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Sympathetic Women

They commenced operations by marching us round the streets of Lille in pouring rain and we soon became soaked to our skins. The French people sympathised with us as far as possible, though at the risk of their lives. One woman tried to thrust a packet of cigarettes into my hand but a brute of a guard immediately struck her in the breast with his rifle butt causing her to sink to the ground in agony. My blood boiled at this act but I was powerless to do anything. Many instances of this sort of thing happened but I am only relating what I actually saw.

The Black Hole at Lille

We were marched to Fort Macdonald on the outskirts of Lille, through the entrance gates and into a long, narrow, underground cell, dimly lighted from small windows near the top. There were 250 of us, all wet through, dog tired and hungry. There was absolutely no furniture in the cell and not room enough to lie down properly but we huddled together on the wet cement floor and slept.
During the next 48 hours we were locked in without food or any attention whatever. Those of us who could scramble to the windows could see the guards at their meals. On the third day we were given a slice of bread and a drink of cold acorn coffee. On the forth day the same rations. On the fifth day several of our mates began to show signs of collapse and many were delirious. Some had to be taken out as symptoms of typhus (which the Germans dread) had set in.
On the sixth day we were furnished with writing materials and told to write to our friends telling them of our treatment. By some process of reasoning the Germans thought that if we told our friends of the true state of affairs they would commence to agitate to have the war stopped on the Germans terms. As none of our letters told what they wanted us to tell they were simply destroyed.
A party of us were then marched out into the fresh air, after six days of confinement in this dungeon with less accommodation than would be given to a herd of pigs.
We were again marched through the streets of the city in an indescribable state of filth and starvation. I saw two French civilians arrested for trying to hand us food. A boy was just on the point of handing me a piece of bread when he was thrust back by the guard. I saw a padre and his flock on their knees in the street praying for us as we passed. One of our party dropped dead and was simply kicked aside and left.
After a march of about four and a half miles we came to the town of Noyelle where we were lodged in an old factory that was roofless. Here we had a few shavings on a brick floor to lie on. We stayed here a fortnight during which time we had to walk seven miles to work and the same distance back each day. Same rations as before. I saw a French woman preparing to give us a drink and a German soldier killed her with the bayonet. Smoking was strictly forbidden even if we had anything to smoke.



Frankston, Australia

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Artist's Description

Things were definitely getting grimmer for my Great Uncle Alf and his fellow POWs
This episode made me angry at the way the “Huns” treated the women who tried to help our boys.
I do not hold any gripe against the German people [My first husband’s father was conscripted for the last 3 weeks of the war as one of Hitler’s Flying messengers – he was 16!] – hence why I used the term Hun for the men who acted so brutally and unnecessarily ruthless while in this role as guard to our men.

{I cannot ask you to “Enjoy” as I usually do … <( …. instead be thankful! }

*This is why we remember them !

NB This is NOT my Fictional Writing this is an actual account written by my Great Uncle Alfred Gray following his experiences in the "Great War – 1914-1917
I take no responsibility for any offense taken by the reader of this view be that in the language used or the opinion of my Great Uncle.*

Great Uncle Alfred’s Great Adventure
In the Hands of the Hun 1 – Prelude
In the Hands of the Hun 2 – Bullecourt
In the Hands of the Hun 3 -Starved and Frozen
In the Hands of the Hun [6, 7 & 8] – behind the lines

Artwork Comments

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