over my personal effects" (which had already been passed over by my steward.)
However, I managed to give the "tip" to those on board to bring over all the food possible, & also managed to plunder a bundle of towels etc. from the linen-room.
Sun 3rd June 1917
The story told by those on board here of the raider's work is rather interesting.
She is the auxiliary cruiser "Wolf" disguised cleverly as a merchantman. She was in pre-war days the "Wachtfels" of the Hansa line, Bremen, & is a vessel of 7000 or 8000 tons. Speed at most 12 or 13 knots.
Armament. 2 5.9 guns under foc'sl head.
2 5.9s forward well deck
2 " after " "
1 " on poop
Broadside of 5. 5.9s.
4 torpedo tubes (2 in each well-deck)
Several 12 pounders at various points.
Machine guns & large quantity of rifles & revolvers.
She left Kiel on 30th Nov. 1917 (two days after the "Moewe".)
[Note in margin] 16th Jan. 1917
Proceeded straight down Atlantic to Capetown, laid a mine-field there (she left Germany with 500 mines in nos 3 & 4 holds) and then
continued direct to Colombo, where she laid another field within 20 miles of the Harbour. The S. African field was laid on 16th Jan. '17.
Thence she proceeded to Bombay, laid more mines; steamed to Colombo-Aden track, and on the 27th Feb. in lat. [blank] long. [blank] captured the Anglo-Saxon's Petroleum Co's "Turritella", a few hours after that vessel had passed H.M.S. "Newcastle". The "Turritella" was an ex-Hansa boat, practically a sister ship of the "Wolf", and was formerly the "Gutenfels". She was manned by Germans, fitted as a mine-layer, a number of mines placed on board, the Chinese crew were compelled to work the ship, the British officers brought on board the "Wolf". She was then re-named "Iltis" and despatched to mine Aden (the same night 27th Feb.)
This vessel was sunk in the Gulf of Aden.
On Mch 1st the Mercantile S.S. Co's "Jumna" was captured. She did not stop at the raider's first two shots the third, which was intended for her engine-room, exploded on the after-deck of the "Wolf" before the gun could be swung out. 5 Germans were killed & over 20 injured. The "Jumna" was stripped of her coal & sunk next day, her complement of 30 coming on board the "Wolf".
On the 11th Mch Glover Bros "Wordsworth" was captured en route from Colombo to Delagoa Bay. cargo 5000 tons rice. She was sunk 7 days later.
Complement 31 men.
was then continued her way to the south (sinking en route the barque "Dee" bound from Mauritius to Bunbury in ballast.
An amusing incident here was that the "Dee" on sighting the "Wolf" hoisted a signal "Report me all well". She was bombed and went down with that signal flying.)
The raider continued her voyage south of Australia, passed through the Antipodes Group on May 5th, passed up the East Coast of New Zealand (the pilot says that he flew over Dunedin during a flight in this neighbourhood), tried to intercept (unsuccessfully) a vessel on the Wellington-Cape Horn track; sighting nothing she continued to Sunday Isld in the Kermadecs for an overhaul.
Arrived there 27th May.
The day before the "Wairuna" appeared the fires were down, the boilers being cleaned & not an ounce of steam was available!
Rough weather arose a couple of days after the stripping of the "Wairuna" commenced, the vessels were unable to hold the anchorage & put to sea.
After trying various anchorages around the island the vessel was stripped of her provisions & coal, an amount of kauri gum & hides were stored in the forward holds of the "Wolf", & the Engineers and crew came on board this afternoon.
Fri. 15th June
The 9 officers of the "Wairuna" are pro. tem. by themselves in the little corner next to the mine-room. In addition, we have Martin, the Creole Mate of the "Dee". 5 hammocks are on top there was a rush for these as the top hammocks remain in position all day.
The unfortunates owning bottom hammocks have to roll them up of a morning to make way for the two collapsible tables, have no place to sleep in during the day, & must replace their hammocks at nine every evening.
Martin, Rees, myself, McKenzie & the Captain have the top row in the order named Rees and I find it very comforting to ly in our hammocks
of an evening and watch that estimable character the Chf Engr sweating and grinding his yellow molars while he struggles to get his hammock in place. The sight almost compensates for all our discomfort.
To add to the joys of the "under-crust" the Creole mate has a playful habit of suddenly expectorating in enormous quantities from his upper berth to the deck underneath.
Also, our maisonette is suffering the Sneers of the Vulgar.
Our captain's mannerisms have annoyed the
other opposition Officer's Quarters & a legend has arisen that the "Wairuna" was stopped by a sandbag. And, led by an Irishman with a gift in that direction, they have christened the old man "Sandbag Saunders".
I am afraid it is one of those names that will live.
Fri. 15th June
Our little home the Scoffers have christened the "Hotel du Wolfchen" for obvious reasons (the "Wolfchen" is the name of the seaplane!) The inaugural dinner at the Hotel du Wolfchen tonight was not uninteresting.
Our Chief Steward (a smart Cockney know as "Slim") & Jimmy the Mess-Room boy were appointed as our stewards by the Mines Officer.
"Slim" showed his present independence by "cheeking" everybody & James calmly sat down in our greatest Pride and Joy, a wicker arm-chair sacred to the Captain which he managed to have sent over here.
During the Banquet (being Friday, our evening meal is supplemented by a little Horse Sausage) he suddenly spotted James in The Chair!
He rose, caught him by the ear, and hurled him from the "Hotel".
Fri. 15th June.
Then "Slim" claimed The Chair as his! and told the Old Man his (Slim's) opinion of him.
Uproar! The O.M. hurriedly despatched a sentry for Mines, &, fearing mutiny at least, "Willie, The Beautiful Hun" arrived on the scene.
"Slim" volubly presented his grievances but his volubility received short shrift from "Willie".
He let out a flood of Prussian cursing in a shrieking tenor (or a tenor shriek), threatened him with "Strafe" & left. And all was once more Calm. But the Oldest Inhabitants left off playing Bridge sufficiently long to say that they had had the best entertainment since their capture.
Sat. June 16th
The "Wairuna" & "Wolf"
were steaming steamed out in company from the island at abt 3 pm. The two vessels had stopped and the "Wairuna" was about to be sunk by bombs when a sail was sighted off the port bow. We prisoners were hustled below from the poop deck not before the sailing-ship was clearly visible from the deck.
We were locked in the hold and the raider put on full speed. A stopping shot was soon after fired from the bow, a second and third followed. The raider then stopped and the launch could be heard being hoisted over the side.
Later we caught a glimpse of the latest capture lying off our port beam, a pretty four-masted American schooner.
Her captain, Trudgett, a Nova Scotian, came on board later.
She is the "Winslow" 496 tons, owners Hall of San Francisco, and was 21 days out from Sydney to Apia (Samoa) with 250 tons of coal,1500 firebricks & 50 cases of benzine. A crew of 10 mixed Scowegians. The Captain says that seeing the two columns of smoke from the steamers he took it for a distress signal from Sunday Island (charted as uninhabited) and was coming to render assistance.
Sun. 17th June.
This morning the boarding party stripped the copper pipes from the "Wairuna's" engine-room, brought same with them in the launch & left two bombs aboard the "Wairuna" timed for about 15 minutes. The only one I saw explode was in the port well.
The vessel failed to sink merely listing to port.
The forward bulwarks were dropped and the guns came into action.
Sun. 17th June
The first shot gashed a hole amidships abt 4 feet above the water line the flame from the shell rose right over the funnel.
For some time the shells were directed amidships. The gunnery was apparently poor one shell burst in the water between the two vessels when the distance was only a couple of hundred yards.
At about 11.30 am shells were put into nos 1 and 2 holds the cargo of which burst into flames.
The "Wolf" circled slowly around the "Wairuna" which now listed heavily to port with smoke pouring from her hatches.
A couple more shots finished her at about 1230 p she slowly settled over on her side, the burning cargo bursting from her hatches as she went under.
The funnel snapped off as it went down.
In all 16 shells were fired at her.
Sun. 17th June
The "Winslow" circled the "Wolf" during the bombardment a pretty sight under full sail in the choppy sea.
We left the floating wreckage & proceeded back to the Island to strip the "Winslow" of her cargo.
I was called up this morning & questioned by "Little Willie" & the Commandant's Secretary as to the call-letters of Union Company's ships.
Of course, I "knew nothing", so William decided that frankness was the better thing. He showed me an S.O.S. message intercepted this morning from what the German operator decided was the "Waitoutar". It was, of course, the "Waitotara", she was burnt last night.
The two messages were
12. Copra on fire.
3. leaving ship.
Mon 18th June
I told my Hun hosts I knew nothing & returned to the hold. Foolishly I told the Captain what had occurred and half an hour later was dumfounded to see Rees and Campbell on the poop telling Willie all about the ship and her routes and Campbell was giving Willie a photo of the "Waitotara"!!
And Rees had previously cautioned me to be "very careful"!
"Little Willie" grinned maliciously at me and thanked me for "telling my friends the news".
As a direct result of this information the "Wolf" cruised on the Suva-Sydney track for a considerable time looking for another "Wairuna".
The "Winslow" crew came aboard a queer looking lot of Scowigian "lime-juicers". At 11 am the vessel was towed out & two ordinary bombs placed on board.
Fri. 22nd June.
The explosion of these caused the vessel to sink a couple of feet on an even keel but no further.
Later, an enormous bomb was taken over and placed in the poop & kerosene was sprinkled over the decks.
The bomb caused a terrific explosion which appeared to take an upward track & nearly succeeded in blowing off the poop & displacing the mainmast. Another bomb had no better result and the water-logged vessel would not fire.
These bombs were each apparently more than half the size of a mine!
After the bombing failure shelling was commenced. All the afternoon shells were poured into the little vessel not one of which succeeded in hitting a mast.
Shelling was stopped at dusk, after between 30 & 40 shells had been fired.
Fri. 22nd June
The sea was then covered with burnt and scarred debris, the ship itself was ablaze from stem to stern with the masts still erect. Finally at abt 6 pm, the masts all fell together, the burning wreck drifted inshore in the gathering darkness and the "Wolf" slipped along bound West bound for the Tasman with mines.
Sat. 23rd June. We crossed the Suva-Auckland track at about 8 p.m. The "Niagara" should be in vicinity on time-table running.
Sun. 24th June. A heavy beam sea - "Wolf" rolling heavily. At 4 pm the ship's band took up a position in the Port well and the serious-faced musicians proceeded to enliven proceedings. The conductor is a thin Hun with a wax-coloured fanatical face & a violent temper. (Violent tempers are considered correct on board. The Kommandant,
a handsome but bantam-like "cocksure" person of 40 or so, leaned over the rail of the boat deck & absolutely screamed for quite 5 minutes at a "Matrose" who came up to trim the "Wairuna's" coal in a frock coat and "bowler" hat he had plundered from some ship. Screaming is the only word which describes these outbreaks Little Willie the Beautiful is addicted
To resume, the band was earnestly discoursing Military marches & "Deutschland uber alles" when a big sea put the whole band out of action. The wet musicians did not resume the programme.
25 June. A bad day for us.
On Tuesday evening, 5th June, Chf Officer Steers and 2nd Engr. Clelland
of the "Turritella" slipped over the side down a shark-line & struck for the shore.
Their escape was not discovered till now even though the Germans had made a couple of trips to the island for fruit.
Today we were counted, Little Willie demanded information and screamed with rage when none was forthcoming & bounced off to get our "Strafe" from His Mightiness the Kammandant. He ran back and informed us that we were no longer to be treated as gentlemen (!!!) but were not to be treated as prisoners. And our punishment (because the other two got away) is to be confined to this filthy hold for 23 hours daily for 28 days. We are to receive no Wireless Press news whatever and are to have the privilege of buying small articles from the cantine stopped.
Mon 25th June (cont.)
Also, at 9 pm mines began to come up from the next hold. We could hear each mine being brought up in the lift, trundled along the rails and finally pushed out through the mine-doors.
25 were laid we believe we are in the region of the North Cape possibly between there and Three Kings.
Wed. 27th June
We sighted Egmont through the Canvas curtains placed over the poop entrance. At night Monday evening's performance was repeated our guard was doubled we were to be shot if we tried on any pretext to ascend the narrow wooden ladder, and the mines began to come up about ten. During our hour on deck we yesterday saw the mines coming up & coming along to remain on the rails under the poop till needed. The mines are the usual barrel-horned-type with combined carriage and anchor.
45 were laid here in Cook's Straits.
Thur. 28th June.
In Tasman Sea steering due West. Beautiful weather, a smooth oily sea several smoke-clouds on horizon.
Our food is now quite insufficient the boilers have been "broken down" (so our hosts say) for the last week and our principal meal consists of the wet dough mis called bread, a little butter, black coffee and a minute dole of "Mrs Crippen".
Tue. 3rd July.
The mines were brought up early the whole of the rail under the poop were filled preparatory to laying a very big field. The horns were all in position. At about ten pm. the mines began to go over the side.
31 had been laid when an interruption came. Those under the tube declared that a torpedo was fired at any rate the "Wolf" suddenly started off with many mines still on the upper rails.
The remaining mines were lowered to no 3 hold again today.
Wed 4th July.
Rumours that a torpedo was taken up on deck to replace one fired last night. The "Wolf" is steaming S.E. at full speed in a heavy sea. We are not allowed on deck at all today (as yesterday.)
We came on deck for our hour's exercise this morning to find "Wolf" a different ship.
Her telescopic masts & funnel have been lowered to give her a low, squat appearance. She is still running in a S.E. direction with a heavy sea on her quarter. Sleet and light powdering of Snow. The Paymaster was on the poop during our hour a queer looking Hun with a head the colour and shape of a damaged bladder of lard.
Mon 9th July
A sail was sighted at abt 3 pm. Position 26 ½ S. 166 Ύ E. The boarding party left the ship at abt 4.30 pm in the launch it was not necessary for the "Wolf" to fire a stopping shot.
At 4.35 pm heavy smoke was sighted on horizon. "Wolf", suspecting a trap, rushed off at full speed, leaving the boarding party on the sailing ship to take their chances. Steaming hard all night.
Tue 10th July.
The seaplane, which was unshipped and stowed below during the run in the Tasman, was hastily re-assembled this morning and rose at 9.30 a. in perfect weather to locate the abandoned sailing ship.
"Wolf" did not rejoin her capture till this morning. The raid laid off the vessel and transhipped food and other stores in the ship's boats. A light swell running. A woman and a little girl waved across from the poop of the ship.
Wed 11th July (cont.)
The crew were transhipped at about midday and the vessel was shelled during the afternoon, in all 39 shots were fired the gun on the poop was in action and rained down a shower of dust and splinters from the hatchways on to our quarters.
We left the wreck at dark. it presented a weird sight as the shell-fire had scattered the cargo of case-oil over the side.
The oil was burning on the water in the radius of perhaps half a mile from the burning barque. She was the 3 masted barque "Beluga" of New York, 55 days out from San Francisco to Sydney with a cargo of case oil. Crew of 11 and the Captain's wife and daughter.
The crew from the "Beluga" bring an amusing yarn on board. The "cruiser" which frightened the "Wolf" on Tues. night turned out to be a "three masted oil-tanker (probably our old acquaintance the sugar boat "Fiona".
Thu. 12th July (cont.)
We continue to patrol the Suva-Sydney track, changing the course occasionally from S.W. to N.E. and then again reversing.
Rumours reach us that His Mightiness has "willed" a boat on this track and intends to have one.
The seaplane rose at abt nine am nothing in sight.
had made another flight at 2 pm, still without result, and on landing dived heavily nose first into the water. Much excitement on deck (we were below, as usual) & a boat and the launch were swung out.
I managed to get a glimpse out of the poop door of the plane nose down with the engines under water, the pilot and observer hanging on to the vertical body of the "Wolfchen", and the motorboat running to their assistance. "Wolfchen" was later hauled on board with a smashed float and wing and buckled stays; a little mishap that
decreases the raider's chances of getting a ship on this route.
Sat. 14th July
A sail sighted at 8.30am.
Boarding party went on board and the vessel (a four masted schooner) kept in our vicinity.
The new prize hove to near the "Wolf" this morning and the work of trans-shipping the stores commenced in the boats. Finally, the crew were brought over. It is rather amusing to watch the new prisoners coming on board, especially the mixed collection from these Yankee lime-juicers. The "Encores" crowd come up the ladder in their newest "shore clothes" and with many sea-bags. Their expressions showed that they were undecided whether they were going to be shot at once or reprieved for a few days.
The vessel is the "Encore" of San Francisco Columbia-River to Sydney with lumber and case oil. Crew of 10. Capt. Ohlsen.
Sun. 15th July (cont.)
After the crew were aboard a couple of bombs were placed fore and aft, kerosene was poured everywhere, & the ropes holding the deck cargo (lumber) in position were cut.
The bombs blew the poop & foc'sl up, the flames quickly spread all over the vessel. The raider steamed away when the sails & cordage were in flames.
Sat. 28th July
The cruise on the Suva-Sydney track was finally abandoned some 6 days ago, the "Wolf" steamed up West of the Fiji Group and we sighted what is believed to be one of the Solomons this morning. Hove to cleaning the hull from the ship's boats in afternoon.
Life on board has become much more endurable for we prisoners lately. The period of punishment came to an end one night when the doctor visited us and found us gasping from the heat & with the floor of the hold wet with sweat.
He interviewed the Kommandant at once & we were allowed on deck the same night.
We are now allowed on the poop-deck from early morning till 9 pm, except during gun-cleaning and drill.
The "Hotel du Wolfchen" is numbered with the past.
The petty quarreling was incessant the Melbourne-Scotsman & Jack actually stormed one morning because I wore pyjamas to "breakfast" (!)! Also, the juniors in the Oldest Inhabitant's room were always bickering with those of a more sober frame of mind (one morning the "bickering" took the form of a lump of horse-sausage deftly smacked into Captn Mud-gut's face when he ventured to express his opinion of the "Kindergarten" crowd)
So the "Hotel" was disbanded, Captains, C.O's & C.E's moved into the Oldest Inhabitant's room, the Juniors moved into the room next door, & the crew were put out on the main floor of the hold. A new regulation is that no hammock may remain slung during the day. Food continues poor, although the bread has improved (thanks to the "Wairuna's" flour.)
For breakfast we still have bread & coffee (a little butter or jam is doled out occasionally), the midday meal is sometimes pea-soup (thick, vile-smelling stuff) and sometimes "Mrs Crippen" and dried potatoes.
For supper we had "something to eat" on Tuesdays and Friday.
"Something" consisted usually of horse-sausage.
On Sundays we had quite a celebration usually soup, Mrs Crippen & dried spuds, & rice mixed with cinnamon.
At 3 pm on Sundays we usually got large quantities of excellent cocoa.
The Juniors are a cheery lot we amuse ourselves with leap-frog, "rough-houses" & singsongs on the poop. The Germans have given us a small awning which they took from the "Jumna" & we rig this daily between the dummy wheelhouse & the disguised gun. As there is no room for all under the awning a wild rush for places takes place after lunch.
The starboard side of the poop is reserved for officers, the port for the men, and these limits are kept moderately strictly. The seaplane is being repaired as quickly as possible. A gang of mechanics are making an entire new under-wing in our hold.
Sun 5th Aug.
Persistently rumoured for the last week that we are waiting for a Burns Philp steamer loaded with coal. The plane has been repaired for some days & makes regular patrols twice a day. We are in the vicinity of land, as the number of butterflies going over the ship shows.
5th Aug (cont.)
We are in the locality where the Australian submarine AE 2 disappeared in 1914. At abt 11 am this morning we were cruising slowly along when what looked very much like a periscope & conning tower appeared just ahead.
The "Wolf" swerved quickly & manoevred round an old banana palm!
The plane rose again at about 4 pm; at about 6 p.m. we were busy at tea when a rush took place on deck and the plane was hastily launched. A wireless message had been intercepted from our intended prize.
The plane rose, completed a huge circle around the horizon and finally located the vessel. The observer openly signalled with daylight rockets which were clearly outlined against a cloudy background. He fired one silver, one red, & two more silver rockets to mark the
Sun. Aug 5th (cont.)
position of the vessel & then returned. He was a considerable distance away when he signalled.
Mon. Aug 6th
Of course we were not allowed on deck in the early morning the "Wolf" was in full chase. At 7.30 am she fired a stopping shot.
From under the poop we saw the new prize stopped as we swung round her, but we did not recognise her as a Burns Philp boat in her coat of war-grey paint. However, we were allowed up on deck at about nine and recognised her as the "Matunga". At about 9.30 am. a load of prisoners came off in the boats. The first boat contained 3 military officers (Australian) & some soldiers. We were lining the poop-rails clad in our rags ("shorts", bath-towels, etc) and the new prisoners quite failed to recognise us as British! The second boat contained the ship's officers, among them being my old acquaintance Bob Taylor.
He failed to recognise me for quite 30 seconds in my "shorts", coat of sunburn, & boche haircut.
Mon. Aug 6th.
The weather was showery smooth sea. The "Wolf" did not linger long here, but set off at once in the direction of German New Guinea.
The "Matunga" has on board 20 passengers and a crew of 44, has 500 tons Westport naval coat & 900 tons general cargo. All particulars were wirelessed from Sydney some time ago (in clair) to Rabaul; the ship herself wirelessed at 6 pm last evening that she would arrive at Rabaul at 2 am. Tuesday morning. She didn't arrive.
Tue. 14th Aug.
Since the Matunga's: capture we have enjoyed the privilege of sleeping on deck under the awning. It has been glorious in comparison with our abominable prison under deck. We had little concerts each night after "lights out" at which Rees and "Thoraaaah" were prominent.
Had target practice one day the "Matunga" towing & wooden target and "Wolf" using Morris tubes in her guns.
The "Matunga" gave us a loud coo-ee as she swung round to follow again after the gun-practise.
This morning we came up the Straits outside the island of Waigiou. Some small native croft visible in the distance and many islands in vicinity (both volcanic and coral.)
The plane rose in the Straits, flew over the island and returned with an "alles klar" report.
The "Wolf" headed straight for the shore at about noon. We were sent underdeck as she approached the shore but saw most of the business from the poop-doors. The raider entered a magnificent harbour through an intricate & narrow channel which took her at times within a few yards of the beach. She finally dropped anchor in a land-locked sound which is a perfect harbour of wonderful beauty.
Tue. Aug 14th.
The mountains on the East side of the bay are almost bare, with red earth outcrops showing here and there through the undergrowth.
Those on the Western side are covered with thick tropical growth to the tops. The foreshores are a tangled mass of palms & mangroves. In a clearing on the beach just abreast of the "Wolf" is a village of the usual New Guinea houses on poles, but the appearance of the "Wolf" has caused the inhabitants to take to the hills.
At the far end of the bay a river apparently runs inland, two small islands guarding the entrance. At the other end of the bay is the entrance through which we entered, which turns abruptly through the hills a few hundred yards from our anchorage. The "Matunga" appeared at this entrance at 2 pm. and moved alongside.
(The bay is Offak Bay.)
Tue. Aug 14th.
We had scarcely anchored when the "Matunga" people came along to her stern and commenced throwing us apples, (a little practice which our Hun hosts quickly stopped.)
Conspicuous amongst them was a vision in white with emerald silk stockings and a very purple sunshade. We stared; - it is a long time since we saw anything like that.
"Regulations" came into force again here with great severity.
We are to be below at sunset every night. Willie the Beautiful read us the orders and told us that if we tried to escape the guard would "us shoot" but if we should happen to dodge the guard the natives finish us "being uncultivated and cannibal" The hatch is now covered in with mosquito netting and work has already commenced on the "Matungas" cargo.
Part of the "Matunga's" crew came on board tonight, including the Purser and Assistant in immaculate whites. I made George Pyne's acquaintance in a bath towel & almost blushed at the contrast.
It is absolute hell in the hold of a night. This bay has a close, muggy heat that one never gets on the open sea, and to be herded in the filthy hold all night is positive torture.
None of us can possibly wear any clothes and the decks are sopping with sweat.
We have a roll-call at 8 each night. (Rees reminded all and sundry within hearing distance of "the pyjama incident" when the Amiable One toddled out to roll-call in an old bunk-curtain. Garments consisting only of a small curtain do not suit the middle aged and portly, as Rees cruelly remarked.)
Fri 17th Aug.
A rather exciting night last evening.
At 11 pm a revolver was discharged amongst us by the German sentry. We woke, naturally.
The shot was the signal for pandemonium on deck, the Germans thinking we were trying to escape en masse. The open hatchway was quickly ringed round with Huns holding ugly-looking hand grenades, which they were apparently quite willing to drop amongst us at the least opportunity.
The searchlights flashed out, star shells were fired, & then the machine guns began to rattle over our heads and rifles commenced to crack. Alligators in the water had been taken by our guards (half drunk on the "Matunga's" whiskey) to be escaping prisoners.
Fri 17th Aug. (cont.)
When the hullabaloo on deck had quietened a little, "Little Willie" and and escort bravely ventured down amongst us (flourishing revolvers) and marshalled each ship's crew in turn up under the poop-deck.
Ober-Leutnant Rose was supporting himself against a bulkhead quite drunk, giggling foolishly and waving a revolver at us.
There were some funny little incidents Capt. Wickman ("Jumna") thought that deliverance or mutiny was at hand and appeared in a gorgeous, much-creased uniform with about five rings and a curl which had not hitherto seen the light since his capture.
He intended to either save or die in his glittering gold braid.
A favourable pastime on board is stealing food from the captured ship's stores as it comes on board.
The crews are not allowed to bring any of their own food with them. We smuggled some tinned goods over from the "Wairuna" and the stolid old Flying-master found this out and waddled down and demanded it at once. If it was not handed up we we to be punished for "stealing German goods!!" Our our food, too! I managed to slip some white bait away, but was caught by Mines with a bag of sugar on my shoulder! He was in a jovial mood and did not "strafe" me.
"Johnny the Greek" got away with a bag and retailed small amounts to different prisoners on various terms. Captain Meadows is expert at "lifting."
We are getting quite a harvest from the "Matunga", including huge quantities of raw onions which we gulp down.
Mon. 20th Aug.
The natives have been around in a few outriggers trading with the Germans. (We are not allowed to approach the rails. A sentry sees to that.)
The sight of the hun hogs wading into green coconuts and pineapples while we can only get a decent drink of water when it rains is sufficient to make us sweat blood.
It seems to rain regularly in this bay every afternoon about 2 pm.
The clouds collect in the hollow between the hills; we have a drenching tropical downpour for about 10 minutes and then the sun comes out again. The showers are very welcome for washing purposes:- we save all the water we can in tin buckets. The heat is terrific. At night (we are still locked in the hold at sunset) our quarters are indescribable.
Tue. 21 Aug.
Ill last night. Violent pains. A dose of opium (tincture) which I got from Fritz of the hospital in the early morning was almost as welcome as a release-order. Went into hospital this morning. The hospital (including a small operating room and a dispensary) is on the main deck under the bridge. 4 swinging cots and 3 bunks in the main room; another small room with four bunks is just across the passage. It is a fearful place; all artificial light; (the only bunk which gets any daylight is the one squeezed away in the top corner.) The orderlies are incompetent, careless, and slovenly. Wolf the Omart is a very decent chap but he is quite incompetent.
Rees is in the next bed, "lead-swinging"
Sun. 26th Aug.
The "Matunga" was emptied, all rubbish put into her holds, and at 11 am the two vessels put to sea.
In the muggy unventilated hospital we gasped with relief as we felt the sea-breezes again; we shall never forget Affak Bay. At abt 2.15 pm we stopped in the straits before Waigiouu & the "Matunga" was bombed.
I pulled myself up to the port-hole and saw her just before she sank, but did not actually see her go under owing to a "spasm" coming on.
The old ship made noises like a crockery warehouse collapsing as she went down. "Wolf" left then for Singapore.
Sat. 1st Sept.
My "cure" took the drastic form complete starvation for 7 days, then condensed milk for a few more days.
Today the horses which were brought from the "Matunga" appeared for the first time and I dined sumptuously on roast horse and sauer-kraut, preceded by meat soup with prunes in it.
I took one sip of the awful sweet soup (a favourite German dish) and then rushed away to be violently ill. However, I came back and did full justice to the horse and sauer-kraut (with dried potatoes), which tasted delicious to me in my condition of semi-starvation.
Horse has a distinctive flavour and odor but is quite edible.
Mon. 3rd Sept.
Last night was exciting not to say thrilling.
After the lights are out in the hospital the iron covers are permitted to be lifted from the ports and a little air is permitted in. (I have to ask Fritz to do this nearly every night a German would never voluntarily open a window unless to look out of it.) Well the ship was plodding along as usual and everything was quiet when the clanging of the big electric alarms brought me from Dreamland with a rush.
Mon. 3rd Sept. (cont.)
All of those on board who "traded East" had said that the "Wolf" would never reach Singapore with her mines the patrols are too vigilant.
We met a patrol-boat now and "Wolf" cleared for action with over a hundred mines in no 3 hold! The ship was buzzing before the alarms had ceased ringing.
The iron shutters were clamped on the port-holes the purplish-blue glass shades in use all over the ship lowered all necessary lights to a minimum the operating-theatre was cleared for use sheets flung over all the beds (the patients had all hobbled out to their posts) on deck the guns and torpedo tubes were manned and then dead silence.
The patrol boat was coming up on us, and "Wolf" intended to bluff through as an ordinary merchantmen if possible.
The compressed air was clearly audible hissing away in the torpedo tube not six feet from my bunk; the torpedo-doors had been lowered (I heard the slight metallic clang as they touched the ship's sides) and the crew were now lying flat on deck.
I could see none of this through the bulkhead of course but I could imagine it only too clearly.
In the hospital the two doctors stood under the blue lights, first-aid action packs on their shoulders. They were staring fixedly through the door and waiting.
And I the only patient still in the hospital had to sit on my bunk and look coolly composed as I sat there fanning myself.
Inwardly I was shivering all over and "Hail-Marys" were rushing through my head at a terrible rate but I was surprised to find myself under excellent control to all outward appearances. I event managed to crack a joke with Wolfe.
Mon 3rd Sep. (cont.)
We bluffed through it may have been minutes or it may have been hours later when the torpedo doors were lifted and the tension slackened.
The chief doctor was quite green in the face (he is a fine chap really but his heart is weak and goes back on him at moments like this.)
The young doc. with the round tortoise-shell spectacles and the face like a benevolent, educated old sow was, however, as cool as if doing his usual morning rounds!
Hans Biester, our boastful fat orderly, was an arrant coward.
This morning I asked to be allowed aft again when the Doc. came to see me. "Na, my leetle English friend, how did you like the cruiser?" he asked.
"Oh, that!" I replied indifferently, "that is nothing".
"Nothing!" he queried, with a twinkle in his eye. And then he winked!
The old boy has a sense of humour.
Wed. 5th Sept.
Yesterday I left the hospital and came aft again.
She reached the entrance to the Straits safely and all night was busy mine-laying. "Wolf" laid the most complicated fields she would run for 15 minutes and drop a couple of mines would then go on again and drop a few more, etc.
She laid 110 mines, and it is a field which will not easily be swept up last night's work is going to cost many lives.
As daylight came on the work was completed and the Germans cheered loudly on deck.
The mine-laying did not prevent me from sleeping well even the cheers did not wake me.
This morning we saw a welcome sight through the holes in the bulkhead, - the mine-chamber was absolutely empty and our chances of being blown kite-high by a single lucky shot from a patrol-boat are much reduced.
We are making our way out of the Java Sea by cutting across towards the coast of Borneo. Have sighted many islands and ships, but the "clear for action" alarm only sounded once. We were all on the poop after sunset this evening. It was just dark. The Junior crowd occupied the usual "rough-house" corner beside the dummy wheel-house and were having a "sing-song".
Under cover of the singing a "float" with a message tied to it was being prepared from a football bladder. Just as the float was about to be dumped there was a commotion on deck. Meadows was on the same kind of business and the sentry had caught him! The float (a bottle) was still in his hand when the sentry rushed him. He punched the hun back and dumped the bottle over the side.
"Little Willie" rushed along flourishing a revolver and screaming
These Germans always scream like Italian soprani in death-scenes when they get excited. The crowd was hustled below and Meadows was taken forward to the cells.
Thur. 6th Sept.
No lights were allowed whatever in the hold. It was such utter darkness that one could not see anything it was as though we had all gone blind. Of course we could not swing hammocks, we lay around on the floor after grabbing the Blankets from the nearest hammock.
Sun. 9th Sept.
Running along what is apparently the Java Coast all days.
Very high volcanic mountains, the tops hidden in cloud.
A vessel keeping just ahead all day. At about 4 pm we turned at right angles and steered straight for what was apparently the coast. It was, however, the entrance to Lombok Straits. Towards dusk we were close in to the straits.
The island on the starboard bow was very mountainous; a high cloud-topped and apparently active volcano was close to the straits with copra plantations and mills clearly visible at the foot. The land to port was flatter and covered with mangroves.
The sea was a deep jade-green. All prisoners were sent under-deck at 6 pm. but through the canvas curtain we could see that the straits were quite narrow. On coming on deck next morning the vessel was in the open Indian Ocean, no land in sight and steering West.
Thur. 13th Sept.
A most wonderful sunset today. The whole of the western sky was a brilliant red and gold; the black-painted ship herself was covered in a brilliant golden glare.
The colours gradually faded through all the shades of red and rose.
Wed. 26th Sept.
We are now approximately on the Colombo-African track.
Have had a bad time on this last lap. On many occasions we had no water at all for 24 hours; on two or three occasions we had none at all for 48 hours. An amount (not too much) of tea which was left over from the crew's meals was handed out in the evenings instead. When the little kettles of water would come down they would be rushed and emptied at once; there was really severe suffering from thirst.
Today the seaplane was re-slipped from the bottom hold and rose at 11 am. A vessel was sighted; the plane returned at once and reported.
Much "jollification" among the Germans; they thought she was a harmless tramp. At about 2 pm the plane rose again and "Wolf" steamed the vessel. The stopping shot was fired from forward at abt 3 pm.
Wed 26th Sept. (cont.)
Immediately after the stopping shot the bulwarks crashed down and the full armament was cleared for action.
A few beams had been left out of the hatch and through this some of us were watching the German ensign and pennant flying from the main mast when a sheet of flame shot over the hatch, we were all knocked backwards by the air-concussion, the hold filled with thick yellow smoke, and all loose timber, bolts etc clattered down on the deck.
The other vessel was imitating the "Clan McTavish-Moewe" [indecipherable], and was trying to use her anti-U-boat gun. I have no idea as to the number of shots which we fired, but the other ship did not get a single shell in. The flash had been the from the "Wolf's" guns as they were fired across the deck above our heads.
A couple of broadsides were sufficient to bring everything movable to the deck.
Dust, splinters of wood, bolts, and lyddite fumes filled the hold; the Australian corporal yelled out that all were to ly flat on the deck to avoid splinters.
Very few needed any urging to do this.
The Mauritius niggers produced huge rosaries and prayed volubly. After the other vessel had had sufficient the lift-boats full of passengers and crew were brought alongside "Wolf".
Those rescued were bundled into the former mine-chamber, no 3 hold. Men, women, and children were all mixed up together.
In one corner (we were looking through the rivet-holes in the bulk-head) was a group of Europeans including a few women. The women were calm but very pale.
Wed. 26th Sept (cont.)
In another was a picturesque little group of Asiatic women.
A little old woman was sitting in a deck chair, squatting around her was a pretty little kimono-clad Jap. woman, a Chinese girl in blue trousers and a little child.
This group were smiling and placidly chattering in marked contrast to the English women.
An enormous number of men were squatting around, many kimono-clad, others in white.
We were allowed on deck at about 8 pm to find the "Wolf" steaming on a set course at full speed with her prize at the port quarter.
Before we came on to the poop a few corpses could be seen lying on no 3 hatch. They were put over the side at about 7 pm.
Thur. 27th Sept.
Another burial at 8 am. Nerger attended himself, together with his and the Jap. officers.
Thu. 27th Feb.[Sept.]
We are through an archipelago of coral islands the Maldives.
At about midday we passed very close to a couple of beautiful little islets of purely coral origin we were so close that we could have thrown a biscuit across the reef to the natives on the beach.
We entered through a gap in the reef and anchored in the centre of an enormous circle of coral with islands threaded on to it here and there for all the world like green beads on a white necklet string. There are several gaps in the reef but there is nevertheless no hope of getting out if a war-ship should happen along.
This group of atolls is only a few hundred miles from Colombo and one would scarcely imagine even "Wolf" having the impudence to anchor like this in such a place.
A couple of dhows are hanging around in the offing.
Thu. 27th Sep.
At about 3 p.m. the prize followed us in and anchored alongside.
She is the monthly mail steamer of the N.Y.K. line en route from Yokohama to Liverpool; the "Hitachi Maru" twin screw 6500 tons. She left Colombo for Delagoa Bay on the 24th and had on board a crew of 117 and 55 passengers.
Passengers include three Englishwomen, a half-caste and a Chinese woman, a Jap. stewardess and a small child. Male passengers are a number of Englishmen (mostly en route to England to enlist), several Japanese (including a naval lieut-commander en route to the Mediterranean), Indians, and a group to Portugese soldiers (in uniform) on leave from Macao.
The Germans give the number killed yesterday as 20, including two Indian passengers.
The bombardment has severely damaged the vessel, especially aft. The passengers were evidently having their afternoon siesta when the first shots were fired and the promenades show the signs of their hasty exits to the boats. Cane lounges heaped with cushions are lying around amongst pools of blood, fans and chocolate boxes are scattered around among the shell splinters. The after-promenade has been torn up by splinters, part of the rail and the entire companionway leading to the boat deck have been shot away.
The gun (a modern 4.7) is surrounded by pools of blood and ghastly lumps of human flesh what was once a Jap. gunner is now splattered over the auxiliary wheel house, in clotted lumps.
Thu. 27th Sep. (cont.)
The funnel has been opened by a shell, another has passed through the wireless-room. Blood everywhere. A cane-lounge with a draught-board beside it is soaked with the blood of a wounded man who was placed in it the draught pieces are lying in the pool of blood underneath.
Sun. 30th Sept.
The "Maru" is being patched up and made sea-worthy:- we were strongly of the opinion that she was to be sent into Batavia with us on board as another "Appam" prize-court case.
This afternoon, as we sat under the awning aft and discussed what we going to do in Batavia, (Robby was selling imaginary passage-tickets on the "Hitachi" at 20 above par), a horrified rumour-carrier rushed along with the report that most of the Japs. were then being brought over to the "Wolf"! And it was true! our hopes of going to Batavia went down to zero.
Robby offered his 100-ticket-stock at 80 below par and Christie sold me his best white topee for 2/-.
Tue. 2nd Oct.
This morning the men over 60 and boys under 16 were taken on board the "Maru", the passengers were allowed to remain on board, the women and their husbands went over from here, Webbie also went. We are to leave on a regular Black-Flag piratical cruise tomorrow whilst the "Maru" remains here as a base. After the crowd had gone I found a luckless wight, very English, sitting at the entrance to our "maisonette" with his worldly goods gathered around him in cabin trunks and suit-cases. "Hello! What did they send you over here for" said I.
"Good God! Are you English?" said he with a gasp of horror.
I was attired in a pair of once-white "shorts" and a haircut a la Boche and looked "just like a Cingalese" as he carefully explained.
Tue. 2nd Oct.
I further gathered that he was one Crawley, of Thomas Cooks, Colombo, and had been sent here because he was attired in the uniform of the Colombo Rifle Club in the photo on the back of his passport.
Also "those aboard the "Heetarchi" were all quite sure none of you were English, you are burnt quite black and no Englishman could possibly walk around at mid-day without hats as you people do!"
One sees the most beautiful sun-rises over the coral-reef from the stern of "Wolf". The Japs. sleep on the poop of the "Hitachi" in kimonos on little straw mats and as the sun cam up this morning like a huge pink pearl through the faint mists they all knelt round in a circle and prayed to the Rising Sun.
The little Jap. stewardess looked quite pretty in her kimono as she knelt there, but when she later changed into her English Stewardesses rig - !
Wed 5th Oct.
At 5.30 am. "Wolf" pulled away from "Hitachi" and steamed out onto the trade route.
We all felt that we would have gladly exchanged the excitement for a peaceful transfer to the "Hitachi" as she lay behind us, placidly at anchor.
Dr Flood etc stood at the rails and waved "good-luck" to us as we pulled out.
Plane rose at 2.30 pm
Thu. 4th Oct.
"Wolf" is cruising up and down on the one route changing from N.E. to S.W. every few hours or so.
Sat. 6th Oct.
At 2 am this morning the alarm bell rang. All cleared for action on deck. I managed to slip up to the poop door in the bustle on deck the guns and tubes were manned, it was a clear moonlight night, and a warrant officer was focusing on a mark on the starboard beam.
We were hustled below and the torpedo doors fell.
Sat 6th Oct (cont.)
The "Wolf" was examing a neutral (without revealing her identity) when what was taken to be a British auxiliary cruiser was sighted.
The hatches were closed on us, our one exit was covered with an iron grating which was further held down by huge sacks of dried peas!
There were to be no prisoner-survivors if "Wolf" went to the bottom, that was evident!
The vessel was not an auxiliary, merely the usual armed merchantman. "Wolf" chased her hard all night, but when morning broke she was too far off to be caught.
She was clearly visible on our port beam looked like a big Blue Funnel Liner.
When she was out of sight "Wolf" turned on his tracks and made straight for the base.
Sat 6th Oct (cont.)
The vessel had evidently reported us by wireless as "suspicious" (I was told this by one of the German crew.)
Outside of the reef "Wolf" hove-to and sent "Wolfchen" in to the Jap. with instructions to "beat it quickly while the going is good" (or it's equivalent in German.) Just as "Wolfchen" had disappeared a heavy wind and rain squall came up a dhow in the offing was beaten about badly and the Germans were very anxious for the safety of their loved "Wolfchen". She finally appeared, a moving speck in the squall-clouds, and when she was finally on deck pilot and observer shook hands. They had had a narrow squeak. "Wolf" steamed off on a S.W. course at full speed.
Thu 11th Oct.
An alarm in the morning which turned out to be only practice; but it sufficed to kill 2nd mate Johnson of the "Beluga". Heart-failure. Strange to say there are 13 of us at table (or were before he died.)
Fri 12th Oct.
The body was laid on the hatch covered with an American flag and at 9 am he was buried from one of the gun-doors under the starboard gun. We all dressed for the occasion (it was the first time most of us had had socks on for months).
The show of uniforms was rather dazzling, but most of them were well streaked with mildew and creases. Capt. Olsen read a short service. The "Hitachi" was met later in the morning and we patrolled in company.
There is no sign of any vessel so far we are now in the vicinity of Mauritius.
Sun. 14th Oct.
The "Hitachi" left us today and "Wolf" resumed the patrol solus.
Sat. 20th Oct.
Quite openly the Germans say that the "Hitachi" was to have been sent to Germany as a prison-ship and prize. Since no coal-ship has been caught the condition of the bunkers does not permit the Jap. vessel to be kept any longer. She is to be sunk. Today we again met her and proceeded to the Carcados atolls.
These consist of a long semi-circular reef, convex to the East, sandy atolls, some quite bare of vegetation and only two others showing a few clusters of palms, are threaded on the reef here and there.
The entrance to the anchorage is full of shoals; "Wolf" felt his way in with the lead-line.
Old Martin, whose home is in Mauritius, only a couple of hundred miles from here, says that he has been here before, that the place is inhabited by ex-convicts etc. from Mauritius. Is also visited by fishing boats.
Sat. 20th Oct.
There are no signs of life whatever, although Martin says there is a settlement on one of the atolls.
The Germans did not send out landing parties here, as at Sunday Island, Waigiou, and the Maldives.
The "Hitachi" followed us in and tied up alongside; the decks well filled with passengers and our ex-companions, now attired in spotless garb. They do look disconsolate at the thought of again partaking of "Wolf's" hospitality.
Webb in particular; on the night he went aboard the Jap. ship he amused the gloomy groups on the "Wolf's" poop by playing "Pack up your troubles in your Old Kit Bag" on the "Hitachi's" saloon piano and singing it in a cracked baritone.
He needs someone to sing it to him now. The stewardess and "the Deluge" sent very scandalous rumours about each other back to the highly delighted crowd aft.
Thu. 1st Nov.
The "Hitachi" is having the more valuable portion of her cargo brought on board. Silks, crepes, copper bars, zinc are going into the lower holds of "Wolf", and literally thousands of cases of tinned Japanese crab.
We had one splendid meal the first Sunday after "Wolf" caught the "Hitachi" when we got fresh potatoes, the fresh fish from (ostensibly) the "Hitachi", and two halves each of tinned apricots. Today we got some of the tinned crab for the evening meal.
It was delicious, exquisite but if we had known that we were to get crab, and practically nothing else but crab, for the next three months it would not have tasted so good.
Preparations are being made for many more prisoners.
The mine-rails were torn up, both on deck and in no 3 hold, some time ago. Number three hold is now being subdivided up for the "Hitachi" prisoners.
I have not yet mentioned our fishing parties. At each anchorage all the prisoners would spend a lot of time fishing over the rails. The lines were made from unravelled canvas; the hooks from bent iron. At Sunday Island, indeed, the Commandant actually allowed a party out in a boat to fish (on parole and with machine guns trained on them. Also, there was method in his benevolence; most of the fish was taken for the Germans!)
At the Maldives huge fish of the most brilliant colours were caught, gorgeous things weighing anything up to 50 lbs and coloured more brilliantly then parrots.
One species resembled an enormous bream and the scales were coloured in dazzling deep salmon tints.
As a rule each table caught fish for itself.
Our table did well since old Martin was an expert fisherman.
The burial of a Japanese who had died from beri-beri gave the fastidious qualms about eating the fish which we caught here at the Carcados.
Tue. 6th Nov.
The loot which the Huns want has been brought over: all aboard the "Hitachi" came over to "Wolf" today.
Wed. 7th Nov.
The two vessels put to sea today at 8.30 a. (the "Eastern squadron of the Imperial German Navy" as a wag put it). The "Eastern squadron" steamed out through the shoals and at 1.30 pm hove to in the open sea.
"Hitachi" flew the German Ensign. A bomb exploded on each side of her forward well-deck at 1.45 and she slowly commenced to settle by the head on an even keel.
At 2.12 pm. her stern rose high into the air as she dived; her propellers flashed for a moment and she had gone. Wreckage kept shooting to the surface for some time; many deck houses, booms, etc floated.
Thu. 8th Nov.
"Wolf" is on the trade-routes, heading S.W.
The raider is now crammed with prisoners, the women with their husbands and the military officers living amidships; the male passengers (European) in a small partitioned-off space in no 3 hold.
The latter "saloon" boasts a piano, 11 ordinary cabin bunks and two wicker chairs and is thus quite elaborate (for the "Wolf".) Also, they have been promised "food from the German Officer's Mess", which means that they are handed the omnipresent tinned crab on a plate instead of in it's "native" tin.
Possibly to prevent conspiracy the different groups of prisoners are separated more or less strictly.
The poop is sacred to the merchant-service, (port side for men, starboard for officers,); the starboard after-well deck is for passengers, the port side for Japanese.
The ladies are permitted to visit the after well-deck to gossip at certain times.
The after-well deck (chiefly planter's apprentices, minor civil servants etc) is clinging to the outer semblances of civilisation to the last and still looks with horror at the sun-burnt semi-nudity on the poop.
This grim disapproval affected me to such an extent that I attired myself in a once-white tennis shirt and a pair of shoes in addition to the usual "shorts" when I visited the "well" to sit among the Highly Respectable and to munch crab-sandwiches with Webbie and Kennedy under the torpedo-tube this evening. Smithy quite blossomed out; he sailed out to meet Mrs Flood in an elaborate tennis negligee and a borrowed white topee! That lady, by some mysterious means, still appears in well-laundered whites resting usually on a foundation of cerise or emerald silk hose.
An admiring train usually follows bearing cushions, etc. (not forgetting the purple brolly.) In comparison with the other female-prisoners she looks quite brilliant. (The others are mostly "primly-respectable".
Sat. 10th Nov.
Awoke this morning to find the now quite familiar episodes attendant on a chase by the raider in full swing.
The hatches were closed down, a flutter of excitement on deck above our heads and old Martin was grinding his teeth under my hammock and prophecying in broken English that the quarry was a French mail-boat, armed for and aft and preparing to give the raider and all on board (including us! of course) speedy dissolution! At 7 am the bulwarks dropped and the prize surrendered without even a stopping shot being necessary. The rumour immediately went round that a Spaniard loaded with coal had been captured this proved to be correct. At about 8 pm we went on the poop to see the deeply loaded prize waddling along on the port quarter.
She is perhaps the most valuable prize to "Wolf" that the raider has yet caught since the coal problem is now solved for months to come.
Sat 10th Nov. (cont.)
The Spaniard is the "Igotz Mendi" of Bilboa.
She is brilliantly painted in comparison with the war-grey of all allied vessels at present, the hull being French-grey, masts and upper works white, funnel yellow with a red A.S. monogram. She is en route from Delagoa Bay with about 6000 tons of coal for the admiralty at Colombo.
The vessels are heading back through a slightly choppy sea to the Carcados anchorage.
Rumours say that the Jap. cruiser "Tsuschima" is amongst those searching this neighbourhood for the "Hitachi". Opinions are divided, sharply divided, as to whether it would be beneficial or otherwise to we prisoners if the Jap. met "Wolf".
The majority (including self) favour the latter opinion.
Tue. 13th Nov.
We returned to the Carcados at about 9 am. "Ingotz Mendi" following and tying up alongside. She is one of the new standard ships and deplorably dirty at close quarters.
On the afterdeck is quite a farm-yard a couple cows ditto pigs and a number of fowls strut around led by a bedraggled chanticleer.
The Germans got busy at once, the coal commenced to come over to "Wolf's" bunkers. Wireless was fitted on the Spaniard and the poop is being fitted with accommodation for the women and their husbands.
A wireless scare in the afternoon. Cruisers in vicinity. Axes were laid alongside the mooring ropes, the plane was hastily re-assembled and rose at 3 pm. The plane is now covered with thin tussore raw silk. This was, of course, a complete failure on the return of "Wolfchen" the new covering was in huge rents.
The women were sent over to the other ship at 5 pm, also Col Strangman, another old fellow and our second officer Rees.
Rees; by industrious doping, has made himself sick for months and he is now reaping his reward.
It is an open secret that "Wolf" is going on the prowl for a passenger vessel which she requires to send to Germany as a prison-ship now that plenty of coal is available.
Sat 17th Nov.
The "Imperial German Eastern Squadron" again left the Carcados. "Ingotz" now painted black.
At sunset the "Ingotz" steamed off on the S.W. course, "Wolf", however, steering due E. A clever manoeuvre, since as soon as the "Mendi" was out of sight "Wolf" swung round herself onto the S.W. course. The idea, of course, was to ensure that those aboard "Mendi" would know nothing of the "Wolf's" whereabouts if "Mendi" happened to be captured.
Sun 18th Nov.
My 21st birthday. Our table is now divided for special occasions such as this into two halves, and the lower half today held a cheerless sort of celebration.
Being Sunday our dinner consisted of soup, (made from the horses bones. The same bones have been used over and over again. One day I was served up a shoulder-blade which had once belonged to some Sydney horse.) Then came Mrs Crippen unnatural and dried potatoes.
To this was added today beer and lemonade. Smithy, George, Bob, Jackson, Woods all responded to Lynchs mournful wail "Oh well good health, old man and (tears almost flowing) may it be better next year.
At the other end of the table are McCaughey, old Martin & Richardson; with whom we have now declared war over an issue of butter or something.
This mess-room of ours now boasts a supply of silver looted from some of the ships.
The stewards got away with most of it but the next table boasts a big dented plated horror of a tea-pot which is fought for by the other table on an average once during each three meals.
Thu. 22nd Nov.
We are now well down towards the Cape the first albotrosses we have seen for many months arrived today two of them.
Fri. 23rd Nov.
Smooth, heavy swell.
Hundreds of birds flying round the vessel mostly the black Cape Pigeons and albatrosses.
Off the Cape; have crossed all the Australian and Asiatic trade routes without any success; this morning "Wolf" swung North again to re-cross the various trade-routes.
A bad week for me.Two days ago the Younger Butcher carved my foot; yesterday I had to return to the hospital with violent pains. A vessel captured this morning; I knew nothing of the capture till Bob told me during a visit to the hospital.
Sat. Dec 1st.
Leave hospital. Beautiful clear smooth weather with a heavy ground swell.
The new prize, a barque, is lying off the "Wolf" with most sail set.
We are only 100 miles from Pt Elizabeth. The ship is the old wool-clipper "Avenger", re-commissioned after being salved from an American beach and re-named "John H. Kirby". Captain A. Blom, crew 16. New York to Port Elizabeth with general cargo including 270 automobiles. At noon two bombs exploded on her starboard hull; she immediately listed heavily and sank in 2 mins. 15 secs.
Sun 2nd Dec.
"Wolf" has abandoned the passenger-ship chase and is rounding the Cape in perfectly clear smooth weather. Sandy caused a mild sensation by vowing that he had sighted a patrolling sea-plane while lying on deck.
A cautious rush to the deck followed, but the plane was not seen any more.
Sat. 15th Dec.
On Mon 3rd Dec. I entered hospital just before the "Wolf" rounded into the Atlantic on a N. Westerly course. The doctor told me frankly that I had appendicitis, that there was not sufficient anaesthetic on board to operate, and that the only chance was complete starvation.
A couple of days later the white screens where brought out and they were told aft to prepare for another burial.
But I refused to die and am still pushing along although I have had nothing but a little ice since I entered hospital and am deplorably weak. Webbie has been splendid; he has come along to the hospital and when he came the patients (including self) got the first bath they had had for ages.
The German orderlies never wash anybody or anything.
Am semi-conscious most of the time being heavily "doped" with morphine and opium.
Sat. 15th Dec. (cont.)
A sail was sighted last night and I was dozing off this morning when the gun went off just outside my porthole. It is the 3 masted barque "Marechal Davout" Nantes, fitted with wireless and two 9 c.m. guns. Captain Louis Bret and crew of 30, including six naval gunners. All French. Melbourne-Dacca with wheat. The vessel was sunk in afternoon.
Mon 24th Dec.
Christmas Eve, and very miserable. The two vessels were about to go into Trinidad (believed uninhabited) a few days ago to coal when a wireless station on the island commenced working. "Wolf" immediately turned South and is spending Christmas hove to in mid-Atlantic with the "Ingotz Mendi" close by. The band was on the forward deck playing carols.
Mines and the Doc. came round visiting. Mines has tact he said "Good luck" instead of "a Happy (!) Christmas.
Tue. 25th Dec
Christmas Day. I have just completely starved for three weeks and have had milk for the last few days and today I got a small piece of pork, sauer kraut, potatoes and coconut cakes!
Moans, morphia, and almost an inquest in the evening in consequence. In the afternoon a gramophone came into the ward and the Germans took a huge delight in playing "Rule Britannia" and "God Save". Webbie, who was cheering me up with extracts from the Bible, rushed out and "attentioned" during three verses of "God Save" sung by a cracked baritone, to the huge delight of the Huns. They made him take an encore. A small Christmas Tree came in at night, Wolfe the Omart turned all the lights out, lit the candles on the tree, and played sentimental songs of the Fatherland on a mandolin till the tree caught fire and interrupted the "music".
Wed. 26th Dec.
The "Igotz" came alongside and coaling commenced. The two vessels are bumping heavily, even dangerously. The heat is stifling, the port-holes closed, and the place covered with coal dust.
Thu. 27th Dec.
The "Ingotz" cast off at 6 pm, (the rolling of the vessels was causing very dangerous bumping) and the ports were permitted to be opened. I staggered over to the port and absolutely gulped down the fresh air. and had my first glimpse of the Atlantic.
It was a glorious clear evening, the water rising and falling over "Wolf's" port torpedo tube was a deep ultramarine and a brilliant planet was rising in the dusk.
At about 5.30 pm Bob rushed along to the hospital with The Very Latest Rumour. We were off at 7 pm and it had definitely been decided to rush the blockade. He recommended asking for a transfer to the "Mendi".
I sent for the Younger Butcher and protested against being taken through the blockade area in the "Wolf" in my present state of health and asked to be transferred to "Ingotz Mendi". "Blokahd my leetle English frient! What are you saying? The Kommandant will never attempt to run the "Blokahd". No. No! We shall be in a neutral port quite soon yes. Now take this and go to sleep."
And I believed him, he lied so convincingly.
We left at 7 pm. steering N.E.
Tue. 1st Jan.
New Year's Day. In the afternoon several patients were carried forward under the awning near the foc'sl head. I was carried along on a bamboo chaise-longue. Winton and the little Jap. Nagayama were next to me. The band played "Deutschland uber Alles", Die Wacht am Rhein", and Wagner and Waldteufel walzes.
Tue. 1st Jan.
At the conclusion of the programme they played the Hamburger "homeward-bound" song and all the Germans sang the chorus in very excited fashion, demanded an encore, and wildly cheered the strutting bantam-cock on the bridge.
The chorus went:-
"Holdrio, es geht nach Heimat.
"Holdrio, yur schonen Heimat.
"Holdrio, es geht nach Heimat,
"Holder-rie-ei-rie-ei-rie es gaht nach Haus'."
And musical snobs try to tell us that English popular songs are so inferior to the German and French.
Fri. 4th Jan
Sail sighted 8 am, passed at 11.30. Being neutral the vessel was passed, but a little later mein Herr Kommandant decided to sink her since "dead Neutrals tell no tales".
I watched the chase from the port-hole, the full armament was swung on to the vessel and she surrendered.
She was a large 4-masted barque, the Norwegian flag plainly visible at her main. She was in full sail. The vessel was sunk at 11 pm. The "Storo brero", Beira-Montevideo in ballast with a neutral crew of 31. We had some hopes of being sent in to a South American port when it was found she was a neutral, but
Thu. 10th Jan.
Have had an hour on deck each day since New Year's day. Concerts by band on Sunday afternoons.
Today was observed as a Sunday by the crew owing to the number of Sundays worked during the coalings. "Mendi" alongside at six pm. Our position is approximately on the Equator.
Nagayama and Ohara, our two Jap. patients, gave an amusing little Japanese "song recital" this evening. Ohara took the shrill falsetto, Nagayama strummed the tempo in a lower key.
Thu 10th Jan.
Ohara is usually clad in brown kimonos. Nagayama usually affects white grounds with saxe butterflies. Now and then he appears resplendent in heavy black silk.
The hatred of the English comes out now that they are under the German flag Nagayama prophesied that Australia would soon be under the Rising Sun during a fit of temper recently.
Bumping heavily. "Mendi" cast off at 6 pm and we started North.
Heavy storm during last night.
Black Silva took the lightning for English searchlights and almost had a heart seizure.
"Wolf" is leaking heavily; "Ingotz Mendi" bent and started several plates as she crashed against our hull during the recent coalings.
The water can be heard swishing about underneath the hospital deck, but there is no immediate danger.
Thu. 17th Jan.
Disease is beginning to spread on board.
A long line of scurvy-stricken prisoners line up outside the hospital door twice daily; their condition is gradually growing worse.
The food is mostly to blame; since the "Hitachi" was caught they have lived almost entirely on canned crab ("Hitachi" had 10,000 cases aboard) and disgusting mixture of dried peas, beans, and "Mrs Crippen". Very little lime-juice has been supplied. It is significant that the German crew have not contracted scurvy: they have had lime-juice regularly and, of course, plenty of exercise on deck, the prisoners, on the other hand, are now literally rotting with scurvy in the filthy holds.
There was typhoid on board at the Maldives:- we were all inoculated three times against this.
Several Japs. died of beri-beri.
Thu. 17th Jan. (cont.)
Also, many of the Japanese are in various stages of syphilis. One half-rotten wretch was brought into the hospital today and occupies the next bed to me!
He is supposed to be quarantined but the "quarantine" consists of the Germans washing their hands whenever they touch him.
Another patient is my old pal, "Josh" (otherwise Cadet E.C. Cuthill.) On Christmas day a cow and 3 pigs were killed the prisoners got minute portions of the cow, dried potatoes and a kind of pinkish jelly. The "jelly" was boiling hot when served out and as Josh was bringing a huge tinful along to this table he stumbled and fell down a companion-way. He was severely burnt by the sticky mess but worst of all the table lost their Christmas "pudding".
Tue. 18th Jan.
A sailing vessel was passed at noon. "Wolf" did not attack, for some reason known only to mein Herr Kommandant.
In a heavy sea we steered S.E. during the morning. (the usual rumour "We are bound for Las Palmas to intern"). Met "Ingotz" again in the afternoon and parted again soon after. position 30 degrees N.
The Kaiser's birthday and a hurricane. A terrific sea is running, the hurricane deck over our heads is awash and "Wolf" if rolling on to her beam ends. It quite amused me to hear my German Kamerad in the next bed screaming in terror.
A table crashed down aft and split 3rd Officer "Sandy's" leg almost from knee to ankle.
He is in the new hospital which has been rigged up aft to accommodate some of the more serious scurvy cases. There is no room for all in hospital. We are about 35 degrees North.
Sat. 2nd Feb.
The ship presents a beautiful picture this morning.
Decks and hatches are deeply covered with snow, spars, rigging and ventilation are outlined in white; thick white flakes are falling so fast that the lead-covered waves swelling away on our beam are only visible for a few yards from the side.
Snowballing is the order of the day. At mid-day the fall ceased and the guns had scarcely been cleared of snow when the alarm went! Something was in sight coming straight at us and our Hun hosts really thought that they were about to get "It" this time. The ship cleared for action, [indecipherable] Hans almost had a spasm and we sick were marched down into no 2 hold.
The miserable procession of partly-dressed sick prisoners was bundled out and down the hatch into the hold.
Some of us (including, of course, myself) had life-belts.
The hold was the German crews quarters; it was the first time I had been down here. Everything was very comfortable and very clean in marked contrast to the prisoner's quarters.
Many of the neutrals were down here with us.
The hoses were out ready for action. We spent a scarcely-enjoyable 10 minutes waiting for the vessel to open fire but she turned out to be merely a Skandanavien-Amerika passenger line, glittering in ice from bow to stern.
Wed. 6th Feb.
On Monday, the 4th, we again encountered the "Ingotz Mendi".
Last night the "Tuscania" was torpedoed South of us on the Irish Coast, so we are informed.
Thu. 7th Feb.
Quite an eventful day. We are to move to the prisoner's hospital aft today; all prisoners, including neutrals are to be spaced within nos 3 and 3 holds, presumably to enable them to be more easily spurlos versenkt if "Wolf" is caught. The weather is icy.
We are just in the Atlantic circle; the vessel is coated in ice, drift ice is floating here and there on the lead- coloured swell.
Since I was along aft such a length of time has elapsed that it is quite a novelty.
The place is now indescribably filthy, a large proportion of the prisoners have scurvy and yet the morale is much more cheerful than it was. Everybody is quite sure they are going to the bottom sooner or later (probably sooner) and they are quite fatalistic and cheerful about it.
The fashions in apparel have also changed.
Thu. 7th Feb.
In lieu of the bath-towels and very short "shorts" which were the vogue when I was here last, they are now wrapped in old sweaters etc capped by rainbow-hued Alpine caps made of all sorts of old material. White blankets have been much used for these, the scarlet edging being used for tassels. Bob made two high Cossack snow-caps from an old saxe-blue and white bath-mat from the "Hitachi"! I was the proud possessor of one of these, also of a scarlet and white cap given me by Fat Hans. The new hospital has been made very comfortable by Webbie (who is in charge)
There are about 11 bunks and about the same number of cane lounges. The place is carpeted possesses a looted piano a couple of basket chairs, and is quite warm although the temperature outside is below 19° F.
Thu. 7th Dec.[Feb.] (cont.)
The drift is is getting thicker "Wolf" is occasionally bumping it. In the afternoon we passed a huge field of ice. It looked just like land flat, frozen, plain-land a magnificent sight as the sun glinted on to it.
We are pushing up into the Denmark Straits the straits between Iceland and Greenland probably in order to elude the southern patrols as we dash across to the Norwegian coast.
When night fell we had settled down in our new hospital Webbie was playing the piano (playing "So-long Selty") when the news came round that Captain Tominaga had suicided. He was missing, but the Germans had a fear that he had gone down to try and explode one of the magazines and send "Wolf" to join the "Hitachi". He had not he left letters behind dated last November saying that he would never see Japan again.
All night the ice grew thicker and thicker and by midnight "Wolf" was crashing through a thick continuous field of drift-ice. It was impossible to proceed. In the early morning she was obliged to turn south and spent the day veering in various directions.
Sat 9th Feb.
The dash due East to the Norwegian coast commenced.
We are kept below all day now that we are on the final dash. The Doctors still assure us that we are to intern in Norway!
"Wolf" is well crippled; leaking badly (the pumps stopped on the Kaiser's birthday in the hurricane when 40 tons of water were pouring into her an hour). Her speed is only about 10 knots. The passengers asked to be allowed to use our piano for a service tonight. The proposal was voted against and declined on Webbie promising rag-time as a substitute.
Mon. 11th Feb.
The "Lyric Lambs" gave a concert tonight in the Juniors Mess-Room. (The "Juniors" is now, by the way, in a deplorably filthy condition. The stewards have taken advantage of the present excitement to suspend all work).
The guests sat on rolled-up hammocks on the deck; the fortunate owners of hammocks on the top now reposed gracefully therein during the performance. These latter had a habit of accidentally flicking the ashes of their cigarettes on to the heads of those below (the cigarettes are made usually of any sort of paper and a mixture of dried tea-leaves and "nigger twist.") The "Lambs" were resplendent in somewhat mildewed gold-laced uniforms. The "orchestra" consists of a violin with two strings, a banjo, a flute and a mandolin.
The mandolin-player is the only one who can play.
The concert opened with Noble (brother of cricketer M.A.) singing the Prologue from "Pagliacci". The poor old bird retains technique but has quite lost his voice and is in blissful ignorance of the fact! The unaccompanied "Prologue" under such circumstances may be imagined! And Smithy the Curly-haired Dip almost got the bird with his plaintive "Mother Machree". But a nigger turn by an American sailor was really good.
The audience felt a nerve quiver as what we thought was a mine bumped the hull heavily.
There was a tense 3 seconds waiting for the explosion; but it was only a drifting ice-floe.
The crowd expects to go to the bottom; if we are very lucky "Wolf" will race some patrol-boats into neutral waters and intern; all wait quite calmly for either of these events to occur.
Nobody expects to reach Germany.
Thu. 14th Feb.
This morning the snow-capped heights of the Norwegian coast loomed up ahead and we turned South.
We are strictly forbidden to go on deck but we glimpsed the coast through the door coverings when the sentry was also looking out.
We had an hour on deck a day or two ago the weather clear with a smooth heavy roll.
Quite a number of the crowd are now taking a more or less surreptitious interest in Bibles and Rosaries. Just before midnight I came out to find Dempsey, the boastful Canadian n-c-o from Singapore, sitting in the centre of the hold close to a water tight door buried in a bible.
He has gone quite hysterical; he grabbed me as I passed and told me to "pray for deliverance, it is all we can do now."
I unsympathetically sent Webbie to make the German guard send him to bed he was a disturbing influence on some people.
Sat. 16th Feb.
Last night we rounded the Naze and are now heading up the Skager rak.
If we pass the mine-fields safely we shall be in German waters by the morning.
The calm which was such a feature of the last weeks has gone; most of the prisoners are absolutely boiling with indignation at the slackness of the English patrols. A pilot was believed to board us from a submarine at 6 pm.
Sun. 17th Feb.
We are into German waters.
During the morning the signal was given to allow prisoners on deck and the heterogeneous collection of all ages and types, all colours and nationalities poured out of the holds to obtain their first glimpse of the "Land of Bondage (to quote Hall Caine and the Bible.)
Sun. 17th Feb. (cont.)
The prisoner's trust in the British Navy has been sorely shaken by the safe return of "Wolf" to Germany, but despite the irritation the tension has now lifted all are glad that the issue has been decided in some manner. The strangest thing is the attitude of the German crew they seem by no means delighted at the proximity of the Fatherland.
And naturally, since they will be drafted either to other raiders or to submarines after a short holiday.
"Wolf" is pushing down the coast of Schleswig-Holstein.
She is quite unescorted many fishing craft in the offing.
What is apparently the mainland is clearly visible on our starboard beam. It is a clear, bright wintry day the little red roofed towns with their windmills and fir-tree backgrounds are quite free from snow.
Sun. 17th Feb. (cont.)
We passed a number of islands. Shortly after dark we anchored; a vessel close by morsed some messages across and the ship settled down for the night.
Mon. 18th Feb,
The anchorage in which we are now lying is just outside the entrance to Flensburg.
We are right in the channel the two small cruisers guarding the entrance are off each beam. At about nine am the appearance of a homeward-bound submarine brought us all to the deck.
She passed us with the crew on deck cheering madly.
The cruiser on our port-beam circled round us soon afterwards, her crew manning the decks and rigging and cheering us (or rather our captors.) A huge Ensign now flies from our stern and we are evidently regarded as of great interest by the crews of the few little coasters coming in and out of the port.
Mon. 18th Feb.
The "Lyric Lambs" made "Absolutely their last appearance before Touring the Continent" tonight in the Jun. Officers Mess. The J.O's. Mess is now deplorably filthy, the accumulated rubbish of many moons is littered everywhere but the centre floor is always swept before the concerts. The dirt goes into the sides against the hull. The "Lambs" uniforms are now a little more mildewed then ever before the collars a little yellower.
The concert was musically appalling; actually it was every enjoyable. There is a big strike on in Kiel; no food has yet been able to be sent to the scurvy-stricken "Wolf" and the very grand-ships have sent boats over begging for some of the crab, dried beans and musty bread which has nauseated us for months.
Under these circs. a topical skit on the lines of "Mother Hubbard" was a huge success.
Everybody has cheered up since we gathered this interesting information as to the state of affairs in the Fatherland, and cheerful resignation was the key-note of the concert.
Heck, the Terrible Tenor was in an "Excelsior" duet McCaw bellowed the "Mountains of Morn, but the absolute limit was Malthouse's rendition of "Anchored. His eyes bulged, his throat puffed out and his fists clenched, the final "Saife in me Ferrer's One" was especially touching.
On the other hand Mr Something-in-the-Service's (Indian Civil, y'know) English-accented "Alphonso Spaghoni" was splendid.
Bartlett, another Something-from-India, gave "Admiral's Broom in a quite decent baritone The inevitable Slim was there. He cracked Marie Lloyd's classic "Passage" joke, blissfully ignorant that it had been dragged from it's grave by McCaw only then minutes previously.
Thu. 21st Feb.
The concert last night was followed by disaster.
Had today been promoted from a cane lounge to a hammock owing to a fresh rush of scurvy patients and as I was clambering up somewhere near the roof the hammock ropes snapped and I was precipitated right on top of a scurvy-stricken son of Han sleeping right underneath.
The ebony-hued one yelled, as also did dear old Webbie as he rushed around looking more than ever like an angular old female in his long kimono and weird-looking blanket-hat.
Moans and morphia this morning I blamed the fall last night and Webbie blamed the large feed of dried potatoes and "Mrs Crippen" I insisted on eating yesterday.
I was strapped into a coffin-like stretcher and carried forward again feeling very low and [indecipherable] tearful almost.
The scurvy outbreak is getting very bad. Between 20 and 30 of the worst cases are in the hospital but fully 50 % of the prisoners are suffering more or less from this disease.
The flesh of some of the patients is quite black and putrid in patches. Many are quite helpless and are in a terrible condition.
Some fresh potatoes have arrived, but no other fresh food to speak of and the poor devils with scurvy continue to rot visibly.
Fri. 22nd Feb.
50 Iron Crosses arrived also a little fresh meat:- the meat was much appreciated. (by those who got it, I, alas, am again on a tinned milk diet!) Wiesmanski, in the next bed, got an Iron Cross quite a touching little scene tonight when mein Herr Kommandant and suite blew into the hospital and presented it. I was scowled at fiercely for grinning during the ceremony.
Sat. 23rd Feb.
All sorts of rumours circulating as to the fate of the "Ingotz Mendi", for which we are supposed to be waiting quietly here. At all events she has not arrived and it looks as if "Wolf" will make her "Triumphant Entry into Kiel" solus. (There is plenty of time for this latter to be "stage-managed", so it should be be effective.)
A captured prize following would have added greatly to the "Heimkehr", which we believe takes place tomorrow. Another small cruiser and a two-funnelled auxiliary were this afternoon added to our escort.
A grand "Foc'sl Farewell" took place tonight in the main no 4 hold.
The usual clog-dancing, concertinos and songs from the English Music Alls. The audience was more entertaining than the concert representatives of almost every nationality extant were crammed into the narrow space surrounding the performers.
No less than 22 different nationalities and races were staring at the mandolin and concertina duets and marvelling over "Finigan's Ball" as sung of by a Liverpool fireman.
Portuguese soldiers, Australian and English ditto, Hindus, Mauritius creoles, niggers, Canadians, American "limejuicers", kimono-clad Japanese, Scandanavians of all sorts, Spaniards, Levantines, Frenchmen, New Zealanders, a Russian or two, Irish, Anglo-Fijians, and Scotch made an interesting racial pop-pourri.
Among the "curiosities" are an Icelander, an Arab of a Costa-Rican!
Steaming down the coast towards Kiel all the morning, but a thick haze obscured the land.
We came on deck at about 2 pm to find the outskirts of Kiel looming up ahead.
Sun. 24th Feb.
The sea-plane is now on deck having emerged from the hold yesterday painted grey, covered with Black Maltese Crosses and carrying the number 841.
A huge ensign flies at "Wolf's" stern and a positively enormous white pennant tipped with a golden ball streams from the main mast.
And the crew appeared for the first time
in hat wearing "S.M.S. "Wolf"" hatbands.
Kiel, with its pretty surburban villas fronting the Bay and the wind mills capping the hills behind, occupied but little attention all our interest was centred on the Fleet.
And it was certainly "some sight". A huge lane of battle-cruisers, cruisers, and lighter craft stretched down the Bay with the crews all manning the decks and cheering.
As "Wolf" steamed past the band of each ship struck up as we came abeam a couple of planes manoeuvred and did "stunts" over us continually.
"Wolf" finally dropped anchor in a place of honour close to the flagship. (we were told it was the "Bayern") alongside us lay the notorious "Moewe".
"Wolf" was immediately boarded by boat-loads of "Gold Brain and the females of the species the harbour was alive with small craft including busy cinema-photographers.
We prisoners had a "place in the sun", but "Wolf" itself was "The" attraction. She was home after a 15 months cruise and a voyage of 64,000 miles.
"Wolfs" prizes gross tonnage reg. tonnage 2551.
S.S. "Turritella" (ex H.M.S. "Polaron, ex Hansa liner "Gutenfels".
Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co. owners.
Borneo Port Said via Colombo with Oil fuel cargo.
Captured 27th Feb. 1917.
Captain John Meadows.
Chf Officer Clelland (drowned)
2nd " Rosen
Chf Engr. Davies
2nd " Steers (drowned)
3rd " A. Christie
4th " H. J. Heck
Crew of Chinese.
Re-named S.M.S. "Iltis" and sunk whilst on a mine-laying cruise in the Gulf of Aden.
S.S. "Jumna" 2600 reg. London.
Mercantile S. Co. owners
Spanish ports to Burma via Calcutta with full cargo of salt.
Capt. S. Wickman Chf. Engr.
Chf Officer Moncrieff 2nd "
2nd " Stevens 3rd "
3rd " E.A. Buckingham` 4th " A.T. Fraser
Cadets Pearce and J. Loe. 30 all told.
"Wordsworth" 2202 reg.
Glover Bros. owners
Bassein London with 6000 tons rice.
Capt. J. Shields Chf Engr.
Chf Officer 2nd J. James
2nd " Robinson 3rd Forsythe
3rd " A. Bowman 4th B. Winton.
Cadets E.C. Cuthill and Williams. 31 all told
"Dee" 4-masted barque.
Mauritius to Bunbury W.A. in ballast.
Capt. J.B. Rugg
Chf. Officer. Martin
crew creoles, French, and niggers. 20 all told.
S.S. "Wairuna" Dunedin
Union S.S. Co. of N.Z. Ltd.
Auckland to San Francisco general cargo.
Captured 2nd June Sunk 17th June Sunday Isld. Kermadec Group.
Capt. H.S. Saunders.
Chf Offer MacKenzie Chf Engr. Currie
2nd " Rees 2nd " McCaughey
3rd " P.S. Isbister 3rd " J. Bish
Wireless Opr. R.H. Alexander 4th " Campbell
42 all told.
"Winslow. San Francisco 496 reg.
4 masted American schooner. Owners Hall. S.F.
250 tons coal, 1500 firebricks, 50 cases benzine.
Cap. 16/6/17 Sunk 22/6/17 Sunday Is.
Capt. Trudgett. 10 all told. 21 days out of Sydney to Apia Samoa.
"Beluga" 5 masted barque
New York 55 days out San FranciscoSydney.
Cap. 9/7/17 sunk 11/7/17 26 ½ s. 166 Ύ E.
Captain Cameron, wife and daughter.
2nd Johnson. 13 all told.
"Encore" 4 masted schooner San Francisco. Owners
days out Columbia RiverSydney Lumber and case oil.
Capt. Ohlsen, Mate Richardson.
S.S. "Matunga" 1618 gross. 1015 nett. Burns Philp Ltd. Sydney
600 ton general cargo. 500 tons coal.
Capt. Donaldson Chf Engr. Ainsworth
Chf Offcr. W.McBride
2nd " J. McCaw 2nd " J. Woods
3rd " J. Hefferman 3rd " Jackson
Wireless. Opr. R.S. Taylor
Purser N.A. Pyne, Asst-Purser H.L.Smith 20 Passengers.
44 in all
Col. Strangman. Major and Mrs. Flood.
Messrs. McAnally, Noble and Green.
Warrant Officer Kennedy, Staff Serg. A Webb. (A.M.C.)
Serg. , Corp. Jackson & O'Grady (A.M.C.)
Ptes. Malthouse, Marshall, Pierce.
J.M.S. "Hitachi Maru" 6500
Nippon Yusen Kaisha.
"Wolf's" "hollenmaschine" bag. Lives lost.
Bombay R.M.S. "Mongolia" P. and O.
Colombo R.M.S. "Worcestershire" Bibby Line.
" "Perseus" Blue Funnel Line
Capetown "City of Athens"
Tabo "Cumberland" Federal Line
North Cape "Wimmera" Huddart-Parker
Cook Sts. "Port Kembla" Cunard. "C & D".
"Okara" "B.I. Line.
Sun. 14th Feb.
Immediately "Wolf's" anchor dropped orders came aboard that the sick were to disembark at once; for 15 minutes the hospital was confusion itself as we gathered our rags together and dressed. Dear old Webbie spent the time giving me good advice about "Diet" and "Will Power", bless im! I did not like leaving George, Bob, etc. as I did not think I would see them again this side of the frontier.
At about 3 p.m. we sick stepped over the side on to an ex-ferry steamer. The two doctors were both at the gangway, accompanied by their staff, & as I came up the Chf Doc. shook hands with me most cordially, the young doc. following his example. I was really most grateful for this little attention, (the dear old bean did not extend his mitt to my variegated compagnons de voyage)
Sun 24th Feb.
I did a little towards returning the courtesy by extending my paw to the wooden Fritz standing stiffly at attention beside Doc. He )Fritz.) has really been most incompetent and slovenly on board but he meant well, poor blighter! A last wave to the mixed mob hanging over the poop rails and we were threading our way through the decorated lines of cruisers to the shore.
We passed the "Mowe" and the N.D.L. training ship "Kronprinz" finally landing at a jetty jutting out between two hulk-barrack, (arranged a la "Penguin" in Sydney Harbour.)
Apparently the whole man-power of the German Navy with their families were gathered at the head of that jetty to watch us land.
Hundreds no, - thousands watched us being carried, pushed, or helped into the waiting motor-waggons.
When we were all inside these the canvas flaps were dropped and we rattled away along a cobbled road.
Cobbles! with iron tyres! Ugh! Our drive was in a circle; we returned to the water-front again on entering the gates of the big naval hospital.
We were taken to portable papier-mache barracks erected in the hospital grounds, some 16 patients to a hut.
In our hut are Cuthill, John, the Jap. 3rd officer and Nagayama, and some niggers.
A continuous procession files in to look at the latter, niggers being apparently scarce in Germany.
Sun 24th Feb.
Our best meal for many months was at 6 p.m.
Beef (yes, Beef!), beetroot, potatoes, and coffee ersatz (that word Ersatz (substitute) was to become well-know to us).
We gorged till we could gorge no more, and then the hungry German sentries came in and devoured the scraps.
Yesterday a procession of doctors dug around all over me, consulted my Doc's report, & mumbled "operation". Today I moved to the hospital proper.
The hospital is the Festungs-lazarelt, Kiel-Wik, & consists of about 10 separate buildings, each complete and detached, yet all connected up by underground tunnels.
I am in Haus B, ward 25.
The wards are small, comfortable, & beautifully lighted a row of big windows stretching right across one wall.
The linen is immaculate, the white enamelled beds the acme of comfort, but food is scarce.
With me is another Australian, Frank Bowell of Melbourne (15th Batt) two or three English & a few Russkis. Distant big guns have been at work during yesterday and today & the air patrol over Kiel seems to be well kept up.
Tue. 5th March
The old Doc. paid me a visit a few days ago, and my stock has risen miles above par. with Schwester Kate and her mob since he deposited himself and his brilliant uniform on the foot of my bed and gossipped about things in general.
He took Kate to tea on the "Wolf" & told her to do her best for me and the Vinegary Virgin now fusses round & makes tea for us, etc. But the poor devils in the Barracks are having a dreadful time.
Tue 5th March.
It has been snowing, the papier-mache walls of the huts are thin, the fire often goes out at night & many of them now have chest trouble.
At about 9.30 am a couple of orderlies attached a set of wheels to my bed & we started off for the operating room via numerous underground tunnels.
The operating hall is magnificent three rooms arch into each other; thick glass roofs; the walls are white-tiled half way to the ceiling.
Three sisters helped me on to the table, two doctors and a masked and sterilised female rushed in & after a hasty "Morgen" commenced sterilising their hands: then Schw. Gertrude told me to "breathe heavily". Ugh! Nuff sed!
Tue. 12th March
Still in the Wachtstube. Have had a fearful week. This room is horrible. Nothing but moans, morphia, and the sickening smell of ether, varied by daily visits to the Verbandzimmer to have rolls of cotton poked into ones internal organisation.
One sees awful sights in that dressing room shell-wounds large enough to put a tea-cup into and foul-smelling putresient flesh are quite common.
Thick white crepe paper is used instead of cotton bandages.
Princess Irene, wife of Henry of Prussia, (here Heinrich von Preussen) visited the hospital today. She asked me polite inanities about Sydney.
A dowdily-dressed lady with most beautiful manners.
Wed 29th Mchy
Back in Nummer 25 again with Bowell, Cramer, etc. and I am no longer under the care of the handsome Olga ("La Grande Duchesse", as one poetic Hun designated her to me.)
Kate Schmidt, the old dear, can by no means described as "Duchessey". She is thin, angular & sharp, and was a pre-war governess in England.
Cramer (R.N.D.) is a card. He tells bluer stories then the bluest and tells the funniest yarns of the "Heast-Hend" and life in the "Harmy".
Having quite a good time; more then sufficient to eat, thanks to Red Cross parcels from England, and the two Russkis entertain us occasionally with national songs.
We even had dancing a couple of times to a whistling accompaniment; but the Russkis got excited and pounded off into "Czardos" or something.
The din brought a frantic Schwester up from the Wachtstube and the "Czardos" ceased.
26 corpses passed our window today en route to the Morgue. A submarine dived in the Bay during her tests with a conning tower open. Finis.
Our view over the harbour of Kiel from our balcony is splendid. Torpedoflotillas leave daily on patrol work (mostly in fours); submarines are coming and going continuously.
The "Wolf" left for Lubeck a few days after our arrival.
The ward 2nd next door to us is occupied by a military lieutenant (Hun, of course.)
He gives us fags etc. & we give him tea in exchange.
A decent sort, he sent home for all his old school-books on English which he gave me in order to practice up my German.
But he is addicted to Uniform. Dinkum; I met him down near the Verbandzimmer the other morning wrapped in a gorgeous flame-coloured dressing-gown, and under The Garment he had on his uniform!
Der Leutnant tells us amazing tales of a huge German offensive which began yesterday.
The Allies, so he says, are running like sheep and the war will be over in 3 months. Of course we laughed at the news while Der Leut. was in the room, but things do look glum!
Mon 1st Apl
I am leaving Kiel tomorrow for the Officer's Receiving Depot at Karlsruhe, Baden.
Cramer, poor old chap, leaves for Kommando, where he shall slave 12 hours a day for 30 phennigs (3d)
With the benediction of Kate, Doris, & Nummer 25, I left the lazarelt at 11.30 am, escorted by a Landsturm unter offizier of about 35 or so.
The streets of Kiel-Wik were crowded with uniforms, & the shops! in one pastry-cooks the window exhibit was two loaves of that awful black-bread!
Boarded the "electrischer" at Hildegarde Strasse. and we whisked into Kiel past acres of awful flats and hundreds of kiddies playing in the streets. Flats are apparently the only residences.
Tue 2nd Apl. (cont.)
We alighted at the Bahnhof. What was apparently the Trawler's Quay is very similar to the Fisherman's Basin at Hobart, but in this instance a battle-cruiser in dock and a network of steel-trellis at a submarine yard provided a background which little old Hobart has not!
The main court of the Bahnhof was crowded, and the advent of an Englander followed by an unteroffizier and three soldiers carrying baggage caused quite a sensation,
I earned the regard of my escort by buying them beer and coffee in the Wartesaal; after the first drink the braves always addressed me as "Mein Herr". We kept up quite a conversation with my 20 words of Deutsch eked out by French phrases.
The walls of the Bahnhof were decorated with such contradictory placards as "England is to blame!
[Inserted] It was noteworthy that all these exhortations to the populases, whether asking them to hate, to endure, or sacrifice all alike were directed to or through the stomach.
The German Soul, if it exists, is gastronomic.
When you get your ration-cards:
When your children cry for bread:
And alongside these would be a picture of a famine-queue in "starving London"!
We left Kiel at 2 pm. in one of the atrociously uncomfortable wooden boxes in which a benign government pens it's 3rd class passengers, changing to the luxury of a 2nd class carriage at Neumunster. The "beautiful" provinces of Schelswig-Holstein of which one reads seem to me quite undeserving of that adjective.
It may have been the day (a grey, drizzly day in late winter the trees are not yet in leaf.), but the whole countryside seemed inexpressibly dreary!
Tue 2nd Apl.
Dreary, basalt-coloured towns whisked past, varied by very new red-brick farmhouses and, strange to say, not a single specimen of the famous Holstein breed of dairy cattle was to be seen during the entire journey.
We arrived at Hamburg at 5.30 pm; sharing our compartment en route with two really pretty and quite chic (and affable) girls, a dashing widow, a worried-looking haus-frau, and two unter-offiziers.
I treated my unter offizier to dinner in the 1st Class Restaurant of the big station at about 6.30p. the large hall was crowded, chiefly with officers and their women-folk; & the entrance of the Englander again created quite a thrill.
We occupied a table right in the centre of the room, and I proceeded to cause an absolute sensation.
Most of the assemblage were dining on soup and potatoes, so I opened more of my Red Cross then I could well afford in my endeavour to "do Hold Hingland proud".
Amid gasps I placed a large tin of bacon and beans in a dish, & then hustled the waiter for more dishes.
I opened then a tin of Morton's sausages, a Morton pudding (which I covered with condensed milk as a sauce), a tin of cheese, and a plate of biscuits.
An obese and stately frau, dining on soup with her "brass-hatted" hubby at the next table, was wounded to the uttermost depths of her gastronomic soul. She passionately asked Gott and her hubby why the verdammte Englander should gloat over Her Sufferings so much I gathered from the flood of language she let forth.
Tue. 2nd Apl. (cont.)
Dinner over, & we were consuming lager, coffee ersatz, & cigarettes when two young ladies sat down at our table it was the only vacant space in the room. We had quite a chatty time for an hour or so they did not understand a word of English and my German provided the amusement of the party. Then my unteroffizier, beaming and kameradish owing to the feed I had given him, actually proposed going home to his flat for the evening. (He lived at Hamburg.)
We crossed the imposing Bahnhof Platz and boarded an "electrischer", via the Rathaus Platz and St. Pauli finally reaching a place out near Hagenbecks Tier Park. I kept well out of sight on the darkened back of the car during the journey.
It was peculiar to observe the hundreds of brilliantly lighted cafes, cafes chantant, etc. all quite destitute of life!
At the little flat Frau Unteroffizier brought out coffee etc. & we had a small "spread", finally retiring in the parlour among the gilt-framed portraits, the pearl-inlaid photo album which Bruder Heinrich had brought home from China, etc. Frau O. brought out dozens of feather-beds for her guest, and insisted on piling them on top of me after I had turned in.
Wed. 3rd Apl.
At abt 10.30 am. we left the flat for the Bahnhof.
Got quite a good peep at Hagenbeck's Zoo from the "electrischer".
With the wonderful surroundings which Taronga has it should certainly in time eclipse Hagenbecks.
Wed 3rd Apl.
We passed through St Pauli again, it's slatternly, kimona-clad and rouged inhabitants looking by no means fascinating as they waddled to the bakers for their allowanced loaf.
Hamburg itself is a beautiful city, some of the canal scenes being quite Venetian.
The Inner Alster in particular is very beautiful.
From the main Bahnhof we left in the Overhead for Altona, boarding a train there bound for Hannover. When the Hannover train reached Hamburg it was commandeered for troops by a shrieking brass-hatted Hun & everybody (including us) was bundled out on to the platform, the train being then packed with troops en route to strengthen the line at Metz.
Wed 3rd Apl.
Just as the troop-train was pulling out the Brass that graciously yielded to the prayers and entreaties of my unteroffizer and granted us permission to travel with the troops.
We swung on to the moving train and squeezed into a 3rd class compartment crammed with young and youngish Huns all clad in the regulation greenish-grey and little peak-less caps. As we passed between the docks fringing the Elbe and crossed the Elbe itself I had some most interesting views of the huge Merchant Fleet rusting there.
One dock which we passed was packed with beautiful passenger vessels of about 7000 tons all a mass of rust.
The river itself was crammed with ships, big two and three funnellers being very noticeable.
Thu. 4th Apl.
All I saw of Hannover last night was a dimly lit Bahnhof Platz through the windows of our 4th class compartment.
We arrived at Hannover at 7.50 pm, left the troop-train, (I did not wish my travelling companions bon voyage.), and a hustling, shrieking, be-trousered female guard pushed us into a 4th class carriage.
Fourth-class travellers are penned in a concrete-floored truck, square and roomy, with two narrow wooden planks in either side.
The pens carry, so a notice says, "8 sitting and 12 standing"! The night-journey to Cassel was a hideous nightmare of changing trains, shunting into sidings while crowded troop trains passed South, trying to sleep sitting bolt upright on a wooden bench, and listening
to a snoring multitude who could apparently sleep (and expectorate) while marching, if necessary. However, at Cassel an immaculate and very polite person in evening dress took charge of us. He was a pre-war London waiter, he said (there was no need for him to have said it!) & he guided us to a table, brought us beer, plates, etc. and gushed around so solicitously that I could have shed tears of gratitude into the tin of Mortons bacon and beans which I opened.
After the super (blessings on the Red Cross parcel system!) I slept soundly for 3 hours on the restaurant chair with my head on the table. When my unteroffizier woke me it was dawn, grey and chilly, and the restaurant with it's tables packed with sleeping & worn-looking men and women, soldiers & civilians, looked like desolation itself.
Thu 4th Apl.
We left Cassel for Frankfurt-am-Main at about 5.30 pm.
The country here is beginning to look more like the Germany of which one reads.
North Germany is just dreary monotony seen from a train window, but here it is different.
Of course Spring has arrived already here in the south, perhaps that makes the difference.
Colne is a funny little town with the exterior walls of most of the houses faced with large tiles (apparently glazed) on which are painted crude figures of birds, etc. The female peasant costume so much in evidence here consists of a short "crinolined" effect terminating just below the knees; a tiny bunched headdress, and heel-less velvet shoes.
Marburg, just past Colne, is situated on the slopes of a hill on the crest of which is a fine old castle.
The tiled houses are also much in evidence here.
A striking contrast to Marburg is Bad Nauheim, an extremely modern little spa some distance further on. Here the "Villa Rose, pension mod." flourishes (or rather flourished) in all it's glory, together with the Grand Hotel of a higher scale and tariff. The county surrounding the Spa is very pretty, mostly undulating rye country dotted with fruit trees (at present just beginning to blossom.)
We pulled into Frankfurt-am-Main at about midday; had quite a feed in the depot of the Deutsche Rote Kreuz. (Red Cross).
An egg, some beetroot, soup, and potatoes made quite a heavy meal (for Germany.)
Thu. 4th Apl. (cont.)
We followed this with coffee and beer in the 1st class Restaurant; a huge gaudy place with much marone draping and nothing to eat on sale. En passant half of the Bahnhof is in ruins. A plane bomb dropped here during a recent air raid. At 2.30 pm we left for Heidelberg. Outside Darmstadt I got my first view of camouflage. a Zeppelin hangar with fields and red-roofed cottages apparently sprouting from the roof.
Store, troop, gun, & gas trains are all rushing South.
We are now in Baden a beautiful province.
Dozens of castles dotting hills here and there with little villages straggling down from the castle walls the country is dotted and avenued with blossoming fruit-trees, and the clumsy farm carts are drawn by a magnificent breed of white oxen.
Those at work in the fields are mostly women and war-prisoners; the latter chiefly in broad yellow-striped clothing in all stages of raggedness, though here and there one sees a tattered French-blue or khaki uniform.
Heidelberg is prettily situated among the hills, but the portion of the town I saw was not inviting. It was merely a modern railway depot of some importance; - "Alte Heibelberg" of fiction is certainly not on view from the train.
The train filled with troops here, & I spent the two hours to Karlsruhe in the darkened train (we are in the air-raid zone) in altering the opinions of some poor devils who think the war will be over in three months with the Huns in Paris and London!
Thu. 4th Apl. (cont.)
Karlsruhe was in darkness; all necessary lights were shaded, & all arriving train passengers were subjected to strict examination I was passed through the military examining gates.
Big notices are on view all over the station "To the cellars", [indecipherable] Fliegergefahr" (air-raid danger.) My Unteroffizier took me through the darkened streets to the ex-hotel "Europaischer Hof", now a receiving depot for officer-prisoners.
In the lobby he obtained a receipt for "ein Gefangener, Englische." The old blighter took quite an affectionate leave - (for one awful instant I though he was going to kiss me!) and wished me a "gluckliche Gefangenschaft" (a happy imprisonment) & the old thing was not sarcastic, either!
Into a lift and then to the 1st floor (one could almost imagine oneself being shown to one's room in an ordinary hotel.) but the room was a cubicle of about 6' x 12' and containing two iron camp-beds with straw mattresses, a deal table and frosted windows.
Quite a correct cinema setting for an officer-prisoner; according to illustrated fiction dealing with this matter.
A moment later and the door again opened; a Dazzling Personage was shown in.
The D.P. was attired in a pale blue uniform of miraculous cut and fit decorated with silver wings and buttons. A row of decoration-ribbons stretched across his tunic, conspicuous being the scarlet of the Legion d'Honneur. Blue puttees to match & a jaunty brown-cloth aviator's cap completed Monsieur's toilet.
Thu. 4th Apl (cont.)
I welcomed Monsieur to our humble abode and we both set to on a pile of potatoes brought up by a filthy Russian orderly supplemented by "Milkmaid Brand" cocoa and milk. Then we slept-soundly.
Lieut. Astor, of the French Flying Corps, (my stable-companion,) and I spent today locked in our room with nothing to do but talk to each other in my ridiculous French and broken German. Astor does not speak English. He "crashed" when raiding on the Front & has been in hospital at Hanover for months.
We found out today that this depot is where all officer-prisoners are kept for interrogation purposes, after which they are drafted all over Germany, usually via the prison-camp-proper in this city, which is situated in the Stadt Garten as an air-raid screen for the Grand Ducal Palace and the city of Karlsruhe.
Astor and I were each examined in turn in the office of a most polite, and oily member of the Secret Service and told to be ready to move at 2 p.m. At 2.30 p we emerged from our room to find the corridor crammed with prisoners all just as they had been captured.
The artillery & infantry were mostly in anti-shrapnel helmets; the numerous Airmen were in Balaclavas and sheep-skin long boots.
In all there were about 50 assorted officers mostly British.
There were "regular" Captains and war-time "one pippers", Sandhurst flying veterans of 18 or 20 and war-time majors of 28 or thereabouts. Strange to say this collection of birds actually found my tale of woe thrilling! one old bird who had "crashed" in a blazing plane actually shuddered because I said I had come through the blockade-line in the "Wolf's" hold!
(cont) Sat 6th Apl.
Lots of Irish, including two padres (Fitzmaurice and Casey.)
We formed fours outside and were marched to the lager a collection of wooden huts inside much barbed-wire in a corner of the Stadtgarten. There is a decent-walk under a avenue of chestnuts, but no room elsewhere. One hut is a mess-room, another is an amusement-hall & boasts two billiard tables, a library (French and English), a piano, & a curtained off stage.
The sleeping huts are divided off into rooms containing about 8 camp-beds & 2 wooden tables.
Everything is very clean except the mattresses, which are filled with wood-shavings and are alive with vermin (assorted.)
Orderlies, of ones own nationality, are provided for English, French, & Italians.
I went to the concert in the evening with my aviator pal from the West Indies. It was an awful show even allowing that we are in a prison-camp. The pianist was excellent in an overture, then came a stupid French farce & then Colonel Lord Farnham gave "Off to Philadelphia". The Noble Lord is a genial personality with a likeable manner but an appalling voice! However, "Philadelphia" got much polite applause.
Then came an English sketch which was so bad that it was quite good. The "heroine's" final "Damn you! John" in the first act was a scream, but, alas, twas meant to be tragic. Farnham appeared in the sketch & is a better actor than he is a singer.
I was tea-ed this afternoon by Rundle, a little fat lieut. from Bristol or thereabouts.
Sardines, toast, cake, de Reszke cigarettes & good tea provided such a splash as I have not had for ages.
Mon. 8th Apl.
The routine here is as follows.
No breakfast is supplied, but coffee ersatz is obtainable from the canteen at 15 phennigs a small cup.
Appel at 10 am. All line up in the amusement hut and respond to the names when called by passing out and saluting the Hun camp-adjutant standing at his saluting-base in the porch.
Included in Karlsruhe's lager "visitors" at present are Brig. General Dawson & staff (S. African forces.), some half-doz. colonels; lesser lights to burn.
No naval men, & I am the only Mercantile Marine man present. (My dilapidated but well-cut "drag" & it's once-gold braid are quite noticeable in this glittering but khakied assemblage. Besides, it is smart to be dilapidated here; one must show traces of service. But of course the dilapidation must have a Well-Cut past.)
Besides the British there are French, Italians, a Roumanian somebody & a Serbian Colonel.
After appel one looks in at the library or has a walk on our one exercise ground (parole leave is quite unknown in Karlsruhe.) & lunch is at 1. pm.
Owing to the crush there are two sittings;
the first roughly, the seating is in order of precedence (By the way, the Hun Bureau have allotted me an honorary lieutenancy. I am Lieut. Alex. and as such swish past the Saluting Base before lowly "one-pippers".) Lunch consists of soup, (very, very weak,) potatoes, a unique and every-present dish consisting of sugar beet from which the sugar has been extracted, thus leaving a sort of edible fibre, sometimes salad of dandelions, & a small quantity of meat twice a week.
Mon. 8th Apl. (cont.)
After the scanty lunch we usually go back to our hut and eat whatever may be obtained from the canteen. We have formed a mess of eight, including, the Major, assorted R.F.C. vets. of from 18 to 22 or so, one Australian flying-chap & self.
We club together and buy whatever we can. At exorbitant prices we secured a little dried fruit today & with this and our allowance of bread we made a pie in a wash-basin, cooking it in the French kitchen.
We all looked helplessly at the pie-to-be and it was generally conceded that I, an Australian, should know how to cook.
And how was I to tell them that I was a city-Aussie? England knows not that such a breed exists!
Finally the Major did the mixing while I "crumbed" the bread & biscuits. It was a howling success.
Although Karlsruhe is mainly a distributing camp & few remain longer than a few days at present when so many prisoners are coming from the Western front there are quite a number of old stagers here who are actually in receipt of Red Cross Parcels!
They usually invite some of the new arrivals to little feeds, the N.A's, of course, being expected earn their grub with amusing anecdotes and interesting small-talk. Rundle has almost adopted me, & teas & suppers me regularly.
To again resume:-
"Dinner" (!) is at 6 p.m. & is somewhat similar to lunch.
(For these two scanty meals & our "accommodation" we are charged about 2 marks a day. The British Govt. allow Mercantile Marine Captains & C.O.'s. 100 marks monthly & junior officers (including me) 60 marks for these expenses.)
2nd Appel is at 9 p.m.
Mon. 8th Apl. (cont.)
To resume yet again:-
After dinner the Old Inhabitants usually play Bridge, but we new arrivals are too busy wondering when & for where our marching orders will be.
Tue. 9th Apl.
While walking under the trees this morning the General actually noticed humble me! Further, he walked with me for about half an hour and chatted must amiably.
My Mess looked on in Awe and when the old boy buzzed off they wanted to know all he said, how he said it, & why he said it.
I replied indifferently that he "just talked", in a tone that indicated that it was quite a usual custom of mine to take constitutionals with Generals.
In the evening I was again Observed by a Personage. Lt. Colonel Howard Bury (K.R.R.) walked for an hour or two in the evening with me.
He is a great-traveller; has "done" Thibet, Mongolia, & Tuan Shan. And he actually wanted the views of Young Australia on the Irish Question! Ye Gods!
Fri. 12th Apl.
The Major left and James arrived a couple of days ago. The R.F.C. chaps have also gone to a special aviator's "Strafe" camp, I believe. The procedure when a mob is learning for another camp is interesting. A ceremony is made of loading their rifles by the guard; this is done before the assembled prisoners to discourage flitting.
Wild excitement in the town just before lunch. The huge syren mounted in the Bahnhof Platz wailed out the air-raid alarm and soon after the "archies" were humming.
The raiders passed en route to bomb Mannheim. Much "wind-up" in the town "archies" & alarm syrens going in all directions.
Sat. 13 Apl.
Whitworth of the Sherwood Forresters, and his pilot are in our barrack.
(The two flying chaps who got 10 years in a fortress for dropping propaganda papers over the German trenches. They did 4 months.) Ordered to prepare to leave today for the officer's camp at Furstenberg in Mecklenburg.
Rotten luck as Bob & the crowd are at Heidelberg, I believe.
50 of us assembled in the mess-room at 10 a.m., including 3 Lt. Colonels (Smith; and Sloggelt & Bury of the K.R.R.), 1 Major, a few Captains (including Newstead and Wallace of the West Yorks.), some R.N.D. lieut., Clarke, (a Canadian pilot) and other assorted one and two-pippers.
We marched out through the double lines of barbed wire into the town; past the "Europaischer" and the Stadt Garten (now in full leaf & looking beautiful) to the Bahnhof, where the party was assigned two first-class carriages.
8 camped in our compartment (including the postern). Wallace, Newstead, Coole (of the Cheshires), James, Townshend ( a nephew of The Townshend), Clarke, and I.
The country between Karlsruhe and Frankfurt is wonderfully beautiful now all the fruit trees in full blossom. Arrived in Frankfurt about 5.30 pm & were marched round through the Bahnhof Platz to a military depot where we were regaled on potatoes, turnips & blutwurst (bladders filled with congealed pig's blood.) At Frankfurt our two carriages were hitched on to a slow "local" leaving for Bebra at 6.30 pm.
We passed miles of Frankfurts dreary suburbs: the entire population live in depressing looking flats) crossing an re-crossing the Main.
(Clarke, by the way, looking at the packed flat-buildings with an expression of retrospective ecstacy finally said "What glorious bombing Frankfurt makes! It is quite impossible to miss something here!)
Sun 14th Apl
The "local" waddled into Bebra in the early hours of the morning (about 3 am) & we saw the welcome sight of a couple of flat-footed frauleins waiting on the platform with coffee-pails & bread baskets from which they fed our guard! And we half famished!
However, after much chatter & bargaining the dear creatures finally brought us bread, coffee ersatz, & tiny packets of "Hackfleisch", a typical Hun delicacy consisting of raw chopped meat pounded into a slimy mass. It was quite dark (our carriage lamp had gone out) so we ate the "Hackfleisch" with a clear conscience.
We left Bebra at 7 am hooked on to another "local" leaving for Cassel. Our postern grew quite garrulous at this stage, pointing out the prison of Napoleon III in 1871 & so forth. Personally, I was quite ignorant of the fact that Nap. III was a gefangener in '71. Passed a large prison-lager (apparently British) at "Ober-something near Cassel.
Sun. 14th Apl. (cont.)
At Cassel (10 a.m.) a most pleasant surprise awaited us. My old acquaintance the waiter (still clad in evening dress which did not appear quite immaculate at such an hour as 10. a.m.) ushered us into the 1st class Damenzimmer & fed us on veal, unlimited potatoes & sauerkraut, cakes & coffee. The cake was apparently made from sawdust but we were not in a critical mood.
By the way, lest it should appear that the Huns were treating we prisoners very well in the matter of meals I must explain that everything we ate we paid for ourselves. Not a morsel is allowed us gratis & we are heavily billed for everything. I breakfasted in state at the Brass Hats' table. (which seated 8.) Our parade back to the train was being awaited by Hunnish hundreds. Revue stars are not in it with war-prisoners.
Sun. 14th Apl. (cont.)
Noticeable were the large numbers of people equipped for walking tours who travelled out of the city by our train, women predominating. The women wear no hats; the men usually affect "velours" with feather tufts. All invariably carry large rucksacks. We are now skirting the edge of the Hartz Mountains fine country.
Pretty river valleys, farms backed by pine plantations, & fir-capped hills gave place late in the afternoon to ugly, depressing scenery, the fields being broken by large ore mines (iron, apparently.) At the stations we were of great interest to the villagers promenading the railway station in "Sunday" attire. Arriving at Gusten at 7 pm we marched through the village to a Militar Depot where we got bowls of macaroni soup.
The villagers heard of this and accompanied our meal with a rain of stones on the tin roof.
The stoning continued as we marched back to our two carriages side-tracked in the deserted station Townshend beside me getting a hit which cut his ear.
Sometime during the night we hitched on to a passing train and daylight found us pushing through the pine forests which surround Berlin.
We caught glimpses later of busy canals, busier tree-lined thoroughfares, enormous numbers of the usual "flats", but really saw little of Berlin, as we circled round on the Ringbahn instead of going through the city. We had breakfast (bread, wurst, & coffee ersatz) at a militar depot, right on the railway line, shunting in to the Berlin Stettiner Bahnhof at 10 am. The Stettiner is the main station for North Germany.
Mon. 15th Apl.
Three hours run through pine forests and sandy rye country brought us to our destination Furstenberg, in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. We alighted at a very modern little station & a march of a few hundred yards brought us to the town which consists of a picturesque yellow-brick church surrounded by a vast number of narrow, hilly, cobbled streets. Two locks provide a barge and tiny passage between the "Roblinsee & the lake at the other side of the town (Furstenberg is on the Havel, and the Havel consists of canals which connect up a number of the Mecklenburg and Prussian lakes, thus forming an important water highway.) The rounds all round the village are planted with Linden. (limes.) A march of a mile or so past a number of opulent looking villas and pensions and we came to a tennis court in a clearing among the pines.
Mon. 15th (cont)
The white-flannelled "doubles" players astonished us by turning out to be fellow-prisoners!
"Some Lager" seemed the only phrase to suitably describe our new "houses". We marched up the drive of a large white, red-roofed Kurhaus and Erholungsheim. A wide glass verandah encircled two sides of the building, one of which opened on to a fine Terrace.
From the terrace a garden sloped down to the road, a prominent, ornament being a large fountain with gold-fish in the basin which flashed in the centre of the grounds. We were lined up on the Terrace and allotted rooms, James and I getting quite a nice room on the second floor fronting the terrace and with a magnificent view over the placid Roblinsee and the fir forests surrounding it.
Our room contains a dressing table and wardrobe en suite in light oak, but the remainder of the pre-war furnishings have given place to two single bedsteads, two camp-beds, two card tables, and, alas!, two Welshmen. They are G. Williams (C.B. "Lestris") and O. Richards (C.E. "Bulgarian").
A late lunch was served us in a beautiful dining hall.
A genuine lunch, too, of cold tongue, beef, potatoes, butter, tea, jam, etc. (How we wolfed it!)
The room is fairly large, square, with a parquet floor opening - a two sides to a glassed verandah, one side of which opens on to the terrace. At stage, complete with f / lights, "flies" etc. runs across one end and is used during meal-hours as portion of the dining-room forming a dias. The verandah, now stripped of its palms, is also an extension of the
Nothing remains of the pre-war furnishings but a few of the chairs & gorgeous electroliers of hammered brass.
A bar, presided over by a blazer-clad Russki, (and well equipped) runs across one end of the verandah.
A short speech was made after the lunch; the most noteworthy phrase in the same being "dinner at seven, gents!". Dinner! In Germany! And the dinner was really good, although everything served did come out of tins.
A "Welcome-In" performance
was given began about 8. A great show revue and as hot as mustard. The Nurse's Ditty (G. Ryder) was quite purple, something on the lines of a genuine sea chanty. And "the Man who broke the bank" was dragged from it's grave by a tooth-brush mustached person in white serge and a panama amid wild cheers.
Mon. 15th Apl (cont.)
The old colonel wound up the evening with a speech of thanks to our hosts (quite a touching thing of the "far-from-home" species, that speech) and forecasted undying friendship with our entertainers of the evening. Poor old bird; it turned out that prophecy was not his metier. He was mad on "reform".
The camp actually improves on closer acquaintance but it seems that food is not so plentiful as it appeared yesterday.
The two "spreads" were the result of a special effort made by the fellows from their parcels from England in order to give us a good welcome, bless em.
We have now to economise rigidly till our own parcels begin to arrive, although the chaps here are doing all they can for us.
It is impossible to obtain food from the village other than a few spuds & salads.
The Older Inhabitants here breed rabbits & grow vegetables and are therefore fairly well off.
There is a good library, a tennis-court, (another being prepared now), a cricket pitch, swimming will commence soon, & a bundle of well-worn skis in the hall look promising for winter sport.
Anderson (C.E.) showed me around today. He arrived in the "Yarrowdale" & has been in 18 camps in nearly as many months. He met Godfrey Ludlow (the Sydney violinist) in Ruhleben.
Wed 17th Apl.
Got my first real, "close-up", view of European forest scenery this morning.
At 9.30 we left the lager and set off in straggling files at a quick pace; a sentry with side arms following. We skirted the Roblinsee, thence swinging off into a pine wood, coming out into the beech forests near Augustablick from where one looks down over the beeches to the lake far below.
Wed 17th Apl.
A beech forest is a wonderful sight in the early spring a different (one does not say superior) class of beauty to our own blue-gum and wattle groves.
The silvery beech-trunks; the ground thickly carpeted with the mellow browns of last years leaves, and the vivid brilliant green of the young leaves all comprise a dazzling picture after my caged existence of the last 10 months it was like frisking through a new world for a couple of hours.
Fri. 19th Apl.
A different route on this morning's walk.
Leaving the Roblinsee we cut across the fir woods to the canal. Passed along the canal thru' Steinmuhlhavel, where the usual locks worked the usual mill. The village is quite small; about a dozen cottages and not even a store.
We returned via Steinforde, a pretty village consisting of a Kurhaus of about the same size as our lager, and a few cottages. In a field near the mill (Steinmuhlhavel) grazed a herd of about 20 really good Holstein cattle, the first I saw in Germany. In the whole of Scheswig-Holstein I did not see a single specimen of this famous breed.
Paul (the lengthy lieut. from B.C.) and self raced the smug Roumanian back from Augustablick (walking) and beat him hollow.
Vaccinated in the afternoon,
A Cinema show at 8 pm.
The pictures come from Berlin, are well censored, (we get mostly the German equivalent of the Mary Pickford rubbish) and the bill is shared by all, coming out at about a mark each a performance.
Tue. 23rd Apl.
Another concert in evening. Not such a good show as the last. Asstd vaudeville followed by a pierrot-show. (4 male & 4 "female") A couple of the "Pierrettes" were quite chic, but the others - !
Aubrey E. Raymond-Barker, (the name quite suits the owner) actually had the nerve to give a "baby" song attired as a pierrette! He had neither voice nor looks, but he had effrontery.
Through the farm country at the back of the lager this morning, through a now-deserted villa-farm with charmingly laid-out gardens. The surrounding country is very sandy, though picturesque, & although some rye is grown the land is chiefly devoted to timber, principally pine.
A long road back from the farm to the lager is bordered with cherry trees, now in full blossom.
Wed 24th (cont.)
Lessons are now in full swing at the lager, thanks to the exertions of Colonel C.H. Bury, whom I met first in Karlsruhe.
(In return for years about Tian Shan I tell him all about Papeete etc in the Beatrice Grimshaw style.) Suddenly remembered with a gasp where I had seen our mathematics teacher (H.E. Balfour, a long grave, Canadian B.A.). He was in last night's concert as a black-garbed pierrette with a scarlet garter encircling a silk-stockinged leg!
His garb did not give him poise; his staring eyes betrayed a lack of aplomb. The French teacher is Ward, an awfully decent young French-Englishman; our German Master is the Censor (the village schoolmaster); while Collier, ex. "Hobart Mercury", presides at shorthand.
Wed 1st May
A typical day.
Rise abt 8 am. breakfast 8.30 a. (porridge &, perhaps, bacon.)
(By the way, James & I have been allotted two seats on the dias overlooking the whole room. Poor James, the old dear, bore the blaze of publicity with a shrinking spirit for a day or so but he may now be heard laying down the law in his ripe "Geordie" accent. Further along at our table are Captns Moodie, Roberts, C.E. Byrne, vis-ΰ-vis is Lieut Hall, & on my left, his back to The Assemblage, is Horne.)
Appel on the terrace 9 am.
9.30 to 11.30 walking.
Noon till 1 p. lessons.
1 pm. Lunch. (Chefs Morton & the Queensland Meat Co., but Moodie occasionally casts us scraps of his rabbit pies.)
2 pm. till 3.45 p. One takes one's choice of another quick walk or of the "yachting party".
The "yachting party" lounge by the Roblinsee and watch old captains sailing toy yachts like so many Peter Pans.
One old boy passes the afternoon by golfing along the lakeside.
4 pm. Another appel (muster.) tea immediately afterwards.
5 pm to 7 pm. Classes again.
7 pm. Dinner.
8 till 11. usually Bridge or at little parties in different rooms
Pictures every Saturday evening.
Thu. 9th May
Ascension Thursday. Go to church in the village with the Colonel and Captns Mingo and Lucas. A splendid morning. The limes are in full bloom and "Unter den Linden" (the road approaching the village) is now a leafy arcade.
The church is of mellow yellowed brick, spired, and stands in the centre of a large cobbled Marktplatz. Service like High Anglican a good choir and organ.
Thu 9th May (cont)
After service we went to the hotel. The cashier of the lager is also Mine Host of the village Hotel. It is a comfortable old place has a fine dance-room, horrible gilt mirrors & a delightful old walled garden on the lake side full of apple & pear trees in full blossom and some well grown old chestnuts. The sort of place one would imagine as overflowing with cream and feather-beds, that hotel.
A hell of a row in the early a.m. between the Highly Respectable and Very Drunk.
The V.D. came through the "carpet" ordeal with flying colours owing to a little mistake on the part of the H.R. Swimming commenced today. The dressing rooms down among the lakeside villas are reserved for us daily from 2.15 p to 3.30 pm.
Sat 18th May
An all-day picnic to the Stechlinsee. The Stechlinsee is a big lake some six miles away over the hill. In the beech forest near Augustablick we met two Bosche females with the Wanderlust, knapsacks, flat feet, good complecions, and flirtatious instincts.
Swimming most of the time.
Lunched with Newstead, Ingham, Hall, & Capn Cole.
Newstead originated the Eden Ballet decorating our nudity with oak and beech leaves with striking effect.
A horrible disaster after Appel I am to go to Brandenburg on Wednesday!
Been very busy working with Collier on our "best-seller."
Ward (bless im) interviewed the Kommandant & protested at my leaving Furstenberg & the Kommandant, impressed with my German bow and convinced there from that I must be a Person of Quality, assured me that I would be a very short time only in Brandenburg.
Tue 21st May
Farewell trip to the Roblinsee swimming. (I have grown to love Furstenberg and the Roblinsee and almost dropped salt tears into the limpid lake.)
Evening with Frampton, Clarke, Balfour and Ansell.
A very mournful breakfast with James at the unholy hour of 6.15 am. Dear old James almost wept into the cocoa, and Collinson (my orderly) acted as though attending my obsequies.
Quite a crowd
attended gathered at the gate to Farewell Jago and I, well forward being Frammy in negligie (very much so.)
To leave their beds at such an hour showed such genuine "palliness" that I again almost sobbed. (Isn't this a tearful page? Tears have been about to be shed in the Roblinsee, in the cocoa, down my back, and at the barbed wire gates!)
Wed 22nd May (cont.)
The village was almost asleep at such an hour; our train pulled out at 7.45 am.
Jago, my compagnon de voyage, is a 1914 prisoner & is a bit dotty in a cheerful manner.
His tale, alas, is Touching! Quaite! (as Aubrey E. says)
Was in command of a ship in the Baltic in 1914, essayed to run out, was captured, and spent his time in Deutschland clamouring that he was a civilian, despite the fact that he has been in officer's camp for so long.
Last week a batch of officers left for Holland under the 18 months exchange agreement. Jago was to go with them. Alas and alack, some spiteful Bureau remembered our friend's pleas to be treated as a civilian; they cancelled his officer's passport and he is now en route to the civilian camp at Ruhleben, his wish to be treated as a "civvy" now being acceded to! We pulled into the Stettiner Bahnhof at 10.30 am.
Wed. 22nd May (cont.)
Leaving the Stettiner (a fine faηade) we set off via various squares etc for the Potsdamer Bahnhof. The vistas in the vicinity of the Pariser Platz were magnificent. The Reichstaggebaude with it's gilded dome
it seem did not impress me greatly; it appeared to me that it is the glorious tree avenues and the monuments such as the Brandenburger Thor which have given Berlin it's reputation as a beautiful city. The vista looking along "Unter den Linden" from the Brandenburger Thor is magnificent after such aesthetic horrors as most "Aussie" streets.
The Leifsiser Platz, opening into the Potsdamer Platz were very busy, the hotel terraces and the cafes being full of chattering feminity in new spring attire.
The German girl lacks, chic, but the fashions are still imitations of Paris.
Wed 22nd (cont.)
I lunched (mit Posten) in the 1st Class Potsdamerbahnhof cafe, having absolutely refused to enter the 3rd class cafe.
Strange to say, there was no objection to the "Englische Herr Offizier" entering the 1st class cafι, the objection was to my escort entering the Sacred Precincts!
Since the "Herr Offizier" said he would rather be taken to "Strafe" than enter a 3rd class cafι the objection to my poor old Landsturmer was waived, as a special concession I lunched amongst such gold-lace and well cut mufti on a Libby's veal loaf & biscuits, giving my guard a small tin of sardines and a glass of beer.
The waiter's (ex-London Hotel) eyes bulged when I gave him the remainder of a packet of cocoa as a trinkgeld after he made me a pot from same.
Wed. 22nd May (cont.)
We left the Potsdamer in a crowded troop train, packed to suffocation.
Passed thru' Potsdam at about 2.40 pm. our peep showing us beautiful gardens and pretentious villas but saw very little really.
Arrived at Brandenburg, the big military town, at 3.30 pm. & by tram and road we arrived at the lager (about 6 miles out) at about 4.30 pm.
The lager is an old brick mill or some such structure close by the Havel in open rye country.
A walk down a cobbled yard odorous of soup and Russkis and I faced a new type, the Unteroffizier.
He is quite a different person outside our lager which is exclusively for officers.
I was locked in a barbed-wire enclosure with a number of filthy Russians and a few sailors "homeward"-bound from Kommando.
Wed 22nd May (cont.)
A long, low barrack, flea-stricken and deplorably filthy, was to be my abode for the night.
One sleeps on a long shelf-like arrangement on which is scattered a very little matted straw.
This was at 4.30 pm no food, bedding, or blankets were supplied.
A little group gathered outside, (Bob, Pyne, Smithy, and Buck among others). Buck., an angel disguised as a fat, chubby 3rd officer, pushed sustenance through the barbed wire in the shape of a large mug of tea. While gulping the tea Bob gave me news that bucked me up.
None of Marconis people are in Brandenburg except one new arrival, all here have left for officers camps. We are just to remain here till verification of us comes through from London & then, again, we move. Quite a number of officers here awaiting their removal to officer's camps. So our stay in this sylvan retreat shall perhaps be short.
Thu. 23 May
Spent the night hunting fleas, scratching, accustoming myself to Attar of Russki and listening to tales of horror from the returning workers.
(Poor devils! they slave in mines, farms, everywhere, for 30 phennigs (3d) a day till they can work no more and then return to this choice convalescent home to recuperate!) Mosquitoes lent a pleasing variety to the night's programme.
And the stinks!
The lager consists of two portions; the old brickworks themselves, now used as the offices and dwelling of the lager staff, & the prisoners quarters, long barracks surrounding the slime covered clay pit.
Wire everywhere enables each barrack to be divided off into a compound. This morning was questioned at the Bureau, inspected for lice, bathed a la sleep-dip in the company of my Russian friends of last night, & was then free to go to Barrack 10.
Thu 23rd (cont.)
Number 10 is a long felt-walled barrack divided off into officers, underofficers, day workers, French, & many divisions. The officers quarters are full, sayeth authority, and a number of us needs must camp in the underofficers quarters, including Sandy (3rd "Wordsworth"), Geo., Buck, Heck, Fraser, & Smith. Everything and everybody is more or less filthy and the smell from the numerous open cesspits is omnipresent and overpowering.
My stable companions at number 10 include a number of travling skippers captured in the North Sea. Bob, Geo. Pyne, & self formed a Mess. We cook what little we have to cook on the beach by the clay-pit. (Pardon!. The Lake is the correct term here.) We are "on the Beach" metaphorically as well as literally.
In Brandenburg with Geo. This place place is the very heart of Military Germany; the Prussian Aldershot.
Sun 26th May (cont.)
The long cobbled Plauerstrasse which leads to the town from the lager is bordered with barracks on the outskirts of the town.
The old gate towers of the walls of medieval Brandenburg still remain standing; the modern town is congested, narrow, & provincial. One little detail pleased both of us encircling the light standards some 12 feet from the ground are baskets of petunias and geraniuns, now in full bloom.
At a service (non-demoninational) in the evening, conducted by Harrison. Ted (H.Y. Rodell, "Colchester") is organist. The Catholic and Russian altars, the Jewish synagogue, a boot repairing shop, & the camp theatre are all housed in portions of one long barrack. The two altars are side by side; when one is in use a curtain is drawn across the other.
Brandenburg camp contains many thousands of Russians, mostly filthy, ignorant peasants. The poor devils are mostly of magnificent physique and are drafted in and out of the camp in slave-like labour gangs, to work for the usual 3d a day. There are also large batches of French (sailors & soldiers), Italians, Poles, & English all of whom (with the exception of officers and under-officers) are also in the labour gangs. The only food supplied (it is given to all alike) is coffee substitute at 6 am, a basin of quite indescribable soup at midday, another basin at 6 pm. A small cube of bread (black & half-sawdust) is supplied in the afternoon. The manner in which this awful food is served & the odor of the stuff prevent any of us from touching it except as a last resort.
We exist on a weekly dole from the British Relief Committee, which is naturally unable to give much in such a place as this.
Sun. 26th May (cont.)
Later we dropped into a Franco-Russian concert in the theatre.
The theatre itself is similar to the one at Karlsruhe, albeit dirtier, but the stage is very well equipped. The orchestra is splendid, but the performance during our visit was a Russian farce, dreary and apparently full of repetitions. The place was packed with, and reeked of, Russians & we were absolutely obliged to leave after a few moments. Two maids from the Graf's house were present.
Graf von Bradow is the commandant of the camp, an elderly, bearded man who leaves everything to his unteroffiziere.
3 parcels arrived for me today. Wild excitement in the Mess. Two of bread & one general from Kopenhagen.
Fri. 31st May
A dire calamity occurred today. We are each cook and scullion of the mess in turn for a whole day each; we are at liberty to engage our own orderly to wash dishes etc from among the Italian or Russians.
George today after dinner handed our Family Plate (3 chipped enamel basins & 3 tin spoons) to an Italian to wash and prompty forgot them.
The Plate, alas!, returned no more and we are reduced to using saucepan lids. as eating utensils.
Captain Mowatt and his wireless operator (McGrath) of the C.P.R. liner "Medora" arrived today after 24 days in a sub. I earned the benedictions of the Captain (a pious but very decent chap) by doing the "ministering-angel" act with a tin of cocoa.
We take Mac into our Mess.
Sun. 2nd June.
In our once-more brushed and garnished uniforms with borrowed accessories Mc & I go to Mass; the little Italian priest officiating.
Sun 2nd June (cont.)
In the afternoon the Cercle Internationale Gymnastique opened its new grounds, which the members have prepared with much sweat. (I am a member but decline to sweat.) The Commandant was there with suite & the opening programme included French wresters, Jap. ju-jitsu experts & Lequointe & his squad of half-trained gymnasts in drilling & "pyramids". Geo. represents our mess in the latter.
Wed. 5th June
A typical day here.
Appel is at 6.15 am. (somewhat prolonged today on account of two fellows escaping last night (it is quite easy to escape here by bribery but one is so far from the borders that it is useless to attempt it).
Immediately after Appel I sally forth to the beach (being "chef of the day") armed with our "bogey" (an old tin converted into a stove), two billies, a packet of "Quaker Oats" and a long business-like ladle. Practice has enabled us to carry all of these at once.
On the chilly beach with dozens of others (from Captains down) I manage to get a fire in going in the old bogey & juggle the two billies over the fire till the porridge & tea is ready (I have progressed far since that day long ago in Karlsruhe when I looked helplessly at the ingredients of a pie.)
After breakfast (our barrack is dormitory, - salle-a-manger, & lounge all in one) I "wash-up", peel the potatoes for dinner & am then free to lounge about and gossip with the chefs next door till 10.45 or so.
Till noon I am busy preparing "dinner"; today's menu being:-
"Camp Pie" (a tinned substance) boiled potatoes
Compote of rice and apricots (dried)
Bread and dripping
This menu is exceptionally ample, packets being plentiful at present.
My compote was much admired; I was quite proud of it.
Wed 5th June (cont.)
Spend the afternoon lounging, sleeping, & so forth.
Do without afternoon tea today, being lazy, and at 5 pm serve up.
Fried bacon (a thin shaving each.)
Bread with treacle or dripping.
Cocoa (with milk & sugar)
These luxuries are not always served. We either play or watch football from 7.30 to 9.30 p. More cocoa at 10 p & a walk round our odorous lake telling each other our sorrows beings us one day nearer "Holland or home."
Thu. 13th June.
A big explosion at the Meser (munition factory) about six miles away across the river.
Swimming parties were taken out today for a swim in the river. I went, of course.
Sat. 15th June.
About 30 English "tommies" arrived today from East Prussia.
Poor devils! Gaunt, hungry, filthy, & in rags.
Today is bath day, an Event of fortnightly occurrence.
Fortnightly! In a place like this! We certainly do begin to distribute perfumes quite unlike those of Araby about the 13th day.
The bath resembles sheep-dipping. One files past a Russian doctor (who examines one's shirt for lice) into a dressing room usually packed with with Russians.
(The Russian peasant is interesting to meet in the pages of Dostieffski and Turgienev, but as a stable-companion - ! Even to have him existing within some few hundred yards of one is an ever-present insult to ones eyes and nose.) Clutching one's boots one then passes into the "bath-room" a concrete trench with some 30 showers. After the space under each shower is occupied the water is turned on in regulated periods. Water for 10 seconds one then has waterless leisure to "soap" for about a minute. Then another shower another draught and a final half minute of plenty. Ugh! Mac. adjusted his pince-nez with determination and vowed to remain one of the Great Unwashed.
Sat 15th June (cont.)
At the Franco-American concert in evening. Our "stalls" party included the two Mcs, George, & self. Bob has a liver and grunted his refusal to come. The audience was delightful - scarcely an Englishman there. We aired our French I deftly worked into the conversation sentences I had just looked up in "Connor's Phrase-Book". The concert was an improvement of the English effort of a fortnight ago or perhaps we are in a better mood. The orchestra opened with a "Carmen" selection, a "Signorita" warbled, a "Mademoiselle" chansoned, two hopeless Yanks gave "Yaacka Hula" & "Chinatown". We had a midnight picnic on the beach later the four of us consuming much ersatz-lemonade & biscuits & having a concert on our own.
Sun. 15th June
A most pathetic mass this morning for the sister of Lieut. Tellier the girl was killed during an air-raid on Brussels last week. The poor devil completely broke up at the close of Mass.
At vespers and rosary again in evening with the two Macs.
(I'm getting quite devout recently, n'est-ca pas?)
Wed 19th June
A close friendship of years has been sagging in the middle and finally collapsed today when I told Bob Taylor "on behalf of the Mess" that we could no longer exist as a mess. His liver, poor old dear, is out of bounds for a week he has not spoken to any of us & he snubbed me bluntly when I asked for an explanation this morning.
Over the pudding I broke the news, &, my part of the Dirty Work finished, I left George Pyne to divide up the Grub-box and the Plate.
The new mess is most successful "Three Minds which think as one" as far as food is concerned. "Why Hoard?" is our motto. The chef of the day does his "shopping" the evening before. From 5 to 8 pm Russians are perambulating the English barracks offering for barter potatoes, salads, eggs, even compasses & charts, & an occasional rabbit or chicken.
All stolen, of course, & smuggled into the lager in the trousers & shirts of the day-workers in the town.
Thu 20th June (cont.)
They barter for tinned meat, bread, etc. for which they obtain fabulous prices in the town. When a Russian Jew will offer 8 or 10 marks for a pound tin of "bully" it means that he can obtain 15 to 20 marks for it in Brandenburg. The usual prices are 8 to 10 potatoes for one portion of German bread last night I bought 6 eggs for a tin of "bully". One haggles in German with these dealers. Our menu today, to celebrate the launching of our Mess, was elaborate.
Eggs and Bacon
Lettuce Hot chocolate.
Dinner. "Biled Murphies" & bully beef.
Preserved pineapple. Cocoa.
Tea. "Grape Nuts" with Nestle's Milk.
Sardines Biscuits Coffee.
The above made a hole in our grub-box which would have made The Black Douglas (R.S.T.!) groan for a week.
Fri. 21st June
In Brandenburg "mit dem Wagen".
Twice daily a wagon goes to Brandenburg Post Office to bring up the prisoner's parcels to the camp.
In lieu of horses it is drawn by about 20 prisoners! All are volunteers & it is not compulsory to go but it is decidedly hard work on a wet day pulling a heavy wagon through the mud. I occasionally go, just for exercise.
Sat 22nd June
Performance at English Theatre.
"Charley's Aunt" with C. Hampson as the Aunt. Limb & as the young men, Whittaker & Rooney as the Girls, Wallace & the lady from Brazil. Quite good. Preceded by vaudeville, the stars being Jock (our 3rd Officer), Limb, & . The Asquith scandal was worked to the limit. The "47,000" & "The Book of the Golden Deeds" were the favourite subjects.
En passant the French love to picture the English as immoral hypocrites & they have, of course, placed the very worst construction upon the Pemberton Billing case. It really looks as though it will become a classic store-house of humour for our "Gallic neighbours, as is poor old Victoria? and the Wilde business.
Sun 23rd June
Bernard, mon ami francias, in a cooking lesson revealed the virtues of common burdock as a vegetable. Even the Russians don't eat that so I was able to find plenty growing around the camp. I cut some over by the Russian barracks & boiled it.
It was splendid; just like spinach.
We are now living by ourselves in a deserted barrack. We added McCarthy to our mess, but it was then overweighted with Temperament. McCarthy & McGrath were inseparable for a week & then had a fight,
with McCarthy grabbing a table-knife to end matters. Whittaker shrieked; dear old George just looked up from his book & calmly watched. McC has gone back to his barrack; while McG fights (verbally, almost physically) with me in his stead. We also were inseparable till McG. told me that the McGraths were the Royal Clan of Ancient Ireland & I remarked that every Irishman I had ever met, no matter how haggishly ignorant, always laid claim to be descended from kings.
Anyhow, today we were called out on Appel and asked to keep a watch on the lavatories to prevent Russians stealing the timber of which the hygienic abortions are built!
I rushed to the Bureau, spoke up like Brave Horatius, demanded, (yes! demanded!) an interview with the Court, said that it was not sufficient that we had not yet been moved to an officer's camp but that we were actually asked to perform a duty which even an underofficer might sniff at. Refused point-blank to do this Crime against our Rank & wrote a fierce letter to the Dutch Ambassador.
Not a bad day's work, what!
Sat 29th June
The Russian doctors left the camp in the morning, Spanish flu broke out in pm. All games stopped, theatre closed.
Mon 1st July
Down with flu, as is the whole barrack. Awful.
Thu. 4th July
Wild excitement. My first letter for 13 months. Only from London, though, re parcels. The Japanese Purser died today, flu & heart trouble.
Fri. 5th July
Mc, Whitaker, Paddy & Bernard & I went to the funeral of a Frenchman who died of consumption. We draped ourselves in our most glittering "drags", Bernard arrived resplendent in pale blue and silver. "It would almost be worth while changing ones nationality to be able to dress in blue and silver!" moaned dear Harry.
The dismal little procession filed out of the gates, the Italian priest in his black vestments ahead, then the plain deal case, a strong bayonetted guard following. The cemetery is through the pines on the edge of big rye-fields, over a thousand wooden crosses, Jewish triangles, & Mohammedan crescents rise from the ground.
Brandenburg was the scene of a typhoid outbreak in the winter of 1915-16, when the Germans abandoned the camp and left hundreds of Russians to die. They are all buried here.
There is also the grave of Genower, a British sailor. In March 1917 Genower, a Frenchman and five Russians were in the "Strafe" barrack one night when the wooden hut caught fire. Because the sentry had no orders to let the prisoners out he calmly watched them (or rather heard them) burn to death, bayonetting back into the flames one poor wretch who was endeavouring to squeeze through a tiny window. All 7 were burnt, of course, to ashes. On our return we were soundly rebuked by the Fishwives for attending a "Froggies" funeral!
Sat. 6th July
The Jap. purser was buried. The Japs carried a banner before the coffin, each bowed to the corpse, placed a garland of flowers before the open grave & the banner was later placed on the mound. Some 30 English present at the funeral.
Sun. 14th July
My first real letters, 3 from Sydney & 1 from dear old Norm.
I slipped em in my pocket, did not open them till I was right away by myself over near the bridge & then, after reading them, had moments of deep emotional self-pity varied by green intervals of envy of Norm., writing sympathetically from a flat at Maida Vale!
The Holy Trinity (our sobriquet among the scoffers) is in low water at present. Parcels very scarce & we have done several periods on nothing but biscuits (dry) & black tea.
Sun. 21st July.
In the wooden sabots & dilapidated rags in which we usually flop around Geo. & I had a photo taken by old Schroder, the town photographer who comes out here every Sunday to sell and take photos.
Sat. 27th July
International concert with Nagle as conductor. The Russian (from the Moscow Opera House) has gone.
Wed Aug 7th.
A Zeppelin passed over the town this afternoon.
I am now an "active" member of the Cercle Gymnastique and play "Soccer" with Frenchmen & a few English. We are not nearly as good as the crack English teams which play in the adjoining compound.
Thu. 22nd Aug.
Heavy explosions at at 10 pm in the direction of Berlin. Then the "archie" started, the explosions were quite clearly visible from the camp.
The heavy thuds which alternated were declared by those who had lived in the war zone for months to be bombs and there was wild excitement as we thought that the Handley-Paiges had finally reached Berlin. Alas! in the morning we found out that the new and powerful air-barrage surrounding the capital had been practising when, by a queer coincidence, a heavy storm with a series of deep and sharp thunder-claps had come along to supply "bomb" effects.
Sat 24th Aug
International Concert. Tellier was a shocking fiasco as a red-clad Mephisto in a "Faust" excerpt: (He shrilled the Kermesse scene!) Blue flares flashed around him as he shrieked and the audience (chiefly French) shrieked with delight and pretended to encore him, then shrieking again as he bowed acknowledgements.
He thought he made quite a success! "Spingli", the Italian soubrette, scored as usual. He (or she) has no voice but has reams of personality.
I am to make my debut at the next English Concert & Telliers failure left me outwardly amused but inwardly panic stricken. Geo. consoled me by saying that he, at any rate, would not join in the shrieks of joy which would accompany my debacle!
A huge Gotha flew low over the camp at mid-day.
The Holy Trinity posed in it's best rags before old Schroder's merciless machine today.
Another letter from Norm.
Fri. 30th Aug.
For the last fortnight have been rehearsing daily for our revue "Three Nights", which is quite an ambitious attempt. The theatre has been a mess of paint, scenery; a frantic wardrobe-master has been all over the landscape at once with bits of fluff etc, the wooden headed and foolish looking "ballet" has been drilled to exhaustion and I sail about outwardly cool but really palpitating with stage fright. The heavy advertising & the "caste" placards have made me quaite a celebrity. Dress rehearsals last night and tonight, Smithy (Asst. Purser of the "Matunga" and himself a famous "soubrette") is my dresser. Smithy was to have been leading lydy but as he intended trying to escape (which he didn't attempt after all) he turned it down. Harry Whitaker, who has no voice, is struggling with the part. Tonight's dress rehearsal was a dismal failure & Hampson & self left late in the evening (or early in the morning) prophesying a fiasco.
Sat 31st Aug
"Three Nights" a revue.
Elaine Seymour, leading lady "Theatre Royal " H. Whittaker.
Rose Walterston, premiere danseuse "T. Royal". G. Williams.
Dora Ford, of the chorus. R. Alexander
Blanche H. Munday
J. Beecham. C. Hampson
John Beecham. H. Limb
Mrs Beecham Wallace
Sammy a call boy ] H. Newlbe
Briggs - butler ]
Mrs Briggs. R. Alexander
Choruses, show-"girls" etc.
There were three acts, the 1st, a hotel terrace, was exceptionally well staged.
The chorus, cadets in fawn sailor costumes with red collars & fluffy underthings made from Red Cross bandaging (Limb is a genius at devising costumes, to give the little bounder his due.), were smiling stiffly and even the premier danseur (a Scotch music all hartist) could not liven them up till after poor Harry (looking as presentable as possible in a an abortion of a red costume & toque to match) had done his poor best with "Don't say I ever made you love me", a touching thing in rag time. The dressing room was a palpitating mass of grease paint, haggard dressers, & frantic stage "females" clawing at their clothes.
Sat. 31st Aug (cont.)
Smithy inserted me into a smart (at a distance) green gown, a gorgeous but not overdone complexion, a beauty spot, much borrowed jewellery (I ransacked the camp for bracelets etc.) and a blonde triumph fresh from the hands of our coiffeur (a pre-war Parisian ladies coiffeur.) In the second act "dressing-room scene" I waited with knees knocking together for my cue; I didn't see a face in the auditorium the conductor's chair was my limit of vision for quite half an hour whilst I waddled about and imitated Muriel Starr.
Our "figures" are funny (or rather their making); with the aid of several pairs of tightly wound puttees, a few old rags & a scarf or two one attains Kellerman-like perfection.
Our "Dear Little Cottage" song was not bad, but could have been better.
Williams and Limb in "Everywhere I go" were a bit slushy. "Lies" went splendidly. Newlbe should be George Robey instead a blue jacket.
In the 3rd Act (Freeman's flat) I made up as a peroxided 50 year old wreck of the "chorus dame" a London landlady with a Past.
I retained the blonde wig, (pulling it's Parisian perfection into an untidy tangle, donned a black high necked rig-out, replaced the beauty spot with some well-placed wrinkles & as jewellery wore a wedding ring & a long woman's watchchain.
A bunch of key's dangled from a girdle.
Songs 3rd Act. "Hello, you're carrying on" "Dance with Uncle Joseph" & "Take me back to "Yorkshire".
Sun. 1st Sep.
The ballet, Snowdon, Limb, & self posed for photos. Snowdon donned an elaborate tennis negligee; Smithy inserted me into Willans white "toilette". Thus garbed I posed with Rodell (in immaculate white-trousered uniform) The poses, though, were rotten. At the evening's performance of "3 Nights the Majah tossed a bunch of nasturtiums over when I concluded Fitznoddle's letter. With languishing gratitude I stuck em in my tubby hand. The Majah is the head of the relief committee (the old bounder) and I have already become an acquisition to the mess by being able to get food out of him, being now the Majah's favourite artist at the Brandenburg Hippodrome. What!
Fri. 6th Sept
The Feldwebel, a fat Prussian warrant officer. I have written to the Ambassador for Holland demanding to know why we are still in a lager which is not exclusively an officer's lager, and the Feldwebel has called me down to spread soothing syrup all over the landscape. We are to move ah! so soon, yes! and meanwhile, where do we live?
I told him we lived by ourselves & with a rebuking gesture he ordered us to move to the top barrack, full of Belgian & French officers with a smattering of English (two or three old captains.)
We move to our new quarters. Not so bad, & a bit more lively than our old tomb. The Italian Theatre gave their premiere performance with much eclat this evening.
Waltz songs, operatic choruses etc, quite a change and a huge success.
Sat 28th Sept.
The English Co. present "An Awful Story" a musical cannibal-island absurdity (and well named, too!) with a rotten supporting bill.
Charlie Hampson has weakly allowed two or three "duds" to continue on who can no longer sing & Dennelt, Jones, were awful failures tonight. Smith & Bonnelt gave a "soubrette & partner" turn which was excellent but the show generally was a failure.
"An Awful Story"
Princess Pellitoes .. a coloured damsel .. H.L. Smith
King Gobblu H.J. Heck.
Miss O. Perc, the passenger R. Alexander
The Chf Officer of the wrecked vessel E.A. Buckingham
The Bosun C. Hampson
Pall .. Another passenger O. Newble.
Songs, "Tell me". Smith & Hampson
- "Upidee" (parody Excelsior") Ensemble.
- "On Moonlight Bay" Ensemble.
Smith's make-up was great, a little frizzled wig, a black skin, a bouncing figure & his only garment made of rushes.
A repeat concert, much better, all old stuff. The "Story" was ditched (no black make-up left) Smith & B sang "Milestones", Dennelt. "I love the Ladies" & "Swim Son Swim".
Tue. 1st Oct.
A stormy general meeting of the English theatrical company.
The committee were censured for putting on such a show & a lively meeting is predicted for Friday.
(I think, talk & do nothing but things theatrical now. Tis a most welcome diversion.)
Fri. 4th Oct
Another meeting of the theatrical party. More than stormy, a cyclone. The committee was sacked, a new secretary, new producer, new stage & manager, & new president were elected & a new policy laid down.
Hampson is to control all plays (as distinct from revue & vaudeville) McGrath, (the Third Person of our Holy trinity!) by virtue of his Temperament is Adviser, "feelings" are not to be considered, & new talent is to be sought for. I am to "star" in W.W. Jacob's "Bosun's Mate" this month, &, after much argument and counter-argument, I was voted permission to appear in two French sketches at the next French performance. (This by a narrow majority; racial prejudice runs high on both sides here.)
I did not mention our "day out" last month. Applied to the Kommandantur for permission to visit Brandenburg "to see an optician ",Geo. & Whitaker to accompany me to hold my hand during the ordeal, presumably. I got it, too. (am learning "the ropes" of this hellish hole.)
When one obtains permission to visit Brandenburg all lend me whatever is necessary to complete a toilet that will do "Hold Hingland" credit. Consequently I borrowed a gorgeous bridge-coat from Rodell, a cap-badge from Sandy, a pair of gloves from Rooney; these added to my own humble "drag" made me very presentable.
George & Whittaker did likewise (I "forgot" (accidently, I don't think) to include McGrath in the request, so he stays at home to do the cooking. We sallied forth with our attendant Hun behind and caused quite a sensation in Brandenburg, Huns saluting us everywhere under the impression that we were German Naval officers (B'burg is very military & does not immediately notice the differences of uniform. We shopped here & there and I was nearly mobbed when I took precedence of a mob of hausfraus in a fruit shop and bought up apples & sour, little wine grapes at high prices while they waited an opportunity to buy.
We have a new mess-rate now now. Captain Burgess of the P.S.N.C. An amusing old card & a perfect cook! What a pity we have as little to cook, though! There have been no packets for the last fortnight and even I have almost exhausted my credit with the Majah! Damn him the Scotch cow. We are horribly hungry; even old George is wailing now & he is the most even tempered, philosophic and take-things-as-they-come chap I know. Geo. (otherwise Purser Norman Pyne of the"Matunga" ) is the First Person of our Holy Trinity (bloody blasphemous we're getting, aren't we?) is the ideal chap to live with in hard-luck times. A typical "Aussie", unselfish, adaptable, and a Good Cook, and not possessed of Temperament, Geo. is the sort of pal that one values. He is also a Notability. There are three Australians in this cosmopolitan hell, Smithy, Geo. & self.
Smithy is a celebrated "soubrette", a celebrated swimmer and contortionist, my humble self am a celebrated tragedienne and deft (!) handler of comedy roles, Geo. is a notability because he is an "Aussie" and is not notable (in the public way.)
Tue. 8th Oct.
A day of trial and trouble. I cursed and vanquished Limb, the wardrobe master, in the morning. The pig tried to do me out of borrowing the best toilette in the English wardrobe, which I intended using at the Theatre Francais on Saturday. Returning weary from the fray to our Officer's Mess (which is also the Officer's Dormitory, the Officer's Club-room & the Officer's Kitchen all in one) I fought with my adorable Irish mess mate, who is getting more impossible everyday. Then came "dinner" the best the Captain could give us was a plate of thin soup our store of food is almost exhausted. I cursed the Kaiser, Lloyd George, the Food Branch of the Red Cross & the world generally and then flopped down on my bed (a thing of unpainted wood which frequently becomes lousy) to mourn in solitude. The bed collapsed beneath me. I rose from the ruins and fled to a rehearsal to try and Forget. (how tragic that looks.) Here I met Nagle the International conductor, an American of sanguinary illegitimate parentage (to paraphrase my opinion of him). To cap all, Directeur Darras twice stopped the performance to correct my French accent! A sad day!
Sat. 12th Oct.
in "m'frez 8 jours"
Colonel d'Argemont. Alcide Bernard
Mdlle. d'Argemont Kortia Litsckko
Le Prefet . M. Mirbeau
Mme la Prefete Roy Alexander
Fricolin E. Lecointe
Flamebeau George Ducrocq.
Le Lieutenant . Paul Darras.
Agathe Rene Lesacher
A beautifully mounted triple, all acted together & it went with a swing. I was supposed to be a chic Parisienne of 30 & Bernard & Whitaker dressed (including the famous "confection" of the English Co. now disguised as a white & sexe "Dolly Varden" chapeau)
The doctor (the Italian) pronounced the result "tres elegante!" Praise indeed! Nearly had an accident. Was entering when the hat caught in the damned portiere & cocked over. I sailed across to a providential mirror and then returned to be "received" by M. le Colonel.
The Count's maid was present and brought me a favour in the shape of a beautiful bunch of zinnias, white roses, and Virginian creeper, with Marone ribbon streamers; an ornament which was The Feature of our mess-table for days.
"Chanseuse" Lesacher, in a blue sequinned gown and waltzing trifles.
L'Ecole .. a farce.
[The following paragraph has been inserted on the side of this page. It is not clear as to where it is to be included.]
In "l'Ecole" the Directeur tried to get me to crack one of the usual French jokes about poor old Victoria R. I refused; not from any excess of respect for Her late lamented Majesty, but because I could not understand the joke, even after studying it for days. Twas too subtly Parisian for my dull wits.
I sailed in as the English dame, (chic black-toqued and lorgnetted.) & in "exciting" backwards with my face in the irate Professor the portiere swept off hat and wig. The exit of Bernard covered the disaster, few noticing it, but the face of Whitaker and M. le. Directeur when I fell back into the dressing room with a hatless, wig-less & unmistakably masculine head showing above a toilette may be imagined.
The tenor (forget his name, but very good.)
Bernard et Cie. Excellent.
Le Ballet anglais.
Maitre du ballet E. Lecointe.
16 boys in a pastoral ballet.
Great. The gowns looked beautiful and
were devised by Limb out of the thin bags in which Italian biscuits arrive! being dyed pale blue after being made. The ballet was a huge success.
Fri. 25th Oct.
Italian concert. The Doctor, his head swollen by the success of the last show, has been unpatriotic enough to spend between 500 and 1000 marks in hiring dresses from Berlin in an attempt to "lick creation" with this performance. Seats 3 marks 2 m. & 1.50! in a prison camp! The English prices are only recently 1 m. & 50. ph. having been raised from 50 ph. all round as the latter price did not pay exes. (All performers, of course, are absolutely unpaid, except the unspeakable Russians & Nagle's mob, who actually make money out of fellow prisoners!). The Italian performance is in imitation of a Venetian carnival, with a short tragedy thrown in. Taken all round, a failure.
We refused to pay the 3 marks &, (I should really blush to say it) we "pinched in" at "half-time"! (Not, of course, in uniform.)
A typical incident occurred yesterday. For years all arriving prisoners are locked in the strafe barrack till required for interrogation purposes.
Fri. 25th (cont.)
No blankets have been supplied, even in winter. Now that it looks as though Foch is on the move. a box of blankets was yesterday placed in the "Strafe" barrack. After 4 years! Speech (A)
Food is very scarce in the lager no packets again for 14 days.
Mc "en relief" last week, I go on today. (Sounds like entering the workhouse, doesn't it? When one has not received a packet for 14 days the Relief committee dole out weekly grants till the packets again resume arriving. All sorts of scandal about the committee dining on 6 courses & feeding German "lydies", of course.)
Sat 2nd Nov.
"The Bosun's Mate"
Mrs Waters. a young widow. R. Alexander
Geo. Benn ... a retired bosun .. C. Hampson.
Ned. Travers " soldier .. Newble.
The mounting was perfect, worthy of any stage. Also the stage has been enlarged & the orchestra is now in a sunken pit great improvements. Scene-painter Cecil Tooke devised the old English Inn-parlour, with a bar & wonderfully good antique settees, chairs, & a grandfather clock.
Mc. (our Mc) gave "The Shooting of Dan McGrue" & is a really good elocutionist. (hateful word)
Smith & Heck in "Santa Fe" & "Hello, Winter!" The Serbo-Laundry duo in execrable ragtime.
Smithy was excellent.
With Tellier (the lovely Lieut.) Geo, Mc. & Rodell; we obtained permission for an afternoon walk and, glittering and gorgeous in borrowed plumes we passed down to the gate at 2 pm past the openly-jealous V.O. barrack.
We sailed out across the river & through the woods to Gorden, a pretty little village wherein is situated "zum Waldesruh'", an inn simple and Germanic where beer may be obtained together with coffee ersatz & where Tellier amused us with the piano. A cosy and comfy afternoon.
Arrived back for dinner at 6.30 p (Dear old Burgess had dug up some spuds & baked em with bully beef,) and then I had to rush away to my histrionic labours at the "Hip".
Fri. 8th Nov.
Events are moving rapidly. The Emperor Karl has abdicated & an armistice has been granted Austria. Our long-delayed move takes place on Monday (events permitting.)
Geo. Whittaker, Smith.
go to Schweidnitz.
Ted and old Freestone (of Fryatt's ship, the "Brussels") go to Wanbeck, another party & myself (as R.S.T.) goes to Clausthal in the Hartz Mountains. (where Captn's Saunders & Donaldson are.)
Sat. 9th Nov.
Wilhelm abdicates. News received here at 11 am. Rumoured the Heinrich von Preussen assassinated.
Revolution is expected hourly we are ready to take to the forest immediately, should the lager be looted for food.
At 9 pm. the church bells rang & cheering was clearly audible in Brandenburg. The guards remove their cap badges.
Red Flag was hoisted over the lager at 10 am, the Count being taken away. Captn Bruce & Majah Walker were appointed our deputies to meet representatives of the new government. We tried all possible measures to get out (at 2 p & 7.30 p) to visit the town, with no success. The till now easily bribed guards would not let us out even with food as a bribe!
As the only means of seeing a German town in its present state of flux I attached myself to the wagon going to the post office (at 1 pm). The streets were crammed, all pushing toward the Hauptstrasse. It was incredible to see the Kurassier Barrack flying a Red Flag, & the Artillerie Kaserne proudly flew a red army blanket at their lofty pole! Red army blankets are in common use as flags.
The huge grounds were absolutely silent stunned. It must be remembered that Brandenburg is the very heart of things military & the huge majority of the bourgeoisie and military caste are unable to realise that the regiments are really sailing through the town with red Cockades in their hats. Orders and badges are thrown into the road, Whittaker & I picked up an Iron Cross ribbon & two badges. The armistice was signed at 5 am & had been in operation since 11 am. The camp took the news calmly, apathetically. Our senses are becoming so blunted that even this news could not rouse the majority!
Our transfer to Clausthal is cancelled, of course.
Thu. 14th Nov.
Two delegates from the Soviet addressed us today, one a tall man with a pale fanatic dreamer's face & the other like nothing on earth but a caricature of a Nihilist. They addressed us in German as "Brothers"!!! The camp is seething because today's newspapers from Berlin announce that prisoners
are to be retained in Germany till peace is signed, in contravention of the Armistice terms. The crowd here is just beginning to realise that an Armistice has been signed, & when Tillier faultily translated the delegates as saying that the announcement was correct the mob "panicked", Haig, Foch, Lloyd George etc were cursed & blasphemed at; men frothing at the mouth were ready to embrace Bolshevism or any other ism as they began to consider themselves abandoned by those in authority in England.
Fri. 15th Nov.
The list of war vessels sailing to England on Monday next announced; to include the big "Bayern" & the "Emden".
The first big frost has come; freezing icicles hanging from the roof of the huts.
Tellier, Ted, Geo. & self get permission to go out: Left at 1 pm.
At "zum Waldesruh" till 3. The cafι was crowded, several Frenchmen were there. Went into Brandenburg in the "electrischer". The two Italian doctors & the priest met us on the crowded tram, also en route to the town.
The doctor is a most effeminate looking individual, wearing a frizzled white goatskin collar over his green uniform.
We spent a not too respectable but joyous time in the town & we sailed home in the evening I linked arm-in-arm to do the red-cockaded posten who called me "brother" and sang loudly songs of Vaterland and freedom. I responded with the Hamburger "Holdrio, is geht nach Heimat", which was quite appropriate. My red-cockaded "brother" begged me to throw my cap-badge into the gutter, or at any rate to remove the Crown the "badge of servitude!" I didn't.
My birthday. Amused ourselves by snow-balling in the heavy snow. Photos in the football field.
Farewell concert by the old stagers.
"The Price" a dramatic trifle from one of le Quesne's works.
Rooney was excellent as the "heroine"; looked very distingue but his teeth quite spoiled him. I was dresser & "maker-up", "doing" Aird for his "Harry Lauder" turn, Limb for sentimental tenor songs & the cockney duo for ragtime.
This was my first appearance in quite a new role & I made a huge success of "making-up" if I say it myself As Shouldn't.
Then I dressed Smith for his "soubrette" turn, &, after I had turned him out as he was not often turned out before, the pig refused to trust his damned face to my ministrations, asking my Hated Rival to do the work.
I plotted vengeance and got it. West "in front" during Smith's turn, noticed all his little faults of "make-up" & returned to the dressing room with a grim expression boding no good for the star soubrette.
For "The Wrong Flat", I was to dress & make-up Harry Whittaker, the "heroine". Harry has always till now looked gauche and awkwardly dressed, chiefly owing to his clothes, his fondness of a too pallid make-up, & the awful hats he wears.
I rushed round to the Italian wardrobe, "wangled" a bonser white toilette with a super-smart black tagel hat which came from Berlin & got the coiffeur to dress the good blonde wig in a high, "piled-up" style.
I turned out Whittaker in a style which he did not know he was equal to; he knocked Smith into pulp and the audience quite forgot the "soubrette" and talked of nothing but Whittaker. As a token of gratitude he actually gave me a bonser supper from his private parcel box an event hitherto unknown in camp history!
Wild excitement Captain Bruce announces in our barrack that 400 Merchant Servicemen are to leave on Friday for England via the Baltic.
Called on appel.
The Concert Party gave a dance in the theatre. The full orchestra played and we Merchantmen were in hectic spirits. And, would you believe it, those pigs of the Royal "Naivy" actually glowered with envy because we are to go first!
I dressed in mufti so that I need not think of "dignity" (ahem.) and introduced a new fox-trot with Harry Whittaker amid wild applause. Then the "Naivy" woke up.
The M.C. announced that "that favourite dance of His Majesty's lower-deck, the Bum-Dance, will be added to the programme.
The B.D. consists of ragging vigorously for 4 bars & then endeavouring to hurl one's partner across the room with one's posterior!
Alas! We were all tempted and fell, & amid hilarious shrieks one saw a whirling kaleidoscope of blue & silver French uniforms, green Italian ditto, khaki, navy blue & not a little gold braid thrown in here and there, all demonstrating with verve and abandon "that favourite dance of His Majesty's lower deck."
Fri. 22nd Nov
A sad day for poor Harry.
Only 350 leave tomorrow, length of captivity replaced rank as regards passports, consequently all captured later than November 1917 are to remain. "Our Mc", Captns Bruce, Burgess. Cave are to "hier bleiben".
The Day of Days.
Sat. 23rd Nov.
350 of us assemble at the gate at 11.30 am, and at 12.30 we marched off with an escort (with bayonets!) and one cart for the officer's baggage & one for the men. "Good-byeee" "Milestones" & "Tipperary" were the favourite songs.
Although "Tipp." has lost it's popularity with us the Germans regard it as The British war-song, so we "let em have it." Brandenburg glowered at us; the flags were out for their own returning troops but it might have been a huge funeral for all the gaiety one saw. Via the Luckenberger Strasse we reached the Bahnhof, leaving for Ruhleben at 3.10 p. All were in 3rd class carriage except Geo. myself & a few others. (thanks to Tillier.) It was 9 pm before we reached the gates of Ruhleben a six hours journey via Potsdam (shrouded in darkness) and Spandau which is usually done in 1 ½ hours. The train drew up at the gates & led by Captn Powell we passed into the famous civilian prison.
We found ourselves in a maze of stables, now utilised as barracks, & were told to find accommodation anywhere, as we leave for the Baltic early in the morning. Geo. Ted. Sandy & I camped in a "box" which had contained 5 bunks, only two of which were not tenanted. Half of Ruhleben left yesterday; the camp will be completely cleared tomorrow. In the well appointed kitchen an excited cook who could already see Tyne-water in his mind's eye fell on our necks & fed Ted & I on cakes (such bonser cakes!) and tea, which we consumed in company with a young ex member of the Foreign Office (now a little blithered; everybody is celebrating) who was a famous tragedienne of the Ruhleben stage.
Sun. 24th Nov.
Barrack 13, where we slept, is peopled mostly by gents of doubtful nationality, with a smattering of "horsey" folk. One of em said to Sandy "Your'e Thcotsth, aren't you? Why, I'm Thcotsth too!" Sandy actually sniffed audibly; Geo giggled.
We visited the theatre, (not unlike ours at B'burg), the grounds in fact all of the famous camp. It is not so bad now but it must have been absolute Hell when these poor devils were first dumped in these unfurnished horse-boxes. And we met old acquaintances! McAnally, Haxton & all those passengers from the "Matunga" & "Hitachi" have been working with the labour gangs, met us with tears in their eyes & wailed how they had been placed in the labour gangs as common prisoners! We, the tolerated, but only tolerated, merchantmen went to officer's treatment as members of one of the Services (if not the Service), whilst they, the Anglo-Indian passengers, have been in coal mines, latrine gangs, etc. And McAnally & Green were on a Night-Cart!!!
We shrieked outright at this intelligence & were voted callous pigs" by the ex Toilers.
A huge train (33 coaches & 2 luggage vans) were drawn up outside the station. We are 1300 strong, including the wives and children of the
English "suspects" who have been interned for so long.
The train was mass of bunting, including English flags, & as we lined the roofs, danced, & yelled like maniacs as we slowly drew out en route for Sassnitz, the little port on the Baltic where we embark. Three of the revellers were swept off the roof of the moving train, two being killed. Very sad at such a time.
We left at 11 am, Geo., Smithy, (in gorgeous new braid), Ted, Payne & I in one 3rd class coach.
Past pretty Oranienburg; past the tall wireless mast of Nauen; past dear old Furstenberg (the lights of the lager glimmering across the darkened landscape.); past the Grand Ducal capital of New Strelitz (deserving of note because Ted got me hot coffee there.
I passed the night in fits and starts on the wooden parcel-rack. At Stralsund at midnight we got hot coffee, bread, & sausage, crossing the Straits on the train-ferry immediately afterwards.
Mon 25th Nov.
6 am. found us pulling into the quaint station of Sassnitz, the Baltic in front of us in the grey dawn & the lights of a trim passenger ship blinking by the quay.
A stately big Danish woman in a most becoming Red Cross costume was at the gangway I would have loved to have hugged her, the smiling angel! Then an awful rumour spread along the crowded train the vessel was only prepared for less than 1000 prisoners & at any rate 200 must remain in Sassnitz for 2 days. And the rumour was true, but those in our compartment were among the fortunate who boarded the beautifully appointed "Kong Haakon" & luxuriated in the little cabins, with such spotless linen. And the breakfast in the saloon, plain, good, Danish dairy food; eggs butter milk etc. served by efficient stewards twas ecstasy.
Mon 25th Nov.
I am ashamed to confess it, but as the "Kong Haakon" drew away from Hunland with the disconsolate 200 still seated in their 3rd class coaches, all I could spare for this dramatic leave-taking was a hasty glance through the saloon window before settling down to more Good Food. Past the white chalk cliffs of Rugen & North across the Baltic and I snoozed in the dainty little cabin. Lunch was plain & perfect delicious plain foods in any desired quantities.
A couple of unobtrusive notices warned us against overeating till our stomachs had become accustomed to Plentitude and Second Helpings. Then I slept again coming on dusk to find ourselves in the grey misty Cattegat approaching the entrance to Copenhagen a destroyer (Danish) accompanying us to be "on the spot" if we bumped a mine, presumably. In the misty sunset Copenhagen reminded me of Melbourne as seen from the river.
The "Primula" and the "Ficaria", two fast but obsolete arks of the Skandanavic-Amerika line, were waiting for us with steam up. In the crush in the big waiting rooms on the wharf Ted & I lost the others, & we two boarded the "Ficaria" while Geo. & Co took the ""Primula".
They are sister-ships and are now fitted up in troopship style with bunks and mess-room. A home-like touch has been attempted by putting palms, flowers, & tiny silk flags, on the tables. There is not room in the cabins for even all the women, so we needs must take a bunk somewhere in the depths of the forward hold.
The thoughts of mines under such circs. are not pleasant.
However, the food is equally as good as that on the "Kong Haakon"; though we would like to continue to England on that dandy ship.
At 9 pm the two vessels left for England, crowds lining the wharves and cheering.
Tue. 26th Nov.
Came on deck at about 8 am to find the two "prison" ships rounding the Skaw, the town of Skagen, where the "Ingots Mendi" went ashore, being clearly visible. A vessel blew up on a drifting mine just in front of us last night and we passed two drifting "fills" this morning.
The "Grey North Sea" is quite bare of shipping and towards evening a choppy swell sent the "Ficaria" lurching like a rowing boat. I was on deck most of the night I must frankly admit that mines have got on my nerves.
Thick, choppy weather & the shore almost invisible as we entered the Firth of Forth about dusk. (5 or 6 pm) We anchored at 8 amid terrific cheering & playing of searchlights from a portion of the "Naivy".
But why do these maniacal Ruhlebenites show their joy and vivacity by singing "Are we down-hearted? No No No" to the dirge-like straines of the "Te Deum".
To well-known hymn tunes they have united other lively sentiments of a similar motive.
Why can't they sing "Good-byeee" and "Dixie" (modern versions) if they feel bucked?
Thu. 28th Nov.
Our anchorage is between two of the huge booms stretching across the Firth off Leith. The destroyer C11 circled around with cheers, and amidst the wailing of sirens & the blowing of whistles from every ship in port, the cheers of the crews & , last but not least, the cheers of a big bevy of trousered & chic munition girls at the dock entrance, we entered the docks, the "Ficaria" leading.
Approaching the dock past the rows of camouflaged ships (the huge "Roseleaf" was noticeable) the ships drew in with a bagpipe band piping weird strains of welcome & a huge crowd gathered outside the wharf.
The wharf itself was filled with brass hats Colonel Dunlop shrieking the King's welcome through a megaphone before the mooring lines were fast.
The wharf shed was a mass of flags and flowers, & we breakfasted to the strains of a bagpipe band (surely a unique breakfast "orchestra"?), the meal being interrupted by Lord Mayors etc making speeches of welcome.
After breakfast we expected to slip quietly away to London, but got the shock of our lives.
The "Ficaria's" passengers were breakfasted before the "Primula" people landed and we then went to the exit to be assisted on to one of a string of motor lorries draped with flags to resemble movable pedestals. Ted's gorgeous uniform caused him to be pushed to the front seat of state, I sat modestly behind.
Ted was known evidently, & as the huge line of lorries drew away a little two very smart warrant-officers and a lieut. came over and congratulated him and me, then. Then the procession started and the fun began. A triumphal arch with "Welcome Home" in huge letters barred the dock gates swinging into the town (we were near the head of the procession) a hoarse cheer went up
from a packed mass of people which was startling.
I had no idea that so many people existed in Scotland (to say nothing of Lieth) - & the huge crowds lining the flagdraped streets absolutely mobbed us. I found myself holding a huge box of chocolates which a woman of 40 or so presented with a kiss, & bundles of cigarettes, paper streamers, toy sirens, "ticklers" were all over me. The women hugged us almost off the lorry, men shook our fists (my hands were both red-raw when we got to the station), a cinema man rushed his camera along to get Teds expression of idiotic ecstasy, & when we finally got into the special train at the station a mob of dear, delightful lassies (porterisses, W.A.A.C.s etc. all got into the carriages & mugged us tell we left. It was an overpowering welcome so unexpected, to warm, and so "real" that it dazed me, quite.
My brief recollection of Scotland, and my very first landing on British soil are too pleasant to be ever forgotten.
Thu. 28th Nov. (cont)
After waving "good-byees" to our Scotch as we pulled out of Leith at noon en route to Ripon camp we sank back into the carriage and tried to realise things. It is rather overpowering to find ourselves a band of popular heroes instead of, as we expected, a mixed collection of nonentities.
Caught a glimpse of Edinburgh through the mist as our "special" whisked through one of the suburbs.
The crowds were out all along the line here to wave welcome.
The country to Berwick-Tweed is typical reminiscent of scenes on Christmas cards minus the snow. Newcastle-on-Tyne was, of course, very unattractive as seen from the train. A thick mist did not make the slum-like houses look any more cheerful. Some big gaps in the crowded city blocks around the station marked the track of the "Nipps" and Gothas. We arrived at Ripon, Yorkshire, in a thick wet fog at about 6 p.m.
A string of mixed Army Transport wagons, Red Cross ditto and 5-seaters were waiting to take the crowd to the camp.
The Boy and I got one of the latter ([indecipherable]) after a struggle and pulled up in about 15 minutes outside a wooden hut and on overworked army captain. The Capt. took one look at the Boys gleaming resplendency and ordered us to the Officer's quarters.
A uniform does carry weight in England; even the once despised Merchant Service now draws nearly as much water as the "Naivy". We were quartered by ourselves in the usual barrack and waddled out to dinner at 7.30 pm at the officer's mess-room, which was gaily decorated with palms, bunting, and well-chosen, ornamental, W.A.A.C. waitresses. The tables were brilliant with silver, palms and glass. The entire room was prepared for diners, but the only ones there were Ted, a medical Major, a Secret Service lieut. who arrived with us, and Jackson our lieut. host.
Thu. 28th Nov. (cont.)
Had a splendid little three-course dinner port, sherry, beer, but no liquers. I entertained the Major with lies about my experience in Canada (where I have not been), but Huss the S.S. chap, gave us some regular thrills with his experiences in Germany, (mostly lies too, I s'pose.)
Breakfast with Jackson, order a car for 11.30 am, interview the Merchant Service representative here and get a 1st class railway pass & a few quid, slip back to a cosy club which has plenty of big cretonne-covered chairs, coal fire, and a bar. Huss, Ted, & I get our car about noon, sail past our civilian ex-fellow prisoners who are now plodding down to the train and leave for London about 1 pm. Then London.
Miss Rodell met & carried off the Boy I found N.W.M. waiting, resplendent (naturally) in The New Naval Burberry, a badge like a rising sun, and an ebony-and-silver cane.
He looked at my ancient uniform, shuddered visibly, and led me, deeply moved, to the nearest mercers.
Concealing my worse-than-nakedness in a well selected "N.-N.-B" he then carted me to the Australian Club in Piccadilly, where the youth is at present bestowing his patronage. A dream of a place for Aussie Officers overlooks St James & Hyde Park Corner.
Well content, almost purring, I am just about to really Dine (with well-deserved capitals) once more methinks this diary will see little of me till I have some leisure en route home to Aussie.
[Reverse of tickets]
Pg. 34 Mrs Crippen (or Dr Crippen ) = Bread and dripping
Pg. 79. Carados = Cargados
Pg. 160 and others. Appel = Appell
Pg. 170. Hartz = Harz
[Transcribed by Rosemary Cox and Adrian Bicknell for the State Library of New South Wales]