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The end of the old world

“I stopped at the Palace to sign the King’s book, and ran into General Jungbluth, who was just starting off with the Queen. She came down the stairs and stopped just long enough to greet me, and then went her way; she is a brave little woman and deserves a better fate than she has had. Inglebleek, the King’s Secretary, heard that I was there signing the book, and came out to see me. He said that the Queen was anxious I should see what had been done by the bombs of the night before. He wanted me to go right into the houses and see the horrid details. I did not want to do this, but there was no getting out of it under the circumstances.

“We drove first to the Place du Poids Publique and went into one of the houses which had been partially wrecked by one of the smaller bombs. Everything in the place had been left as it was until the police magistrate could make his examination and report. We climbed to the first floor, and I shall never forget the horrible sight that awaited us. A poor policeman and his wife had been blown to fragments, and the pieces were all over the walls and ceiling. Blood was everywhere. Other details are too terrible even to think of. I could not stand any more than this one room. There were others which Inglebleek wanted to show me, but I could not think of it. And this was only one of a number of houses where peaceful men and women had been so brutally killed while they slept.

“And where is the military advantage of this? If the bombs were dropped near the fortifications, it would be easy to understand, but in this instance it is hard to explain upon any ground, except the hope of terrifying the population to the point where they will demand that the Government surrender the town and the fortifications. Judging from the temper they were in yesterday at Antwerp, they are more likely to demand that the place be held at all costs rather than risk falling under the rule of a conqueror brutal enough to murder innocent people in their beds.”

– Hugh Gibson, August 27, 1914, A Journal from Our Legation in Belgium

Published inHugh GibsonLit & CritThe Great War

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