August 19th 1919

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

Part 1 Part 2:

Cyril King and his family arrived in Baden-Baden on August 7th 1914 and were sent to the Hotel Drei Könige. Here, although they were allowed “complete freedom in the daytime within the precincts of the town,” they had to be indoors by 8pm every evening.

“24/8/14. I was walking with Coote this afternoon among the wooded hills on the outskirts of the town, when suddenly we heard the bells ringing and saw flags being posted everywhere.  We are tired of those beastly bells – they have been rung every other day since we came here and always for a greater victory. We are tired too of the innumerable German national anthems and the shouting and cheering. But this afternoon they are louder than ever. As usual ‘Extrablätter’ are being sold everywhere… and we see they have had their first victory over das Perfide Albion.

Soon the whole town will collect in the square below my window, and it will be midnight before they disperse. Every half-hour or so more extrablätter will be published as the number of prisoners rises, one national anthem after another will be sung over and over again, and every member of the royal family and almost every general in the German Army will be loudly cheered.”

They soon gathered that there was a good deal of bad feeling towards the English.

“They are most bitter against the English, particularly Sir Edward Grey, whom they accuse of not stopping the war when he could have done so quite easily, but are very contemptuous about our army of ‘mercenaries’ and laugh at the idea of trying to equip 500,000 soldiers out of nothing. The papers are full of Belgian and Russian atrocities and they say the use of dumdums is an outrage against civilisation…”

At this time the King family were clearly still hopeful of repatriation:

“We are assured that we shall be sent back as soon as the mobilisation of their troops is complete.”

 

August 8th 1919

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

The last we heard of Cyril King was in September 1914, when he failed to return to Winchester College for the new term. When war broke out, at the end of July 1914, he was on holiday in Germany with his family and was not allowed to return to this country. He remained in captivity there until the end of the war.

We are delighted to hear that he has now returned safe and sound and, despite missing his final year at Winchester, has been accepted at King’s College, Cambridge, to read Economics.

His journal of his time in captivity, which he has kindly provided for inclusion in the next edition of the ‘Draconian’ is of great interest and as it is extensive, will be published here in parts over the coming weeks.

Part 1.

“Schluchsee, Black Forest, Germany. 30/7/14.   Started from Winchester on the morning of the 25th and arrived here this afternoon. Undaunted by rumours of war! We are sure to be sent back to England if there is any trouble. Half-an-hour wait at Strasburg, but saw nothing unusual. Freiburg though was crowded and full of excitement. A troop train left the station while we were there amid tremendous enthusiasm – everyone was talking of war and the rumoured capture and execution of six French spies in the town this morning…

3/8/14. It is glorious here. We (my mother, four sisters and Coote from New College, who is to tutor me) are living in a cottage, six miles from the nearest station, among mountains, by the side of a very dark blue lake. All the hotel guests have already left.

‘Rumour’ is very busy and there are many tearful partings. Did a Greek prose this morning, but hardly a very good one. This afternoon we took out a boat and bathed in the lake…

Baden Baden 7/8/14. Yesterday morning early, three plain clothes detectives arrived at Schluchsee and told us to be ready to leave in half-an-hour. They put us and our luggage into two motors and we drove off. Every mile or so we were stopped by a rough barrier across the road and the detectives had to show papers, but we reached Freiburg Railway Station at midday. The town was so crowded that we could hardly move, and I felt very nervous when we had to make our way across the road to an hotel for lunch, but nothing exciting happened.

At half-past one we were taken back to the station yard, where we lined up with our luggage in a long queue for passes and tickets to here. The queue was composed chiefly of Russian invalids from a neighbouring health resort – a few men, but mostly women and children – and thick crowds stood gaping and talking on each side of it. By 3 o’clock we were in the train, but we didn’t reach our destination till midnight, as we stopped at every station to pick up more foreigners…”

September 28th 1914

Our Old Dragon correspondent at Winchester has reported that Cyril King, who was due to be a House Prefect this term “is at present unavoidably detained in Germany.”

Cyril King

At the end of July 1914 Cyril was at Schluchsee in the Black Forest with his mother, four sisters and a tutor from New College, Coote. Although there were rumours of war, they were confident that if anything came of it, they would be able to return to England. Instead on August 7th they were arrested. We await further news.

*  *  *  *  *  *

We have received news from Rupert Lee, a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment.  In good OPS tradition, he is keeping a diary, although rather different in content to the usual Dragon offerings at the end of the summer holidays.

“This diary must be read and criticised very leniently, being rather a disjointed sort of narrative. Pieces of it were written in strange postures and places, in varying frames of mind, sometimes left for weeks without an entry and then written up to date… It does not profess to be a connected narrative but merely a conglomeration of statements of happenings as they appeared to me at the moment…”

He writes of a very narrow escape he had during the retreat from Mons:

“Just as I got about twenty yards away from a wood a shell came crashing through the tops of the trees and burst quite close to me. My horse got it badly in the stomach. I got off and shot him to put him out of his agony… I then stood up and looking round saw, just at the end of the ride, two Germans. I bolted for the wood and as it happened it was extraordinarily fortunate that I did so. For they both dismounted and came down the ride  looking into the other side to that on which I was hidden. Just as they got opposite me the leading man put his gun up sharply. I shot him and bolted, as did his companion in the opposite direction.

I went about twenty yards and lay down behind a bush. Nothing happened, so after about twenty minutes I went back very quietly, took his shoulder strap off him and walked away.”

*  *  *  *  *  *

JBBrooks

Capt. W.T. Brooks

Tyrrell Brooks (recently promoted to Captain in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and ADC to General Morland) writes:

September 14th.

“We are having a VERY hard time and now the weather has changed to rain it is cold and greatly adds to the discomforts which we are undergoing. Our Infantry has been brilliant and have more than kept up their high traditions, their marching having been really good and their fighting power at the end of the trek has been unimpaired.

We have now started a great forward movement which, though costing many lives, will undoubtedly test our enemy to the utmost and they are, I think, in rather a tight hole from which it will take them all their skill to extricate themselves. However, they are splendid tacticians, but I doubt if they have the material which is worthy of their well planned tactics.

How long this war will last I know not, but one thing is certain and that is it will leave all concerned crippled with regard to fighting material and armaments. Our casualties have been large but the German ones must have been larger.”

*  *  *  *  *  *

Readers of the “Illustrated London News” may have noticed the photograph below, probably taken during the retreat from Mons, which shows our old boy, Arthur Percival, with a number of notable figures. Arthur, a veteran of the Boer War and the first Old Dragon to have won a DSO, is serving as a General Staff Officer to Major-General Monro.

Percival & Generals

(Left to Right): Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, Maj-Gen Monro, Lt Col AJB Percival DSO and another.