Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen April 1918

Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


MAINZ Germany



April 12th Cornet Malo woke about 5 a.m. by Poobah saying a lot of MG fire on our left.  B.M. was then talking to Scott on the phone who said his front was all right.  Went out & saw transport coming back along road, saw Northall who said everyone was coming back & he was going up to see what was up.  Immediately after our Hd Qrs came under Rifle & MG fire at close range:  we all then started to get away on going out of farm.  B.M. & Col. Fleming were wounded by a bomb.  Others were running back.  I had one last look at Farm, collected my bag & waterproof & joined the remainder.  Bosche was all round us in waves, the first 2 waves having passed Hd Qrs; attempted to get men round  Farm Building & open fire, but seeing it was useless made off again for another cottage – which I entered with Drummond, Cummings & Simpson.  On going in rifle bullet grazed me on head & knocked me over.  Finally Simpson surrendered & we were captured.  Remainder of Bde Hd Qrs were also taken at various places & we commenced to march back.  Bosche M.G. & Artillery fire still continuing in vicinity of our farm.  On way linked up Fleming & Meakin & B.M.


Boche evidently broke through someway N of us near Merville as I spoke to a Corpl D.C.L.I. (under 153) later on & he said they had come in behind their line. Party captured was practically all Bde Hd Qrs, self. B.M., Drummond, Cummings, Simpson, McLean, Hutchings, Fleming Meakin.  The latter riding back, & Poobah servant badly wounded, carried back.  Passed through Paradis where we collected a French cart & put wounded in & dragged it along to 1st Dressing Station where wounded were left.  Then marched through Fosse to Pont du Hem.  Rested & had excellent cup Barley Broth.  Stayed 1 hour here then on via La Bassee road, our old front.  Corpl Alfhousen, marching ahead, not knowing where he was going.  So we with aid of B.M.’s map, guided ourselves across old trenches to Bois-de-Biez & there to Illies & on to Marquillies. (19 miles).  Behind B de Biez Alfhouse shopped & we all had drink of Soda Water from a Field Factory.  Arrived Marquillies about 7.30 p.m.  Spent night in cages.  Officer in charge most kind, gave self, Berney-Ficklin & Drummond a shake down in his quarters & food & noisy night, some 700 Portuguese prisoners chattering all night.  Bombs dropped throughout night.


April 13th. Marched Lille (10 miles) starting 9 a.m. only officers & servants.  French inhabitants gave us coffee in Haubourdin: tiring dusty march, much traffic on roads: arrived about 1 p.m.  Self B.M. & D sent to officers quarters in a room holding 5. 3 turned out for us Lt. Col Martin Lan Fus.  Major Jackson E Yorks, our 2 other companions couldn’t face the consisting of stew.  Comdt a Lieut, quite an intelligent little fellow, & doing his best for us.  6 p.m. evening meal.  Coffee &brown bread & jam.  Lights out 9.30.  Slept well on a hard bed but 2 blankets.


April 14 Sunday. Breakfast 8.30 a.m. coffee & remains of bread, read & slept till our half hours exercises about midday – round the Arsenal Square.  Orderly bought us cigars 50 for 25 Mk., soap one cake 7 Mark! Toothbrush 3 Mks, & toothpaste in tube 2/80.  Changed all French & English money in Marks.

Dinner same stew, which I cannot eat, so picked out some potatoes. ½ hour walk again in afternoon: orderly produced 5 bottles lemonade cheap. Jackson left after breakfast and Somerville (S.W.B.) came in his place – Bed by 9 p.m.


Monday 15th.  Orderly made good fire at 8 a.m. & we were able to toast the brown bread which improved it greatly – coffee at breakfast had same taste as stew, so drank lemonade.  Orderly brought 5 slices of white bread at 2 marks a slice!  Couldn’t produce biscuits from Red Cross – towels, soft soap, & handkerchiefs.  Informed that self Berney-Ficklin & Drummond are going this afternoon with escort of an officer by 2 p.m. train.  Remainder evidently go together 30 British & 20 Portuguese officers.  Martin left about 12.30 p.m.  Barber came & shaved us all.  Feel more like gentleman today.  Left Lille at 2.10 p.m. passed Orchies, St. Amand – Valenciennes (4.15 p.m.) Aulnoye (6.25 p.m.) where we halted till 10.30 p.m.  All huddled up in a waiting room which luckily had a fire and we were able to get a glass of beer!

At 10.30 p.m. started again in a 2nd class carriage & had a cold dark journey to Charleville (3.40 a.m.)


Tuesday 16th another wait in a cold waiting room (no fire) till 7.20 a.m. Had some German coffee at 4.30 a.m. &the kantine provided us with tea bread & cheese for breakfast at 6.30 a.m. & a luncheon for the journey (5 marks).  Left Charleville 7.21 a.m. in a good corridor train 2nd class.  Country hilly plenty of men working in railways.  Montmeldy 10.15 a.m.  Longuyon (11.10) excellent lunch in Dining Car (soup meat, potatoes &vegs & soda 3.40) at midday – crossed frontier into Germany at 1.25 p.m.  Fentsch (Lorraine) Metz (3-10) change at Beningen 6.25 p.m. into another train.  Saargemund 7.30 p.m. had tea, bread & cheese.  8.15 into another train arrived Strasburg 10.45 p.m. supper, coffee & sandwich bought at Charleville & spent night in 1st Class Restaurant.  Very fine station Strasberg.


Wednesday 17th.  Woke 4.30 a.m. room full of soldiers.  Had coffee & sandwich.  5 a.m. & a wash.  Left by train 5.36 a.m. crossed Rhine at Fehl 5.45 a.m. passed Kehl where Rly crosses Rhine.

Appenweier 6 a.m. junction for Basle. Baden oos 6.30 (Zeppelin Shed).  Black Forest on right – arrived Karlsruhe 7 a.m. walked to European Hotel where it looks as if we are to stay – put into bare small room with 2 beds. With breakfast a tin of sardines brought for sale (3M) – also man to change cheques.  Got 200 M (10£). Man brought articles for sale at fair prices so brought hairbrush & comb, nail scissors, soap, boot-brush & polish & a dictionary.  About 11.45 a.m. taken down to intelligence officer for examination – came back to find lunch, consisting of quite good soup potato & nut stew & brown bread – really quite a palatable meal & plenty of it.  Left Hotel at 2.45 p.m. & came on to Camp about 700 yds away.  Settled down in a room with B.M. &. D.  Evening meal 6 p.m. & then had dinner with Troughton & Baldwin & Dawson.  Bed 9 p.m.


Thursday 18th.  Hot shower bath 8.30 a.m. breakfast in room.  Roll call 10 a.m. finished letters etc.  Midday meal 12 noon.  Sat out in camp, quite warm – from 1 – 3 p.m.  Some 40 officers left & new ones came about 3 p.m. including 2 Lt. Cols in 60th one Birch – other –

Supper consisted of 3 tiny bits of meat in stew – Bed 9 p.m. slept well.


Friday 19th.  Heavy rain during night.  Slept fairly well.  Issue Bully Beef & biscuits at 1 p.m.  About 40 French officers went away and about same number English arrived at 2.30 p.m.  Much colder & not able to sit out.  Bed 9 p.m.

Saturday 20th.  Warned at 8.30 we were to leave today for Mainz.  Midday meal at 9.45 a.m. handed in money & got chit stating amount.  About 70 officers going after meal.  They were sent to Recreation Room.  We were allowed back to our Hut till 11.15 a.m.  Left Camp 11.30 a.m. marched to station, left 12.25 p.m. in special carriages.  Passed Durlach, Burschal, Heidelburg 2 p.m. Darmstadt 4.25 p.m. Mainz 6.35 p.m. marched to Fort 200 yds from station.  Have been given excellent rooms, bedroom & sitting room well furnished, both with stoves.  Moore & Birch (60th) also come to Field Officers’ Qrs, & we three had dinner together in my sitting room.  Good meal soused fish & potatoes, pudding & red syrup & some tea & bread.  Lights turned on at 9 & out 11 p.m.  Have an excellent view from my room over town & Rhine.  Spring bed with sheets & a comfortable pillow, quite different from straw palliase & straw pillow at K.  Am most agreeably surprised with my quarters which they say are to be permanent.


Sunday 21st.  Slept well bed quite comfortable &for a change did not dream of battle fighting.  Coffee at 8.30. Russian Barber came about 9.15 a.m. have ordered him daily.  German officers showed us round & we shall soon arrange everything for comfort of all.  Excellent meal at 12 noon, soup, roast beef potato & spinach.  Had church in chapel at 2 p.m.  Coffee at 3 p.m.  Committee Meeting at 4 p.m.  Supper 6 p.m. & at 7 p.m. I addressed all officers & read out rules of Camp, arranged for Various Committees for Parcels, Libraries, Recreation, Canteen, Entertainment etc; Berney-Ficklin & Drummond came into Field Officers’ building & the 3 of us are now together in my sitting room.  A bright sunny day but a cold N.E. wind.  Wrote postcard notifying change of address.


Monday 22nd.  More officers arrived very late last night about 11.50 p.m. amongst them 3 Lt. Cols Finch, Ogilvy and Williams, all came into this block.  Afternoon 2 p.m. hot shower bath and all our clothes fumigated & we were sent into a room with a fire & blanket round us.  Was nearly 5 p.m. before our clothes came back much crumpled.  Cold day with some rain.


Tuesday 23rd.  This note book taken away for General to read.  Returned 28th.  it is taking some time to find out what are the regulations of this camp, so temporarily have made our own.


Wednesday 24th.  Ogilvy seems keen & most competent to help organise, have put him on Entertainment & Education Committee.  Find we have some talent.  2 officers connected with stage, some glee singers from North Country.  Signed Contract for Billiard Tables & have taken them over.


Thursday 25th.  The General inspections on parade, just walked along line.  Very wet day.  Am not sleeping very well.  Very patchy – unusually awake 2 a.m., 5 a.m. & coffee comes at 7.40 a.m.


Friday 26th.  Must do something to prevent long ‘queues’.  Yesterday some officers spent 3 hours in a ‘queue’ trying to sign a cheque for money & failed.  Great lack of organization on part of those responsible.  Only 1 cheque book, & all the counterfoils might easily be filled in before.  German Minister came & offered to help for Communion Service but informed us we were not allowed to hold Communion without his being present – wrote in complaint to comdt.  Have 4 C of E, 1 Wesleyan and 1 R.C. in Camp.  Washed vest!


Saturday 27th.  Some of us got money for our cheques.  I got 5£.  We get remainder of pay & money handed in at Karlsruhe on May 2nd.  Nice warm day.


Sunday 28th.  Sanction for Church Service given & then cancelled.  Appears Comdt must get sanction from Frankfurt.  Most annoying this indecision.  Am still trying to get Recreation Room opened and orders out.  1.30 p.m. addressed all officers on certain points in Discipline which cropped up during the week & notified progress in Sub Committees.  Have now got special officer for each block, & a room Commander, & give out orders twice daily.  Am starting room inspections tomorrow.  Also controlling “Queues” at Canteen.  Wrote letter D.D. after lunch.


Monday 29th.  Inspected No 3 at 11 a.m. & asked officers if they had anything to bring forward.  Hope to get most points settled on the spot with German officers in charge of Blocks; mostly trivial but hitherto nothing could be done without order of Commandant.  Midday meal 35 minutes late, one cauldron cracked & food had to be cooked again.  Nice fine warm day.


Tuesday 30th.  Was granted interview with German General Commandant, & brought up various questions – think we shall now be able to get things done on the spot, with exception of points which have to be sent to Frankfurt for decision.  Paid a visit with B.F. to Belgian General and fixed up about the stage which he bought from Russian Officers.  He has been prisoner since 1914, & is now going to Switzerland shortly.  His rooms seem quite comfortable & he had boxes of clothes etc; in his room also pots of flowers.  22 English prisoners (Orderlies) arrived about 4.30 p.m.  Pte Worthington Roy Fus reported to me as servant.  He had been a prisoner 6 weeks.  Is small and magnificent looking.  Cold day.

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