World War I – Behind Enemy Lines – The Drummond Sisters – 26

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 safe jouney to freedom and their life in England

Rescued and Safe

84 King Henry’s Road, London, N W

Tuesday, October 6th– We’ve been in a little flat since the 1st. So comfortable. It is the top storey of a nice house. We have a sitting room, kitchen and bath on one floor, and a bedroom in the attic. We pay 15s 6d a week. Of Course, it is furnished, and with a piano in one corner we feel as if we’d lived here all our lives. We’ve certainly seen a great deal of London in a few days, thanks to Mr Kiley’s car. It is always at our disposal. We have been introduced to his father and sister with whom we’ve had tea at the National Liberal Club. The member for Stepney, Mr Glynn-Jones, was also one of the party. The Club is a beautiful building, only a stone’s throw from the War Office. Wouldn’t I love to creep into Kitchener’s office and see how he’s facing the situation.

We’ve been out to dinners, afternoon teas, and Jean has again been interviewed; in fact, London is taking very kindly to us indeed. On the same floor in our flat is a family of Belgian refugees. Poor things! They have lost two of their children, aged seven and twelve. The mother has no idea whether they are living or dead – whether they are in Belgium or Germany. Mustn’t it be heart-breaking? There are thousands upon thousands of Belgian refugees in England. I have seen them arrive, sometimes carrying their boots in their hands, cloth bundles over their shoulders, tickets on them with their names, etc. It is pitiful. They are always met by our ambulance, Red Cross and private societies, and taken off to Alexandra Palace or other places of refuge. How must they feel? No home, no country, no anything. I can’t realize that they are fleeing from the Germans. The Germans, with whom we lived so long! I’m afraid Jean and I still have a kind of feeling that the Germans ought not to be able to terrify anybody. We perhaps under rate them. They seemed so lacking in general intelligence, according to our point of view. We certainly never came into contact with their war machine. Perhaps it works differently. If only Antwerp can hold out until the Allies push the Germans out of France. But, it’s sinister those big guns are in position before the forts. The papers are so different in England that we can’t adjust ourselves to the English view yet. We see everything with German eyes as it were.

Thursday, October 8th– I really regret that I’ve allowed so much time to slip by without filling in each day’s events. We’ve had so many interesting adventures which slip the memory in the hurry-scurry. Yesterday, however, will amuse you. Guess what we were doing? Being active members in a kino set of pictures for Australia. You will see us. It will be very funny for you. The series of views were taken of all the work and workers done by the N S Wales ladies resident in London. The gifts are for the base hospital in France. Miss Irving is one of the members, so we were invited to be partakers in this historic event. I’m sure i don’t know how we’ll look, as we had not more than five minutes to dress and titivate ourselves. The shirts, bedgowns, nightingales, in fact, everything made was not only useful but beautiful to look at, and so well finished and such splendid stuff. Most of the ladies in the group have husbands, brothers and sons at the front, or are otherwise engaged in works of charity. England is a wonderful land. So generous- so different to Germany. They help every nationality and take up their duties cheerfully as if loving your neighbour was the most natural thing in the world. As for our soldiers, nothing is good enough for them. It’s fine to see how the individual is looked after. He counts as much as the King. In Germany it was different. In one article which i read during our sojourn there, the writer said:” War was quite another question nowadays, as human life was so cheap.” On returning from our kino adventure, we were rejoiced to read where the same submarine which accounted for the Hela torpedoed a German destroyer.

Isn’t the battle on the Aisne lasting a long time? It doesn’t seem to effect the Huntley’s spirits. They wrote from Paris to Miss Irving and said:” Living was cheaper than ever, and they were so comfortable and confident now that the Germans were on the march homewards.” Today when we were out buying our lunch we saw such a pathetic street incident.A musician was playing a harmonium with his left hand and blowing a silver trumpet with his mouth and right hand (funny description) at the same time, giving quite a varied repertoire, including the National Anthems of our Allies, Tipperary, etc. A foreign gentleman and his wife walked by. He beckoned to the music maker and spoke in French. The humble musician didn’t understand, but he turned over the dirty leaves of the music until he found the Belgian National Anthem. Then he went back to his instruments on the footpath and started the spirited strains of this hymn. The gentleman drew himself erect, with his wife by his side, raised his hat and listened reverently until the last chord was played and blown. Jean and I felt like crying. It was so symbolic. One could almost see King Albert with his fine pride and courage. Belgium deserves to be the petted baby of Europe after this frightful war is finished. She’s suffering cruelly. It’s heartbreaking to read the details now of the bombardment of Antwerp. If Antwerp does fall then comes our turn , so the Germans say. They will then have a coastline and working basis for their airships and submarines.

Mr Kiley has just called. We’re having supper with his father and sister at Picca dilly and are then going afterwards to a recruiting meeting in the East End. Jean is cleaning our boots ready for this social function and is getting impatient.

To be continued


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