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Civilian Prisoner Exchange

Civilian Prisoner ExchangeWhen the Local Government Board withdrew its official involvement in the transfers, Friends’ participation was even more necessary. In October, the Foreign Office asked the Quakers to send representatives every month to the German frontier to meet British civilians being repatriated from internment in Belgium and from German camps such as Ruhleben and they asked Grace to be their Representative. She organised their reception at the Belgian-German frontier on their journey to Flushing, housing and then transporting them to England, sometimes escorting them herself. Here, her mental nursing training and experience was vital. In many cases, to quote her contemporary terminology, this included ‘the sick, insane, niggers and thieves!’ Also that month the Aliens Committee asked for three Belgian children aged four, six and eight to be brought to England, suggesting that Grace Vulliamy might look after them on the boat. However the 6th and 7th of each month had to be avoided, as she took part in regular exchanges of severely wounded men from Germany on those dates. There were also additional emergency exchanges. These all involved train journeys of eight to ten hours, two or three times a week. Consequently she spent many hours at the various frontiers.She crossed the North Sea over forty times. This indicates not only how busy she was, but also that she was very brave. The Channel had been mined on the first day of the war, and there were also submarines. Ten of the ships she sailed in were later torpedoed, mined or captured. Once she crossed in an Admiralty boat to see a seriously ill relation and asked if she could be away two days and be in time to catch the boat to return. The Admiralty said ‘yes’, but when she returned to London they informed her the boat had left, and had been torpedoed. Her friends in Holland telephoned the Consul and were told that she was on board and the boat was sinking, so according to Grace herself, when she turned up two days later ‘they seemed almost to regret to see me alive and well’!The Commission was brought to a close in November 1916, but the work continued through the auspices of the British Consul-General in Rotterdam and in that year 2,224 refugees were brought over. Hard Labour Without Option. Rotterdam.Seated at the desk is Ernest B Maxse, British Consul at Rotterdam

Chapter 1: Introduction and Who was Grace Vulliamy and what kind of person was she?Chapter 2. Her war work – Women’s Emergency Corps.Chapter 3.‘Last lap from Nurse Cavell’ Grace, Edith Cavell and Escaped PrisonersChapter 4. Helping the Quakers help Refugees Chapter 6. Military Prisoner ExchangeChapter 7. Post-war WorkChapter 8. ConclusionHome Page