November 13th 1919

DINNER FOR OXFORD OLD DRAGONS

November 8th 1919

A delightful evening was spent at the School House, when Oxford ODs came to dinner. We were even invaded by two naval stalwarts from Cambridge, and by one representative of the Army of Occupation.

Amongst those present were: CA Pittar, O Sturt, ALF Smith, JBS Haldane, SBL Jacks, CP Duff, WT Collier, NS Norway, ML Jacks, PJ Campbell, V Alford.

* * * * * *

After abeyance during the War, the mid-term holiday has been revived; and Admiral Tyrwhitt’s whole holiday, in celebration of the surrender of the German Fleet, was added to it.

Hum Lynam has provided the following account:

“Boarders who went home, or to stay with friends or other boys, left on Friday 7th November and returned on the evening of Monday Nov. 10th, in time for fireworks.

This revival seemed generally popular with boys and parents, though there were one or two protests. The increased cost of travelling, and some increase in the possibilities of incurring infection, as well as the considerable trouble of getting so many boys away and back again, incline us to the view that a trip to the country would be the better way for most, while some would have parents down to see them.

Those who did not go away had a trip by charabanc on the Saturday, and after a walk by the river at Henley, we ate our lunch in the headquarters of the Ancient Order of Oddfellows, amid strange appurtenances, which were put to stranger use. Then up the steep side of the Chilterns to Peppard Common, where we were royally entertained by Mr & Dr Carling at the Sanatorium. We just caught the last of the glories of autumn colouring, which seemed to surpass themselves this year, and are surely nowhere more striking than among those Berkshire beeches.

We got back to Oxford in time for ‘progressive games’ organised by Miss Field.

A bicycle and caravan expedition on the Sunday was marred by rain.”

 

November 2nd 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123456789 Part 10

This is a continuation of Cyril King‘s entry for October 28th 1915, marking the first anniversary of his stay at Ruhleben.

“Thirteen new wooden barracks have been built – six behind the grandstands, four just beyond one end and the rest in various spare places. The American YMCA has put up a big wooden hall, which is used as a church, a reading room, reference library and lecture room;  and camp carpenters have built several sheds – mostly about 20 ft. x 6 – behind some of the stone barracks. These are used as rehearsal rooms, artists’ studios, canteens, tailoring, watch-mending and boot-making shops, hair dressing saloons, clubs and ‘boiler-houses.’ The latter supply hot water for 5 phennigs at almost any time of the day, and there is enough coal even to do some cooking, such as boiling porridge or frying potatoes…

One of the new wooden barracks is used as a parcel office, staffed chiefly by public school people, who appear to lead very idle lives but really do a lot of work and sometimes issue as many as 2000 parcels a day; while another has been made into a kind of convalescent home (the actual hospital being outside the camp) and contains two very comfortable ‘wards’ and a surgery, kitchen, waiting and medicine room. Anyone who is ‘run down’ or recovering from an illness, and many of the older people, are allowed to sleep there, with better food and more rest.”

The two German doctors are quite nice and very efficient and the Englishman in charge of the barrack is a perfect heroic marvel. About 300 of us have had German measles in May, but there were no very serious cases and the camp is on the whole very free from illness – everyone leading such an open air life that nerves and general weakness from insufficient food are the only serious maladies.”

October 26th 1919

We are delighted that Rev AB Karney, whose children, Anthony and Audrey, started with us in the Junior Department this term, has agreed to take on the Catechism class. He will take two forms together for five consecutive lessons. He will thus be brought in touch with all the senior boys in the school.

This Catechism class has had distinguished teachers, including the present Archbishop of York.

Rev. Karney

Rev Kearney has an impressive war record. At the start of the war he was a Royal Naval chaplain and was on board HMS Yarmouth at the Battle of Jutland.

Later in the war he served with the Northumberland Fusiliers, but was caught up in the Spring Offensive by the Germans in early 1918. He was captured and spent time in the Karlsruhe camp before being freed at the end of the war.

October 15th 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

12345678Part 9

Cyril King had anticipated that the Ruhleben camp would be too unhealthy a place for the summer and that they would be moved elsewhere. He was wrong.

The next entry from his journal marks the first anniversary of his incarceration in Ruhleben.

28/10/15. “We have been here for a year today and there seems no immediate prospect of getting out. We see all the German papers regularly now and an occasional ‘Daily Telegraph,’ which enterprising people manage to get smuggled in and let out for a shilling an hour, but the news is hardly very decisive!

Parcels arrive regularly from England – 5 per man per month – containing generally a tin of meat, another of fish, another of dripping or margarine, and another of condensed milk or jam, ¼ lb. of tea or cocoa, ½ lb. of sugar or a packet of Quaker Oats, and with any luck 30 woodbines or an ounce of tobacco.

The Germans give us potatoes twice a week and an occasional lump of meat, and though the soup, bread and coffee are less eatable than before, we are no longer dependent on them, and hardly anyone ever draws them, except as a means of putting pressure on our captors when we think they are being unpleasant – in which case the whole camp marches for a few days, loudly and in a body, to the kitchen, and by the sudden demand empties all the stores which the garrison had hoped to consume by itself!

But that doesn’t often happen, and they really are very good to us and leave us almost completely alone. They have removed the soldiers from the barracks, as being too bribable to be of any use, and practically the whole administration is in the hands of Englishmen – barrack ‘captains’ and a voluntary police force, whom we don’t like…”

October 4th 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

1234567 Part 8

This is a continuation of Cyril King‘s journal, written in Ruhleben Camp, dated January 3rd 1915.

“We are allowed to write two letters and four cards a month on official notepaper and to receive as many as we like, though they haven’t started to arrive regularly yet and there is very little to write about that the censor would pass.

The Germans are harmless on the whole. In each barrack there is a noncom. and a private, who shout a lot and take hours counting us before they lead us to the kitchen for our meals, but in most cases they are very bribable…

The commandant is an old doddery East Prussian squire. He makes frequent and touching speeches; calls us his ‘beloved charges’ and says he knows he will soon have to go and answer for us to his God, which he will do with a good conscience – whereupon he is at once as unpleasant as he can be, and goes on to tell us all about the crimes of the nation to which we belong and how sure he is that God will soon give his dear Kaiser victory over his wicked enemies. He evidently tries himself to imitate the Kaiser and seems quite sincere in his convictions.

The 2nd officer is a swine – also fond of haranguing us in the most Prussian way possible – and always loses his temper when he sees that we only laugh at his eloquence…

There are about 1500 seafaring people in the camp, about 50 public school and university men… The rest – about 1500 – are business men, English, half German, or almost wholly German, – managers, commercial travellers, civil engineers, clerks and ‘sharks.’ 

The German element is a great difficulty – many of them can’t speak English and have German sympathies which don’t please the rest of us, and there are constant quarrels and even bloodstained fights!

Apart from these, queues and rumours are the greatest nuisances. Literally hours are spent every day in queues – for water, hot or cold – for the canteen, or for the kitchen; and hundreds of rumours float round every day and are always believed, only to bring disappointment – great victories – exchange to England – release into Germany – the signing of an armistice – the entry of Italy into the war – all arrive daily and fall daily to the ground. 

I for one am sure that they won’t keep us here for the summer, it would surely be too insanitary.”

 

September 25th 1919

C H R I S T M A S   T E R M   1 9 1 9

Yesterday saw the start of a new school year.

We are delighted to welcome a number of new staff:

JB Brown BA (Hertford College Oxford), ex-Capt. Royal Scots; J Brucker, ex-Capt. Ox & Bucks Light Infantry; Miss Trevelyan LRAM (Music & Singing); Miss Anderson (Music).

We are also pleased to see the return of two Old Dragons: N Sergent, ex-Lieut. French Army and Rev HW Spurling, ex-CF Hants Regiment.

There are 26 news boys and another 7 in the Junior Department. Our numbers total 182 with 20 in the Junior Department.

To help accommodate this increase we have built on two additions to the School House. The Dining Hall has been increased and at School there are two large new classrooms, formed from an Army Hut (which was purchased over the summer), carefully prepared for the purpose, and two Masters’ rooms at the House, heated by hot water pipes, and lighted by electric light, have also been provided by the same means.

 

Huts such as these have been advertised in the newspapers:

A bargain for £10!

September 22nd 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123456 – Part 7

Cyril King, having arrived at the Ruhleben Camp when it opened at the end of October 1914, settled in for his first winter in captivity. The next entry from his journal is from January 1915, and describes how life there has developed:

3/1/15. “Everyone is very nice, cheerful and unselfish, watching for opportunities to help other people. It is very cold and we had snow and snowball fights – loathsome institutions, especially when one has no change of clothing! The camp is a perpetual bog as the soil is sand and there is no system of drainage. Everyone walks heavily and slowly about in huge clogs, corduroy trousers and innumerable woollen scarves.

In the mornings the whole camp seems to collect in the middle grandstand – a big sort of tearoom full of counters and benches. A rough stage has been erected along one wall by using the counters as trestles and covering them with planks of floorboards from some of the horseboxes, and we are soon to have concerts and, I hear, even a play. Rehearsals for the former – choruses accompanied by a few instruments – are generally in progress in one corner, while in another some of the men have fitted up a carpenter’s shop and are making badly needed tables and chairs – most energetically to judge by the infernal din which accompanies their efforts. In another corner a few are learning to dance and others to box, while in the middle people smoke and talk and laugh and play chess or study German.

In the evening the great pastime is ‘walking up and down the front’ – the ‘promenade des Anglais,’ which is bounded by the Guardroom, the three grand stands, the ‘tea house’ and the barbed wire – it is about 150 yards long and 20 broad and looks on to the race course.

The rest of the day I play chess (cards being forbidden) and am very good at it – though I know I shouldn’t say so. We have organised inter-barrack matches and all kinds of tournaments.”