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.
After the sisters landed safely in England ‘Lute’ continued the sisters’ story of their life as the war continued.
This was written to her mother from London,
The New Year
9th January, 1915- Now let me tell you what in your wildest moments you would never guess. Jean and I have been taken for German spies by no less an authority than the great Scotland Yard! So it’s only a human institution after all, and is liable to make mistakes as the most stupid of us.
On New Year’s Day I was sitting at home trying to cure a most unromantic evil, namely, chilblains on my feet. Jean had been to Hilders, and as she returned after 7 o’clock we supped rather late. Just as we were finishing a ring came for us. Jean trotted down the stairs and opened wide the door to two strange men. They said “Police, Scotland Yard.” She said, “Oh, come up.” They came up and I asked them to sit down. Then they got to work. One drew out paper and pencil while the other’s eyes roved about our student -like room. The man with the notebook then opened his cross-examination. He said, “ Now, tell me about those little trips which you have made in England.” I thought of Miss Irving’s amazement,and couldn’t help laughing as she made the trips with us. However, I enumerated the various towns on our first trip, beginning with Cambridge and ending with Matlock. I had forgotten to mention Manchester, where we only slept the night, and the official remarked “I have a better memory than you. Haven’t you been at Manchester?” Then our Christmas trip was gone through, and great stress was laid on Hastings. What they thought we did there goodness only knows. But anyhow when I had finished our passports had to be rooted up out of obscurity, for Scotland Yard had us down as Germans in the pay of the Kaiser!It was so absurd that Jean and I had hysteries almost when they’d gone – Jean, the quintessence of anti-Germanism, and myself suffering from an overdose of patriotism that is almost painful. If anybody can make out of Ruth Janet Drummond and Jean Cameron Drummond, Anna Maria Schulz and Lisa Sottehen Muller, then they’re cleverer than the Creator Himself.
When the officials asked me if I had been in Yarmouth before or after the raid I gasped inwardly. Imagine how ludicrous to think even that a female like myself could lure the German fleet to our shores! The result of this suspicion is that never again will I ever believe these spy stories, not even if I see with my own eyes the most overwhelming circumstantial evidence. No doubt the whole world has lost not only its head, but its equilibrium, and we see not only Zeppelins in the heavens every night but Germans in Scotch-Australian bodies. The officials thanked us after the interview, and said they had visited thousands of houses, but never had more courtesy and clearer answers. One said, “I may come again” and wished us good night. We waited for several days and nobody turned up, so we went into Scotland Yard ourselves to see if the authorities were satisfied.
The head there was very nice, and said people were over-zealous, etc. I asked him who had lodged the complaint. He wouldn’t tell us, but said only that our movements were reported as suspicious. Evidently in our innocence we had been staring into the English Channel too hard or had watched the waves of the North Sea beat upon the open shores of Yarmouth. Oh dear, I really must write a book some day. We certainly have been mixed up in more ways than one in this great war. I forgot to tell you that the official remarked, “You speak perfect English.” But I have known many Germans who do the same. We were really very disgusted over the whole business. Just imagine Miss Irving and myself being followed everywhere, and then the three of us at Christmas time !
We have written to Miss Irving about it, and she is as much in the dark as were are over it. Really life is more comical and complicated every day, and I give it up. We only resumed our old routine yesterday, and visited the Davenports. They declare their house is being watched too. It seems to me that everybody who came from Berlin is a ‘suspect’. I believe the Davenports are going to Australia when they can get a boat- one has to wait months. They applied long ago, but think that either in February or March there will be some vacant berths.
To be continued