Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Interned in Holland " for the duration".

Wnen the 1st.Royal Naval Brigade crossed over the border from Belgium into Holland on the 10th. of October,1914,it meant that these 1500 men were out of the war,and would, by the existing rules of war,be interned in Holland(neutral in this war)for the duration of hostilities.After wandering in the Dutch countryside,the British were rounded up by the Dutch police,and ordered to lay down their arms.The 1st Royal Naval Brigade were finally led to a camp in Groningen,surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by police
There are conflicting opinions about conditions in the Groningen camp but the two words which continued to appear in letters home to Lewis were "acaras agus cianalas" - hunger and boredom.It was said that some men killed a sheep and were so hungry that they ate it raw.Others came across a solitary cow,killed and cooked it.The British Government had to make compensation for this.The men in the camp could earn 1 guilder per week(ie. 100 cents),and when they got"shore leave",they could go down into Groningen town,and buy some food and beer.The British lads were often entertained by Dutch families in their homes.and some romances grew between the Dutch girls and the bored British boys.There were also some who married,which allowed the man to leave camp and reside with his wife's parents.But inconveniently for the newlyweds a gaurd came to stay too !
A " Camp Magazine " details the various activities taking place in the camp just 18 months after arriving there. There were concerts,at which Madame Sorga entertained,singing songs "in no less than seven different laguages"; the Camp Follies doing vocals and instrumentals,with Seaman Linley deservedely praised for his rendition of the Drinking Song from "The Rose of Persia".There was the Camp Club down town at the Groot Markt where 50 cents could buy you "beef steak pudding,a rich gravy and a plentiful supply of potatoes" - not forgetting some tapioca pudding and then cheese.That would keep the "acaras" at bay - no need for raw sheep,now.For those that might be prone to ennui,there were 20 mile route marches,the Association Football Club,an Art Club,the Athletics Club.the Debating Society where in early 1916 "Women's Suffrage was affirmed in principle,with no uncertain voice".I have the feeling that these activities were organised by "chaps" with pipes and cravats.The various activities bring to mind those old black and white films like the "Wooden Horse",well in some ways,at least.

No comments: