A LETTER FROM AN SS BRUSSELS PRISONER OF WAR     This was written by Chief Engineer Frederick Thurlow whilst interned at Interlaken, Switzerland  and taken from an original letter of 1917 by Jan Thurlow.     My experience in Germany as a Prisoner of War from June 23rd 1916 to December 26th 1917.    My ship was the SS Brussels commanded by Captain Charles Fryatt which left Hook of Holland at  about 11 pm on 22nd June 1916, having on board about 120  passengers, 95 Belgium Refugees, mostly women and children, and 25 Russian escaped prisoners. All went well 'til about 1.15 am June  23rd when 4 or 5 Torpedo Destroyers came up to us, ordered the  Captain to stop, which he did. One of the German Commanders came on board with some of his Officers and Crew and took charge,  ordering the Captain to steer for Zeebrugge; in the meantime, myself and the Second Engineer and 7 or 8 seamen were ordered to go on  board one of the other destroyers and put into the Forecastle. Soon after an Officer came into the Forecastle and asked if there were any  of Brussels Engineers there, and I answered yes, the Chief and Second. He went away to report I suppose, but soon after I found we  were under way and arrived at Zeebrugge at about 5 or 6 am,  proceeded up the Canal to Bruges. The Brussels and other destroyers  arrived about 7.30 am and we were ordered to go on board our own ship. We stayed on board 'til about 3 pm having had breakfast and dinner about 2 pm; we were ordered to go to our respective cabins and pack up our personal effects but to touch nothing belonging to the ship.    We were then ordered ashore and taken into a shed and our luggage was examined; all Binoculars  were taken from us and then we were taken in two motor buses to the Town Hall and put into a  large room. Mattresses were laid on the floor, quite wet, no blankets were served out; we were  served with coffee and bread. Stayed there 'til Sunday morning June 20th leaving there after being served with coffee and bread at 3 am and marched to the station for Ghent, arriving there about 5 pm and put under the arches of the railway, a room about 30ft x 12ft with a few sloping boards to lie on; 34 of us, including the Stewardesses and 25 Russians. There was accommodation for about 20 to lie down, about 10pm they took the Stewardesses  into the station Hotel. We left there  Monday June 26th about 5pm for Ruhleben, arriving there at 6pm Wednesday June 28th. During  that time we had one basin of soup served to us, but were well cared for as soon as we arrived. On  Friday 30th June Captain Fryatt was sent for to go to Bruges and to take with him Lt Hartnell, the Chief Officer, Mr Coulson, the Carpenter and 2 or 3 of the Seamen and I heard from the Capt. of  the Camp, Mr Powell, a few days after that Capt. Fryatt was being tried for his life. During the  next few days, the American Ambassador visited the Camp and a notice was put up stating anyone  wishing to see him must give his name to the Capt. of the Camp, which I did. When I went to the Office I was asked what I wanted to see him about. I told them I wanted to ask about Capt. Fryatt,  I was told the Ambassador was very busy and that the Capt. of the Camp could tell me as much as  the Ambassador would and said that he was doing all he could for Capt.Fryatt, so I had to go off with that. When a few days later the Chief Officer and others returned and said the Germans  brought in a verdict of Guilty of attempting to ram and sink a submarine and he was immediately  shot.  Signed Frederick Thurlow, Chief Engineer, Late SS 'Brussels' 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 21 21