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BRITISH PRISONERS FROM
BOLSHEVISM. AT WORK.
LOWER DECK CONDEMNS SOVIET
- . METHODS,
Lr"rom "Tho Times.")
H.M.S. Heliotrope arrived at Ports- mouth' with the officers and men who weie released from Baku on board. Olio Hiern has boevi left in hospital afc Malla 6uflermg from illness contracted while in prison, but the remainder arc all 'n Rood health. The purpose for which the ptrty waa going to Enzcli when arrest ed bv .the Bolshevists was not to join tho Russian fighting forces, but to help to pub «the doicices of Enaeli into good condition, so as to aid in the detence
t COMMANDER FRASER^ STORY.
The story told by Commander Fraser wa» as; follows:
My officers and men all behaved splendidly. The men particularly kept up a vory good spirit, but eailors al- ways do. While we Vero in the Bail oil prison, the church had been turned b,7 the Bolshevists into- a sort of lec- ture-hall. .Where the altar used lo stand pictures of Lenin and Trotsky, and also pictures showing: fat priests, with people bringing baskets of egg nnd foxforth to them, were hung. On
onr> occasion the Commissary of the prison was strutting ahout the church elad in tho vestments which the priests need to wear. There were a number of priests of tilo Greek Church hi prison with us, and the sight of 'íjiis desecra- tion grieved thom vory much. < There
v.Tte also a'number.of Communists in tile prison. Ona of thefto used to give anti-religious and propagandist lec- tures in tho church. Ho maintained that there WOK no God, no hereafter, aïid that priests were merely ^ the in-
struments of tyranny, , But sonic time later this man was condemned to be "shot; The first thing he did, after being put into the condemned cell, was t«} ask for tho ministrations of a priest, and one of the priests who was amo'iig the prisoners went to him.
There were alco several Red soldiers in the prison. ? They used to tell ns that they were "fed up" with Bolshev- ism, and would get nivaj from it ,is soon as they could. Sevetal of them asked us to teach them Englith in ord ci- to help thom to gat away, but wo re- fused. Many of them were in prison for-getting drunk, an offence that waa punishable witliy 15 yeare' iinp¡k/,n inevit, but, owing-to the aninr/íics which used to..bo declared, the/f all
seamed to get'oCf with a few moyths. '
Tho colonel of one of the rp/iments was also put in,prison on alf years' sentence, his offence being that he had ordered a butcher to lie shot because two sheets were missing. Aiterwards b was disroveruJ that the sheets had not been lost, and information was laid against tho colonel.
CHEERFULNESS OF THE MEN.
^J^ajyards .tliC-cnd . of September..,« <: expected to heiir that negotiations i ol' our release lind ended, favourublyi btit i key fell through, and my, men tcok the disappointment splendidly. One ol the sailors got hold of a nia.rJolino fiom somewhere, and in n short time' lind them till Milking cheerily. On St George's Day, Jianks, our bhicksmilli, discovered nn old flag Milich had been bi ought nlong by one of the signalmen, Out of this ho made' nil of us red, v.hitej and blue rosettes, which we wore, in honour of the dny. This was «holly tho sailors' idea. We»1 were questioned nbout the matter by the prison authorities, mid when we told them it was being done in celebration of our.national day, they said no more
In oae cell we had five officers and five men, and they got along (.plendid
iy. together. - The officers tiu£ht th«?
sailors auction bridge, niul the sailm-r taught tho offioeis solo «hist. Y*'o managed to have n game during the" evening by leming one man stnndi.ig so that the peep-hole in ' the door wa1 covered. Cardi wore forbidden by the nile,«'. Kach'of us now possssfos as it souvenir, una Vard belonging to this pack, signed on the back by all oi thcea who were i.i the cell." We suf- fered a good deal"from tho bad food Some of tis got jaundice, and were n> yellow as Chinese, and wp wore also tioiibled a good deni by boils." Prout; our sirk-horth .stawaid, acted as doc- tor for the party, und did his work really w»U. For such surgical opera tic'iia as were' nocessary he used the« blade of a sufcty razor, and on a couple of occasions he extracted - teeth with a pair of wire nippers. His 'pa- tient said that: thece were the most painless extractions he had ever under-
CO-OPERATIVE CLOTHING. "
We kept' our clothing up by a sys- tem of borrowing and lending. When part of ono fellow's trousers got «'ont another fella«- would,cut off the bottom of his tiousers and hand them over to be used in patching the worn gar- ment. We' were able to do sowing all right, as most of tho sailors had kept their little ''housewives." Some of them had also managed to keep n. razor (ionio«iiere, bo that they, «'ero able to shave, but most of us ' had to grow beards, because our razors ' had been takon flora us in-tho various searches. They even took away our table knives. We were allowed ttoly n fe«' «-ooden spoons, and had to break up our bread ration-which waa as hard as a brick v.ith our hands, in tho best way wo could. As the result of protests «e would be allowed .a knife for a few days, and tulon it would bd taken away again. ' '
In a cell opposite us were severuI civilians who had been employed in Hie oilfields, also three military offieeVb, I und about five toldiers. 'Jlieso wdro
| packed 14 iii a cell. The civilians wero
rather better off lor food than wa were, becauso their wives, «-bo were living | in the town, u¡>od ta bring food to
them. Hut the.se «omen went through ia terribie »ideal. Tiley bud to leave j homo at 0 oVIotk in the morning,
re-arh the prison gates about 12. and wero kept «aiting there until 3 in
tie ut toi loon &o that it would lie ö
I o clock m the evening bu oie thev ¿ot |
home jgaih Uns snit ot thing vient on during tht «hob three ind i hilt noiiths we iip-e m B-uloff pilton At the tnd ot tint tiun wo were moved into a school Most ot the women had tlie uiplewnnt experience of lmmg tlvii houios cnterrd at i moment h notice b\ Soviet officials That sort of Hung -nent on nil through the town Lvcnbody suffered from it If i com mistar wanted injbody« house or rooms ho simplv wont and took them ind the rightful owrers had to go and get accommodation wherever they
After vio wene moved to the school some of our uei vvcie iltowed to po out UDder guild to visit the Soviet dentist, who, hko everybody else was (¡lion suddpn orders to go elsewhere, Itoeaubo some commissar wanted Ins house Tho dentist was supposed to
attend everybody free, and for that he was paid 9,000 roubles per month b.v tho Soviet Government, but it cost him. 4,000 roubles a day to live. Tho consequence was that whenever any- body wevit to him for treatment, unless thoy could pay hint they did not get attended to. In fact, thcit was the only way in which ho couid live. Tho same thing happened in connection v.-ith the shopkeepers. Tho whole Sov- iet system in Baku has broken down. Everything ». ia a stato of hopelos confusión. Tho commissars were men w ith no ideas and no administratve capacity. The oil vvclld had been nat-
ionalised by the Soviet Government, | who had offered sonic of the English officials, who previously had chai go of the wells, and aro uow in prison, prac- tically their own terms if they will go back and work the wells again. All tho Soviet officials are elected, and as soon as thoy get into power they promptly fill up the subordinate places with their own people.
"LIARS AXD HOGUES."
The rank and file members of the party have very definite and emphatic views on Bolshevists. Gumior AVatcr field, R.M.A., said: -
They aro a pack of liars and rogues. I should not minti being a Bolshevist if I could be a commissar, but I would not Uko to be under a Bolshevist te gimo in any other capacity. The com- missars Jive on the fat of the land, and have everything they want, while everybody elso starves. There is 'no such thing as freedom-for the people under Bolshevist rule. The working classe« aro kept down relentlessly hy thom, and if they do not do what they arc 'told, they are/shot. Even the com- missars run their risks. We hoard (¡i one or two cases in which eonunit>sars had been imprisoned mid shot as the result of information given against ,tnom. . In fact, everybody seemed lo be spying on everybody else, and, so far as wo could see, nobody in Russia was safe from the informer.
The 1'ussian working classes don't want Bolshevism, but thoy are forced to'put up with it. All thoBolshcrist6 seem to caro about is keeping up tho Red Army. They see that this is well provided for, because it is their instru- ment iii crushing down tho people. The workers aie exploited for the bene- fit of the army and the officials. Every- thing in Azerbaijan is in a terriblo stato. The Bolshevists do-not under-
stand how to produce anything and the farmers won't till their soil, be- cause they havo-6o much of thoir pro- duce taken away frcm them. Ia Baku j no shops aro open but those run by j the Government, and they aro so ex- pensive that tho working people can buy vory little ¡it them.
Tile working men get 6,000 roubles per month, but meat costs 14,000 rou- bles a. poir.id, white bread 700 roubles per pound, and black bl ead 450 roubles u pound, «iien ifc was obtainablo at all. Tho wholo-of the people seem to bo in a condition of perpetual starvation. Clothing is just as costly. The Bol hevists keep up the supplies of this te some oxtcnt by stripping tho pooplo «'horn they shoot. A Cossack C'ommis i.ar told us that 9,000 people had been shot in the Asset baijnn provi'.ico alone.
.MR. QTJEi,OfP.S VISIT.
Petty Officer Horgan agreed with the views expressed by his comrade, and said that when the naval men «ero first anested thoy «eie taken before an Extiaordinnry Commission, the pre- sident of w hielt «'as a boy of about 17. He asked them why England did not fleo Lidia, Canada, and Australia. Horgan continued: -
Wo tnod to explain the constitution of the British Empire to bim, but he «as ao ill-iufoimed that he could nob understand it. While «-o were in priion we could get nothing in the way of proper medical 'tte.ltmont. although we al! suffered to Borne extent from
the bad lood. Marah, one of our party, tías taken ill with malaria, and Ins life v.ns undoubtedly savc-d by a Polish doc- tor, ano of the prisoners, who made cold compresses out of a wet shirt and old newspapers and treated Marsh in this ^vay until he recovered. The doc- tor,, «'as., 60_ distressed at the lack, qf medicaL,requisites that he ^shed tears
oi cr the matter.
Tile BoMievisis seemed to have only two soils of medicine, one a niixtuio o', bismuth a'.id opium for internal ut.o, the other iodine for external applica- tion. The iodine waa supplied to every bedy and for every kind of sore in- discriminately, with the same brush, v« hitit «'as never clennsfd. While wo «ero in prison ti Mr. Quelch carno lo Baku, and made a speech in praise or IJo'slievism at a place about 40 yards fiom where «o were incarcerated avid suffering terribly from the abominable conditions under «inch wo had to live. What «o «ant to know is «iiv Mr. Quelch did not make some inquiries into our condition, and try in some v iiv to help us instead of ignoring us altogether, «
Wo were told that Mr. "Ramsti.y M«p. Donald, while at Tiflis, did make som« representations on our behalf, and tho answer he got was, "We aro surprised that you should interest yourself in the representatives of au Imperialistic Gov- ernment." Wo were told that Bola Kun, who waa with Quclch, asked our captors why they did. 'not shoot the British now that thoy had got them. There is very little douht in our own minds that we would have been shot if the Bolshevists had not been so'much afraid of our Government, and there had not been so many of us that' wo could not bo pul quietly away.