Lieut. Blake Budden (Middlesex), now interned in Holland, has written to us with an account of his time in captivity in Germany.
He was, by chance, in Germany in July 1914 and on trying to leave, was refused a train ticket.
“On the Wednesday before the War, i.e July 29th, I was refused a ticket at the station (Marburg) except to Cologne, and as I considered myself safer from arrest in a quiet little non-military town, I decided to stay where I was. I did this the more as I was sure that we should get the regulation 48 hours to leave the country.
When I was arrested on the Wednesday, I was taken to a punishment cell in the barracks and personally, as you might say, I was well treated except by the Commandant, who told me that I was not fit to be on the pavement, but that the gutter was the proper place for me.
They gave me a bed in my cell, but when I tried to go to sleep I was kept awake by a peculiar itching which I thought was gnats, but which on striking a match turned out to be bug bites. I had 52 of them, as I counted next morning.
I complained and was removed to a civil prison, where I remained nearly a week, i.e until 11th August 1914. I think that I was then removed to Magdeburg, where I was placed in the civil prison where, with the slight exception that I did not have to work or clean my cell, I was treated exactly like a criminal, no smoking, no books, no company etc., three-quarters of an hour walk a day; up at 5.45 and bed at 7.30. During the day, my bed was folded against the wall and locked so that I could not use it.
After five days of that, I was removed to the fortress and given a room with a Frenchman, who was taken away two days later and then I was kept in solitary confinement until Sept. 4th.
By this time, my shoes were in holes and my linen in a pitiful state. I had the Bible and four German books, a Dictionary and a pocket Stevenson, and three hours’ walk a day in a small garden surrounded by high walls.
The other prisoners, who were Belgians, were allowed to be together, but I was kept severely apart from them.
This lasted until September 4th, when I went to Torgau, where I met almost all the British Officers who had not been seriously wounded, of whom I now find a very large number here.
In Torgau I was not so hungry but in Magdeburg I was desperately so, and they gave me nothing but beer to drink, which made me ill.
From Torgau I was sent to Halle, but before I went I had three rumours given me for being sent. Firstly that I was going to be shot, secondly that that I was going to be tried, and thirdly that I was going home. None of them was true.
In Halle the conditions were appalling, especially the dirt and bad sanitary arrangements.
On Oct. 14th we left for Celle and arrived at 8 pm on the 15th after an adventurous journey, in the course of which we got into a wrong camp and were nearly handled as ‘franc-tireurs‘. That would have been pretty ghastly too, I can tell you.
As you know, I remained there until I got to Holland, with the exception of a few days spent at Ruhleben, where we were taken by mistake in Nov. 1915.”
News of other Old Dragons in captivity is scant. Cyril King is also at Ruhleben, we think.