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Sgt. Thomas William Chisholm

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October 1918 Life at Lamsdorf POW Camp

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Sgt Thomas William Chisholm

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Tuesday 1st October 1918

 

Today started just as many others have started with the usual breakfast and working parties.

 

News reaches us that the civil population is to be allowed another rise in their bread ration of 10%.

 

When the boys return after work it is with rumours of terms of peace by President Wilson, also that the railway workers in Austria had gone on strike owing to some misunderstanding, and that they were refusing to convey German troops across their country.

 

 

Wednesday 2nd October 1918

 

Today Fred and I agree to adopt a young lad belonging to Durham, who was serving in the West Yorkshire regiment at the time he was taken, so Billy is taken under our wing.

 

The first biscuit parcel is delivered to us, so to celebrate both events Fred makes us some potato cakes, and with a pot of tea and the biscuits the feed goes down very well.

 

The task of ridding ourselves of superfluous hair, of which there was ample growth, was no easy one. No one was in possession of the necessary razor, brush or soap, so it had been impossible to shave up to the present, and now after a whole month we felt the need of one badly. Fred spotted one of the boys with a small pair of nail scissors, so asking for the loan of them he placed himself in front of a piece of polished tin and proceeded to clip off his beard. After about an hour and a half he gave up, so I volunteered to complete the job. We adjourned outside into the open compound and I started to snip, snip, snip. Judging by the length of time it took, I must have only snipped one hair at a time, for I kept going for another two hours, but at the end of that time, Fred looked a great deal cleaner than before, and he in turn clipped mine, which took just as long. Eventually it became the daily spare time pastime of all in the camp as it proved better than nothing at all, although we could not get the hair completely removed, for a rough stubble remained, but it was good enough for the time being.

 

 

Thursday 3rd October 1918

 

We have reported to us that the treatment of British POW’s in the mines is most brutal, being forced to go down the coal mine without any food, with order that they would have to produce a certain amount of coal before they would be allowed to come to the surface again. Of course through lack of nourishment and ill treatment the men were in no fit condition to work, so they were obliged to remain below for many days at a time never seeing daylight. If they were unfortunate enough to happen any accident, they had to carry on just the same, without any dressing on their wounds, through which many of them had died. Cases arrived in our camp one day and two or three of them were Romanians. They had been returned from the salt mines in some unknown district, but they had been kept down the mines so long that they were totally blind, whether they would ever regain their sight at all was never bothered about.

 

 

Friday 4th October 1918 

 

Good things happen today when the boys come back from work, they also bring news of emergency parcels. Not being sufficient to give one to every man, they are opened out and the goods pooled and then issued out.

 

Our share consists of 11/2 kilos of bread biscuits and 4 Jerry soup powders per man, so with the three lots of rations together, the next few days looked a bit better.

 

 

Saturday 5th October 1918 

 

We were so hungry last night that all our biscuits have been consumed, three or four times during the night Fred and I would wake up and speaking in low tones would make up our minds that the these two biscuits would be the last. Of course Billy was in it as well, but after lying for about another two hours our resolution would be broken, and we would have another couple, thus when morning came round we had none left at all, and we were waiting for our ration of black bread.

 

Billy got his first clothing parcel from the Red Cross, so he straight away strips off all his old clothing and having a bath in cold water, dresses up in his new oputfit and it looks very well indeed.

 

Some rumour comes again into the camp, this time it is reported that the King of Bulgaria has disappeared, but this is all we ever hear of it.

 

 

Sunday 6th October 1918

 

This morning we are punished for some reason by the camp commandant by  depriving us of our breakfast soup and we only get our bread ration, so we have to be content with that. We cut ours in halves and spread it over with a layer of very course salt, and gathering a few dandelion leaves, we eat this and have to be satisfied. Unfortunately, owing to there being so few British officers in the camp, our complaints never get a hearing.

 

The usual Sunday church parade and then lounging about for the rest of the day, our pastor issues postcards to us so we pass away a little of the time writing home. (This one reaches England 26th November 1918.)

 

In the afternoon, Fred, Billy and myself wander away through the camp amongst the other nationalities in the hope of getting something. But everything we do seems so hopeless.

 

At one part of the camp where the Serbians are, we come across some of these people struggling with huge packing cases absolutely filled with bacon, the sight of which nearly sent us mad. To cap it all, it has been sent from British Red Cross people in Switzerland. We wished we had not come so far now, It was suggested that we should make a raid on their compound and steal what we could at night, but if that had been attempted there would certainly be some shooting on the part of our sentries, and very stern punishments next morning so it was called off. So we did without again.

 

 

Monday 7th October 1918

 

News comes through that the peace terms submitted by President Wilson have been almost accepted by the Germans, with certain modifications.

 

This afternoon our pasterns (guards) approach the compound in mass formation with rifles and bayonets fixed, and on their arrival the Dalmatian (our translator) is called, to inform us that we are to proceed again for another visit to the baths. On hearing this of course it is greeted with very strong dissent, and we refuse to go. Jerry not to be daunted, endeavours to rouse us out, but as soon as the men left the huts they scattered in all directions, thus making it impossible to get us all together. Fred Billy and I disappeared into the French settlement, and from the top of the huts watched the proceedings from there. We could see both British and German all over the place, the Germans shouting and waving their arms about in an endeavour to call us all in, but it could not be done. In the end the senior corporal must have reported the matter to his commandant, and finally they were withdrawn, and we gradually arrived back to the huts in small numbers.

 

It was on our arrival that we found out all that had happened. It appeared that one pastern (guard) had entered number 124 barrack and attempted to rouse out all who remained inside, but he came to grief because, losing his temper at being ignored by so many men, he had unfixed his bayonet, and stamping along towards a corporal of the 6th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers, was just in the act of crashing the flat of the bayonet across his shoulder, when there was a yell of rage and pain from Jerry. He had obtained the full contents of a pot containing steaming hot cocoa in his face. Being in such a rage he had failed to observe a mirror just in front of the corporal, and placed at such an angle, that whilst standing with his back to Jerry, he could still see all that was going on behind him, so when Jerry was about to strike him, the corporal got in first, with a quick movement of his arm across his shoulder, just managed to hit his mark, and Jerry got the contents full in the face.

 

The corporal was put straight under arrest, and put into cells until next morning when he was brought up before the Camp Kommandant. In the meantime we had all been very busy gathering together all the evidence of the assault we could and sent five men as witnesses for the defense. After a trial lasting half an hour, it ended that instead of our good corporal being punished, the boot was on the other foot, and Jerry was put in cells for six days and then sent back to his regiment at the front.

 

That also ended any more attempts on Jerry’s part to get us to go for a bath, because we did not want a repetition of our last bath, and fumigation.

 

 

Tuesday 8th October 1918

 

The report of yesterday is confirmed by our committee men from Lager 1 when we all met today to receive an Emergency Parcel between two, and then we have another blow out.

 

It is customary everyday to see our Russian neighbours moving in and out of the various compounds, selling or exchanging cigarettes for bread. The ,method used was for one portion of bread you can obtain five cigarettes which after all are equal to two and a half Woodbines, because they were half cardboard holder and the other half tobacco, so we called then half and half’s. Otherwise you could purchase them at five for one mark, but not being in possession of any money at all, we are forced to give our daily bread ration away if we want a smoke. This has been going on for a while now and we’re just about tired of doing without the only piece of solid food that we could get, in fact I think that a few of the boys were on the border of madness.

 

However this morning it was a strange Russian who came around with his box of smokes and he shuffled his six foot six of solid manhood across to where a group of Tommies were standing muttering, “Cigarettes, homemade ugaritten! for marks?”. So an NCO who formerly was a dock labourer at Liverpool and a proper ruffian, moved forward to meet him saying “Rusky here come”, and started to bargain with him, but the Russian seemed a little doubtful whether to accept the bread or not, but at last he was persuaded and the sergeant started to select his own cigarettes from the box with the remainder of the guys looking on. Suddenly, without any warning, the whole box went flying into the air, and the cigarettes scattering in all directions. Naturally when the Russian fully realized what had happened he tried to collect as many as he could, but some of the men beat him to it and disappeared into the huts with what they could. I fully expected to see him fly into a rage and charge into the crowd like a mad bull, (because he seemed big enough to eat all our men, and look for more), but instead he just said “Ah, homemade mine cigaretten, dat is nix goot” and the tears streamed down his dirty face. Fancy, he a big hulking brute of a man actually crying at the loss of a few cigarettes, however he had to go away without any of them, for the gang had stolen nearly the whole lot. 

 

The excitement died down and they were all being smoked, when about half an hour later up came another Russian who happened to be in charge of his own countrymen, and a sergeant major. He greeted the few who were standing about with a pleasant “Good morning Englishmen” and we returned to the compound. Coming up close to the wire he asked who it was who had stolen his comrade’s cigarettes. Being what we were I suppose, no one answered, because the real culprit was hiding in his hut and even though I and the few who were present had taken no part whatever in the proceedings, we did not wish to be implicated by trying to defend one who could lower his dignity as an English NCO.

“Well” he said “I am very surprised at your actions this morning, fancy an Englishman coming so low, as to steal such a trifle from my people, because they knew you preferred a smoke to your bread. You know my people are not educated as you are, and are not to be expected to know so much as you, and I know very well that you would never dream of doing such a cowardly act in your own country, because I was educated in Oxford University, and I know your ways.

 

At this we fairly gasped in astonishment, at the very idea of the man in front of us standing stiffly to attention in his smart Russian uniform, his peaked cap, and blouse, smartly cut riding britches and last but not least a very smart pair of boots, high legged, such as worn by all Russians and polished as I have never seen any boots before.

 

However he apologized very properly for the intrusion and said that he hoped that we would think twice before doing anything like that again, and went away leaving us feeling very small and humiliated indeed.

 

Three days later the same gentleman, under the pretext of going to a church service in the neighbouring village, escaped in the horse and trap that were being used to convey him there, and he was never seen again.

 

 

Wednesday 9th October 1918

 

Today opened very unsatisfactorily owing to a North East wind blowing and rain coming down in sheets. All working parties are cancelled, and the sentries seek shelter wherever they can.        

 

The barracks or huts became flooded, with the absence of any scheme of drainage. The water poured through the roofs of the huts onto nearly all the beds and we are all sitting shivering in groups where ever there is a dry spot to be found.   Our pastern has great difficulty in getting any one to venture across to the cook house to bring the soup, but after a great deal of noise he gets his way at last.

 

There is no sleep tonight on account of the storm and the rain coming in on our beds.

 

 

Thursday 10th October 1918

 

Cheerful news greet us this  morning about 10.30 am when a messenger from Lager One gave the information that a truck load of biscuits were lying at the station and out working party was busy unloading them in readiness to be brought across to us.  

 

This is the first biscuit parcel that I have received since I came into Germany, so it is with great joy that I took possession of my wooden box containing about 3 kilos. It was sent from Bern in Switzerland on the 9th of September, so it has taken just one month to reach me. There was a printed card enclosed, to be used for the purposes of a receipt, which I immediately filled in and returned to Bern.  

 

It is rumoured about the camp today that a new Turkish Government is about to be formed with a Prime minister at its head who had been in England for many years and was more inclined to the side of the allies than he was to the German side. Of course we fully expected at this rate, that Turkey would eventually turn against Germany and come over to our side, but this rumour also died a natural death as we heard no more of it.

 

I don’t feel all together too well today, what with that empty feeling in the pit of the stomach and the rotten raw cabbage soup I get it into my head that it is the end and begin to pray that it might be so. It is not only the sickly feeling, but together, the stink of the huts we are living in, and we are all absolutely walking with lice, one could not get a minutes peace for scratching one part of the body or another. Not being able to get a wash or shave we all just feel as if there was nothing more to live for, however night comes again and with it sleep, with the hope that the war would be finished soon.

 

                                                             

Friday 11th October 1918

 

When daylight broke I was too ill to turn out so Fred took it upon himself to nurse me, it was a bad attach of flu and he gave me all my food at my bunk and would not allow me out of the bed at all, although I managed to crawl out in the evening for a little while but was glad to get back again.

 

 

Saturday 12th October 1918

 

Both Fred and Billy get biscuit packets today this is the first one for Fred and he is overjoyed to think that at last someone has realized that he is still alive and in need of food.

 

At 10.30pm the atmosphere became so still, that it seemed impossible to breath. What was coming we had no idea, but we had not long to wait, for as we were lounging ideally about outside the huts, as it seemed a little too early to turn in, because the mere fact of having no work or exercise of any description, we naturally suffered from sleeplessness. It came upon us quite suddenly. In the distance a terrific roar could be heard and within five minutes the storm burst. Such a storm I have never experienced before and don’t wish to again. The wind simply tore down upon us, so of course the best thing to do was to get under cover. With the wind came the deafening crash of thunder. The heavens were literally one mass of liquid fire, just like a million gas jets burning here, there, and all over. The most peculiar thing about the whole affair, was that there was not one drop of rain. It just seemed as if all hell had opened. We were so, I would not say afraid, but surprised, that no one seemed as if they could speak. We just all stood round the inside of the doorway and watched, absolutely amazed that the elements could play such tricks.

 

Needless to say the sentries had also disappeared, into the guard hut. Once again, we could if inclined, go free, but what use in such a storm, and having to keep under cover of the forest, which we would have been forced to do, would have been courting death.

The sky seemed to have fallen so low, that it seemed as if one could touch it with an outstretched hand and the lightening, small jagged forks, thousands of them. It was never dark for one minute, a truly nerve racking experience for one who had never been through an electric storm before.

 

The storm kept raging until somewhere about four or five am. Finally the gale or hurricane seemed to blow itself out, with it the thunder and lightning died away and quiet reign once more.

 

It was then that we felt the need of a little rest, for not one of the troops had made any attempt at sleep, which had been out of the question. I don’t think that anyone failed that night, to offer up a small prayer of some sort, for our safety.

 

 

Sunday 13th October 1918

 

A miserable wet day dawned and when it was time to parade and for the usual count it was then that we saw what havoc had been done by last nights storm. One of the machine gun towers had been smashed to pieces and burnt by lightening. Great huge pine trees had been torn out of the earth by the roots, carried 50 yards away, and lay like fallen giants, some were split from top to bottom. It was only the sight of these things that made us realize the full force of the storm and its affect on nature and we had no desire to go through the same again. 

 

We went as usual on our tramp to the stable for church service. On our return, along came the German Sergeant Major and had us all turned out on parade again for a message from the Lager Commandant. He thought it very silly of us British people wanting to buy a piano for our concert party. When, he thought, in all probability we would not be there very long. We informed the Sgt. Maj. that our committee would take a vote on the matter and let the Commandant know within the hour, to which he agreed.

 

Finally it was decided that instead of getting the piano we might obtain permission to erect a small monument in the cemetery to our comrades who had died in captivity. This was agreed to and conveyed to the Commandant who demurred a good deal, however in the end he informed us that he would write to Head Quarters and see what could be done.

 

Dinnertime arrived and it was just pigs meal, consisting of a very small percentage of Barley, potato skins, jam, died fungus from trees and their substitute for margarine. None of the ingredients having been washed, the result was about a quarter of an inch of sand and soil in the bottom of our work bowls. Needless to say, no matter how hungry we felt we could not settle to consume this, but it was soon devoured by our Russian visitors, who were continually coming round begging for what they could get.

 

The weather dried up somewhat towards 2pm so Fred Billy and myself sauntered off in search of adventure.

 

We arrived in a part of the camp where there was a piece of open ground and here we found all sorts of nationalities selling anything from a pin, to a gold watch. It was very amusing to walk round this market (for that’s what it was) and view the various articles. Here you could bargain for a pair of trousers, stitched and darned where they had been worn, in exchange for a tin of bully beef and 2 biscuits. In another, a pocket knife for so many cigarettes. One particular fellow had a beautiful silver watch, wonderfully chased on the outside and mounted with 17 rubies, and it was no thicker than a 5 shilling piece. He wanted 200 marks for it, but not being in possession of any money at all, we passed on to the next stand. Here we found an Italian with about 2 dozen pieces of black bread. He was trying to sell these for 3 marks a piece, another chap half naked was exchanging Jerry soup powders for 10 cigarettes.

 

We spent a good 2 hours wandering round this market, and finally not being able to pinch anything, we returned to our compound in disgust.

 

 

Monday 14th October 1918

 

Up as usual at 4:45am after breakfast we are split up into working parties, so after I borrow one of the boys jackets, and I set off with the rest of our party to work in the forest.

 

This time we took a different road, and after going about 2 miles our sentries called a halt, and sent us about our business. Myself and one of our party branched out in a north easterly direction and after one or two journeys back and forward to the wagon with armfuls of wood, we decided that the time was ripe to carry out our plans as arranged on our journey out. Moving away until we were absolutely hidden by the trees and the undergrowth, we moved quicker until after travelling about half a mile we came to a clearing which from all appearances looked as if it had been meant for a road but was not finished. After a good look round to see that we had not been observed, we made up towards the edge of the forest which was at the end of this road and up a slight incline, but keeping under cover all the time, because we had no fancy to be shot at for escaping. When we arrived at the top of the hill we saw that it led into a large potato field, where all the potato’s had been pulled out of the earth and were just lying in small heaps as if ready to be collected.

 

“Whatever can we carry them in?” my pal said, “I know” said I “Just pull your shirt up like this.” So pulling up our shirts blouse fashion we crawled forward until we were close enough to one of the heaps and started to fill our improvised sacks. When we were finished I might say we looked anything but in proportion, nevertheless we thought it was time to get back in case our party had decided to go back to camp, or we had been missed, but we were very lucky, just as we were within sight of the wagon again the sentries were calling the party in to go back. So gathering a large bundle of branches, almost more than we could carry, we spread them over our backs, and almost bent double with the weight we were able to hide the tell tale bulk in our fronts. It was a nightmare of a journey what with the potatoes pressing and rubbing against our prominent ribs and the soil and weight, it was absolutely hell, not counting the fear of being caught by Jerry. I for one was jolly glad to be back in camp again and get myself unburdened. We had a good feed that night.

 

Billy our adopted one is sent out on a party in the afternoon employed in the burial of Russians. He told us on his return that they had buried forty, the majority had died from dysentery and the smell was almost unbearable. The bodies had all been put into one grave fully clothed just as they had died.

 

                        The Unwilling Fox Terrier

 

During the course of the afternoon when all seemed to be quiet in the huts, Fred and I were walking alongside the outer wall of wire, close up to the sentries beat Fred utter a sound of amazement, and on looking round I saw a small rough haired fox terrier coming in our direction. I think he must have belonged to some of the German troops stationed just across the moor, in the direction of Lager 1.

 

It so happened that we had never seemed to notice the fact that since being in Germany we had never seen a dog at all and this being the first, brought home to both at once, the same thought, that as horrible and cruel as it may seem, but hunger drives a man to any extremities. We both looked at each other and murmured “here is a feed”. We intended if possible to get hold of the dog, take him into the hut and at night, kill him, dispose of the skin and insides, and cook the rest of his little carcass. I think that the doggie must have had some presentiment of his doom for try as we would he could not be enticed through to our side of the wire. We whistled and coaxed, but all the to no end, he kept a respectful distance away and at last with a delighted yap he bounded off back again in the direction he had come. We looked after him with a feeling of woe at his unleashed liberty. If only we could roam like that. 

 

 

Wednesday 16th October 1918 the Sgt wrote:

 

Against the decision of 1st our sub-committee obtain permission to go to Breslau, so they departed in high spirits to a few hours freedom in town, accompanied by two trusted guards.

 

They took with them all the proceeds of the sale of sacrificed cigarettes, namely 260 marks, thinking that in this country where piano’s were manufactured that they ought to be rather cheap. But on arriving in the town they discovered that the cheapest they could obtain would cost 1600 marks. Of course that cancelled the idea altogether, so they returned empty handed. It was then definitely decided to erect the proposed memorial in the form of a broken fluted column for which a plan had been submitted by a local architect (whether this was ever done I could not say).  

 

 

Thursday 17th October 1918

 

After all the usual proceedings of the day had been gone through and after our dinner of cabbage water we were all resting in the hut when in came a French Sergeant and speaking very good English, enquired if it was possible for any of our boys to bargain with him for chocolate, or any kind of foodstuffs in exchange for really good cigarettes, for, he explained to us, that he and a few more of his comrades had been planning and were practically ready for their escape, and it only required a few odds and ends to complete their equipment. He was successful in a small degree in getting a few biscuits, bully beef, etc, so he departed quite happy after having told us all there was to tell about how they intended to get away. In all somewhere about 100 French had succeeded in getting away across the border into Austria, no doubt they would still be in enemy hands, but it was supposed that treatment was much better than that in Germany.

 

(Although I am still not 100% sure whether my grandfather is in Giessen or Lamsdorf POW camp at this stage, he is obviously disorientated by all his travel here, as Austria is some considerable distance from both camps.)

 

 

Monday 21st October 1918

 

There has been nothing very important happened within the last four days so I propose to skip over them which brings us to 21st October 1918 when a consignment of Emergency Parcels arrive in camp. After all had been opened each two men were given,    1 tin Milk, 1 tin Machonachin Rations, 2 pieces of sugar, 1 tin Veal loaf, 3 small biscuits, 2 spoons full of cocoa and tea and 4 cigarettes. So, happy with this present we went back to our hut for another good meal, as we no sooner got anything like this than it was eaten straight away.

 

 

Thursday 24th October 1918

 

Today our Serbian friend from the Eastern Front tries to get us some decent clothing by approaching the camp commandant but is refused, and very nearly put into cells for his pains, but he says that he does not care as the British people were always good to him.

 

How this Serbian got here was a miracle, for he was taken prisoner right away down on the Eastern Front fighting against the Bulgars, and after being taken he took three British Tommies into his confidence and it appears that in pre-war days he was in the Isle of Man, but on the outbreak of war he tried to join the British Army, but was refused and was sent to an internment camp for a short time, after which he was sent back to his own country, where he still found it very hard  to even get into his own army, owing to the fact no doubt that he had been away so long. However finally he was taken in and sent up to the front only to be taken prisoner along with a few British troops clad only in there khaki drill. Eventually with the help of this Serb, they made their escape at night and going across country the Serb was successful in blowing up an ammunition train on its way to the front. After this traveling by night and hiding during the day, he gets food for the party by purporting to be one of the German soldiers. After about eight days they finally arrived in our camp, almost dead from starvation and exposure to cold. He was without doubt a hero and looked upon as such by all in our camp. He could speak three or four different languages as good as any native, which eventually got him a job as an interpreter. Later he was doomed to be left in the camp all by himself after all the British had returned home.

 

This morning it had been arranged that three members of the committee belonging to Lager 3A should visit the cook house to see and inspect the place where our soup was boiled. This visit had been very difficult to arrange owing to the unwillingness of the camp commandant, for he seemed to think that we were incapable of looking after ourselves. However we succeeded at last, and at 10am off went our three members, taking with them the empty soup tubs that had contained our breakfast soup. Of course we were all under the impression that if we could only get on the good side of our guards we would be able to do a great deal more for our own personal comforts, but they always seemed unapproachable, as if we were dangerous and people to be watched with every move we made, so our attempts were very unsatisfactory indeed. In this direction our deputation to the cook house didn’t improve the situation, for when they returned to the compound it was in a hurry.

 

It appeared that all went well, the building itself was a first class place containing all that would be desired by a squad of good cooks, but when they entered one compartment and noticed one of the cooks, who was of Russian nationality, stoking up the fires with coal, and when he had done that, lifting up the lid of the huge boiler commenced to stir up the contents with the same shovel. That ended all our chances of getting British cooks or better grub because he made one smack at the Russian and floored him straight away. That ended the inspection, for he was promptly seized and marched back to be put in front of the commandant and given a good strapping for his pains, and told that under no circumstances would any suggestion from the British be entertained again.

 

We were very much surprised indeed that he had not been put into cells, but we heard afterwards that the commandant had a little feeling of respect for our troops and this was a little comforting, and gave us a little more confidence in our position

 

 

Friday 25th October 1918

 

Today I am issued with a biscuit ration, numbering 10 in all, so after boring a few holes in the tops and pouring in a good deal of water, put them in the sun to mature as it were. We three pals soon made short work of them.

 

The soup toady was rotten, in fact it was not fit for human consumption, but it had to go down all the same and when the time came to turn in for the night, Fred pulled out a turnip and dividing it between the three, we munched it like a cow chewing the cud.

 

 

 

Saturday 26th October 1918

 

This is the first anniversary of our attack on Houthulst Forest last year when I was slightly wounded in the right knee and upper lip.

 

 

Sunday 27th October 1918

 

The usual visit to the Stable Church, and then back.

 

I received a letter from home dated 22nd September.

 

(As you may be able to work out from the postcard displayed, he may have been scolded in the letter he talks of here, because he did not visit his mother during his only leave early in 1918.)  

 

Monday 28th October 1918

 

Same old routine as usual but I arrange to go out to work in the forest again and when everyone is at work and the guards have settled down by the wagon, four of our party including myself sneak away to our treasure trove for another supply of potatoes and we succeed in getting about two stones each.

 

Rumours that an Armistice is about to take place and gives us all something to speculate about as to what will happen here but when we get back to camp it dies a natural death as usual.

 

 

Wednesday 30th October 1918

 

I got 4 postcards from home dated 26th, 27th, 30th, 31st July. It has taken them sometime to reach me, however they are most welcome.

 

At last we have discovered a method of dealing with our troublesome lodgers, for it has been part of our daily routine, what is commonly called a “chatting parade” which generally lasted for about two and a half hours, of course it was absolutely impossible to keep ourselves clean, owing to the treatment meted out to us on our last visit to the baths, and we rather preferred to retain our growth than go for another dose.

 

The weather by now being pretty cold, it was found that by divesting ourselves of our clothes at night and leaving such articles of clothing out in the very cold night air, that it had the effect of dispersing the creeper for a short while anyway, which gave us a little period of rest from scratching holes in our bodies. During the summer months when the weather was very hot, we used to sit for hours watching the comings and goings of the ants, many of which were nested close to the wooden walls of the hut. Their work was so regular that they had a real beaten track from one little hole in the ground to the other, so we discovered that by placing our clothes over the ant heaps, they would swarm over a shirt and attack the vermin in such a manner, that our freedom from torment was assured for about 24 hours. Of course there not being sufficient and heaps for everybody’s requirements, we all had to take turns of using one particular heap.

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