Reprint: A Woman at the War

The exciting experiences of Mrs Creed, better known by her pen name Louise Mack, have already been briefly described in lectures delivered by her in Melbourne. They are more fully dealt with in "A Woman's Experiences in the Great War," now published by Fisher, Unwin, London. Mrs Creed left London for Antwerp in August last year, after the outbreak of war, a fellow passenger being Mr. Martin Donohoe, the well-known newspaper correspondent. She was in Belgium for several months of the German occupation, and witnessed many pathetic incidents. She had a series of personal adventures of a sensational character. Of these she writes lightly, and even humorously. She was in Antwerp during the assault by the Germans, and she describes with much pathos the great joy which suddenly came to the dejected Belgians when the announcement was made, "The English are coming." Of the little Belgian army she says:- "Haggard, hollow-eyed, exhausted, craving the rest they may not have, these glorious heroes revive as if by magic under the knowledge that other troops are coming to help theirs in this gargantuan struggle for Antwerp." The joy was of brief duration. In a few days thousands of refugees were crowding the thoroughfares out of the city. Mrs. Creed decided to stay, despite the earnest entreaties of her friends and the Belgian officials. "I am writing a book about the war," she said, "and to see the Germans come into Antwerp is something I ought not to miss."

It is to this intrepid resolve that we owe the most interesting part of this interesting book. The author says:- "As they come onward the Germans look from left to right .... I search their faces, looking now for the horrid marks of the brute triumphant floating over his prey. But the brute triumphant is not there to-day, for these thousands of Germans who march into Antwerp on this historic Friday are characterised by an aspect of dazed incredulity that almost amounts to fear. They all wear pink roses or carnations in their coats, or have pink flowers wreathed about their horses' harness, or round their gun-carriages and provision motors, and sometimes they burst into subdued singing, but it is obvious that the enormous buildings of Antwerp, and its aspect of great wealth and solidarity, fairly take away their breath....I weep as if it were London itself that the Germans were coming into, for I have lived for long, unforgettable weeks among the Belgians at war, and I have learned to love and respect them above all people ... Then, looking up, I see a young Prussian officer laughing at me mockingly as he rides by. He laughs and looks away, that smart young grey-clad Uhlan, with roses in his coat, then he looks back and laughs again, and rides on, still laughing mockingly at what he takes to be some poor little Belgian weeping over the destruction of her city ... Germany, for that brutal laugh, no less than for your outrages, you shall pay some day! You shall surely pay!"

For five terrible days Mrs Creed remained in Antwerp, and then found opportunity to escape into Holland. Her book is valuable as history, sensational as narrative, and written in graceful and poetic style.

First published in The Argus, 8 October 1915
[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 5, 2008 8:40 AM.

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