The Netherlands spared no effort to stay out of the Great War. We declared ourselves neutral. But Alkmaar of all places within the neutral Netherlands had foreign soldiers to deal with. Within the very first week after the beginning of the First World War (28th July 1914) Alkmaarders flocked to the station forecourt to gawp at recently arrived Belgian and German soldiers. They had called it a day at the initial skirmishes on our Limburg border and sought refuge in our country. The government moved the refugee soldiers to the other side of the country as soon as possible. In Alkmaar the Kadettenschool on the Wilhelminalaan stood empty. That was convenient. The Rijks HBS on the Paardenmarkt also offered shelter. Naturally, being neutral, the authorities gave both types of soldiers equal treatment. After a few months final solutions were found by forming separate camps in ia Bergen and Zuid-Friesland. Our army forces were mobilised. Many young men from town were stationed in the border area, awaiting further events and were bored stiff. At home things were possibly even more difficult as the war continued. There were general shortages due to trade blockades on the North Sea. Food and goods were rationed. The authorities tried to share out the scarce food supplies as fairly as possible by means of a well-thought out distribution system. Not just for their own population but also for the thousands of Belgian refugees, who could find a safe haven in our town and region. In hindsight the Netherlands never had a healthier diet than in those days: little or no fat, lots of vegetables, and often vegetarian. This became clearly noticeable after the war with healthier babies and a decline in diseases. The (private) Poilu museum in the Doelenstraat gives an impression how horrific things were in the trench-war just on the other side of our borders. In 1917 Alkmaar caught its first sight of submarines. Part of the German navy. Three were stationed in Alkmaar. For instance the UB-30. It had run aground near Domburg in Zeeland. It was interned in Alkmaar and kept safe in the Noordhollandsch Kanaal near the town. It was returned to Germany in 1917. One year later it met its Waterloo off the coast of England, sunk with depth-charges. The other two were demolished after the war for scrap, in France and in England.