A Cog in the Wheel
Adelade Lubbock (edited by Sara Goodwins)
Loaghan Books, 2012, £9.95
Adelaide Lubbock, the mother of the Lib Dem peer Eric Avebury, must have been quite a lady. Born in London, she spent much of her childhood in Australia where her father was the governor of Victoria. She returned to England and, the mother of a young family, became a professional singer and actress – she was appearing with the Crazy Gang when Word War II broke out.
Rather than become an entertainer for the troops she joined the Red Cross, and at the end of the war she threw herself into work for the Allied Commission for Austria (ACA). This was formed in July 1945 to ensure Austria was “liberated from German domination and re-established as free and independent”. Now Adelaide’s diary of this period has been published by Loaghtan Books under the title A Cog in the Wheel.
Adelaide’s experiences ranged from struggling to improve the terrible sanitary conditions of the emergency camps to hearing opera in a bombed Vienna. She lived in everything from a tent to a house once owned by Richard Strauss.
Some things don’t change. Here is Adelaide’s verdict, as one of the few civilians working for ACA, on military officialdom:
These forms are in my opinion utterly impracticable, and could only have been thought out by one of those absurd theorising boobies who dress themselves up as soldiers and are called ‘experts’. It is folly to expect any harassed DP officer, with thousands of milling refugees clamouring to be fed and sent home, to sit down and fill in a registration form with thirty seven questions on it in quintuplicate; and not only this form, but eighteen others.