None the worse for two years as a prisoner of war

We get a glimpse into wartime in a peaceful art of British-occupied Africa (now part of Tanzania). The Ruvuma River forms the bundary between Tanzania and Mozambique, which was in 1918 still a Portugese colony.

1-3-18. Massassie.
R.A.M.C
29th M.A Convoy
British East Africa

Dear Sir,

It is not some time since I wrote to you last, but trust you received my letter in answer to your most welcome letter of 6-8-17. Since writing to you last I have travelled the greater part of this country, the South of Central Railway, I have been over the Ruvoma river into Portuguese territory, but am now back in East Africa.

During the last few months I have had rather a busy time, and have also had my share of illness. I am picking up quickly again now, and feel as full of life as ever. The weather is still very hot. We have had very little rain this season so far: this time last year we were having very heavy rains and were stranded in the swamp for quite a month at a time.

I expect to be going on leave to South Africa some time this month; there are only 5 of us left out of 22 who left England 2 years ago, so I think we shall stand a chance of leave this rainy season.

There is very little game in this part of she country but about 50 miles from here, near the Border almost everything can be seen.

Football is the great game at present as the evenings are very cool now. Our Unit has started a Weekly Paper which is a great success throughout the camp, it is called the “Masassi Times”. If possible I will send you a copy which I am sure you will find very interesting, in fact we can boast the wit of two famous brother Comedians. We are having a very busy time just at present, for the sick average is very high again now, 3-3-18.

It is now Sunday afternoon, tonight we have another service which will be taken by the Rev. Archdeacon Hallet in a Banda at our park. I have had several talks with him, he tells me he has preached at Sunningdale and Ascot and remembered our church when I showed him a photo which I received from home a few months ago. He has been a prisoner in the country for 2 years, but he seems none the worse for his experience, for he is now back at the same Mission as before the war, which is only 4 miles from our camp. The Mission has been used for a hospital by both the Germans and ourselves, but is now given over for its work to be carried on.

It is a lovely building built of stone and brick by the natives, it is built on a hill only a few yards from a great rock several hundred feet high. Looking from a distance the rock appears to overhang the Mission. We have one of these great rocks on all four sides of us, with just a road running between, which is called Bhna. Some of the greatest fights of the campaign took place here, which makes it very historical.

We had a Native Regimental Band here for 2 nights last week, which we all enjoyed being the first we had seen or heard since landing in the country. The natives are very busy with their crops now, most of the land being very fertile, we are able to grow almost anything in the garden we’ve made, but our great trouble is to get the seed. Shops of any description are unheard of in this country so you can imagine our solitude. I think it will appear very strange but pleasant to us all when we get down to South Africa on leave.

I am so pleased to hear that Mrs. Cornish and Miss Mirriam are enjoying good health, please convey my best wishes to everyone at the vicarage. I will now conclude, thanking you for your kindness and trusting you are in the best of health,

Yours sincerely,

W. R. Lewis.

Sunningdale parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

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Learning French in internment

The four Cusden brothers from Reading who had been teaching in Germany before the war were among those British and other foreigners who were interned in the Ruhleben camp near Berlin. There was an active education and activity programme run by the internees, and which they took very seriously. Victor Cusden taught French, and the other men may have attended classes. The camp ‘school’ issued a detailed prospectus for the autumn term, 1916.

Ruhleben Camp School
Prospectus of work for autumn term 1916

In issuing this special prospectus the Committee of the Ruhleben Camp School wishes to draw the attention of students to the following points:

1. The School Premises are now simply but adequately equipped.
2. The Laboratory arrangements enable satisfactory practical work to be done.
3. A good Library dealing with a wide variety of Subjects is already in Camp and further volumes can be procured easily from England.
4. Public Examinations are being arranged for: those of the Royal Society of Arts have already been held.
5. The Board of Education has arranged a Scheme for Recording Study which may be used 1. as a testimonial 2. in connection with certain Examinations.
6. In most subjects the tuition provided by the School ranges from that required by absolute beginners to that required by Advanced University Students.

The Autumn Term begins on September 11th: the enrolment of all students, old and new, in all Departments, takes place in the Loft of Barrack 6 on Monday and Tuesday the 4th and 5th of September, 9 to 11 am and 2 to 4 pm.

DEPARTMENT FOR FRENCH
Last term: 2 lecture classes, 43 classes, 39 teachers, 284 individual pupils
Special Classes for absolute beginners (grammar and pronunciation). Special class for coloured men.
Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Grammar Classes, based on Otto-Onion’s, Hugo’s, Berlitz’ I and II, Siepmann’s 1, 2 et 3, Gouin’s I and II, Larive and Fleury 2me et 3me Annee, Dent’s and Wright’s Methods and Grammars.
Conversation, Pronunciation and Reading Classes for Intermediate and Advanced Students are based on the following text books: le Petit Parisien (Kron), Gouin 2nd Book, Tartarin de Tarascon, Tartarin sur les Alpes ( A Daudet), Tour du Monde (J Verne), Emeraude hdes Incas (Charles Normand), Luois XI (Casimir Delavigne).
Style, Composition, Synonyms: for advanced students.
Special Class for “Orthographe”, by P Elies.
Preparation Classes for London University Matriculation and London Chamber of Commerce Examinations.
Lectures on Idioms, Gallicismes and general subjects; literary and otherwise.
Reading and explanation of Labiche’s plays, and other modern plays, to familiarise students with colloquial French, by P Elies and H A Bell.
Course of lectures on Victor Hugo (his life and works) by M Bordelain.
Series of lectures (in French and English) on “le Pays de France” dealing with different aspects of French life (Literature, Art, Music, Commerce, History, Geography, etc).
Commercial French classes: correspondence, expressions, etc, based on Gouin’s and Pitman’s methods.

In order to classify students adequately and place them in an appropriate class, a general entrance examination for all those intending to join or to continue classes in the French Department will be held on September 1st and 2nd at 9.30 am in the YMCA Hall.
This examination is compulsory for all students whether already in the school or not, only absolute beginners are exempted. A general “end of term” examination will also take place in December to test the progress made by students during the term.

Teachers… [include] V Cusden

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