World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 21.

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.

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

Belief in the Good

You know what embittered the Germans still more, General Botha taking up the cudgels of England. They write “has he forgotten the time when he came here, begging money for the boer cause, and all the practical sympathy he received both from Austria and Germany?” The Colonies have heard how Canada would leave England, how South Africa would shake off the hated yoke, how Australia would declare its independence, how india would mutiny, and how in fact, the whole world would rise en masse against the hatred tyranny of the English. But they’re mistaken. English rule and German discipline have nothing in common. The first allows the development of the individual, the latter turns out perfect machines. I prefer the human weakness of the first.

Conan Doyle has annoyed Deutschland by writing “that if England wins this war, then ahe will free the Germans themselves from the terrible rule of blood and iron; and give them back their liberty and individuality, their philosophy, their music, in fact, revive all those beautiful qualities which made this country so good and great in the past.” The Germans comment was “ so Germany without its commerce and fleet is what this intellectual writer means.”

We saw where the Australian Fleet took Herbertshohe in the Bismarck Archipelago. Do ask the Government to treat the Germans well in the Samoan and those unfortunate little islands. It does seem a pity to tear these possessions away from them, after they’ve roughed the new climate and conditions, and have just started to prosper. There’s no sentiment in polities I know, but fair play and good treatment won’t ever dishonor the victor. I know it’s a proper thing to rid the enemy of a proper naval base possession. But we are praying for them to preserve their manly spirit, as we’re sick unto death of all pettiness of the war, as exhibited in the German papers. Let us be large-hearted, courageous and noble. It will be a fine thing for posterity. Then we would read in the history book of all the glorious and chivalrous deeds. There would be no daily press to take away the enjoyment of life, and insidiously impute mean and miserable motives to every fresh turn on the part of the enemy.

We’re just fed up, six weeks with the German point-of-view. In fact, we’re stifled with it. One feels like panting for fresh air. Can’t each country allow the other a victory? And can’t a country print its own defeats? There’s no disgrace in getting a few hidings. In all these pages you will notice one insignificant victory for the French, the Schirmeck skirmish, and nothing at all for the Russians.

When General von Bulow addressed his army after their several victories, he said among other things:” And one thing gives me quite a peculiar pleasure, and that is, that the English, these insolent fellows have had a thrashing the memory of which they will not easily forget.” The General Staff, I believe would ruin their campaign, in order to catch General French, and the remnant of the British Army. It seems so silly to make such a fuss over these few thousand English, when the rest of the enemy runs into millions. And especially as they only laugh at their fighting capabilities.

I mustn’t forget to tell you that when the Russians examined the German man-o’-war, the Madgeburg which they captured, in each of the officers’ cabins they found a cat-of-nine-tails. Didn’t the Russians open their eyes wide with surprise? I suppose they said: “Ha! Ha! So is the German naval spirit fostered.” But they were quite mistaken, the “Lokal” said, these familiy comforts are not instruments of torture, but are used for dusting the officers’ uniforms! Were we born yesterday?

The fun we’ve had over various things that are published are endless. The Austrian accounts of their engagements would truly make a cat laugh. They are like the simplified edition of the “Shorter Catechism,” made for children’s plastic minds. For instance, one reads such incredibilities:”While the terrible fight at Lemberg was progressing, the field kitchen steamed up to the first line of fire, and handed out to the soldiers plates of steaming food”. We really shrieked. Fancy in the first firing line, and fighting a desperate battle, and yet having the domestic quiet of a plate of hot soup.

We like the Austrians. They always fight like lions, and so brave that they have to be warned, do the most wonderful deeds, but strange the enemy always take the town or keeps the position. About the Russians we always learn that they are numerically superior, have more ammunition, flee before a bayonet charge, and are always more or less hungry. The Frenchman, he is the only worthy just now. They don’t like fighting him, in fact, it grieves the German to take up arms against him; he’s such a good sort, but so misguided by Russia and England, that he must put up with his fate, and take his defeat. As for the British, well, when I tell you that every paper from the front page to the last has paragraphs on our race, you’ll know that I can’t reproduce in this letter any idea of the polyglot opinions that are daily printed.

But one phrase is always repeated about us:- “Our best hated enemy.”

To be continued


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