World War I – Behind Enemy Lines – (Mrs) Louisa Creed-2

Louisa Creed continues her story:

“I got an American passport and set off in a cart with some Belgian peasants. We had gone as far as Ninone when we were stopped by some Germans. They questioned us and examined our passports, and then, to my horror, they let the peasants go on and arrested me. They took me into the chateau, where they were stationed, and I was marched upstairs to a bedroom. There a Red Cross nurse undressed me and took my clothes away, leaving me an old wrapper. She took everything except my hat- and my papers were all ,in the crown lining of my hat.

‘There I was left all night with a soldier guarding my door. They sent me some supper, and some breakfast, but I would not touch their food. Then the nurse brought my clothes back and told me I could go. I managed to get a lift on a car that was going along the road and so I reached Antwerp just as the bombardment had begun. The first thing I saw was the notice that there was no water. That seemed worse than the bombardment.

Two other war correspondents were staying at my hotel, Mr Frank Fox (Morning Post) and Mr Jones (Daily Chronicle), and they were so good to me. When there was no longer any question of Antwerp holding out, they begged me to go with them. It would have been suicide for them to stay, but there was far less risk for me, so I made up my mind to wait and see the Germans come in. Mr Fox and Mr Jones waited till Friday morning, and then they could not wait any longer. One of the last things they did was to push my big wardrobe in front of my window, to keep things from splashing in’. I was glad afterwards that they did, for all the windows of the hotel were smashed by a bomb bursting nearby.

When they had gone I felt very lonely, for I knew I was the only English woman, probably the only English person in town. I stood looking down the road watching for the Germans, and I saw a Belgian peasant woman running by with a figure in a little cart. I said to her, “Is that someone who is ill?’ and she called out, without stopping,”No, he is dead. He is my son. I have just got his body from the fortifications, and I want to bury him before the Germans come”. Then she went on.

Then the Germans came. First two young soldiers walked by and saw the familiar sign ‘Winter Garden’ over the door. I suppose it reminded them of home, for they pointed at it and smiled. It was so pathetic, the Belgians going and the Germans coming in, that I just stood and cried. Then more solsiers came, and one looked up and saw me crying and peered at me. And that was the worst thing I saw in Antwerp.

“I had arranged with the hotel people to stay as their maid, thinking that they would shut their doors and that I could just go in and out. Imagine my horror when they threw open their doors wide and welcomed the Germans with open arms. Then I found that the hotel was full of spies. The head waiter there was, and lots ofg others, waiters and grooms and men that I had thought good Belgian citizens. I don’t think the proprietors were really spies, they were just out to make money, and they didn’t care whose money it was. I saw them all sitting round the table, and the spies giving the soldiers papers and receiving money, and they were all laughing over it. And, worst of all, were two men who were marines, and who had been mixing with us as Englishmen for a week before. They spoke perfect English, and they wore the clothes of our marines, and had been out on the fortifications and when the Germans came they were Germans and spies. It made me furious, and I wanted to tell them to their faces what I thought of them; but instead, I had to keep out of their way for fear they should recognise me. Evidently the hotel people were afraid too, for after a couple of days they locked me in my room, for safety they said. They kept me there for two days. One of the days was my birthday; and I never felt so wild about anything. I could hear the Germans going up and down stairs, laughing and talking, and there was I, shut up in that room and not knowing when people would betray me. However, they were not so bad, and after two days they let me out. I got away from the hotel. I went out as the chauffeur’s wife. Two little girls came with us. I took one by the hand, and Francois (the chauffeur); took the other, and we walked out. Francois called me Louisa, and as we passed the Germans he said, “I have just found my wife; she has arrived this morning from Brussels”. They let us pass and Francois took me to a little inn, where the woman, who was a German from Luxemburg, was very kind. She put her arms around me when we were in the kitchen, and said,”Poor Madame!’I told her not to say Madame, but to call me Louisa. She did, and I stayed with her as servant for a couple of days.

By a bit of good luck, some people I knew gave me the key of their house before they left Antwerp. It was locked up, and the Germans did not touch any of the houses that were shut up. I met a man and his wife, who were homeless, so I took them to this house, and they, in return- the Belgians are the most grateful of people- undertook to get me out of belgium. The wife lent me her passport, and the husband borrowed a motor car, and took me as his wife. And one of my most dreadful moments was in that car. It belonged to a wealthy old man, who drove us himself. My ‘husband’ had told him that I had a most important mission for the good of the country, but the old man seemed a bit suspicious of me. We drove along for a little way, and then suddenly, out on the road, with the Germans all around us, he stopped, and said he would not take me without a security of 500 francs. I really was terrified at the moment; for I was afraid he would denounce me as a spy, and I knew that, if he did, they would shoot me. I didn’t know what to do. I only had 200 francs; so I turned to Francois, and quietly asked him for 300 francs. He gave them to me at once, and I handed them to the old beast. Then he went on. When we arrived at the village at the border. Francois told him I had to send a telegram. This was supposed to be ‘my important business. I went in to write it, and he came and looked over my shoulder. For a minute I could not think of anything to say; then, with a flash of inspiration; I addressed a telegram to Lord Kitchener, and said ,”Guard Ostend”. And signed it. When the old man saw it he grunted with approval, and then as we left him, gave me back the 500 francs.

“Of course, I’ve explained to the War Office since my return, but it was only one of the many thousand messages they get every day.

Louisa published these and other experiences in 1915 under the title – “A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War”. Her husband had died in 1914.

In 1916 she returned to Australia and over the next few years travelled  throughout the country speaking about her war experiences, while raising money for the Australian Red Cross.

After the war she remarried and continued to work as a freelance journalist, and published several more novels before her death in 1935, aged 65 years.

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

World War I – Behind Enemy Lines – The Drummond Sisters- Postscript

In the beginning the Drummond sisters were happy to be in ‘good old England’. They were also able to visit their older brother Dugald Drummond, when he was in hospital in London.

Dugald Drummond had a very interesting and distinguished military career having served in the Boer War, as well as Gallipoli, before being invalided home in 1916. He later re-enlisted and served in Special Duties for a time after the end of the war.

It was all very well for the Drummond sisters to be safe however, with England at war, Convent Garden had closed and there were no other opening for the Drummond sisters to make a living of any kind in the music world. They couldn’t continue to rely on friends to help them with their day to day living expenses, and they didn’t have any real savings to see them through. What were they to do?

Prior to World War I, Italy had an political alliance with the German and the Austria-Hungarian Empires. However, when war broke out in August 1914, Italy refused to join with these powerful empires against the French and English. In fact, they went into secret negotiations with Great Britain and France, for the promise of Austrian territory, and in May 1915, Italy entered the war on the side of the British allies.

Although details are sketchy it is known that the Drummond sisters made their way to Italy and made contact with friends in Milan. They were able to carry on under contract to Italian opera companies for the duration of the war.

When the war was over and the Spanish Influenza was raging across Europe with many thousands dying, the Drummond sisters returned to Sydney, to see family and friends.

Although much loved and respected in Australia, particularly in Sydney, Jean and ‘Lute’ Drummond returned to Europe to continue their operatic careers in the 1920’s. They made periodic trips home to Australia, but after World War II, they returned to Australia, where they remained sharing their great knowledge and experience with the next generation of students and operatic stars.

Jean Drummond died in 1935 and ‘Lute’ Drummond in 1949.

Those who are interested in the references for the above ‘writings’ of their war experiences, will find them in the local Grafton newspaper, the ‘Clarence and Richmond Examiner’. These can be found on-line at the Historical Newspapers site on Trove at the National Library of Australia. http://trove.nla.gov.au/

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 11 Feb 1915, p2c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 13 Feb 1915, p5c4

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 16 Feb 1915, p2c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 18 Feb 1915, p6 c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 13 March 1915, p7c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 20 Mar 1915, p7c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 27 Mar 1915, p7c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 3 April 1915,p5c2

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 10 April 1915, p5 c2

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 17 April 1915, p7c3

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 24 April 1915, p8 c1

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 1 May 1915, p8 c2

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 13 May 1915, p6 c4

Clarence and Richmond Examiner,15 May 1915 p 5 c6 & 7

World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 13.

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.

The Wait Continues

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

The Kaiserin and the Princess were objects of enthusiastic ovations, and the streets were filled almost all night with jubilant crowds, cheering and singing their national songs. Today is a public holiday for the schools, and altogether we’re quite out of it.

Isn’t party feeling a curious thing? Why should we take sides with the French? We have lived in Germany nearly seven years now, and have only experienced kindnesses at their hands, yet we were almost on the verge of tears when we heard that they had been beaten. We bought a half-bottle of French wine and drank a glass of the sparkling ruby to their better success next time.

But, in spite of everything, war is glorious. Think how fine for manhood, how beautiful the deeds that are done. One has got tired of sitting so constantly on the high office stool of life, where thoughts become dull and grey from sheer routine- and where impromptu actions are out of place, because monotonous habit has made them so.

The war hasn’t made a scrap of difference to Berlin. No one would guess even that she was in the throes of a life and death struggle. Last night the streets were full, and where all the men come from puzzles me. A detachment of very young volunteers passed just as Inez was leaving us about 10. 30 pm. They were singing and marching with great vim. No one has paid any attention to the death of the Pope. Just glance at the heading and read greedily further. Australia’s name has been popping up rather frequently since the Japanese step. The paper mentions our antipathy to this race, and draws conclusions of our disapproval with England. They don’t know us, do they?

Eight o’clock- We’re in a fever of excitement. We’ve just read where the English soldiers are being shipped to Belgium, and have conned King George’s parting address. Oh, we’re glad. Aren’t we dying for the Highlanders to be true to their traditions, and the cavalry to have a charge? We’re very proud. For the Germans have been laughing all the time at our soldiers. (Jean and I have only one wish in this war, and that is to see a good colonial cavalry charge.)

Now these poor innocent English things are to be let loose in a continental war, and we’ll see. The paper tonight said it will be interesting to study their different foes when they have them all prisoners together. In fact, they remarked how nice it would be to see the English and Russians, for instance, in the same company. Fancy, over 10,000 French prisoners taken at Metz! Our hearts are bleeding.

I can just see a tinge of jealousy among the Berliners over the Bavarian Crown Prince’s victory. Wouldn’t they have loved their own Prussian Crown Prince to have led the charge? There are postcards of him dashing on the French with swinging sword, and the poor French are flying before the wrath of his naked steel on to the four corners of the printed space. We must buy some. They will be interesting souvenirs, though published rather early, don’t you think?

Oh I wonder who’s commanding the English troops; of course, we hear absolutely nothing here but satirical remarks about the enemy. We’ve waited 22 days and are fed up only with German heroism and sincerity, while the rest of the world resolves itself, not only into a liar and cheat, but a coward as well. We feel like shouldering the rifle ourselves at times; but now that England has kept her word and sent help along, we feel more contented. You see one would think that England was only looking after her own skin, according to the Germans. They insinuated that she had left both France and Belgium in the lurch, and as we saw nothing to contradict this statement, we were beginning to feel sheepish and unpleasant. Now we have our self-respect once more, and in the Duke of Wellington’s pithy command:” “Up, Guards, and at ’em,”which is all we want.

To be continued

World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 9.

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.

Waiting in Berlin

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

The first member of a ruling house fell a few days ago, a Prince of Lippe, and considering that we never hear of any skirmishes or engagements, it is quite remarkable how many majors, lieutenants etc, have their names in very short casualty lists. One never knows where the various unfortunate men meet their doom. It is never published.

I heard yesterday that the regiments from Alsace-Lorraine have been sent on to the Russian border. One can’t guarantee for their loyalty.

The tramway department decided to stop all traffic at midnight, but there’s been such an uproar in the press from the thousands of cafe and restaurant proprietors that the final step has as yet not been taken. Of course, this would add another long list to the already large one of ruined business people.

Now, I can realise what a ruinous thing war is, for the time being. There will practically not be a male breadwinner left in the whole of Germany when these non-soldiers finish their drill course, and if the war lasts then pity help Europe, for who is left to plough, reap and sow? Only women.

I would give worlds to know if the other countries are as foolish as the German papers say. They only laugh at England, have always done so- they snigger at our army and generals- say it would be a sin to bring such untrained men on the Continent- have a little more respect for our navy. France they picture as being quite unprepared, not even boots for the soldiers, and Russia, poor thing, every morning we read where a fresh cavalry regiment gallops up to the German quarters giving themselves up joyfully, and only ask for “Good food!” We read this morning, too, where England is cabling lies by the yard all round the world, telling of victories that have never been won, and deeds that happen in the imagination of this false people.

What do you think? The first prisoners have arrived- not in Berlin, but in Cologne and Dusseldorf, and the German women were so ‘amiable’ to these foreign officers, giving them wine, chocolate, etc, that the Commandant had to issue an order asking them to behave in a manner worthy of their country and its defenders. There’s no mistake, but Germans love foreigners, and what’s more, they love airing their knowledge of other tongues. I guess they were using their French on the Belgian and French captives. I said so to Jean in bed this morning, and now the paper has verified my sumise. The account said the Belgian officers looked very smart in their well cut uniforms, but they wore a very earnest and bitter expression. The French, on the contrary, were chatting and laughing gaily. Just imagine, in the whole of Austria only two theatres are open! The men- thousands of artists both here and there will be on the verge of despair. Most of them have gone off to fight. A leading tenor and baritone from the Vienna Thof Theatre were killed already on the Servian frontier; even Kreisler, the great violinist, is with his regiment; also Staegemann, the one-time beauty actor of Berlin, and Kirchoff, the tenor from the Royal Opera House. I suppose since this last

lot has been called out (“Landsturm”is the German word for these last resources), the directors too will be shouldering the refle. From 17 to 45 is the age limit.

If the Russians now made a brilliant dash over their frontier with a good sound array, then we would all be in a fix, for the whole strength of Germany is on the French border. But the poor old Russians! One loses confidence in them as it were. You see, according to German accounts, today we read where they run in and sell their horses for 20 marks (£1) to the Germans, the next day is published where three Berliners take captive a major and 15 men: then the day after tomorrow there’s a long story of how a German took a flashlight photograph of a group of these unfortunate prisoners. An when the camera popped (you know the puff and explosion), then they all fell on the ground with fear, thinking the apparatus was a new deadly gun.If the 15,000,000 are all like these samples, then the conquest of Russia should be child’s play to the modern German soldier. I’m afraid there’ll be no Barmen this season. Coblenz, on the Rhine, is one of the military headquarters. Barmen is also in this neighbourhood. Up till now I haven’t met anyone who cares a button about artistic careers. There are too many other things at stake.

Tuesday, august 18th– Today was printed the first unsuccessful encounter of the Germans- a very unimportant skirmish at “Schirmeck” near Strasburg, where the French captured some machine guns etc. This happened on the same day as the battle of Mulhausen, but it’s only now that we hear of it. We also heard from a German friend that at Liege the whole of the Red Hussar Regiment was annihilated, only seven men surviving. There’s not a word of anything like this in any of the papers. The public is kept in absolute ignorance of anything but victories so far. I think it dreadful to buoy up the nation on such accounts if they are not true. A long list of English lies is again in this morning’s columns. Fictitious account of a naval battle, where 22 German boats were sunk, false victories from Russia, etc till Jean and I are almost driven to despair wondering what to believe.

Wouldn’t the French love those Strasburg guns? They laid them as a love offering at the feet of the Strasburg figure. I can always see the “Place de la Concorde” in Paris, where those female figures sit, representing the Departments of France. Alsac-Lorraine with its 44 years of crepe and floral offerings at its feet, is one of the most touching sights in the gallery of history. I’m sure to the French ‘Strasburg’ is not only a cold statue, but a living, breathing, beautiful woman, for whose rescue back into the French fold nearly every soldier would give his last drop of blood. Just as the Italian who stole “Mona Lisa” loved this canvas with a patriotic pulsing heart, so the French feel towards these lost provinces.

Did I tell you the Germans embarked on this campaign in a kind of khaki? Green more than brown.

They were telling us what a wonderful invention it was, and how clever of the staff to hit upon this particular colour. You should have seen the surprised faces when we informed them that so long ago as the Boer War the English (hated word) had used it. They were laughing at the red trousers of the French, remarking how they served as targets for their rifles. Some of the French prisoners have not only patched and darned uniforms, but patent leather shoes! Almost incredible.

Night Time- There’s a big pain in our hearts tonight for Germany. I don’t know, this calling out of the “Landsturm” seems to have damped everybody’s feelings. Our poor old postier has to go. The cook’s quite subdued. Its a terrible thing to think just because ‘authority’ says so a quiet man has to stand in front of a cannon. “Kanonen Futter” is what what the German calls the mass of the army. Geraldine Farrar, who is in a sanatorium at Munich, has given her two automobiles as a present to the Bavarian army. For the last two years, one has heard very little of her. Her health has been bad, even affecting her throat. Perhaps her day will come again on the Continent, or at least in Germany, after the war.

To be continued

World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 5.

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.

Waiting For What?

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

Saturday, 8th August 1914– I can’t think that it’s war. That the whole of Europe is fighting a fearful battle. One hears the children playing outside- the sound of a broom sweeping next door. I look out of the window and Berlin is not at all changed. The trees are as green, the houses as high – only there’s a curious feeling in the air. For us it is even worse than the Germans. We’re in an enemy’s country- our old friends will not welcome us any more- we can’t speak our language in the streets, we are cut off absolutely from the outside world- not a cable, not a line from anywhere. We don’t know what any other country is doing, and the War Office here publishes about four little lines a day disclosing nothing.

It was really a kind of a break in the tension, a sad relief, as it were, to hear that the Germans had taken Leige (Luttich) in Belgium. It broke broke this awful spell of silence since the 1st August. The prople were delighted. The police flew down Unter den Linden on bicycles exclaiming “Hurrah ! Luttich ist gefallen” (Liege has fallen). We’re eating very economically. I just made a cup of black coffee. We haven’t had any milk since Monday morning. Jean took out her opal pendant today. We will pawn that when our present cash is spent. I’m afraid we stand no chance of getting out of the country. There are over 200,000 Americans in Europe- and they naturally have first call. I haven’t met one American who sides with England in this issue. In fact, they are particularly nasty. They all wear the Stars and Stripes in their coats to avoid being molested in the streets. It’s silly, but Jean and I don’t like going to the American Embassy for protection. We love our own flag too much. We have nothing at all to complain of. All the people around us haven’t made a scrap of difference. If we only had a couple of hundred marks we would be as happy as Larry under the circumstances. You see no one can lend us money. If they do then in days to come they will also suffer. We don’t like approaching anyone on the subject as yet.

Since Sunday there hasn’t been one line published either about the French or the Russians. We read that the Germans have taken Kalisch. This is the border station, before one gets to Lodz, where Belle Gottechalk had to pay £40 duty on her theatrical wardrobe.

I really don’t know what we’ll do if we have to sit here for months. I’m afraid Jean’s contract won’t hold valid. I can’t see any German director giving a Britisher roles. The Americans will score again, as at present they are in high favour. Of course, being summer there are no theatres open now. There is no public anyhow. Whether this will continue I don’t know. But tenors, bassos, orchestra, they are all at war. Only women everywhere! Our grocer’s wife tells me that the old Graf Haessler has gone to the French border. Before leaving he said to the Kaiser, “Majesty, in six weeks I’ll be in Paris. I’m going to bring back the ribs that I left there.” The grocer himself was purser on the NDL. He belongs to the marine, and left for Kiel on Tuesday.

All the men left in Berlin are either unfit or over 45. Their turn comes when prisoners are brought in or captured fortresses have to be manned. But it’s almost impossible to conceive that war is raging. One feels a kind of theatrical sensation- not at all real. When Jean and I sit down to brown bread with plain embellishments we always laugh. We know that there’s a possibility of being starved out, as Germany’s task of feeding its 7,000,000 soldiers is almost superhuman. And the harvest in no country has been gathered into barns. It is too early. Of course, the school children, students and women will look to that. But who knows? Perhaps the Cossacks may burn or the French may plunder. This war, I hope, will end armies and navies- in fact, armaments. Whichever, side wins should be firm and say: “ Gentlemen, enough; now we’ll try civilization on a peaceful basis.”

Armed to the teeth, who can be mild and peaceful. Impossible! If monarchies, too, survive long after this war, then I’m much mistaken. If we could only know what you’re doing in Australia! Sickening to think that every week our letters will never reach us. You are better off. You can hear from the outside world.

Everybody is speculating as to the length of the war. Three months to three years are time limits. There have been thousands of marriages since the declaration. In one day over 1500 soldiers were united in the happy bonds. The Kaiser’s two sons, Prince Adalbert (the sailor) and Prince Oscar set the good example. Soldiers’ wives can often follow their regiments. They help in the field kitchens, in hospitals, etc. There’s scarcely a woman in the whole of Germany idle. They either help as nurses, take charge of the poor children, cut hampers for the soldiers, sew, knit, in fact, make themselves generally useful. One poor old man brought his wedding ring as a gift. He had no money. He said his wife was dying, and she asked him to give her ring too after her death. The people are filled with a wonderful spirit of self-sacrifice. They love their Kaiser and their Vaterland. With right too- as modern Germany is the cleanest and most comfortable country in the whole world.

Now it’s the Russians’ turn. These poor dumb peasants should be given a chance. That’s the only reason why I welcome the war. It must do good to Russia whether she loses or wins. A great national event like war does in a moment what Parliament and laws can’t do in a century.

Some people seem to think that after the mobilization and transport are finished we will all be sent to a neutral country, like Switzerland, for instance. Jean brought in 5lbs of potatoes and a couple of cabbages, so we’re still provisioned.

To be continued

World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 4.

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.

What Will Become of Us?

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

Friday, August 7th– Yesterday we had a very touching scene. Purmall’s German friend from the next door visited us and cried so pitifully about the war. She said;” What harm has Germany done anyone? We have always been an industrious people, and now we have to send the flower of our youth out into the front to fight against nations who are only jealous of us!” Jean and I felt like criminals. Germany fighting as it were with its back against the wall. In moments like these one forgets that this country too has been swinging its sword in the air ever since the navy grew.

We’ve just has a visitor. Our dressmaker called. She has only 30 pfennigs in the world. That is twopence. She has applied for the position of tram-guard or harvester, as the Government is requiring women in both cases. They are also thinking of making the women postmen, as the situation here is really appalling. Fancy, war has only been declared five days, and already distress and ruin are staring thousands in the face. No one has a penny. You see in Germany, instead of putting money in the bank, one buys from the bank “wertpapiere”-paper. This is all very good under normal conditions, and has helped Germany to build up its huge commerce and trade, as the bank issues paper- not to be confused with paper money or notes. Therefore, every second building is a bank of some kind or another. Now war came suddenly, for the people at least. No one had any cash. If they sell their paper they must do so at a frightful loss. Frau Adolfi lost already on Tuesday 35,000 marks. Hence, no one can buy anything- and the feeling here is one of deepest despondency and sheer fright. Nearly every shop and business had reduced its hands to one-half, and even less, on the Monday. Mistresses dismissed their servants, consequently till the women do the men’s work on the trams and in the fields, the situation will be very bad. Jean met a dismissed servant at the grocer’s, trying to get a few pennies for empty bottles. One can’t believe it. This country, which has been the very pattern of organisation, falls to pieces under the first emergency.

Herr Schoneck called again yesterday. He was very cheerful. He said that if the old Graf Haessler goes on to the French border then all will be well. This old veteran fought in 1870, has silver ribs all on one side and in one of their peaceful manoeuvres captured the opposing side with the Kaiser at its head. Since then he has been in disfavour. Poor old fellow! Even if it were only toy manoeuvres he shouldn’t have shown himself a cleverer tactician than his Imperial master. He is supposed to know every tree and stone from here to Paris, and although he’s so old that he has to be helped on to his horse, yet the people have faith in him. Poor old chap. Forty-four years into the 20th century changes more than stones and trees!

You remember the automobile with the gold from France? Well, the people and police have been such a nuisance to the military transport, stopping every conveyance, that twice the War Office has earnestly asked them to desist from their well-meant efforts, as they are hindering the mobilisation plans. German officers have been carried off to the police stations by the public who thought they were Russian spies. You see the reserve officer isn’t quite used to his uniform, and as he looks conscious of his clothes, so the public judges him to be a suspicious character. I think even one of their aeroplanes was also shot down yesterday in the Grunswald. There is also a warning about this from the War Office, asking the people not to fire on any air machines, and a great article on “Hold your tongues”, telling the people to be careful of speaking to anyone with a foreign accent, as military plans may inadvertently be revealed. I never knew plans had anything to do with the men in the street. We are certainly learning how the greatest military nation in the world goes to work on a campaign. It is full of surprises to us.

Yesterday the paper devoted a column to a biography of ‘Kitchener’, who has just been made War Minister. It said he fought as a volunteer in 1870 with France against Germany, and that he has never made any bones about his hatred of Germany.

This morning Italy has published its reason for remaining neutral. It can’t afford to quarrel with England, as its coasts are full of thriving towns all open to the cannon of warships. We’ll be in worse odour than ever. One can’t think much of Italy anyhow going back on a friend in time of need.

On Wednesday the Kaiser appointed a universal day of prayer and repentance. The dressmaker said this morning,”the Germans never go to church,” but on Wednesday there wasn’t room for the crowds. We sent the dressmaker away with ham sandwiches and wished her luck in her search after work. We heard later that soldiers were billeted in her room, so she wouldn’t have to starve.

Its is quite a pretty touch in events to read where “Victoria Luise” has been made Regent of Brunswick, while her consort goes off to the war. The proclamation reads so medieval and romantic in its German simplicity.

To be continued