Sunday, 10 August 2014

Dramatic Escape from Germany as War Looms

Colonel R. H. Rawson, until recently the Commanding Officer of the Sussex Yeomanry, had a thrilling experience during his struggle to reach England from Germany with his wife, Lady Beatrice Rawson, who was dangerously ill. Colonel Rawson decided on the 1st August to leave Freiburg, not withstanding that the doctors had ordered that Lady Beatrice should not be moved. With the assistance of Earl Winterton MP, a stretcher was obtained, and Lady Beatrice was placed on it.

“The only route was through Cologne,” said Colonel Rawson on Friday last to a representative of the press. “There was nothing but third class carriages with wooden seats, and the people were packed like herrings in a box. The train stopped a short distance from the Dutch frontier. German officials turned everybody out, and we were told to go into a Dutch train. We had to go a distance of about two hundred yards from one train to another. I was last, as I was carrying Lady Beatrice. When within fifty yards of the other train it went off and I was left stranded, with my wife lying prostrate on the stretcher. Lord Winterton had entered the train with the luggage, and he was taken away. We waited for two hours and entered another train. We were turned out of it, and German officials wanted to take Lady Beatrice to a local hospital, but she refused to go. We were told no one was allowed over the frontier. The rumour was that an attempt had been made on the life of the German Crown Prince, and this order had come after Lord Winterton had crossed over. Then there were four hours of great suspense.

“A German officer said if we would submit to having everything searched he would let us proceed. Our pockets were ransacked and we were then allowed to go on, and at last we were on neutral territory. At Rotterdam we carried Lady Beatrice to the Hook of Holland, and got into the last boat, I believe, which left the Hook, and arrived at Harwich.”

Colonel Rawson paid a warm tribute to German Reservists, who helped him carry Lady Beatrice to the train at Freiburg. They turned out of their seats in order that she could lie down and stopped their friends from smoking.

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