World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 9.

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.

Waiting in Berlin

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

The first member of a ruling house fell a few days ago, a Prince of Lippe, and considering that we never hear of any skirmishes or engagements, it is quite remarkable how many majors, lieutenants etc, have their names in very short casualty lists. One never knows where the various unfortunate men meet their doom. It is never published.

I heard yesterday that the regiments from Alsace-Lorraine have been sent on to the Russian border. One can’t guarantee for their loyalty.

The tramway department decided to stop all traffic at midnight, but there’s been such an uproar in the press from the thousands of cafe and restaurant proprietors that the final step has as yet not been taken. Of course, this would add another long list to the already large one of ruined business people.

Now, I can realise what a ruinous thing war is, for the time being. There will practically not be a male breadwinner left in the whole of Germany when these non-soldiers finish their drill course, and if the war lasts then pity help Europe, for who is left to plough, reap and sow? Only women.

I would give worlds to know if the other countries are as foolish as the German papers say. They only laugh at England, have always done so- they snigger at our army and generals- say it would be a sin to bring such untrained men on the Continent- have a little more respect for our navy. France they picture as being quite unprepared, not even boots for the soldiers, and Russia, poor thing, every morning we read where a fresh cavalry regiment gallops up to the German quarters giving themselves up joyfully, and only ask for “Good food!” We read this morning, too, where England is cabling lies by the yard all round the world, telling of victories that have never been won, and deeds that happen in the imagination of this false people.

What do you think? The first prisoners have arrived- not in Berlin, but in Cologne and Dusseldorf, and the German women were so ‘amiable’ to these foreign officers, giving them wine, chocolate, etc, that the Commandant had to issue an order asking them to behave in a manner worthy of their country and its defenders. There’s no mistake, but Germans love foreigners, and what’s more, they love airing their knowledge of other tongues. I guess they were using their French on the Belgian and French captives. I said so to Jean in bed this morning, and now the paper has verified my sumise. The account said the Belgian officers looked very smart in their well cut uniforms, but they wore a very earnest and bitter expression. The French, on the contrary, were chatting and laughing gaily. Just imagine, in the whole of Austria only two theatres are open! The men- thousands of artists both here and there will be on the verge of despair. Most of them have gone off to fight. A leading tenor and baritone from the Vienna Thof Theatre were killed already on the Servian frontier; even Kreisler, the great violinist, is with his regiment; also Staegemann, the one-time beauty actor of Berlin, and Kirchoff, the tenor from the Royal Opera House. I suppose since this last

lot has been called out (“Landsturm”is the German word for these last resources), the directors too will be shouldering the refle. From 17 to 45 is the age limit.

If the Russians now made a brilliant dash over their frontier with a good sound array, then we would all be in a fix, for the whole strength of Germany is on the French border. But the poor old Russians! One loses confidence in them as it were. You see, according to German accounts, today we read where they run in and sell their horses for 20 marks (£1) to the Germans, the next day is published where three Berliners take captive a major and 15 men: then the day after tomorrow there’s a long story of how a German took a flashlight photograph of a group of these unfortunate prisoners. An when the camera popped (you know the puff and explosion), then they all fell on the ground with fear, thinking the apparatus was a new deadly gun.If the 15,000,000 are all like these samples, then the conquest of Russia should be child’s play to the modern German soldier. I’m afraid there’ll be no Barmen this season. Coblenz, on the Rhine, is one of the military headquarters. Barmen is also in this neighbourhood. Up till now I haven’t met anyone who cares a button about artistic careers. There are too many other things at stake.

Tuesday, august 18th– Today was printed the first unsuccessful encounter of the Germans- a very unimportant skirmish at “Schirmeck” near Strasburg, where the French captured some machine guns etc. This happened on the same day as the battle of Mulhausen, but it’s only now that we hear of it. We also heard from a German friend that at Liege the whole of the Red Hussar Regiment was annihilated, only seven men surviving. There’s not a word of anything like this in any of the papers. The public is kept in absolute ignorance of anything but victories so far. I think it dreadful to buoy up the nation on such accounts if they are not true. A long list of English lies is again in this morning’s columns. Fictitious account of a naval battle, where 22 German boats were sunk, false victories from Russia, etc till Jean and I are almost driven to despair wondering what to believe.

Wouldn’t the French love those Strasburg guns? They laid them as a love offering at the feet of the Strasburg figure. I can always see the “Place de la Concorde” in Paris, where those female figures sit, representing the Departments of France. Alsac-Lorraine with its 44 years of crepe and floral offerings at its feet, is one of the most touching sights in the gallery of history. I’m sure to the French ‘Strasburg’ is not only a cold statue, but a living, breathing, beautiful woman, for whose rescue back into the French fold nearly every soldier would give his last drop of blood. Just as the Italian who stole “Mona Lisa” loved this canvas with a patriotic pulsing heart, so the French feel towards these lost provinces.

Did I tell you the Germans embarked on this campaign in a kind of khaki? Green more than brown.

They were telling us what a wonderful invention it was, and how clever of the staff to hit upon this particular colour. You should have seen the surprised faces when we informed them that so long ago as the Boer War the English (hated word) had used it. They were laughing at the red trousers of the French, remarking how they served as targets for their rifles. Some of the French prisoners have not only patched and darned uniforms, but patent leather shoes! Almost incredible.

Night Time- There’s a big pain in our hearts tonight for Germany. I don’t know, this calling out of the “Landsturm” seems to have damped everybody’s feelings. Our poor old postier has to go. The cook’s quite subdued. Its a terrible thing to think just because ‘authority’ says so a quiet man has to stand in front of a cannon. “Kanonen Futter” is what what the German calls the mass of the army. Geraldine Farrar, who is in a sanatorium at Munich, has given her two automobiles as a present to the Bavarian army. For the last two years, one has heard very little of her. Her health has been bad, even affecting her throat. Perhaps her day will come again on the Continent, or at least in Germany, after the war.

To be continued

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