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SPIES AS DOCTORS

THE FURTHER DESTINATION. INCIDENT OF THE WAR. The French army had just re-entered Amiens, and the cavalry were hard in pursuit of the Germans. Some miles outside the town they caught up with a German Red Cross convoy, which immediately surrendered (reports a correspondent of the London ‘.Telegraph ’). The cavalry returned to Amiens content with their dav’s work and handed over the convoy and the 48 medical officers all wearing the Red Cross captured with it to the officers of the General Staff of tho corps occupying the town. General B welcomed his prisoners with whole-hearted hospitality. “Gentlemen,” ho said, “you have been caught while carrying out tho great mission which humanity owes to the victims of this unfortunate war, whether they be French or German.” He gave a courtly bow, which was returned by the salute of the 48 German doctors. “Gentlemen,” resumed General B , “ you are acquainted with the rules of war in regard to your profession. I cannot release you at once. You will have to bo sent to Geneva, and there exchanged against a similar number of our doctors who may have fallen into your hands. Meanwhile everything possible shall be done for your comfort if you will merely give your parole to remain in tho quaretrs which will be assigned to yon. I have requested my principal medical officer to see you have everything you desire, and you will take your meals at tho same table as the medical staff.” Again there was an exchange of salutes, and the interview ended. —Strange Medical Comforts. — Meanwhile the convoy had been searched, and. strange to say, amongst the medical comforts were found arms, ammunition, and, stranger than all, a considerable quantity of explosives. General 15 i again summoned the 48 before him, and j pointed out this strange discovery, asking most politely for an explanation. The senior of the medical officers replied: “ It is customary in our army to carry amis and ammunition for our sclf-protec- ■ tion, in case we are attacked by troops ' who do not understand the meaning of the : Red Cross. As for the explosives, they ! must have been placed in one of our wa_g- | gons without my knowledge.” General R returned a stiff bow. ' “ Gentlemen, I must accept your ex- } planation, but your army has some strange customs.” The interview ended. That evening, at 8 o’clock, the principal French medical officer came to conduct his German colleagues to a sumptuous banquet which had been prepared in their honor. Tho French were in an excellent humor. The tide of war seemed to have suddenly turned in their favor. Instead of retreating they were advancing, and the comforts of a town liko Amiens were pleasant to those who had been living for weeks in the open. They made tho most charming hosts. Tho Germans were distributed amongst the French officers, and the wants of each were carefully seen to. Wine flowed freely, and the war was much discussed. Especially wore notes compared of the wounds received, and of the various treatments accorded to them. It was hard to believe that the two nations were at war. Cigars and coffee followed, and both hosts and the enforced guests were soon on the best of terms. Yet it was noticed bv the principal French medical officer that there were some amongst the 48 who appoured not to derive as much enjoyment as the proceedings and hospitality warranted. Also ho noticed there were some who seemed anxious to avoid joining in the general conversation on the various wounds inflicted by modern weapons. After tho coffee and liqueurs had been served he rose in his seat and politely bade bis guests farewell. —Suspicious Host.— “Gentlemen,” be said, “I am sure you will excuse me; I have my duties to perform, and cannot slay longer. My officers will see yon receive everything yon require." As a man the 48 rose in their seats and politely bowed. The P.M.O. left the room. Ho did not go to tho hospital, as was his wont, but straight to the Chief of tho Staff, General . He was ushered into his presence, and there found the Chief of the Corps, General B . “ You have some strange prisoners, general,” ho said. “Are you sure they are all doctors? Some of them seem so worried and depressed.” “They were all taken with the convoy and wear - the Red Cross.” rejoined Genera! B , “so I presume they are doctors. In any case. I do not see how I can prove to tho contrary'.” “Well, general,” replied the P.M.0.. “ personally I do not believe they aro all doctors, and if you will allow mo I will ask each one separately a fc.w simple questions on medical science in the presence of the Cliio*' of Staff, which should clear up the matter." General I! acquiesced. Tho P.M.O. and the Ch'cf of Staff retired to a little room. In this room were two doors, one of which led to tho courtyard and garden, whe.ro many officers of the Staff were sitting round smoking, the other to a larger room, where a guard of French soldiers under an officer''w ere sitting. An orderly was sent to the dining room, and courteously requested the German doctors to follow him in order of seniority so that their passes might be made out to the Swiss frontier. Each in turn was admitted into the little room where sal the Chief of tho Staff at his desk, and the P.M.O. at his side. —A Brief Examination.— Tho first who entered bore tho rank of a colonel. . Ho was politely invited to take a seat, and the French P.M.0., Colonel P , said to him: “Colonel, we have, much of interest to discuss together, and I would like to hear your opinions. Our wounded suffer so much from gangrene. Which treatment do you find the most efficient to counteract this terrible scourge?” Tho Gorman colonel then related in lull his experiences with a warmth of detail which showed how carefully ho had studied tho complaint. Notes having been exchanged, the French P.M.0., Colonel P , rose and bade him farewell, and showed him the way to tho garden, where other French officers courteously invited him to join them with their coffee and j liqueurs. Again a German was summoned. and the same questions put to him. I Again the friendly interchange of notes j took place, and he was invited to join his | comrade in tho garden. Three more sucI cessfully passed the same test, and the face 1 of the Chief of Staff began to grow sceptical. “Well, colonel," ho said, “your suspicions seem to bo unfounded.” A sixth German was ushered in. He stumbled in his replies, and displayed an j ignorance which did but small credit to the j German medical staff. Other questions on | medical science were put to him, and his 1 failure became more marked than ever, i The Chief of the Staff said, coldly ; ! “ Sir, I am afraid it would bo hardly 1 fair to your army to send you to Geneva J to bo exchanged for a French doctor. You must go to another destination which shall be decided later. Will you kindly step in there?” The German turned palo, but immediately recovered his composure and gave a stiff military salute. The orderly opened the other door, not leading to the garden, but to the room full of French soldiers. The officer rose and invited the newcomer to taka a seat. The whole of the 48 were then passed through this same ordeal. Of the total number 37 exchanged notes on medical science with the colonel, whilst the others were ushered into the side room. The Chief of the Staff rose and summoned his aide-de-camp, and handed him a list of names. “These officers,” he said, “will be required immediately to sit on a court martial.” Meanwhile it was growing late, and the 1 courteous P.M.O. wont ont into the gar- | den and personally conducted hi* 37 cop-

freres to their quarters for tho night, inviting them to breakfast on tho following morning. That evening seven French officers sat round a plain deal table. Armed guards filled the room, and before them stood 11 German officers, each with the Red Cross on his orm. The proceedings were short, as all military tribunals are in their work. The case of each was examined in turn. Each was invited to make a statement and to try to clear himself or explain tho Red Cross on his arm. But few attempted any justification. They were led away. The court sat 'alone for two minutes. Again the .11 were brought in. Colonel R , the presiding officer, arose. “ Gentlemen,” ho said, “ you have been found guilty of making unlawful use of the Red Cross, and therefore can only be regarded us spies. As such you are sentenced to be shot at dawn.” The 11 maintained a stoical silence. The presiding officer continued: “ You can write what letters you wish, and these, after being read, will bo forwarded at tho first opportunity. T our papers will, of course, be taken from you and used for identification. Officer of the guard, take tho prisoners aivay.” The 11, brought up in tho strictest military discipline, saluted. The court returned the salute. Tho proceedings were at an end. —A Surprise at Breakfast.— On the following morning, at daybreak, the 37 Gorman doctors joined their French comrades for tho “ petit dejeuner.’’ Tho P.M.0., Colonel P , inquired if they had passed a comfortable night. All expressed their gratitude for the hospitality accorded them. Suddenly, from the courtyard, there sounded a harsh word of command, which was followed by tho tramp of feet. A procession passed the window. First came a platoon of French infantry, then the 11 German officers, closely guarded. Then more infantry and an officer with a drawn sword. All eyes were turned on this strange spectacle. The German colonel half arose from his seat, saying : “ There are our comrades ; where aro they going?” Tho P.M.O. replied quietly; “Colonel, your friends have so little medical knowledge that we cannot do your army tho injustice of exchanging them for 11 of our own doctors; therefore they arc bound for a further destination.” The mournful procession passed out of sight. A gloom descended on the gathering. The conversation suddenly censed. Five minutes passed in silence. Suddenly the distant sound of a volley was heard. A shiver ran through both Germans and French. "What is that?” exclaimed tho German colonel. The P.M.O. rose from his chair. “Gentlemen,” he said, “your friends have reached the further destination. In one hour vour train will start for Geneva.”

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141212.2.90

Bibliographic details

SPIES AS DOCTORS, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

Word Count
1,785

SPIES AS DOCTORS Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

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