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Soldier – Bell, George – Mons Man Home from Germany – A Long Ordeal.

January 1919

Mexborough and Swinton Times January 11, 1919

A Long Ordeal.

DarfieId Mons Man Home from Germany.

Pte. George Bell, 1st Lincolns, has just returned home to his sister, Mrs. J. W. Pearce, Garden street, Darfield, from Germany, where he has spent four, years and three months. He was a reservist, and went out with the first Expeditionary Force.

In the retreat from Mons he fell with a bullet in his leg, and was captured at Le Gateau on Aug. 26. He was taken to Bertry, in Belgium, and four days later a hospital in Berlin.

While there he had fairly good treatment. After rerovering he was transferred to Doberitz Camp. Here he found out the meaning of “Hun.”

He was a witness of the Lonsdale incident.

Early in 1916, when the blockade of Germany was tightened, Pte. Bell was one of the many unfortunate reprisal prisoners who were sent into the first line trenches on the Russian front. A tent was their home with no fire, up to the knees in snow and water, a ball of wire forming their bed

All the time they were subjected to Russian fire, and not a few of our chaps were laid low. The food was abominable.

He says: we were given water at 4.30 in the morning, and then had to do a 12 hours day of hard work, after which we were very lucky to get anything to eat.

While in Russia he witness trending scenes. Many of his comrades died of starvation, others of sheer toil. Private bells parcels were pillaged by the Germans. Even the condensed milk they would steal and seal the tins up again so that you could not tell they had been tampered with.

The parcel never landed to them intact. In November 1917 he was sent to Chemnitz in Saxony. Here again we were subjected to harsh treatment.

More than one or two of them have run the risk of being shot for stealing off to an adjacent field for a few potatoes

On one occasion he was ‘prevailed ‘upon to go to the stores department to ask for some new clothing for sixteen of them. The storekeeper was inclined to be decent. He gave me 16 pairs of trousers and called them new suits, with a remote that they had only to be worn on Sundays. Needless to say most of them were misfits, and one poor fellow, who came from Weston-super-Miare, went back with his turned up a good foot at the bottom and the waist well turned down, and for his trouble he got a box in the ears and told it was his fault for having short legs. For laughing at this remark he got another hiding.

Pte. Bell says: Four refusing to go to work down a coal mine he was put in prison for a month on bread and water. The bread was something akin to sawdust and straw.

” Whilst we were in Saxony the news came of the Armistice and our feelings can be better imagined than described. We went frantic with joy. We broke all the windows of the place we -were confined in, but for this we had to pay before we left. For all the various kinds of work Pte. Bell was forced to do he was paid the equivalent to threepence per day of 12 hours.

When news came that the prisoners were to be sent home we had to march 22 mils before we could hoard a train for Stettin. We stayed there for a week and were then transferred to Denmark, where we were given every attention and good food, and forward home via Leith.”