Letter from Stanley Wood of Dinglewood School, Colwyn Bay

Scope and Content

Sent to his cousin Lillie in Weybridge, Surrey. Describes a recent visit to France and his experiences there at the time of German occupation. He explains that whilst there, he was 'too busy dodging military police and watching events to do any writing beyond a sort of diary which I had sent to Winifred' [his wife]. Describes that he managed to get to Compiegne 'but not without considerable difficulty, no Englishman now being allowed to go beyond Creil... I was arrested en route and led to a guard house and examined by a sergeant whose ignorance was impressed by my passport and who let me through...'. He called on a family friend called Mme Caron who was suffering from 'reaction... from what she had suffered during the 13 days of the German occupation. They had been billeted in her house and though they do not seem to have broken anything (except bottles which each morning had to be wheeled out of the courtyard in a barrow) I gathered that they went away with some of her linen and that they had terrified her a good deal while they were there.' When staying in Compiegne he 'talked with dozens of soldiers and officers who had been in the thick of the fighting - a Belgian officer who had been wounded at Antwerp, a French officer who had been a prisoner and escaped, and many who had fought in the trenches.' He got out of Compiegne 'in the guise of a gardener... in the direction of Soissons and I saw trenches made ready in case the Germans returned.' Later at the time of the German advance he saw ' the whole garrison turned out at 2 hours notice to go and stem the advance. I saw a dozen 120cm. guns go through the town and heard the French and German guns round Soissons all day long... I saw evidences of bombs dropped from aeroplanes and one or two houses that had been shattered by shells, hundreds and hundreds of soldiers' graves in the new Cemetry [sic] and wounded being frequently brought in.' Concludes with some family news and the comment that 'for this term I have a fairly good school - next term, it appears, it will be about halved.'

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