Soldier – Smith H. – Hun Hating

December 1918

Mexborough and Swinton Times December 21, 1918

Hun Hating
Denaby man sufferings

Cpl Barry Smith (Royal Scots Fusiliers)of 17. Maltby Street, Denaby Main, has just returned to this country from Germany, via Holland, and after four years of unexampled suffering. He is full of bitterness against the Hun.

“They should never have had an Armistice,” he said to a Times reporter this week, “if they had beaten us they would not have given us Armistice. They would have carried fire and sword through this and spared no one. They always said they would when they got the chance. The German women and children were more cruel and pitiless to the prisoners than were the men, They used to show us with glee pictures of Zeppelins dropping bombs on English women and children. In all the four years I spent in Germany. I never heard a kind word, and I never met a kind glance. I cannot give you any serious idea of the hatred the whole German nation felt for us.

And for the Scotch! They would gnash their teeth and foam at the mouth if they saw a Scotch cap. When we were being drafted to Germany after capture, we were halted at a railway station, and were locked up for a time in a waiting room. A train came into the station and the soldiers got out and came up to the door of the waiting room, brandishing bayonets at us through the window, and drawing the bayonets significantly across their throats.

I spent four years in an atmosphere of that sort. And now I loathe and detest anything German.I fear that I could strangle every German I meet and think it not wrong. They are a hateful, poisoness, an human race of brutes.

There are no good Germans. Some are better than others, but I verily believe they cannot possibly be anything good in the breed. I devoutly hope that no mercy, no leniency of any kind, will be shown them at the peace conference. If they are given a chance they will rise again and turn on us, for they hate us mortally. They are not changed. They are only cowed. Give them a chance, only a glimmering of a chance, they will rise up as strong as ever. For they are remarkable brutes. They will live where an English man will starve, and they will build a house with what an Englishman would require for a rabbit hutch.”

Corporal Smith was a reservist, and when the war broke out, was working as a miner at Cadeby. He had lived in Denaby 12 years, and came from Ossett, being a native of Darton, Barnsley. He is now 32 years of age, and says he is willing to go on serving in the Army. He was injured at Mons, been shot down from a coal stack, and broke his wrist in the fall.

He fell back with the rest, and near Maubeuge was wounded again, and taken into hospital there. The Germans came along and captured the town and the hospital. The wounded men had a terrible time while being conveyed into Germany. They were treated with the utmost brutality by the German soldiers. Men went along to the station on crutches and they had the crutches kicked away, and they were spurned and trodden underfoot as they lay writhing on the ground. There followed the railway station incident and the men were then thrown into horseboxes – 50 to a box – half full of manure, and dragged slowly through Germany.

By this means.Cpl Smith was sent forward to a hospital in Lubeck, on the Baltic. There, in spite of the medical students practicing on him, his wounds gradually healed, and he was sent to Gustrow camp, of infamous memory. There for a time he was employed in the construction of a light railway station to the camp. He worked from 7 am to dark. He was given “toeg” three times a day, and a law for bright red at the last four days. While there he saw a ravenous English prisoner fall.

A pair of English, who is, with £10 in Germany, for a slice of bread to it was at Gustrow a Cpl Smith received one of the several punishments which were “awarded” him. He was tied to a post and left partly suspended against it for four hours a day for a fortnight, the daily punishment being so timed that he missed his dinner. This ordeal was the Hun’s answer to a request for hot water.

In 1915. Cpl Smith was transferred to a farm near Wesaby, in Schleswig. The farmer led Smith, a dog´s life, and continually buffeted and ill used him, calling upon the German sentry to do the same. Smith attempted to escape from this place, but was recaptured before he had gone 5 miles, and in a subsequent row Smith struck the farmer, and was once drafted of to some salt mines in Russia as a punishment. The work was not hard, but the hours were long and the diet barely sufficient to keep body and soul together.

The salt got into the wounds which the men were always receiving, either accidentally or by brutal design, and cause extreme agony. “It was at this time,” he says, “that I almost gave up hope, and decided to go under as the best way out of it. We all felt like that as we sat together in the bleak, dark. But, after a day´s work was done, but our sergeant, a brave old trump, said “don´t look at it like that, you have the wives and kids, and there is always a chance of seeing them again. We have got through another day.” But for him but for the thought otherwise and children. We should have died. We had no desire to live”

In June 1916, he was brought back from Russia, and sent to work in a coal mine near Hamberg. He had to start work at half past five and get a certain amount of coal. A good collier would have done the days job in about nine hours, but the British prisoners were weak from starvation, and it took them 12 to 14 hours to complete their task. They were paid, 3d a day for the work. The colliery was about half as big and as deep as Denaby Main. The British prisoners worked as a separate party, and were not mixed with the German miners.

Smith was then sent to Orneburg in Hanover to work on another farm. This farmer was even more cruel than the Schieswig farmer, for he had lost two sons on the British front, and hated the English with a consuming hatred. He insisted on the prisoners saluting him, and once, when Smith refused, he was confined for 14 days in a disused bakehouse oven. He remained in this wretched employment until 1918, and then, to his great joy, he was transferred to Leewarden in Friesland, for interment with the Dutch, and was later removed to the Hague.

Here, until he was put on British army ration, he was not too well fed, but he was free of menaces and brutality and labour. He could go where he liked within a radius of 5 miles, and could take regular exercise. He was able to play football and to give boxing instruction. He was repatriated about a month ago.


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