Transcript

Letter regarding 'enemy aliens'
IWM 88/57/1


29th
35 Camp,
Rushmoor Bottom
Aldershot.
April 17[th]/[19]15

Dear Mother
Received your very welcome letters & the parcel for which I thank you very much. I am glad to hear that everybody is on the improve. I was getting quite anxious to hear from you. That tour which we went on turned out to be quite an experience. We started out at 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon with full marching order on. We did not know where we were going to at all. It was a blazing hot day, something like we get up in the north in summer, & the sun was in our eyes all the afternoon. We marched about 13 miles to a place called Alton & you talk about sweating, we were wet through with it. When we got to Alton we were halted & then taken in small parties to different cottage houses where billets had been arranged for us. We all seemed to be lucky for there was a jolly good dinner waiting for us at each place. There was 4 of us at our house & we had lamb, potatoes, cabbage & Yorkshire pudding. The landlady was very nice & made us some tea. My word it did go down a treat. We went to bed as we had to be on parade at 6-30 in the morning. The landlady got up & made us a good breakfast. When we lined up the officer issued 5 rounds of ball ammunition to each man. We couldn't tell what to make of it. We were all under the impression that we were going to march to Winchester (about 18 miles) but when we had marched about 2 miles we had to halt. After the Major had made sure that there was no civilians about he told us where we were going. It seems there were about 180 aliens in an old Abbey not far away & they had been there 7 or 8 months with no guard. The authorities were afraid that if the men got to know they were being shifted that some of them would do a bolt. There was 2 squadrons of Hussars & about 40 policemen besides 50 of us so you can see it was quite a fuss. When he had told us where we were going we had to load our rifles. We fetched these men out & they came as quiet as lambs. The police rounded them up & we stood at the gates with fixed swords waiting for them coming out. We were divided into squads of 7 men & a NCO & each squad had to guard 30 men. We then marched them off to the station at Medhurst. The cavalry were patrolling the district all the time to see that none of them escaped. In the train we each had 5 aliens in a compartment of a corridor carriage. We had to sit all the time with rifles in one hand & sword in the other. We took them to a factory at Stratford in London which the authorities are using as a concentration camp. It was quite exciting marching through London. The crowd were booing & calling the aliens all sorts of names. We were marching up each side of the aliens keeping the crowd back. After we had handed the men over we were the guests of the Essex Territorials to dinner & after dinner every man had a free drink Teetotallers had a pint of ginger beer & the others ale or stout. We then marched back to the station & took train to Liverpool St[reet], London, then by tube to Waterloo & from there back to Aldershot. Crossing London the people did stare at us. We were all very brown with the sun & we were carrying full pack, the people seemed to be under the impression that we had come back from the front.


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