The Front Line and Beyond It – Part 13

20th September and 21st September. Nothing unusual.

22nd September, Sunday. After breakfast, Raison and myself went down to Witten, accompanied by an armed guard, to be photographed. Witten is about half hour s walk from here and, as this was my first time out of the cage since May, I enjoyed the outing very much, although the guard would not let us walk on the pavement. Anyway it was a change of scenery. The “Amalgamated Society” only touched for one grocery and two biscuit packets this week, but we are still living and have a fair stock in hand.

23rd September. Nothing exciting. Sack up! touched for biscuits.

24th September. Wet morning and afternoon, so we did not start work till 4.30 p.m. Absolutely absurd! Two and a half hours work! Three lists up. Down for a grocery. Cheerio!

25th September and 26th September. Nothing unusual.

27th September. Large case arrived with packets for French. Three more British touched for clothing.

28th September. Nothing unusual.

29th September, Sunday. Nice and warm all day long. Spent the time between meals sitting in the garden. We of the Amalgamated Society now have a young Russian, Wissoski by name, who does all our washing every Sunday, and also washes our dishes, etc., in payment for tinned food and biscuits. I tried to make some meal and potato çakes, but they turned out a ghastly failure. Ate them all the same, ghastly or not.

30th September. Packets up this evening. Society touched for six grocery and a biscuit packet. Began to rain at 3 p.m., so we came back to Baraque and sat round the stove. Much better than work.

1st October. Nothing unusual.

2nd October. From tonight, owing to the shortening of the days, work will finish at 6.30 instead of 7 p.m. But we have only 20 minutes for breakfast and tea instead of half an hour. List arrived for the French.

3rd October. Four lists arrived for English. Society down for five groceries and four biscuits. The English had a big row with the French, mainly because Louis, the oldest prisoner, said “Egal” , (“It’s all the same to us!”) on being asked by the foreman whether it was to be work or no work, when it was pouring with rain, thus causing us all to work in the wet and get soaked through.

4th October. English not on speaking terms with the French, excepting Jules Duraffourg, who sticks up always for the English, and does not care much for his French companions ; and also Vasamilliette, a Belgian, with whom the French will have nothing to do, and who in return hates the whole lot of them. He has not been with us very long and seems a very decent chap. Must try and make friends.

5th October. Batiste, one of the Frenchmen, chopped his fingers off while cutting wood. Sent to Friedrichsfeld right away. Damn good war news. Bulgaria finished fighting and signed an armistice, and Austria is willing to hear the Allies’ terms re Peace.

6th October, Sunday. Cold and windy all day long. Heard that Germany was willing to accept the fourteen points of President Wilson, and also other good war news. So all went into the canteen and celebrated same with drink. All of us have now received our clothing and uniforms, so there is quite a smart set of Englishmen at Barrack 32.

7th October. Nothing unusual. Expected packets, but the beasts never arrived. To-morrow perhaps.

8th October. Packets arrived this evening. Society touched for five grocery and four biscuits. Jolly good. Also a case of beverages, medicines, ointments, and bandages, arrived from the British Help Committee. Came at a very handy time, as most of us still fearfully bothered with great boils and sores of all sorts. Tom Preval, one of us English, elected doctor.

9th October. Nothing unusual. Had my sores dressed this evening by “Dr. Preval”.

10th October to 12th October. Nothing unusual.

13th October, Sunday. Good news through today re Germany accepting Fourteen Points of Wilson. Result : Another celebration in the canteen. I only hope these rumours are true.

14th October. Nothing unusual.

15th October. Did not go to work to-day as I felt sick, so the guard took me to see the Doctor. Took my temperature, 101 degrees.  Then, “Englander?” he asked. Then “Arbeit”! (work!) he said. However, the guard set me to work on mincing cabbages for sauerkraut instead. Felt rotten all day – first hot and then cold – but had to work all the same. Sack of packets arrived in the evening, but I did not feel inclined to eat anything, for a wonder.

16th October. Too bad to get up this morning, So stayed in bed. This illness –  the Spanish Flu – is very catching and two more English and five of the French are down to-day with it. Luckily, too, our German corporal a huge Prussian and a bully-is also in bed today with the same complaint, so there is really no one to rouse us out of bed in the morning, if we say we are “kranke” (sick). Stayed in bed all day, feeling absolutely rotten, and not inclined to eat a thing. When I say “bed” I mean my dusty fea-bitten mattress, and two equally flea-infested blankets.

17th October. Still in bed, and appetite lost altogether. Raison and Wroe ill today with the flu, so there is only Sam left to look after the three other members of the Amalgamated Society. Doctor came to examine us, and I got “six days in barrack without work” as my temperature was 102 degrees. So got back into bed again to keep the fleas, etc., company.

18th October. Still feeling rotten, so spent the day in “bed” again. Cannot eat a thing. Pye returned from Friedrichsfeld to work again, as his arm is better.

19th October. Jock, one of the Britishers – our heavyweight in fact down with the flu today. got up a bit in the afternoon but soon climbed back into bed again.

20th October, Sunday. Practically all day in bed. Got up for half-an-hour after dinner, but felt awful. Have not touched my German bread since 16th instant. The same with Wroe and Raison, so we have quite a little stock – only it is getting dry.

21st October. Still in bed, and so is the corporal. There are eight English out of the twelve in bed with the “maladie”, nine French, and four Russians. So the work in the Chantier is not going on very well.

22nd October. Sam Smith “malade” today as well. Got up for an hour in the afternoon, but was glad to get back to “couchy” again.

23rd October. Doctor visited us all again today, and marked nearly all of us as fit for work in the morning. The beast!

24th October. Went to Chantier working as usual, but felt very weak and listless. Have got no appetite at all. Only Jock and Wroe allowed to stay in bed.

25th October. Nothing unusual.

26th October. Joe Willey, another Englishman, taken ill with the flu and sent to Witten hospital. Am now getting my appetite back so sack  of packets arrived this evening.

27th October, Sunday. Very quiet to-day, and no special war news through. I think we have been having a lot of false alarms.

28th October. Jock Robertson, our huge, strong Scotchman, and a jolly decent chap, very bad indeed today. The corporal would not send for the doctor until tonight. When doctor arrived he said Jock had double pneumonia, and must have that awful coffee- substitute every two hours! Nothing else! So Sam stayed up all night with him.

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