Corporal Harold Parker, from the Royal West Kent Regiment wrote to his parents at West Wickham. This letter was printed later in 1917. An earlier letter can be read here >
I am getting on fine here: am feeling a great deal better already. I expect in a week or two to have another eye, as the one I had in Germany was too small.
I expect you have often wondered where I have been and what was the meaning of the delay in my letters and cards.
When you were sending to Friedrichsfeld it was a sham address. We were in Russian Poland, and a terrible place it was for prisoners. The treatment was awful. Nine weeks’ starvation without any parcels. We were working on railways from six to six, with 300 grammes of bread and a drop of hot water – they call it soup.
There were sentries to about every twenty men, and if you did not work hard enough they used their rifle and bayonet, and they were doing so about every ten minutes. You were driven like this all day, and of course men were falling down from weakness and from knocks with rifles, to be kicked on the ground by these gallant German officers, with the Iron Cross on their chest; you would not keep this quiet, as it is no secret.
Several badly wounded men were among them, including two with eyes out.