“When I got back to the Legation, I found a nice Belgian who had no request to make of us, but wanted to tell his story to somebody, and a terrible story it was, too. He had fitted up his château near Mons as a Red Cross hospital. During the battle there a week ago, 102 British wounded had been brought in. The Germans found the château a hindrance in their operations, so got it out of the way by battering down the walls with artillery, and then throwing grenades into the building to set it on fire. There was great difficulty in getting the wounded out and hiding them in such shelter as was to be found. One man, at least, was burned alive in his bed. It seems incredible that Red Cross hospitals should be attacked, but stories come in from every side, tending to show that they are.
“Beside this man’s property there is a railway crossing. When a troop train passed over it day before yesterday, there was an explosion like the report of a rifle. The train was immediately stopped. The officer in command announced that civilians had fired upon his train, and ordered all the men in the vicinity taken prisoners. Then, refusing to listen to explanation or discussion, he had them all stood up against a wall and shot. When it was all over, he listened to explanations and learned that the report was that of a cap placed in the switch by the German railway men as a signal to stop the train before reaching the next station. By way of reparation, he then graciously admitted that the civilians were innocent. But, as my caller said: ‘The civilians were also dead.’”
– Hugh Gibson, September 1, 1914, A Journal from Our Legation in Belgium