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Remembered Today:

Sgt. Thomas William Chisholm

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11th - 30th November 1918 at Lamsdorf POW camp, peace, but nothing really changes.

Sgt Thomas William Chisholm

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Monday 11th November 1918

Similar to yesterday the weather is cold and dreary, but we hardly notice it as we are so interested in the present situation. The troops who have been our guards so long, are busy packing, rolling up blankets and various other duties connected with moving from one place to another.

After breakfast of brown soup with five grains of barley in the bottom (I have counted them), we are all called out on parade, counted and ordered to march. The half dead column moved out of the compound and down the main roadway in the direction of the main gate. Arriving at the main gate a halt is called, when we are all closed right up and counted again, the gate is opened and we move off towards Lager One, which is also in the direction of the station. Of course all sorts of suggestions are put forward as to where we are bound for. One fellow said home, but he was soon told to shut up, and not to talk so daft. However we finally arrived in Lager One and lined up in front of the stores where we were issued with:

                                    1 Handkerchief (Khaki)

                                    1 Towel (between two men)

                                    1 Razor, shaving brush and soap (between three men)

Very happy with this additional comfort we marched back to Lager Three A to get busy with these implements and our first shave in nearly eight months.

The Republican flag is hoisted on the camp flagstaff amid cheers from a few Germans assembled to witness the ceremony, but this did not affect our troops in any way, for they went about in their usual manner.

Great excitement occurred this afternoon on the arrival of five hundred and sixteen Red Cross Parcels from Lager One. “Surely there will be one amongst them all for us.” said I. “Lets hope so, God knows we could do with it.” said Fred

We are advised that the Germans are getting ready a number of transports, which are due to start within the next three weeks and in confirmation of this, certain of our men are detailed to take all people who are still suffering from wounds across to the hospital, in readiness for the first transport. This gives us a bright outlook, and cheers us up.

Jerry did not move today.

 

Monday 12th November 1918

Consternation and indignation were fully evident very early this morning, for on awakening it was discovered that almost every box that anyone in our hut possessed, had been either rifle, or stolen altogether.

These boxes of course were made by the men themselves more for pastime than anything else, and made from any kind of wood possible from anywhere and in most cases were the result of very hard work, because not being in possession of tools of any kind, sometimes took weeks to make.

In most cases the wood came from the boxes containing biscuits from Berlin, and after the box had been emptied, then proceeded with the task of planning the best way to make the article that we should be proud of. First it was carefully pulled to pieces, care being taken not to split any of the pieces, also not to lose any of the nails, for they were very precious. Next the size and shape was decided, then followed the work of cutting and shaving each piece to fit closely to the other. All the cutting was done with a small penknife. When this had been carefully executed, came the work of putting the pieces together. Having no hammers we were obliged to use a piece of stone, which was a very awkward tool indeed, and resulted in a good many valuable nails being bent, rendering them useless. However we all carried on as best we could and when the main part of the box had been built, next came the work of putting on the lid. There was nothing so common as the ordinary flat lid with battens across the inside. It had to be made box fashion, about one and a half inches deep, and when it had been made in the rough and fitted, probably it would not lie level or fit as close as desired it would be taken outside, and on the cement foundation, the wooden edges of the box would be scrubbed until they were perfectly level, and the lid fitted close. When this had been done, we made hinges out of old empty tins found lying about. This was the most difficult part, but after cutting and a lot of hacking at the piece of tin, a pair of hinges took shape. Finally with a piece of scrap wire, a staple and hasp were made and the box complete, and our meager possessions were put in.

Well as I said before, nearly all had been stolen or rifled. How had it been done? No one could explain for it must have been done very quietly indeed. We decided in stockinged feet. There was a concerted rush for the door in the hope of catching anyone going through the stolen boxes outside, not having the patience to wait until they got back to their own part of the camp, but no one was visible. However just outside the hut door we found an Italians hat, so we decided that it was the Italians who had committed the outrage.

To say the least, if we had only seen one Italian in possession of any of our goods at that moment there would have been murder done on the spot, because all our belongings were in them, including the small amounts of biscuits, or bully beef that we had.

So after a search round one or two compounds we found a few of the boxes smashed up open and the contents strewn all over the ground minus any part of foodstuffs. However they didn’t get any food from mine, and when it was found behind our own hut, all that had been in was soaked for it had rained that night, and we all decided to take it quietly and wait until someone put themselves away and then we would take action. However nothing more was found out, or heard of about the affair.

 

Tuesday 19th November 1918

Six days have elapsed without anything of importance taking place. On rising this morning we were greeted with a good covering of snow, the air was clear and crisp but two days earlier we could see the snow on the tops of the mountains, so we were not surprised.



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