“They deserved to be left behind”

Albert Cusden, one of the four Reading brothers interned in a German camp, wrote to one of his sisters. Some of the older internees had been repatriated, and it was a bittersweet farewell.

Jan. 19th 1918

Dear Iris

Two letters received from Father and Ruby to Vic, yesterday. Have had no other news for quite a long time, but I believe there is only one mail boat running a month now, so if this is the case your letters and ours will arrive in bunches.

We had quite a memorial day on Jan. 2nd. About 350 men over forty five left here for England. You will of course have read of their arrival long before this is written. Four men went from our loft. As you can imagine all the men were very excited the night before. I know of some men who dressed themselves the night before, and spent the night just waiting. I think there were very few who got much sleep. One man gave a farewell breakfast to his chums at four o’clock in the morning. They had to leave the camp between six and seven in the morning, and three were actually late! They deserved to be left behind.

A train was waiting for them on a siding just outside the camp, and we who were left climbed on to sheds or anything that was handy to wave farewell to men who had been interned with us for over three years. One or two attempts were made to sing such songs as “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “What’s the use of worrying?”, but they were not very successful. Fellows just watched the train and shouted. Well, they’re gone now, and some day I suppose we shall follow.

We have had very peculiar weather for quite a time. We must have had close on eighteen inches of snow during the last ten days. Most of it has now disappeared. In the first few days we had a frost, so that it was very slippery. Now a thaw has set in and it is very mild.

Our new school term has not yet started, we have been waiting for warmer weather. Probably in another week’s time it will start. It is impossible to do much work in the winter.

We are all four keeping in good health. Love to all.

Your affectionate brother, Albert.

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Miss Iris Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/9)

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