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Perceptions & rumours

The perceptions of civilians on the home front and rumours of alleged enemy atrocities were rife throughout the war. Witness the opinion of a senior official in a London hospital, a superintendent, regarding the likely course of the war as early as February 1915.

17 February 1915

This war has only begun and we are now making combined preparations to meet 400,000 wounded expected soon: and I think one year from now, they will still be arriving: and any talk you hear that the thing is likely to end suddenly, is all bunkum – it is only fairly started stores, ammunition and men arriving in great masses.


And the following extract from a female member of the Mavor family writing to Professor Mavor from Glasgow, Scotland.

28 March 1915

We had last evening a Belgian couple to dinner. The lady and her three little girls are living on one of the house ‘run’ by Glasgow people for the refugees. The husband, a cavalry officer, is here on a few days’ leave. He has been at the war wince the beginning but has not been wounded. He is think, smart and agile. He says he always thinks there is a great deal of space on all sides of him for the bullets to hit and that he has been fortunate enough to miss them so far.

He told us of a dare devil on horseback who kept turning round putting his fingers to his nose at the ‘snipers’. He only gave us two detailed stories of atrocities, but they were enough. First, he saw ‘un enfant’ nailed against a wall. Second, The Germans entered a farm and sent the man away for something. When he returned he found his mother dead, sitting needle in hand, just as he had left her. He also saw Germans soldiers gather little children and put them before them when they were ‘under fire’. They came upon many farms when all the human beings had fled; the cattle were left to run wild or starve. .. Tomorrow night he goes back to fight. His regiment is on the frontier not very far from Ypres. He thinks the Germans cannot carry on the war longer than the end of the summer. He sent his wife and children over here for fear of German cruelties. He has had no letters from his parents and friends in Belgium since they left home.
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