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

Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


MAINZ Germany



Wednesday May 1st.  Commandant took exception to my walking round the parade of No 1 Block with German Officer Lt. Benbe.  In future if I want to inspect officers am to go round before or after German officer.  D & B.F. busy with alphabetical nominal rolls for walks & for Red Cross.  308 officers & 1 Sgt Major now in camp.  Walked for 45 minutes 4.30 to 5.15 p.m. Worthington seems a bright youth – was steward on Merchant Service & knows something of cooking.

List of officers 1 Br Gen, 5 Lt. Cols., 3 Majors, 66 Captains, 57 Lieuts, 171 2nd Lt, R.N.V.R. 1 Lt, 4 Sub Lts.  Walked for ½ hour with Drummond after dinner.


Thursday May 2nd.  Got hot bath after Roll Call.  Received pay & my money M 168.30.  Bright fine day.  General Committee Meeting at 5 p.m.  Letter received from Red Cross Frankfurt saying they had wired to Copenhagen.

About 30 more officers arrived including Lt. Col Gosling K.R.R. Walked after evening meal with Drummond.


Friday May 3rd.  Another fine sunny day.  Russian mended boots in morning with aid of some bits of leather & nails bought in Canteen.  Paid Belgian General 400 Marks for Theatre Concert at 4 p.m. 156 turned up a good beginning – latest regime more comic.  Belgian General & Bembe came.


Saturday May 4th.  Poobah, Cumming & McLean, Mackenzie Douglas & 2 6/GS1 arrived with some 50 other officers, including 2 Fd Officers.  Paid Belgian General 400 Marks.  Went round No 2 Block, it is quite the nicest block in the Camp, more air & brighter rooms.  Fine sunny day.  Did about 1 hours walking during day.


Sunday May 5th.  Service with Communion 10 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.  German Minister attended Lycett preached.  Back again *******.  Addressed officers in Theatre 1/30 p.m. usual points, including some remarks about discipline.  Belgian General paid farewell visit, he leaves for Switzerland in the morning.

Evening meal 7.30 p.m. Something wrong with cook house – Bembe most attentive & apologetic.  As more field officers have come, have decided to have my meals in my room in future.  Slight rain at 7 p.m. onwards.


Monday May 6th.  Usual fortnightly interview with German General (Commandant) usual answers to questions.  Flags flying on Government Buildings, Bembe says on account of Crown Prince’s Birthday.  Hot bath at 10.30 a.m., result feel slack & no inclination to walk.

Had meals in my sitting room.

Another fine day with warm sun.

Belgian General left at 5.30 p.m., lucky man to get away to Switzerland.


Tuesday May 7th.  Inoculated for cholera at 10 a.m.  Walked with Williams for 40 minutes.  Number of officers now in Camp 1 Br. Gen., 7 Lt. Cols., 4 Majors, 79 Capts, 80 Lieuts, 220 2nd Lts, R.N.V.R. 2 Lts 4 Sub Lt. 1 Mercantile Marine (Capt) total 398 –  Telegram from Daisy, posted from Karlsruhe, arrived 5.30 p.m. FRISCHAUF PACKETE und KLEDER BESTELLT.  Daisy Dick Cunyngham which Birch translates as “Cheer up, parcels and clothing being put in order sent!!  ** evidently arrived at Karlsruhe or 4 May from Geneva.

Had shorthand lesson 4.30 p.m. preliminary & alphabet.


Wednesday May 8th.  Thunderstorms & rain.  Did not appear on parade.  Saw  Bembe about latrines.  20 more British orderlies arrived in the morning – quite a good lunch today – thick Barley Soup – potatoes & spinach & pudding.  General Committee Meeting 2 p.m. question of distribution of orderlies.  Lecture by Moore on Nigeria 4 p.m. very good.  Lutheran Minister came & arranged about Service tomorrow.  Alterations in method of parade settled.

Worked shorthand for ½ hour morning & afternoon.


Thursday May 9th.  Roll Call 9.45 a.m.  Church with Celebration 10 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.  Amcoat preached.  Saw Bembe at 11.35 a.m. & put forward scheme for organization & duties of British Orderlies.  5 p.m. 6 p.m. General Committee Meeting.  Red Cross at Copenhagen notify they have sent 250 parcels bread etc; letter took only 3 days to come, remains to be seen how long parcels will take.

Today Ascension Day General German holiday. Had acute indigestion at supper & had to lie down for an hour.  Cold morning, warm & sunny at 4.30 p.m.  Numbers in Camp now increased to 438 officers.


Friday May 10th.  Scheme for Orderlies returned.  No notice taken of it; appears Germans don’t like us to organize anything. – But shall now see Block Commanders and try again.  Present state of things is hopeless.  Letter from Red Cross, Geneva saying they had sent my wine on the 25 April, calculate it got home about 28th; heavy thunder showers 4.30 – 6 p.m.  Walked with B.M. after supper for 30 minutes.


Saturday May 11th.  Told off young officer after Roll Call for misbehaviour.

Field Officers & Block 3 went for walk through Western Suburbs & gardens round Citadel, about 5 Kilo; and most of us found it quite far enough & quite glad to sit down on return. An excellent concert at 4 p.m. by ‘The MAINZPRINGS’ run by Milton Hayes & Besley.  The whole performance original.  Glorious day & sat out most of it.  Total number officers in Camp 483.


Sunday May 12th.  Service with Celebration 10 – 11.15 p.m. Light rain all morning.  Interview with Bembe 11.30 a.m.  Various points chiefly sanitary.

Addressed all officers in Theatre 1.30 p.m. put forward financial schemes of 5 mks per head unanimously agreed to; also scheme paying orderlies, few words on discipline etc. Wrote letter Daisy afternoon.


Monday May 13th.  Cold morning.  Hot shower bath 9.45 a.m.  Washing day.  Wrote official letters most of morning – ironed and mended socks, shirts etc during afternoon.  Censor asked meaning of ‘pukka’ and ‘indidiggers’ in my letter & told me letter goes to fumigation Room for 24 hours before despatch.


Tuesday May 14th.  Interview with Bembe and Schroeder re orderly scheme – but realise our points.  Williams reported Canteen had refused us to use Tennis Courts without paying 50 M – hire per month, hire of government ground!  Question immediately referred to General through Bembe.  Walked for ½ hour in morning.  Read ‘Last days of Pompeii’ afternoon.  Shorthand class 4.30 5.30 p.m.  Walked till 6 p.m. & again 8 to 8.40.  Bad day for meals, had extra slice bread & jam from 9.30 p.m. with some wine!


Wednesday May 15th.  Fine warm day.  Went for a walk with 50 of No 1 Block & Bembe, through gardens on South and along Rhine.  Garden well laid out trees & shrubs in full bloom looking very pretty.  Got home 11.30 a.m.  Worked at shorthand afternoon; Milton Hayes gave lecture on ‘Memory’, 4.15 p.m.  Toothache started & kept me awake all night.  Did not get to sleep till after 5 a.m.


Thursday May 16.  Toothache still bad.  Got some iodine put on gums but no chance of seeing Dentist till tomorrow morning.  Lodged complaint with Gen about pilfering & restriction of Red Cross parcels.  Bembe asked if I would like to change my room to where Belgian General was, but prefer to stay here for summer months at any rate, much cooler & view is something.  B thought I might be allowed to have some of the better furniture from Belgian Gen’s quarters.

Got sleeping draught of Vermal to counter act tooth.


Friday May 17.  Got up early after another sleepless night & saw Dentist at 8 a.m. opened out tooth & put in disinfectant ready for stopping next Tuesday.  Toothache gone by noon.  Fine & warm day.  Am told there are 3 letters for me from London posted May 5th & shall get them on Sunday after they have been 24 hrs in the fumigating machine.  Slept for an hour 11-12 on sofa.  Head buzzy due to Vermal I presume.


Saturday May 18th.  Very hot day.  Walked with about 50 others from No 1 Block along Rhine northwards through edge of Town.  Saw 2 passenger steamers going to Bingan & Rotterdam.  Milton Hayes fainted during walk & German woman gave him glass of milk.  Quite tired after walk – slight rain in the afternoon.  Drummond completed 20 years service today.  Bad day for food.  Rations getting shorter; about 60 more arrived.


Sunday May 19th.  Early service 7.45 a.m.  Slept well.  Morning Service 10 a.m.  Usual address 1.30 p.m. which I proposed to discontinue now unless specially ordered – a good thunder & hail storm about 4.15 p.m.  No letters forthcoming.  Williams got 2 letters.  Small walk after super but was very hot & close.


Monday May 20th.  Whit Monday.  General Holiday.  Very hot.  Worked at Shorthand morning.  At lunch Lycett brought me 2 letters both from Daisy dated April 28th & May 1st.  Such joy to get first news of home & my wire reached her on the 28th. Our lucky number again.

Wrote & posted post card in the afternoon.

Had good walk after supper.


Tuesday May 21st.  Got up early to see Dentist but he did not come.  Letter from old Bouverie Clark dated London May 2nd.  Had long interview with German General 10-11.30 a.m. on various points.  Number now in Camp 1 Br Gen., 8 Lt. Cols., 7 Majors, 121 Captains, 125 Lieuts., 341 2/Lieuts, R.N.V.R. 2 Lieuts, 8 Sub Lts 1 Mercantile Marine Capt.  Total 614.  Had good walk with B.M. after supper for 5o minutes.


Wednesday May 22nd. Dentist 8 a.m. he appears to be trying to kill the nerve & I am to go back on Friday if any more pain, otherwise wait till Monday.

Small walk to gardens 10 a.m. & had a good rest there. Very hot again.  Bembe sent for me about forbidding Continental Times & Gazette des Ardennes; German General wanted to know if true, so stated my reasons for doing so.  Lecture on Salt Trade by Capt Brown, unable to attend.  Too hot & depressing to walk after dinner, result I did not get to sleep till after 1 a.m.  Must keep up evening walk, think it helps sleep.


Thursday May 23rd.  Block II went for walk at 8 a.m.  Roll Call 11 a.m. from today.  Inspected bread from Copenhagen which was very mildew, Germans thought it would be better if handed over to them & made into Pudding! But when cleaned & baked everyone says it is all right.  Block III got issue in afternoon.  Worked shorthand morning.  Class 4-5 p.m.  Gen Committee Meeting 5-6.15 p.m. fear I got very angry with Block officers on question of payment of Orderlies which was settled at Meeting before – It appears some officers think they have a right to dispute our decisions, & shall have to take some drastic measures shortly.  Some officers have no idea of Military Discipline, how they ever became officers is a wonder.  Walked for ½ hour after supper, much cooler & some clouds.  Look like rain.

Friday May 24th.  Quite a cold morning & did some good walking.  Shorthand in morning.  German General from Frankfurt inspected Camp in the afternoon.  Everyone fussing around, & jam issue held up.  Quite a good tea in consequence. Copenhagen bread brushed & baked & then toasted, but portions remain mildew, fear it isn’t much good in mouldy condition, better to have biscuit.  Rain 4 p.m.  Walked during day for nearly 2 hours altogether.  Dentist gave more disinfectant.  Go for stopping on Wednesday.


Saturday May 25th.  Quite a cool day.  Walked a good deal before & after Roll Call.  More bread parcels for individuals issued, but fear most of it very mouldy.  Worked for 1 ½ hours at Shorthand.  Had a bread & jam pudding made of mouldy bread for supper, think it is best way of using it, as boiling takes out mould.  4 letters arrived about 7 p.m.  1 from DD, 2 from Alice, 1 from B.  B.F. & D have not had any yet.  So am very lucky having had 7 this week.


Sunday May 26th.  Early Service 7.45 a.m.  Matins 10 a.m.  Raining & quite cold.  Wrote letter to DD after lunch.  Finch & Bousfield came to see me over question of orderlies, & more trouble with officers in No 2 Block.  Had good walk before supper & again 9-930 p.m.  Fine evening.  Excellent bread & jam pudding made by Worthington for supper.  Another issue of Copenhagen bread which was scarcely mouldy at all inside.


Monday May 27th.  Cool day.  Worked shorthand morning.  General Committee meeting 1.30 p.m. re question payment of orderlies.  Settled on 5 mks per week all round, with probably 2 extra at end of month making in all 23 mks per month.  Arrangements for issue of Library Books still difficult but more books are gradually coming.  Bousfield has matter in hand.

Walked a good deal after supper.


Tuesday May 28th.  This day 20 years ago I was gazetted to 92nd, a sad way to spend Anniversary.  Worked at shorthand morning; saw orderlies after Roll Call.  The 1914 men most truculent & appear to have lost all sense of old Army discipline.  Fact is they have been too long away from officers.  Had the impudence to demand more pay than 5 mks per week, but I refused.  They are evidently the ring leaders in this agitation.  Shorthand Class 4-5 p.m.  Told off young officer (Btn) for behaviour in room & placed him in charge of room.  45 minutes walk after supper, which was augmented by cauliflower, asparagus, spring carrots.

Letters arrived today from Gina & Daisy dated London 7 May.


Wednesday May 29th.  Dentist 8 a.m. tooth finally stopped, done very quickly & don’t think it will last altho Dentist says it will for ever!  Others have complained teeth ache after his stoppings!  Vaccinated & inoculated 2nd time for cholera at 9.30 a.m.  Drummond got bread parcel, very mouldy, made it into pudding for supper, but no jam to eat with it, not a success.  Lecture on Diamond trade 3.45.  Wrote post card DD.  French Conversation Grammar arrived at last.  Was ordered on May 1st.  A cold N.E. wind but fine.


Thursday May 30th.  Another Bank Holiday & in consequence no parcels issued & canteen closed.  Worked shorthand morning, getting rather complicated & a good deal to commit to memory.  Shorthand Class 4-5.  General Committee Meeting 5-6 p.m.  Saw 3 officers who appear to have got extra food by illegal means.  They say it is what is left over after meals; but there should not be any if everyone is to get full rations.

Orderlies paid up to date. Some are going away again as they are A1 men. Worthington not yet warned.  Hope we keep him.  Was informed today that inquiries for Houghton have been sent to Berlin.  Letter from Betty dated May 7th.  Warmer day.  Not feeling up to walking much, probably due to inoculation.


Friday May 31st.  Walk from 8.10 a.m. to 9.45 a.m. along Rhine, then through Town (Kaiserstrasse) past main Station & back by gardens.  Quite a good walk, but was very tired after it.  Shows what one is fit for on present diet.  Drummond got parcel from American Y.M.C.A. cigarettes, tobacco, tea, rice, biscuits, butter, milk chocolate & soap.  We had biscuits & butter for tea & supper.  First butter since April 11th.  about 50 orderlies went away to work from another lager & 50 new ones came in their place.  Mostly 1914 men.

Canteen closed for Stock taking.


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