George W. Thornton 1900, Harry Perry 1901, William W. Kebble 1924, Peter Meldrum 1925
© Palatine Lodge - 1893 - 2023 - In se ipso totus teres -
The London Matriculation Board supplied exam papers for many of the courses, which were sent back to England for marking and a very high pass rate was achieved. The captain of a cargo ship, a Master Mariner, also ran classes on seamanship, marine engineering and navigation, for the merchant seamen detained in the camp. After some negotiation, these classes were recognised by the Board of Trade and his students achieved a high level of passes when they finally presented themselves for examination. In addition to the formal education, there was a debating society, a thriving chess club, numerous Art and Craft classes and various special interest groups, including, incidentally, a Lancastrian Society and the Freemasons, who met together in the camp. There was also individual academic research. One physicist set up a laboratory so that he could continue his experiments. He contrived a Bunsen burner using melted butter as fuel and paid fellow inmates to work the bellows. The internees also threw themselves enthusiastically into providing entertainment. There was a large group of professional musicians in the Camp, many of whom had brought their instruments with them. They gave their first orchestral concert before the end of 1914 and, over the years, provided incredibly varied programmes, mainly of classical music. In conjunction with the Dramatic Society, they staged several Gilbert and Sullivan and other operas, while the Dramatic Society put on plays by, amongst others, Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. As you can see, they had the female roles covered. The first play that they staged was Androcles and the Lion and here is the playbill. There were also reviews and at least one pantomime. Eventually the entertainment committee converted a hall underneath one of the grandstands into a concert hall and theatre and there was either a recital or a concert every Sunday evening. Later, a small cinema was provided at the side of the theatre with three shows a day. Sport was encouraged from the outset and, in March 1915, the first football match took place - Ruhleben versus The Rest - and Baron von Taube was invited to kick off. A report on the match that was submitted to the Camp magazine by F B Pentland who played for Middlesbrough FC and was an England international said that 'the play was keen and clean and not a solitary foul was given' After that, the land in the centre of the racetrack was made available and two football fields were laid out so that football could be played regularly. Cup and league competitions were organised with men from the barracks forming themselves into teams and taking the names of popular English clubs. Competition was keen and over three thousand inmates would turn out to watch some matches. Other sports that the prisoners enjoyed included rugby, cricket, hockey, lacrosse, baseball, tennis and even golf and there were track and field competitions and boxing and wrestling matches. 7 tennis courts were built at the edge of the track. It cost 10 marks to belong to the tennis club and a further 30 marks or so for equipment. That was 8 week's allowance for prisoners without independent means. The 5-hole golf course was on a rather sparse piece of land measuring 250 yards by 100 yards. The golf club had some 800 members who were allowed to play for 2 hours morning and evening plus a full half day once a week and on any wet day. A full week was allocated every few months for tournaments and I would imagine that the standard was fairly high as the camp boasted 10 professional golfers. The single activity which generated the most interest and excitement in the Camp was 'The Great Election' There were Liberal, Conservative and Suffragette candidates. The Suffragette candidate's manifesto was the most imaginative. He promised that, since the Red Cross was proving so efficient in bringing tinned goods to the camp, he would import 10,000 tinned girls, to which his audience would shout "we want REAL girls" The Camp buzzed with activity. There were spoof advertisements in the Camp magazine. One, on behalf of a mythical group 'The British Wives and Sweethearts League' promised "immediate divorce proceedings, no more food parcels nor pocket money’ if the Suffragette candidate was elected. As election day drew closer, the political meetings grew so loud that the German authorities banned any further gatherings. Who won? well, the Suffragette candidate of course with 1200 votes but, like many politicians before and after him, I suspect that he reneged on his pledges and the girls, tinned or otherwise, never arrived at Ruhleben. So the prisoners had a choice of a wide range of mental and physical activities. The matter over which they had far less control was nutrition, how they were fed and how they took steps to improve their diet was a challenge. When the first prisoners arrived at the camp, a field kitchen and canteen had been set up under one of the grandstands about a quarter of a mile from the living quarters with a German contractor initially supplying the meals. A tin bowl was provided for food but there was no cutlery or mugs. Some of these items could be bought at the canteen but many of the men had arrived with little or no money. This is part of one prisoner's account of the first meals at Ruhleben: 'Marched to kitchen for 'dinner'. We came back again with some vegetable soup which presented something of a problem as we had no spoons. Fortunately, one man in our box had brought a spoon with him and we used it in turns for as much of the concoction as we could swallow and then we swilled and cleaned the bowls beneath the tap and dried them with the towels that we had for our face'

Education and Sporting activities