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War Letters of Wilfrid B Rutherford

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War Letters of Wilfrid B Rutherford

First Impressions in Old Country
WILFRID RUTHERFORD FINDS SCENERY BEAUTIFUL AND PEOPLE KIND
Hythe, Sandling Camp,
Kent, England,
May 2, 1915
Dear Friends, --- I was going to write to you before this but our time is so occupied with work and fatigue parties and sight seeing that this is my first opportunity of getting down to business. We landed safely at Avonmouth and traveled through the prettiest country on earth to Sandling Camp, a place near Shorncliffe, and about eight or ten miles from Folkestone, which means we are about thirty from France which is pretty near close enough for me the way things are going over there the past week or so.
It is very pretty coming from the sea crossing over the southern part of England. We passed through the outskirts of London. Our English born members of the unit got leave for a few days and later on we get leave. I think I will have time to go up to Bonnie Scotland and see the land of the heather, kilt and plaidie. The country around here is quite hilly. While traveling on the train we passed through a number of tunnels burrying through the sandstone and chalk. Everything is like June in Canada, and all that can be desired along the lines of the picturesque can be seen in one great panoramas. Little cottages snugly nest in the valleys while over on the green hills subdivided by hawthorne hedges and wood areas can be seen sheep and little lambs with numbers stamped on their fleecy backs, a typical pastoral scene. What strikes one most impressively is the neatness and order of everything. From the tiny looking trains to the railway stations and homes everything is neat and trim. We travel in compartments and and our tickets are taken as we leave station which is fenced in from towns and are all some distance from the station. The roads are narrow and winding but very pretty and good. How the people live is a mystery to me for they do not seem so work. I guess the sheep work for them by keeping the hills mowed as if gone over by a Taylor Forbes lawn mower. Among the trees and amidst the shrubbery yellow and pink primroses grow as commonly as dandelions over in Canada and scattered through the branches of the trees are so many birds. Thrushes galore and pheasants patrol the borders of all the upland wooded areas and are so tame that even the fastly moving trains do not disturb them from their watchful waiting. Jack rabbits are quite common and every bank and tree shows signs of their environment. Crows are also quite common. They seem to live in colonies or rookeries. Here and there along the canals and streams clusters of willows contain in their upper branches their nests which at this time of the year contain families of Black Johnsons whose cries and cawing can be heard as approaches the home of his next of kin. All along the canal great white swans with their graceful necks bent at a certain angle, glide slowly on the surface of the water, now and then putting their beaks beneath the water to get any tender herbage that appeals to their palate. Two very pretty places were Sutton's nurseries at Reading and some other place. Great beds of various colored tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, violets and other flowers decorated the landscape all along the track. The English seem to vie one with the other to see how beautiful they can make their island, and take it from me they have made it a success. No wonder the British soldier can fight. He has something to fight for.
Sandling camp is very nicely situated on two or three hills overlooking the ocean. Beyond and between the two are smaller hills and valleys. Shorncliffe is about five miles away. Here are situated a large Canadian hospital and more tents. We are quartered 30 in hut 21 by about 60 and quite permanent buildings. There is accommodation for about 10,000 troops. We have shower baths and all the comforts one could wish for, are up at 5.45 and to bed at 9.30 so our day is rather long, early to bed, early to rise. Great traction engine hauling crushed stone for roads are daily working round our huts, while out on the parade ground are the men drilling, and down in the valleys the sheep are grazing. If you can imagine anything better, kindly let me know. We are about two miles from an old castle named "Saltwood," around which is an old Roman moat, quite picturesque, and it brings you back to the days of Caesar and one cannot help associating names Kaiser and Caesar for they both mean so much to the destiny of this little island. Art Hanley and I have been down to Folkstone and over to Hythe a couple of times. Today we had dinner in Folkston and then we went by motor to Hythe where we had a dandy trip along the Hythe canal in a canoe. It was great and everything is typically English. Yesterday the 11th and 12th Canadian Infantry sailed over to France to reinforce the first contingent. Some of the boys left at eight p. m. and at four a. m. were in the trenches and the second day were back in England wounded, and a larger percentage were left on the plains of Flanders, martyrs to the Empire's cause. It is worth more to be a Canadian today than a month ago. The English are very kind to us and there seems to be a jealousy between the English soldier and Jack Cannuck.
Our graduates are going to get commissions and consequently our unit will likely be broken up and fourth year fellows will likely go to newly organized stations and hospitals so I may never get over to France.
Affectionately yours W. B. Rutherford [1]


On the Mediterranean
P. & O. S. N. Co.,
Aug. 9.
We must have our letters written by eight to-night in time for Mr. Censor, so here goes. Doubtless you received my letters from England telling that I was about to leave on this trip. Our orders for a time were so indefinite that I almost wondered if we should go at all. I was going to wire you, but the message would no doubt be delayed, and as it only takes about ten days for mail to go to Canada, you have learned soon enough. The military authorities have a very strict censorship, and wish us to cooperate with them in every respect, and do all in our power to frustrate the plans of the enemy. Although some things may seem indefinite you can imagine some fictitious name and supply it when necessary. All the leave we got after receiving our orders was one day in embarkation town, which was just an ordinary busy seaport place, the streets paraded with soldiers and sailors. After procuring our hotel accommodation we did what shopping we thought necessary. In the evening we went to a good vaudeville show and enjoyed it immensely. The sea-side towns are kept very dark. I thought it dreadfully gloomy in London at night, with practically no lights except those on taxi-cabs, but in this place it was just black, and one found it difficult to keep with the bunch. We reported to the military landing officer about 11 a. m., and got our place on board the ship, after which we were given a pass until one p. m., with the understanding that we would leave port at three in the afternoon.
Our ship is a very good one of some 8,000 tonnage, and is fitted up for a hospital ship. Everything is painted white, spotlessly clean, with the exception of a pale green band just across the water-line and a large red cross on either side. Also on each side of the upper deck there is a big red cross illuminated with electricity. These must look beautiful about half a mile away. A row of pale green lights decorate the gunwale, and are kept burning all night, which is some change from Atlantic voyages, when "lights out" was invariably the order. This is my first experience with the "Lancers" who are natives of Bombay, and other sea-port towns. These men with their boss hire to the steamship company to do all the work on the decks and in the hold, just like the Italians from Buffalo used to hire to the Dominion Canners. They are quite dark, bare-footed, and with their red tunics, blue duck coats and white trousers look real chic. They seem to be working at something from morn till night. They sit in a peculiar squatting posture and can remain in this position for a considerable time apparently without fatigue. It was really amusing to watch one chap knitting. He could do it very well, too, but a trifle slowly. Our passenger list is not a large one, being comprised of R. A. M. C. nurses, officers and about a hundred men. The nurses do not have the privileges that the Canadian nurses seem to enjoy, and I think they are better disciplined. There are twentyfour Canadians, mostly boys who were in my class at Toronto, so you see we have no occasion to be lonesome. The English doctors are an uncompromising lot of chaps and very hard to mix with. The Irish and Scotch find them the same as we do, but get along all right with us. The English Tommies are different, and are more joyous and cheerful. They are good singers, dancers, cricket players and all round sports. No matter where one goes there is at least one Irishman. At Codford we had a Kelly, and on board we have at least two very witty chaps. They too call themselves "Colonials" and refrain from discussing Irish politics. We have no difficulty in putting in the time. The second day out I received my second dose of anti typhoid and L. & Q. para typhoid vaccine and first dose of cholera vaccine. The effects of a headache and some local reaction last for about 48 hours. I received my last typhoid, and to-day I got my second for cholera, so expect to feel rather groggy in a few hours. It is very necessary to have these measures, for the Tommy who is not experienced in the fly-swatting industry must be protected as well as we know how. Flies are few and far between in England so he never has the opportunity of combatting these pests which, I am told, are very prevalent in the eastern theatre of war.
We play quoits, deck cricket and cards, to say nothing of fire drill, boat drill and physical exercises. On Saturday night a concert was put on by the passengers that proved a howling success, especially the "Anonymous Quartette," which took the pianist for the fourth man. We nicknamed them "Bing Boys," with apologies to the original boys in London. The matron is quite an accomplished vocalist and violinist. Our Toronto bunch was snapped by a battery of no fewer than a dozen cameras, so we will surely get one good picture of our outfit. We can develope the films in the X-Ray room, so we have quite a photographer's establishment. We came in sight of land at several points, but for obvious reasons I am not permitted to map out the course we are taking. We seem to pass more ships than are seen on the Atlantic. Three were Norwegian and one flew the Stars and Stripes. We get a daily marconigram and the other day when we learned that the Turks were close to the Suez we wondered if we would be able to proceed unmolested; but I guess the British won't take any chances and let the enemy advance dangerously close to so important a waterway, the neck of the British Empire.
With love and best wishes to all I am, affectionately yours.
W. B. Rutherford,
Lieut. R. A. M. C.
Care Messrs Holt & Co.,
3 Whitehall Place, London, Eng. [2]


Wilfrid Rutherford Writes from India.
Strange Scenes to Canadian Boy on Way to Service in Mesopotamia.
P. & O. S. N. Co. S. S. Egypt,
August 25th 1916.
Mr. J. Mercer Denholm,[3]
Blenheim, Ont., Canada.
Dear Merce -- It will soon be four weeks since leaving England and at present we are on our last stage before proceeding to the front. Being on board ship the impressions one gets of a country through which he travels are not very striking but since it was my opportunity and pleasure to be in a large town on the west coast of India for three days I shall endeavour to tell you some of my experiences.
The first sight of India is amazing, entrancing, almost stupefying. Of England I became aware gradually but having landed in -------------, you have strayed into a most elaborate dream, infinite in variety, wild with complex things, a gallery of strange faces, buzz of strange voices, a rainbow of gay colors. Different beasts and birds in the streets, different clothes to wear, these not more than the law demands in some cases, different meal-times and different food the very commonest things are altered. You begin a new life in a new world. It takes time to come to yourself. At first every thing is so noticeable that you notice nothing. Firstly and foremost you pin your eyes to the little fawn-colored, satin-trimmed oxen, with humped backs yoked to two wheeled carts driven by a so called cattle driver whose mouth and teeth are sanguinous with the stain of the beetle nut. Then the birds, pigeons, blue crows, cattle and goats cannot help but attract the attention. The women do a good deal of the work such as coaling boats, ???????????les for railway constructions, cleaning streets, and it is most common sight to see them, with a huge basket of fruit poised on their head, walking most gracefully as if by mechanical movement. This gracefulness is acquired from childhood; for children of all ages can be seen in the streets everywhere carrying the tiniest to the largest parcel on their heads. Our first afternoon ashore we made a tour of the city in a Studebaker six. After being on the water so long it was a real treat to spin along paved roads facing the water front, through mud laden streets crowded with half-naked and semibarberous natives celebrating feast day. Being a holiday in the city the banks were closed so we were unable to get any rupees to pay our way. The Indian Governments arrangements about our pay caused us little inconvenience for we were allowed an advance pay of 1080 rupees, three rupees being equal to one Canadian dollar. Next to the rupee is the anna, corresponding to the English penny, sixteen making a rupee. The paper money is in large while bills and when one has cashed a check for say 200 rupees given to you in 10 rupee notes it gives you the inclination to start out as a newsboy advertising your wares. This leads me to the papers in circulation. Firstly there seems to be no scarcity of pulp wood; for an evening edition of the 'Advocate of India" corresponds to the morning edition of the London Times. The papers are English in design and so far I have not seen either in England, Egypt or India papers which can correspond with the "Globe" or "Mail" and "Empire". Bombay possesses a very good train system which is well patronized. The drivers are the largest men seen in the city and look not unlike the Punjabs from up country. Electric lights are everywhere and a prettier place by night could not be imagined. It is then that the people go out most because it is too hot in the daytime to do much walking about. About our drive around the city. When things become to be sorted and sifted ---------------- reveals itself as a city of wonderful contrast. Along the seafront one grand public building follows another, variegated stone facades with archways and couplas, pinnacles and statuary. Just across the way flimsy huts of matting and thatched roofs are huddled closely together. As you pass in your car on one side you look over gardens and paved streets, on the other side towards sloping valleys where half naked idolators herd by families together in open-fronted rooms, and filth runs amuck into the dirty streets. The city lies at the southern end of a long narrow island, the extreme part being the site of public buildings and places of business. The Europeans, with the ever multiplying rich natives, live towards the west end of the city on the Ridge, or on Malatar Hill. This is the highest point to the city and not far from the richly decorated homes of the Parsi, on a slightly higher level is the site of the Towers of Silence where this rich class of merchantmen dispose of their dead. The elements, air, water and fire to them are sacred and when one of their class dies the remains are placed in one of these huge concrete towers laid open to the sun. Here huge vultures, always waiting and ever ready, fly down and devour their pray. After all the flesh is removed from the body the bones are washed into a huge pit and there dissolved by the action of the surf's waves. From here four sewers lead to the main sewage way. Before the last remains pass on they percolate through a layer of charcoal and then sand. This is supposed to deprive them of all impurities. The guide tried to convince us how much more sanitary this means of disposal is when compared to European methods of which he says, "Not Clean?" The vultures are huge birds as large as a turkey-gobbler with their chuckled heads and strong beaks drawn in between two huge wings which enclose a strong muscular breast deprived of feathers and flushing with the heat of the tropical sun, and all set on two stout legs makes one shudder at the gruesome sight. They live to be thirty years of age.
The Parsi, as his name tells you comes from Persia, whence he was persecuted for worshiping fire. He is the Jew of the East --- leaves other people to make other things while he makes money. He educates himself along European lines and is especially adapted for banking, brokerage and commissioners. He walks out with his wife --- a refined looking creature in a pale pink or lemon yellow gown, with a pea green crimson edged shawl over her head, talking to her as friend to friend. When he speaks of home it is not Persia but England. His rupees are many, the richest being worth about 5,000,000 sterling.
Driving down from Malabar Hill beneath the scorching sun, but taking in all the breezes that blow and all the time mopping your brow, you pass through groves of hundreds of palms and wax foliages, banyans, that feel for the earth with roots hanging from their branches. Now one comes to the pines or cocoanut grove. This is a very pretty part of a Bombay tour, the huge trunks of the trees rise majestically from a water soaked soil into a moisture laden atmosphere. Here the cocoanut flourishes. They are just ripe and these huge elipoidal husks were clinging everywhere beneath the canopy topped trees. While on the Ridge we could see the natives celebrating what is called the Gokul Astami which is the greatest Hindu holiday celebrated by all classes. I am enclosing an account of the day.
All travellers in the East must pay a visit to the bazzars, where all kinds of wares are found. The most beautiful silks and brass-ware and sandal wood boxes righly ornamented and engraved attract the eye of the would-be purchaser. The natives almost worship brass goods which they have contrived into some very beautiful designs. I was also in one of the large Mohammedan mosques.
For one rupee we were taken through up to the tower from which one gets an excellent view of the city. The plan of the place is similar to the places I saw in Bath, England, constructed by the Romans; for the large swimming tank enclosed with columns of stone and steps leading down to the water give it a Romanesque appearance.
Before I bore you any linger I must close. With best wishes to all and Mr. Censor.
Sincerely yours,
W. B. Rutherford Lieut. R. A. M. C.,
Care of Messrs. Holt & Co., 3 White Hall Pl., London
P. S. -- I do not know my address out here yet. W. B. R.[4]


Young Physician Going to Country Famous in Ancient History.
On His Way to Eastern Fighting.
Mr. James Rutherford and family this week received the following letter from their son, Dr. W. B. Rutherford , now on his way to do service as a physician in Mesopotamia. When he arrives in the eastern scene of the fighting he will be close to many places of Biblical interest, such as Ninevah, Jerusalem, etc.
Picture of Wilfred-------------------
Lieut. W. B. Rutherford, R. A. M. C.
It does not require the prestige of belonging to one of the most influential families in the town to make him the man that he is. He is big of stature and broad of mind, and no one can dispute the claim that he is the biggest man in khaki (or in the white uniforms used in the hospitals of Mesopotamia) that Blenheim has turned out. Though only 24 years of age he measures six feet two and is carrying 215 pounds easily and in good condition. It is said that he got the inspiration to become a doctor when, while still a bashful lad he went under the surgeon's knife in a Chatham hospital for a critical operation that saved his life. While still at school in town he could balance the scales at over 200 pounds and if he had been a "bad" boy he might have been a terror to the lady teachers, but it is to his credit that he was mighty well liked by the staff as well as by the scholars. He had a good course in medicine at Toronto University and being as Scotch by heredity and sentiment as the best Highlander in kilts, and as loyal as the most devoted Britisher, he is doing his bit for the second season across the ocean, helping to alleviate the suffering of his fellow beings in the war.
Among the boys at home he has long been familiarily known by the expressive name "Cheerful," and the characteristic which this name signifies, along with his many other good talents, will make it certain that at all times and in all countries he will be a credit to his native town..[5]


Lieut. W. B. Rutherford Gives More Impressions of the Far East.
Medical Officer on the Tigris River.
The following letter to his brother, Gunner Gordon Rutherford, gives more information as to the nature of the work Lieut. W. B. Rutherford,

R. A. M. C., is doing in the land made famous in Biblical History. Lieut. Rutherford's duties are performed on a boat on the Tigris River, and that he is enjoying his experinece is evident from his letter:-----

Basra, Nov. 14th, 1916.
Gordon H. Rutherford,
Blenheim, Ont.

Dear Gordon and All, ---- It strikes me that I haven't answered your letter of some weeks ago, and as it isn't time to retire I'll see what I can scribble to you. I believe you were informed that I was put on a new job, viz., M. O. on a river boat plying between Basra and Sheikh Saad and the unit to which I am attached is known as the river Sick Convoy Unit. We have a staff of R. A. M. C. orderlies, native cooks and sweepers and dispensers. P. S. I. is one of the first paddlers in the Royal India Marine to come out here and had made some good runs on the Tigris. Two barges are towed alongside, and on these troops and stores are carried up the line and sick and wounded are brought down. I am pleased to say we had only one sick officer to bring down. The sickness and wounded have practically dwindled to a mere handful to what it was some time ago. The medical part of this expedition is now well organized. We had quite a mixed crowd of passengers down, including a general who shared my cabin, an officer on leave from the trenches, and thirty-one Persian coolies from Sheikh Saad.

At Naaman Ali Gharbi we picked up four most amusing and cheery birds --- Turkish deserters. They were as happy a lot as I ever met, glad to get out of the clutch of German bondage. They had a most interesting tale to tell us about their experiences from Constantinople to Ali Gharbi. For your own interest it will do you good to look up the course they took in getting to our lines. They all speak very good French and with aid of a Batholomew's map of this country and Asia Minor we could easily trace their journey on land and water. Two of them belonged to the navy, one a cavalry man, the other an infantryman. They gave up their equipment to the Russians at Hamden, and then as vagabonds travelled through Persia and hoodwinked the Turkish patrol, who nearly had them, but they swam across a small lake and finally gave themselves up to our patrol and now they are here being looked after by the Intelligence Authorities. We made a record trip down, taking us just under thirty hours, landing here at midnight.

Being now on this work the O. C. R. S. C. A. is leaving me with another M. O. from Leeds, an awfully fine chap too. The officer commanding the boat is a Glasgow man and the chief engineer an Englishman, who has been in Burma, Phillipines, Singapore and all over the east. He was mentioned in dispatches by Gen. Lake and has served 19 months in Mesopotamia. The four of us are in the mess together, we had some feed to-night:---Giblet soup, haggis (best I ever ate,) roast duck (tame), potatoes, green peas and blanc mange with dessert. Our M. O. is strictly T. T. and sees that everyone else is too.

To-morrow night we are having a wild goose for dinner; he is a dandy too. We were made the recipients of three bags of potatoes to-day, which are much appreciated out here. The General gave us some sand grouse and Tigris salmon often make a delightful entree; so you see we are faring O. K. You can trust a sailor not to neglect the inner man.

Last night my mate and I dined with a couple of the "Bing Boys" at No. 3. British General Hospital mess and afterwards were entertained by No. 1 Mesopotamian Concert Company. I saw a previous performance at Sheikh Saad by the same company and the same show but a little better. This is the forth entertainment I have been at out here. They are fine for the troops, who have a good laugh.

As far as fighting is concerned there is very little on either side. It is just one huge scheme of colonization and the prospects of this alluvial country are wonderful. My impressions of this old Babylonian country have been switched wonderfully. The fertility of this country between the Tigris and Euphrates cannot be disputed, all it lacks is rain. If Sir Wm. Willcock's scheme of irrigation is ever carried through the wealth of this country cannot be imagined. In Dec. and Jan. the wheat and corn are planted and harvested the next May and June. During this month they are harvesting barley and some grain that grows on a long stalk not unlike corn as it grows. The country along the fore shore is a verdant green and spotted with great flocks of black, white and brown sheep, herds of India and Jersey cattle, and Mesopotamian bison making quite a pastoral scene. Scattered Arab villages make a most imposing scene with their thatched roofs and cane matting sides. Cattle, children and dogs live in one bunch. No race suicide here either, and all the kids wear is a smile and some of the men have on just what the Law demands. The women wear plenty and insist on pulling their veils over the face as we pass along.

I had to leave the pup "Bingo" with Stan Graham at Sheikh Saad. When I get properly settled he will accompany me on the boat. Garn Scullard is up at Amarah, a town of about 3500 population and situated half way between Basra and Sheikh Saad.

We drew our rations this morning for fourteen days supply, including sugar, tea, bread, bacon, melons, condensed milk, 2 capstan tobacco (could not get cigarettes) pineapple, cheese, butter, and two live sheep, so you see we are O. K. We'll buy some eggs, marmalade and chicken or ducks from the Arabs, two rupees each, and will have some mess.

You'll likely be having skating and sleighing now, playing hockey, etc., when you receive this on Jan. 6th. See how closely I come to the date. My mail of Oct. 15th, Basra, went down with the P. & O. liner "Arabia" so that is an explanation of no letter written that date. How are the chickens and pigeons? Did you show anything at the fair? Don't neglect to tell me what is going on round the mill. Your letter had more in it than any I have received yet. It is good practice for you so I will let you practise on me. Send some magazines and Toronto papers, they are mighty scarce articles out here, and we aren't busy all the time quite.

I must close and go ashore. There is an auction sale of merchandise in Ashar to-morrow and I may be able to buy something worth sending home. Hoping you are all O. K. I am.

Affectionately yours
Lieut. W. B. Rutherford,
R. A. M. C.
Care of D. M. S., I. E. F. "D",
Basra, Mesopotamia.[6]


Wilfred Rutherford Among the Turks.
Writes of His Experiences with the British Advance in Mesopotamia.
P. S. 50, On the Tigris River,,
Feb. 26, 1917.,
To His Father, Jas. Rutherford, Sr.,
We were kept so busy on the down trip and had only one day in Samarah that I did not find time to write this week. We have met success in Mesopotamia all right and there is a rumor that we will go up to Kut-el amara this trip. It is useless for me to tell you what we have done because you likely know as much about it as we do. Last trip 586 wounded found passage on P. 50, and we surely were on the go the whole time. What a difference good news makes while working. No one seemed to tire of nursing and bandaging those who were in our last show. The transport facilities are marvellous now. Men who are wounded up at Riverhead in the afternoon find themselves comfortably housed and properly nursed in a General Hospital the next afternoon. The men at the front are better rationed than those at the base, just as it should be too.,
Getting a pontoon bridge across the Tigris in flood season and under enemy fire is considered to be some accomplishment and when Mr. Turk found our men well established on the left bank and their positions at Sanniayat heavily bombarded and attacked, he lost his head and took to flight and I believe at the present time is anywhere between the Persian Hills and a position about 20 miles from Kut in the direction of Bagdad. We have taken a large number of prisoners who are paraded round Amara and Buara. They are a good looking lot of men and one chap asked me in French if it would be possible to wire his mother, "Captured safely at last". They are glad to be out of the fighting.,
Stan Graham is posted to a Scottish regiment as M. D. and is to take on his new duties as soon as his relief comes. Scullard is very busy in the General Hospital at Amarah and I did not see him this trip but he is fine and seems quite contented at his present job and like me is going to France. The fraternal instinct seems to be in each of us and we want to be with our brothers. Gordon will likely be in France by the time this letter reaches you. He surely showed some pluck, there was no bluff in his motives. What do some of the older boys in Blenheim think of the younger "school boys" going into the ranks? I hope he writes home often; for you must feel very anxious about him. John will feel the responsibilities of chore life but he is quite capable to carry on and it will do him heaps of good.,
We just missed the last English mail which is expected in to-day. I hope to find a letter from Gordon. I'll write to him just as soon as I get his address. All my friends have been very good to write me and send their Christmas cheer in the form of parcels, the last one a second one from Glenn. He seems to think I am some smoker. I will be too if I keep up to the supply. I gave some to Graham and Garn. Scullard who appreciate Canadian Goods.,
One of our sisters is a South African and last night we had a Major in to dine with us. He is from the Transvaal and when they got talking in Dutch it was a treat to hear them. We (she and I) are studying Hindustani and with two new books hope to become quite fluent. It is essential to have a working knowledge of the language and so far I am able to carry on with things relating to the medical sick.,

March 2nd.,
We are nearly up to Bagdad now so perhaps you would like to read something of what has been going on. Yesterday morning I saw Kut for the first time. It is a desolate place on the left bank of the river, even the date palms are in sympathy with the ruined mud houses and look unkept and shrivelled as if scorched by the fire from our guns. Great nullocs and deep trenches now overgrown with grass and a small white flower surrounded Kut on all sides. To look at the place one would think it impregnable. The liquorice factory on the opposite bank was made into a strong redoubt but our artillery fire has powdered into pulveris glycerrhizae and all that remains is a great iron press and sand bags marking out the Turkish stronghold. It was in this sector that the severe fighting took place also at Sanniayat down the river about thirty miles. Our troops crossed over at Shmuran some distance up the river and Mr. Turk turned his heels and started for Bagdad.,
Our boat is one of the first to be up this far and it is a great sight to see captured ships and gun boats going down. Our second engineer was placed aboard the largest merchant ship to run her down to the base. She had over 2,000 wounded Turks aboard. To-day a tug with guns forms more of our loot and just a few minutes ago one of our large monitors brought our "Fire-fly" from the Turks. It did look fine to see the British Ensign in all her majesty floating above the Star and Cresent. To make it look all the better a good gale was blowing to keep it taught. This little diagram (sketch accompanying showing Union Jack above the Star and Cresent) illustrates what our navy has accomplished on the Tigris. Our transport is in good form and soon we hope to have our army supplied with all the necessities. It is really wonderful to see the remains of a retreating army. All surplus gear is discarded and the rear guards which kept us from bagging the whole shooting match are taken prisoners, which number from 5,000 to 6,000 I should judge. It is rumored that we have the Turkish commander-in-chief.,
At the Turkish advance base which corresponded to our Sheik Saad I saw where our aeroplanes had damaged the pontoon bridge; also several guns were dumped into the river and at another place was a dump of Turk fire-arms.,
Things are really bubbling with interest and the more I see of it the better it gets. I am almost decided to sign on again out here but in the meantime address care Holt & Co., London Eng.,

March 4, 1917,
We are still up at Riverhead transferring H. Q's staff and messing about from one job to another. Yesterday we brought down sixty Turkish and Arab prisoners; a more dilapedated and forlorn bunch of men I never saw. They are nothing but vagabonds. The Arab has no sense of patriotism, all he thinks of is looting the forces and I believe he caused the Turks considerable trouble in the retreat just as he would our men if we were going in the opposite direction but we are here to stay and everything points for a run to Bagdad. I was with the advance guard yesterday morning and took a look around the battle scarred ground when the enemy fought some excellent rear guard actions when dead cattle and horses filled the air with odors of decay, where small mounds mark the last resting place of the fallen, all under the watchful eyes of the eagles, hawks and crows; as yet the vultures have not found their way to the great city of the East. It is marvellous how the birds of prey follow up the line of battle and with the jackals are the great scavengers of the country. I managed to dig up some food for the number of officers who had rations for three days and give them cigarettes and matches. A British Tommy after a hard day's fighting is more content with the "Wild Woodbine" than with a tin of Bully and biscuits with jam. It is very interesting to study the Tommy at work and the Tommy at play. On parade he must have his puttees just so, his cap on straight and absolutely spick and span, but while off duty a cheerier man you would not wish to see. To see him bossing a bunch of Turks round is a treat, the Turk is sallaming all the time and in that Mercy-Kamerad fashion he looks a wretch and it is pitiful to see them scratching and hunting for their crawly friends who nip them with affectionate bites. It is funny how a native can find his "friends;" he seems to know their haunts and abodes of retreat. A favorite place of refuge is in the seam of their jacket where the sleve fits into the body of the "habit." They surely are kept busy until they get a Turkish bath at our sanitation centres.,
I have just had a hair cut, singe and shampoo and feel fine as a fiddle-string. The ship has stopped and we are trying to pull another paddler off the mud. Although the river is high a number of inexperienced skippers do not get the proper channels and ultimately run their craft aground. With a swift current and so much sediment the channels constantly are shifting. In the dry season small islands can be seen everywhere in the river. The country up this way is more fertile and great flocks of sheep and goats with their shepherds are all along the banks. Large black cattle too are quite plentiful, also mules and horses. I managed to get a Turkish rifle and a "Boche" cap yesterday. The R. A. M. C. have a reputation of being looters. What we would not get Mr. Arab would so what is the difference.,

Amarah, March 13, 1917,
Just a few lines in haste to Jessie. I mailed a letter to father in Basra but neglected to say I was on my way to England. Received yours of the 2nd, also had a letter from Glenn. Received the I. O. D. E. parcel. Everything was O.K. Kindly extend to the Daughters my sincere thanks and appreciation for the wonderful part they are doing in this world's struggle. The women throughout our Empire and throughout the countries trying to put down German Kultur are all doing their best but I do not think that there is a better organization and more devoted chapter than the Marlborough Daughters in Blenheim. I am sure all I could write would be far short of the sentiment in everyone's mind when thinking of what our Kent County women are doing.,

Love and best wishes to all.,
Affectionately yours,
Wilfrid[7]


Stops en Route to German East Africa.
Capt. W. B. Rutherford Writes of Scenes in African Ports.
At Sea, Sept. 1st, 1917
Miss Jessie I. Rutherford,
Blenheim, Ont.

Dear Jessie and all, -- Where we are at present is one of the worst places for rain one could imagine, yet when the sky is clear the town and harbour are very pretty at this season of the year. When we first arrived in port early in the morning a heavy mist was hanging heavily over the three hills behind the town, and clothed in beautiful green mango trees, and huge cocoanut palms sending their canopied tops above the compact green and running over a rocky ledge one could see a tiny brook sparkling like a diamond against the red of the stream. These hills, about five hundred feet high, during the rainy season are constantly drenched in the humid atmosphere. The mists just seem to creep down the glens to the nations' gardens of palm trees, bananas plants and ordinary garden produce as cucumbers, cabbage, corn (the first I have seen since leaving Canada) mango trees galore and heavily laden with luscious fruit just ripening, orange trees too at their best. The cocoanut trees are more mature than those seen in India and their fruit is equal to that seen in fruit vendors' stores in America. The great industry is that carried on by the Denisters of Liverpool and Lever Bros. in the United Kingdom, that is palm oil industry. The cocoanut trees are tapped and the "sap" is used as a drink when allowed to ferment. Margarine (substitute for butter in England) is made from cocoanuts, while the palm oil is also used in the manufacture of certain soaps. Ginger, spices, bananas, etc., are shipped to England, France etc.
????????? is absolutely a black man's town. Yesterday was market day and boat load after boat load of natives from up the river and across the harbor could be seen struggling with the oars of their boats trying to get to the market place. When the tide is going out the current travels about six or seven knots and with a high wind as was blowing yesterday made navigation a more or less unpleasant pastime. The shops are managed by colored proprietors chiefly but two quite good ones, one belonging to a French company and the other to a British firm are quite good but useless to us because they closed at 12 o'clock. The Hindu too has managed to settle out here and seems to be prosperous enough in his own way. A number of Mohammedans from down country, African born, carry on a good trade in curios, leopard skins, etc. I got a couple of horns rather elaborately decorated, also a pair of small daggers of native design, but which took my eye. The leopard skins I could not manage. A small metre gauge railway runs for about two hundred miles into the interior and besides a heavy passenger traffic, cotton, palm oil products, spices, etc. are brought to the coast. It is wonderful how natives like to travel. In India the trains were always packed and here there seemed to be a large number going and coming to and from the town. There are no less than ten different "nations" of these jet people and each speaking a different tongue and no one speaking any too much English. Their homes are up in hills, the houses neatly painted with lime, the vines round the fences and over the doors, with a yard filled with picaninies make a homely apearance about it all. The proverbial goat, chickens and scrawny dog are all in their element in this environment. One old Sambo was telling us that the tapirs sometimes come in the night and "pinch" the Billy-goats but he thinks there are some two legged tapirs who take a few. The Church of England, Wesleyan and Baptist have missions here and little girls neatly dressed in white met us with their contribution boxes for their own respective missions.
There are some very fine fish caught in the River --- --- . Cuttle-fish and squibs (ink fish) could be seen floating out with the tide but mackerel, herring and other kinds are quite plentiful and comprise the greater part of the native diet. The canoes used by these lads are very crude indeed. They are dug-outs and they are built up until he has a long narrow craft with quite high sides. They use a paddle shaped similar to that of a palm leaf. These men came alongside to sell their fruit but it is a standing order that troops are not allowed to eat these fruits on account of infections which might be transferred in this way, chiefly cholera.
About a dozen of us had quite a narrow escape from being dumped into the water yesterday. To get to our ship we had to be rowed out below and then drift up to the ship. Well we just missed the gangway but got a rope thrown down from the ship. This was no good and as we managed to keep our position, the water coming into the boat with every wave, we waited for a launch. The darkies seemed quite frightened but at the time I guess some of us did not realize the danger we were in. We were all mighty glad to get aboard.
I wonder how Gordon is celebrating his 17th anniversary? I suppose he will be across the channel before long now.

Sept. 9, 1917.
We are just a week out from the place described in the first of my letter and consistent with sea travel, there is not much further to write about.
We crossed the Equator a few days ago but did not have much ado to commemorate the occasion. They are doing away with the celebrations where Father Neptune riding a trident and followed by his daughters from the deep is the central figure. It is something like the "rushes" the freshman had to go through at college but is now dying out. The weather has been very cool and calm which has made our trip more pleasant than if we had been sweltering in the heat.
Our chief steward indulged in getting native fruits and vegetables in. We have had mangoes, Africander pears, not like ours but more like a muskmelon only not so good; then we had some "so-called" American sweet corn. Although it was very good, it does not come up to our Evergreen variety. Another fruit called apples and custard is a farce as far as its name is concerned. It is about the size of a good sized apple but the seeds are arranged as radii from the centre of a circle, such seed not unlike turtle soup beans being enclosed in a more or less fruity pulp and then enclosed in a thick membrane the whole collection than embedded in juicy yellow "custard". The taste of the fruit is all right but it is an effort to get much of the real fruit. The bananas and oranges are similar to West Indian Varieties.

Sept. 12, 1917
The last two days the ship has been rolling considerably but the men do not seem to mind it. I am writing to London so must close shop.

Affectionately yours,
W. B. Rutherford[8]


With Capt. Rutherford in Far East Africa
Letter Takes From October to February to Reach His Home
By Capt. W. B. Rutherford R.A.M.C.
Dar-es-Salaam, "German" East Africa.
Oct. 3rd, 1917

Although it is bed-time I feel more like starting a letter than a sleep. We have had quite a Canadian night together, there being five Canucks in camp, a Colonel who left Canada in 1896 being the chief speaker and entertainer. Born in Peterborough, studied at Trinity College, Toronto, spent some time between Windsor and St. Thomas and took part in the Northwest Rebellion. When he found out that we three, Lindsay, Scullard and I are Canadians he felt right at home. He has practised in Johannesburg for some time and is quite a politician, knows Botha and Smuts quite well, was a combatant colonel in German west, so he had plenty for us to listen to, which made the evening better than fishing by moonlight (and caught nothing).

We all have orders but are waiting transportation. I'll write when I am more settled. Garn and I expect to be together which will help some. Our kit is quite complete now, have a good "boy" as a servant, studying Swahili from him and a book. We had a very amusing time this afternoon. We three had our boys lying round in front of us while we practised pronunciation on them. After each word we would show by sounds and signs what we meant. One of us gave the Swahili for egg and the lad had a time thinking out the sound or description but finally made a beautiful noise like a cackling hen. The word risasi (bullet) he described by putting hands up in position of holding a gun and made an awful "bang". They enjoy the fun as much as we do apparently and are a more care free lot than the Hindoos we had last year.

Four of us were detailed to vaccinate a ship load of troops who had a case of smallpox. It was the most cosmopolitan lot one could imagine, including women and children, as Karis, British East Africans, Eurasions from India, "Tommies", Huns (prisoners), Swahilis women and little babies, some Sisters of Charity, Italian and Chinese crew in the boat.

Dar-es-Salaam is quite a German city, at least was German before we got it, of 2000 Germans and any number of negroes, Greeks, Hindoos, etc.

Coming in on the ship one would wonder where the harbour and docks are, for the entrance is very narrow and at low tide one can throw a stone across it. The harbour is quite a decent one as far as size is concerned but the Huns have made an awful mess of the docks and tried to sink two boats at the entrance to block up things. They succeeded to a light extent. One of the boats is just in front of our camp. The administration buildings are quite substantial concrete while the residential section is almost as becoming as Rosedale, trees, palms, shrubbery adding greatly to the appearance of the places. All these homes are used as billets and quarters for administration. There are a few German women living here yet. Cocoanut palms predominate and this is their season for bearing. There is a fairly decent hotel here run by a Greek and the best one is being utilized as a general hospital.

Our camp is situated on the sea front close to the town and well sheltered by palm trees. We have our morning dip regularly despite the sharks. The moon has been up each night since we landed. The shadows of the palms make a very peaceful environment. We sleep in tents, and have to have our mosquito nets properly tucked in, besides we take grs. V quinine every night as a prophalactic measure.

Owing to the fact that all kit supplies, etc., are transported by carriers we have to arrange ours accordingly, putting it into parcels of 50 lbs. each. Our chop box is the important thing out here. We have ours well filled too. The horses become diseased very quickly, but do not know what the so-called "horse-sickness" is.

Matandawala, Oct. 11,

German East Africa.

Although the name of this place may not convey much to your mind other than a certain puzzling as to its pronunciation, to my mind and others I presume it has a certain personal attribute. The place is just about as bad as it sounds. We were dumped here yesterday en route to our destination up to the front, which is a shifting sort of territory anywhere between our forces and the Huns, following the line of least resistance. After one week at Dar-es-Salaam arranging our kit, getting more or less acquainted with our territory, a little indulgence in Swahili, etc., we received orders to proceed by way of the Hong Want, a Chinese boat of small dimensions but great in age. It is a good thing we were not aboard for more than two days; for we were fed up before going aboard but nevertheless it served the purpose. We got to Kilwa-Kisuvani and from there motored up the country to Kitwa-Kiwinjie, had lunch at one of the hospitals and got aboard a convoy which brought us this far. The ride from Kibwa I to Kibwa II was about the limit. Piled up on the top of our kit,

(Continued on Page Eight)

Wilfred Rutherford in Africa

our two boys, Garn and I, sticking on like flies to tanglefoot, the corporal did his best to shake us off by putting all the "juice" the car would take. It was the worst 18 miles I ever travelled and afterwards it was not the most comfortable sensation to sit down. The next part about fifty miles wasn't so bad. The country is one primeval forest all the way with only a few German trenches, broken down cars, bones of animals, etc., to mark the trail of the advancement. There is very little life of any sort along the road, which is one continual hum of "Ford" cars and tractors which run on the light railway.

You have likely heard that we are getting the enemy rounded up into a closer area all the time which means that all branches are moving up so transport is more difficult which has made us sit tight all day waiting for a convoy which did not materialize. How thankful I am that we brought our "chop" boxes; for we would have had to depend on the neighbours for our "chakula" (food). Last night we prepared our camp fire and had Heinz pork and beans, biscuits, cafe au lait, pears, chocolate, almonds and raisins, a good cigar and went to bed. For breakfast we had grape nuts, condensed mild, cafe au lait, cocoa (no sugar). After drawing our rations this morning we have fared O. K. Had a lovely steak (cooked by Chef Scullard), potatoes naturel, robi moto, tea. Then four o-clock "chia", and to-night, beef, beans, pommes de terre naturel, biscuits, tea, apricots, cheese. We are teaching our "boys" the art of cooking (they know how to make a fire all right now).

We are cut down to fifty pounds of kit on account of so many of the carriers going sick with dysentery. We had to cut it down pretty fine so now everything we carry is absolutely essential. We deposited our kits at the Base Depot Kit, Dar-es-Salaam, and if we are lucky will get them back later on, "apres la geurre."

Garn and I were out shooting this afternoon but got nothing simply because there isn't anything to be shot at. Further up the line there are numerous guinea fowl but here there is no game whatever.

There is one thing out here; one should not lose one's enthusiasm. It was funny yesterday, one of the Tommies telling Scully about a certain tree out here that has a large pod. The lad says, "And you know, Sir, those pods are filled with almost pure cream of tartar." He told us about a snake that spits at you. Garn asked him how far the snake could spit and he said, "Oh, about twelve yards." Poor lads, they get wonderful ideas about life out here.

Well, now do not expect too many letters; for you won't get them, but I'll try and write once in a while.

Affectionately Yours,
W. B. Rutherford, Capt. R.A.M.C.
Care D.M.S., B.E.F., Dar-es-Salaam, East Africa. [9]


Capt. Rutherford Ill n Faraway Africa
War Office and Private Messages Bear News of Serious Illness

The letter below, received a few days ago by Mr. James Rutherford from the War Office contains news which is causing the young doctor's friends considerable anxiety. Capt. Rutherford has been in German East Africa with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and there is added anxiety because it requires about 3 months for his letters to reach Blenheim. In December he was taken sick and had been moved from the interior to the coast. He stated that the journey had been made in short stages, consistent with his health, and that he had been a patient in nine different hospitals enroute.

War Office, London, S.W.I.

Feb. 22, 1918

The military secretary presents his compliments to Mr. James Rutherford and begs to inform him that the following report has just been received: Capt. W. B. Rutherford, R.A.M.C. was admitted to the 1st African Stationary Hospital, Lindi, on December 11th, suffering from suspected enteric, and transferred from there to 2nd South African General Hospital, Dar es Salaam, on December 26th; and sailed for South Africa on Jan. 23rd. Further information will be forwarded when received.

Letters were received from Wilfred again on Monday in which he stated that he had been severely ill with fever and didn't weigh anything like his former 230, the climate and his illness having greatly reduced him. His letter was written about the middle of January and he expected to sail for Capetown on the 21st. He was unaware whether he would be kept there to recuperate or would return to Britain. [10]


Officer Recuperating in English Manor.
Capt. W. B. Rutherford Recovering His Old Time Condition
Ashton Court Red Cross Hospital,
Bristol, April 7th, 1918
Mrs. Jas. Rutherford, Sr.,
Blenheim, Ont.

My Dear Mother and All, --- Sunday seems just as good a day as any to inaugurate the old custom of writing at least once a week and since I know someone at home is likely writing to me on a Sunday it makes a mutual telepathy, or whatever you call it.

Received a cablegram on Friday, "Cable your condition. All well", but since I wrote you on two occasions previously since arriving in England you surely know by this time that I am well along the road to recovery. In fact, as "Postum" advertises, I can see Wellville on the near horizon. A month here and three weeks leave ought to put the finishing touches on, and I'll be O. K. to go at it again. If avoirdupois is any criterion as to my welfare at present I might add that I am far from being a shadow, as I weight just over 180, and I trust that I won't put on much more weight which would only be an encumberance and might even suggest to the food controller that I was drawing more than my allotted rations. Eat, sleep and good fresh air as can be provided in England is all that I can desire, and I have all of them under my control at present.

Whenever you do not hear from me it is a good sign, except perhaps when I get negligent in writing, so do not worry too much. It is a good axiom "not to trouble trouble 'till trouble troubles you." I can quite understand how you all feel with two boys away from home, and if the time should come when you have to give up either of us I know you will look at it in the right light and should feel all the prouder to know that they did their part.

Gordon wrote me a very encouraging letter on March 28th, but apparently had not received one I wrote on the 18th but got my address in England from a letter I wrote from East Africa, stating that I was on my way to England. I have not heard from Blenheim since October. But I expect you all have written reams, which once entering into East Africa will not be forwarded. I wrote instructions from Cape Town to have my mail sent back to England, so I may receive a couple of bags of papers, letters, etc. as I did from Mesopotamia.
I have never heard from Scullard directly since I left him on Oct. 16th, at a place called Jumbe Ungevere, one hundred and nine miles from No-where and in the same direction. You might find out from his father how he is getting on. Since the average campaigning time out there is three months I should not be surprised to learn that he was enroute to Blighty.

Gordon informed me that Peter Pegg has been missing since last November. I expect there are a great many not accounted for since the "Kaiser's Battle" was launched on March 21st. It is marvelous how our armies can withstand and in some cases even break up such hordes in massed formation. It looks as if the Hun made his attack of desperation for at least two reasons, viz.: to pacify his own people by a slight temporary advantage and to get in a deadly blow before the Americans make their presence felt along side the Pollus, the Tommies and Portugese (who I am told are a good deal like the Dagoes from Venetian way.)

The Western Front can boast of a far greater conglomeration of races than any part of the world at present. Belgians, French, English, Irish, Welsh, Beoteh, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Americans, West Coast Africans, Nigerians, Hindu Tribes, Mohammedans from India, Burmese, Chinese, Egyptians, etc. --- One way of bringing the world together.

Today cold, rain and very muddy. So most of the 120 patients (all officers) have been inside all day. This morning we had Church of England services at which all officers and staff attend according to orders from the state. The library and billiard room afford ample accomodation for all so you can imagine the scale on which the old land owners built their "manor" dating back to the 12th century. I am afraid if I should copy any ideas of my future home along the same lines as the Governor's residence in Durban (King's House Conval. Home) and this place the world would sigh at my extravagant tastes. Imagine a family living in a huge building in which one is easily lost, situated in one huge park eight miles in circumference and watered with an artificial lake where wild ducks and trout, gold fish and swan make their home, and the sight of hundreds and hundreds of deer grazing and leisurely walking towards the brink of the lake to water, and the trees filled with songsters as only England can boast, filling the air with their ecstacies when the dawn of day is announced and you can form a small idea of the place I am living in for the next month. It seems an awful waste agriculturally but I suppose grass making just as good venison as beef.

Love and best wishes to all.
Wilfrid. [11]


British and German Colonizing Contrasted.
Capt. W. B. Rutherford Finds British Methods in Africa More Fair
Ashton Court Auxiliary Hospital,
Bristol, Eng., June 11, 1918.
Mr. J. M. Denholm,
Blenheim, Ont.

Dear Merce, --- It is some time since I last contributed anything to the columns of the News-Tribune, and I thought perhaps it may be of some interest to your readers and my friends to know something of my experiences in the expeditionary force to East Africa. As my stay out there was brought to an early termination I cannot hope to tell you much about the country as a whole, but if the locality I was in can be taken as an example of tropical Africa I may be able to give you a few general impressions of life in the jungle, out in the blue away from the scenes of civilian life and commerce.

By way of contrast with Mesopotamia geographically the two countries have little in common; historically East Africa was unexplored beyond a narrow coast line until late in the nineteenth century, while the history of Mesopotamia dates to centuries B. C. Climatically one does not experience so great a difference, for either country is plenty warm enough for me. While the so-called rainy season is more or less hoped for in the older known land, the torrential rains in Africa are dreaded. I happened to be there at the beginning of the rainy season and can well understand why it is so much unwelcomed by our troops who have to go through these few months. The day commencing with a bright hot sun which shines from almost directly overhead soon becomes darkened with a gathering of a few dark clouds, and then like the bombardment of guns the lightning flashes, lighting up the forest which resounds to the roaring peals of thunder. Then perhaps the downpour lasts for a week with intermittent sunshine alternating with a monotonous drizzle, which, pattering on the roof of your bauda, makes you wonder about the morrow. When the rains begin, as if by magic the whole country becomes changed into a new color scheme. The lowlands reek in their rank vegetation, swarming with insect life and haunted by elephants, leopards, lions, hippo, rhino and reptiles, are converted into the paradise of the big game sportsman. In the dry months the rivers are mere streaks of sand bounded on either side with reeds and marsh grasses up to twenty to thirty feet in height. In these the many songsters make their homes, preferably near the deep parts of the river bed, the so-called water holes which have been our great objectives on many occasions in our advance against the Hun.

African war tactics depend on long marches. Our lines of communication are light railways and bush roads, widening of native paths between so-called villages or shambas where a chief and his family make a clearing, build a few mud huts of a very primitive type and with the aid of crude agricultural implements scratch the soil, sow the seed and wait on nature to bring forth the harvest which is to see him over the unfruitful season. On either side of these avenues, over which our troops transport cattle, guns, etc., have to travel, you can step into the primeval forest or the thickly overgrown bamboos, which stand up like so many spears and with their prickly branches offer great resistance to man or beast who attempts to make a way through such growth. (Photograph - bust of W.B. Rutherford).

The flora and fauna indigenous to the country are of great dimensions, both in size and variety. To the student of nature Africa offers a living research laboratory for such scientific investigation. Hyphenae palms incline their strangely forked stems overhead, their hard leaves clapping together in the hot wind like skeleton hands. Giant euphorbia stretch upwards their brittle and prickly arms like spectral candelabra, while here and there arise the bloated trunks and bare distorted branches of some grotesque baobab, the nightmare tree of tropical Africa. These baobabs have huge pods enclosed in a hard green covering within which, surrounding the tiny brown seeds, is a pithy substance of a very astringent taste. From this, (Continued on Page Four)

WILFRID RUTHERFORD WRITES.

(Continued from Page One)

I am told, cream of tartar is extracted. Beyond these, little else diversified, is the level sea of dry and leafless thorn scrub, in which the only green things are the bayonet blades of the wild aloes. Strewn on either side of the road one comes upon the carcass of a horse or an ox knocked out by the "fly", whose activities have caused considerable loss to the present expedition. Here and there Henry Ford is represented by a derelict machine. No generally used manufacture in the world is more entitled to the word Universal than the "Tin Lizzie". Without the Ford our transport on all fronts would be severely handicapped.

Animal life of all sorts abounds everywhere, in the forest and stream, in burrows and in trees. At night time the great monarch of the forest can be heard to roar as he munches over "the kill". The creeping leopard in his spotted coat, casting an envious look at the lion's luck, goes silently on in search of his evening meal. We were fortunate in having a Scotch terrier as a mascot for our visit. He had seen service in France with an armoured car unit and for some reason or other attached himself to the 61st for quarters and rations, and proved to be very useful as a hunter, specializing in guinea-fowl, whose weird cry and clatter of wings set the whole wood alive. Guinea-fowl go about in flocks of about thirty or forty and do their feeding in early morning or towards sunset. While the dog kept the birds in the trees we would creep up among the bushes and snipe them with a .303. It was great sport and helped considerably towards our meat rations. As an entree for dinner our "boys" kept us supplied with fish from the deep silent pools. When we wanted an extra spread wild pig steak or venison with mealie-meal chopatis made a good feed, with water. If fortune favored us a friendly native would bring us tiny yellow tomatoes or string beans in exchange for meal or arta, an Indian flour. The native never wants money but he has keen admiration of the "inner man", whose needs are of no mean dimensions. Rice, corn, millet or motama are his staple articles of diet but some tribes have leanings towards the carnivorous instinct. Partridge and pigeon pie had to be resorted to at times and go very well with African hard tack and banana fritters. The heart of the banana plant is greatly appreciated by the African porters, who when in camp, could be seen squatting in a circle round a fire chewing a huge stick of young banana plant or a section of sugar cane.

During our advance through two of three places I had an opportunity of visiting some English missions as well as a German one at Luceled; and I must say that in my opinion the German method of educating the natives served a more useful purpose than ours. The German mission was more of a manual training school in which the men were instructed in carpentry and masonry and the useful arts. Although our missionaries, and I met several while in hospital, are very devoted to the furtherance of Christianity the other side of the native's life was more or less neglected. Round the English missions I saw no attempt at improved methods of agriculture, while the German places were surrounded with tropical and European vegetables. The result is that a Christianized native begins to think himself as good as his teacher, stops work and in his indolence soon thinks out ways of robbing his neighbours, tells lies, and becomes an undesirable to those who have to employ him. The best "boy" is what they call a toto, that is, a boy under fifteen years of age absolutely new from his home. He soon gets over his homesickness and becomes a devoted servant to his bwana who teaches him to look after him to his own liking. My lad was a champion wash boy, ironed my clothes and made a first class valet. While I was sick he made a good nurse, not as fair as our English ones of course, and became an expert tonsorial artist.

As regards the Government of the German colony of East Africa, little can be said in favor of Germany as an administrator of colonial affairs. The idea of colonization was strange to most Germans thirty to forty years ago and almost universally unpopular. There was comparatively little thought of making her colonies homes for settlers. Briefly, Germany's object in colonization was to do good business. Instead of the British policy of incorporating the original people found in her colonies in the Government Germany's idea has been to forcibly oppress and in some cases, as in West Africa with the Hereros, completely annihilate the tribe. Such policy of unscrupulousness which holds that the end justifies the means is not exactly what we understand as British fair play. To take advantage of racial jealousies and incite warfare between two tribes to their mutual extermination is the way of the Hun.

In the German African colonies the punishments legalized for the natives were flogging, fines, imprisonment with hard labor, confinement in chains, a most cruel punishment of which it was said few men could survive it for more than a year, and death. Corporal punishment was administered with the Kiboko, rhinocerous hide sticks or the sjambok, made of strips of rhino hide. Ropes whose knotted ends were dipped in tar and sand so as to produce a rough surface were also used for the same purpose.

A missionary who had been in East Africa for seven years referred to the cowed state of the natives, who flew to obey the German officer if the latter only lifted his finger. Porters we captured from von Lettow's force were a frightened looking lot of men and obeyed the orders of our military labor officers in a well disciplined way, no doubt expecting that if they did not they would be subjected to severe corporal punishment as they had experienced with their former rulers.

As to the future of the German Colony of East Africa the Imperial Conference will have something to say as to its rulers. If General Smuts has his way Teutonic influence will be rushed out of Africa and Britain left at the head of affairs of administration.

With best wishes to all.
Sincerely,
W. B. Rutherford, Capt. R. A. M. C. [12]


Notes

  1. First Impressions in Old Country. WILFRID RUTHERFORD FINDS SCENERY BEAUTIFUL AND PEOPLE KIND. Blenheim News Tribune June 9, 1915 - page 1
  2. "On the Mediterranean." The Blenheim News Tribune - September 13, 1916 - pg 1&4
  3. Denholm was Publisher of the Blenheim News Tribune.
  4. "Strange Scenes to Canadian Boy on Way to Service in Mesopotamia." The Blenheim News Tribune - September 25, 1916 - Page 1&4
  5. "On His Way to Eastern Fighting." The Blenheim News Tribune - September 13, 1916 - pg 1
  6. "Medical Officer on the Tigris River." The Blenheim News-Tribune - Wednesday, January 31, 1917 - Pages 1&4
  7. "Wilfred Rutherford Among the Turks. Writes of His Experiences with the British Advance in Mesopotamia." The Blenheim News-Tribune - Wednesday, May 16, 1917 - Pages 1&4
  8. "Stops en Route to German East Africa. Capt. W. B. Rutherford Writes of Scenes in African Ports." The Blenheim News-Tribune - Wednesday, November 14, 1917 - Page 1
  9. "Letter Takes From October to February to Reach His Home" The Blenheim News-Tribune article Wednesday, February 27, 1918 - page 1
  10. "War Office and Private Messages Bear News of Serious Illness" The Blenheim News-Tribune article Wednesday, March 27, 1918 - page 1
  11. "Capt. W. B. Rutherford Recovering His Old Time Condition" Blenheim News-Tribune - May 1, 1918 - page 1
  12. "Capt. W. B. Rutherford Finds British Methods in Africa More Fair" Blenheim News-Tribune article July 10, 1918 - page 1 - (Includes picture)




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