THE GUARDIAN OF THE CAMP
Although Major Bach wielded his power with all the severity and spirit of a true-blooded Prussian Jack-in-Office, and notwithstanding that we were forbidden all communication with the outside world, yet we were not without our “protector.”
Our guardian angel was Dr. Ascher, who was responsible for the clean bill of health among the civilian prisoners. The soldiers were under a military surgeon, as already explained, but owing to the arbitrary manner in which this official displayed his authority, and with which Dr. Ascher did not agree by any means, it was the civilian doctor who ministered for the most part to Tommy’s ills. The result was that his services were in almost universal demand, and the strenuous work and long hours which he expended on our behalf were very warmly appreciated.
A short, sturdy, thick-set man, fairly fluent in the English language, and of a cheery disposition, Dr. Ascher was a true and illuminating representative of his profession. His mission being frankly one of mercy he emphatically refused to acknowledge the frontiers of races and tongues, poverty and wealth, education and ignorance. He was sympathetic to an extreme degree, and never once complained or proffered any excuse when called urgently to exert a special effort on behalf of any man.
He became an especial favourite among the British prisoners. The fact that he came among us immediately upon our arrival at the camp, seeking to extend relief to the sore, distressed, and suffering; his cheery and breezy conversation; and his grim though unsuccessful efforts to secure the food which we so urgently needed upon that occasion, were never forgotten. He became endeared to one and all. Indeed he was elevated to such a pedestal of appreciative recognition as to be affectionately christened “The English Doctor,” which he accepted as a signal honour. He was no respecter of time, neither did he emulate his military colleague in being a clock-watcher. He informed us that he was at our disposal at any hour of the day or night, and he never omitted to spend hours among us every day. Seeing that the camp possessed no resident medical attendant, either civilian or military, that Dr. Ascher resided near Paderborn, some three miles away, his readiness to come to our assistance at any moment, his ceaseless efforts on our behalf, and repeated attempts to ameliorate our conditions, it is not surprising that we came to regard him as our one friend in that accursed spot.