A Lee Gentleman's Experience.
Leaving his home last week for a visit to Paris. Mr A E Castle of 47 Effingham Road, Lee arrived back on Monday, after some interesting experiences in and near the French capital and a some what exciting journey back.
A son of Mr Castle's has been in Paris for three years and is remaining there. He went over on Thursday. On Sunday morning a proclamation was issued that all foreigners, irrespective of nationality were to leave within twenty-four hours. For those travelling East, such as Germans and Austrians, the trains were stated in the notices. Englishmen and those of friendly nations were also desired to depart.
"On Sunday morning" added Mr Castle "I went to the British Consul to prove my identity and he gave me a stamped certificate, which I took to the military authorities in the afternoon."
"Getting to the railway station at 8pm. I was informed that there would be no train that night and probably not on Monday, but possibly Tuesday. However at 9pm I got into a practically empty train - one presumably used for the military - and ran through to Dieppe."
"When I arrived at the quay about 2 am on Monday morning there were several hundred passengers waiting to embark and some had been waiting since 11 am on Sunday."
Mr Castle went on to say that there were some scenes between the officials and the people and that he managed to get on a steamer for Newhaven. The gangways had been removed and the ship was full, but for some reason a gangway was put to the quay and he managed to walk on unchallenged.
"The ship was absolutely packed," he continued. "The salons below were crowded with men, women and children lying about asleep. I made myself as comfortable as possible on deck. We reached Newhaven about 7.20 on Monday morning."
Speaking of some of the scenes he witnesses in Paris on Saturday. Mr Castle remarked that in the poorer districts grocers and provision shops were letting people in batches to make their purchases. One of the most pitiful sights he saw was outside of the Austrian Embassy, where hundreds of Austrians were sitting on boxes and bales of clothing in a very dejected manner, waiting for permits to enable them to travel.
Tram services were practically at a stand still - very few cars were running and the Metro was terribly crowded. Taxis and cabs could not be had. Smart cavalary regiments with particularily fine horses provoked enthusiasm as they marched through the streets.
"The Englishman is very popular in Paris" he added "On Saturday night we were dining at a cafe, a Frenchman appeared to be a reservist, came up and spoke to us. He knew few words of English and tried to sing "God Save the King."
Lewisham Borough News 7 August 1914