Newbattle at War a history of the Parish at war   

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POW Diary of William Horsburgh 14th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

This then is the diary of 278202 Pte William Horsburgh,D Company,14th Battalion,Argyll And Sutherland Highlanders.
PAGE ONE.
Instructions for letters.
1.Letters outwards may be sent twice monthly,1st and 15th.Postcards may be sent four times monthly,every Sunday.
2.When written,the envelope must be left open.
3.The writing must be clear and distinct and any of the four following languages may be used.English,German,French or Flemish.
4.Envelopes will be addresses as follows.
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN-SENDUNG
STAMMLAGER,PARCHIM


Mrs Horsburgh (his mother)Acre cottage
Newbattle
Dalkeith
Midlothian
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
278202 Pte William Horseburgh
D COMPANY
14th A&SH
The senders name must be written on the back as above.
END OF PAGE ONE.

 

PAGE TWO.
Letters continued.
5.No man may make a statement as to where he is.
6.One parcel weighing 5 kilos[10lbs] may be recieved monthly.
7.Money to the amount of 800 marks may be recieved monthly.
8.Information as to the method of forwarding may be obtained from home post
office.
9.The notepaper must be headed as on front of envelope and as on back of
envelope with senders Name.Coy etc.
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN SENDUNG
STAMMLAGER PARCHIM
These two lines must be written on top left hand corner of envelope or it
will not be sent.
____________________________________________________________________
Notepaper heading
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN SENDUNG
STAMMLAGER,PARCHIM.
Notepaper end
Your loving son
278202 Pte Horsburgh,William
D.Coy 14th A&SH
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN-LAGER
PARCHIM [MICKL]
END OF PAGE TWO.

PAGE THREE.
Money drawn from German Authorities since being captured on 25th March 1918.
4.6.18 Bussy 6 Marks.
6.6.18 Bussy 8 Marks 40 phen.
11.6.18 Bussy 2 Marks 40 phen.
21.6.18 Bussy 2 Marks 70 phen.
24.6.18 St Olle 0 Marks 60 phen.
11.7.18 St Olle 2 Marks 1 phen.
24.7.18 Denain 1 Mark 50 phen.
21.8.18 Denain 2 Marks 15 phen.



END OF PAGE THREE.
 
PAGE FOUR
Diary since being taken prisoner at Behagnies on 25th March 1918.
Attack started on Thursday 21st March.Stand to at 4.30am at Hamelincourt.After stand down we went and dug ourselves in that night and when morning came we moved into an old trench at Vaux,The Army Line.We stayed there until after dinner when we had to fall back, owing to heavy fighting,to Mory.
At night i took some wounded down to an R.A.M.C dressing station,on returning i lost my road and stayed the night [22nd] with the artillery and had supper with them.On Saturday morning [23rd] i was making my way to ??????????? to find my battalion when a SGT of the R.A.M.C stopped me and said the doctor wanted to know where i was going. I went to the doctor and stated my case and he took me down to his camp and i got my breakfast in hospital between Gommecourt and Courcelles.After breakfast a small party moved to some huts in a quarry by the road side and made a dressing station.I stayed there until 11am and the guns were being brought into position.When there i was told that 1 doctor and 4 men were moving further up to an advanced dressing station and i went with them.We started off and when we got to Gommecourt i met some of my battalion at Brigade H.Q.

END OF PAGE FOUR.

PAGE FIVE.
I told the doctor i would just join them and i reported to Brigade H.Q. under the charge of a SGT.We got our names and numbers taken and he was told we would get something to eat and we went through the dug out at Brigade H.Q and out at another entrance but we were unsuccessful in the eating line..
After hunting through some unused billets we found plenty of foodstuffs but had not time to cook it.All we ate was a tin of Macconachies.
In charge of an H.L.I officer we were taken to report at advanced B.H.Q at Behagnies.There i met a chap i know.
Then we went through the village and had to carry S.A.A from the support battalion [Middlesex] to our battalion where i rejoined my company in the sunken road.
At night i was on the ration and water fatigue.We were issued with biscuits,bacon,beef bully,cheese and fags.
Next morning [24th] we moved to the right and C and D companies were formed into one,and two platoons went into the front line and two in support,i stayed in support and had a good tot.
At night we had to fall back again to a trench at Behagnies.We were formed up there and stayed until morning.After stand down on the morning of the 25th we had to evacuate the trench and took up position on the road and held it until i was captured at 9am.

END OF PAGE FIVE.
 
PAGE SIX.
On Monday 25th March at 9am i was taken prisoner in the village of Behagnies and had to carry wounded to the hospital,then we were taken to the prisoners cage where we stayed the night and some got a drink of coffee and a slice of bread.
On Tuesday morning we left for another cage at Marcq,where we arrived at dinner time and got some horse flesh stew and a piece of bread.
We stayed there the night and left again next day [27th] Wednesday for Denain camp where we got a quarter loaf,some jam or sausage and coffee for breakfast and for dinner we had mixed vegetables,peas,parsler or saur craut.We stayed there until Sunday 31st March when we left for a temporary camp at Proury Thiant????.The rations there were very poor and some days we had to wait until well on in the afternoon before we got them.
While there the French civillians were very plentiful round about the camp and treated us very well,supplying us with beet turnips,coffee and other foodstuffs and some of the highlanders gave away their kilts for a pair of trousers and a piece of bread,and others of us were selling anything that would bring us something to eat or a smoke.
We stayed there until Monday 8th April when after a hot breakfast of barley and our days rations consisting of a quarter of a loaf we left at 8am for Buissy Barelle,a march of about 50 kilometers.

END OF PAGE SIX
 
PAGE SEVEN.
Arrived there about 10 at night foot sore and weary and had to lie down in a barn all battered and open with shell holes in the roof and we had a good lot of rain during the night.
On Monday morning 9th April we were wakened at 6.30am to go to work on the roads.We started without meat and worked from 7am until12 noon when we knocked off for the day.
After getting to our billet we got a hot barley and maize dinner at 3pm and then drew rations,4 loaves to 7 men for 2 days,with an issue of jam or sausage and then coffee at 5pm.
On Wednesday 10th April we were out again road working from 7am until 1 and had breakfast,dinner and coffee that day.No rations that day as they are only drew every second day.
12th April [Friday]work as usual.Grand weather.
13th " [Sat] work as usual on road.
14th " [Sun] " " "
15th " [Mon] " " "
16th " [Tue] " " "
17th " [Wed] " " "
18th " [Thu] " " "
19th " [Fri] " " "
20th " [Sat] " " "
21st " [Sun] Work at Marquoin railhead for 12 hors without a break for
meal.


END OF PAGE SEVEN.
 
PAGE EIGHT.
22nd April [Mon] Work on roads as usual.
23rd " [Tue] Work at Marquoin railhead again for 14 hours [6am until 8pm]
without a break and that night we got double rations for it.
24th " [Wed] Work at railhead again.
25th " [Thu] Work at railhead.First month a prisoner of war.
26th " [Fri] Work as usual at railhead.
27th " [Sat] " " "
28th " [Sun] " " "
29th " [Mon] Formed a special road party.
30th " [Tue] " " "
1st May [Wed] " " "
2nd " [Thu] " " "
3rd " [Fri] " " " Issue of postcards.
4th " [Sat] " " " Collection of postcards.
5th " [Sun] Special road party.
6th " [Mon] " " "
7th " [Tue] " " "
8th " [Wed] " " "
9th " [Thu] " " "
10th " [Fri] " " "
11th " [Sat] " " " No rations came up and we had to
do without until the next day.Got
another postcard issue.
12th " [Sun] Holiday.
13th " [Mon] Special road party.




END OF PAGE EIGHT.
PAGE NINE.
14th May [Tue] Special road party.
15th " [Wed] " " "
16th " [Thu] Bath and clothes fumigated at Sauchy Lestree.
17th " [Fri] Special road party.Inoculation and vaccination in afternoon.
18th " [Sat] Special road party.
19th " [Sun] Holiday.
20th " [Mon] Special road party.
21st " [Tue] " " "
22nd " [Wed] " " "
23rd " [Thu] " " "
24th " [Fri] " " "
25th " [Sat] " " " Two months a prisoner.
26th " [Sun] Holiday.
27th " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting parade in afternoon.
28th " [Tue] Special road party.
29th " [Wed] " " "
30th " [Thu] " " "
31st " [Fri] " " " Very mouldy bread.
1st June [Sat] " " "
2nd " [Sun] Holiday.
3rd " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting drill.
4th " [Tue] " " " Pay 6 Marks.
5th " [Wed " " "
6th " [Thu] Baths and fumigation.Pay again 8 Marks 40.
7th " [Fri] Paving party.
8th " [Sat] Special road party.
9th " [Sun] Holiday.Church service.



END OF PAGE NINE

PAGE NINE.
14th May [Tue] Special road party.
15th " [Wed] " " "
16th " [Thu] Bath and clothes fumigated at Sauchy Lestree.
17th " [Fri] Special road party.Inoculation and vaccination in afternoon.
18th " [Sat] Special road party.
19th " [Sun] Holiday.
20th " [Mon] Special road party.
21st " [Tue] " " "
22nd " [Wed] " " "
23rd " [Thu] " " "
24th " [Fri] " " "
25th " [Sat] " " " Two months a prisoner.
26th " [Sun] Holiday.
27th " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting parade in afternoon.
28th " [Tue] Special road party.
29th " [Wed] " " "
30th " [Thu] " " "
31st " [Fri] " " " Very mouldy bread.
1st June [Sat] " " "
2nd " [Sun] Holiday.
3rd " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting drill.
4th " [Tue] " " " Pay 6 Marks.
5th " [Wed " " "
6th " [Thu] Baths and fumigation.Pay again 8 Marks 40.
7th " [Fri] Paving party.
8th " [Sat] Special road party.
9th " [Sun] Holiday.Church service.



END OF PAGE NINE


PAGE NINE.
14th May [Tue] Special road party.
15th " [Wed] " " "
16th " [Thu] Bath and clothes fumigated at Sauchy Lestree.
17th " [Fri] Special road party.Inoculation and vaccination in afternoon.
18th " [Sat] Special road party.
19th " [Sun] Holiday.
20th " [Mon] Special road party.
21st " [Tue] " " "
22nd " [Wed] " " "
23rd " [Thu] " " "
24th " [Fri] " " "
25th " [Sat] " " " Two months a prisoner.
26th " [Sun] Holiday.
27th " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting parade in afternoon.
28th " [Tue] Special road party.
29th " [Wed] " " "
30th " [Thu] " " "
31st " [Fri] " " " Very mouldy bread.
1st June [Sat] " " "
2nd " [Sun] Holiday.
3rd " [Mon] Special road party.Saluting drill.
4th " [Tue] " " " Pay 6 Marks.
5th " [Wed " " "
6th " [Thu] Baths and fumigation.Pay again 8 Marks 40.
7th " [Fri] Paving party.
8th " [Sat] Special road party.
9th " [Sun] Holiday.Church service.



END OF PAGE NINE
 

PAGE TEN.
9th June Continued.Wrote postcard home.Church service conducted by a Pte of
the R.M.L.I attached to the R.A.M.C.
10th " [Mon] Special road party.
11th " [Tue] " " " Pay.2 Marks 4 fags.
12th " [Wed] " " "
13th " [Thu] " " "
14th " [Fri] " " "
15th " [Sat] " " " Wrote letter home.
16th " [Sun] Holiday.Wrote postcard home.
17th " [Mon] Special road party.
18th " [Tue] " " "
19th " [Wed] " " "
20th " [Thu] " " "
21st " [Fri] " " " Pay.2 Marks 7 fags.
22nd " [Sat] " " "
23rd " [Sun] Moved to St Olle near Cambrai,12 kilometers.
24th " [Mon] No work for us.Got paid again,5 fags and finished up with the
XVII German Army Corps and handed over to the XII Corps.
25th " [Tue] Still nothing doing.Lazy time of it.3 months a prisoner.
26th " [Wed] " " " " "
27th " [Thu] " " " " " Church service 7pm.
28th " [Fri] " " " " " Bath.Concert in other camp 8pm.
29th " [Sat] " " " " " Postcard for home.Left St Olle
with a party of 100 men to work at Bourlong village
30th " [Sun] Letter for home.Work at Bourlong.
1st July [Mon] Work at station store at Bourlong.
2nd " [Tue] " " " "
3rd " [Wed] " " " "
4th " [Thu] " " " "
5th " [Fri] " " " "
6th " [Sat] " " " " Postcard.
7th " [Sun] Left Bourlong to re form company at St Olle.While at
Bourlong working we had half a loaf a day for 4 days
and plenty of dinner but all the meals were very
badly cooked and the bread very mouldyand not
fit for human beings.The last three days we got 8
loaves between 20 men.


END OF PAGE TEN
PAGE ELEVEN.
8th July [Mon] No work.
9th " [Tue] " "
10th " [Wed] " "
11th " [Thu] " " Payed out for seven days work,2 Francs 6 fags.We were
expecting to move Friday and had double rations issued but at
the last minute it was cancelled.
12th " [Fri] No work.1 days rations issued.
13th " [Sat] Left St Olle at 5.30am for Denain camp where we arrived at
1.45pm going by train.We were served with a meal soup for
dinner about 3.30pm and tea about 8pm.Also an issue of
rations which we did not expect and promised a double
issue of jam or butter the next day.
14th " [Sun] No work.Letter for home.
15th " [Mon] Work at Denain siding.
16th " [Tue] Work with transport.
17th " [Wed] Work at Denain siding.Rations cut down to 400 grams.
18th " [Thu] Work on railway.
19th " [Fri] " " "
20th " [Sat] No work.Reported sick,3 days rest.
21st " [Sun] " " Postcard for home.
22nd " [Mon " "
23rd " [Tue] " "


END OF PAGE ELEVEN.
 
PAGE TWELVE.
24th July [Wed] No work.Got a good bath and got payed 1.5 cigarettes.
25th " [Thu] Work at Denain siding.4months a prisoner.
26th " [Fri] Work at Lourches station.
27th " [Sat] Reported sick.
28th " [Sun] Holiday.Postcard for home.
29th " [Mon] Sick.
30th " [Tue] Marked duty.
31st " [Wed] Worked Denain station.
1st Aug [Thu] Reported sick.Payed 1 Franc,1 fag.
2nd " [Fri] Work at Denain station.
3rd " [Sat] " " " "
4th " [Sun]Holiday.Postcard for home.
5th " [Mon] Work at Denain station.
6th " [Tue] " " " "
7th " [Wed] " " " "
8th " [Thu] " " " "
9th " [Fri] Reported sick.
10th " [Sat] Working at Lourches.
11th " [Sun] Got payed,2 Francs 3 fags.
12th " [Mon] Work at Denain store.
13th " [Tue] Work at Lourches station.
14th " [Wed] Sick.
15th " [Thu] Work at Lourches station.
16th " [Fri] Work at Denain stores.Bath in afternoon.
17th " [Sat] Work at Lourches station.
18th " [Sun] " " " "
19th " [Mon] " " " " Postcard for home.
20th " [Tue] Rations cut down.
21st " [Wed] We all refused to work.
22nd " [Thu] Worked at stores.
23rd " [Fri] Worked at Lourches house.
24th " [Sat] " " " "
25th " [Sun] Holiday.5 months a prisoner.Letter for home.




END OF PAGE TWELVE
 
PAGE THIRTEEN.
26th Aug [Mon] Left Denain with a party of 100 men for work at Escadam at
our trades.Started work at 2pm.
27th " [Tue] " " "
28th " [Wed] " " "
29th " [Thu] " " "
30th " [Fri] " " "
31st " [Sat] " " "
1st Sept [Sun] Holiday.
2nd " [Mon]

 
This is where the diary stops, there are no further entries.His hand writing at this point had become very shaky and at times almost unreadable,this could be to do with the fact that the prisoners appeared to be on starvation rations and his health would not have been very good.

There are another two pages to the diary,one is a small list of 6 names and addresses of men that I believe were prisoners at the same time,The second other page is a disturbing story of what hunger and desperation can do to people.


On the morning of Friday 12th July at 2.30 a Lance Cpl X R.M.L.I was suspected of stealing bread rations.He said he had just come in from the latrines.Previous to this,SGT X of the Seaforths had his bread stolen.This morning we were all wakened with the shout RATION STEALER,THATS HIM GETTING DOWN.The Seaforth SGT came on the scene and after searching the L/Cpls bed and not finding anything, as no evidence to prove him guilty,the SGT took the law into his own hands and struck L/Cpl X as he lay on his bed,also kicking him.As soon as
day break came the SGT came again and wakened L/Cpl X with a kick,picked him up and threw him down on the tiled floor,kicked him again,picked him up and
threw him down and kicked him again,picked him up and carried him outside on his shoulders into the yard and threw him from his shoulders on to the ground and struck and kicked him until he left him unconscious in the yard.At 7am L/Cpl X was carried into the billet still unconscious and about 9am he regained consciousness.Some of the men supported the SGTs actions but i think L/Cpl X ought to have had a fair trial and as far as i could judge there was no evidence to convict him in a trial.

 
This is a clear indication of the deprevation facing POW's (and German soldiers) at this stage of the war. I am grateful to Scott for allowing me to reproduce the diary and you can see photos of William and his brother Peter which Scott kindly provded me with.