Richmond WW1 Diary 18 November 1916

The situation in Constance (Konstanz)

Postcard showing buildings along the lakefront and a steamer boat

Konstanz am Bodensee (Constance), postcard c. 1910

Constance, Germany, was a small garrison town on the shores of Lake Constance, on the border with Switzerland. In August 1914 it hosted the last European Peace Conference before the continent and the world erupted into war. As elsewhere across Europe, Germany suffered from severe food shortages. Things were worse in Germany as the Allied blockade prevented any food from being imported into the country.

In November 1916, a young woman from Constance, who had gone on a trip to the airfield in nearby Friedrichshafen, wrote to her friend who was serving at the front:

“We saw those big beautiful Zeppelins in Friedrichshafen. Once, we even watched one of those monsters land and move into its hangar. As we were standing there, amazed by such an incredible sight, a workman passed by. He stood beside me for a while and then he said in a grumpy voice: If only it was liver sausage!”

Constance was home to the 6. Badisches Infanterieregiment Nr. 114 – an infantry regiment. By the end of the war, 32 000 of its soldiers had been killed, three times as many wounded or maimed and many others remained missing.

On 18 November 1916, the Richmond & Twickenham Times included stories on a concert, a wedding, and a funeral.

The wedding took place in St Stephen’s Church, Twickenham between Miss Edith Biggere and Mr Albert Dix. Albert was a South African who had travelled to England to enlist with the Royal Flying Corps (predecessor to the RAF). He was due to return to his squadron in France, and it is possible he had been at the South African Hospital in Richmond.

The concert was held at the Whitton School, in aid of the London Diocesan Church Lads Brigade. Before the war, these brigades were organised much like the modern army cadets, with social activities and camps. The Lads were trained in shooting, marching, camping, signalling, bugling, and first aid. Up to 50,000 Lads served in the war.

The funeral was for Private Stanley Richardson of the East Surreys. Stanley had died at home of his wounds. He was buried in Twickenham cemetery with full military honours; his coffin was transported on a gun carriage and buglers played the Last Post.

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