Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen
Mainz Blankenburg Mark
June 1st Saturday. Cool day. Worked shorthand in morning. Got Finch to see new orderlies to explain scheme & give them a talking to. More parcels issued from 3-4.30 p.m. I got a Y.M.C.A. parcel same as Drummond’s, B.F. got his first bread parcel from Copenhagen dated May 18th, which looks quite good. In consequence we had good supper, fried our potatoes in the cheese butter & had rice & jam. Mainzprings performed at 4 & 7 p.m. quite a good show, hope to be able to keep them together but hear they are sometimes difficult to manage. Milton Hayes for instance was too ill to perform but Canteen revived him. Am sleeping ever so much better now.
Sunday June 2nd. Early Service 7.45a.m. About 35-40 present. Bousfield says books Dr. Diesendorf brought are really good value 300 books for 240 Marks – We have now nearly 1200 books in the Library. Dinner late as usual on Sunday not till 12.30 p.m. Addressed all officers in theatre 1.30 p.m. Subjects behaviour to orderlies illegal means of obtaining extra food. Papers, young officers drinking, payment of orderlies. Bousfield spoke on Library, Birch on Red Cross.
Sat out afternoon 3.30 to 6 p.m. reading Heart of Midlothian. Walked from 5.30 to 6 p.m. Had more rice for supper, a little good food makes all the difference. Walked with Clements & Eagar for ½ hour before 9.30 p.m. Roll Call.
Monday June 3rd. Usual interview with German General, am told tone of my letter points to the fact that I wish to control the Camp! These interviews are quite useless & don’t propose to continue them. Hot Bath at 11 a.m. Some indignation in Camp at letter written by officer (Robertson) who certainly made some offensive remarks. Bousfield approached me about making him apologise but as I have repeatedly warned officers they must take the consequences if they exceed them. Ogilvy & Finch came in during the afternoon – O – to try & make me make his Education Scheme compulsory! F with one of his usual wild schemes. They are both very energetic & one cannot help admiring them, but fear they don’t always consider how their schemes can be carried out. A little quiet thought beforehand would be an advantage.
Walked 2 miles before, and 1 mile after supper. Still cold & cloudy.
Tuesday June 4. Walk 8 a.m. went Westwards into country to village of Hechtsheim, celebrated for small cheeses peacetime price 75 pfs but sold at Homburg during season as Fromage de Luxe at 1 mk 75 pfs so Bembe says. Crops quite high & rye in some places 6 ft high.
There appears to be plenty fruit in the district – got back 9.45 a.m. having done nearly 7 miles & for a change I felt all the better for it, & not very tired.
Drummond got 2nd bread parcel from Copenhagen, but as usual mouldy. Over 300 loaves of free bread issued to those who have had no bread parcels so far – Schroeder has inevitably told Bembe about our store & we are to get it all right.
Shorthand class 4-5 p.m. as the only Pitman book has gone away with orderly instructions rather at a loss how to carry on, but we are going over back work & there is plenty to carry on with. Still quite a cold N.E. wind with bright sun.
Wednesday June 5th. Fear stove from Blk III is no good, & we have decided to buy one & to include Bollam. Paid out at 3.30 p.m. Received 46 Mks for June. Worthington warned to go away tomorrow. Dieseldorf came about letter re Kitchen & distribution food for Kommandanteur. Wrote Post Card DD. Not feeling up to much walking today & Finch thinks I don’t look so well! Suppose one has “ups” & “downs”.
Thursday June 6. Air raid warning at 9 a.m. hooters sounding all along river, smoke shells fired over town. 4 police of bicycles dashed up there. Not a soul seen in streets – men issuing parcels left work & ran away. Appears there was some bombing further North. Birch said he saw planes (5). Walk No 2 Blk put off in consequence.
Self & Drummond received Bread parcels. Loaves quite black & mouldy all through but have saved sufficient out of my 2 loaves to make a pudding for tonight. D says it will steam & bake and come out all right. 35 orderlies left at noon. New orderly is an Irishman ‘Harris’ R.M. Fus. Wonder how he will turn out; when he reported he had just arrived after an all-night journey in the train. D managed to persuade canteen to get us a new stove at once and it actually appeared at 3.45 p.m. with men to fit it up. Result we had an excellent hot supper in the sitting room where the stove is, & have managed to save some “Semolina” porridge & fruit for breakfast. The Black bread after steaming & baking in oven has been devoured! Hope with no evil results. Harris appears to be thorough & genteel & very Irish. Usual Shorthand class at 4 p.m. & general meeting at 5 p.m. Nothing of importance to enact.
Telegram from Rotterdam says we can draw emergency parcels from there provided we send list of officers, so D & Birch have been busy making out the list of 600 officers.
Short walk after supper. A warmer day, wind more West.
Friday June 7th. Had a hot breakfast for first time since April 11th consisting of Semolina porridge, fruit, tea & bread & butter. Hope to save something for breakfast daily now. Harris knocked at the door about 7 a.m., left the coffee in the sitting room and disappeared, but I got him in the end to come & attend to my wants, clean boots, brush cloths etc. Perhaps when he knows what to do he will be all right. Another bread parcel for me from Copenhagen dated May 11th, very mouldy as usual.
Shall be glad when they send biscuits instead. Rumour that Medical Officers are going away tomorrow. Hot day not feeling up to much walking so tried working at Shorthand instead. Time I got another letter, fear they take a long time in the censor’s office, of which there are 2, one in Camp & one in the Town.
Instructions how to act in case of air-raids read out on parade, viz evacuate square – if out for walk gain shelter of trees, if in open lie down. Bed at 10.15 p.m. in view of early walk in morning.
Saturday June 8th. Called at 7 a.m. had breakfast 7.45 a.m. Rice & fruit saved from supper. Walk at 8 a.m. to Hechtsheim & back, with Berner: got back at 10.15 a.m. 9 Medical Officers left about 8 a.m. for camp near Dutch Frontier, lucky fellows to get back again. Letter from DD dated May 11th. Consignment of food from Red Cross arrived, gave an issue of biscuits, meat, dripping, milk, cheese, tea or cocoa to each room. D as usual was lucky & drew an extra tin of mutton. The stove is a great blessing & our evening meals are getting quite palatable & served hot on hot plates. Tonight we had soup & fried potatoes & a bread & jam pudding made of mouldy Copenhagen bread. After steaming, baking & then boiling into a pudding it is surprising how the green & black bread turns out & doesn’t seem to give one any internal trouble, but don’t think it will do for long. Ogilvy came in after Roll Call to talk about his Education Scheme: the confidential census is going on well, & by getting classes made up in farming, mining, & a hundred other occupations, we hope to help those who must start life anew when they get home again. Generally speaking most are keen on it, some have no regard for future or how they can support themselves after the war. What we want is a good reference library & a committee is now sitting to select one but there will always be difficulty in getting the books. Bed 10.30 p.m.
Sunday June 9th. Very hot day. Church Communion Service with Sermon 10 a.m. C of E again. Kept Presbyterians waiting till 11.15 a.m. Must get Sermon limited to 15 minutes. Letter from Gina midday, posted London May 12th. Dinner ½ hour late as usual. General Committee Meeting 5 p.m. sanctioned expenditure up to 30£ on Education books & Reference Library books. Question of a Camp Paper brought up, have decided to ask German Comdt if we can start one, to be printed monthly. Price of wine in canteen also brought up. Wrote letter DD.
Monday June 10th. Got up 7 a.m. for walk but it commenced to rain hard about 7.30, so had breakfast & went to bed again – Feeling sick, fear tummy is wrong. Had Bath at 10 a.m. spent remainder of day on sofa. Think I have either a slight chill on liver or something is annoying my inside. Not at all inclined for food. D got 2 good loaves today left Copenhagen May 25th. Postcard from Fortnum & Mason saying they had despatched a parcel. Dull day but not much rain since 10 a.m.
Tuesday June 11th. Spent a poor night with bad diarrhoea. Got some medicine for it after breakfast, which has stopped it so far. Worked at Shorthand & had class in afternoon. Fine day with cool breezes. Feeling more inclined for food again. Hope I have settled my tummy – there is a good deal of stomach trouble in Camp. I still think it is the mouldy bread, & shall be careful of it in future.
Wednesday June 12th. Slept very well last night, did not wake till 6 a.m., a record Russian Barber has sprained his ankle so English orderly, or rather a red-haired Irishman came & shaved me after breakfast. B.F. & self both got bread parcels dated 25 May. Quite good, it was addressed to Mainz, so hope they will now come through quite regularly. Keating gave most interesting lecture on “The Canned Meat Industry of S. America”. Dieseldorf attended! German authorities have asked for help of 2 orderlies with parcels tomorrow. Appears there are about 600 parcels mostly from home & they haven’t sufficient Staff to deal with them. ‘Inside’ stronger today. Still struggling with Shorthand Grammalogues & Phraseogramms take some learning.
Thursday June 13th. B.F’s 26th Birthday. Called at 7, breakfast 7.40 a.m. Red haired Barber came again in place of Russian who is in Hospital. Walk into country past Hospital. Roman Aqueduct & back by Bingen Rd. about 6 miles – rather hot on way back, but I managed it all right. Long list of parcels. B.F. & I both got 1st Capture food parcels, excellent selection including, beef, sausages, ham, bacon, cheese, lard, jam, biscuits, cigarettes (Woodbines) & soap & ginger. General Committee Meeting at 5 p.m. accounts passed. Question of wine, Reference Library etc brought up. Had excellent supper, fried sausages & potatoes, green peas, asparagus, bread & cheese & jam & some cocoa. Very hot evening looks like thunder. Schroeder says I have lost a stone! & look very thin. One day’s illness pulls one down a lot & it takes time to recover on slops, but now I think we ought to be certain of more substantial food from our parcels. Wrote Post Card to DD.
Friday June 14th. Very hot day. Bembe asked Comdt about our Camp Paper, we can start one through the Canteen! So long as paper is available & manuscript. Copy is sent first for Censoring. A few invalids went for a walk at 9 a.m. Gosling says he was quite done after it. Worked at Shorthand during morning. Class at 4 p.m.
Received bread parcel from Copenhagen posted June 1st, in excellent condition. Two issues of parcels today, a lot are coming in now, & everyone seems happier.
Saturday June 15th. Cloudy day & cooler. Washed vest, socks, collars tie in the morning. ‘Mainzprings’ performed at 4 & 7 p.m., powder, paint & make up in use. There was more part singing than usual, & finished up with ‘a Sketch’. We are told in future letters & postcards are to be written in ink, my last attempt to write postcard in ink was a failure as ink ran.
Sunday June 16th. Early service 7.45 a.m. Walked after roll call for ½ hour.
Addressed all Officers at 2 p.m. read out Statement accounts to 15 June. Have arranged times for drawing parcels for orderlies & Field Officers, also special issue of Library books to F.Os & ‘Priority Cards’ for instructors & others engaged in Camp Work for cues -. Still a good few officers who have not had accounts settled.
Monday June 17th. Light Rain all morning. Hot bath 10.45. Got DD’s first parcel from A & N. Walked for 40 minutes with de Pass, he seems a nice boy. More rain in the afternoon. Worked hard at Shorthand, find some difficulty with writing still.
Tuesday June 18th. Got up early lit fire at 6.40 a.m. & got breakfast ready. Walk at 8 a.m. along Rhine to N end of Town then up steep hill & back by Bingen road. Reached Citadel 10.20 a.m. about 7 miles, & felt quite strong after it. Clothing parcel arrived from DD. Shaving kit underclothes etc but only 1 shoe & top of pyjamas. Perhaps the other halves are coming in the next parcel. About 11.20 a.m. Bembe came up & told me I am to be transferred to another camp tomorrow & be ready to move at 12.30 p.m. Says order comes from War Ministry &doesn’t know which Camp or the reason for it. In consequence had to buy bag in Canteen (70 Mks) for my kit such as it is. Furnell as Senior Lt. Col will take my place as Senior British Officer in Camp, & I have handed him over the correspondence book & told him everything.
Heavy rain & thunderstorm about 7 p.m.
Wednesday June 19th. Busy packing early & lucky to get a first food parcel from Red Cross which I took with me. Sad goodbye to everyone in morning, all very sympathetic & express sorrow that I am leaving.
Had midday meal 11.40 a.m. my escort came at 12.20 p.m., just met B.F., & D coming up to say goodbye. Left Mainz Sud at 1.35 p.m. Bembe came to see me off. Slow train all the way. Arrived Frankfurt 1.40 p.m. left again 3.25 p.m. Arrived Bebra 8.25, had my emergency ration for dinner. Left at 10.15 p.m. in a through carriage.
Thursday June 20th. To Berlin – via Halle & Erfurt, arrived Berlin (Anhalt Stn) 11.20 a.m. Drove across to Stettin Stn left 12.15 p.m. arrived Blankenburg 12.30 p.m. & walked up to Camp about ½ mile. Have got room to myself & Flying Corps Officers mess gave me excellent lunch & have asked me to join their mess. So have handed over all my stores. They feed in their own room, entirely on parcels & seem to have a good reserve. They draw money in lieu of rations & buy what they want from Canteen. There are nice grounds here, gardens, two tennis courts, a small golf course in park where one can walk on parole. This is a great difference from Mainz & I am very lucky to get here. It seems quiet & peaceful, no trains to keep me awake at night. About 24 British officers here – I am again the Senior. Some Russian, French & Belgian officers, a good few of latter saying goodbye as they leave for Switzerland tomorrow. My room is well furnished, a good hanging cupboard, chest of drawers 2 small tables & 4 chairs with linoleum on floor. Must try & get a wash hand basin etc & with a few wants from Canteen shall be very comfortable. Room is lit with incandescent light, warmed with Central heating, cooking done on gas jets. All messes cook for themselves & mess in their own rooms. A Russian officer is our Mess President, a charming fellow, & speaks excellent English, has been a prisoner since Aug 1st 1914. There is a Library, Billiard Room & Canteen here. It appears Willie Gordon was very comfortable here & made friends with the Commandant, who was away when I arrived. My room looks out into the country & has a balcony. Am told this house was a Maternity Hospital for Berlin, a good sized building on outskirts of Village & holds about 120 officers. A nice looking sailor who was captured with Naval Brigade at Antwerp 1914 has turned up as my orderly. His name is Cunningham! Dinner at 7 p.m., lights out at 10 p.m.
Friday June 21st. Scarcely slept a wink last night & mosquitoes were buzzing about. French & Belgian officers going off to Switzerland were up early. Raining hard most of the day. Roll call in passage. Hibbert as S.B.O. came & handed me over file of papers at 11 a.m. Luckily there appears to be very little to do & there is only one Committee of 3 officers. Things appear to go very smoothly here & everyone is settled down. Our meal hours are Breakfast at 9 a.m., lunch 1 p.m., tea 4 p.m., & Dinner at 7 p.m. I can get a real hot bath 3 times a week, & cold shower baths are available daily. Called with Siprani on Russian General, Prince Marakoff, must do likewise on other allied Generals & senior officers.
Saturday June 22nd. Slept quite well last night. Got money handed in from Mainz at Canteen in morning & make few purchases, writing paper etc: sports commenced at 2 p.m. cold & showery. Only heats run off. Looks as if French will win 100 yds & ¼ mile. They won the Long Jump & we won the high jump. Walked for ½ hour round garden with Siprani before dinner. Excellent hot bath this morning which I have use of with other Generals, 3 times a week. It has turned quite cold & wet.
Sunday June 23rd. Very cold & raining. Posted letter to DD & cards to Copenhagen & Frankfurt. Took my first walks in the Park this morning & saw the little golf course which consists of 6 small ‘mashie shot’ holes & mud greens, quite enough to give one some amusement, must get Mashie or Jigger & a Putter from Berlin. Raining all afternoon & unable to get out. Dined with Hibbert, quite a good dinner 5 courses! Got leave to have my light burning after 10 p.m. so was able to read later.
Monday June 24th. Still cold windy & showery. Played 18 holes on the little 6’ hole golf course with Hatfield in morning & beat him 4 & 3 – Think it can be improved & requires to be looked after more. Commandant announced on parade the death of one of the Feldwebels in Hospital. We are sending one wreath from all allied officers in Camp. After lunch Belgian & French S.O.s came to see me about representatives going to funeral. It appears this was done when one of Guard of Camp died here, so we settled to send each one junior ranks to the funeral tomorrow afternoon. Played another 18 holes against Hatfield & Lipiani after lunch & was beaten 3 & 2. Have ordered 2 golf clubs from Berlin. Must also order tennis racquet & write for 6 balls from P of W Committee Thurloe Place. Hear they send 6 per month on payment. This is a very different life from Mainz & I certainly shan’t apply to go back there as Bembe suggested – Must take first opportunity to sound commandant regarding chance of getting B.F & D here, they would be astounded at the change.
Tuesday June 25th. Wet & cold all day, only able to get out between 6 & 7 p.m. 3 letters handed to me on parade, 2 from DD, one from Betty – they have at last got my postcard & letter first written at Karlsruhe. Norton represented British officers funeral of Feldwebel, left at 2 p.m. & got back at 5 p.m. Am now ‘trying’ to read Speeches by Lord Macaulay but one can’t digest them for any length of time. Excellent tinned chocolate pudding for dinner, must order some. We also had fresh fried plaice for lunch, which can be ordered in the Canteen.
Wednesday June 26th. Letter from Uncle Herbert handed me on parade. Finer morning & warmer. Walked with Hatfield & Sipi to next village to buy flowers and 6 pots of roses at 2 marks a pot, rather a lovely colour salmon pink tea rose – they will fill up my window nicely. So nice to be able to walk out just the 3 of us & a guard of 1 N.C.O. Shall always try and do this. Rain commenced again after lunch & went on till after tea but managed to get half an hours exercise before & after dinner.
Thursday June 27th. Finer & warmer. Walked for 1¼ hours in the Park in the morning. Played golf in the afternoon. Worked at French for 1½ hours. Sipi has lent me some good illustrated books on early English furniture, French Architecture & modern American houses. 6 books in all. My tea roses are coming out nicely. 2 in full bloom already. New Russian officer arrived today. Canteen have produced an iron by Auchtulone, St. Andrews for 12 marks. No mashies or putters available. Had my hot bath before breakfast today which was better than undressing again in the middle of the day.
Friday June 28th. Twentieth anniversary of the day I joined 92nd at Aldershot. Drew advance of 100 marks on my 10£ cheque which produced222/50 marks. Never got more than 200/- at Mainz irrespective of rate of exchange. Hatfield tells me he once got 330/ marks for 10£. Tennis started again this afternoon after a week’s wet weather, hope to get a game shortly but at present difficulty about kit. Got a Library Book ‘Scotland’ by Professor Mackintosh of Aberdeen. It appears to be a short history. Spencer, the officer awaiting trial for breaking parole was removed today. Must find out from Comdt about the case.
Saturday June 29th. Still some light rain. Had a talk to Kommandant von Luckow about Spencer’s case, it appears he will have opportunity for employing Lawyer in his Defence through the Dutch Consul. There is nothing for me as S.B.O. to do. Approached von Luckow about getting D & B.F. here & have sent in a letter asking for them. Sports continued in afternoon until rain stopped them about 3.15 p.m. Fine evening but more rain again at 11 p.m.
Sunday June 30th. Fine & warmer. Wrote postcard to Betty & had walk in park with Daniels & Farmer. Sports 2.30 p.m. Was asked to judge events. English representative won ¼ mile – Flag Race, Wrestling on Horseback & Tug-of-war. French won Obstacle Race. Summary of Finals for the 3 days.
British 8 wins, French – 4, Belgian 0.
Tea & prize giving in Library, an excellent tea, plenty of French toasted biscuits, butter & jam, & Hibbart made 2 Blanc Manges!
Played golf with Sipi against Hatfield & won 6 & 5. Calculate my round 1st 6holes 20, 2nd 6 holes 21 – not so good 3 round am getting into my ***. Nice warm evening with sun for change.