1918 – March 21

An amusing morning examining the German prisoner Eric Wiener and his Turkish guide. He says he hates the Turk because he believes it was he who gave his disguise away when he was travelling as a woman. His only request was for some decent bread, but I told him that we had all been eating Turkish chuppaties for 2 months and could get nothing else. He was evidently bearing important despatches but had destroyed them. What horrible times we live in, I live in such appalling contrasts and it is only by contrast that we can realize. This famine is perfectly awful. I have just walked through the town and I gave alms to the extent of my purse, perhaps about 40 krans, 2 krans to each beggar, but there were thousands of them and I suppose they must all die. In the bright sunshine in the middle of the road lay a little boy of about 6, quite dead, with his face buried in the mud: the others seem quite callous. And then from all this misery I come home to a beautiful house and sit in a luxurious drawing-room after a good tea and listen to the most beautiful violin music played by a Russian Officer (Ostrovsky), and my German prisoner tells me he wants to get back to his wife – and it all seems so wicked and senseless. I believe the famine here could be put right with a million pounds, and what is that in a war that costs us 7 million a day? I have asked the War Office to give me £20,000 a month for road-making and that will help a little.

1914 – August 29

4.30 a.m. woken up by my French colleague in a panic to say that the Germans will soon be here and we must bolt. I cannot believe the Germans could be driving us in so fast, so I took the precaution of getting 3 engines for my 3 trains, lest he should bolt and leave us stranded. Then I went to see Gen. Joffre‘s Staff, and got a French Staff officer to come down and reassure my man. Left for Creil at 2 p.m. I should I not have liked the nice rations I took up, to fall into the hands of the Germans. Prepared to spend night at Creil when wired for to return to Rouen. Tried the civil trains – awful. Full of panic-stricken women and children – no wonder. I had charge of an escort of Cameron Highlanders with one German prisoner who they dressed in our uniform to save him from being torn to pieces by the French. Had to change at Beauvais and stay there all night.

France