World War I – Behind Enemy Lines – (Mrs) Louisa Creed

It is always interesting to read a woman’s perspective of events. As many of you know late last year I wrote a series of blogs ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ giving an account of the experiences of two Australian women, Jean and Lute Drummond, who were living in Berlin, when war broke out in 1914.

In fact there were many Australian girls, from all walks of life, studying and furthering their careers in Europe when war broke out. They too were caught ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ and had many experiences as they tried desperately to escape Germany and the other war torn countries. Many wrote about these experiences later.

Then there were the most unusual and daring Australian women, who wanted to be on the war front to report what was going on. One of these was Louisa Creed.

According to an article in the Australian Dictionary of Biography at

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mack-marie-louise-7375

Marie Louise Hamilton Mack was born in Hobart in 1870, the eldest daughter of the Rev Hans Hamilton Mack, a Wesleyan minister from Downpatrick in Ireland, and his wife Jemima James , who had married in Sydney in 1859. The family moved from circuit to circuit in several Australian states including Morpeth, Windsor and Sydney in New South Wales.

She was educated by her mother and a private governess before attending the Sydney Girls High School, where she was a contemporary of the Australian authoress, Ethel Turner.

‘Louisa’ as she was generally known, worked briefly as a governess before becoming a regular contributor of stories, poetry and musings to The Bulletin.

In 1896 she married John Percy Creed, a barrister from Dublin. She had her first novel published the same year. Soon afterwards she joined the staff of The Bulletin.

In 1901, she and her husband moved to London, where Louisa carried on her writing and publishing career. She travelled widely in Europe and published seven novels. During this period she also spent time as a journalist for the Daily Mail in London and the Italian Gazette in Florence.

When war broke out in 1914 she managed to travel to Belgium as the first woman war correspondent reporting for the Evening News and Daily Mail. Her eye witness account of the German invasion of Antwerp follows below.

Louise Mack (Mrs Creed), the only woman correspondent it is stated in the present war, has just returned from Belgium, where she has been for the past six weeks. You might reasonably expect a woman to has been living in a bombarded town to be suffering from nerves, but not so Mrs Creed. She is just as calm as if she had been for a holiday trip to the Continent.

“I got quite used to bombs,”she said. “In fact. I quite miss them now. At first they were terrifying, especially the noise. We all felt we couldn’t stand it. Then we didn’t seem to mind. The shells make a noise like a big mosquito buzzing through the air. You hear the buzz and wonder where it will land. I saw one come down about 20 yards ahead of me. It was terrible. The earth shook. I felt my legs melting from under me, and I fell straight down on the ground. As I lay there I saw a big building slowly drift down to the earth in the oddest way. The shell had gone right through the centre and the walls gently collapsed. I lay quite still for a while, for I could not move; then I got up and went back to the hotel. There I met Mr Lucien Jones, the correspondent of the ‘Daily Chronicle.” He was quite well, and said to me; ‘I’ve just seen a bomb.’I said . So have I, and we both found that we were trembling. But somehow I wasn’t really afraid.

When I first went over, I went straight from Ostend to Antwerp. Things were quite calm there, so I went on to Brussels. Then I went to an hotel where I stayed some years ago. It was closed, but the proprietor remembered me and took me in. They all loved the English there, and would do anything to help us. I stayed in Brussels for three days, but nothing very exciting happened; the people went about their work as usual, only everyone looked sad and dull. So I thought I would go back to Antwerp.

To be continued

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