Some internees mope about all day long

Artistic Albert Cusden, interned in Ruhleben camp near Berlin with three of his brothers, wrote regularly to his family safe in Reading. Brother Len was the recipient of this letter. In return, the family and other friends back home sent the Cusdens food and other essentials.

18 Jan 1917

Dear Len

I received Lucy’s letter of the 4th a few days ago. The money sent for Swiss bread in December was apparently used for sending a small parcel of food in place of the bread, as Dick received a card from the Bureau to the effect that a small parcel of provisions was being sent from Shrimpton’s, and Arch & I received similar advice as from you. These parcels arrived early this week, so suppose everything is now settled. I note Lucy states you still do not know particulars of the new parcel system, but I gave details in my letter to Father & Mother, so I daresay you understand everything now. We are receiving the new parcels regularly and as regards quantity, quality & variety, the food is very good and we shall be very satisfied if things go on like this. We are also able to obtain as much bread as want, as regular supplies of Danish bread are sent to our camp captain for distribution. This Danish bread is white and superior to the Swiss. I wrote sometime ago asking for soap, but just too late for you to send before December. Since then we have obtained some extra soap and one of the standard parcels contains soap, so we have now enough. But I believe that anything not in the nature of food, e.g. clothing etc, can be sent by private individuals, but through the Central Organisation. So if we require anything like this we will let you know….

I haven’t been doing so much drawing lately, the weather isn’t so favourable. Winter seems really to have come now, plenty of snow and frost, but it is chiefly dry and as long as it remains so I don’t mind how cold it be, except of course from the point of view that I don’t do so much drawing. The changes in the weather form, I suppose, the chief changes in the life here, but the time doesn’t hang so much as it might easily do. It depends mostly upon the person. There are some who mope about all day long and won’t or can’t take up anything. Did the Camp magazine reach home? My drawings didn’t come out well, the originals were too small. And I haven’t done much with ink yet…

Your affectionate brother

Albert

Letter from Albert Cusden to L W Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/5)

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Please don’t send too much from home

Interned in Germany, Albert Cusden wrote to one of his brothers in Reading. He and the brothers he was with in Ruhleben (Arch, Vic and Dick) were grateful for the support they were getting from friends and family.

Aug 22nd 1916
Dear Len

Since my letter to Father & Mother last week, many thanks for parcels Y, Z, A & B. Note from last letter received that Mrs Shrimpton will in future send Swiss Bread to Dick and you will therefore send to me instead. If Mrs S. does send, please don’t send any to me or we shall have more than we need. The one lot to Arch will be quite sufficient. As already stated, Vic receives Swiss bread each week.

Please don’t send too much. Last four parcels have contained toast, but this does not always keep now, so please do not send any more. Our needs in the bread line are quite met by Swiss as above. All the same thank you very much for trouble. As regards parcels generally, we now receive regularly from a number of friends, so would prefer you to act upon my previous suggestion not to send so much from home. We are receiving quite sufficient now, so please don’t think we should be short at all. Even if we received nothing from you we should manage quite alright. And we are sure it would make a little difference at home.

We are very grateful for what all of you at home have done. We have a fair amount of tea in hand and shall not need any more for quite a good time. Please also do not send any fresh winter clothing, or blankets, etc, as we have plenty left over from last year and shall not require any more whether we have to stop here right though another winter or not. The dripping just received was very nice, but from the jars they were in it looked as though you got these specially for same. A cardboard box would have done, or probably waterproof paper. Among those who send to us are Reading Teachers’ Association to Arch, & Vic’s old school…

I stick to the drawing here as much as I can, but you will readily understand the circumstances are not the best, and there are so many interruptions during the day that the time left at one’s disposal is not so great. Last week sent off to Mother 14 sketches (12 pencil, 1 charcoal & 1 ink). Please keep for me. Charcoal sketch is of wood seen through the wires….

Your affectionate brother

Albert

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to L W Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/3)

Hard bread, but making Christmas as cheerful as possible in internment

The four Cusden brothers, originally from Reading, had been teaching languages in Germany before the war. Together with thousands of other expatriate Britons, they were interned in a camp at Ruhleben, near Berlin. They were allowed to keep in contact with family back home, and in fact food parcels were an essential supplement to the meagre supplies doled out by the Germans. Here Albert Cusden writes to another brother, Len.

Jan 5th 1916
Dear Len

Since my letter to Mother many thanks for parcels N & O & one from Edie to Arch, leaf from Sawyer’s received Dec. 28th, parcel from Aunt Mary to Dick received Dec. 31st. If anyone sees Aunt Mary, please thank her very much. We do not much care for the bread batons, they are very hard when received. Would much prefer the toasted bread.

Christmas went off here much better than the previous one, and we are very thankful to all who helped to make it so. I don’t think anyone here was left out in the cold, arrangements being made by those who received plenty of parcels that others not so fortunate should have a share. On Christmas Day we were allowed to go to bed at 9.45 instead of 8.45. We also had our Xmas “parties”. Had Harris up on one day, and Arch’s chum Pinder on another. So you see, we made Christmas as cheerful as we could, and although we cannot ourselves thank all those who helped, we know you will do so for us.

Father asks whether we can manage with parcels we receive from various quarters. We are quite all right in this respect at present. I daresay the parcels we receive from other quarters will continue. The parcel Father mentions as being sent from your office we will distribute as desired. Thanks for information re ABC School of Drawing. Am very pleased to hear how you are getting on with your drawing, and am, looking forward to seeing some of your work. In letter to Vic you mention picture of Ruhleben in the Daily Mirror and think you recognise Vic there. Have seen the picture, but none of us are there, unless we are somewhere in crowd behind.

Father mentions Miss Pietz in letter. She has been a brick all along. Had not been here three days when she wrote Dick [she] was sending him a parcel, and has sent periodically since and always requests Dick to write stating his desires. In a recent letter (have not same before me) believe Father says Miss Shrimpton had said some parcels had been sent Dick which he had not acknowledged. The Aldershot News, through agency of Shrimpton, sent parcels to Dick for a time, each one was acknowledged to the firm, and Shrimptons written to several times. Dick wrote them again after the above, so daresay the matter is now right. Vic says will you tell Sawyers Reni is suffering from peritonitis, but she is getting better. They asked how she was. As we received more mittens and socks than needed ourselves, found others who needed them.

Love to all.
Albert.

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to L W Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/1)