Sgt Thomas William Chisholm Posted 1 December , 2018 Share Posted 1 December , 2018 This is an entry for 10th November 1918 from my grandfathers diary when he was a POW at Lamsdorf POW camp, and how he learned of the armistice. If you want to read more, check out his blog, where the whole diary is being published. Sunday 10th November 1918 A very memorable day this will ever be. It dawns very cold, wets and dreary, as winter already has set its grip upon the land. Black frosts occur at night and it is almost impossible to sleep, as we have as stated earlier, only two small badly worn blankets, alive with vermin. Orders arrive that there is to be no church service, no reason is given, and the air seems to be full of mystery. We are paraded as usual for the daily count, and after that told to dismiss, but not to go very far away. It never was our intention to wander very far in case there happened to be any chance of any food whilst we were away, because something to feed our famished bellies was always uppermost in our minds. So far as a smoke, well we had long since resorted to the manufacture of our own mixture, which we invariably changed from time to time. Sometimes we gathered from round about the outside of the compound some nice blades of grass, also loads of clover, and after drying them thoroughly, mix up the two and smoke them as best we could. Sometimes mixing a few dried tea leaves if they were obtainable, of course when we did have tea, the leaves were never thrown away. They were always kept smuggled away in a tin box for when we wanted a smoke. Today however, to while away a little bit of time, Fred and I decided to walk as far as the main entrance to the camp, so with our paper jacket collars turned up about the neck, shoulders haunched forward and hands behind our backs, we trudged or slouched along the road very slowly. Nothing was done very quickly in case it passed too soon and we were left with nothing to do. Reaching the main gate everything seemed very normal outwardly, but in the Scheibstube or office, which was a substantially built hut placed inside the gates, things seemed to be humming. Being more or less used to the excitable nature of the German soldier we took no notice of this, and turning about started to make our way back to the compound. When only half of the journey had been made we discovered that something very unusual was going on, for walking round on the raised bank of earth which served as the sentries beat, was a soldier with an armful of newspapers. This had never been done before so naturally we though it very peculiar. When he arrived at the sentry nearest to our compound and also the hut occupied by the guard, he stopped, presented a paper to the sentry on duty and had a good talk with him in a very hard voice, and waving his arms all over the place like a human windmill, and then continued his journey. Fred and I watched for a what was going to happen next, and it did suddenly, for with a scowl on his face fit to make it crack, he unslung his rifle and flung it on the ground at his feet, the taking off his helmet, and placing his fingers under the eagle which was his badge, he viciously tore it away and flung it across the field. To say the least we began to get a little nervous, but couldn’t move, we seemed to be rooted to the spot, next he tore out the collar patches from his jacket, then stamping along to the next sentry, they both had consultation, and returning to the guard hut were joined by all the other guards. So, there we were, with absolutely no one on guard over us at all, when things reached this stage we thought it time to get back into our hut as quickly as possible in case anything detrimental happened to us. Just at that critical moment there come up the road three British Officers, and entering our compound called all the British soldiers together. There were not many of us left now as a good many had died, so it was not a big gathering that he addressed. THE NEWS IS BROKEN As I have already explained the huts were built so that only about two feet above ground level, so the smaller man of the three, who turned out to be a medical officer, mounted onto the top of the centre hut and commenced to address the assembled men. “Well men I can see that you are all in a very poor condition, but nevertheless, it will not be for very long now, as I have some very good news for you. First of all you will have noticed the very unusual behavior of your guards today. I might warn you that this may develop into a very ugly situation, so pay particular attention to what I am about to say. An armistice has been declared. From today you are free men, free to go where and when you please. In a few moments more the prison camp gates will be thrown open to you, but I do not want you to go. Please stay where you are for the present anyhow. Whatever you do, don’t mix with the other nationalities, for in all probability they will take advantage of the chance to go free, and go mad. They might prove to be dangerous, so stay where you are. A revolution has broken out in the country, the Kaiser has abdicated, and the Crown Prince has renounced his right to the position held by his father, so you see what may happen if you go wandering about the country. You are too far inland to be able to get to any seaport within a reasonable time, and furthermore you would be unable to get any food en-route. So you see how advisable it is to stay where you are. These two brother officers and I are going to take command of you and do whatever we can for your welfare, so far as better food and accommodation is concerned. Don’t be alarmed at what is going on behind you, I don’t think they will fire.” When we looked round there were eight or nine guards with their rifles leveled at us. However we stood our ground, and one of the officers went across and spoke to them, and they dispersed, being satisfied that we were not going to cause any disturbance. The M.O. then said that he would get us moved as soon as he could get in touch with the camp Kommandant, then raising his hand as if to give a blessing he quoted: God alone be with us now, Lest we forget Lest we forget. Then he came down and talked to us for a good while. The other two officers belonged to the R.N.D and the Buffs, and before he went away, he asked us to sing the national anthem, which was readily done, although everyone had a lump in their throat and tears of joy in their eyes. Thus ended one day that will always be remembered by anyone that was in that camp. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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