V.O. Feddersen fra Bredebro gjorde krigstjeneste på Vestfronten ved 18. Jägerbataillon.
18. jægerbataillon overvintrede 1915-16 i stillingen ved Ypres, nærmere betegnet ved Langemarck og Bixschoote. I marts måned 1916 blev bataillonen flyttet til egnen omkring St. Eloi, til Wytschaete-buen. Her stod vi overfor de kanadiske tropper og var spændt på, hvad der nu skulle ske.
Vi var klar over, at der var noget i gære. Det var en offentlig hemmelighed, at begge parter udførte muldvarpearbejde for at komme hinanden til livs. Kanadieme blev først færdige med at underminere vor stilling. Tidligt om morgenen den 27. marts sprang bomben. Det blev til en tredobbelt sprængning af vor udbyggede stilling. Samtidig satte begge parters artilleri ind for fuld kraft. Djævlen var løs.
Sprængningen havde selvsagt forvoldt en frygtelig ravage i vor forreste stilling og yderligere forvoldt stort mandetab. Efter to timers bombardement skred kanadieme til angreb og brød ind i vore linier. Afsnittet blev fuldstændigt afskåret fra forbindelserne til venstre og højre.
Ved middagstid kom jeg sammen med min gruppe, der alle var sønderjyder, i fangenskab og tog bestik mod de kanadiske linier. Kanadierne tog imod os med udråbet: „Gott strafe England”. At vi ikke ville blive modtaget som hædersgæster, havde vi nu heller ikke ventet, men modtagelsen gik imod forventning ret glat og smertefrit.
Ved stormangrebet i den tidlige morgenstund var der allerede taget fanger, hvoriblandt også nogle sønderjyder. Ved vor ankomst ved middagstid så vi straks som en af de første en landsmand fra 1. komp. Han stod stovt og roligt blandt sejrherrerne og var iført en kappe, der fra øverst til nederst var tildækket med jord og ler. Min makker, der var fra Løjtkirkeby, udbrød glædeligt overrasket, da han saa landsmanden stå der: „Hvad søren, Lorenz, er du allerede kommet?”
Hvortil Lorenz med en flot gestus slog ud med hånden og svarede: „Tja, a kom da herover til davretid.” I sandhed, han havde lune.
En tanke om “27. marts 1916. Fanget af canadierne ved davretid …”
The Daily Telegraph, Thursday, March 30, 1916
PRISONERS FROM ST. ELOI.
By PHILIP GIBBS.
BRITISH HEADQUARTERS, Tuesday.
The German prisoners who were captured near St. Eloi by the Royal Fusiliers and Northumberland Fusilíers on Saturrday last, after we had wrecked their trenches by a series of mine explosions, were paraded to-day, before being taken down to the Base, in a Flemish Village behind the lines.
These men were lucky in their escape from death. The explosion of our mines was so terriﬁc that it shook the ground six miles away, and its effect upon the German trenches was volcanic.
Tons of earth were flung up hundreds of feet high, carrying away trenches and dug-outs and sandbags.
A Jaeger regiment. which was holding this part of the line suffered heavy losses. A captured officer Says that two companies of his battalion were blown to pieces.
Another disaster happened to the enemy. The earth about them was so dísrupted that the communication trenches were choked up, and there was no possibility of escape for the men who remained alive in the ﬁrst and Second lines of this sector, nor for any supports to be sent up to prevent the occrupation of the craters and trenches by the Fusíliers, who still hold this ground.
The German survivors were caught in a trap, and in their dazed condition were taken pri- soners easily enough. The exact number of them is still uncertain, as men were still being brought down to-day, but it ia about 200, with several ofﬁcers.
They are sturdy young men, averaging, I should say, about 28 years of age. They do not belong to the Prussian type. Them were no close-cropped, bullet-headed, Hunnish-faced fellows among them. These men, strange as it seems to say so, seemed to be of our kith and kin.
If they had been in our brown khâki instead of in the German grey, and kept silent in those clothes, no British oﬁicer passing them would have guessed that these were enemy soldiers. He would have thought, rather, ” Those are ﬁne lads – from Norfolk or Suffolk, by the look of them.”
“OUR KITH AND KIN.”
They are, in fact., of our kith and kin, for they come from the Danish frontier hy Schles- wig-Holstein. and something in their appear- ance–their fresh complexions and blue eyes, and English look – seemed to have struck the British soldiers who were guarding them.
“Wonderfully well-behaved fellows,” said one of our Sergeants. ” It’s hard to think of them as Germans. They seem different From some others I have seen.”
They were glad to Be out of all the horror, and their cheerfulness and gaiety were due, no doubt, to this supreme good-luck. A few of them were wounded, and others seemed still a, little dazed – and no wonder after the shock of being blown up with a mass of earth and falling again into the midst of an eartbquake. What is amazing, rather, is that men so fresh from the greatest terror of this war, a mine explosion, should so quickly recover their nerve.
They were grateful for the kíndness of their treatment – especiaIly grateful that they were allowed to keep their family photographs and little souvenirs from home. Most of them had plenty of money in their pockets, having arrived reoently at the front and coming from good middle-class families. They were not inclined to discuss the problems or ethics of the war, but agreed unanimoualy that all their comrades are eager for peace. There was no sign of poor diet in their physique, and not from thase men could one say that Germany is getting exhausted.
It is only by studying the character and statements of prisoners taken at many points of the line that our men come to any general conclusion, and this, as I know, is in favour of the hope that the German army is weakeníng a little, and that her reserves of strangth are not inexhaustible.