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St George's Memorial Church
Their New Bells
Under the inspiration, driving force and dedication of Alan Regin, St George’s Memorial Church now has a new set of bells and these, in comparison to those they replaced, are capable of being rung.

Alan has been Steward of the Central Council Rolls of Honour for several years. He has worked hard to ensure that the rolls are as complete as possible, to the extent that an additional volume was required. He is also responsible for most of the photos and other additional material now forming part of the online version of the Rolls of Honour having visited many of the war cemeteries and memorials around the world where ringers are commemorated (or for some of the more distant ones, such as Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, persuading other ringers to visit and take photographs when their trips took them nearby). During the centenary period he has organised publication in The Ringing World of monthly lists of ringing casualties for that month a century ago, and been a member of the band for many of the peal and quarter peal attempts organised to commemorate those ringers who lost their lives. It was of particular pleasure to read that Alan’s devotion to campanology has been recognised in the 2018 New Year Honours List and awarded an MBE.

I was delighted to be able to assist with the organization of the delivery of the bells in Ypres but it was not a solo effort. A great deal of help was provided by a host of good people in Ypres that included:
Schepen Verschoore from Ypres Town Council and a member of his staff, Peter Slosse;
Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association;
Unloading the vehicles at Tyne Cot was arranged by Steven Vandenbussche;
The storage of the vehicles in the Infantry Barracks in Ypres was organised by Kolonel Christophe Onraet and his colleagues on site, Lieutenant Kolonel Carol Vermeulen and members of his staff.

A new ring of 8 bells which have been cast at the world famous bell foundry of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough for St George's Memorial Church in Ypres arrived in Ypres on Tuesday 30th August.

They left Loughborough on Tuesday 22nd August on First World War Dennis and Thornycroft army lorries owned by John Arthur and John Marshall from North Yorkshire. Richard Cockcroft assisted with the driving of the vehicles. Road transport was provided by Stuart Ritchie of E & N Ritchie Hauliers, Co Durham. The bells and lorries were part of the World War One commemorative display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair (from 24th to 28th August inclusive). The Great Dorset Steam Fair sponsored the road transport costs from Loughborough, Leicestershire, to the Great Dorset Steam Fair and then onto Ypres.

The bells and the lorries programme was:

Wednesday 30th August 2017

The Bells will be in Belgium and will travel from Tyne Cot Cemetery to the Menin Gate on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries were present at the Last Post Ceremony at 8.00pm. The route and timings were:
2.30pm - 4.30pm Tyne Cot Cemetery Parking area
5.10pm - 5.35pm Hooge Crater Cemetery
5.50pm - 6.25pm Perth Cemetery (China Wall)
6.40pm - 7.15pm Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm)
7.30pm                    Arrive at Menin Gate
8.00pm                   Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate  
8.30pm                   Depart Menin Gate       

Thursday 31st August 2017
The Bells travel to St George's Memorial Church on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries via Ypres Reservoir Cemetery and the Grote Markt, before arriving at the Church:
09.45am – 10.10am Ypres Reservoir Cemetery
10.20am – 10.50am The Grote Markt
11.00am                       Arrive at St George’s Memorial Church

At 5.00pm a special service was held in St George's Memorial Church where the bells were dedicated on the floor of the Church.

The fine tower of St George’s Memorial Church was built to contain change ringing bells, bells controlled by rope and wheel that turn through 360 degrees when they are rung and will be the first of their kind in Belgium. The inscriptions on the bells follow the same pattern of individual or group commemoration found in the church. Each bell has a Poppy motif cast around the shoulder.

The bells were hung in the tower during September and then other work in the tower was completed ready for the final dedication service which was held on:

Sunday 22nd October 2017

The bells were dedicated in the tower at a special service starting at 11.00am. The service was conducted by The Rt. Revd Dr Robert Innes, Bishop in Europe.

A set of 16 Victorian handbells that belonged to a Great War Veteran have been donated to the project by John Coles. These will be fully restored by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and be available to local and visiting ringers.

Memorial Book

Timothy Noad, professional illuminator and calligrapher, has been commissioned to create a Memorial Book that will be on display in the newly panelled ringing room. Each of the 64 inscriptions on the bells will be recorded in the book together with details of the donors.
The Knott Brothers
Captain Henry Basil Knott
9th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
Died on Tuesday 7th September 1915, aged 24
Grave reference V. B. 16, Ypres Town Cemetery.

Basil was born at the Manor House, Newcastle, on Thursday 5th February 1891, younger son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated privately followed by Eton College as a member of Mr Arthur Conolly Gage Heygate’s House, leaving in 1910. He became a Director in the family shipping company, the Prince Line of Newcastle.
At the outbreak of war Basil volunteered and was commissioned in September 1914 and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain and left for Boulogne, France on Thursday 15th July 1915 on the SS Invicta. Basil was sent to northern France to complete his training before crossing the border to begin tours of duty in the front line.
Henry was in action at the Bois Carré, Vierstraat, and was mortally wounded in the head by a rifle bullet and was taken to No 10 Casualty Clearing Station at ‘Remy Sidings’ where he died the next day, and was buried in Poperinghe New Cemetery.
Henry left an estate of £20,196 13s 8d (approximately £1,691,255.00 today).
His father, Sir James, disposed of his company by the end of 1916 after the death of Basil’s brother, Jim and moved to Jersey. It was his wish to have the bodies of both his sons brought back to England but the authorities would not bend, despite him using all the connections and influence he had. Finally, they agreed that both boys would be buried next to each other, and so Basil was exhumed and moved to Ypres Reservoir and his brother brought from Fricourt, France.
There are buried now next to each and both graves carry the same inscription: “Devoted in life, in death not divided”.
Basil and Jim Knott are commemorated on many memorials raised their memory. They include:
In the porch of St George’s Memorial Church, Ypres, there are three plaques to the Knott family including one to their father who donated large sums of money to the church. A trust fund in his memory was created that still operates to this day: www.knott-trust.co.uk
The inscriptions in St George’s Memorial Church read:
“To the glory of God and in memory of his two sons killed in action. Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers. This tower was given by Sir James Knott. MDCCCCXXVIIII.”
“To the glory of God and in memory Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action the bells in this tower were consecrated 11th November 1997.”
They are commemorated at Collercoats, Heddon, and Wylam, a memorial park at Heddon was created by their father. In St James and St Basil, Fenham, Newcastle, a pair of stained glass window show each brother in uniform.
He was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.
His eldest brother, Thomas, who was working in New Zealand at the outbreak of war, served during the war and survived. He succeeded to the title and lived in Courtland, Exmouth, Devon.
For further information, see ‘A History of the Knott Family’ by Joan R Duckett, and ‘Pride of the Princes - History of The Prince Line’ by Norman L Middlemiss.

Major James Leadbitter ‘Jim’ Knott, DSO
10th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own)
Died on Saturday 1st July 1916, aged 33
Grave reference V. B. 15, Ypres Town Cemetery.

Citation for the Distinguished Service Order, London Gazette, Saturday 3rd June 1916:
“War Office, 3 Jun. 1916. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for distinguished service in the field, dated 3 June, 1916.” His name is listed below.

Jim was born on Saturday 2nd December 1882, elder son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated at Eton College as a member of the Reverend Henry Daman’s and Mr Hugh Vibart Macnaghten’s Houses, leaving in 1900 and then travelled extensively in North America. He was appointed Deputy Managing Director to his father in The Prince Line, a shipping company in Newcastle.
Like his father, Jim took a great interest in politics and was selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal-held constituency of Hyde. In 1916 a by-election was called in the seat but Jim gave up the opportunity of being the candidate so that he could remain at the front.
At the outbreak of war Jim volunteered and was gazetted and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain on Saturday 21st November 1914.
Early on Wednesday 14th July 1915 Jim arrived in Boulogne and entrained at 3.50pm for Lumbres. He marched with his men to billets in the Ouve area. Jim marched to Arques on Sunday 18th and after resting overnight moved to Steenvoorde. After the tiring march all ranks were delighted to have two days rest before continuing the march across the Belgian border to La Clytte, arriving in the early hours of Friday 23rd. All ranks were sent into the trenches in front of Kemmel for practical training with experienced, battle-hardened troops. On Monday 26th Private Arthur Hall was mortally wounded and died the next day; he was the first to be killed from the Battalion that brought home to everyone the reality of the Western Front — he is buried in Westouter Churchyard and Extension.
The Battalion began its first tour of duty in its own right on Monday 2nd August in the line between the Vierstraat to Wytschaete road and the Verbrandenmolen. At 10.45am a bombardment of the line began and at 11.10am the enemy blew a mine close to ‘B’ Company that wounded Lieutenant Maidlow and four of his men, however two German soldiers were killed! A week later Jim transferred north to support an attack at Hooge. A welcome break from the front line came early on Saturday 14th August when Jim arrived in La Clytte for twelve days of rest and training. When not instructing or organising his mens activities Jim was able to visit Bailleul and enjoy the cafés, concerts, restaurants and other facilities that abounded in the town. The reality of the Western Front returned on Thursday 26th when he marched with his men from La Clytte to relieve the Border Regiment in the front line near ‘Dead Dog Farm’, St Eloi.
The Battalion remained in the sector until the end of October when they were sent to Hooge that was described: “The trenches taken over were in a very bad condition. They had all suffered heavily from both our own and the enemy’s shellfire during the fighting between the end of July and the 25th September. Several trenches had been entirely destroyed and in the support and reserve lines it had not been possible to reconstruct them. North of the Menin Road the trenches varied from 80 to 20 yards distant from the enemy’s front trenches. The large crater blown up on June 10th, when the 3rd Division attacked, is 80 feet across and 40 deep. The inside has been constantly shelled and some hundreds of men are buried in it. On the line south of the Menin Road there is a gap of 200 feet between C.1 and C.3 trenches. It has never been possible to reconstruct the intervening trench C.2 as it is constantly destroyed by enemy fire. Zouave Wood is a mass of debris and broken trees. The enemy opposite are Wurtemburgers and regiments from Alsace.” Jim was relieved on Monday 1st November; he spent the rest of the month on tours of duty in the sector. The first ten days of December were spent in reserve at ‘York Huts’ before returning to Hooge for a tour. Jim and his men were looking forward to some rest in their camp at Busseboom, where they had arrived on Wednesday 15th December, but due to a gas attack they were stood to. Christmas Day was spent out of the line but Jim was back on duty in the trenches on Boxing Day where a raid was countered later in the evening.
Jim left the trenches of the Salient on Friday 7th January 1916 and after a series of marches with his men took them to Ruminghem where training continued until Saturday 5th February. He returned to a camp in Reninghelst on Monday 7th, a week later Jim was about to march to the line at St Eloi when the enemy blew a mine under ‘The Bluff’ so the relief was postponed. It was not until 6.00pm did the Battalion relieve the 10th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. Jim continued fighting in the sector and on Monday 28th February the Brigade Diary recorded: “10th West Yorkshire’s Intelligence Officer has sent in reports of considerable value as to the enemy’s works on the Bluff, which has enabled the artillery to destroy them. This officer, and the Intelligence Officer of the 7th Yorkshires, also discovered some enemy strong points opposite the trenches held by their Regiments. These are being destroyed by the siege battery.” Following a terrific bombardment on Wednesday 1st March the Battalion was involved in a fierce fight and lost one hundred and twenty officers and men, killed and wounded.
Active service in Belgium ended on Sunday 12th March; Jim was moved to the Armentières sector a week later where he remained until being sent south on Friday 12th May to train at Bayenghem for the Battle of the Somme. The first main action that Jim would take part in was at Fricourt, as described in the Divisional Diary: “As Fricourt Village and Wood had been excluded from attack in the first phase of operations, it was decided to cover the right flank of the 21st Division, by occupying the north edge of Fricourt village as far as Red Cottage and Lonely Copse. This attack was allotted to the 50th Infantry Brigade, which was therefore detached and placed under the orders of the G.O.C., 21st Division, and under his orders this brigade took over the trenches opposite Fricourt Village, with instructions to advance against their objective at 7.30 a.m. on the 1st July.”
The Battalion received the following order for the attack: “The 7th Yorkshire Regiment will assault on a front from the Wing Corner to south side of German Tambour in conjunction with the 22nd Brigade on the right, with the following objectives:
(1)    Of clearing up to the eastern edge of Fricourt Village from Well Lane to Cottage Trench and Cottage Trench to Willow Avenue, there joining with the 22nd Brigade (7th Division). On reaching this objective the Battalion will re-organize with the objective of
(2)    Clearing Fricourt Wood as far as Willow Trench and the track leading N.N.E. to X.28.C.8.0 as soon as the barrage on the west front of Fricourt Wood lifts (i.e. 2nd Zero plus fifteen minutes from S.W. edge of wood and 2nd Zero plus one hour forty-five minutes from a parallel line 150 yards back from edge of wood).
The 10th West Yorkshire Regiment will co-operate with the 7th Yorkshire Regiment against both objectives.
The boundary between the two battalions will be —
(1)    Through Fricourt village:- The line of trenches running from the junction of Hare Lane and Red Trench to Well Lane at F.3.b. central,
(2)    Through Fricourt Wood:- Roughly the line of clearing running N.E. through the middle of the wood.”

At 7.30am Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Dickson and Jim (his Second in Command) led the third and fourth companies forward only to be cut down by machine gun fire, they and most of their men were killed.
The War diary reads: “On 1st July 1916 at 7.30 a.m. the Battalion took part in the grand assault. Casualties were very heavy, chiefly, caused by machine guns which enfiladed our left flank and were so deadly that the third and fourth lines failed to get across ‘No Man’s Land’, resulting in 22 Officer casualties, including the Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Dickson and Major J. L. Knott, Second in Command were both killed and approximately 750 other ranks.”   
Jim was originally buried alongside Lieutenant Colonel Dickson in Fricourt New Military Cemetery. After the war he was reburied with his brother, see above.
A letter that Jim wrote home the day he was killed is displayed in the West Yorkshire Regiment Memorial Chapel in York Minster. The envelope was marked: “This letter is only to be sent to my father in the event of my death before 15 July 1916.” The letter reads:
British Army in the Field
1 July 1916
My dearest Father and Mother,
If you are reading this letter is means that this war has demanded the extreme sacrifice from me, and my object in writing is to bring you as far as I can, some measure of consolation and courage and patience to bear your sorrow.
It is not in any sense a message from the grave because whatever I may or may not doubt, I have very complete faith in the Life Eternal.
I know that I will be with you when you are reading this, and I want you to realise, and always remember that, although Providence has been decided that I may not return to you in the flesh, that I shall be always with you in the Spirit sharing your joys and sorrows.
I feel compelled by my knowledge of you both to write this, because my own great anxiety at the present time is the possibility of your collapse if I follow ‘Pomp’.
Momentous events are looming up and I have a premonition that I may not return to you. I have been dreaming of Basil recently, and I have an indistinct recollection of a letter in Basil’s handwriting dated June 1916, which I feel is his warning message. If I am correct then you will both know Basil and I are happy.
I hope and desire above all things that you will unduly grieve. You must not think harshly of me for refusing to accept safe employment, even if my action results and your sorrow. We have all to show courage — those out here in facing the music and taking what comes in a stoic manner — those at home in facing the loneliness that must follow the casualties of severe fighting.
I do want you to know and realise how deeply and whole-heartedly I have appreciated and loved you both for your unselfish devotion and all-forgiving love. My life has been one uninterrupted period of all that a man could wish for or desire. If I die now I am content to do so. Life is sweet, and holds out all that a young man could desire — power, wealth and above all, great love, but I want you to know that I faced the future fearlessly, and that I was cheerful and satisfied.
My medals are yours but I should like them destroyed when you both join me — whenever that may be.
Always remember that I am relying upon you both to be good brave parents, and that I can only be really happy in a new life if I know and can see that you are happy too.
My clothes, furniture and motor car must all be immediately disposed of, everything which reminds you of my death must be removed — this is my urgent desire and wish.
God grant that you will be given health, strength and happiness for many years.
Your devoted son,

Jim left an estate of £104,350 2s 0d (approximately £8,738,269.00 today).
He is commemorated on several memorials, see his brother above for further details.
Jim was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.

Spa and Kaiser Wilhelm

Spa and Kaiser Wilhelm
Spa became German Headquarters from 8th March 1918 when Field Marshal Hindenburg with General Ludendorff arrived with the General Staff, a party of more than 800 officers, 3,000 men and 800 horses.
Kaiser Wilhelm
Emperor Karl I
Crown Prince Wilhelm
Crown Prince Boris of Bulgaria
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg
General Erich Ludendorf
General Wilhelm Gröner
Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
A short diary of events

Preparations were made for the arrival of the Kaiser who arrived on 12th March and was initially installed in the Château de la Faineuse. As the Kaiser arrived the final preparations for the German Spring Offensive were completed, it beginning on 21st March.
On 10th April the German Chancellor, von Hertling, arrived and stayed in the Château de Crawhez overlooking Lake Warfaaz.
As a result of the Peace Treaty signed with Bolshevik Russia, the Baltic States had become independent, as had Finland. On 21st April the Kaiser received a delegation from Estonia and Lithuania.
On 1st May a conference was held in the town attended by HIM Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary, Crown Prince Wilhelm, the Crown Prince Boris of Bulgaria and Admiral of the Fleet von Tirpitz. von Hindenburg gave an update on the military situation and on 7th Romania signed a Peace Treaty with Germany.
On 11th May the Kaiser invited the King’s and Grand Dukes of Germany to a conference, together with a delegation from the Sultan of Turkey with Chancellor von Hertling. On 12th a large parade was organised for a further visit by HIM Emperor Karl who arrived at the station in his Imperial train. The King of Saxony returned to Spa for a conference with the Kaiser on 17th and two days later HIM Empress Auguste Victoria of Germany arrived to join her husband.
On 14th August Kaiser Wilhelm held a Crown Council and shortly afterwards the Austro-Hungarian Imperial train returned to Spa Station, Wilhelm had summoned Karl for a conference. Wilhelm was furious with Karl who was attempting to secure a separate peace with the Allies and Wilhelm had just become aware of the secret talks. Karl was ordered to continue with the fight and cease peace talks, despite the fact the Allies had done little to encourage Karl to disengage and break the bond with Germany.
On 10th September Skoropadski, leader of the Ukrainians and Talaat Pacha, the Grand Vizir of Turkey arrived for a conference.
On 15th September the Bulgarians surrendered, the first of the Central Powers to collapse.
On 30th September Chancellor von Hertling offered his resignation that was accepted and Crown Prince Wilhelm came to discuss the military situation that was deteriorating rapidly and to look at any avenues of seeking a successful peace. On 1st October the General Staff requested that the German Government contact President Wilson of America to seek the Allied requirements for peace. Kaiser Wilhelm’s cousin, HRH Prince Max von Baden (eldest son and heir to the Margrave), was appointed Chancellor from 3rd October. The response from America demanded the end of the monarchy in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey — a demand at the time that went to far. HRH Prince Max sent a telegram to President Wilson: “The German Government requests the President of the United States of America to take steps for the restoration of peace, to notify all belligerents of this request, and to invite them to delegate positions for the purpose of taking up negotiations. The German Government accepts, as a basis of peace negotiations, the Program laid down by the President of the United States in his message to Congress of 8th January 1918, and his subsequent pronouncements, particularly in his address of 27 September 1918.
In order to avoid further bloodshed the German Government requests to bring about the immediate conclusion of an armistice on land, on water, and in the air.
On 26th October General Ludendorff was replaced by General Gröner as Quartermaster-General.
The Kaiser, the Crown Prince and their retinue were determined to hang on and fight on to the end, despite calls for the Kaiser’s abdication to achieve an end to the war. On 3rd November HIM Karl of Austria-Hungary concluded an Armistice.
The German armies were being pushed back and the situation was becoming critical. Wilhelm sent out a message to all commanders on 4th November sending them his best wishes and that success was around the corner, they had to hand on. On 7th HRH Prince Max von Baden offered his resignation as a result of the demands made by the Socialists, however, the Kaiser retorted that it was his decision alone who accepted resignations and appointed Imperial Chancellors. Later in the day a train arrived in Spa with Matthias Erzberger and General von Winterfeldt for a rendezvous with Hindenburg and Gröner to discuss the conditions of an Armistice. Five cars left Spa with Erzberger, von Winterfeldt, Count von Oberndorff with Captain von Helldorff as interpreter and Captain Geyer as Secretary to meet with the Allies that would result in the signing of the Armistice on 11th.
Matter were moving fast — it must be remembered that communication was not perfect in 1918 with continuous delays in telephone calls and the gaining of accurate up-to-date information was difficult. On 8th Kaiser Wilhelm decided that he would lead his men back to Germany an re-establish order, however, Prince Max informed him that matters were deteriorating in Berlin and asked he relinquish the throne that was refused outright. The Spartakists and Communists were causing more problems and difficulties in Berlin and many of the major cities of Germany, including occupying key points in many of them.
King Ludwig III of Bavaria
King Friedrich-August III of Saxony
King Wilhelm II of Württemberg
Prince Max von Baden
9th November

Events see-sawed throughout the day, as decisions were being taken, events had changed both at the front and at home in Germany. The Kaiser was at the Hôtel Britannique when he agreed that he would abdicate as Emperor of Germany but would remain as King of Prussia, however, von Schulenburg from the suite of the Crown Prince persuaded him not to renounce the title. von Hindenburg and Gröner told Wilhelm that the German armies would march back home under their officers but would refuse to follow him or his command. Wilhelm responded that the Army would follow their oath of allegiance and ‘follow the flag’, Gröner (forever considered to be a traitor and coward by most Germans) demurred and told his Supreme Commander that he had been happy to follow in the good times that ‘following the flag was pure fiction’ and that he should go, and go ‘now’! By 2.00pm Wilhelm agreed that he should abdicate as Emperor, but was determined to remain as head of the Army and King of Prussia. Berlin was contacted only to be told that it was too late. The Chancellor had already announced the complete abdication of Wilhelm and renounced the succession of Crown Prince Wilhelm. HRH Prince Max von Baden resigned as Chancellor and his post was taken by the socialist Ebert — Prince Max’s father too had renounced his title and therefore Max no longer had a throne to inherit either. Wilhelm was understandably furious and responded: "I am and remain the King of Prussia”.Rear Admiral von Levetzow recorded: “Before the Emperor stood the Field-Marshal, General Gröner and General von Marschall being a little to one side. On our entrance the Emperor said: ‘Field Marshal, you will please repeat to Admiral Scheer what you have just said to me."
von Hindenburg replied: “The army and the troops are no longer behind His Majesty. There are no loyal troops left. Would to God, Your Majesty, that it were otherwise!”
Wilhelm replied: “If it is as the Field Marshal informs me, I cannot well allow myself to be arrested! There is nothing for it but to abdicate as Emperor. I remain King of Prussia. But that gentlemen may learn how I am served by my Chancellor — Prince Max von Baden proclaimed my abdication both as Emperor and King this morning, without my knowledge and without my authority. That is the way I am served by my last Chancellor!”
Admiral Scheer said to Wilhelm: “The effect on the Navy will be incalculable, if it has lost its Supreme War-Lord.”
Wilhelm replied: “I have no Navy now.”
Crown Prince Wilhelm arrived at noon and met with his father until 3.00pm with the determination that Wilhelm would remain as King of Prussia. Crown Prince Wilhelm returned with his retinue to his Army Group.
During the afternoon of Wilhelm was left alone to contemplate his future and at the same time the socialist Scheidemann declared the Second Reich was at an end and a Republic was established. At 5.00pm von Hindenburg took his leave of Wilhelm as the discussion on his exile in Holland continued.
Wilhelm wrote to his son:
“My Dear Boy
After the Court Chamberlain had informed me that he could no longer guarantee my safety at Main Headquarters, and that the troops also were no longer trustworthy, I resolved after a severe mental struggle to leave the army, which has collapsed, and go to Holland.
I advise you to stick to your post until the conclusion of the armistice.
In Berlin two Governments, under the leadership of Ebert and Liebknecht, are fighting against each other.
I hope to see you again in happier times.
Your faithful and deeply affected father,

At 7.45pm Wilhelm boarded the Imperial train at Spa Station. At 10.00pm it was agreed that Wilhelm would request exile in Holland on the basis that he was a Prince of Orange and therefore a member of the Dutch Royal Family. Niemann recorded: “In the train I found the Emperor already at dinner with his suite. I had been afraid that the excitement of the previous hours would have made him lethargic. But not at all. He looked up at me with all his animation; he face was calm and resolute. They told me that the Emperor had quite changed his mind about going to Holland.”
At 5.00am on 10th the Imperial train pulled out of the station, however due to security worries, it travelled only five kilometres to La Reid (no trace of the railway line or station now exists) where Wilhelm and his retinue transferred into a fleet of cars that they drove in the dark to the border village of Eisden, the Imperial train following.
Wilhelm paced up and down on the station at Eisden whilst the final negotiations took place in Den Haag that took more than six hours, a strange experience for a man who had never had to wait for six minutes for anything in his life, let alone six hours. His train had arrived and he was able to make use of its facilities. Eventually the agreement for Wilhelm and his suite to pass arrived, he got into his car and went into exile. He was driven across the border into Holland a country he would never leave, in life or death.
The Kaiser and his suite initially stayed in Amerongen where his first request being (after checking that his host was not a Freemason): “So what do you say, now give me a nice cup of hot, good, real English tea.” On 16th August 1919 he purchased Huis Doorn close by and moved into the property on 15th May 1920. Eventually twenty-three railway carriages of his chosen items and property was sent to him by the Weimar Government.
Properties Used in the Town
Château de la Faineuse
Initial home of Kaiser Wilhelm II - until 23rd April 1918
Became a meeting house and conference centre for the German High Command
Villa du Neubois
Second home of Kaiser Wilhelm II - from 23rd April 1918

Château Sous-Bois
Home of Field Marshal Hindenburg, fitted with an air-raid shelter

Hill Cottage
Home of General Ludendorff

Hotel Britannique
German Military Headquarters until the end of the War
During the World War II it was used as an Allied Headquarters in September 1944
Now used as a holiday home and educational establishment for children

Villa Buenos-Ayres
elegraph (next to the Britannique)

Villa Marie-Henriette
Military Commandant of Spa and surrounding area

3 avenue de la Gare
Passport services

The Old Station
Garrison administration

Hôtel des Postes
German army postal service
Château de la Faineuse
Post war postcards of Villa du Neubois
The Kaiser talking to the King of Saxony on the terrace
The terrace today
Exterior of Villa du Neubois
The entrance to the house
Field Marshal von Hindenburg, General Pavlo Skoropadskyi (Ukraine) and General Ludendorf at the entrance of Villa du Neubois
Field Marshal von Hindenburg's house close to the Kaiser's house
General Ludendorf's house
overlooking Spa

Hotel Britannique shortly after the war
An aerial view of German Headquarters in the Hotel Britannique
Hotel Britannique, November 1918
The Grand Vizier arrives at
Spa Station

Spa Station today from the
same position

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