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
Wednesday, September 16 1914.
We had a long day yesterday. We arrived at the Embassy about 11 o’clock, and found rows of English people waiting in a queue outside. An exchange of subjects has been arranged by both Governments, and those wishing to leave Germany had to give in their passports to the American officials. We stood until 10 o’clock, but were then told to come back at 3, as no more could be admitted. We had a cup of coffee at Wertheim’s, and were punctually before the door at the time appointed. We succeeded in being squashed through the door, and handing in our passports. We found that it was Mrs Davenport who had made inquiries about us at the London Embassy.Wasn’t it good of her? She is a splendid woman, so motherly and so capable. Our passports are to be sent to the Military Commander of Berlin for inspection and signature, and tomorrow we receive them back, with our tickets too for London. The train, a special one, leaves on Monday morning, and takes us through Holland to Flushing. About 400 women and children are going in the first train. The men must remain behind. The English evidently never did like Germany, as where they were in hundreds the Americans were in thousands.
We hear no news from the French border. This battle, under the walls of Paris and on the River Marne, has been going on now for a good eight days- but not a detail-nothing.
The loan has to be signed by the 19th, that is Saturday, so perhaps if the Germans are having a little reverse, it’s diplomatic not to print it. It’s dreadful! One just lives in a horrible fever of excitement all the time. We know the Allies are in this long engagement, but whether they are doing well or ill, we can never find out. This morning a paragraph asked the people who collect coins, etc, to sell these, and give in the money to the Government. Even the foreign coins that one may have saved after a summer tour will not be despised. It certainly looks as if Germany didn’t possess this great wealth of which they talk so much.
Did I tell you that Prince Heinrich of Prussia gave up a gold medal, valued at 800 marks, which he received as a souvenir from the Czar, at this monarch’s wedding? (The Czarina and Prince Heinrich’s wife are sisters). The money goes to the Red Cross Funds. A connoisseur would have given double the value, but the Prince telegraphed back ;”Melt it down”. Prince Adalbert, the Kaiser’s naval son, handed in all his Russian and English decorations, also for charity, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (the Duchess of Albany’s son) renounced his seven English Orders and Distinctions. So things are only middling in European Regal circles.
There is a great heading this morning about terrible revolutions in India. England has asked the aid of Japan to quell them, giving as compensation 200,000,000 dollars, a free hand in China, and the right of entry into Australia. Also cholera has broken out in the Indian transport ships. Egypt is in a state of open revolt, and even Arabia is rising against English oppression. I wonder what next we’ll hear -that Australia is aiding and abetting the Kaiser.
A serious minded German told us today that in East Prussia the Russian generals, instead of attending to their campaign, were busy stealing silver forks, spoons, etc and hurrying off with them in automobiles to places of safety! I often wonder why people don’t use their brains. A child in Europe knows that the Russian aristocrat is better bred and polished than his German brother, whatever the peasant class may lack.
Germany is not the only country that has a monopoly of patriotism, though from listening to the general conversation we would think that other countries hadn’t this word in their vocabularies. Because England pays its soldiers, aren’t our military abused? They are always termed ‘hirlings’ or ‘mercenaries,’ and are dismissed as unworthy.
Another example of Germany’s queer methods is this. About eight days ago, perhaps more, the Pathfinder, an English cruiser, went down on a mine or was torpedoed, trying to rescue a crew and passengers from a sinking steamer. Nearly all hands were drowned. It was a pity, but so it was. Well, yesterday an English submarine sank a German cruiser, the Hela’. The account read liberally so:-” The cruiser Hela sank, but the whole crew was saved. The English Pathfinder lost all of its crew.” One would think the two had a duel. Really, in many things this race of iron and big guns resembles little children. Absolutely no horizon beyond the German borders. Builders of a world Empire- never!
Saturday, September 19 1914
We’re in the midst of packing. Our luggage leaves tonight. Tomorrow we have to go to the station and register it, and on Monday, thank God, at quarter to eight we leave Berlin. Our passes were returned signed by the over-Commander, von Kessel, with the permission to travel by the first train. On Thursday we were all day at the Embassy, waiting our turn, and I was there again yesterday from 11 am, till 7 pm, standing in the queue for our tickets. Most of the British subjects have to be helped financially. A loan from the British Government is superintended by the American Embassy. We were yesterday at the Kaiserhof. This is one of the swagger hotels of Berlin. It is now practically empty, and one side of it is rented by the Embassy for relief funds etc.
It is funny to get in the crowd and hear all the opinions. I got into conversation with a Morman, a mild, harmless-looking man, who told me that their prophet had prodicted this catastrope. At the end of our yarn he informed me that San Francisco would route to travel back to Australia! Many of the women are terrified of the floating mines. We are all asked to take ample provisions with us, as there is no dining car attached. Inez is also leaving. Miss Waller is remaining in Berlin.
Sunday, September 20 1914
I was interrupted yesterday. Mr van Hellar called and stayed to supper. We talked war and music until our tongues ached. Today we registered our luggage as far as Rotterdam. I suppose it will be there over-hauled and re-registered to London. We bought bread, eggs, ham, a bottle of wine, and butter, so that we don’t starve on the wayside. Afterwards, we went to say goodbye to Mr Hoppe. Poor old chap! He will miss Inez sorely. The mid-day paper was out with the result of the loan, over four billiuons! Isn’t that splendid? Everybody gave, rich and poor, grown-ups and even children who had money in the Savings Bank. Servant girls too gave their hard-earned marks, and everyone partook in the national responsibility.
The situation in France is not yet decided, though the Germans have the better position, superior artillery and every confidence in the final result. There hasn’t been one detail printed from the French border since the 28th August. We read yesterday where New Guinea has been taken. Who does all these deeds? The Australian Navy? Aren’t we just mad to get an English paper into our hands!
To be continued