This is the final guest post from the diary of Leading Seaman Arthur Hawes.
At daybreak we found ourselves in very pretty & interesting country, but after some time this changed to a very different sort of scenery. We found ourselves passing through the most dreary expanse of waste land we had ever seen. For miles & miles on both sides of the train we saw nothing but an ugly flat stretch of dank grass with irrigation canals cut through it from time to time. Passing through this caused our spirits to droop considerably as it seemed as if we were getting out of all trace of civilisation. This lasted for some hours until we finally stopped at Groningen. On leaving the train we found the streets were lined by large crowds so our arrival had evidently been well advertised. During our short march from the station to the Infantry Barracks where we were to stay we were favourably impressed with the town. We arrived at the Barracks at about 1 o/c, & were then told that this was to be our home until the end of the war. The first thing that happened was that we were shown our rooms & then had our breakfast of bread & butter & coffee. The afternoon we spent settling down, & at 6 o/c we were given a good feed of pea soup & then we turned in for the night.
Thus ended our expedition to Antwerp. There are about 1200 of us here as far as we can judge, & for some time we knew nothing of the fate of all the others of our comrades in the Royal Naval Division who were at Antwerp with us. We have since learnt however that the ‘Second Brigade’ who were our reinforcements left Antwerp some time before we retired, & they safely returned to England. A good number also of the First Brigade got through all right, but there are about 1000 who are on the ‘Missing List’ so what happened to them we cannot say.
We are now living a healthy life here with a fair amount of drill & exercise, so that if by any chance we shall be able to get away from here1 before the war is over, and see active service again we shall be ready to answer the call.
However, the interned personnel did not “get away from here”, and they spent the rest of the War interned in Holland. ↩