A DUNEDIN BOY'S EXPERIENCE.
IN THE HANDS OF THE GERMANS
Lieutenant Eric Croft, R.M.A.C., iu thi courso of an. interesting letter to his parents in this City, 6ays:— <
"It was quite impossible- to write,you while, wo wero in Brussels, as the Germans forbade all postage outside Brussels. I occasionally managed to get a post card through, but possibly t'uey never reached you. ,1 had many lctteis written to you, which I inteiuu-d to post, when opportunity should aiise, but we had to destroy all letters, diary, and everything' which contained news \>i any kind. We arrival here (Copetthag-.w.) on r'lkhiy, October 9, at nnuih,iu, ;..ior in-itig in in.? tram four days ,ii,d tin-en ami a'-hulf n'ght*. We were cent iioiu Biussels by the Germans, and the whole of our party (40), together with St. John Ambulanco muses and the Rothschilds nurses, comprising about 140 altogether, wero sent here in a, special -train. Tho train journey wa.s veiy tiring, but interesting, when you think "that- we passed thioug.i Louvaut, Liege, Aix-la-Uhap.-lle, Colujic, Minister, lii\ineu, Hamburg, over tliL- K.ol Canal'into JJobtein, ;::iu tlic.i into Denmark. It \& impossible for you to understand the relief! with which wo escaped from the Germans. The whole of the last two inonuis we have, been in a state of euni-terror. W© have' not been safe, even though wo arc R.\l, Cross, as they have no rtspect for anything or anyone. Another and 1 were arrested -is epics, and after an experience wero liberated. Inde.d, we have tho Americans to thank that we have not been . sent, to Germany at prisoners of war and th.-'t no bi.- here. Vm sec, they are pandering to the Y.mk'.es, who were good enough to look alter ;;s. In la,t. . the, American Ambassador has been ' top dog' in Brussels since the German occupation. Well, we, through the Ambassador, applied to be sent to England. It was refused. Then the Germans changed their minds, and every English nurt-e- and doctor was ordered to leaw. We set out to go ti. England via Aix-la-t.hapillo, Maestrieht, and Ainsteiduin, on Tuesday at mid-dav.
" We travelled all night, and got toAix about mid-day on Wednesday. On the way we passed through Louvain, the demolished city, of which you have read eo much. It was really terrible to see it —nothing but heaps of ruins, without a, single home left. Wo then passed through Liege in the night, where the first defence, of the Belgians took place. We had a miserable journey at this time. Reached Aix about mid-day, nut weie told then that we had to go to Cologne in order to get to Holland. So wo piocecded, and on tho way we had an experience. At a fetation called St oil berg wo wero aroused bv hard German voices, and on opening the doors all of tie men were ordered, in the most disgusting tones, to 'get out.' I have never in my life seen such a display of rage as we. witnessed there. The German officer was e imply white with rage, and stamped up and down the platform, unabl« to control himself. He ordered his men to search us, which they did most thoroughly. Our luggage was then thrown out, and we had to open everything and throw .the contents on the platform. They took our surgical instruments, knives, scissors, and even razors. Fortunately, my man was not very particular, and missed my lqpfe, scissors, and razor. They then ordeied out the nurses, and their luggage, rnd treated them in tho samo way. The train was then searched. Of "course, it was .simply done to bully us, but at tho time we men thought* wo would be taken oil' as prisoners. I*m afraid wo,had a. big fright, and most of us weie wliito. "You really can have very little idea of the extreme hatred that exists between them and us. They realise that the little British army has been the framework of the whole allied army, and that- but for us they would have cunquer-ed on the west side. "We were then oidered iu, and proceeded to Cologne, which we reached about 10 o'clock. We then had a pleasant evening—a good dinner—though we were surrounded by a guard of sold.ers. Crowds came xouid to iw, but we saw no evidence of hostility to speak of. The band came round to the restaurant and played German war tunes for our bc-nelit. Altogether wc had a pleasurable evening after our tiring train journey. We were told that wo could not go to Holland, but had to go through Germany to Denmark. Wo do not know now why this was so, nor can we eurniiso a reason. Anyway, wo reembarked at about 12 o'clock p.m. on our lomr trip through Germany. That night I sFept better than the former. I suppose I was getting more used to the hard scat*. We had no rugs, and I only had my waterproof, and skpt on the floor ; but the cold was intense. Tho carriages wero dirty, and we were cramped for room. Next morning wo reached Munstcr, and a jolly fine breakfast was prepared for us bv "the Germa-is, consisting of rolls and all sorts of German sausages and coffee. We had a good feed. An armed guard, of course, was on th-3 train witii us all the way, and also at the stations. We then re-embarked, and passed a, dreary day throv.gh Germany, crawling along at a snail's pate, and stopping at "all stations. In the evening we stopped at a small station, where soup—the. same as the army have —was provided for us. It was excellent, and is a whole dinner in soup form. We started off again, and later crossed j the Weser and reached Bremen. Here we had to close all windows and blinds, i and wero forbidden to look out.
"Then again on to Hamburg, which we reached about midnight. Here the feel- j inc against English is most intense, and wo wero subject to insults and threats, but fortunately our guards, who were good sorts, locked "after vs. Then to Altona, just past Hamburg. Here we alighted and had dinner at a lestaura-nt on the fetation. Again we were subjected to n display of animosity. The officer in charge, when we we-.e'in ihe middle of dinner, ordered us to re-ombark. and also some civil authorities did their utmost to stir up feeling against us. Fortunately, nothing worse was experienced, and we, set out for Denmark, and another dreary night in the train—the worst of the lot. About 3 a.m. we wero. disturbed by voices, and found out we had reached the Kiel Canal. i,i;d every compartment had an armed guard. "The curtains, etc., were most carefully closed, and we, with our backs to the wiado»v3, crossed the. famous canal, and then got out. We had a wretched morning doing across Schleswick Holstem, which is "a miserable barren land, and no use to the Germans except for the defence of the canal. Our downfallen spirits were now beginning to revive, knowing that every revolution of the wheels was bringing us nearer to the German frontier. "We passed through Fleusburg, which is the present capital of Schleswick Holstein. Then, about 4 o'clock we reached the last German station—Somnerstcd—and our guard left, having been of good service "to us, and now being of no further use. They wore good sorts, and we shook hands with all of them. "Then we steamed over the border, and wo all shouted with glee, and finally reached Denmark's fiist station—Vamdrup —whore wo got out Mid took train to Copenhagen." [From Copenhagen the party were sent probably to England, but a private cable intimates that they are now with the Allies in Belgi.im.]
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A DUNEDIN BOY'S EXPERIENCE., Evening Star, Issue 15667, 4 December 1914
A DUNEDIN BOY'S EXPERIENCE. Evening Star, Issue 15667, 4 December 1914
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