Thursday, April 11th to Saturday, April 20th Hannover
First morning saw specialist who examined our wounds and spouted out a diagnosis to a writing clerk. I felt rather an outsider at being the only unwounded officer there, but he had so much to dictate to the sweating clerk about my sprains that I took heart of grace again. There was a barber’s shop in the building: went and had a 14 days growth of beard removed. Felt more like a Christian. Could get a bath any time by paying a mark. Had four during the ten days. Small and very limited English library there. Read ‘Stingaree Stories’ – jolly good!! & ‘Henry Esmond’ – essentially a prisoner-of-war book. Hospital full of all nationalities, and to stroll in the garden was like entering the Tower of Babel – or a monkey house. British, German, French, Belgian, Roumanian, Russian – all were there. The garden had a fair sized stream flowing past the end, and one could see Hannover Town Hall with its gilded dome which used to catch the sunlight. It is a very fine city. We bought most of our immediate requirements through the interpreter, such things as soap, razor, brush, comb, knives, suit case, tooth-brush, tooth paste. The soap (about the size of a sample piece in England) was very poor and fabulously dear. It was comical to have to pay more for it than for the razor. Most thing are much dearer than in England.
Our daily fare was the best I had had since being in Germany:
8. Two small slices bread and jam. Coffee, milk.
10. Two small slices bread and vurst (sort of potted meat containing onion). Coffee.
12. Square meal. Meat and as much potato as one could eat; followed by a sweet, a cross between marzipan and coloured blancmange. (On meatless days, a very large thick and very satisfying pancake with boiled apple). Soup.
3. Two small slices bread and butter. Coffee. Sugar.
6. Two small sandwiches (4 slices) with either cheese, meatpaste or a boiled egg. Coffee or tea (the latter a substitute of course).
In addition to this we had divided between us by the senior officer, an English Major, something from the parcels of officers who had gone to Holland, so that with the first meal every day we had porridge which we ate with the sugar saved from the 3 o’clock meal of the day before; while every evening we had a small piece of bully beef or chicken or salmon, or biscuits, or some other equally acceptable dainty. After about five days I was put by myself into a room with Polish, Russian and French officers. Had my meals next door with three old British prisoners of war, who were receiving parcels so that I did very well, and ate white bread from Copenhagen. I played a good deal of chess with a French Major and Captain, but beat them fairly easily. The Pole however was a much better player, and we had some fine games. I confess I chiefly won through his impatience. He gave me a tin opener.
On Sunday April 14. I got off my first letter home giving an address, with all about myself and much talk of parcels. Also one card to Berne, Switzerland, asking for two loaves of bread a week*. And one to the Red Cross, Geneva, asking that a wire should be sent home, saying that I was safe and a prisoner of war. That wire should have been home by my birthday.
About Monday April 15th. The Dutch Ambassador or a representative from Berlin visited to inspect conditions etc. He took our addresses, and promised to send wires for us from Berlin to say we were safe. Nothing like making sure. I wish I knew how things are going at home.
* (Which I haven’t seen yet – May 27th)
(nor yet – June 15th)