World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 6.

The Drummond sisters were born and raised on the Clarence River in Australia.

Early in the 20th Century they lived in Berlin, Germany, and worked for the opera company there, for many years.

When war broke out in 1914, they were ‘trapped’ for some time – Behind Enemy Lines. This is their story, in their own words.

No Good News

‘Lute’ continues the sisters’ story of their plight of being – Behind Enemy Lines

Monday, 10th August- Fancy, Cook cashed our cheque for us this morning, so we now have 600 marks to go on with, and have thrown care to the winds. You see it was in this way. Already on the 28th July it had been sent to London, and should easily have reached us on Monday, the 3rd August. It was here, but all private correspondence, naturally, was laid aside until after the mobilization. In Cook’s is an exceeding quiet but businesslike Englishman with a German surname. He has never said more than ‘good morning’ to us for all these years, though we see him regularly the first of every month. This morning he arranged the matter for us with no fuss but decision, and we are very grateful to him indeed. In war time they had no obligation to pay out cash, so his attention was as nice as it was unexpected.

We had a very restless night. \Yesterday Mr Hoppe sent Inez to invite us to dinner and supper, and after spending a very pleasant day with them we returned home about 10 pm. We were met at our house by an excited crowd, who told us that Belfort had fallen. We could scarcely believe that this strong French fortress had fallen so quickly into the hands of the Germans. A Royal automobile has given out the news, so the crowd said. Jean and I were feeling that if Liege and Belfort fell within a week then Paris too would soon welcome the Teutonic army. We couldn’t understand it.In the morning too the papers were full of the account of a little German steamer ‘Koenigin Luise’, which laid mines and caused an English man-o-war, the Amphion, to sink, right in the mouth of the Thames. The steamer itself was sunk, but the deed was an heroic one. We were reading of nothing but victories, right and left, east and west, on land and water, and the outlook from the German papers was a very blue one for us. However, we went to bed, discussing the merits of the French guns and had only been asleep for a couple of hours when we were awakened by truly inspiriting singing. The crowds, both men and women, were marching the streets lifting up their voices in ‘Deutschland uber Alles’. It sounded so convincing in the middle of the night that we were certain the news of Belfort was true. We couldn’t sit patiently until the morning paper came, but there was no Belfort in great black headlines. Only the surprising paragraph that England had taken Togo in German Africa. We had forgotten all about the colonial possession, and it suddenly dawned on us that Australia would probably be annexing New Guinesa and Samoa. The field is widening. As we passed Fran Adofi’s in the tram this morning we could see a globe of the world on her table. One has to keep two hemispheres now in the mind’s eye. But we hear nothing. I think the Germans themselves are complaining. Never a line has been published, as to the dead and wounded. Today, the paper said, in answer to numerous inquiries a list would be published, but the people mustn’t lose their confidence. This suspense is unnerving the people. They live in the streets. Don’t go to bed in the nights- stand about talking and waiting, waiting. No nation can expect endless victories in a week. Perhaps with time will come the dullness of hope.

All the jewellers’ shops in Unter den Linden today were closed, and, of course, the windows were absolutely naked. The swagger hotels are quite empty- they look so airy and hollow.

Did I tell you that all places with English and French names have already been re-christened. Fresh menus in hotels have been printed, leaving out Welsh rabbits, roast beef, pommes-futes, in fact, all the various foreign dishes, and several universities, including Heidelberg, have decided not to take any more French and English or Russian students. I can’t write any more. I think a poor woman opposite has just had bad news from the front. She is sobbing bitterly. We’ll be nervous wrecks before this awful war is over.

After supper Purmall’s friend came up and told us that a great naval battle was taking place. We can’t sit down. The evening paper came and contained again- nothing. Only the whole front page, an article from the War Office, telling the people they must believe what is officially published- they must believe what is officially published- they must have confidence in their generals- they must not be so hungry for news, and a promise to print a list of the killed and wounded from Liege. The people are beginning to think that Liege hasn’t fallen. Twice this morning and tonight again the War Office had to emphatically print, “We have Liege firmly in our hands.” These contradictory rumours, these conflicting reports are just driving the people quite crazy. We are catching the spirit. If we hear a whistle, a bell, a sound, we jump up and look at each other. Do you think it’s like this in other countries? Don’t ever speak again of the phlegmatic German. That is quite a myth. Stolid- not at all. A mass of nerves; not a scrap of patience.

I’m afraid that victory is the only thing they will be able to hear. I wonder will they get it?

To be continued

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