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Copyright  ©  2008. Dick Robinson, Piers and Jill Stainforth
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Near Ypres, 1915

Posted to Royal Army Medical Corps Casualty Clearing Station [1] 3 (Hazebrouck Sep 1914 – Apr 1915; Poperinghe Apr 1915 – May 1915; Bailleul May 1915 – Nov 1915)

Surviving portions of the diary of Edith E. Appleton, O.B.E.

Volume 1 begins at page 112.

Journal entries for the first few months of her service in France are missing.

…answering each other’s ravings. One of them tells us he has been killed and does his mother know. Certainly death will be no stranger to him, when he comes in a day or two — or perhaps to–night. 3 ops. – 2 trephines and an arm. A field ambulance at Ypres was shelled last night, 2 orderlies killed, and 10 wounded, some fatally. All the patients were transferred to us. So we have been very busy today.

Tuesday, [April] 6th          2 cases in the theatre, heavy convoy in and out, worked in wards this morning. Gave the little orphans a tea this afternoon. We laid the tables for them. They came in and we came after, and as we entered they struck up “God save the King” in French. Then the eldest girl make us a little speech. Then they fed and we poured out tea for them, then they gave us a little concert, “Vive Angleterre! Vive la France!” three cheers, all over, very happy — on duty again. Have not been out for 3 days, firstly because of much work, and partly weather, rainy and windy, not good for caps and tempers.

7th                  Very busy day, going hard in theatre and wards until nearly 9 this evening. Very tired.

8th                  Busy day, but only 1 case in theatre. Men who came in convoy to–day were in a terrible state of nervous collapse, a great many of them having been blown up in their trenches. Went for a walk after tea with Latham.

Friday, 9th    Heavy convoy, bad cases, I am off for 1 hour, to go back this evening, 2 cases (heads) for theatre. Many of to–day’s wounded were shot in the stomach in several cases, the bullet went in…

Pages 113 and 114 of Volume 1 are missing.

Wednesday, [April] 14th  A Zeppelin was reported heading this way, but we have heard this morning that it has gone south. Off duty this evening, went for a walk and then looked over the College, where we are to move to to–morrow. No operations. Heavy convoy in and out and another convoy in since. Our Sgt. Major has got his promotion, and is now Mr Eanright.

15th                Quieter day. Taking over College to–morrow. There was a tremendous heavy bombardment last night. It only lasted three quarters of an hour, but it was impossible to sleep through the noise. I sat at my window and watched it all, gun flashes, ground lights and searchlights. It was all over by about 12.30. I heard to–day that it was covering our troops’ advance.

16th                Moved into the College, better in some ways, worse in others than the Benedictine; theatre not nearly so good. Not off all day. Heavy convoy in and out and another in. Hear that a Zeppelin that was sighted two nights ago dropped bombs on Bailleul, near the Sisters Qrs. No one hurt luckily. Am rather tired with charing all odd moments of the day.

17th                A taube that flew over here early this morning was shot down a little way away, the pilot killed and the observer taken prisoner, he was walked through the town, wearing an iron X. More taubes this evening. At present there is a big attack being made by our men, somewhere near Ypres, and a very big move and much flashing is going on too. It has been a frightfully busy day again, only 2 operations, an amputation and appendix.

18th Sunday

Our men made an attack last night, we heard the heavy firing (in fact it shook the houses) that covered their advance – in 3 mins, they had taken a trench and 13 prisoners 2 officers. The whole work of the night was a hill of importance blown up – arms and legs of men flung high – and into our own trenches – 5 lines of trenches taken and 2,000 prisoners. The Germans made a counter attack, and killed and wounded nearly 1,000 of our men, we have had over 600 through our hospital to–day, badly wounded, and fearfully collapsed, some who have been out since Aug. say it is quite the worst time they have had. We went on duty at 5.30 a.m. and stayed on till 9 p.m. I missed tea and dinner, because we were too busy in the theatre, but I came straight to bed and am having dinner from the officers mess brought up to me, and enjoying it very much. It has been a sad day in the theatre and a terribly tiring one. Amputation of arms and legs, and insides out and packed in. Sir A. Boulby [2] did one operation, another visitor another, to give our men a rest. Dr. Parbury from Sharnbrook came in once for one of them. Am very tired.

19th                The same as yesterday, only more; we have had more patients [–] two heavy train loads and have been receiving all the time. Ypres is too dangerous so we get them brought in only a few hours after they are wounded. Theatre has been going from 9 a.m. I don’t know how many cases. One a young officer had both feet cut off, he was walking in Ypres and a shell struck him, he died soon after.

20th               Frantic day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. one long rush of badly wounded being admitted, 3 train loads have been evacuated. It is a wicked war. Officers and men – many so blown to bits that they just come in to die, many straight to the theatre for amputation of limb or limbs – or to have their insides – which have been blown out – replaced – and made a little more comfortable for the few hours left to them. The big ward is agonised groans and pleadings all the time and we feel we don’t know where to start for the hundreds of things to be done at once. Ypres is very much ruined and heaps of dead, English, French and Belgian are lying about in the square and all about the town. We hear the Germans have given up the hope of taking Ypres so they have decided to utterly destroy it. Now as I am to go on duty again at 6 a.m. I think I will sleep if possible.

21st                 Another frantic day, on duty from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. First in S. ward then in theatre for the rest of the day. I don’t know how any operations we had, lost count after 5 o’clock chiefly amputations. All the wounded are coming from Ypres and Hill 60, where wholesale murder seems to be going on, we have had 2,508 through in the 6 days.

22nd              Not such a busy day, but we hear there is bad news to–night. Our trenches are being shelled with poisoned bombs which is forcing us to retire, and if so, where will it stop! As No. 5 O. C. is in working order we have had a much lighter day, but we all feel very tired in mind as well as body. Taubes have been over here twice to–day; the first one dropped bombs and the second at dusk dropped lights, probably showing their own people where our guns are. They were fired at but not hit. Only 3 cases in theatre to–day, 2 heads, and an eye (Mr. Anderson). Tremendous firing going on. 2 Sisters, 2 M.O.s and 5 orderlies arrived to–day to try and help us over the rush, just when its all over!

[Ed: This first use of poison gas on the Western Front flags the opening of the Second Battle of Ypres. Historians will conclude Second Ypres in about a month, on 25 May.]

24th

I did not go to bed yesterday, was in the theatre till early this morning. then bedded until 6 a.m. The war is raging terribly and fearfully. Shells! I can think of nothing properly. Wounded have been streaming in all the time, we have been strongly reinforced with Sisters, Doctors and Orderlies and still have to work night and day as fast as we can to keep pace or try to. It is a terrifying battle.

[Sunday, ]25th         The same as yesterday. Busy and terrible.

26th               Heavily bombarded again. 17 inch shells falling close round us.

28th               We were so much under fire on Sat, Sun and Mon that on Monday night we evacuated all but a few patients who were unfit to move and we (nurses) were ordered to clear out in half an hour. We were packed off at about 11.30 p.m. for St. Omer. Just as we were leaving the town, there were 2 more enormous explosions. We were not anxious to be sent away and told the authorities that we would rather stay, and since we had no choice, we could not help a feeling of gratitude, as we were whirled in a racing car out of the firing line. The first big shell fell quite close to our hospital, and the air was so thick with red dust, bits and smoke that we could not see out of our windows. We had operations on at the time and it was a little difficult for us all to go on as usual. After the first shock, we tried to become used to the 5 minutely explosions of a big shell close to us, but it was difficult and my knees did shake. One feeling which was strong in me at the time was that I knew people at home were … and if it were all right for us to live we should be as safe as … We arrived at St. Omer at 2.0 a.m., a party of 20 refugees, were put up in a ward for the night, found stretchers and blankets all prepared for us. We did not sleep much, we were all too newly from it. Next morning we were returned to Hazebrouck, where we spent a muddly day, wondering what was going to happen next, and anxiously waiting for news of Poperinghe and our M.O. We hear to–day that the place is still being shelled, and that our unit No. 3 C.O. is being moved to Bailleul to–morrow where we are to join it.

So to–day just for one day, after the fortnight of practically working night and day, we are having a rest, and at the time of writing we are in a beautiful wood just outside Hazebrouck, where we are going to have a picnic tea. It is very restful not to her the roar of the guns so loud and near, but we know it is going on and our hearts are with the brave Tommies who are “sticking it” in the trenches.

The day we had Jack Johnsons [3] sent amongst us, an old Jesuit priest was very good to me and some of the others. He told us that if it were our lot to die, it would he an honourable death and told us a very humble little prayer to use just before we died. I think he went round comforting every one like it.

We are in very comfortable Qrs. here (Hazebrouck) 3 of us, the dear old landlady brings our breakfasts up to us, we go out for lunch, tea in the woods, supper a scratch meal in our rooms. It seems a long time ago we came, but after all it is only 2 days. To–day we shall if all is well, move on to join our unit at Bailleul.

30th               Still at Hazebrouck, we were suppaosed to rejoin our unit at Bailleul to–day, but a wire came from the C.O. saying billets were unavailable. Miss W. S. and Wheatley have gone to see if they can find any, and the rest of us are enjoying a thoroughly idle day. A great change from the past rush, when we went to bed at about 1 a.m. and came on duty a few hours later, to work on about 20 hrs. and so on. We hear from the R.C. padre that we left Pop[eringhe]. only just in time, when we left there was a hole in one roof and many windows broken, but soon after the shells started falling right on the building and damaged it badly. Luckily all orderlies and everyone were safely out before the shells fell. The weather is glorious to–day, we took lunch to some delightful woods and lazed and read and wrote there until 3 p.m. then came back to see if there were any fresh orders for us, but there were not. So we had tea and are now all reading or writing again. The house I am staying in is on the road to Ypres, and every night about 50 of the biggest lorries laden with ammunition and goods race past, taking supplies to the batteries and men in the trenches. It is a risky job and they always do it in the dark, because the Germans have a view of the road and shell it all the time, hoping to destroy our supplies &c. As it is the road between our lines and Ypres is strewn with dead horses and smashed carts. Now I am going to repack my kit for the 100th time. It is very trying living packed up, …

[Sunday, ]2nd May We settled our wards and things to–day, we have one wing of a lunatic asylum, room enough to accommodate about 500 patients, the first of whom have just arrived, and the night nurses are up to look after them. Last night we were billetted in various parts of the town (Bailleul) and to–night we are sleeping at the asylum, our rooms are tiny, with high barred windows. Mine is minute, but has a pleasant outlook, over the aviation ground. The news today was not cheerful and from the roar of guns a big attack has been made to–day. Let us only hope our men have done well. I was grieved to read of a Zeppelin raid over Bury, and am longing to hear if it upset Mother.

3rd                  Still no letter from you.

4th                 … To–day has not been remarkable, 2 cases in the theatre. We are in such a state of “jump” that when a cork flew out of the stout bottle with a pop in our midst to–day, we all nearly fell through the grass. We have found a new mess room only about 5 minutes away, which is vastly better than 1/2 an hour.

5th                  Very busy day, 5 cases in theatre and wards and wards full of gas poisoning cases. They are fearfully sad to see. The slight ones look rather like pneumonia, and the bad ones are terrible, the poor things are blue and gasping, lungs full of fluid, and not able to cough it up. 6 have died of it in one ward alone, to–day. I hear with sorrow that we have lost Hill 60 to–day, owing to our men being poisoned by gas. I also hear that we borrowed turbenite from the French and fired 4 rounds of it yesterday. Have not heard the result. I made myself a lovely table yesterday, about the size of the big round one in your bedroom at St. Augustine’s Road. There is a good deal of firing going on to–night, if only we could do really well and make the Germans ask for peace! We had a wounded German in yesterday, great cruel strong brute.

The lunatics in the Asylum have been very noisy to–day, yelling and screaming and stamping about.

6th                  Quiet day. This gas poisoning is a horrible business, a man told me to–day that it came like water out of a spout, a greenish yellow colour, some up trenches, and the men are killed at once and lie in heaps. It is only those who get less of it that are able to get away at all, and many of them die, it is most pitiful and painful to see them.

7th May        Quietish day, about 12 minor cases in the theatre, no big ones. Monsieur le Directeur has made us a great offer, we may use the lunatics’ bath room twice a week, for one hour, which means 4 of us bathing at one time, there are 4 baths in one room. I don’t fancy bathing in company, but as I have not sat in water deeper than 1 inch since last year the temptation to go is great. I think 4 of us will try it tomorrow and see what can be done in the way of screens.

8th                  Quiet day, but we are expecting a rush. There has been so much fighting, all our heavy guns have been in action, and there has been a more violent German attack than ever before, North of Ypres. Hear the Lusitania has been torpedoed, with 1,500 people on hoard, wonder what America will say to that. Latham’s cousin who is in command of some R.E.s quite near here, called for her this afternoon in a little one horse country cart, and took her to cricket and tea and a band, invited me, but we cannot two get away for the whole afternoon; 3 of us went to another part of the asylum this morning at 7, and had a BATH – deep! Up to our necks in water – glorious! The first time for months and months! A dear old nun came trotting in when I was in my bath, felt to see the water was right heat, thought the bath was too full and pulled the plug by a patent in the floor, I was sitting on the hole where the water runs away and was sucked hard into it! I think I hear a convoy arriving now.

[Sunday, ]9th           A day of most terrible fighting; our casualties are very heavy they say, those of the enemy are heavier. Looking out of my window to–night I saw a fearful and wonderful sight – a clear moonless, starlight night, a strong cold wind. All along the ridge of hills which forms my horizon to ESE and NE was a continual sparkle and flash of light and the loud roar of guns. These are the star signal light–flashes from the guns, and searchlights going continuously. Letter from Mother telling me of the death of 3 officers and 2 men of the Buffs [East Kent Regiment] – I knew quite well – the one I feel saddest about is Pte Ernest Wanstall. He cleaned our boots when he was quite a tiny – then grew big enough to take a place as chicken boy to a farmer’s wife, then he ran away and enlisted in the R.M.L.I. [Royal Marines Light Infantry] and came home a week later in his uniform, a funny little object, but the joy of his mother; she grew more and more proud of him as he filled out and was drilled into a fine upright fellow, so he progressed and was always the same nice, shy boy, very devoted to all of us. Now he is shot dead somewhere in France!

I hear Italy has declared war. We have had a very busy day, 3 convoys in and out and a heavy one is arriving now.

I had to “assist” with a head operation to–day, and in the middle Sir A. B. [4] and S. Arbuthnot Lane [5] came in to watch!

10th                Not quite such a busy day, only 1 operation. News is mixed one minute good the next not so good. Very tired.

11th                 Excellent news of French progress, hope it is true. Slack day only 1 operation and no convoy in – one out. Off duty this evening. Glorious sunset in the W. looking like glory and perfect peace. In the East – heavy guns – and flashlights and dark clouds of war! For the first time I saw one of our aeroplanes being fired at – quaint! When it is us firing at their machines one’s only fear is that they won’t be hit, but when it is us being fired at it looked as if every shot will.

12th                I think I won’t write about to–day, it has been quite the last word in exasperation. Theatre not busy, but the wards overfull of very ill men – about 150 all clamouring for drinks and mouth washes, about 20 not allowed to swallow anything at all, clamoured loudest of all. Then a heavy convoy of very badly wounded were poured in upon us and later another convoy of wounded not so bad then the theatre again, then more dressings in the ward, then thank goodness an evacuation! and the poor old things were off on their homeward journey again and we were left – beaten and worn out.

Rainy – busy – heavy firing – Frantic fighting going on at Ypres and many badly wounded Camerons, Horse Guards, Lancers in – 1 op. Officer – very tired and late.

14th                7 a.m.  All the other 3 have gone for a bath, as we were on duty until past 10 p.m. I prefer for once in a way not to hurry so I am not going to. Still pouring – guns going – shall dress slowly now.

10 p.m.            Busy day, fine weather, sunny and cold, big convoy in 2 Germans and 2 Indians amongst them. I was not busy after tea, so strolled in the garden and first watched 2 of our aeroplanes flying boldly and daringly over the G[erman] lines. They rose from the aerodrome and flew straight to the G’s lines and were at once fired at – circled round, came back and flew over again and were again fired at. I watched the shells bursting, happily they all did well below the aeroplanes. Next I watched the sunset, which was beautiful a rich golden one. I usually watch it whiIe we are at dinner, we have our door which leads to the garden open, and from my place at table I always get a picture of country and sunsets of all colours and shades. The birds are all now in full song, thrushes specially noticeable. The country is most interesting and less flat than at Pop[eringhe].

15th                Rather less busy day. Went to town this morning, took laundry in to–night. Biggish convoy in, and many very badly wounded. The lilac is in full bloom and the garden and country lovely.

[Sunday, ]16th         2 p.m.  Slackest day we have had for a long time. 2 of us went off duty this morning and went for a walk to most charming country. Sat on a tree stump and ate chocolate and biscuits. Views all round very charming and the glass skylights on some of the houses in the towns sparkling like diamonds. An aeroplane flew over us close down over our heads, and the observer waved to us, so we did to him, wish he would give us a lift one day.

I could tell you many tales of our patients, but they are so thick on the ground it is hard to choose. Light headedness has done a great kindness to one man now in the yard. His head is smashed and he will most probably die. He called to me just now and asked if he might see his wife once more before she went away, he said “I saw her and three of the children this morning, but I want to see her again,” I said “Certainly he might” and he went off to sleep quite contentedly. I remarked to him that it was very happy for him to have seen them, and he said, “Oh! It was! It was heaven.” He quite believes they were here, poor thing! One poor youngster was brought in yesterday stone cold – no pulse – perfectly sensible and horribly badly wounded. He just loved all that was done for him, his warm, clean clothes and hot bottles, and hot drinks. and pleaded not to be sent away with the others. I promised he shouldn’t be. He smiled very sweetly and went happily to sleep, and never woke in this world.

Some deaths are so calm and happy. Others just the reverse. We had one poor lad – a Cameron Highlander – with a bullet in his lung, which could not be extracted, and every breath was an agony. He was in for 2 days in agony every minute of the time he was not under the influence of morphia. He died an agonised death, struggling hard for each breath, and with almost his last breath he said “I’m glad my mother can’t see me, it would drive her mad.” A young officer died the other day, shot in the stomach, he was in for 2 days and very cheery, thinking he would soon be home in England. then he found he was not getting better his one desire was for his mother, he said “Do send for her, I can’t hold out much longer.”

But enough of this morbid side of things – they all die brave. War news is much better.

17th                Fairly busy day. Convoy in at 10 a.m. and driblets all day. No train, so we had a full hospital all day. 1 was on duty in No. 2 ward most of the morning. Had one case in the theatre a young officer with both legs very badly wounded and bones broken. 3 Zeppelins passed over close by at 4.30 a.m. the night people watched them, one was going very slowly and looked as if it had been hit. Our aeroplanes were up and after them and signalled to the next aerodrome to do the same, I only hope they were brought down. No off duty time. News if true is good.

18.5.15            Quiet day. Candle just going out.

19th                Ypres is dead – a silent town of broken and burnt houses and destroyed streets – unburied bodies lie all about the place a scene of utter desolation. A few of our Military police are stationed there and an occasional shell comes over – otherwise all is finished. A Padre who drove through there yesterday told me about it.

We have had a very quiet day only admitted a few sick, but by the sound of things wounded are coming now.

10 p.m.            A man who was brought in 3 days ago shot in the spine has been dying by inches – nay sixteenths of inches ever since and is not dead yet. His brain and abdominal muscles are the only unparalysed parts of him now. I was off duty this afternoon and went for a walk with Miss L[atham] in the rain – and much mud – most refreshing after being indoors so long. Guns are firing hard again to–night.

20th               Admitted 2 convoys during the night, so ward was full when we went on duty, evacuated at 12. Slack since, no theatre, off in the afternoon went for country walk with L[atham] Sat in hot sun and read paper and my Omar Kyaam. It was lovely, lots of birds singing, aeroplanes flying about, buttercups and daisies full out. I have heard for the second time that Italy has declared war. The aeroplanes look like great live birds – they squat on the ground, then rise, and soar high and skim about and in a few moments dive to earth again and settle – then off again. It only takes them a few moments to reach the German lines, and they seem to fly there, see what they want to and home again, then go to spy out something else. I am going to bed now.

The spine man died this evening; his brain was the last thing to lose its senses. I have never known a more sad and slow death, poor man he was talking to me about an hour before he died.

21st                 Quietish day, patients chiefly medical owing to the weather came in in driblets, and we still have in about a dozen abdominals, some getting better, some dear cheerful brave things – dying slowly. Whenever I have a very ill patient generally abdominal, I always give him my handkerchief, a clean one, I don’t know why but they love to have it. When I gave it to one to–day he said he hoped he would not be sent on from here. I was like a mother to him! poor thing and only because I gave him a handkerchief.

We went for a walk in the rain this morning towards where “Grandmama” is hidden – spitting fire like a fury – at the Germans. Bed now.

Saturday, 22nd        There is vivid lightning and thunder and heavy gun fire and flashes, and the half moon shining to–night a queer mixture of things, peaceful and terrible. The ward was quite full when we went on duty this morning, but we evacuated early, and have not taken in since. Gloriously hot day. Off in the afternoon, fetched washing then sat in lilac patches until tea time.

24th               Col. Bewley came to tea, and told us that Bailleul is to be shelled in 3 days time. I felt frightened at the thought but do try to make myself realise that God is over all and can stop it, or keep us safe or do just what He likes. Only 13 patients in until this evening, all very trying ones, terribly fidgety. We are now taking in.

3 p.m. In bed for night duty. Ugh!

25th               Had quite the busiest night imaginable. The Germans poisoned hundreds of our men yesterday, and we had our hospital full, and emptied and over filled again at once. Men lying on stretchers in the garden, and thick in the grass, even filled a patch known as the duck pond. The cases inside were very bad indeed, and died like poor flies all night. We evacuated at 2 a.m. and promptly filled to such an extent that I had 163 in a ward supposed to take 60, as well as 16 very bad officers and 3 ward sitters.

“I cannot – cannot cannot” said the dying boy “Ye canna – what?” asked O’Neill the Irish orderly, “I cannot…pray” repeated the boy. “Ah try…” persuaded O’Neill, “twill make ye barra” (better). Quite true I listened to it all.

Bathed in the asylum, went to breakfast, was invited to a drive but had to decline owing to inclination for bed.

[Ed: Historians will eventually determine that the Second Battle of Ypres ends today.]

26th               Another very busy night. Found ward quite full of wounds to be changed and dressed, and all demanding drinks every 5 minutes. To complete things we evacuated 150 at 2.30 a.m. and at 4 filled and over filled again, with badly wounded, so had the double dose of changing &c. Two taubes and a Zeppelin passed over us last night, we think the Zep. must have dropped an incendiary bomb a little way off behind the trees, about 2 miles perhaps, we saw a huge flare of fire in the sky. Came off at 8.30 and found Col. — little cart waiting to take us for a drive. We went for 2 hours, all round by Locre, Rein–something &c. and saw countless columns of artillery, R.G.A. [Royal Garrison Artillery ], R.F.A. [Royal Field Artillery], R.H.A. [Royal Horse Artillery]. I suppose all going to the front.

People found us rather an unusual sight and stared and saluted and some went so far as to cheer. Home at 11 and now in bed.

27th               Quiet night. Went for drive, gramophone now playing in Officers Ward which I want to listen to. You would love the music.

28th               We saw another huge blaze of fire over towards the German lines last night, but have not heard what it was. An awful accident happened near here yesterday afternoon, one of our own hand grenades factories blew up by accident, more than 1,000 [–] many civilians and some Tommies [–] were killed and we had in the wounded. One died in the night, they were horribly badly wounded. We heard the explosion at 5 p.m. and hopped out of bed to see what we could, and saw a huge column of grey smoke, solid and high in the air, Busy night, small convoys coming all the time. This morning after a bath at the Asylum we walked into the town and bought things. Feel news in general very depressing, we don’t seem to be gaining anything at all, but we must take what comes to us after doing our best. Another ship lost the Dardanelles too! Wish the war was over and we had won.

Saturday, May 29th            1 a.m.               I should just like to describe my surroundings. You know we are in the asylum, a huge building on the top of a high hill, overlooking pretty country. Well now – I have spent the last hour standing on a table in the bunk, looking at the night, the full moon is facing this way, slowly setting in a sky brilliant with stars and softened by a few light clouds. The land all looks black, hills and trees standing silhouetted clear against the sky, the horizon is alive, with the battle rockets are shooting up, guns firing, and the star lights – that show up where the trenches are, shoot up and float gracefully down. I can distinctly hear rifle fire too – crackling in the distance. Inside the asylum I can hear the peaceful slumber of the officers orderly, there are only two sick officers and they are all right, so I shall not wake him up. Peace reigns. I have only 6 patients down stairs, and they are all fast asleep, either from healthy tiredness or from the kind…

Volume 1 ends here, on page 132.

Journal entries for nearly two months, late May to late July 1915, are missing.


Volume 2 begins at page 1.

[Sunday, ]July 25th, 1915    Just back from 10 perfect days leave & feeling disinclined for work. Owing to a little accident on my part at Boulogne on the way home. I have had a little too much time – they expected me back on Friday night – sent a car to Hazebrouck for me. Next day thought for sure I should come – sent the car again – put 4 hot bottles in my bed & a jar of roses on my table & finally when I did come – no car – cold hot bottles & faded flowers — & a very frosty visit from the Sister in charge – however they will understand in time how innocent of it all I am!

The R. C. Padre stole a chair & table for his tent & was so proud of them he took every one to see how comfortable his tent was. While he was away asking one Sister to come, some M.O. slid in — & slung the chair up to the roof – hid the table, so when the Padre found they had vanished, he started throwing stones at the only M. O. in sight – meanwhile the real culprits sneaked in & filled his boots with water — poor Padre was nearly winded with so much exertion, but ran off & filled everything he could find in their tent with water.

Taubes have been over and round us all day. The one that was over yesterday was brought down at Pop[eringhe] & the two G[erman] Officers taken to No. 10 C.C.S (Casualty Clearing Station). Our craft has been in hot pursuit, one returned tonight with 25 shrapnel holes in it. I have got charge of the Acute Surgical ward – so have had quite a busy day. 4 cases for op. 1 death, & a fairish number of admissions.

[July] 27th    Do not like big ward as much as being all over the place. 3 Zepps were reported from Ypres tonight being heavily shelled. We saw shells bursting over one of our own machines, which was having difficulty in getting back owing to a 50 mile an hour wind that was blowing. There is a rumour that we are to be moved to Arras. Taubes over again.

[July] 28th    Quiet day. Off duty for first time since leave. Went into town to see Miss Congleton.

[July] 29th    Taking in day, only took 15, some bad, 3 for op. One a very sad case – a man with his leg pulped so much that it had to be amputated. He was suffering badly from shock & nothing seemed to touch him. This evening I gave him some strong coffee & he just roused up enough to say he must go home to his wife and boy then “Will you pray for me & my wife & boy”! poor fellow – I suppose he has a glimmer of a chance. Robert has volunteered for listening post duty & is now Officer in charge of his Brigade – good boy he is doing well & I do hope may be kept safe. I expect his Mother is anxious about him.

[July] 30th    Fairly busy day. The man who had his leg off is still alive – a shade better, but does not yet know he has lost his leg. One man had a bullet taken out in the ward. Went in between the ribs slid round & was taken out of the wall of the stomach. Heavy firing all day & this evening. Off in afternoon, walked – alone to Mt Noir & wrote letters. Our aeroplanes were being fired at, hope not hit.

[July] 31st      6.00 am Rudely awakened by shots being fired at a Taube right over us, it is a loathsome way of being called – it feels as if the place is being shelled. Had the 1/2 day off duty, having evacuated 2 of my 6 cases. I called for Miss Congleton & took tea on to Mt Noir. Sat in a lonely spot overlooking Ypres — & had it. She got the R. R. C. for the Neuve Chappelle business & was telling me odd bits about it. The whole staff, Orderlies & all were worn out, the Mortuary Corporal included — one afternoon he came to Miss C. & asked her to help him “sort them out” & when she got there he threw off blanket after blanket from the poor dead things — who had been brought down in such numbers that some tickets were off. He said “Did you ever see ’im before — & did you ever see ’im”. His one job was to sort out R.C.s — & Church of England — so that each Padre might bury his own. Then he found a fresh difficulty — over one — whom he thought was an Officer — but had nothing to mark him — “And ‘ow am I to bury ’im — as a’ Officer — or man”. Sister said — “Surely they all get buried the same.” “No, they don’t.” said the bewildered Cpl. “Men is hammered — Officers is screwed.” Poor Sister who was worn out as well as every one else — suddenly went hysterical — & laughed & laughed — & the more she told herself it was tragic — not funny — the funnier it all looked — & the little white faced corporal with hair on end just gazed helplessly at her — & everything. That is one of the truest pictures of over work & under sleep — & perhaps it shocks you — but I have lived through much the same — & it is dead true. Taubes over us all morning off & on. Someone said they were taking the range of the aerodrome. Hope not. We saw a most beautiful grotto to the V[irgin] Mary like a telescope of three caves leading out of each other beautifully cut into the stone. Stone roof & walls & floor decorated with flowers – palms — & statues.

[Sunday, ]Aug 1st:   Miss McC[arthy] came to lunch M. Denton thinks I am the next for a move – don’t want it – 17 patients in – most v. bad – 4 for op. not off. Miss McC. Showed us a wonderful trick – “Ravens [?] passport – will show it you one day.

[Aug] 2nd    St Omer. They evidently got our range all right. A Jack Johnson was fired into our night Orderlies tent this morning. It has killed 4 of our best Orderlies & wounded two. The thing was so close to the hospital the orders came at once to evacuate all patients, we got them out by about 3 p.m. then they sent us off. All but Miss Denton & I went at 3 p.m. but as mine was the heavy ward – I couldn’t get away to pack until nearly 3 o’clock so we went at 6 p.m. Hartigan is in charge – & made us all most comfortable & welcome. We are living under canvas in little tents like this . The J. J. made a huge hole about 30 ft. deep & the Orderlies were blown many feet away – Tonight I am lying with the cool night air blowing over me. There are about 70 little tents & a big mess tent – sitting room tent & cookhouse. We had a beautiful drive here in a motor ambulance.

[Aug] 3:         Rain & wind all day. Went over hospital fine place well run. Chilly under canvas. Hear our hospital is in flames. If so – let’s hope the M.O.s and lunatics got away first. Tea with Hartifan. This is an old monastery. The monks are in part of it still. Have been in my tent most of the day. Some old friends from 10 Stationary called.

[Aug] 4th:    No orders. Walked to St. O[mer]. They have had 4 bombs dropped there. After dinner 4 of us walked to a charming old home in the country which with its huge garden belongs to a convent & is used as a place of Retreat. It is a large old fashioned beautifully kept old place – floors all scrubbed & sanded. Caretaker and his wife and daughter live there. Splendid people typical French, merry light hearted. They jabbered away to us – showed us over the garden – beautiful – so unspoilt & natural. After we had tea in the kitchen first butter & bread & jam – then coffee — & then liqueur, then another sort of liqueur. Tonight we went to a concert given by the Orderlies and 1 M.O. Quite good. Tonight I am going to sleep with my head outside the sky is so beautiful. Planets & stars & moonlight all so glorious.

[Sunday, August] 8. Have done nothing exciting, picnicked one day behind Sir John Fench’s house in some woods – saw him coming back from his ride. Looking fat & well – but very white haired – walked to town & saw the damage done by the bombs went to tea with the old caretaker once more – went to English church on Sunday heard a good sermon by the Bishop of Kartoum. He thinks the war is like a festering sore on the equals [?] – no more shells at Bailleul – our place was not burnt. The other two hospital[itals] are not allowed to keep patients – dress & send them on. No clear weather since we left. If there are no more shells after the weather clears we shall go back.

Aug. 9th        We are to go back to Bailleul tomorrow. Today has been the last word – hot. We have been stifled in our tents & roasted outside them. Went to town alone. Made straight for the Cathedral and sat there to cool down. body and soul. The drone of the women praying in the soldiers chapel always does that for me. After that went to Public Gardens – a blaze of bright colours — & grass. Saw some very rare kind of plant called “cactus echéria.” Wandered round the wild wooded part & enjoyed all – swans swimming about & all. Hope we are not going back to the same building in Bailleul. Must pack.

[August] 10th           Many Happies to Fred.[6] We came back by ambulance — via Cassel — & saw the damage done there. Found a letter from Mother awaiting me. Very nice. We are in the same building. & are supposed to take in tomorrow after unpacking & fixing my room – walked to town to tea with Miss Congleton then back & took flowers to our Orderlies’ graves. Scratch supper in the tuck ]?] after which Middleton & I walked along the Ypres Road & watched the firing. The gun flashes were very effective tonight – with the black storm clouds.

[August] 11th            Did not take in today as things were slack & it was No. 2’s turn. Went to no. 8 & took a lesson in lace making – a Taube flew right over the town & 2 of our machines went after it – We could hear them firing their guns at each other — & watched the fight till they were both out of sight. Wonder very much how it ended. Am very tired for no reason so goodnight.

[August] 12th           We are taking in – not many so far. Guns going all day. Generals [Plumer and Porter and] a few others called.

[August] 13th            last night was remarkable for 2 terrific explosions – frightened us out of our wits to be wakened at 2 a.m. by them. People have various theories of what they were – Zepp bombs – mines being exploded – our own guns – a field or two away, etc., etc. See note paper next [refers to next 6 pages being on loose pages]. …whatever it was the whole building trembled and rattled with vibration. Not off. Have been feeling thoroughly nervy all day – silly fool that I am too.

14th                Evacuated nearly all patients. Had 1/2 day off duty. Spent it at Mt. des Cats with Miss C[ongleton] delightful sunny day – splendid view all over Pop[eringhe], Ypres, Vlamertinghe – Fourth R.C. padre – Mr. Wain & Mr. Baxter there. They left their glasses with us – a wonderful clear view in every direction – we could see beyond Lillens – La Bassée etc. & the colours of the sky at sunset were glorious. We drove in a little chaise & kept it to come back in then went to no. 8 for a time then back. They were sending up coloured rockets from the aerodrome & had their four flares burning to guide a late comer aeroplane home. I suppose it did come as the fires were all put out quite soon.

[Sunday, ]August 15th        I don’t think I mentioned yesterday that I saw the shells bursting over our trenches S. of Ypres. The picture was vivid – there we saw the shells bursting & the huge volume of smoke & muck shot up into the air – the suggestion of what was happening to our Tommies. The khaki coloured ambulances were all the time creeping to & fro – bringing the wounded in. We saw one of the Trappist Monks walking about looking quite happy dressed in white serge robes with a brown girdle. They may speak to people in war time but I don’t think they do to women.

16                    We had 4 Belg[ians] amongst our wounded y’day. Their wives & children were in Liège with the Germans & they had not heard a word of them or been able to write to them for 10 mos. They seem very confident that the war will end this winter. May they be right if not before…

…16 & 17     Quiet days – bought fruit & veg in town. Walked to Mt. Noir – No. 8 Sisters went to a whist drive at No. 2. 7 of our own men were injured & 1 killed in a bomb experiment. Guns sound very near tonight.

18th                This place is a marvel at rumours. The latest is that one of our big caterpillar guns is being fixed a field off us—and that we shall have to move – as the firing will break our windows etc. Next told me by an Officer in the officers ward – that we sisters (of no 3) were nearer the firing line than any others – & it wasn’t right etc. etc. etc. & that we were “in the field”! There is a huge gun firing now – it simply rattles this place & we hear the whiz – whirr of the shells.

Much busier day – took in 1/2 a ward full – dressed and evacuated them – Then took in lots more – badly wounded.

19th                Very busy day – no evacuation [–] off in afternoon went for walk with Miss Denton after dinner. Guns and rifle fire sounding very near – flashes – very bright. A big gun has just been taken past in a dark cart, being shifted to a fresh position under cover of darkness.

20th               Evacuated most of my patients. Went to tea at No. 8. Met Captain Ormrod & Capt. Phillips. They suggest a whist drive — & say they will take us to see the shells burst after.

21                    Busy day – took in about 114 – not many after the 2804 we have done – but most in my ward bad – 7 very bad — & some I am afraid will die.

[Sunday, ]August (22nd?) All leave stopped: Submarine making itself a nuisance. Off in afternoon.

23rd               Yesterday was the clearest day on record through the War. The men in our observation balloon discovered 3 G[erman] batteries. An Officer in the ward says they have got the range of 15 batteries which they will shell when we make an attack. T & C 1/2 days – picnicked on Mt. Rouge – & Mt. Noir. I joined them for tea & was on duty again at 5. Early to bed – dosed with Asp[irin] & hot whiskey for a cold. We hear that a good many German men of war have been sunk. Good luck. I suppose I had better go to sleep after that whiskey.

24th               Quite a busy day – admitted 28 cases to my ward. Evacuated 23. Still have my family of 7 really very ill ones. Not off – No letters. Miss Charlesworth not back so she can’t talk about my two days any more.

24th [probably 25th]        Good news in the paper about the Dardanelles. Also our fleet have done good work. Off a short time this afternoon. 6 of us went to a concert in the town this evening – given by the 12th Division. Enjoyed it very much. One Officer & a man came in from the trenches to sing – & then went back. Some of the men were music hall professionals – in peace time. The Earl of Cassilis[7] made a little speech at the end thanking the Artists – Colonel Somebody returned it. Glorious night. The hall was packed with Officers & men & there were 12 Sisters. Luckily only one song was at all risky. Letters from you & Hilda. Tonight is beautiful the Moon & Jupiter close together – shining oh so brightly – So brightly that there are no star shells being used along our bit of the line. There were no lights belonging to the concert Hall – so they borrowed motor & bicycle lamps. 2 Tommies behind screens shone lights on the performers & the motley array of bicycle lamps did for footlights.

26th               Our Sister in Charge does not approve of us taking part in the Sisters Egg & Spoon race at the inter Clearing Station Sports on Saturday. Had a 1/2 day – went to Mt. Noir with J. H. C. also watched the Sisters at No. 8 practising egg & spoon race. Very busy morning. 2 men dying – many, many dressings. Day intensely hot & hazy.

27th               A very busy day – only admitted 15 or 16 but 3 were dying & one was screaming with pain, & all had bad wounds which took a long time to dress & some had to be dressed twice because they bled so. One of the dying ones was shot clean through in the middle of the forehead & his brains were pouring out & he had fits at intervals of not more than 10 mins all day. Another, a Canadian, was doing some Cavalry drill & two horses charged each other killing one man & concussing & breaking the back of my patient. I think he will die tonight. The third dying one was shot through the stomach & is sick & in agony all the time. Not off duty. Am going to strufe [strife?/staff?] about the hos(pital) Sports & then to bed.

28th               We had a lad of 18 in with a fractured skull this morning. 2 hrs later his brother came to see him. I was certain it would be an elder brother, but to my utter amazement a small unbroken voiced blue eyed creature of about 15 was sent in – I asked him how old he was – he said – standing at salute – “18 regimentally.” A poor little creature not much older was brought in dying from a stomach wound – he only lived 1 1/2 hours. He asked me to write to his Father & say it was all right he didn’t mind going – then he said “I have done my bit, but I didn’t think I should die so young.”

The Sports were held in the fields at No. 8 this afternoon. No. 2 won – score 32. No. 8 second score 21. No. 3 badly last score 4 & serves it right. Miss D[enton?] objected (old fool) to us doing any – thought it ‘unladylike’ – as a matter of fact she was terrified of displeasing Miss McCarthy – terrified of her own skin.

The Officers of No. 8 did the entertaining & did it well. Miss Congleton – Thompson – Capt. Toms – Capt. Stirling Capt. O.T. & I had a gay tea party in our corner of the tent. All went well. Congleton gave the prizes.

[Sunday, ]August 29th       Church at 7 a.m. only 2 patients in my ward. Padre’s voice hoarse with shouting at the Sports. Major Ray took service – wishes in future to be called – “The Rather Rev” – thinks he had better not have “Very Rev” yet.

The war is making a big noise tonight. Much rifle fire & our own guns sound so near we can hear the shells travelling through the air.

30th               This [journal] has just arrived with Mother’s love so I had better start it – & trust to luck to copying in stray notes I have made before – We are taking in today – & so far have taken exactly 0.

31st                  We only took 6 into my ward – & have evacuated 5 of them – only a bad abdominal left. Major Ray was telling me about when he was with a regiment. One night there was nothing much doing – only snipers sniping – both sides – at last a voice from the German trenches said – “For God’s sake stop it & let’s go to sleep. If you won’t fire – we won’t” – so they stopped & did go to sleep. All the trenches – communication trenches – all sorts are named – They have Harley Street – Brompton Road – Piccadilly – & all sorts like that. They are ordered to name them. I am hoping to take my first lesson in lace making today. At present am v. busy finishing off a couple of bread boards. Guns were quiet last night – but very noisy the night before. There is a base ball match at No. 8. today which I hope to dodge. I would rather learn lace than watch rounders. Later. I hear they have been shelling in St Jans–Capelle today – so I am glad we did not take our off duty walk there. Had my lace lesson & found it most interesting & a little bewildering.


1 September

Practically no work – only one abdominal in ward. Had the half day off. Went to Bailleul to have lace making lesson – & then on to No. 8. Made more lace (bad weather) Capt Shepherd came to tea, he is Aide de Camp to the General commanding 8th Div. He & the General were both nearly killed y[ester]day – they were up at the trenches when a German mine blew up. Luckily no one was killed – they saw one of our aeroplanes brought down in the German lines – both airmen killed – I stayed to dinner at No. 8. Very black walk back – no light at all from Heaven above or Earth beneath – to show up the irregularities & holes in the road. I was terrified of a man whom I heard but could not see – keeping pace with me whether I went fast or slow – at last he struck a match & I saw it was one of our own airmen & I gratefully walked the rest of the way with him. I have lost my Black Cat charm – & I had white heather sent me – both today – bed time.

3rd                  1 a.m. Three Sisters got their marching orders today – Tully & Coulter for No. 8 Gen – Rouen – Charlesworth for No. 3. Gen Letréport. Very sorry they are going – I have been here months longer than they have but am very glad it is not I being moved. Drenching night – I came off duty at 2 to take Miss Tully’s place on night duty. We are taking in – & so far have taken 2 Officers – 3 stretcher men – & 2 cars of sitters. ”We may get a heavy convoy at 5. “Sick” after all this rain – & “wounded” after the firing that has been going on – There was a heavy bombardment by our guns this afternoon & evening – I should think easily 40 shots a minute – it just kept on – bang – whirr – whiz – bang – whiz – so loud – & for such a long time. This place – simply rattled with it. The Germans have been shelling our trenches too – shells looked to be bursting right in them this evening. Search & star lights – were very busy too.

The R. N. D. [Royal Naval Division] have charge of these things [observation balloons] & the men sometimes stay up for 20 hrs at a time. When there is wind it lurches & wobbles horribly & makes them seasick. There is a man in the ward down below too well for the base – who is going back to duty tomorrow. He may be well as far as his wound’s concerned but his is very nervy – He shouts out in his sleep – & thinks this place is surrounded by Germans.

The three who are leaving at 8 a.m. this morning had a joy ride to Pop[eringhe]. Yesterday – they say the big church is a good deal knocked about – & on an average – 1 in 3 houses is smashed. There are still a few shops open & people about. It is getting colder & colder – & I sleepier & sleepier – only 7 hours & a bit more before the others come on.

4:15: Dawn is breaking & there is another big bombardment going on. I have been watching the flashes as they dart up many at a time & it is just a thunder of bangs & whirrs of shells all the time. The guns are big – & close – even the brickwork of this building shivers when they are firing.

4th                 5 a.m. Last night 2 abdominals & 1 head case dying in ward 2. Others doing all right – No post – Saw 5 Sisters off to the Base yesterday – three from here – 2 from 8. There are only 4 of us now – until our 3 new ones come. Had a lace lesson y’day morning & brought my pillow back in the pouring rain – no joke – with a huge German umbrella & a wind as well – I have been making lace in my spare time tonight – had to unpick 3 times – but I think it is all right now. No guns tonight – but there were German shells bursting along the horizon – I could see flashes of guns – but heard no noise.

[Sunday, ]September 5th. 5 a.m. Very quiet night. The 3 who were dying last night still are – & the rest are getting better. Guns have been very loud again tonight. Since we have had these big ones round us – we have had torrents of rain – perhaps the firing causes it. When they started at 6 last night I was asleep – & woke with a tremendous jerk. I thought my own door had banged with all its might, but it was only the guns. I have made about 7 inches of lace tonight –

my lace pattern.

6th                  We are taking in tonight – only about 50 patients in so far. Got up at 6 p.m. & went for a walk with Miss Congleton – am paying for it now – being abnormally sleepy. Miss Clements who came y’day – thinks I ought not to have been at a C.S. so long – “doesn’t give other people a chance.” Sorry I have not the distribution of Sisters – & am afraid I cannot do much in the matter.

7th.                 Our 8 patients tonight all comfortable – Did shopping with Miss C[ongleton] yesterday morning… bought fruit & flowers in a charming old garden. We had to wait for some of the things, & to be truly rural – sat on a round white stone which we thought was the well cover – & admired the sunshine – & general beauty of colouring – sky etc., until we became aware of a horrid smell – and tumbled to the truth! We were sitting on an open cesspool!! I saw a gaudy & pathetic sight in the town – the funeral procession of a child. First walked the acolytes carrying a mace & incense, then a Priest – the 3 children – with a huge cross – one carrying it – & the other two one on each side holding ribbons that streamed from it. Behind that was the coffin borne on the shoulders of 4 little boys – still in socks – about 10 yrs old. The coffin was covered with a blue satin pall – & on it stood 3 silver (or tin) crowns – After all these came a long line of women and children. No men perhaps they are all away at the war.

Glorious day. I am going to market, then a lace lesson – then a walk if all be well.

I made a stationary cabinet – & about 4 in – 7 inches of lace in the night.

8th                  Very quiet night. A Zeppelin was reported to be passing over us at 2 a.m. but I neither heard nor saw it. I went to market then a walk about. Latham called.

9th                  It was a Zeppelin overhead last night – have not heard where it went. Went for a lovely walk y’day morning through the fields towards Neuve Eglise – Weather was hot sunny still & perfect – in the far distance somebody’s guns were booming. German I think – they were not very near. Nearer – a regimental drum & fife band was practising – & close round me the birds were singing – & the hops smelling strong. I stayed & enjoyed it until I was so sleepy – that I had to march in time to the music – to get myself along – coming back. This has been our taking–in day & we have only taken about 40, including 4 officers.

Am dreadfully afraid of going to sleep – so will make a little lace now.

10th                Did some shopping & then went for a walk with Martin (No 2.) I am afraid she is a pessimist. Work slack – Guest night in Officers’ Mess. 1 a.m. they are just going.

[Sunday, ]September 12th                        Busy night. Some quite badly wounded people in. Got up at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon & went to tea with Miss Congleton in the fields – also learnt another stitch in lace making, a half stitch – not very difficult I think. May I be forgiven [if] it is wrong, but I made about 6 inches of lace in the night (Sunday) – as the only means of keeping myself awake between times of working in the wards. I had a letter from Miss Coulter y[ester]day. She & Tully are loathing being at Rouen & a General Hospital, but we must all be prepared to take our turn at everything. Saw three small French boys who pleased me very much yesterday – the biggest one was drilling the other two – & giving all his commands in English. The two drilled smartly – just as correctly as any full blown soldier too – it was quaint to hear the two small objects ordered to “form fours” “right wheel” “quick march” “on guard” “point” “as you were” “attention” “Halt” “Stand at ease” “Dismiss” Some Tommies who were watching them were delighted with them. I am sitting in a field close by a garden of ripe hops – & the day is perfect – I wish the war were over. Our heavy guns are making a great noise pummeling away – & a German aerpolane is being fired [at], so the outlook is not dull.

It is not surprising that some of these people are spies – walking through their horrid pavé slums – the dirty, undergrown – badly nourished creatures stare at us – as much as to say – “You in your clean clothes! What have we got.” I fancy a good dinner means more than who wins the war to them & they would do anything for money & live equally miserably under the Government of any nation – Some of course are clean & charming, but some are bad!

13                    Very quiet night – chiefly washed stockings & made lace & tried not to feel sleepy – Glorious sky all night and lovely sunrise this morning. A German aeroplane is being shot at – at the moment – but of course won’t be hit.

14th                That’s just where I was wrong – the German aviator was hit – not by shell – but by the maxim of the aeroplane who was duelling with him – it was one from our own Squadron piloted by Capt Miles – We watched the duel [–] it was most exciting. Our aeroplane was tilted right over on its side – to work its maxim & had to shoot straight upwards to hit the G[erman]. When he was hit he fell like a stone & grounded at Steenwerck in a Canadian Camp. The two G[erman] officers fired their maxim on the Canadians to give themselves time to start out before being taken prisoner. One Canadian was killed – & the rest were so infuriated – they fired two volleys & killed both officers – One was a very smart person wearing all sorts of decorations including the Iron Cross. Our airmen are sorry they were shot, they think the Germans will make it an excuse for shooting our airmen when they are brought down in German territory.

I was watching 5 nuns – & 3 orderlies washing soldiers’ shirts in the courtyard of the Convent at No. 8. The men were working the washing machines & mangle – & the nuns – 4 washing in one huge tub – & one rinsing in another. They were all chatting happily together – when a bell rang – the men stopped talking – one nun said prayers – & the other 4 asked the Virigin to hear them – at the end of each sentence – they went on with their washing just the same. It was quite picturesque to hear & see them. The garden is old fashioned & rather suited the nuns with their clogs & quaint head gears.

We hear that a big push is to be made this month[8] and all along our lines – we three hospitals are putting up 50 marquees each – to be prepared for a rush.

15th                Nothing fresh. 3 concerts in town – I went to none from choice –

16th                Quiet day & night – one very very ill man – & two very ill – the rest comfortable. Letter today saying Fred has offered his services as Army Chaplain[9] – I think he will like the work very much.

There has been tremendously heavy firing tonight. It only last[ed] 1/2 an hour – it made such a noise & rattled the place so much that some of the Sisters got up to see if it was the Germans coming. They must have been tight asleep to think that because we could hear the whiz of the shells – after the explosion.

Have been trying a new lace pattern tonight.

17th                The town is to be closed from the 20th – no civilian to enter or leave it – & no market to be held – business at last I suppose.

Perhaps after all I am lucky to get my night duty over before I am really due to begin it – the penalty of being the only old hand left. As I expect next month will be much busier than this – I wonder – wonder – what we are going to do – let’s only hope it will be a successful push –

[September] 20th. Miss McCarthy came yesterday – she told Miss Denton she was going to move me soon – I had been here a very long time. I wish she would mind her own business & let me mind mine.

Quiet night. An aeroplane has just shot up in pursuit of a German one – the A. A. guns are shooting at it too. Capt. Bell Irvine had a nasty accident yesterday – his engine went wrong & he fell smash to earth. Luckily he is a splendid pilot & saved himself all injury except a scratch & the machine will be repaired all right.

The nights are getting very cold indeed. I made about 2 inches of lace but was kept rather busy with a dotty pneumonia. He has rather a down on me because he says he came just to see how I was getting along – & I have kept him all this time. The nights and days are glorious cold sunny & autumnally clear. Good for walks. I am sorry to leave this unit & wonder where I will go next. Rouen or Boulogne I suppose.

[September] 22nd. Everything is as usual & quiet still. The town is closed & hundreds & hundreds of troops are passing through on their way up – it is a sickening & heart rending sight! These long columns of fine healthy cheery men marching so gaily to the music of drum & fife bands – & they must know as we do that a great many will not come back – & a great many more – spoilt – heads smashed – or short of a limb or something sad. I had a lace lesson this morning & was much interested in stories the little girl was telling me of when the Germans were here. A great many of the inhabitants were disloyal & cheered “Vive les Al[l]emands” when the Germans marched in. I have made up my mind never to buy a farthingsworth again at a shop I have dealt at. The people here had German soldiers guarding their house against the German soldiers. I suppose they are spies. At Méteren a place two miles out – a little boy ran in to tell his Mother the Germans were here – & went out again to look at them. When the Mother came out they jeered at her & asked her where her boy was – she said she didn’t know – & they uncovered a hole in the side of the road & showed her the child lying with his throat cut – then they cut hers & put her in beside him. The inhabitants of Lille were made to nurse the German wounded – 3 girls who were there said that one day 3 German 3 English & 2 French wounded were brought to their house – the officer said the Germans were very ill & must be well cared for – then he took the French & English into the garden & shot them – & buried them – before they were quite dead.

This is a most glorious moonlight night. An aeroplane has just whirred its engine – I wonder if it is going up. I hear there is to be a bombardment at dawn today. I shall soon know – as it is only 2 hours to dawn now. The big explosion which we all thought was a shell on Sunday night was one of our own mines exploding. There was another big bang at 10 p.m. tonight that they say was one of our own big guns. It rattled this place so much – that I made a special visit to see if it had frightened any of the very ill patients. Now I must quickly write some letters while for the moment I am not feeling deadly sleepy. I wrote to you last night to thank you for so kindly sending me some bulls eyes – & clothing for the men.

4:30 a.m. Things are beginning to stir. Dawn is showing in the E & from that part of the horse shoe of guns that surround us – boomings have begun – & everything indoors that will rattle is rattling at each fresh boom. There is an engine panting in the aerodrome – waiting to be off on some business at a moment’s notice I suppose. As dawn lights up more of the sky – more guns will begin I suppose – at present their flash would give away their position too badly. I can hear rifle fire in the distance when I am at the window. I wonder where those poor creatures are – the hundreds of young ones unbaptised with fire – who went up yesterday – Braveness & good luck to them now.

By the way, I forgot to tell you what a man told me. Several of them were billeted on a farm – & every night some on picket duty were shot by a sharpshooter. They could not find out where the man hid himself until one day they caught him red handed & Lo! & behold – it was their host himself – he farmed & talked to them all day – & crept out with his rifle & sniped them at night. So like them!

[September] 23.      I don’t think we have ever had such a continuous “rumble” & “thump” of guns as tonight. They have been going all the time sounding like an angry woman banging at an iron door – that resounds. & now – 4.30 a.m. the nearer ones are waking up – & joining in – The windows & doors have kept up a gentle rattle all night. Received a parcel from Hilda today – bags– chocs – & books – all very welcome.

The night has been uneventful except for one patient – a mental one – who has been rather like a religious maniac all night – deploring his evil ways – & declaring he is doomed.

Got up early yesterday – & went to tea at No. 8. & made a little lace – c’est tout. An officer told me today that our whole line was ready to make the big push – they were only waiting for orders giving them the date & time.

24th               Quiet night on “take in”. Two poor things with smashed heads were brought in at 10.30 – one is already dead – the other dying. Guns quieter but going most of the time – yesterday morning from 4 to 1/4 to 5 they were going at the rate of 62 a minute or more. We just counted as accurately as we could – but there were others firing at the same time which did not get counted. No lace tonight – horrid bad headache. Only admitted about 20 altogether.

25th               Tonight has been quite a revelation[10] of what war can be like – I think I have told you that we are in a horse shoe shape of guns all round us – Tonight all the guns round us have been going without ceasing. It has been a panorama of vivid flashes of light from the guns – & the huge bursts of fire where shells are bursting & the rumble, thud – rumble – roar – the whole night. I shall be surprised if we are not very busy after this. Walking past every window in every direction except one – is like walking past a fence with chinks – & the sun glints into your eyes a few times every second. Just now there is a huge fire blazing – it looks like just behind the trees about a mile off, but I am sure it is further than that. It has not been a succession of starlights – bursting shells – & gun flashes – they have all been going all the time. The star lights look like so many Jupiters or Venuses thrown up into the sky – & they float down – It is quite the biggest bombardment I have seen & shall be surprised if we do not fill up after it. I think some of the shells bursting have been our own because I hear the gun & a few seconds after see the yellow burst of the shell. We are quiet so far. No. 8 are taking in – we cleared right out except 15 patients yesterday – in the intervals of watching the bombardment I am making lace & writing this.

[Sunday, ]26th        Very busy night – extra nurse on night duty

27th               Our first Army made a push yesterday, which started things going – in the hospitals – We really serve the 2nd Army – but we acted as overflow – & all three of us were soon filled with the wounded – The news on the whole is good – we seem to have advanced a little, & taken a great many prisoners – the French have done splendidly[11]. The wounded we have are not nearly so bad as those we had from Hill 60. Perhaps the worst have gone to Merville & Sillars & places down South. The C. O. asked for my particulars at the office yesterday – I suppose it means a move soon.

Went for a walk with Kelsey (No. 8) this morning to Méteren – where the graves of the Warwicks – who were killed there are. Pathetic little cemeteries in turnip & potato fields or in people’s gardens.

– about 20 ft by 10. Surrounded by barbed wire.

– In memory of Srgt Easy & his men who fell – Oct 14th, 1914.

– In memory of Crpl. Day & his men – who fell Oct 14th, 1914.

Corporal Day’s cap.

– In mem. Lieut (I forget) who fell Oct 14th, 1914.

beside a house.

We took in about 20 Prussian wounded last night – great strong clean looking creatures they are too!

28th               Very sorry – I had a letter saying you had been ill again. O I do hope you will soon be better – was much pleased that you thought my first attempt at lace was not bad. News is excellent the French & we have advanced all along the line, 5 kilometres in some places. So our casualties were not in vain this time. We have one young officer still in who was too ill to travel yesterday – suffering from a lung wound & badly from shock. He cannot sleep even with the help of morphine & keeps on muttering things like, “The men were in such horrid shapes” “Little bits & big bits of men” – “Get the men in – they will all be killed” & so he rambles on – evidently his mind has never left the battlefield. He does not look much like getting over it – but youth & a strong body can stand a good deal. Went for a lovely long walk to Mt. Noir with Wheatley (the new one) yesterday morning. We were both on duty last night, although we were quite slack. I slept from 10.30 to 12.30 then after 1 a.m. slept went off till 6.

I made a little lace in the night. It is a glorious morning & the German aeroplanes are already astir & being shot at by our guns. Our aeroplanes are also out, but up to now I don’t see any German shots in the sky.

 [September] 30th. No evacuation today, so we have the same family as last night – the man with most of his insides outside who was so very ill all night died during the day & tonight another, shot in the lungs is, I am afraid dying – anyway he is terribly ill & the funny old Daddy who was kicked in the stomach by a horse is also very sorry for himself – but I think he is doing quite well. It has been raining on & off for 48 hrs & it is like walking about in a duck pond – gum boots, mackintosh coat & skirt – meet the occasion. Very few guns tonight. They have been many & near today & an officer has warned us to be prepared for ever louder firing. I made lace at No. 8 this morning & left my pillow there as it was too rainy not to. A man in the ward was telling me tonight what an abject picture some Germans made who were giving themselves up – they looked not like men as they came across shaking & trembling like leaves – shambling along, some with hands up all more or less wounded, ragged & hungry. The news tonight is quite the best we have heard. 3 Divisions, Cavalry & all of the French have broken through, the German lines at the Champagne District & have got them on the run – long may they stay so! & the French have taken the 3 front lines of trenches at Souchez. We have done well & so have the Russians. Letter from Hilda – she is a good old dear & writes about twice at least every week. It is a cold night. I have put a towel over the mackintoshed table – a blanket to sit on – & a roll of wool to put my feet on & am very sleepy. The second night Sister has gone for a doss – as we are slack again & do not really need two. In fact I prefer being on alone. Am hoping very much that you are better.


1 Oct.              Came off night duty today – & am thankful – Spent 1st half day in the town at No. 8 – sewed, lunched – dossed – came back – had an hour’s gramophone & then to bed where I am. My last night was a busy one – we did not evacuate until 11 p.m. then two men were very very ill – one died at 4:30 a.m. one did not.

[Sunday, October] 3rd.      Many happies to Syd[12] – I was in bed 1/2 of yesterday with some deadly illness – chill I think – feel all right today – & am going to get up after breakfast. Luckily we were slack enough for me to go off. Hope you are better too. I don’t think the guns were very busy yesterday.

[October] 4th.         Letter from Mother – she is better – Have not taken in many today – heavy firing all day – still going this evening – It is getting a bit active servicing cold stone floors – & no heating apparatus – no more news tonight.

[October] 5. Very noisy of guns all day – & shells bursting about 5 miles off. We hear they are shelling the road – to get our troops going up. We took in quite a fair number of blessé yesterday & evacuated all but 4 today. 3 too ill to travel & 1 poor wretch with a self–inflicted wound – who has been taken to a hospital for those unhappy men – to await their trial. Such a highly strung nervous youth – one can only feel very sad indeed for him – & wonder how one would have borne oneself in his circumstances.

I have been in to No. 8 tonight – Poor Miss C[ongleton?] is really ill & I don’t wonder at it – She has some horrible form of neuralgia that comes on in agonizing attacks about every hour – or 1/2 hour – after what she has been through the last 8 months I don’t wonder at any sort of break down. No letters today. We had a grand display of searchlights last night – looking for a Zepp. I don’t know if they saw him in the end. Very dark night – Capt. Stirling kindly called for me & escorted me back. No special news. Except I hear the town is full of troops again

[October] 6th.         Letter from Hilda. Quiet day – off from 12 to 5 p.m. Lunched at No. 8 & made lace & had tea there. Poor old Miss C[ongleton?] is thoroughly ill with neuralgia. A taube was brought down – quite near here a few days ago – wish I had seen it – A silly fool of an orderly watched the whole thing & never told a soul. We have rather a trying Canadian patient who wants to know his temperature & the drugs used in his medicine all the time. If he were not so ill & badly wounded I would feel irritated by him – It is very cold weather now.

[October] 7th.         We are taking in – about 100 – chiefly Canadians – 2 poor wounded spines – one is dead – the other dying. Cold – damp – little sunshine.

Received my welcome parcel from Hilda of pyjamas etc.

[October] 8. 4 cases in theatre otherwise calmish day. Busy morning – dressing & getting the train load off. Off this evening – went to see Miss C[ongleton?] She is looking frightfully ill. There is a huge fire raging over towards Dickybush [Dikkebus] – making a wide red glow in the sky – some of their inflammable bombs, I suppose.

We had some rather badly wounded people in last night & yesterday. I was dressing a man shot all over the place – including his l. eye. I told him I was afraid the eye was done for. He simply said “Oh, well – then I shan’t have to shut it for shooting next time I come out.” Letter from Lil. There is a charming variety of little carts in this town, from the size of an ordinary goat chaise– up to a big donkey cart – Drawn by – one – two three – four or five dogs of any kind – sometimes an old man – or woman perched in it driving – if only I could draw I would. It is a very dark walk out from the town nowadays at night – & they have their door steps half across the pavement. The gramophone is going in the officers’ ward so I want to hurry in to bed to listen to it – Goodnight.

[Sunday, ]October 10th     Our taking in day – but we haven’t taken much – I am staying late on duty to help with the first night convoy – & wish it would hurry up & come, I want to go to bed. One poor man who came in this morning shot right through the head is trying hard to die, but is taking a long time. We shouldn’t allow an animal to remain alive in the condition this poor fellow is in – He can scarcely breathe for the brain matter that is oozing down his throat & his whole head is in a hopeless state & he is making a terrible noise all the time.

Went to early service in our own little cellar church – then we had evening service in one ward – & all the walking cases from upstairs came to it. Hurrah – here is the convoy – so now for it & then to bed.

13                    Yesterday & the day before were quiet – only about 7 patients left in my ward. Off duty on Monday evening. Went to dinner at No 8. Tea there yesterday. Miss C[ongleton?] is still waiting for her relief to come. Met Colonel Christie there at tea. He was telling us about when they had their Head Qrs. up at Ypres in a dugout. The Germans knew they were somewhere there & were always trying to locate it to shell it. The shells fell closer & closer & at last were so near that they shook the dug out so violently that all the acetylene lamps went out – they dare not use paraffin in case of a shell coming right in. He said the language was appalling. The different officers would be reading or writing – & every few minutes were left in total darkness. Theirs was an old dug out that had been made by the French in the early part of the war & had become very thin on top – in fact was not at all bomb proof. They wondered which would be better, to remain old looking & unsafe & take their chance of not being hit – or to have more loads of earth put over them, which would have made them safer – but more noticeable. They chose to take their chance – with the old grass grown roof – & were only hit by small shells twice – & they stood that all right.

14th                Miss C[ongleton?] went this morning. Latham called hurrying to say Goodbye – she has orders for No 8. Station Wimmereux so all my old friends are going & I expect I shall be sent toute suite.

I did not go to bed last night till 4.15 this morning. Had a bad abdominal op. in the theatre until 2.30 – Helped with the convoy until 4.15. We had a fair sized one in between 11 & 4 – from Kemmel– our men attacked the G[erman] trenches to discover the strength of theirs. Found only a few, but quite enough to wound hundreds of our men with their maxims & rifles. We evacuated 2 or 3 hundred by 10 a.m.

Friday, October 15th          Many Happy returns to Bud[13]. Quiet day – no rumours. The big gun has gone. Off 2–6, gathered autumn leaves on Mt. Noir with Miss Hutchinson. We take in tomorrow.

16/18–10–15 We had a rather busier “taking in” day – some bad abdominals – operated on & doing badly – the operation gives them their only chance – & that a slender one – when the intestine is like a badly damaged inner tube of a bicycle – with tears & holes all along it. Maj. Ray took 15 inches from one man – & 4 at one operation & another 4 at a second operation from a youth who died last night (17th). On the 17th – yesterday – was off 6 – 8. Quiet day – 1 abdominal operation – 2 1/2 hrs. Went to town in the evening with Lawton & Constable, who came to see us from No 8. Miss C[onstable?] & I went to the Canadian service – or at least the tail end of it – at the theatre – we were just in time for the last 2 minutes of sermon & hymn “Abide with me”. It sounded fine on their brass band – & they played for about an hour after service – all sorts of things, chiefly patriotic music. About 5 weeks ago some of the Can. Battalion thought they would like some music – & set to work at once to form a “Band”. They collected £60 amongst themselves & sent to England for instruments – & with a few odd practices – have got a good well played band in going order in 5 weeks. The Theatre is a huge Hall with a stage & hung round with flags – it was rather a warlike looking place last night – packed with officers & men – in all stages of cleanness & dirtyness – some in who were in the middle of a march. All along, the sides were lined with rifles, axes – panikins – equipment of all sorts brought by those who were, really on march. They loved the music & for the most part looked cheerful – There were only 6 women – 2 of us – 3 Sisters from No. 2 & 1 from No. 8. but we have to get used to being very much in the minority. The music was most refreshing. I only wished the poor fellows who lay a–dying in our Hospital could have heard it too.

On the way home we met a Battalion coming in from the trenches for a rest – a raggedy sandy looking crew – very happy – singing & cheering as they steadily marched along to the music of a drum & fife band – streams & streams & streams – infantry chiefly – some officers & other things on horses. They looked rather picturesque in the moonlight filing up the quaint narrow pavé street – clanking their boots on these hated stones. They were cheering for anything & nothing – cheered when they passed us – the little band away at the head of the line could hardly be heard for the noise the men made – & the length of the line – That big gun that was sitting at our gate for some time is in position – not too far off & has started coughing – & this place rattles & shakes worse than ever – it is really difficult to sleep through although it is wonderful how one gets used to it.

[October] 18th.       Quiet day – went with Hutchinson Lawton & Constable to Mont Noir – to get autumn leaves. Glorious it all looked with its hundreds of soft shades & tints & the sun setting & a blue haze over all. Really beautiful. I had a large lunch of steak & carrots at 1:30 – then we found the two from No. 8 had to be on duty again at 5 so we had tea at 3:30 – boiled eggs – anchovy & sardine sandwiches plum bread & butter & tea – I don’t want my dinner tonight – at least I wish I didn’t – it would be more refined. P.S. We got leaves – lovely red oak ones etc.

[October] 19th.       Busy day – 3 cases in the theatre, the last a very young Officer – about 18 – with his poor head – cracked – like a nut.

[October] 20th.      He died this morning. As I was crossing the aerodrome coming back from dinner a sentry somewhere called “Halt” in such a sharp tone – I did halt & stood still looking for him – but the moonlight was not good enough to show him up – so I coughed in a treble voice & went slowly on – I don’t think he was challenging me – but I had no fancy to be shot.

I received a letter from Mrs. Chamber – telling me of Robert’s death from wounds & severe concussion – dear boy – I am terribly sad about it. We have 3 men in suffering from shock – No. 1 – is stone deaf – No. 2 is not deaf – but dumb – & has a nervous tremor – No. 3 sits with the expression of a thoughtful monkey – & keeps saying “I remember playing football – but after that ————[”] I think probably what did happen after that was that the shell broke up his football pitch – & buried him. We have 8 cases left over from the convoy 5 very bad – one – having had – right arm & foot & left hand fore finger amputated for gas gangrene & who is now mad from septic poisoning.

An abdominal – who is dying slowly – another whom I think will die – & two head cases mad as hatters at present.

[October] 21st.        We had the two head cases in the theatre trephined. I am afraid they haven’t much chance – poor things!

There were two very loud & very near explosions this afternoon – we thought they were shells – but some one said they were our own people experimenting.

The C.O. & Mr Flether left – for permanent moves – today. Major Ray is in Command for the present.

Miss Hutchinson & I went to a concert given by the Canadians in aid of British prisoners in Germany. The Concert was excellent & they are sending £60 – proceeds – The “Minstrel troop” – were very cleverly dressed in hospital “blues” – jacket blue side out – trousers white side out – & a flaming red bow at their necks. There were many Staff Officers – the Earl of Cassilis, Sir John Stewart & Canon Scott spoke – shortly. It has been fine all day but is pouring now. There were 4 sisters from No. 8 – two from No. 2 – 2 from us – the rest of the theatre packed tight with Officers & men.

[October] 22nd.     1 case in theatre this evening – tidying up a leg which had been blown off. Letter from J. H. C[ongleton?] Not off – did not take in many. No news.

[October] 23rd.       Quiet day – one op. trephine – fairly hopeful case.

Off 2 to 6 – Went for lovely walk along Neuve Eglise Rd with Miss Hutch[inson].

[Sunday, October] 24th.   Wrote to Madge. Very young Officer admitted this evening very badly torn & wounded in a painful part of his anatomy at present heavily under Morphine – Off this morning went for long walk alone – Bed early – arrowroot & no dinner. Major Ray & Capt. R.T. came to tea. Major Ray was in Pop[eringhe] today – he says the place is deserted, but people still live in a few of the houses & the place is shelled regularly every day – I believe the man who was Mayor there in our day has been taken as a Spy.

Concert at Flying Corps last night – Major Ray inspected the unit – today at 11:30 Parade.

Col. Boyle is going to the Balkans in charge of a hospital. Our new C.O. has not come yet.

The man in No. 2 ward who had 15 inches of gut taken away is dying – he is quite mad poor fellow & looks terrible.

[October] 25th.       Many Happy returns of the Day to Madge[14] – we should have been taking in today, but after getting only a few ambulance loads – we were stopped & told that No. 2 was taking in. This afternoon I heard why. The King is coming on Wednesday – & will be taken to No. 2 as it is senior C. C. S. here & they want to have plenty of patients when he comes so they are to take in today & tomorrow. King will come on Wednesday & then they will evacuate afterwards. It has been pouring with rain all day. Miss Hutchinson and I were off 2 to 5. Walked in to No. 8 to tea – no letters.

[October] 26th.      Glorious day – sparklingly clear – view simply wonderful – No. 2 still taking in – to have enough for the King to see tomorrow. Went to town to buy vegetables for the mess & drove in in a motor lorrie & noticed every – single person – of hundreds facing the sky – soon could stand it no longer & got down just in time to see a Taube hit & fall – in our own lines. The observer was killed & the pilot wounded in the head – I did not see him but they said he looked a mere boy – of 17 or 18. Later on another German aeroplane was brought down but I didn’t see that. The afternoon was cold – I was on duty in the ward from 2 – 6 & made lace there for about 1 1/2 hours. After 6 I took my lace pillow to town & had a lesson. The little girl was full of news & told me that King George had been to Bailleul today & visited one Hospital. It was being kept a dead secret – how these people get to know everything is marvellous – the guns have been fairly active all day.

 [October] 2[7]th.  We took in not many – one head case too bad to operate on who died in about 1 hour. 6 Officers.

We saw the King today – quite close up, on his way to the town – to No 2. The who[le] procession of him was – outriders – consisting of a car with 2 Staff Officers & 3 motor bicycles – all flying red flags – then followed 4 cars – 2 officers in the first – the King & Gen. Plumer in the second – then more officers in the last two. Our poor abdominal died today. 4 of us Sisters – 4 M.O.s & about [?] officers of the R.F.C. stood at our gates to salute the King as he passed – he looked very grave & saluted us. The road was uncommonly like a river with mud & we were splashed from head to foot but it was nice to see him so close. Day has been very rainy & bright intervals. No guns heard all day.

[October] 28th.      Chiefly remarkable for having rained without stopping a single minute all last night today & tonight – a heavy wet rain.

Two cases in theatre – an abdominal – 3 inches cut out of his small intestine – fix shrapnel tears – & a smashed hand (Officer) – by the way – I am coming out of the theatre at the end of the month. Off 2–5. Paddled to town – took a lace lesson – & waded back with my lace pillow & the large German umbrella. Major Mackintyre came today, Major Ray left. Capt Hey came. He came from 9 Field Ambulance at Vlamertinghe –& says there are only about 3 buildings left there now. Last week – he was going up to Ypres to fetch wounded – with two ambulances when they were just outside the town a shell burst close to them, killed the driver on one side of him – wounded the Padre (going up to bury the dead) so badly that he died in a few hours– wounded all three men on the second car & he was the only one unhurt.

It shook his nerves rather – he had been friendly with the Padre for the last 6 months.

It is so cold tonight – I could not face my bath. One inch of water covers one such a little way up & the rest shivers, so here I am in bed all unwashen.

[October] 29th.      Anniversary of the Passing of a Good Man – our dear Father[15].

Our two abdominals died in the night. One was Lord George Sanger’s son – such a charming man & so grateful for all that was done for him. I am afraid the man wounded in the chest will die too, he is terribly ill. I took my lace pillow & sat beside him this afternoon – he liked it very much & hated me to move even to get things for him. At 3, I made him a feeder of tea with brandy in – he said it was very good & wanted me to have some of it – I refused – & he pressed & insisted & was making himself breathless over it – so I did drink some from the back of the feeder – which pleased him very much indeed. He is a very nice man – as most of them are.

The boy who had his leg blown off by one of our own guns is doing well. He told me all about it today – says he remembers everything. He was mending a wire in front of the gun when the telephone message came for it to be fired – he did not hear the order – “Fire” & the shell blew his leg off without exploding – then went on & burst in the German trenches. He told me “We aren’t in action all day – only when the German Infantry give any trouble, then our own Infantry telephone back to us – to fire on them to quiet them. Each battery has four guns – & each gun has its own division of German trench to attend to, so when they are giving trouble the Infantry telephone & say which part of the German trenches they want shelled – & then the gun to be used is ordered – “Eyes front” & fires so many rounds & if that doesn’t quiet them – we go on firing.”

Today the weather has been an improvement on y’day – but very damp & cloudy. I went to town & did shopping for the mess this morning. Heard a rumour today that the King was injured while he was here. The story goes that when he was reviewing troops, they cheered & startled his horse – & it threw him & rolled on him. Hope it is not true.

[Sunday, October] 31st.      We took in some bad cases yesterday – one a bomb accident died as he was being brought in – quite a wealthy man – joined as a Private – & the sad part is that it was one of our own bombs. 4 badly smashed heads – all except one – dying – an abdominal dying – & the chest man we had in 3 days ago is dying a slow & very painful death. I was writing a letter for the abdominal boy to his fiancée & he wanted to know if he could say he would soon be better – I told him what I thought – & he said “Well, never mind I must just trust to God – He will take care of me.” These dying men are so tired & don’t seem to mind dying if only it will rest them, they are splendid people. I was writing a letter for one boy tonight to his Mother & found – he lived at Bedford – & was at school with the Chambers – & played against Robert[16] in House matches. R. went to Ceylon & this boy went to Canada. 2 cases in the theatre today – one head and the Bedford boy – leg.

I have a pouring, horrible cold & have had it for days. I think it is getting hot in the wards & then going over in the rain & mud to meals. Also the stone floors are not the warmest things to stand on in the Theatre. I think I will skip dinner & go early to my bed ce soir.

The big gun near us was trying to get the range of some cross roads at Messines [Mesen, Belgium] yesterday. I think it must have got it because – although it is cloudy & misty today – it has been firing. The King had an accident while he was at Bailleul – hope it is not bad. Now for my bed – there goes that old gun again – “Lizzie” – I wonder what damage is happening at the other end of the shots.

1.11.15.            All Saints Day. Pouring without ceasing all day. There was a service held in the Soldiers Cemetery this afternoon – for all our Tommies who were lying there. It was quite impressive. They had made a mound nicely done with paths round & flowers in & a flag staff in the middle flying the Union Jack & tricolour flag half mast high – Four chaplains took the service – & the Earl of Cassilis & several Staff Officers were in the middle round the flag staff – then all along the paths by the graves were lines & lines of Tommies & in another patch officers & Sisters (9 from the 3 hosps). First we sang two hymns – “For all the Saints who from their labours rest” & “Through the night of doubt & sorrow” – then some prayers – & a splendid short address. Hymns were – 1st “Oh God our help in ages [past]” then “For all the Saints who from their labours rest”. Then after the sermon “Through the night of doubt & sorrow” & after the Blessing – “God Save the King”. It was a simple little service – but I don’t think one could forget it. The whole crowd of us – standing there & singing & joining in the service in the pouring rain & thick mud – with the guns booming away to Eastward of us & these pathetic graves marked by a simple wooden cross. Just outside – in the ordinary town cemetery crowds of French civilians stood watching.

The chaplain gave a sensible address – not one to make the Tommies weep – as they so easily do. He said we had come “to rejoice over the loyalty & devotion of the men who had died – not to mourn over their death” – & he felt sure if they could have had it otherwise they wouldn’t & it was quite true that “we faintly struggle – they in Glory shine.” We took wreaths to the graves of our four orderlies & the young Officer who died the other night & to two other Officers.

Bought lace in the town for Capt. Hey. Tea at No. 8. back in a luxurious car – of a Canadian. He picked [me] up & said “These roads are bad for you girls” & gave me a lift. Nice of him – He was in from the trenches & says they are terribly wet. The poor Canadian is still dying but not dead. We have only two patients left in Ward 2.

[November] 2nd.   Saw some reinforcements going up yesterday with some such tired hobbly old men amongst them. I did wish they could have been taken out of it & sent back. Went to town this afternoon to do shopping for the mess – 2 cauliflowers 2 lb. sausage (none for me thank you) 1 lb. tomatoes 1 lb. grapes – a huge bundle of leeks, ointment envelopes etc etc. & I was going to carry them all back – in the pouring rain – and wondered how. Mr. Stragnel FC Officer – kindly settled it by taking me in, in his car an F.C. lorry – he got out at his billet and lent me his car to do my shopping in – then we picked him up on the way back. We have not taken in much today. The poor Canadian died at 3:30 a.m. & the abdominal has been operated on and I think will die. One charming man I was writing a letter for tonight – told me he could not write very well as his education hadn’t been looked after much. His father was killed when he was one year old and his mother died from the shock. He was passed from farm to farm until he was seven when he ran away and joined a circus – then his good days began – before that he was sometimes short of food and had only a little shirt & breeches & no shoes and socks.

His brother was through here a month ago with one eye shot out – he is back in Canada now. I hear there has been a big row amongst the M.O.s & that we are to have another O. C. – wonder what it is all about. A biggish convoy is arriving – or at least it sounds big – but it all seems to make more fuss at night than in the daytime – Guns not much in evidence today. Miss McC[arthy] not come yet. Capt. M. R. T. on leave tomorrow. Mr. Leach has gone to his regiment R. Scots. Hutchinson on night duty visa Miss Middleton now ward 1. German shells have been bursting very audibly today & our guns are taking their turn tonight. The Canadian who died this morning was so much worried all day – he said he had to go on “Sentry” that night & did not feel well enough. After much careful explanation I got him to understand that he was not to go on duty but that he was going to his Mother (dead) & he was delighted – He was off his head poor man.

I don’t think I ever told you that the Mayor of Pop[eringhe] was had up for a spy after we left.

[November] 3rd.    Quite the muddiest day I have known. Miss Middleton & I went for a walk this afternoon – & found the roads so deep in mud – we tried a different way coming back – through St Jans Capelle but to our dismay they were worse – so bad, that we had to give up – & simply walk through deep mud – our whole feet were hidden when they were down. At last we met a man & asked if we had better go back or keep on – He said “go on – it is shorter – but you have not come to the worst bit.” So on we went & found the worst bit was where a lorrie had quite broken up the road & it was a pond – but by that time we didn’t care – & just waded through it – The traffic was constant, lorries & cars – & motor bicycles & each one sent a wave of filthy mud right up to our heads. We decided not to go for a walk again after so much rain. We evacuated all but 4 of our p[atien]ts this morning, but they are a sad 4. two abdominals – dying – 1 man hit in the lungs – thank God – I think will get better – & perhaps the saddest of all – a man with a bullet wound through his big toe “self inflicted” at least that is why he is being detained on suspicion. They are the sad people poor things perhaps when shells are bursting all round them they feel they must do something, to save themselves for the wife & children at home & in a moment of madness shoot themselves. He has told 3 different tales of how it happened – the last one to his wife. Dear Wife – I hope this finds you & the children quite well – I am slightly wounded – so don’t send any more letters & parcels until I am back in the trenches. I think I shall be all right again soon. I was cleaning my rifle & being greasy another man pushed me & mine went off. Yr. loving husband, William. The first tale was that it was done by shrapnel, then that a shell made him jump so that his own rifle went off. Poor thing – he has my sympathy.

Guns have been very noisy & tonight the star shells are many – & very bright.

[November] 4th. Lovely day. Heavy firing by the batteries near us – the taubes have been trying to find them but I hope have not succeeded. Off this morning drove to town in the car of a man who passed through this hospital in June – he remembered me but I did not him. He & six other Officers are under orders for Servia [Serbia]– so is Maj. Ormrod. Stopped in town – visited No. 8 & got a lift all the way back in an ambulance. I tried to get a lift, because the roads are the worst I have ever seen once you are off the pavé – which is clean of course.

Two abdominals still very ill indeed – we take in tomorrow.

[November] 5th.    We have had rather a busier taking in day – but fortunately not many very bad cases. 1 (smashed head) was found dead in the ambulance & two died soon after admission also heads – 1 abdominal much better – 1 worse – they were equal y’day. An aeroplane was brought down a mile off – within sight of us – don’t know Eng. or German. No letters fairly fine – cold.

I simply CANNOT write my diary on taking in night the ambulances make such a horrible noise under my window – & sound so many – & I am wondering all the time what they have brought – 20 – have fizzled up & turned round under my window & gone – already. & they are still coming.

[November] 6th.    I am writing this beside my poor little abdominal boy. He is quite off his head today & when he does rouse up & talk asks me if he is being punished that he has all this pain to bear. I have tried hard to make him understand that he has done splendidly & it is an honour to be wounded like he has been – Went for a lonely walk to Mt. Noir in the mist & mud for autumn leaves.

Major Ray came back to the OC, Maj Mc— has gone – & we don’t ask why. Capt Collard came to lunch. 4 of the Sisters are going to a whist drive at No 2. Miss D was distinctly (?) because I refused to go. We evacuated 36 from this ward. 3 to heaven – 1 to a place where the less fortunate ones go to – who are marked “S.I.” which means self–inflicted & the rest towards England. Some big explosions a mile or so off & heavy gun firing.

[Sunday, November] 7th. Little abdominal boy died quite peacefully at midnight. Quiet day. Went to 7 o’clock but not parade service. Weather foggy – cold –

[November] 8th.    Very heavy day indeed – an extraordinary high per centage of seriously wounded – out of 28 admitted to my ward – all except 4 were very bad indeed – 3 or 4 have been to the theatre – & more are to go – & still they come – 10 p.m.

[November] 9th.    A very busy day, with intakings – & evacuations by train & by death – & the 15 who stayed are extremely ill. The day’s work feels like walking miles quickly being bombarded right & left with requests for water – morphia, to be lifted up, turned over, etc, etc. & all the time we are trying to get the routine work done – dressings, feedings, etc. & if one were divided into 6 – all the bits would be busy.

[November] 10th.  Very busy day – of lifting very heavy men – poor dears. I’m afraid they don’t know how heavy they are, or they would not ask to be lifted up so often. I really do not know what the weather has been like, because there has been no time to notice it. One of our own aerodrome machines had a nasty accident today – in coming down the wind blew it into some high trees, where one plane caught & the engine & men fell to the ground – luckily the officers on board her were not killed – both were concussed, & 1 had his shoulder dislocated & a rib broken – both were brought to Ward 2 where we sorted them out – & after they had been examined they were sent to the Officers Ward

[November] 11th.   A very busy day – admitted some very serious cases – amongst our lot, some are dying – Raining & cold second half of day. A huge convoy has just come in & I can hear the Theatre is in use – it is under my bedroom. My arms are really too tired to write tonight.

[November] 12th.  Very busy in Ward 2, until after evacuation – then handed over to Wheatley – & took on the Officers Ward. It is the first time since I joined the unit, that I have not been in theatre or heavy surgical ward – & I just don’t know what to make of it. Went to town in the pouring rain after lunch. Hear that our artillery has smashed the German H.Q. at St. Quinton [St. Quentin] – & an ammunition train.

Am quite pleased to have a light ward for a time but should like to go back to “2” again.

[November] 13th.   Taking in day – No patients in Officers Ward. This afternoon Gen. Porter & Col. Geddes came to inspect the place. They want a Rest Camp for a regiment & think of lending them us – until something else can be arranged. Fancy being a rest camp! Gen. Porter says we are losing 1,000 men a week – for the want of resting them in time. Tonight the Bishop of Kartoum held a confirmation in the Chapel of “No 2.” Eight of our orderlies were confirmed – Miss D, Miss M & I went. He gave them a very good – simple little address.

[Sunday, November] 14th.                       Bishop Gwynne[17] took Parade Service here today. I did not go – but believe it was appreciated by those who did. I had 6 officers in tonight – not at all bad – Freezing hard.

[November] 15th.   Chiefly remarkable for the concert held to get some money for the Fund for British prisoners in Germany.

We evacuated all 6 officers & took two more in who stayed. They belonged to our aerodrome – & had a nasty accident. Their machine would not rise & would have rammed into the fence full force, but the pilot had the presence of mind to steer so that the engine made for our gateway. The planes smashed into the gate posts & were broken up. One man was only shaken – the other had a nasty scalp wound as well.

One dear old officer was very charming – He told me last night it was such a long time since [he] had talked to women & today the poor old thing wept & said “God bless you” when he went – I suppose it was his long abstinence of not talking to our kind upset him. Went for a walk to Mt. Noir with M[iddleton]. Mud filthy & about a foot deep in places – & I lost one of my fur gloves & am disgusted. I loathe the mud of this filthy place. The sky tonight is wonderfully beautiful with planets, stars & moon all shining brightly.

Mr Gregory & Mr Howe took us to the Concert in a funny old motor thing that had been under fire fairly often & was not improved thereby. The 13th Batt. Canadian Scottish pipers played in the Interval – 10 minutes without a stop. It was a glorious noise of bagpipes & drums – they brought their regimental mascot – a goat, with them & while they were making that deafening noise, it walked calmly amongst them – sniffing them – & eating little bits of dust. It wore a handsome silver collar. The first half was the Canadian Minstrels – after the interval “The Casualties” did the rest. They were excellent – a troop consisting chiefly of orderlies & got up by Capt McKenzie – at No 2 Casualty Clearing – at the end we sang the Marseillaise – & then God Save the King – As soon as the beginning chord for our National Anthem was struck – every man in the place stiffened & stood at attention – & we all sang it with great gusto – The place was packed with all sorts of troops – Padres – Staff Officers & about 9 Sisters, so I hope they took a fair amount of money.

[November] 16th. Received orders to proceed on arrival of relief to Gen. Hospital No 1, Étretat. Constable & Bond from No 8 are going too. A tremendous bombardment is going on tonight – sounds like continuous heavy thunder.

[November] 18.      “Abancourt” 9 p.m. We left Bailleul at 8:08 – got to Boulogne in time for lunch – Miss Congleton met us & took us to the Louvre fed us & saw us off at 2:19. Then we crept here – & were turned out at 8:30 – decided to go no further & put up at this Buffet. Very comfortable – room each – ripping bed – two mattresses – which I can tell you is lovely – after none. We had lunch early & meant to get tea in the train but there never was any to get – we asked at every station but had no luck – lots of times French Red Cross ladies popped a money box for collections but that didn’t refresh us much – So we waited till we got here then we did all drink tea & ate fruit until we didn’t feel thirsty any more. Can’t remember all the places we came through – Wimmereux [Wimereux – near Boulogne], Fontanette [?], [Calais – but crossed out], Boulogne, Le Trepore, Le Touquet, Abbeville, Etaples (swarming with hospitals) – in huts houses, hotels – under canvas – etc.

Lady Gifford’s place – that she has lent to tired nurses looks lovely – all wild & sandhills. I think I must be liverish my eyes will not keep open. If you were to guess for a month – you would still be surprised at where I slept last night – In the Officer’s ward. My room leads out of it. I wanted to pack my bed – there were no patients in & I didn’t care a straw if the orderlies came so I put a screen round bed no. 9 and slept there. The Orderly Officer came in at 11:30 – & said he was going to sleep there it was too cold on the stretcher downstairs & when the night Sister tried to put him off he said – “what are you so fussy about there is no one here is there?” & buzzed his torch up the ward – she little fool said “oh no”. So he slept in bed 2 quite a long way off – but there it was – & I lay stiff as a mackerel until I heard him snore – before I dare move & I was up at 6 – & away before anyone else was the wiser. Miss Hutch[inson] & I went along to the Night Sisters’ Bunk at 2 a.m. for a farewell tea fight.

In the train between Abancourt & Rouen. We spent a very comfortable night at the Buffet; a room each – most comfortable bed. I had no watch nor matches, so there was nothing for it but to sleep. Constable left her suitcase in our last train & it has gone on to Paris. We hope to recover it. I left my mackintosh somewhere, so I am afraid it is a gone–er. Madam made us an excellent omlette this morning – the rolls & butter were good too.

The whole life at the Inn reminded me of the Scarlet Pimpernel. All the time French officers & soldiers were in & out – sitting down at the tables & banging until they were waited on. Some dressed in most glorious uniforms & fur coats & the suave French people serving everyone so attentively & politely.

There is a thick white fog this morning & the snow that has been falling the last 4 days is still unthawed – We are going through pretty bracken covered woodland & ploughed fields white with snow.

[November] 20th. In the train between Rouen & ?. I had a most amusing time at No. 8. Miss Clements the Matron came out with us (No 14) on board the “Palm Branch” which you know all about. I called on her in her office & had a little chat – & she invited me to spend the night there instead of putting up at a Hotel. So after taking the others to town & fixing them up at the Hotel Dieppe & after doing a little necessary shopping & seeing the place, returned & was made welcome by Gascoigne – an old Bart’site whom before I only knew by name. We [–] Tully Coulter & Matthews dined with Matron – & later minus Matron – we had a tea party in Tully’s hut. At 10:30 I went to bed – Sick Sisters’ ward – & was much entertained & amused there. A V.A.D. took care of us – warmed my bed (first bed – after Abancourt for over a year) not counting the mattressless camp variety. At 6 a.m. she brought me tea & filled my bath – a proper big one. Sisters can be just as exacting fussy old patients as any one else – I find. Went to 7.30 breakfast then walked to town to gather the others.

Went to the Cathedral for a short time alone – & enjoyed it.

It is no use for me to try to describe Rouen Cathedral it is too great a task, but it is beautiful specially the little chapel behind the altar. I saw the place to advantage – Standing at the Western end & looking up the long aisle & chancel where a dear old priest in magnificent robes was conducting a service, the organ was playing some soft chant – & the little choir boys in their scarlet & all with the sun shining on them from the side windows – was really beautiful.

At No. 1 General Hospital, Étretat

Posted to No 1 General Hospital, Étretat Nov 1915 – Feb 1917[?])[18]

[Sunday, November] 21.   Étretat We arrived here at lunch time yesterday & were kindly welcomed. The place is charming – cold – wild – high cliffs – rocky shores – sandhills like home – the inevitable Casino & multitudes of Hotels where the Casino followers live during the season. Found two people I knew – an old Nottingham Childrens’ Hospital. Nurse & one of our batmen who was my patient at St. O. last winter.

 [Sunday, November] 28th.                     Never spent such a calm week – for a long time – not much work to do – have slept well eaten well – & walked a good deal.

Our Padre is going up the line tomorrow to Bailleul or Béthune or somewhere – lucky devil – wish I were.

[November] 29th. 4 p[atient]s to CC 4 to England. Off for half day – could not do much as it was pouring with rain – & I have no mack – or umbrella. A torpedo destroyer & a submarine went past – quite close in this afternoon, patrolling the coast.

8 p.m. & the only thing left to do is to go to bed. I wrote a French letter to my little French girl today – she is a smart child if she makes head or tail of it. The V.A.D.s [Voluntary Aid Detachment volunteers) are a source of great interest to me – taking them as a bunch they are splendid. They may be roughly divided into 4 sorts – “Stalkers”, “Crawlers”, the irresponsible butterflyers & the sturdy pushers –

At the moment I am thinking of a butterfly one – who is on night duty in these wards & says with a light hearted laugh – “It’s rippin’ nursin’ the men great fun, when I was in the Officers’ ward I did housework all the time – great fun – but there men are really ill – great fun” – When I show her how to do anything fresh, she twitches to get at it & says “oh do let me try – I’d love to do that simply love to.” She is an aristocratic little person most dainty & well groomed – & the thought of her doing scrubbing & dusting all day – makes me smile.

The “Stalkers” are nice girls very lordly with high pitched cracky voices – they look rather alarmed at some of the jobs they have to do, but do them well & with good grace. By “Crawlers” I mean the little people with their hair done like this  at the back, who think they are unworthy to do anything at all – with an expression of “Stand on me if you like I should be pleased to be your door mat.” There is little to say about the sturdy partner pusher ones – they are not remarkable for anything, but are quite reliable – very strong – never forget – & are always ready to do every bit of work.

There is a charming boy upstairs – just 18, he enlisted when he was 15 1/2 – & was a drummer boy. He has been in France since the beginning of the War – was bugler – all through the Retreat from Mons – He has been wounded 5 times, shot right through the chest once – in the stomach once – & arms & legs many times – He has got a bad toothache tonight & says it is worse than all his wounds – He tells the most thrilling stories of the Uhlans – & what dread of them he had – He says they are great strong fellows – with long bamboos with bayonettes at the end – & they just dig them into the men – without turning a hair.


[Monday, ]6th         I had the day off yesterday – spent half in bed – & went for a walk. Have had cracking neuralgia which evidently means to spend the rest of the winter with me – it is making me loathe the place & everything else – There is nothing at all to write a diary about, so shan’t try to keep it up – I would ten thousand times rather be busy & have no headache. Have written no letters for a long time – not much use to when there is nothing to say.

There is a legend of this place, that many years ago a poor suffering woman & her child went to a mill – & asked the miller for help. He refused – & she turned away – cursing him. Next morning his mill was dry – & the whole stream was found pouring down the beach into the sea – Whether the legend is true or not I don’t know, but there the stream is pouring in full force down the beach & tumbling into the sea. The women of the place make good use of it – & it is a quaint sight to see many of them every day – spade under one arm bundling a heavy wheelbarrow of wet clothes down to the beach to “rinse” the clothes having been washed & boiled at home. They dig deep holes in the beach which become their wash tubs – with a river of water running swiftly through them so it is always perfectly clean –

7.                     A true story of Étretat is that once an Indian Prince came here to visit his father. The father died & the son said his body must be cremated that night according to his religion – & asked the Town Prefect’s permission to have it done. He would not give his consent – but as the Prince said it must be done that night – the Prefect telegraphed to the Chief Prefect in Paris – & asked his permission & said “If I get no reply – ceremony will take place this evening.” No reply came – & the ceremony was performed on the beach. Half way through the body fell off & had to be lifted on to the pile of logs again – with poles. Next morning a telegram was brought to the Prefect. “On no account allow ceremony.” The P[refect’s] office had closed at its usual early hour – & the message was there all night. No evil consequence happened.

One Sister wants some of us to get up a play for the men for Xmas! I told her I would help if needed – but oh help! I can’t seem to see me acting. Perhaps they will find enough without me. No letters received or written – my head has been like a battered pumpkin – & that is not much use for letter writing. Matron & Sister Thomas back from leave – both looking very ill – the sea does not look inviting! The patch of beach where the body was burnt is just opposite the Roches Hotel – where my ward is.

[Sunday, ]12th.        Since I last wrote everything has been very quiet indeed except the weather, which has been rampant all the time on & off. Wind so strong that it nearly blows the windows in – rain to match – & the sea! a sight to behold when it is high tide. On the 8th there was the most perfect rainbow I have ever seen, vivid in colouring – & it dipped in the sea at both ends.

On the 9th Lena Ashwell’s concert party came & gave us a good selection of songs. All the voices were good & there was a clever conjuring man – but to me the cream of the whole thing was the ’cello – the girl who played it was a very musical person – & she seemed to forget all about us – & it was fine. On the 9th I bought a cheap umbrella. On the 10th my longed for mack arrived – so now it may go on raining if it likes.

11th There was a big explosion at a munition factory outside Havre – & I am afraid a great many women injured – Some of our orderlies were sent to help – & 8 Sisters – of whom I was one – had orders to stand by – which meant we packed our hand bags & went on with our ordinary work. We were not needed– & today is Sunday. I went to the early service as usual – & found my self the whole congregation. Up at No 3. 5 of us supported our Padre at the early service every Sunday – & here out of about 50 – no one seems to go.

16th                Great excitement prevails over Christmas preparations – each ward is secretly doing its utmost to outshine the rest. My men have made some lovely paper flowers & chains – & the orderlies have stolen quite a lot of greenery – & I hope they will steal more before the 25th. Meanwhile we have had to be like yeast in the dough – & make every one rise – & have been planning what we will do on Christmas day – We think of joining forces with the other “Roches” floors – & having games for the men – & a short act by 3 of mine – & a clog dance by another of mine – & of course the other floors will raise raise some talent too. We had a convoy in on the 12th no serious cases – I only had 47 to my floor – some have already gone to England some will go to C.C. before Christmas poor beggars, they don’t want to.

[December] 17th.   The men have been very busy – making decorations & now we have yards & yards of red white & blue paper chains – roses – purple & white irises & lots of green stuff ready to put up & poinsettias too – all made of paper.

[December] 18th.   Too tired to write much – busy day – went for lovely country walk by myself. now both V.A.D.s both Orderlies – & 12 of the patients have gone to the concert so I have got everything my own way for a time.

[Sunday, December] 19th.                       Letters from Lil & Hilda – to say their parcels arrived safely. Had the 1/2 day off. Went with Wood & Burnett to Bénouville– had tea there – pretty walk charming place. The sky was wonderful & splendid all the time, first clear & intensely blue like Switzerland, making an excellent background for the hills & fir trees. Then the sunset & afterglow were really almost too beautiful not to stand & watch – changing from gold to red – to purple to green – to slate. Sea calm. Another C.C.S. came y’day.

[December] 20.     Very busy getting civilian clothes for 3 men who are getting up a little sketch for Xmas – also have started thinking out feeding arrangements.

[December] 21.      Même chose. News of convoy coming – during the night.

If it does come we shall be called – I shall put my light out & get some sleep first if possible. Fearfully rough day. One door slammed so hard it broke a panel right out. No letters. No nothing.

[December] 22nd. Very busy day – Convoy of 300 odd came in at midday. 41 to me. With settling them in & seeing about decorating of course there was no time off but it was great fun doing the decorations with 70 men in various states of health helping – only a few were in bed. We have carried it out in red white & blue as far as possible. The wall facing the way up has a huge Union Jack – opposite that two French flags crossed – 3rd wall – or at least archway that would be a wall if it were a room instead of a huge square landing, red twill drapery – with “Merry Xmas” – & ornaments done in white wool to look like snow our artist Wynn has painted some pictures (Xmas ones) and they are on various parts of the walls & framed in snow & ivy. The ceiling is done with red white & blue streamers – & ivy too. They are all very proud of their work.

[December] 24th. Last night I went to sleep with never a thought of my diary I think the concert & other arrangeings had full possession of my brain. Very busy day. 72 patients take quite a lot of keeping pace with added to Xmas preparations.

However – we have their stockings filled & ready for distribution by the night nurse. We also have large stores of cake – dessert – crackers – mince pies etc. – so I hope they will be happy. They have decorated beautifully.

We Sisters had our Xmas dinner tonight quite a success. It made quite a pretty scene – the big room daintily decorated – tables too – with flowers – & ribbons – & a present in each place with the owners name on. I gave a little tea party & invited two of the M.O.s to help us fill stockings.

In orders today that I am to receive Sisters pay – & wear stripes.

[Saturday, December] 25. Happy Xmas all!!

[Sunday, December] 26th.                      Busy day. I have only just (10 p.m) remembered that it is Sunday. Y’day was a very busy day – went to early service then early to the ward – Did dressings, but gave NO medicines all day. After the M.O.s visit – each man we gave a hot mince pie & a glass of claret. At 12 they had their huge feed in the big Hall – all together. Then all hands cleared the decks & got ready for our concert which by the way the C.O. told us to postpone – so we called it a dress “rehearsal” & carried on. At five they had tea each landing feeding its own men. It was a big job feeding my 70 odd – & they did all eat. They looked rather pretty sitting under the decorations in their blue clothes & cracker caps. We iced 2 of the cakes & lit fancy candles on them. After tea they settled down to a Sing Song amongst themselves. The C.O. came & told them a few Irish stories. I joined Matron’s party to go to dinner at the Officers’ Mess – did not want to as I was very tired but enjoyed it very much all the same. We had a good dinner – claret, champagne & port. The toasts were King George – for which we all rose in our places – Then us the Sisters – for which the men rose – & after drinking the toast sang “For they are jolly good fellows” – Then the C.O. & his Staff – & a few more – After dinner some of the others came round & we had games & music & a Christmas tree & finally went home at 12 or soon after. 26th. Quiet day sent 10 patients to England.

[December] 27th.  Quiet day. No patients sent away. Concert at Casino – quite good. Capt. Johnson – one of our M.O.s who is a N. Zealander – trained a gang of Orderlies to do a Maori Haka – dance – & they & he did it splendidly – they wore just a little skirt of straw & were coloured – & had their faces made up. I expect the Orderlies felt a bit shy about it.

There was a hospital sketch too – taking off everyone – Colonel Major – M.O.s – us – orderlies every one – which was much enjoyed.

[December] 29th.  We of the Roches – were “At Home” for tea – & gave a concert after it – we had a crowd to tea – Matron, C.O., Capt Martyn – Capt. Davidson, Mr. Chaplin, & Major Franklin – of the men. The concert was got up by some of my patients – & was not at all bad – some of the Sisters kindly sang for us.

[December] 30th.  Have a man in who was in the attack against Hullock [Hulluch – East of Bethune] where Robert [Chambers] was killed & he told me all about it . Most of the Sisters have gone to the pantomime at Havre – so I am staying on for one of them & am going to have breakfast in bed tomorrow morning – since the old car that takes them generally breaks down goodness knows what time they will come back. The man who knew Robert told me lots of war stories – one is – After an attack, the S. Br. (stretcher bearers) were all tired out – having been carrying the slightly wounded through the trenches in all day light – & the seriously wounded – in over the open ground – all through the darkness. A Corporal of the Black Watch crawled in with a wound – which had bled a lot – clean shot through the thick of the leg it was – He was faint from loss of blood. While he was being bandaged up, he heard some moanings from between our own & the enemy’s lines – & recognised voices of some of his men. He shouted to them & they answered & said they were hung up in barb wire. Nothing would keep the corporal – out he flew & brought 5 of his own men in one at a time. Once he leant against the parapet & said “If only I had some of my own boys here they would help me. I hear the voice of another of mine I must get him in” & in spite of his condition went out & brought the man in. There were men in the trench who would like to have helped him, but they hadn’t the pluck. There was a perfect hail of bullets round him all the time, but luckily he was not hit. The snipers were trying for the gunners working a maxim about 5 yds from the trench. What a gruesome noise there must have been.

Went for a walk alone over the golf links. Am now so sleepy don’t know how to keep my eyes open.

[Saturday] Jan 1.1.16            Happy New Year to all. We had a childrens party last night. About 50 of us – the M.O.s & sick officers.

[Sunday, January] 2nd.      Went to church tonight – this morning early too. Our Padre is not a success. He has no brain poor dear. He prays & reads & preaches on one doleful note. Tonight he took as his text “Spare me – that I may brighten up” – which everyone thought he should apply to himself, but he never once even included himself in it. When he was at our New Years party, he was seen, absent mindedly sitting, directly under the mistletoe. When by people’s glances he noticed it, he was too shy to move away at once, so did it by edging inch by inch away, & then making a bolt for it.

Have had half a day off. Hear that 4 of our orderlies are wanted higher up the line – that they are to be replaced by ward maids – do not look forward to the change. I forgot to tell you what we did at the “party” – musical chairs – bumps – all sorts of tricks – and one competition game every one had the name of a well known person pinned on their back – & had to guess who they were by asking questions – Like “Am I still alive?” “Do I write books?” till they guess right. Then they have another name pinned on. When the bell rings the one who has guessed most times – right – wins the prize – it was a little pig – & an Irish girl won it. Hear rumours that I am to go on night duty – & I don’t want to. Capt Martyn has been promoted to Company Officer – in place of Major Franklin who has been made D.A.D.M.S. to the 3rd army. Have Capt Billing in the ward now.

3rd.                 Miss Rentzsch has just been to my room to tell me my name is in Despatches –

3d.                   I know it is unnecessarily conceited of me, but I do wonder if you saw your daughter’s name in Despatches & do hope you are pleased – I am if you are, otherwise I don’t care. Off this afternoon went for long walk alone until I met a little girl carrying a bundle of clothes – she was very small – & 9 years old. I carried her bundle for a bit & enjoyed a chat with the creature, she was rather nice. I am hoping to have breakfast in bed – & the day off tomorrow tho’ what to do with it – is a quandary, but sufficient unto the day… and tomorrow we shall see.

4th.                Letters from the twins dear things I don’t think they are growing up very fast. I have had the day off – & much enjoyed it – breakfast in bed – (always a joy) got up about 10 bathed & went for a long walk alone – to the lighthouse & home by the Havre Rd. It is a wonderful walk for scenery, the most beautiful little peeps of sea, over the “downs” in the cliffs – The hills are all colours & shades – of purple mauve, blue, green brown, red, with dashes of bright yellow gorse – The sea & sky were both a cold blueish greenish grey. The sea smooth, sky covered with rough clouds. It rained in the afternoon (I missed dinner – had 2 pieces of Lil’s most excellent plum pudding instead) so I took my lace pillow into the sick Sisters’ room & made lace & had tea beside her. Miss McCarthy[19] came today & is staying the night.

6th                  Miss McC was much pleased with the hospital & went off in a very good temper. Off in afternoon – did not “Go for lovely long walk by myself” etc. Sat indoors & read most of the time & went for very short walk.

Letters from Madge & HG. Have only 29 patients on my floor – so are slack at present. I thanked Miss McC for sending me to such a nice place, & she said she thought people who had been long at the front – needed it.

6th                  Letters from Mother & Miss Congleton. Hear I have to go on as “Night Super” on Saturday.

7th                  Large convoy in. I had 64 patients.

[Sunday, January] 9th.       3 very charming V.A.D.s asked me for a little jaunt with them in what they call the “buss”. It really is quite a good “Ford” car. We went for a glorious 2 1/2 hours spin & went through pretty villages & country to Harfleur & saw the damage done by the explosion they had at the bomb factory on the 11th of last month. The church was a good deal broken & the windows of houses smashed. At some place dead in the country we passed a real old French chateau with a moat round it – quaint very old towers & lovely grounds belonging to it. We stopped just to gaze at it for a little while. We halted at a place called Gonville [Gonneville–la–Mallet] – at the famous old inn – with old French china on all the outside walls – plates, dishes, mugs – jugs – all stuck on with cement or mortar.[20] The lunch is intensely interesting, too. Kitchen, a wonderful array of highly polished brass & copper. Upstairs is quite a museum of curios of the war – & some older. In the dining Hall are many panels – beautifully painted by different artists who have spent holidays at the Inn. Everyone has been asked to paint a panel while he is there – They are loose panels – church door shape – dark work – some fastened to the wall – some just standing there. Well worth a visit. As this is to be my last night in bed – here goes to make the most of it. I did not go on night duty y’day – but am tomorrow.

11th                 1.30 a.m. On filthy night duty – & by way of celebrating my first night – I hear our convoy are to go off at 6 a.m. 3 from here – 1 from there, 20 from some where else – Oh! we shall be all right.

I hear there is a man about who tries to get in at the Sisters Qrs. & now they have a guard outside the house. I hope I shan’t meet him on my next round. The streets are very dark, but they are cold too so perhaps he won’t be there.

[January] 12th.        Quiet night, moved into quieter bedroom in the Annex. It was very dirty so I spent the morning helping to clean it, then bathed & went to bed. It does seem a pity about some things although I suppose what does happen is meant to. A man was telling me about the battle of Loos tonight. They had a short fierce battle of 2 hrs & had the Germans fairly on the run – & if our re–inforcements had been there we should have kept them going. We had about 5 corps of cavalry – 2 English 1 Indian & 3 French all ready to gallop straight on & in to Lille – but our infantry men were too dead beat to follow them up. The re–inforcements were nowhere to be got for all the telephoning – & the German observation balloon reported that we were short of infantry & told the Germans to make a counter attack which they did with great effect.

The man telling me this was at Ypres while that fierce battle for Calais was in process. Stationed high up in a wood – he could see the whole battle. The British line was very thin almost broken – & the Germans seethed! Goose stepped up the Menin Rd. by the 1000. Sir Douglas Haig saved the situation. He brought up machine guns & maxims from everywhere & men from wherever he could get them. Placed the guns in a close formation line – & when the Germans got near enough – fired – each gun delivering about 600 shots a minute – & mowed them down again & again. They lost frightfully heavily – & of course did not break through. There is supposed to be a big attack at Hallock [Hulluch] tonight bombs trench mortars etc. Good luck to the attackers.

Went for a walk with Scott this morning. Bed at 12. Did not sleep more than a little. Feel I could now. Letters from Miss Congleton & Old Hutch. No. 3 C. C. S. is leaving Bailleul! Why was I ever moved! The Orderlies have had fur coats served out to them – so perhaps they are for Servia [Serbia].

[January] 14th.        Quiet night – in a way – Col. Moore is in the Honours List. Has been made C.M.G. [Companion of St. Michael and St. George][21] 5 matrons & 36 Sisters have got R. R. C. [Royal Red Cross][22] Am sorry Miss Deny [Denne][23] has not. Being night super is not all honey when an Orderly gets drunk “Send for the night Super”. Give your advice that as the ward is slack – let him sleep it off – & blow him up in the morning. Then the Ward Master comes along – finds him drunk & sleeping & wants to run him straight in to the guard room, but first comes to ask the “Night Super” about 3 different people have three different opinions (strong ones) as to what ought to be done, but all end up with ‘but of course you are night super you must decide.’ So you do – & pretty quickly too being sick of them all. Went for lovely walk to Bénouville with Raper & Scott. Home & to bed in decent time. There was a Lena Ashwell concert but I told them on pain of death to call me for it.

[January] 15. The nights are very lovely now – rough & moon shiny & big stars They look well setting. I never knew so little of the War anywhere as in this quiet corner Étretat.

[Sunday, January] 16th.     Quiet night. The boy who was supposed to go mad and need a “special” slept soundly so thank Goodness – all went well.

[January] 17th.         Quiet night – the only excitement being – a man in for quite a different thing suddenly found both legs paralyzed. The M.O. can’t understand it – & thinks he may be hysterical – I don’t agree. Had a lovely day y’day. Skipped my walk & bath & all such wholesome things – & went straight to bed & slept all day. It was glorious only I wanted to go on sleeping when they called me. One poor little V.A.D. was pathetically sleepy & very funny. Her ideas of night duty, when she is sleepy are worth hearing. She is a clever little wretch & has a sketch book in which she has caricatured V.A.D.s in all circumstances, the C.O. etc. Tonight is freezing cold, blue moonlight, very calm. The reflection of the moon in the sea was so beautiful. I made the Sisters come & look at it. The sight of the cliffs in the moonlight is past description – Now for my 3rd round.

[January] 18th.         Night as before quiet. The night staff have broken into the habit of inviting me to supper. Last night I supped with I. Thomas – over in the Officers’. Tonight I am invited to the Casino to partake of crab & apricots & cream. Perhaps tomorrow will be the Roches, but I am very content with my own headquarters – La Plage – where I feed with one V.A.D. The moonlight on Étretat, sea, country cliffs & hills is most blue & bright & wonderfully beautiful.

[January] 19th.         Many Happies to Taff. I did write to him about 6 wks ago – hope he has got the letter. I am sure you know that the Moon & Sirius & Castor & Pollux & Capella & Auriga & Deneb – all look beyond description, lovely, shiny brightly on a cold night and beyond that there is nothing to say. The man who suddenly became paralyzed the other night – has lost all use up to the hips now. Changed one night nurse last night. 2 more are being changed in a day or two. I am sorry to say.

[January] 20th.       4 of the night people hired the “bus” & went to Fechamp [Fécamp] yesterday morning – but not I. I don’t like being late. They had a glorious drive through pretty country. Saw all over the French Hospital. & the Benedictine Convent – where the world famed Liqueur is made, & the famous old Abbey, I want to go some day. Quiet night – only 1 man at all ill – poor old B. Birrell died at 4 p.m. yesterday.

I talk to the men most nights & hear all sorts of interesting stories about when they have been at close quarters with the Germans. Once when they were billeted on a farm at Kemmel they were much worried every night by a hidden sniper – they hunted but could not find him. One day their Major told the farmer he wanted hay for the horses – the farmer was most unwilling to give it, but at last told them to take it from the hay loft. The men went up & began dragging the hay down from the highest stack of it, the farmer came & told them very sharply not to take from there – but he was too late & they had pulled it down – & left exposed a trap door that led into a big pigeon cote & sitting in the pigeon cote surrounded by empty beer bottles etc – sat “my sniper” – a German – in German uniform. They shot him. Another time they (5th D.Gs) were in the ditch at the side of the Road – & the Germans were in the one on the other side – He said it was most exciting – they would see the nozzle & barrel of a rifle stealthily be pushed up & leveled down towards their ditch, then slowly appeared the spike of a German helmet, then was the moment of their lives for the one who shot first & true. At one place, where the village was being taken alternately by us & the Germans – our police found 2 spies, Inn keepers, who had been most jovial with the men, gave them beer & took no money. They were German soldiers in disguise – & when they were taken to be shot marched & right wheeled in a most soldierlike way. Their Inn was looted – & all the furniture – chests of drawers, etc. counters – tables – taken out to make a barricade across the road. In the same village another spy was discovered by one of our airmen. He alighted & said he had seen signalling. The Major said – all inhabitants had been cleared out except one old bed ridden man, who had been a cripple for 4 years – & an old woman who looked after him. The airman was so certain of what he saw, that he asked to see the invalid. When they got there, he recognised it as the house where signals had shown from – went in – & said he had a fancy that the invalid could beat him in a race for life – flung back the bedclothes & found the man fully dressed in uniform. They shot him – & her too.

Another spy in that place they never did catch – one day a little shockheaded man – looking like a little wild animal ran out – quickly looked up & down & round & round – & darted back into the house – they at once made search for him – but never found him – the little devil!

[January] 21. Quiet night – Main & Palmer on in place of Scott & Raper. Went for walk toute seule. Very rough sea – high spring tide – full moon – misty, sea glorious dashing up over the cliffs & rocks.

[January] 22d.         Six of our heaviest cases went to England today. All quiet. Started new lace pattern.

[Sunday, January] 23d.      Same old game – walk, bath, bed – letters from Turnbull & Wallace –

[January] 24th.       Went to early service y’day morning, then early to bed – Thomas & MacFarland having nights off tonight – I have one tomorrow with luck.

[January] 26th.        Had my night off all right & enjoyed it very much – went straight to bed – called at 1 o’clock by my little landlady who brought me the daintiest little lunch imaginable – grilled steak – done with parsley potatoes nicely browned & apple jelly – cider to drink – followed by café noir. The car came at 2 & 3 others who were having days off & I went to Fécamp – the scenery was beautiful & we past some buildings & ruins of great interest – an old French chateau – & in Fécamp some old overgrown ruins of the house of the Dukes of Normandy. We went to the Abbey – which was being heavily draped for a mourning service for all the men of Fécamp who have died through the war.

The abbey is a fine old place – chiefly Gothic I think with some good old carving – & beautiful windows – old but not the deepest coloured glass I have seen. Then we went to the Benedictine Convent – part of which is being used as a Military French hospital. The rest is where the Benedictine Liqueur is made – the only place in the world – & they send to every part of the world – except to our enemies just now. We were shown all over – & it was most interesting. In peace time they had 400 work men – now many of them have gone to the war & their places are taken by women & little girls. Now it is done by Civilians: before the Revolution by monks. The men wear blue caps & long blue smocks – the women – overalls – & a belt with Benedictine worked on it round their waists. It is an enormous concern – they make 18,000 bottles full every day. First we went through many huge halls of casks of the finished stuff – casks varying in size, the biggest holding 36,000 litres each, the ends of them more than 6 ft in diameter. Then we went to where pure alcohol was being distilled & the syrup made – huge plants of machinery all about – huge wheels joined to little ones by wide leather straps! and the noise!

The syrup was boiling in huge copper pans about 3 ft deep & 5 across the top. Next we went to where it was being bottled. Two women tended a filling machine – which fills about 18 at a time [–] they had to go as fast as they could – taking away & replacing an empty bottle. They hand on to 2 more who washed – & handed on to two more – who worked the automatic corking machine & handed on to two more who loaded up in trollies – took to the next department where 2 unloaded & stood on the end of a long table – girls down both sides of it – 1s cut the corks – & held wet parchment over – while 2s wired it & cut it off – 3 trimmed & stuck on labels 4s soldered metal ribbon on round the neck & down to one side 5s sealed the top – dipping into hot wax & sealing it – 6s sealed the metal ribbon down on the side – 7s wrapped up in paper – 8s stuck another Benedictine label over the join in the paper – 9s loaded on to a trolley & took to the packing room where 3 men were at work. Stacks of cases were there, & they have division made to fix in to keep the bottles from touching each other. Each case holds about 2 doz – & in less than 2 mins, the first man – fixes the bits of wood – throws in the bottles, next layer of wood – & so on & passes on to the next man to nail the box down – who passes on to the next man to pack. There was a huge wall – with names of places – where they have to send things to, I mean. metal squares  that they painted over – the letters are spaces. Most unheard of places amongst them. After that we had tea & came home by the long coast route. From one point we had a good view of Étretat & in Feb. crowds of people come from Paris etc. to watch the sun set behind the Étretat cliffs – It sinks down right in the cleft & looks very quaint.

Feb 25th

It was a glorious starlight drive home. Early to bed – raging headache most of night & this morning. Everyone does have on night or day off – Long walk – bed again at 2 – & then back to duty.

[January] 27th.        Quiet night. I have sent the V.A.D. on duty in this building “La Plage” to bed for 5 hrs. She is new to night duty – & has hardly slept all day – I have thoroughly enjoyed being alone – & have seen all sorts of interesting people & things in the fire.

Talking to a patient tonight – I found he was at No 10 Stationary as a patient when I was there & remembers the Prussian Guard being brought in & recognized as the man who had been killing our wounded “Black Watch” & was tried & shot for it – serve him right. Government are docking us of lodging & fuel & light allowances – in all £57–15 a year – The men are not giving up any.

[January] 28th.        18 nights done – only thing of interest – Started a new lace pattern like this:

– very dark night, raining now.

[January] 29th.        Truslove off duty with Influenza – gone to sick rooms. Officers are having a Soirée tonight – about 20 Sisters have gone – only 3 from my staff. It is No. 14 Stationary not General Hospital that has been burnt down. Poor old Miss Congleton is Ass[istant] Matron there! I expect had a bad time, she is so highly strung & has had a hard time through this war.

Went for walk toute seule to Bénouville, this morning. Weather & country very pretty & enjoyable but under a thin white mist. Heny has gone on leave & perhaps Truslove will go after flue – that gets two of them out of the way for when leave really starts. Think I will make lace now, so sleep well & au revoir.

[Sunday, January] 30th.                             Letters from my twin foster babies – must write to them – Hardly slept at all today. Nurses are the most inconsiderate wretches under the sun – they tramped about slammed doors & pulled plugs to distraction, then the orphans were let loose to kick tins & play – & the paper man blew his horn – toot tooting – & yelling – “Petit Parisien” – now – at 1:30 a.m., I feel I shall bust if I don’t say what is truly unkind – that the V.A.D. – who sits in this room – will drive me to drink – she talks tracts – gives tracts & is bulging with saintly & innocent holiness – till I could shriek. I once met her equal at Cousin Walters, but thank Goodness – he went away by train.

Went for a walk toute seule – in a thick white, wet mist – at the top of the hills suddenly found myself – in hot bright sunshine – birds singing – blue sky – & below me – nothing – but fluffy whiteness, that I felt I could jump on to like a feather bed. After a time that cleared & the day was perfect. Sea dead calm – the fishing boats look so pretty – painted bright colours & with red sails – going out – in a long line one behind the other – making a vivid reflection in the sea – bunches of clean women standing about to see them off. Letter from Miss Congleton – she says the fire was awful – too awful to write about. No–one was hurt. They are nursing the Enterics in the “Compound” wooden huts – My V.A.D. has just threatened me – with something aloud – from the Church Times – I can’t stand it – I must make my round early. At 11 o’clock a Sick Officer lurched into the Plage – & asked “Plege ca’nyou te’ me where the shickossifers – hoshpital is?” There was nothing for it but to take my lord by the arm – & gently lead him there along two streets & up a short hill – I did not carry my lord’s alight as I did not want anyone to see me arm in arm – with the poor chap – distinctly, the worse for wear – how he got out, I don’t know.

10 a.m. Poor little V.A.D. It was horrid of me to feel irritated at her – she is such a good conscientious little soul.

[January] 31st.          Quiet night. M. Parry Evans preached twice at the Anglican Church today – & was much appreciated by those who heard him. I did not go. Went for walk along the shore – found a secret passage running under the cliff towards inland went along it for some distance – then came back, bed early. News of convoy coming in today at 11 o’clock so we shall probably be much busier tomorrow.

I see by today’s paper that bombs have been dropped on Paris – causing loss of life – & material damage. That will annoy the French so should not be surprised if they did something big in the way of reprisals.

Quiet night – news of a convoy for today, supposed to be coming in at 11 a.m. but I think I said this at first.


Feb 1st.           Convoy came. No very serious cases. About 5 on the S. I. list (seriously ill).

Miss Garrett has got influenza now. T. 104 Everyone seems to be getting it. No letters. New shoes came from Sorosis. Went for a walk alone, was much alarmed by hearing heavy–ish – firing, came in expecting to hear that a German submarine was at work off our shore but to my joy – found it was gun practise at Havre. Hear Paris has been attacked again – They are asking for it! The G[erman]s I mean – Quiet night. I went for long walk to Bénouville with Sister Thomas, bed in fair to middling time. The Sisters of No. 3 C.C.S. are at No. 10 Stationary – for a rest. Waiting to be sent somewhere. No. 3 is now a Canadian Unit.

[February] 4th.       Not a quiet night. The wind has blown a gale tiles & chimneys have been flying, doors banging. Craig – our new batman was put here to sleep – as he had a temp – & felt sick.

He rose up in his sleep & walked (as his habit is when ill) & tripped back to the quarters. The Orderly & I chased after him in double quick time, and after much anxious & fruitless searching, found him fast asleep on his own bed – I didn’t know where the men slept – & had to hunt every coal shed & stable – till I found their billet – a loft, over stores. He seems much better this morning [–] his night run in the rain has done him good. No mail last night. Have taken great care of my self the last 2 days – feeling a bit influenzaish, each morning been for a brisk short walk, then had a good hot mustard bath over in the Qrs. Rushed like a lunatic from the Qrs. to Annexe where I sleep – to my bed – between blankets.

[February] 5th.        All wards seem to be settling down. One young Officer must be suffering badly from nerves – he is so restless in his sleep – & calls out – “Let ‘em have it – turn on the gas – give it them – now – more – more – get your bayonets to them the swine.” Then he wakes up in a heavy sweat – fearfully disappointed to find no Bosches to gas & kill. Weather muggy – starlight.

Software: Microsoft Office

 [Sunday February] 6th.    Quiet night – no excitement so far. 5:30 a.m. I don’t think I told you that two days ago – we had a very sad death – A young lad 21 only who seemed not extremely bad – was taken to the theatre for examination – & died on the table. 5 pints of fluid found in his lungs.

P.S. I have put my exasperating little V.A.D. in a ward where there are two staff nurses – she is very happy there & I have an older & more woman of the world one in the Plage – so that’s an improvement.

6th Quiet night – glorious walk – toute seule – this morning along the Canteen Road.

7                      Quiet night. Lovely walk – alone. Fécamp Rd. found no primroses, but very pretty ivy, gorse – & periwinkle. Wrote letters.

8.                     Quiet night, no fresh news, one man in the Plage – told me that once – they very nearly took the Crown Prince prisoner, but Von Kluck sacrificed his men – had them terribly cut up – to save the situation for the Prince.

Heavy showers yesterday – & through the night. Quite fine & starlight in between times.

9th.                 Roughest night I have known, heavy hail storms & a full gale. I could not breathe, or walk against it, was just blown hard against the walls of the houses. However – I enjoyed it – when I did manage to fight along sideways. Quiet night – am due to come off tomorrow – no letters. We have all been writing strong protests against having our allowances cut off. Don’t know if anything will come of it. Have just had a glorious deep bath – & a glass of Bengers food – (with brandy) & am going to get into bed. Hope you are sleeping well now–a–days.

10th.               Quiet night – am not off night duty yet. Bought an old Normandy paste – a St. Esprit jewel (pendant) for 150 francs. Went for a walk with Thomas. Saw some beautiful little terrier pups at the Canteen. Mother will not be bothered to feed them so we bought the corporal a babies feeding bottle for them. Bed – bon nuit.

11th.                Told to take over No 3 Casino tomorrow morning.

Poured all night – did not go out – went to night cottage to hear Thomas playing piano.

Mair, Gibbens & Johnstone have gone to Havre, Craig has to go this afternoon, so they will be a very tired family tonight.

12th                Came off night duty this morning. Am taking Ritchie/Thomas ward. Casino 3 & 4. Convoy coming tomorrow, so probably we shall all be called early. No letters.

[Sunday, February] 13th    Convoy of 400 – or 399 to be exact – arrived at 6 a.m. My one ward is quite full – & the other not as it was in quarantine after a case of Scarlet fever. So I was not so busy as most people. No church – no letters, no off duty – no inclination to write – Have felt very ill all day – always do changing from night to day duty. Hope for better things. Good night – Mother – sleep well. I wouldn’t mind being there too.

14th                Intensely cold day – gale blowing – went for a trudge along the shore this afternoon & loved it. Convoy settling down, some wards very heavy – mine not at all so – at present. No letters, no news.

15th                There is a big gale blowing [–] shutters, glass, tin keep crashing down from somewhere & hurrying towards the N.E. This house is rocking & shaking & gritty stuff falls constantly. I am wondering if it is the mortar & the bricks come next. Bang! another shutter, there won’t be many left on the [Hotel] Blanquet! More glass – This is the biggest blow I have ever sat through – I got out of bed a long time ago. Only wish I dare open my shutters (which by the way – I had to put gum boots & a mackintosh on – to shut) to look at the sea – it sounds like high tide & a tremendous one. We have heavy zinc tins for refuse – outside our quarters. I think they have all made off. My room has French doors for windows. One large pane was blown out in a recent gale, & now with my shutters shut, the wind is blowing through with such force that the curtain is in a streak straight across the ceiling. If I wrote down every time something crashed you would be tired of it, because something is – about every few seconds. Now I must think about dressing. Expect you are getting it too – it is a big blow.

16th                The enemy score one today – they have made a big attack near Ypres – & taken 600 yds of trenches Tremendously rough day – the place is strewn with broken glass – slate & woodwork. The natives say it is the same every year – & that is why the entire place is battened up & closed during the months of winter. Our English patients who left this morning are held up at Havre as it is too rough for the hospital ship to go.

17th                Am dead beat with the weather. A gale has been blowing for days – without ceasing one minute, & the tremendous noise of sea & wind all day & all night – is really very tiring. Our E[nglish] patients are still held up, waiting for the sea to calm down. Lena Ashwell’s concert – on duty did not go – Convoy tomorrow I believe.

18th                No convoy – storm continues – we are all dead beat.

19th                News of convoy in early morning, all to get up early.

[Sunday, February] 20th  Convoy arrived at 7.15 (not a bad time) – not a heavy one. Filled No 3 & part of 4. One poor young fellow only 24 yrs. died after 4 hours – deadly gas gangrene, & another had his leg off at once – to save the same thing happening. He is such a nice man – with wife & 6 children – do hope he will do well (Faulkner by name).

One man tells me that the Station Master & our driver at Pop[eringhe] have been shot as spies – good luck! The more the better – no wonder – some of the shells – made decent shots for the station. The place is riddled with spy vermin. – No letters – Good bye.

[February] 21.[24]        Busy day – in a way – Mair off – also S. R. ward calm.

[February] 22nd.    Hy Mother – this is a morning to be alive on! Everything covered in snow – & the impatient cold sea beating itself into white foam at my very feet. Cliffs & rocks – cold – & clear. (6:30 a.m.). Now I must get up – good morning.

[February] 23rd.          My view from my window this 6:30 a.m. – is beautiful. Boats, rocks, boathouses, beach, all thick in snow. There has been little of interest in the ward for you lately. Raper & I went to the woods yesterday & picked primroses & catkins & were caught in two snowstorms. My poor old amputation man told me about his wounding y/day. He is a gunner & he & his mate had had a busy day dragging their guns over a ploughed field to a fresh pit & had finished firing & were waiting to be relieved when the enemy started shelling – It was too violent a bombardment for the reliefs to come up, so he & his mate stayed by their gun. After a bit a shell came right in to them blowing his mate to bits wounding his own knee but never touched the gun. The shock of seeing his mate in bits made him a little light headed & the only thing he could think of to do was to get someone to help him (his mate). He cut off all his equipment & dragged himself to some stretcher bearers in a trench 50 yds off – & implored them to go & save his mate. Of course when they knew he was dead they didn’t go. They put our man on a stretcher & trotted him off to the nearest dressing station. If he had stayed in his gun pit, he would probably have bled to death.

[February] 24th.     Evidently the spring water on the shore is hotter than the sea. I am watching the tide come up (7 a.m.) & as it covers the rocks, & stones where the springs are – huge clouds of steam rise –

It has been an intensely cold night. Sleep was out of the question for a long time – Everything is frozen solid this morning – inside & out & oh! I have to dress.

[February] 25th.     Up at 3 a.m. to receive new Convoy. Very tired now.

[February] 26th.     It was not a big Convoy yesterday only about 300 but as we were fairly full before – it gave us a very busy day, poor beggars! They were cold – 3 a.m. is a chilly time to arrive, & Étretat was well under snow, & becoming more so. Today is the same – everything is thick in white unmelted snow, only little edges of shelter round each boat show brown beach. Cliffs, huts, houses, boats, breakwaters all thickly covered & looking very beautiful & unsuggestive of war; but the nights are cold & I could not get warm enough to sleep for such a long time. The night is silent here – not even a clock strikes, so perhaps the time seemed longer than it really was – The Sentries change at 2 a.m. & I didn’t hear them! All leave is stopped. Looks like work ahead – Alors – We can only do our best.

[Sunday, February] 27th.  I am frozen stiff so won’t stop to write more now.

[February] 28th.     Ditto – Snowing & pouring all day – Bad headache –

[February] 29th.     The mail boat has not been allowed to cross lately as the Channel is thick with mines & submarines. 6 vessels have been sunk in the last few days & sad to say, lives lost. This morning (6:30 a.m.) it happens to be a little less icy, there is no sign of snow about. Everything including the sea is lead colour, & all looks calm – more snow perhaps. No. 3 ward is light – No. 4 very heavy really although the ward has only 18 patients, it is a back breaking one to work in, they are always so very heavy.


March 3rd.   English mail in – we are really very busy – Convoys in & out constantly, & we are very much under our complement of Sisters (about 20 short) V.A.D.s the same – & 40 Orderlies short. Went for a short walk last night first for a long time – Delightful!

[March] 4th.           Have a good old fashioned cold – went straight to bed – & Madame brought me Bengers with brandy in.

[Sunday, March] 5th.         All things have conspired to make the day seem long. Convoy – cold – & horrid headache – but oh! Joy – it did end – & I found home letters awaiting me.

[March] 6th.            Busy day – poor Kerr (Pneumonia etc – etc). I am afraid will not weather the storm, & poor old Sgt. Middleton is as bad as he can be & so is Rudman, poor dears – I do wish they could get better. Was off duty in afternoon – walked up cliff, caught in snow storm, back early – bathed – tea with Madame. Very tired – don’t know why?

[March] 7th.            Slept through the first bell – & woke at the second – to find my room aglow with a beautiful pink light. The outside world was a foot deep under snow. Telephone wires looking like those fluffy bell pulls about 3 inches round in snow & all glittering in the early morning sunshine. Truly beautiful & unwarlike.

Telephone wires covered in snow.

Now I must quickly dress or I shall be late for breakfast, but by tonight – if the snow thaws – I may forget what the morning was like – as there is plenty every day to drive out all thoughts but patients – wards – etc lists, & Convoys.

[March] 8th.            I want to write to you today – but whether I shall or not is a different matter. We have a big Convoy to get off to England – & another arriving – supposed at 10 a.m. so we shall not be slack – but – the difference – here we have about 12 hrs. notice of a Convoy coming – & up the line they just tumbled in at all hours of the day & night. My heart is very sore for one poor boy, or for his Mother – We have had him 10 days – & he is no better & is in a state to die at any moment. I am writing to his Mother & telling her so, she is evidently a refined old lady – writes back to say she is “so glad to hear Charlie is with us – the rest & good food will do him good”. Have my letters not reached her? Or won’t she understand that the boy is dying. I think he must have been gassed – he is purple & just like a gas patient.

Étretat is beautiful – this is Ash Wednesday – & I ought to be at the 6:45 service but some horrid crank always takes me in Lent. I miss more services & eat more nice things & smoke more than any time of the year. Étretat is really beautiful now. Yesterday’s snow, thawed a little in the sunshine, but is still deep & frozen again with the night’s frost. My Western horizon is just tinged with pale pink which suits the soft clouds & pale blue sea to distraction & the cliffs are a picture in themselves all snow covered & rugged – No letters from England last night. Now I must get up! If only I could sketch I would make the most lovely little pictures in this diary.

[March] 9th.            I was to have been called at 2 a.m. to help in with a heavy convoy, so went to bed & to sleep at 9 p.m. & the next thing I knew it was 1/4 past 6 – broad daylight – & no one had called me & even now – here I sit in my night attire – 7 a.m. trusting it is all right & that the convoy has been held up somewhere & that we are to go to second breakfast as usual.

The morning is as yesterday, the sea perhaps a trifle calmer & more shimmering – tide further off, & the brown rocks glowing red in the light of the rising sun. Yesterday was a delightful day of calm between the storms, of despatching a large convoy & receiving the one that didn’t come. My pneumonia boy benefited from the quiet & perhaps… the creature has a chance, & feel he must get better – for his Mother, poor thing, she wrote to me – & said she was heartbroken – however, it was no good for me to pretend he was not dangerously ill. He was – & is. I must get up now, for Matron Miss E. M. Denne had sudden orders to go to Havre to relieve Miss Steen invalided home. She was sorry to go – & we to lose her, although it is a great promotion. She will be Principal Matron of the Havre district soon. Get up.

10th                Very big day Convoy arrived 7.40 – 590 men chiefly sick – only about 30 badly wounded. I had in a few wounded – but the greater part – fully all my beds – & extra mattresses on the floor were such things as trench foot. 1 CT & one advanced Ø. The day was very busy& poor Kerr worse– I am sure that boy has been gassed & will die. Shouldn’t be surprised to find his cot empty when I go on duty. Poor Mother – how will she take it? No letters – no off duty – weather – I hardly remember – not so cold – I think.

[Sunday, March] 12th       Too much sadness to write about, besides being dead beat.

13th.               My poor little boy Kerr died yesterday, he had been in 15 days suffering from gas – pneumonia, bronchitis & has been extremely & dangerously ill all the time, but only the day before yesterday he realized that he was not going to get well. I am glad to say we never left him night or day & he was fond of us all. Yesterday was a difficult day to be “Sister” – He kept whispering all sorts of messages for home & his fiancée – then he would call “Sister” & when I bent down to hear – “I do love you” “when I’m gone, will you kiss me?” – & all the time heads would be popping in “Sister – 20 No – so & so – to – – – –. [Ed. this may be a mumbled order of some sort: 20 number…]” “The S. Sgt wants to know if you can lend him a couple of men to…” This & that – but in spite of all – I did kiss the boy first for his Mother & then for myself – which pleased him – then he whispered “but you still will when I’m gone.” The night before he asked me what dying would be like – & said it seemed so unsatisfactory – he felt too young to die – & not even wounded – only of bronchitis. Then another time he said, “They wouldn’t let me go sick every time they said it was rheumatism & would wear off – & marching with full pack & dodging the shells was dreadful. Thank Goodness – what I told him dying would be like happened – exactly – a clear gift of Providence. I told him it would be – that little by little his breatheing would get easier – & he would feel tired & like going to sleep – & then he would just sleep – & with no morphia – that is exactly what did happen – without a struggle. He was quite conscious up to 20 minutes before he died. I just asked him now & then if he knew I was still with him. “Yes” – & you’re quite happy – aren’t you? & he distinctly said “Yes, quite” Then the last & very trying part for the Sister was to walk along to the other end of the village – beside the poor dead thing – to see him decently put – in the mortuary. With hundreds of French eyes turned “full on”. Our own people always clear out of the way when they see it coming. We sent 13 to England yesterday & are getting a new convoy in today, so I must dress quickly. This is really the only time I have for my own writing, every day is busy – & at night I am too tired – now I must get up.

14th                View perfect, sea dead calm & reflecting the deep rose–yellow & blue of the Western sky. The sun will soon be up. 6.30 a.m. A bugle has just gone – which means an ambulance train in – & I expect we shall be called for early breakfast! 7 a.m. instead of 7.45. We have much to be thankful for that many patients went to England the day before yesterday, & Convoy did not arrive yesterday – 3 more Sisters went down with measles, making our staff about 26 under number. The rest of us have been spread out to the best advantage but it has meant precious hard work – & no off duty times. Imagine my joy – when I was in Constable’s room – telling her – she must report her rash – out of fairness to other people etc. – to see – 8 beautiful fully trained Sisters arriving at the Quarters – all in the pink of health. (Three fishing boats have just launched – & look like an old Bible picture – with their dark red sails – & making a long reflection.) Dear things – we nearly fell on their necks with joy. They have just come home – from a slack time in Egypt so ought to be good for work now. (Another boat just off – the four of them are racing.) As is always the way – everything in the way of relief happens at once – my three heavy cases died – the Convoy did not come – & 8 new Sisters did. Did I say Sgt Middleton died the same day as Kerr – & they were buried together, & chose a glorious sunny afternoon for it – both had been in about the same time The third was an abdominal – poor creature came in in an agony – & remained in it till he died – having been operated on – & all things possible done. P.M. exam showed it was typhoid. No new Matron yet & poor Miss R[aper?] not at all well – & worked all yesterday with a T. of 102.4.

15th                We were all called for early breakfast & got on duty just before the Convoy arrived. Not a big one, only 300 odd – we filled right up in 3 – & 5 fractures in to 4. 3 are on the S. I. list but I think there are good hopes for all of them. Sam Murphy has both legs broken & his left eye shot out – Burke one leg badly broken – & Moules – in 3. gas gangrene of shoulder – badly wounded. It was a great relief having these 8 new Sisters & I was able to give 3 of my people off duty time. No mail last night. The morning is blue grey today. We were all struck with wonder at the change & glory of our sea view from the Casino – Colours! sunset reflected in the water – lights on cliffs perfect!

16th 3.16        Quiet day yesterday – Off evening – raining – short walk – bath, odded about – morning misty.

17.3.16.           The orderlies of this Unit are chiefly Irish & we shall have a glorious time with them today – St. Patricks Day. They have started by marching down to Parade WITH A BAND! & such a band – whistles & drums – playing Irish airs – at 2 p.m. there is to be a football match England v. Ireland. After that we will draw a veil!

 The sea is angry about something this morning, can’t imagine what – there is no wind at all – may be because the fishing boats are late in getting off. The men are chasing round now – & won’t be long, but when they heard our Irishman’s band it was too much for them – they ran to see the excitement.

 Yesterday it rained incessantly all day – In the afternoon Constable and I walked along the beach – the only clean place & watched the fishing boats come in. The fishermen live a very sporting life – they race to get off in the morning & race back in the afternoon. First boat ashore sells its fish first. There is a salesman who goes from boat to boat as the fish is unloaded – & sells the haul by auction. It takes the men about 2 mins to arrange the fish, all cod together soles – plaice – dogfish crabs – all separately. Then the salesman – & crowds of women with baskets follow on & hold the sale. It is most entertaining to watch.

 Before the war they used to throw dogfish away [–] now they get 10d each for them. One of my V.A.D.s has been taken to go to another ward – as 2 more folk – a Sister & a V.A.D. have gone sick, so we are under staffed again. However we won’t cry out till we are hurt – Leedam –1/2 day yesterday.

[March] 18th. It suddenly struck me at breakfast y’day – that I might take a half day myself – so asked for it & did. At Sisters’ breakfast we fermented a plan – Allen, Wilson, Marcey & I to hire the old Ford & go to Caudebec en Caux – The morning was wet with fine rain falling, but it was a chance in a hundred. Car rolled up at 2 sharp & off we went. Wilson had been in the theatre all morning & did not come to either lunch – so the other 3 of us flew along – hoofed her out to get some food – cleaned the place & instruments for her & all were ready to start punctually. The rain cleared after we had gone a few miles – Sun shone brightly & all went “merry as a marriage bell.” The scenery was glorious, first part through pretty country lanes carpeted with primroses. (I threatened to get out at every fresh patch, but was not allowed to.) & small villages, & old villages, all interesting Criquetot, Bolbec – Colbec, Gon – I can’t remember the names. Then through a long & wonderful stretch of country overlooking the Seine. The lights & shades on the river & country on the right, & high cliffs on the left, overgrown with beautiful vegetation, gave us much to do to realize. We drove slowly & silently through it all, at one place nestled in the cliffs, we saw a homestead, well kept with an aviary of rare birds, peacocks & creatures whose names I don’t know who squawked & strutted about, & looked very pretty. The wild birds were singing beautifully but not showing themselves much. The next village – Lillebonne – very old – was interesting for its old Roman ruins – of which I will send you p.cs – much more good description than I could give of the Theatre & Palace. It was evidently an open air Theatre. We drove slowly all round & about the place & then on through equally pretty scenery in Caudebec en Caux. The Seine is navigable here – & we saw 6 quite big steamers on their way to Paris. It is a very favourite place of English visitors in the Summer. Our driver told us the winter population was 2,000 – summer – 6,000. We put up at the Hotel de la Marine – ordered tea – omelette – toast & tea – then looked about the place – Cathedral, shops – & town itself – all very interesting – some of the streets are very narrow – & one street is a canal – It is very pretty to look down it, with its very old houses on either side. Then back to tea, over which we lingered – the view was so pretty – across the Seine to dim hills beyond – & right in front of us the Ferry boat, which was busy. We on–loaded at 10 to 6 & returned by Ivetot [Yvetot]. A few miles out the engine stopped dead, the other three sat tight, but as I had to get down – being in front, I stayed down – & went for a ramble in the woods. After tinkering about for some time our man discovered that we had run out of Petrol. So back to C en C we went – ran down hill with no engine working, bought up all one man’s petrol – on to another village – bought all we wanted & then started again – & had a fair run home – through pretty scenery & old villages all the way – first in twilight then in bright moon & star light, having had a glorious feast of fresh air – & pretty country.

 The football match ended in a win for us – England 2 to 1. Patients who were able were allowed to attend the match & 12 Irish men – in their hospital blues – faces blacked & gay turbans – got up a wonderful band – of whistles & drums – & headed them. Such a procession of the maimed the sick the halt & the blind! & men in wheel chairs – you never saw. No home letters. Must get up.

[Sunday, March] 19th. Quiet – sent many patients to England yesterday – are now reduced to 4 in 3 & 5 in 4 – Being so empty – I turned everyone on to work yesterday & had every bed & every scrap of everything put out in the Parade – & the whole place cleaned from top to toe – It looks lovely now. We made lunch for them at 11 o’clock – & made them call a halt for refreshment. They seemed to love their job better than slacking about, they are good creatures. (I mean the patients), the Orderlies are good too.

Went for a walk in evening picked primroses & watched the sun set.

20th               Miss Denne & the A.D.M.[S.] & a couple of civilian lady visitors came round yesterday. My No. 4 ward – is for – “fractures of the lower extremity.” One visitor remarked after I had shown her round – that they all seemed to have broken legs in that ward – I suppose she didn’t realize what lower extremities are. She was a charming woman – & so nice with the men. Gave all my three extra off time yesterday – if no Convoy comes – shall take some myself today.

21 3/16          Leedam. I both had the half day yesterday. Marcey – & Truslove too – we – Marcey Truslove & I – walked to Bénouville in the rain – picked primroses – they are hanging from the banks like yellow tufts now & never seem to get any fewer – very pretty. At Bénouville, we looked around [–] peeped into the church – found service in progress – so went to the Café for tea – we had bloaters – boiled eggs – toast & tea – after tea the woman showed us her old china & pewter. Such a nice little woman her husband is at the War & she was busy making herself a coat out of an old one of his – She turned the stuff & piped it with black velvet – & made a strap for the waist & sleeeves – & it looked very smart. These people are marvels – on no money they always look smart – rather like a certain maternal relation of mine I think. Walked back through heavy rain – bathed – visited Burnett, who is better. Bed early – no letters.

23/3/16 –     The day before yesterday – I went for a walk with Marcey & Truslove – to the woods – & lost my pen case with pen & nail cleaner in – if I am off today I shall go & look for it. Now I am reduced to one of the old fashioned dip–in–each–time. Yesterday we had in a big Convoy – filling us right up – Some very serious cases amongst them. The man “Moules” in my Ward of the shoulder – had another operation yesterday. They found pus in the joint & a good deal of necrosed bone – poor man – he has a painful time between him & recovery I’m afraid.

In 4 – we took only 3 fractures but filled up – to relieve other wards – one – an old man of 59 such a dear old thing has both legs badly wounded & may have to lose one – but we hope not – Letter from Miss Cong[leton].

24th.              Busy day – y’day. Off in evening – Walked to woods to look for my pen etc – Did not find them. Heard that THIRTY FIVE new Sisters are arriving today – from a hospital in Egypt – that has been closed – They will only be here for the time being – & be sent where they are wanted – we could do with 12 ourselves. Wonder if leave will start on the strength of it.

[Saturday] 25th       Lady Day. The 35 did not come y’day – although every preparation was made for them – The sitting room gutted of furniture & 20 camp beds erected & made up – the rest 15 – in bedrooms – thank goodness – not mine – at night we got a message to say only 10 were coming – they didn’t turn up – so perhaps this morning we shall hear it is all a hoax – we have built such castles in air on them too! 6 or 10 to go on leave at the same time – Days off – Got wot not – Off in evening spent money – books – for my Godchild – & my future babies – an interesting mag– & another pen – a vase for Constable, & ordered a clock – 5 inches across the face – hexagonal – very old – hope it will go well – comme ça took my fancy. Pretty morning – white horses on a blue grey sea – bright sunshine making the rocks gleam red & green – & all colours – 1st fishing boat just gone off – won’t say it looks… it would bore you – should love a life on the ocean wave at least just now I think I should – Am leaving Casino 3 & 4 today – & going to Roche D. Ritchie–Thompson coming back – to her room from night duty. Bugle – get up.

[Sunday, March] 26th       A day of quick change – handed over Casino 3 & 4 to Ritchie – took over D. Roche – 3 hours later – was sent off to be ready for night duty. Thomas (T.F) had an operation suddenly & I am doing night duty. She is so far doing well – & a good patient. She had a lb.2 cyst removed from her inside – not off duty yesterday – none of the threatened sisters have come. There are two tiresome little V.A.D.s in the room next this coughing their heads off – I never did like coughs – I have filled them up with glycerine, lemon – & given them hot milk – but still they bark. Yesterday was the Annunciation of the B.V.M. The R.C.s had a great time – They had a wonderful procession all round the town – & I suppose had a great time. Thomas was sensible. Colonel Gray was called in to examine her – & when he said she must be operated on at once – she trusted on him doing it. It would be too truly awful to be operated on by a man you know well & are working with.

27                   Second night 2/3s done. My patient is very good & doing well but sleeps very badly. She likes to lie with me in the room & the light out, so many good hours I spent sitting & doing nothing more than thinking – can’t even make lace to pass the time. However – it is not wasted time.

The 10 Sisters arrived yesterday. All Terriors[Territorials?]. They are supposed to be a new Unit – but cannot find a place to settle. Amongst them is Hindle – a Bart’s contemporary of mine – By the way did I tell you that Thomas, whom I am nursing, is a Nottingham Children’s Hospital – friend of mine. I wonder if they will let us go on leave now – same old motto “wait & see”.

28                   Thomas has not had a good day – but seems inclined to sleep tonight. My 3d night – there is a terrific storm in progress [–] shutters being blown down – These windows have just blown open in spite of the shutters being fastened. Tins [–] I can’t image what sort – but they sound heavy – are racing off down the street for dear life – went for short walk bath & bed – slept rather more than the day before but is is an aggravating business trying to sleep in the daytime.

The 10 new Sisters are to be made use of while they are with us. They have done no work for a long time – 8 are [in] wards – 2 in the Qrs. 3.45 a.m. I have just been to the kitchen for my supper! Cats! Poor – mangy starved looking creatures stealing what they can find to eat – Quite 12 of them. Really one would think this was the only place in Étretat where there was food. 11 of them are for destruction today. One very mangy one – was 1/2 in the stock pot eating meat off a bone! I think I will be off soup for a bit. Local tragedy. Our hairdresser’s maid stole off to the woods at 1 a.m. yesterday. Some children – picking flowers early, saw her staggering back – & a little later found the body of a newborn baby – still warm. The girl has been taken to prison – poor thing.

29                   Nothing to say – Patient doing well – thank God – No tea left out downstairs, so have had milk & water for supper – nice but not refreshing as tea – Tremendous gale still blowing – more shutters down – It is quite the thing in Étretat – apparently& they don’t come gently. Went for a lovely long walk to some woods to find daffodils, found carpets of primroses but no daffs. Am too sleepy to think straight & the hospital is getting very empty. People are having days off.

30th               Quiet night so far – (4 a.m.). Thomas is still doing well. Letter from Hilda tonight telling me Basil Blogg has been killed – How terrible for poor Mrs. Blogg – let us hope the other two will keep safe. Went for lovely walk – alone – this morning – miles along the Canteen Rd. Beautiful hilly country – both sides of me – some parts thickly wooded, some smothered in primroses & daffodils – The air was sweet with their scent – larks singing – the colouring of the whole sky & country wonderful. It would have been a perfect feast for an impressionist!

How some of the sisters can spend their half days off – in going to Havre – I don’t know – the car we have is an awful old broken down thing. Yesterday they got back at 11 p.m. instead of 6.30 – car had broken down on the way back – & was stranded until another car came by – & towed them in – they used blankets knotted together for a tow rope.

[March] 31st.            My 6th night 2/3s done – not much like active Service. My patient has slept all night – & I have sat in a chair. I am looking after a sick V.A.D. too, have been to her room twice, both times the door has made a disastrous noise but she has not stirred. Marcey & I went for a glorious walk to the woods – & brought back a big basket full of daffodils, primroses, blue & white violets, anemones etc.

Children would think they were in fairy land – Elizabeth would be in her element – the sky was intensely blue & the birds singing ecstatically – No letters no news. Smith (D) has gone on leave – after measles. No news of us getting it.


April 1st.      Very foggy – yesterday – went for walk – bed – Patient doing well so far. We have such a charming cook for our Mess – He has fits & is very small – yesterday – I was asking him for a fried potato to take to eat before I went to bed – & as he turned round to say “yes” pulled the whole tin of gravy – for both lunches – off the stove on to the floor – about a gallon – all wasted. I was terribly sorry – & told him I would keep out of his way at meal times – so last night he said – “Aren’t you coming no more for a snack before you go to bed?” so I said “No” – Tonight – when I went to get my tray of things for the night – I found a wonderful – fancy cake – made for me – He was a pastry cook in peace time.

Fog horns have been hooting all night until about 1/2 an hour ago – now it is clear, must be 4 o’clock. Ward is just changing.

April 1st:

[Sunday, April] 2nd.          I am looking after a sick V.A.D. tonight – an elderly woman – the image of Hartigan who has travelled & read – & lived – I have just been chatting to her. She is from No. 10 Rouen – & has been working in the German ward – because she speaks German. One of the men told her that they were giving themselves up to the English in big numbers in some places – but that the English wouldn’t take them, sent them back to their own lines – where they would be shot for desertion. Another told her – that before Christmas the Kaiser called up I forget how many men – but was not able to get nearly the full number – thank Goodness – perhaps they are running short at last. Yesterday was a perfect day – hotter than many summer days. I took a piece of cake – a cigarette & a book of poetry – (in case I fancied any of them) & went to the prettiest spot of the woods I love. It was an hour quick walk to get there – but once settled on a carefully selected spot – where I shouldn’t crush the daffs – & primroses – I just basked in the hot sunshine – fancied all three things cake – then cigarette (about the 5th since Nov.) & book – & listened to the hum of insects & the songs of birds, & reveled in the sun – & flowers & everything until I was nearly asleep then home & to bed. There were no human beings near – but millions of live things butterflies, bees – creeping things & birds – all busy with their day’s work – & taking not the least notice of me. All happy except a couple of silly ass blackbirds who were quarrelling over a bit of dirty looking stuff all the time.

4 o’clock. Guard has just changed which means that 2 sleepy Frenchmen stagger out of the house which is open for the men on duty – about 2 mins before changing time. Two come up from their billets take over – & when the late guard are well away – the fresh ones – go into the house & to sleep! The little dog calls them if by unusual chance anyone should pass – then if he barks loud enough to call them one comes out & curses him & goes in again.

[April] 3rd.   Think there must have been some spirit influence at work this morning that made me do a thing I hate doing & quite against my own will – but which gave me great pleasure – It was – I met the Ambulance train – started for a country walk as usual – & then hating every step – & the thought of the crowd – & strange sisters I should run against went straight to the station. I found that the two Sisters of the train were old friends of mine – one – was one of the 4 St. Bart’s I started the Campaign with – was with one at Chatham – on the Palm Branch (same cabin) No. 14 Gen. She only left there to join No. 19 train at the end of Jan – so she has had a less moveable time than mine – We had a great talk about old times from St. Barts onwards – I brought them both up to Matron – then out to coffee – then showed them over the hospital & bits of Étretat, then back to their train [at 1 a.m.].

I had given my camera up for lost – but Paterson has sent it to her own home to be kept for me!

The Convoy was not a big one – chiefly wounded – some from poor old Robert’s hospital No. 18 C. C. S. at Lapugnoy. Miss Rentzsch donned red cuffs today denoting the rank of Matron. I began to feel like perpetual night nurse to the Sick Sisters – have another one to look after tonight – with an abscess in her ear – I know it is a most painful thing, but she was a bit hysterical about it. I gave her Asp[irin] & a good tot of Whiskey – after treating the ear – the last I heard of her was heavy snoring – whisky is good stuff. This is my NINTH night – & they said for a night or two.

Good news – a Zepp – has been brought down by the Thames. Mr. Boyd has left for 2nd Army – all are sorry to lose him.

3 a.m. I have just been promenading on the verandah – the shape & size of a ship’s bridge – It was pitch dark – except for stars – & the sea beating at my very feet made it seem like being on the Capt’s bridge at sea – & I wished I were.

4th                 To think! I may be going on leave in 2 weeks or so – No news.

4th Do not feel inclined to write my diary – & anyway there is nothing to say. These blessed submarines are a nuisance! Havre harbour is closed again, & the two who went on leave yesterday – are still in Havre – it may affect all our leaves. Still on night duty. Thomas doing well – so far – Stitches taken out today. Saw the new moon – not through glass. Did not go for a walk yesterday morning – was too tired – tumbled into bed & slept soundly from 12 to 6.30 – with only waking once – delightful. No mail in – hope to Goodness – there have been no boats torpedoed. 4 a.m. The monotony of the night was relieved at 3 a.m. by the coming of the Night Super – to say that the Staff nurse in Casino 5 – fearfully heavy surgical ward – had fainted badly so we decided to tell Matron & have her brought along here where I could keep an eye on her – She is fixed now with hot bottles – Soda & Salvolatile – & the Night Super will be coming back in a few minutes to take a friendly plate of porridge with me. Poor Sheard had to be rudely awakened & sent on duty in place of Bell. the sick one.

Midnight, 6th & 7th         Nothing has happened at all exciting the last two days & I have not even been for a respectable walk. Felt tired for some reason & went to bed early. No sign of coming off night duty yet have done 12 1/3 nights now. Two submarines have been caught at Havre – & 1 at Folkestone. Our English patients who left today are held up at Havre – as the port is closed. Watson is hoping she will get off for leave tomorrow all right – & we 3 for next week are hoping we shall get off all right too.

Every morning at day break the crows amuse me very much. They come up in battallions of about 1000 each to over the cliff on the left – & they drill – & exercise & squawk for about 1/2 an hour – & then fly off again to their various feeding grounds – but they do everything exactly like one bird – swing round together, ascend – alight – It must be drilling.

Great consternation in the dovecote tonight because the CofE Padre – has called to see me – two days in succession – I did see him tonight – but if they had only known – it was only to talk about the chapel arrangements – & to get two photos of graves – for relatives of two of my men who died.

[Sunday, April] 9th            ’ad ’orrible day on the 7th – Went to Havre with Allen (Day off) – because she was alone – Hired the bootmaker’s car – & started off 10 a.m. Got to Havre – saw a great congestion of shipping in the Harbour – held up for submarines, & the masts of a torpedoed vessel then we did some shopping – & lunched – & went to the Galleries – where our car was to meet us – 1 p.m. no car – 1.30 – no car – 2 – the bootmaker bustled up in a heated condition to say the car has broken down & would not be repaired for 3 days. No cars to hire – no ambulances – no train to Étretat until 4.30 p.m. Went to H.Q., saw A.D.M.S. [Assistant Director of Medical Services] who told us a car was coming from Étretat to meet the mail boat (Smith returning from leave ). 3 o’clock. Car came – 3.15 up strolled Smith – having been lunching since 1 in the Garden Tea Rooms. 3.30 – crept to the P.O. for mails – 3.40 – picked up a horrid young Y.M.C.A. man – who wanted a lift to Harfleur – “won’t be much out of your way” – only 10 kilometres. Left an old tyre to be mended – bought a new one – & at last left Havre – for Harfleur – dropped the young man – then on to Étretat & to bed at 4.30 – & had a little more than 1 hours sleep – before night duty. Made up my mind to get a sleep in the night. Fate said “No.” McBride – night Super – off with throat – I had to take her job – & am doing it again tonight – Matron said she knew I ought to be off night duty – & would take me off soon – I said I was pleased to fill a gap but had a horrible feeling of being in a web – of night duty – as if I never should get out – I have done 7 weeks this year already. Watson went on leave on the 8th – Am afraid I shan’t see Hilda – she will be on a walking tour when I have my 10 days leave.

10th                Night chiefly remarkable – for having lost a sick officer. He was out at lock up time – & could be found nowhere – We reported it to the C.M.O. – Major in Charge – & the Ward Master – no one could find him – Finally he turned up at 12.30 having lost his way in the country. Very glad [he] is back – Have put in for leave – & wonder if it will be granted – Letters from Mrs. Sharpe – Hilda – & one from Mother saying she is not well – hope she is much better now. McBride better – hope she will be fit to come on duty tonight.

12th                Came off night duty 10th, took charge of Thomas y’day – Raper had the day off – I am having it today – Thank you – have slept well and long and have just had breakfast in bed – intend to write letters, go through all my kit thoroughly – pack, read the Westminster, a book called Owd Bob – a French book – Lunch in bed – (Madame will cook me something nice) – then get up & walk to Gonneville with Constable.

12 – 13 – 14 – Oh I do ‘ope it won’t be very rough. Hope you are better – hope to see you soon!

13th                To…morrow… Enjoyed my day off yesterday very much [–] it poured all day – & I turned out everything & repacked (sure sign of a move they say). In the afternoon I had Hindle & Constable in to tea & cards – we had a cosy toast & boiled eggs – honey & cake tea in the kitchen – did not go to a single meal in the mess room – had all over here. Stormy day.

Hope you are better. Matron got orders yesterday to take duty on the Asturias – don’t fancy she will care for a seagoing job – & there are no allowances on board ship!

14                    All leave stopped – 10 Australians – sorry – Austr i lians – arrived.

[Monday, April] 17th        Palm Sunday yesterday. Went to Early & 11 o’clock services – good sermon – church full. We heard a rumour last night of heavy fighting at La Bassée & Verdun – & that we had taken La Bassée. I am afraid the casualties will be terribly sad – whatever happened.

Yesterday an airship & a torpedoe destroyer were up & down to & fro, round & round – like a couple of terriers after a rat. The airship sighted the quarry later – & the steamer blew it up – crew & all complete – i.e. a German submarine.

A letter from Hilda – she is in N. Wales.

[April] 18th. Marcey, Constable & I had half days – weather very heavy. Blowing 1/2 a gale with occasional gusts of rain or hail – We walked to Bénouville – dug up a basket full of primrose roots – then went to the Inn for our usual boiled eggs & bread & butter tea – then went home – to the Cemetery – & tidied up 9 graves – took away all the dead flowers – & planted primroses – Col. Thackery, Capt Hammond – Kerr – & Sawden – came under my special care. If everybody does a few we may have them all tidy for Easter – the Cemetery is very beautifully kept.

[April] 19th. Raper & I saw Thomas off to England. Went in, in professional style in a long convoy – at night our Ambulance carried 4 stretcher cases – Thomas, an officer & 2 Tommies – she stood the journey well – when we got there, the boat was not in – signals against her, so we left her in charge of a Sister – screened off in a corner of the Officers hut. They were about full up – & very busy at Havre. The Padre went to see some Officers off – so we all rattled home together in one Ambulance – At about 12 midnight some New Zealanders – hailed our car & asked if we were going – anywhere in particular! Nice thing to ask at midnight. They wanted a hurt man taken somewhere – so we took him – & after that sprinted for Étretat at top speed – so fast that the pipes inside the car burnt holes in our rugs – we got back about 1:30.

[April] 22nd.          Miserable wet weather – slight idea of leave starting after Easter. Dug primroses for the graves yesterday.

[Monday, April] 24th.      Easter Day yesterday – we & I hope you all, had a very happy one. The three early services were packed with patients, us & men of the Unit. I went to the 7 o’clock. Morning service at the big church was very well attended – & evening service they were packed out. The Church looked very pretty, & Mr. Parry Evans gave a good sensible sermon – short – & one that appealed to the men. I did not go in the evening – went for a walk with Wilson – & landed at the church after the congregation had left – & I played & she sang – great joy – it is a dear little organ. We of La Plage clubbed together & gave our 100 men fruit salad & whipped cream for tea – they all enjoyed it very much indeed – much better than the sticky cakes one buys here – besides I have finished with the woman at the cake shop – she would not sell cake cheaper than 2 francs each for things the size round of a breakfast cup – for our men at Xmas time – so I didn’t buy them there – & never have spent a penny in her shop since.

This creature was out scouting yesterday – shiny dark grey – big one – no steamers in attendance.

[April] 25th[, 1916].                                    We have been called for early bkfst – so I must be quick – A convoy came in about an hour ago. They called some people to go & help receive it. I started scratching my head yesterday – to think about equipping the new theatre that is to be in my charge – along with the two hernia wards – & ended by giving the Dispenser a list a yard long – of things to be getting ready for me. I have had my staff nurse changed three times since I took on this job – it will be quite useful to know – which one is to be the right one. It is a glorious morning – of sunshine – & fishing boats – sea dead calm rumour of leave starting – which does not excite me – because in the next breath it will probably be stopped again – now I must get up.

[Miss Appleton went to England on leave from 26 April until 6 May, 1916. It was her only such leave between 1914 and 1919.]

Volume Two ends here, at page 129.


At No. 1 General Hospital, Étretat

Posted to No 1 General Hospital, Étretat Nov 1915 – Feb 1917

Volume 3 begins.

 1916

[Monday] May. 8th [1916].                      Back from leave. Miss Wilton Smith R. R. C. our Pop[eringhe] Matron is now in charge. Poor old Barclay Smith (with us at No. 3) died a week ago, of septic endocarditis. Enjoyed my leave in the bosom of my family very much - am in C & D La Plage again & frantically busy. Short handed of Sisters & Orderlies – operations every day. C is full of operated on patients & part of D. which makes the washings & bed makings alone – a stiff job. However – 3 Sisters have joined the Asturias - & like it. 2 have gone to Calais & do not. Off duty yesterday afternoon – planted plants on the men’s graves. lovely day – This morning very rough & stormy. Coming back on the boat – I was standing at the very end of the deck looking forward – there were many officers sitting behind us also looking forward – when a sudden gust of wind blew my dress & coat up over my head – so that I looked like a grey tulip with a couple of flame & black stalks – you know my flames – It was a terrible business getting out of it all. We saw three torpedoed vessels – as we were going in to Havre. Did not get in till 11:30 a.m.

[May] 9th.    One month from today & I shall be 39 – oh ’orrors ’ow old I am –

Yesterday was the busiest day imagineable – 6 evacuated 6 admitted – 5 operated on – 6 transferred to the upper storey – carried in blankets – to leave the beds on my lower floor for the newly operated on ones. 47 bed patients to do every mortal thing for - & only 2 orderlies – 1 S. N. & me to do it – However we worked hard & fast - & all had off duty time - & got done. It is no use waiting for a less busy time to give off duty. At that rate we should not have it. In the evening I went for a walk with Miss W. Smith over the cliffs & home by the rue du Havre.

I forgot to tell you y’day – that the last part of our journey was by far the least comfortable – they could not spare an ambulance for us – so we came with the mail – like this - when we jerked the bags fell on us. That is me in the corner toes this way.

We saw these the other day when we were coming back - The French actually want us to pay harbour dues for the one with the funnel showing because she is in port. The other one I showed you in your other diary are both outside harbour.

 

[May] 10th.  Yesterday was ditto of the day before, except there were no operations owing to workmen in the theatre – gave Cummings 1/2 day – hope she spent some of it in buying a new cape – she is not remarkable for tidiness, but works well. Little Johnstone – an excellent V.A.D. came to me in place of – let me think – who was the last – Ernest.

6:30 a.m. the others have just been called – cold – sunny lovely. I am being nearly blown out of bed – but think I am well enough tucked up to withstand it. Off duty evening spent most of the time in a bath. Winnie Smith went to a barge for duty.

[May] 11th.   Calm morning – fishing fleet off, very busy & about 6 mine sweepers – sweeping. They did a funny thing just now, & I must ask somebody who knows – about it.

They were going along in a line of 3 far apart when suddenly the furthest away one disappeared & all I could see was a thimble shape of what looked like spray. I wonder if it could be a bursting mine.

I watched closely & now can see all three sweepers proceeding as usual. They are going so slowly – I should not have thought they could burst a mine, but don’t know what else it could have been. There is nothing “to write to the Times” about the sunrise today – but last night’s sunset was a glory – I don’t wonder this is called “The Hamlet of the Setting Sun.” Yesterday was busy, but not quite so busy. Our new Matron is altering things for the better in the Plage. The theatre is on the ground floor - & hitherto – patients have been carried from there to the 3rd or 4th floors – bad for them - & fearful work for the Orderlies. Y’day she came in & stopped it - & had them put (with the Major’s consent) – into beds on the same floor as the theatre, which throws some of the acute nursing on to the Sisters there. I hope in time we shall amalgamate - & the whole staff run the whole place.

In the afternoon was off & went to a concert given by a troup of A.S.C. [Army Service Corps?] & Ordinance men from Havre – calling themselves the “Red Dominoes.” They were beautifully dressed in black sateen & red trimmings. The local photographer arrived in the middle & took a photograph of it. It must have been rather quaint to see the smart troup out on the Casino Parade – with rows & rows of many coloured quilted beds – with patients in - & a group of up patients as audience – with a few French people – & us thrown in.

I was talking to a patient last night , who has been out since the beginning of War. He told me just the same stories of the German cruelties as many others have done. How they would go through villages & see old bearded men pinned to their own doors on lances & swords - babies lying about naked & maimed, dying & dead. Women - with their hands - or arms cut off. All horrible & perhaps best left untold.

12th                You know I told you the mine sweepers were very busy y’day & the day before - they found what they were looking for. At about 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon we saw 3 mine sweepers - a torpedoe destroyer - & a funny thing like a small terrace of China junks - in tow of a tug - passing. 3 hrs later we heard they had found a submarine between here & Fécamp - & were going to repair it for the French to use. —this is the best I can remember of it.

Bond left yesterday to get married. She had a very tame send off - but no one knew she was going until nearly 7 o’clock. Orders only came through then. Good luck to her.

Marcey & I were too tired for a long walk last night - So went to the grounds of a house owned by a French doctor who has an English wife - He is on Military duty somewhere. She & the children away somewhere else. She has given permission for her caretaker to give us flowers - & to walk in her grounds. About a 50 acre property - part park - part woodland - & many lovely gardens - up steps & down steps & in all sorts of odd places. Tennis court & pond. I should like to meet her & thank her. We loved it there - Just for 1 hour I tried to illusion myself that there was no war - that that was my place - & I had this poor tired nurse (Marcey) down for a rest. Very misty morning - a foghorn has been blowing. I can see the dead calm sea but the upper half of the cliffs is blotted out quite.

13th Quiet day yesterday - no operations. Marcey & I took 1/2 days off - & planned - a business & pleasure tea picnic - so started off at 3 - with tea & Punch - for pleasure - & stockings to darn for business. We decided to go to my favourite wood - far from everywhere. Before we got there a few clouds had rolled up & a spot or two of rain fallen. In spite of it - we spread macks & settled •ourselves• to tea. Before we had got to the end of the hard boiled egg stage - the fun began. A gust or two of wind - & then an inky sky - & a down pour - we crept into the bushes - but in a few minutes that was worse than outside - so we packed our goods - & walked fast to the nearest shelter - where we found a Frenchwoman & her daughter. It was under the eve of a thatched roof - our foot hold was the side of a cement gutter - very steep & every time our feet slipped we were in a swift running river. The old French woman - soon gave up trying & stood in the water. They had walked out from Étretat to drive home with ‘Father’ in his tip cart - Marcey & I soon made a move further on - & found good shelter in a waggon shed - 2 waggons at home. We settled ourselves on one - & started tea again - we were absolutely drenched to the skin from top to toe. My big coat weighed about 20 lbs - I think & Marcey’s waterproof evidently leaked. Next excitement was a sharp thunder storm & very vivid lightning which drove - the Mother & daughter - Father - wagon & horse in beside us - We shared what was left of the food - & enjoyed a merry time for about 1/4 of an hour. When the force of rain abated a bit - then we joined the driving party - & rode home in state - much to everyone’s amusement. The old French woman - simply was weak with laughter all the way. We enjoyed it too. Home - hot bath - Madame’s kitchen hung thick with every sort of garment - all over.

Bed early - still raining this morning.

13th                As usual. 5 operations - 2 cases to England.

Miss Rentzch joined the [hospital ship] Asturias as Ass. Matron. Some of our Sisters went to Havre with her & saw Allen - Mann [Mason] & Leedam. They appear to be in the lap of luxury - beautiful wards - a large - & well furnished cabin each - plenty of Stewards - stewardesses, & boys in brass buttons to wait on them. Plenty of orderlies, etc. They are all looking well & rested. There is a talk of them taking out of action Australians home! Lucky people - fancy going to Australia! Very windy day. The little orphans love the wind, when they are walking out in a crocodile they throw up their caps & the wind blows them far & they have to chase them - which annoys their keepers - very much - I was noticing yesterday that she clouted them - whether the cap was blown or thrown off - so no doubt things will improve for her -

I am meaning to get up for 6.30 service so must be quick. Went to watch tennis last night two motor V.A.D.s & 2 M.O.s played a good game - one of the V.A.D.s - they say is almost [in] Wimbledon form. Must get up.

[Monday, May] 15th          Quiet day - yesterday - 6.30 church - sent the other two to church in the morning - did very little myself - rested & walked all alone in afternoon - on duty evening. V.A.D. Mostin sent for duty to Abbeville. Very rough - all yesterday - still rough & raining this morning.

16th                Had an unexpected 1/2 day off yesterday. Miss W. Smith wanted me to go to Havre with her - to do the talking! She must think my French has improved! We went by the 2 o’clock Ambulance & got in soon after 3 o’clock, did our shopping, then the Ambulance picked us up again & took us to No 2 General. Matron wanted to talk business with our Principal Matron who is there. I met some Sisters I had known up the line - & she met some she had worked in Egypt with, so we had a gay tea party - some M.O.s came in too. No 2 General is [-] at least that part of it is - the station & station hotel. From the window of their mess room - the train comes in just below - so that if you spat it would hit the train - & just to one side the boats - hospital ships & leave boat - & all sorts of interesting things happen.

It must be intensely interesting. It is just where the Seine ends - & you see the opposite bank of it in the dim distance. We came back at 7. The evening was beautiful. The weather had been tearful all day, but in the evening the sun broke through & made the tender green trees & the flowers of all colours sparkle with dew drops – the country is really very pretty round us. This morning is absolutely perfect. I should like a whole day off & to go far into the country. Past 7 o’clock must get up. The lady chauffeurs are a great success. The one who drove us in – has been doing the work since the beginning of War. I remember her in Boulogne in 1914. Her husband is Surgical Specialist at one of the General Hospitals out here. Now I shall be late! & your breakfast will be coming up to you in a minute.

Fishing boats are enjoying a good race this morning over the sunny sea.

17th                Nothing exciting happened yesterday. There was just a mild flutter abroad – amongst us & the Orderlies over the Inspection by the D. G. & Matron-in-Chief – one day this week. I suppose we shall have to be our cleanest which does not appeal to me much. I’m not naturally good at having the place smart. Off 2-5 yesterday – it was too hot to do much. Marcey & I went on [to] the beach & watched the fishing boats come in - & the fish auction. Then 1/2 a dozen Orderlies entertained us, by diving from a boat & swimming etc. Then we repaired to my room for tea - & did mending for the rest of the time. Last night was a joy! The moon well up in the E & Venus the same distance in the W. Sea like a mill pond - & everything flooded in moonshine – Venus made a little path of shine across the sea. I should like to have stayed out instead of stuffing off to bed – after all – the rabbits have some advantage. Now wouldn’t it be nice if I could take my pencil & show you what it all looked like comme ça

 view from my window

18th                5:30 a.m. Glorious morning tide far out. The brown rocks look well in the sunshine – covered in patches with vivid green seaweed. Off duty yesterday evening. Called with Matron on the Chauffeur V.A.D.s. They have a glorious house and garden. Their unit consists of 17 persons. 14 Chauffeurs, a cook – housekeeper & housemaid. I was talking to the housemaid - & admire her very much – Such a nice well educated girl – I think she sometimes wishes she were doing more than housework for the War – but, I argued with her, that it was a necessary job - & personally I rather admired the people who took the out of sight jobs – or quietly carried on with necessary peacetime work - & so I do. They have asked us to tea on Monday. After that I took Matron to the garden of the house where the Mother is English & we roamed all over the place, but found no one. Later Marcey & I went – found the gardener, & he gave us each – a double arm full of flowers for the wards – I don’t expect Miss McC. & the D.G. will come before tomorrow, but still – it’s all right – I must get up early this morning – as a convoy is coming.

4 more people going on leave tonight & going to leave/have 2 weeks – lucky devils.

19th                Last night I heard Major Segundo – yelling under our windows at 9 p.m. for some one to go round to the lady Chauffeurs – with him – to see the sick one – I lay low – as I was in bed – He only seemed to know two of our names – but as my light was out – I didn’t answer.

 Just passing in a sunny mist looks rather pretty

19th                I have got a day out in dates somewhere. We had a convoy of 300 odd in yesterday chiefly wounded from the Albert region. Some of them are very badly wounded. In one ward – there is a poor youngster – with both legs broken – both arms wounded – one eye shot out & the other badly damaged. He is on the D. I. Unit [list]. Then there are 3 others in the same ward – on the S. I. list – one with his whole buttock muscle blown off - & many are really very bad indeed. Scott, Palmer - & Sheard – returned from leave last night. Marcey & 3 V.A.D.s – Sutherland – Craig, Williams went. They should have had a glorious crossing – judging by the sea this morning.

It was No. 1 train that brought our convoy. My old chum Paterson came up to see me. She is not looking at all well - & dislikes train life – I always feel I should like it for a bit. Last night I helped Marcey to get off – then after first supper – went for a stroll in the gloaming with Miss Atkinson – poor thing she is being sent to England – after having had an outbreak of nasty boils. She is terribly sorry to go – She is the N.Z. V.A.D. aged 56 I told you about.

20th               Quiet - & beautiful weather day yesterday. We were all on duty in the afternoon in accordance with Matron’s wishes that we should be at our posts if the great ones came to inspect. We sent the V.A.D.s off on conditions they kept their weather eyes lifting & came back at the first sign of Miss McC[arthy]. I was off in the evening. Had my dress fitted – that is becoming quite a pastime with me – they have fitted it four times already. Afterwards I took Matron for one of my favourite walks – along the Rouen Rd. up through the woods – & home by the Fécamp Rd. The wild flowers are such a joy – I wish you could come & enjoy them too. We found Solomon’s Seal - & all sorts of lovely things. I brought some back for the church. The next two Sundays are mine – one for myself & one for Marcey – on leave. Matron & I had a good talk over the old days at Pop[eringhe] & Bailleul & of the present. She is a very good enterprising Matron & tries to make life pleasant for her staff – at the same time is most particular that rules should be kept. It must bore you terribly to hear morning after morning – that the sea is this or that, but really – Mother – today – is. The sea is dead calm, low tide - & the sunshine is making an edge round the rocks – of sparkling diamonds. Fishing boats under full sail – far out - & the sky – a pinky – ripe melon colour. If I am to take night duty again this year – I should like to in June - & be up to watch the sunset & sunrise everyday. Some of the Sisters have started batheing - I must buy a gown. Ritchie Thomson back from leave y’day.

[Sunday, May] 21st We were inspected yesterday by the D.G. He seemed to like the place all right. Miss McC & Princess Victoria are supposed to be coming today. Off y’dy afternoon did flowers in both churches - & thought about a batheing gown. Truslove & Collings [played] a horrible trick on me last night. I tried Woods batheing gown on - with a view to letting Madame - make me one like it. I had to search high & low for the old thing & was flying upstairs four at a time & suddenly found myself under a water spout of hot & cold water - Most generous - they gave me their all! 4 gay sparks are out batheing now. I don’t mean to start before May June.

Lovely morning, must get up - as it is Sunday. Somebody - has found a treasure, this huge hulk is just passing my window.

22                   Sunday yesterday - went to early & evening services. Glorious day - we were duly inspected by Princess Victoria Prince Christian’s daughter.[25] I hope she is not a a spy - having a brother with the Germans - does put one off her a bit. She seemed to like everything. The V.A.D. Chauffeurs - lined their convoy of cars up - & stood by them - in the square - & were the first visited. P.V. shook hands with them all - & they made their curtsies to her. Lady Guernsey & two other ladies were with her. Poor little L. Guernsey - is a charming young thing. She lost her husband at the beginning of the War - & has been running a French hospital at Fécamp ever since. After the inspection they all came to tea with us. Princess V. & the 3 ladies with her - Miss McCarthy, Col. Jenkins - a Staff Officer, the A.D.M.S., our C.O., & about 6 M.O.s. The V.A.D. drivers - & a bunch of us. The Princess is very smiling etc, but it gives one a feeling of nausea - to think she has a brother doing his best for our enemies. You don’t want to know how she was dressed do you? Only in a blue dress - & blue hat with a red silk crown - & something white at her neck -

You see? elderly - grey haired.

The great excitement of yesterday - was on the sea. Two torpedoe destroyers - 3 pairs of trawlers - & that huge submarine elevator. See May 12th. were up & down all the afternoon. I do hope they caught something, but have not heard. An airship & hydroplane were busy overhead all the morning. I think they did find something, because at one time two of the trawlers stopped - & one blew her whistle in great agitation - & the 2 torpedoe catchers came to them. I didn’t see any great explosion or anything like that.

23rd               Quiet & calm day. 1/2 day off. Went to tea at the Chauffeurs & afterwards for a walk with her. Found I had many acquaintances in common with Mrs. Graham Jones - chief chauffeur. Her husband is at one of the Gen[eral] Hospitals. Tea on the terrace was cool & delightful - Wiggelia looking beautiful. News of heavy fighting at Verdun & Suchez in last night’s paper.

Someone is roasting coffee & it smells uncommonly good. I have just had a letter from an old patient of mine, telling me - he is enjoying a month’s convalescence at a castle belonging to Lord Buccleuch in Dumfriesshire. They have the use - of trout streams, tennis, bowls, croquet, golf - & says it is a glorious place. How kind of L. B. to lend it.

24th               The Awe-strylians went back to their own Unit yesterday. They liked being here - & were sorry to go - we shall miss them too! Our staff is very fluctuating. It means we are minus 7 trained people. I am to take over the Annexe today - & am pleased to. It is the one part of the hospital I do not know - but Major Martyn is in charge - a nice man to work for - A new job always makes one feel terrified! The C.O. gave a tennis tea yesterday - I don’t know who went - was off in the evening myself - & went for a glorious long country walk with Hindle - along the Rouen Rd - up to the right, across the Havre Rd - & home by the cliffs. The banks that were tufted heavily with primroses a little while ago - are heliotrope now - not tufted but just prettily covered with a little plant “Thrift” - you know it probably - I don’t remember seeing it before - rather like a small scabia - Won’t bore you with the lights & shades of the setting sun - through the tall young green trees or the fields upon fields of deep crimson trefoil mixed with Star of Bethlehem - & others [-] clover, daisies & poppies - you are probably enjoying the same yourself - hope you are.

Three people have just gone out to bathe - the sea looks tempting but I don’t mean to bathe before June.

Many happy returns of the Day to The Empire

25th               Cold, rough choppy sea day - the fishing boats are having a fine pitch & toss. Wonder if the bathers will bathe this morning. A convoy was expected at 2 a.m. - but don’t think it has come yet. We shall all be called for first breakfast, which means in quarter of an hour. The Port of Havre is closed again. We had no mail last night! There are rumours of a six weeks blockade of letters in the near future - don’t know what for & hope it will not be necessary. I took over the 4 Annexes yesterday - which means 118 beds. At present have a V.A.D. only. We are a bit short of staff again. Major Martyn is M.O.

An old Sergeant was telling me about the different sorts of shells - the German send over. He says one kind, called the “oil can”[26] - whose duty it is to upset the nerves of the troops is most feared of all. It looks like an oil drum & explodes with a terrific noise - & vibration that is most unnerving. It is not nearly such a dangerous one as the others. But what the brutes do is to send over one of them then the Infantry all run away from it to a dug out then they send over a big one to destroy the dug out. Infernal inventive demons – May they suffer a martyrdom of conscience & die a slow death. Some men say our shells are so splendid & some say they are no good.

26th               The convoy came in at 5:30 a.m. y’day- & we were all called for first breakfast. About 300 – chiefly medical cases came – Mine were – many of them – poor old worn out things who had been out all through the war - & were going home for a rest. In one room I had a Q.M.S [Quartermaster Sergeant]aged 59 -, a C.Q.M.S.[Company Quartermaster Sergeant] & a S. M.[Sergeant Major] & another old thing all about the same age. Going round last night Major Martyn said, he thought the best thing to order for them was a stiff brandy & soda each & a good sleep – So they had the first & I hope by now have had the other. One, such nice man was feeling terribly bad with an appendix abscess – Later in the day he was moved to the Casino for operation. Last night I heard he was terribly ill with general peritonitis. We sent 10 men to C.C. & some to Rouen for Permanent Base - yesterday - among them that Old Sight [?] who sings in “The Follies”. Port evidently open again. I had a letter from you last night & one from Min yesterday morning. We never get letters in the morning, so I suppose a post came in odd just when it opened. McFarland, V.A.D. left for some other hospital yesterday. They keep nibbling at our staff, but are not so good at replenishing it!

Sea choppy - weather cold - not off yesterday. Better luck today.

[May] 27th. Very busy day yesterday - I had to send one of my V.A.D.s to help in Casino 5, which I did gladly - as it was to enable them to give “Barber” the Appendix man from us, a nurse to himself - He is doing badly - may even be dead now. The English patients did not go - so with one thing and another the day was quite full - Off in afternoon, picked marguerites along the Havre Rd fields - to do the churches with today. No letters. Three new V.A.D.s arrived from England. They look terribly young - & untrained - we should be grateful for a few trained people. I have felt uncommonly in sympathy, with an old brown spaniel here - who hobbles about on three legs & looks miserable! The cold gave me rheumatism but today looks beautifully sunny & warm - & the sea is as calm as a millpond.

[Sunday, May] 28th.          Very busy day. The Col. (who apparently thinks the best way to get more titles is to say “yes” to every question asked him by those in authority) said “yes” he could take another convoy. There was no push - other hosp. were longing for it - but “yes”! He might have added - that understaffed as we are - the ones ahead here - only just get all the attention they need, but as the care of the 3 or 400 extra. I had to be prepared to take 190 instead of 140 for instance - enough of the C.O. I loathe him. The sky last night was a joy! Dark crimson with black clouds - sea white calm silver - with the red reflected on it. Now having had a thorough good grumble - I will get up.

[May] 29th. Slack day - gave Garrett 1/2 day - & Johnstone 10-4. Off in evening went to church with Miss Atkinson & a lovely walk after - home for second supper. Being ahead [?] I sat beside my illest man for a great part of the afternoon [-] he can neither read nor write but has a good memory. Has been out from the beginning, was through Mons - the battle of the Aisne - Marne etc. & was at Ypres - while we were at Poperinghe. Slow funny creature said he used not to like fighting - “but when your blood’s up, it’s all right.” His injury is a kick in the stomach by a horse - since shot for cruelty. I asked him what he meant by a horse being cruel, “He was terribly cruel, used to run about - biting people & knocking down the pickets, but it was a shame to kill him - he was a prize animal & a lovely worker. He didn’t mean to hurt me. There were two of us on picket & he owed the other fellow a grudge because he had teased him with a stick & he came straight for me & dug his foreleg at my stomach. I just said ‘Nancy’ & he knew me & was quiet as a lamb & nosed me & stayed beside me until they came to pick me up. He was terribly sorry for what he had done. Once a man was told to harness him & he went gingerly up to throw the harness across him [-] the horse waited until he was near enough & then picked him up by the back of his shirt & flung him away. They oughtn’t to have killed him tho’ - there is a chap in the Warwicks who can manage him - why couldn't they get him transferred to look after him while I am away.” Wish I could remember some of the many stories he told me. Do you remember I told you about Meteren - a place near Bailleul - where there was a lot of fighting in 1914? He was in all that & apparently loved it. Our men were charging straight through the village - driving the Germans before them - as they passed one house - my man’s mate saw a bayonet being shoved out to kill my man - so he turned his own bayonet backwards - & dug it in the way the other was coming from - killed his man. Then they all went into the house & found a woman fastened to the table to make a screen for them - behind her was a little child with both arms cut off. When they saw that their blood was up - & they killed the whole six Germans.

Once at Ypres - they had a lovely post of observation not being shelled. The Germans were bombarding from six different batteries, our men took careful observation & let them bombard. Next morning our artillery let fly at all the battery positions - gave them a thorough peppering - Next night all was quiet! & the Lieutenant with them said - “Boys you can get a good sleep tonight. I think the Germans have gone to get fresh guns. Col. Bairnsfather, the artist was with them. He used to make true pictures of the men - & wrote down the actual things the men said - & sent them to some paper. He told me how one Sapper was made Sgt. There was a Co. of R.E.s [Royal Engineers] working with them. The Germans were making a fine big sap - but had not finished it. The sapper - dashed down amongst the Germans - put a fuse and dashed back. It took a certain number of seconds to go off. He was well away when it exploded. It went off well - & blew up - the Germans in their own sap. Meanwhile the R.E. Capt. was sitting at a post of vantage - sniping any odd Germans that tried to escape! When our Artillery were shelling the batteries - our Infantry cheered as the shells burst. The German Infantry heard the cheering & thought something was coming & flew to their dug out - so we put a shell in the dug out & took their trenches. He has suffered the usual hardships of nothing but biscuits & bully for so long - no chance of a wash for a month. Only water to drink - from a stream where dead bodies were. He says an officer who is hated is killed by his own men when they go into action. Their Capt. he swears was a German spy [-] when he got angry he spoke so furiously they could not understand him. The men will kill him if they get a chance. Another of my men is in the Secret service - He says ours is a splendid service, & told me all sorts of stories of spies being tracked - most interesting. Sometimes English Officers & French women - & often Germans speaking English perfectly.

One of my dear old Tommies who is only 1/2 sharp wandered into church last night & sat amongst the officers-! & sang away quite unconcernedly [-] nice of him. 7 a.m. time to get up.

30                   One gruesome thing Sam Maddox told me - was that when they were marching into Ypres - they saw another Company of the Warwicks resting by the roadside, some sitting on the kerb some lying about - They took not the least notice of the passing officer - no salute - no nothing. Then the officer went up to them & touched one man’s cheek - white powder fell off, & he was stone dead. They had all been killed by gas as they sat or lay. Maddox said - it was a horrible sight, some of them were smiling, & some looked as if they were asleep. Very peaceful day yesterday. Off in afternoon, watched the batheing, & did not much else. Major Martyn is sick of life out here & has written to the C.O. requesting to be transferred to the home service so that he can have his wife & children with him. It seems so comical, he & the C.O. mess together & see quite a lot of each other & yet he has to write such a very formal application & “begs to have the honour.” The C.O. will know nothing about it before letter time today so you & I are before him with the old man’s secret.

Rules concerning batheing arrived yesterday.

“No mixed batheing will be allowed.

The nursing staff will bathe at a given place at the given time 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. when a boat will be in attendance.

Batheing before breakfast will only be allowed, with a responsible Sister in charge.”

Dead calm morning - no sun - 1 fishing boat - many diver ducks.

31                    A convoy of about 300 - arrived yesterday - which filled us right up - & overfilled the hospital - Some will be going on to England by the next boat. Off for 1st supper instead of second - otherwise not off duty, lists, lists, lists, besides the treatment, kept me busy - The V.A.D., had one the afternoon & one the evening - & worked like blacks when they were on. Good little creatures. Yesterday, was the first of 3 days Fête for the R.C. Church. “First Communion” for the children. They went to church in a long procession - girls in white carrying very long candles - boys with ordinary suits, left arms tied with white ribbon [-] white sailor hats. I think there were over 100 of them.


The glorious 1st of JUNE

Lovely morning. Ascension day. I have called some of the others to get up for Early Service, but am not going myself. I never did go to the Early Service at home, on Ascension Day. Yesterday was a blessedly peaceful day. No one had a half day - The orderlies odded round - & looked up equipment for the monthly inspection & my two V.A.D.s & I had ample time to enjoy & perhaps spoil the patients. It must be a ghastly thing to be buried alive. One of my men was. He knew his company was shorthand - & the chances were - he would never be found - as only part of one hand was showing. His head was doubled over on to his chest & there was only ventilation enough for him to take short slow breaths. There was a tremendous weight on his shoulders [-] sandbags and earth. He spent the time wishing he had been killed outright by a shell instead of being buried in a mine. When at last they got him out - he fainted & knew no more until he was in hospital. He is a quaint dreary creature - says he will never be the same again. Had another of the Chauffeures in for treatment yesterday. She had crushed her hand in trying to take her tyre off. Quite a nice youngster. It seemed to open her eyes - to be in a Sisters Bunk for a bit. When I had cleaned her hand up - I left it to soak in lotion, while I did the diets - & saw about various things. The orderlies came up - & I did each one’s diets with him - then the V.A.D.s came to know what to do - of[?] the treatment & a thousand odd things - then I finished - the sore hand & sent her off. She came in the evening - again to have it looked at - & said - “I had no idea you had to do such a lot of things - you seem to have to see about everything.” I told her that was the Sisters job. I think she had an idea that the Chauffeuses were the people who counted & we amused the patients, meanwhile.

Today is the day of the year that the Sea is blessed.

[June] 2.       Ascension Day Festivities were held in perfect weather & the place swarmed with happy trippers of all classes. They started pouring into the town at an early hour - on bicycles - & walking pushing perambulators full of babies & food for the day. Later on the carriage folk rolled up in dog carts - landaus - & motor cars. It was just like a Regatta day at home. All the flags were flying & people dressed in their Sunday best. The event of the day was the Annual service to ask a blessing on the sea - for the use of “the fishermen - & all - save our enemies.” The first part of the service was held in the church. Then they came down to the sea - a long procession of first the newly confirmed children - in their robes & ties carrying banners, then the very young orphans, beautifully dressed, the girls in white with white wreathes, instead of hats - & the boys in smart little suits of all sorts from Lord Fauntleroys to sailors.

After them the choirmen, black cassocks – lacey surplices – acolytes in scarlet & lace - & the Priests magnificently robed – in handsome lace - & yellow silk etc. Our R. C. Padre took the leading part & wore most wonderful robes – there was something that looked like Brussels lace – almost trailing the ground. When they got to the shore – the Priest (our R. C.) & his acolytes & the man bearing the crucifix – were pushed out to sea in a little boat & the blessing was asked from there. After that they processed back - & the rest of the day was en fête. In the afternoon our Scottish Canadian band from Havre played in front of the Casino – The bagpipe turns caused great excitement. It was not by any means all unselfishness that made me send both V.A.D.s off - & the Orderlies turn about for the afternoon & quietly kept house & patients myself. I loathe a crowd - & I saw a good deal from the windows – all the latest Paris fashions for instance.

V.A.D. Walker left last night. I had a letter from Fred asking for further particulars of 2 wounded officers for Mr. Warner – I can’t help him much. I made a candlestick & a chair yesterday. Army fashion.

3)                    Before I forget I want to tell you what I was too late to see of the Ceremony yesterday. The Priest made the sign of the Cross – (with the big crucifix that was carried at the head of the Procession – one about 4 ft) – in the sea, first at one side of the boat, then the other. Then he sprinkled the sea round him with water that had been blessed. For this, to our amazement he used an old wooden bowl covered with silver paper & an ordinary blacking brush – decked the same way.

Had the half day off yesterday - & walked with matron to a tiny Village – in the Grand Val – of the Seine – called Villainville – about 6 Kilometres away. We went along the Criquetot Rd – which means through the Grand Val of the Seine – It was beautiful all the way, in colours - & in form. We really were walking along a tiny Rd – which formed the bottom of the Valley & both sides of us, hills rose high & irregular – covered variously – trees – woodland growth bracken & foxgloves, pasturage – that bright red clover - & multitudes of marguerites, lazy old cows tied by one leg – eating all they could of the clover. Very occasionally we passed a small farm – or big house in an exquisite garden, otherwise we saw no sign of human beings. Rhododendrons were at their best & were growing in clumps of mixed colours, heliotrope & bright red all in huge masses together looked so pretty. The village is tiny. We went over the old church – just a little old plain one – with seats for 172 people, lit by a few candles, & with not much in except statues of St. Antoine, St. Joseph & St. Marie – decked in trinell flowers -. Besides that there were two big beautiful houses two small farms - & the place where we had tea – Café – public house – grocers shop – combined. The people ought to have lived about 100 yrs ago, dear simple things! After much description of how to get tea ready for us – the man & wife said they would do their best. We came back in 1/4 hour - & found one of the bar tables cleaned – a loaf of bread out on it – no plate - & two eggs – an egg cup & plate each for us & that was all. We asked for butter & they seemed delighted we thought we could manage a little butter as well as all the rest. The tea stumped them quite. The man said – “pardon” but would we drink it hot or cold. We told him hot & he quickly brought a big jug of it – they used no milk, but it was most delicious & very hot. Their children, big fair baby things hung round the door - & wondered what strange creatures we couild be. The man’s brother was coming to see him next morning & he was half laughing & half crying with joy over it. Matron’s little dog distinguished himself by nearly killing a chicken – he is a pup. We rescued it & scolded him – so that tragedy was averted. The walk home I won’t tell you about – you have heard of the evening beauties too often but I don’t wonder that they called the place “Étretat” which means “Hamlet of the Setting sun.” Walking along the valley towards it, one sees it to great advantage.

Marcey & 3 V.A.Ds returned from leave.

[June] 4.       Too terribly sad news of a naval battle [Battle of Jutland, 31 May – 1 June] in which we appear to have lost very heavily – 18 ships - & men (?) I only hope we shall get further details that will show it to be not quite so bad. One thing we have knocked out a German Battleship. Yesterday was calm & uneventful cold – windy. No mail.

 [June] 5.       News of the sea fight not quite so bad as was rumoured yesterday – It seems we won – but with a terrible loss of life – Rough – wet Sunday – off aft’n did not go out. A Sgt I have in the ward – was opposite the Gas attack made by the Germans on Ap. 25- 27 – Soon after the gas was let out the wind changed so that it was blown back over their own lines. He said it was a sickening sight to see the men lying in heaps. It took 4 rows of ambulances – all their time night & day to take them away – Rather beautiful that it was their men & not ours. Very rough sea – much too rough for batheing. Thank goodness, lets me off another day.

6                      Half a gale of wind blowing - a tremendous sea - rain or spray beating in at my window - don’t know which. We are all dead beat of this eternal wind - the good thing of it is - it may be keeping the Zepps off England. My glasses came last night - thank you very much. Matron had a parade of out door uniform yesterday - & found some people sadly equipped - one so that she is not [to be] allowed to go on leave until she has more uniform uniform. Convoy of between 2 & 3 hundred in y’day. No very serious cases. Some of the men say that we & the Germans are amassing men & guns at Hulluch.

7                      Less than no news - just a horribly, shorthanded muddle day - all the time trying to get the place clean - there is more cleaning to do there in comparison to the number of patients, than anywhere I have ever nursed. In one house for instance - a huge stone hall to be scrubbed - four flights of polished stairs to be kept emaculate - landings & all rooms the same, that is 9 rooms & 2 kitchens - & when all is said & done - it is the accomodation for only 28 patients - The next house is as bad - the 3rd worse - & the fourth - worst of all - except the woodwork is scrubbed & not polished - If only I could have a couple of good sized marquees - & be damned all this housework - we could get on with the patients - The Army! No - I won’t start on it. I started doing a job of carpentering in the coal house in my off time to relieve my feelings on the subject - A patient was telling me - the other day - about a doctor their regiment had - who drank - & took no trouble with his patients - ordered M&D [Medicine & Duty] for everything. One man died (who had been terribly neglected) & the doctor was court martialed “and” said my man “’e got ‘orribly aquitted & was sent ‘ome.”

8                      Lord Kitchener & all on board the Hampshire were blown up off the Orkney Iles on Tuesday evening. No survivors - I wonder if there was a Spy on board - If so he succeeded in giving a famous man a glorious death - & many suffered at the giving. Meanwhile do the Germans think for one moment, that the burden of the War was on poor Kitchener’s shoulders? Aged over 70.

9                      A very beautiful morning out to sea. The sun shining on the passing steamers, about 8 at present & such a lot have already passed. The sea is green & choppy - sky very blue with white flecks of cloud. I’m quite content with it for my birthday Day.[27] No excitements yesterday. I only hate the Annex buildings more & more every day. Letters from Mother, Min & Madge & baby last night. Funnily enough - Mother has sent me - what I was going to buy - a pair of grey gloves & Madge & baby have sent me a champion needle book - with fine big bobbins & needles that I have great use for - in carpentry as well as sewing. I got them last night but saved them to open on my veritable birthday. A Destroyer & 7 or 8 other vessels - which some said were submarines - they weren’t though - unless they have changed very much in form - of late - were up & down several times - I finished my cabinet yesterday - all but the polishing - & hope to hand it over to Matron today - I have stained it dark oak - made of a concoction of Condy – methylated spirit - & iodine. It looks like this now.

I have just spotted the airship parading up & down over the sea - evidently there is a suspicion of submarines about.

10th                Received a nice budget of birthday letters last night from Lil, Madge. Baby. Hilda & Amy. very nice indeed.

Lena Ashwell’s concert party came yesterday & were a great success. I went for one song & the Ventriloquist & thought them good. In the evening Marcey, Constable & I walked to the garden - of the English lady & gathered armfuls of lovely flowers - I kept some roses & honeysuckle for my own room [-] they are a great joy. Sunset grand last night - morning rough - it has been raining, but is off again. Rumour of a convoy coming at 9 a.m. - perhaps we shall all be called for first breakfast - Hope not - it is such a crowd [-] Matron is much pleased with her cabinet, & really now it is polished with beeswax & turpentine it does not look very unlike old oak. Here comes the fiend with the bell - wonder if he will knock & say “Convoy - Sisters please” which is the polite way of saying - “you have got to to get up for first breakfast” but anyway that is preferable to turning out at 1 or 2 a.m. to admit.

Whitsunday 11th  Many happy returns to Hilda! dear me she is 36 - & not married yet! We had a convoy in yesterday morning & sent about 300 away to England in the evening. I did not get any very bad cases in the Annexe. They did in Casino 5. One poor man - shot in the head. There was only a tiny dry wound the size of a small pea - to be seen - in the corner of the eye - but his brain was hit. He did not know who he was - or where he lived - only babbled incomprehensible words. Another with a fractured skull - & one hand blown off - both on the D.I. list - as well as the poor boy they had in the other day with a bullet near the heart, so near - that when they operated to get it out, they could not, because they dare not go nearer the heart than they were. Cold rough day. Received a photo of Mrs. C. & one of the 4 children - excellent of all - in such a nice smelly case. Our little chapel has been repainted & looks much more like a chapel now. Heny & Burnett received orders & left for Étaples yesterday. Take warning - & don’t accumulate possessions - you will be sorry when it comes to packing all your worldly goods in a couple of hours.

12th                Letters (with illustrations) from the Twinnies last night. Work slack. Have closed A, B & C Annexes - & have only 16 patients in D. Perhaps I will take a half day if things keep quiet - today or tomorrow. There is great excitement - in watching the fishing boats get off, on a day like this, rough - full high tide - strong wind - the wrong way They are shoved off as far as possible then pull themselves through the big shore waves with a haul off rope, then when they drop that, one man punts at the stern for all he is worth, while the other two fix the mast & hoist the sail, then quick as lightning the man ships his oar, & fixes the rudder – then if the wind is kind – off they go – if not they stand & the sails quiver – until they get right with the wind, then it is the finest yacht race ever you saw to see half a dozen of them trying to get round the corner first. I can see trouble brewing. 2 S.Os (sick officers) are batheing, right under our windows - & it is our time & place & it is in Orders that “Mixed batheing is strictly forbidden.” They probably don’t know that these are our quarters – one is a very good swimmer. Goodbye.

A man told me the other day, that a whole lot of American ammunition had to be called in. Some of the shells did not explode some were filled with saw dust & in many cases – the nose & time fuse only flew over to the enemy - & the shell burst on our side.

[June] 13.      Have just opened my window doors, had to shut them at 2 a.m. as I was being soaked with rain. The wind has blown about 1/2 a gale all night with gusts of rain, when it had time to throw it down. In spite of the high sea the S. O. is batheing - & having a fine game of pitch & toss. The boats appear not to be going out. Work calm. I came off duty at 4:30 & took Matron for a walk to Bénouville. We walked all round the chateau grounds, so thick with trees, that we were almost out of the wind for a short time. Had a letter from Agnes, the girl who taught me lace making at Bailleul, she asks for an immediate answer. I have forgotten her surname - & address. Excellent Russian news[28] – we have begun a heavy bombardment on our front. Does it mean the beginning of the end – there is a long streak of red from the shore going out to sea. Has the batheing Officer been dashed to bits - & all that is left of him is a streak of blood! Or on second thoughts it may be a line of brown seaweed.

[[June] 14th.            Took the 1/2 day y’day – Walked to Villainville with Marcey. It was a rather enjoyable grey day – windy – going, but as happened to us once before – on the way back a terrific rain storm swept over us when we were still 5 miles from home. However we clung to our flowers - & arrived after a time in an awful state of wetness. It was through my mack & all my clothes to my skin. Marcey was the same so we took an outfit of dry clothes to the baths – had good hot baths - & felt like Saints in our dry things.

Rumour of a convoy today. Very rough day – no boats out - no man batheing.

We had tea at the same place Matron & I did at Villainville. The man’s brother had been home on leave from Verdun. Of his section of 180 – only 5 are left. Another man home on leave – wrote after he got back to say – while he was away all the rest of his section fell. So leave saved his life that time. Once at Verdun they were 3 days without rations. They must have been done up! I forgot to say – Marcey and I had a lift - in the funniest little cart - on our way outward bound. The old man was just a little bit drunk - & was very keen to take us to Criquetot where he lived – And he could tell his wife – he was content he had now two English wives. We would have gone if the weather had looked less threatening but it meant two more miles each way. The old man sat over the edge his side – so did I mine & Marcey had about 3 inches in the middle, it was a very small turn out. A French Officer dashed past in a smart dog cart & stopped & saluted - & I fancy wanted to ask us to change into his cart, but we gave a final sort of bow - & he looked as if he couldn’t collect much English. We prefered our old drunky.

[June] 15th. Extract from last night’s Orders “all clocks will be … so that 11 p.m. will become 12 midnight..” and so it did – At least – some of us put our watches on at bedtime from 8:30 to 9:30 - & this morning I woke at 6 instead of 5:30 – so the jerk was not so sudden. It must have given them great joy on night duty to move the clock on – Yesterday from 6 p.m. we were officially recognized as a 950 – instead of 750 bedded hospital. Our share – in the annexes – amounted to putting 60 mattresses down – with blankets which gave us a good deal of furniture moving to do.

In the evening I went for a walk with Matron along the Havre Rd. to a little old village called ?. We looked over the church - & decided it was very old. V.A.D. Turner – left for good – she had an auction sale the night before & made nearly 50 francs. She sold a variety of things from shampoo powders - & a dressing gown – to the mat on the floor – which belonged to the Hotel – & a candlestick she did not own – She was a nice girl but too young for this work.

[June] 16th.  Very lazy day yesterday – only 4 well patients to mind instead of 195 – in my 4 homes & one of them will be going out today, so we really are ready for “The Push” – when it likes to. Did nothing exciting had no excitement by post. Occupied myself on duty last night by cutting out 8 dainty & very pretty figures of children – in old fashioned French uniforms – each wielding or holding a different weapon – They are all making a picture without words on my wall now - longside side of Queen mab – (spring fairy) – throwing flowers – down to the Earth – from the back of a beautiful big blue butterfly. & various others. If it were not for the saving of expense – I should prefer the daylight as it was. It seems so silly to go to bed in the sunshine.

[June] 17th.  Another very quiet day. May V.A.D. helped in the Qns. so I & the 4 Orderlies had it to ourselves. Off duty from 4:30. Went for a very pleasant walk with Matron to try to find the American farm – we got within sight of it – but had not time to go all the way. We asked one farmer – whom we found pottering about in his garden – if his were it. He seemed much pleased that such an idea had entered our heads - & he & his wife were most kind, showed us over the farm - & hoped we would come again.

We had a wild windy walk home over the cliffs. Still blowing, but sunny & bright this morning. The bishop of Rum-ti-foo is coming to tea with us today. He means to make the acquaintance of all Sisters & M.O.s in France - He has his work cut out!

18                    The air is vibrant with the awe & excitement of the great Advance. The well men are being hurried back to duty [-] the others sent to England. So that all along the lines the hospitals - from Base Generals - to Clearing Stations, are prepared & standing by - to receive any number - of the poor fellows who must inevitably (it seems to us) suffer. We are all waiting breathless for Joffre to give the word of command to advance & attack - and that may be any day, may even have been given - We shall soon know. The Bishop came to tea yesterday. He is a fine man & earns reverence for what he really is touring for. He told Major Martyn, who is an old friend, that he was visiting all the chaplains & telling them to pray as they never prayed before, for success in our grand Push. He has been told something of the lines it is to be attempted on & we can take the tip & pray as we never did before. Anyway - knowing where all strength & victories are given from we may as well ask for the lion’s share for our side - which we believe to be the right one. The A.O.C. band played twice yesterday - it was a great treat to all - we loved it. I went to both performances - although I was on duty in the evening, but there was nothing to do. My 3 patients are as well as the rest of us - 2 going out tomorrow. Sunset & evening sky wonderful – [below], is bad -  of what it looked like at 9.30 p.m. I am having the day off today - bar convoy. Woke as usual at 5 - but may possibly settle down for a doss before breakfast. I have called some of the others for early service & am not getting up for it.

19th                I had the day off & thoroughly enjoyed it - breakfast in bed - church at 11, good sermon - Lunch with old Madame - A 1. First a topped up plate of petit pois - with a few new potatoes & shreds of lettuce boiled with them - & covered with plenty of fresh butter - second - a beautifully dressed salad - all sorts of greenery - & a hard boiled egg - cheese - cider - coffee. Most enjoyable. After lunch walked to Pierrefiques with Matron - a little place - 2 1/2 miles away. Very quaint old village - we went over the church - like many others it was small - only 104 seats - very plain - & old. On the way back we discussed whether or not it was possible to bear another person’s mental burden. I said - yes - to help them bear it - she was not certain. Church in evening with Collins. Constable off night.

20                   Even slacker day - only about 120 patients in the whole hospital - which can now extend to 1300 beds. Marcey, Constable - & 2 people you don’t know had long days yesterday - & went to Caudebec. I was off in the evening & walked to meet them - got as far as Villainville - was just beginning to think I should be late for both suppers - when they appeared - & picked me up - 5 in a 4 seater - quite comfortable! Orders came at 8.30 p.m. for S.N.s Smith & Palmer - to join the Asturias at once. Palmer was in bed, Smith on night duty - however, both had many friends - & we all turned to & packed & got them off by 9.30 p.m. - not bad work either - if you saw the amount of stuff there was to pack. Smith is an absolute mad hatter - first she would not take her clubs & racket - then would - & so on - finally, she jammed her hat on all over her head - took racket under one arm - clubs under the other - & paraded across the room - “Is this the Asturias please? Thank you. Can you show me to the tennis court?” & played the fool till we were all much too weak to pack properly In the end someone supplied an old kit bag that some one had left behind - & we put the rest of the things in it. When at last the luggage of both of them was in the Ambulance - the Red Cross driver - turned sadly to them & said “I say! I’m afraid you will be short of things, you’ve hardly any luggage!” Good tempered man!

A cable boat arrived yesterday - escorted by 2 torpedoe boats. She was working so close in we could see the cable. The torpedoe boats are creeping about - dead slow & close in - this morning - looking at Étretat perhaps - & now the fishing boats are going off - it all looks pretty. [Above.]

21                    Busy day. Convoy - which was supposed to come at 7 a.m. arrived at 2 p.m. - not a heavy one - I had only 7 stretcher cases - & filled up the rest of D with walkers. Two brothers of different regiments, met in the train coming down – both were suffering from trench feet – both had been to Gallipoli – they were almost weeping for joy – when they found themselves both marked E. They deserved it. Several were suffering from shell shock. In all we have already marked 13 for E – which is fine. Kerr, my piper – who plays his pipes daily – to the great delight of Étretat, was telling me about his work – mining. They often are making saps – so close to the German ones, that they have to be quite quiet – wear rubber boots – trollies have rubber tyres & run on wooden rails. Sometimes they hear the Germans under them – when they do they make a cross sap – let down a shaft – in mine under them – of course it all is – who happens to blow up first. We have mined an entire village – somewhere up the line where he was – when the right moment comes will blow it up Germans & all! Good. Not off duty. Sea very calm – but looks cold. Am not taking my first bathe yet.

22.                  Calm – warm morning fishing boats all off. We were not busy yesterday. English patients did no go. I was off in afternoon. Went to see Marcey’s dress fitted, then sat on the cliffs & made lace – she darned – Matron joined us for a bit. The day was – for a wonder still & hot. After dinner Matron & I walked towards the cliffs to watch the Sunset – a glorious panorama – truly is this place called “The Hamlet of the Setting Sun.” The sky & sea were just a rich and glorious sight of all colours – including shining – gold & silver – Major Segundo left for Rouen – No. 6. Gen. Major Martyn is doing his duties of Secretary & Registrar.

23)                  English patients did not go. There is a boat in - & 4 trainloads waiting to be put on her – so ours may not go. We hear our bombardment has started, & that our men have been practising open country fighting for some time. We have heard guns the last day or two, but hardly think they are as far off as our business ones, probably practice going on somewhere. It all looks like the awe full push. Against that – Col. Douglas – who is on the Staff & knows a good deal – says we are not going to make a push – that we are intimidating the Germans – from taking troops from this front – but personally I think & hope we shall - & have done with it – Yesterday was sultry.

24)                 English patients not away yet. I love the way the men talk about happenings on their own front. A poor bag of bones who is “done” & waiting for the boat was telling me about his part of the line, “Our part by Arras is better, but we must have the Vimy Ridge.” I said “must we – why?” “Oh – we must have the Vimy Ridge to make things right for the Cavalry to go over - & get them on the run.” “They have been sweeping our roads with their guns from ? wood – so our artillery have got to blow the wood to pieces.” He talks with great interest about it all - & as if there is never a doubt that what we “must have” done – will be done. I must write to you & tell you there is a chance of ports being stopped for 6 weeks. Went for such a lovely walk – last night with Matron – Fécamp Rd. almost to Bordeaux St Clair past some fine old chateaux & glorious country. Sunset not exciting – or calming.

25)                  English patients went – others back to duty – leaving me with 12 – The hospitals all along the line are slack – waiting – for the Push. 3 more Sisters were sent up to Clearing Stations & I wish - one had been me – although in my sane moments – I know it is selfish - & all ought to have a turn – but if my chance comes to go again, I shall rejoice. But I am not going to ask to be sent anywhere.

26)                 In a mad hour yesterday – I beat up recruits for an early bathe today – asked Major Martyn to order the boat for 6:30 - & now! in one short hour – we must take the plunge – “’orrid I call it.”

My chief occupation yesterday was hunting my senior orderly. He is a man who – when he’s good he’s very very good – but when he’s bad he’s horrid. I cannot let it go on any longer - & he will be before the Col. this morning – for – absenting himself from duty – In the Army a man is not drunk – unless he is incapable, & there is nothing between being drunk - & nothing to do with drink. Most people who were off took their tea on the cliffs – in bunches of twos, threes & fours. It is raining now but I suppose those silly donkeys of other sisters will say – we can bathe in the rain! There seems to be no escape. Went for a lovely walk with Matron last night same old way – fields – to Fécamp Rd – back by road. We have heard – distant heavy firing – I wonder if it can be the business guns – I hardly think so – our nearest front is 80 miles off – more’s the pity – there is no mistake about it – I should like to go back to a C. C. S. My view is a study in greys this morning.

27th               Quiet day. Hospital is getting very empty. We heard that our Push was to begin yesterday. BATHED - & swam to the raft & dived. Water cold – but lovely. This morning is very windy & rather rough – but I expect we shall take a dip if the boat goes out. It isn’t 6 o’clock yet.

28th               The sea is calm so perhaps some of us will venture for a bathe in an hour’s time. Went for a walk with Miss English – driver V.A.D. a nice girl. A youth in the ward has his 21st birthday yesterday – some gave him a party. It was a great success. There were 13 of them but 2 had to feed early – as they were leaving – so only 11 sat down together. They had a real gorge – of strawberries & cream - & cakes - & were very happy. The dear old vet. said – never had he seen such a tea – he only wished he could have had a photo of the table! They are such dear grateful creatures. I heard on good authority that in future V.A.D.s are to be paid £20 a year only. No allowances - & their camp kit to be handed in when they leave. And a good thing too, I always have felt very strongly on the subject – we trained people – hardly smelt money – for our three first years - & worked much harder. These people have had money simply pushed at them - with the result - that absolutely unsuitable ones have joined for the sake of the money. Perhaps now - each one will do what she is best at. Yes.

29th               June has been a very rough month - bluster & rain nearly all the time - We bathed yesterday afternoon - & I went for a walk alone - to Bénouville in the evening, which happened to be calm - for an hour or two - It is rough again this morning. A convoy is expected at 6.30 a.m. Something over 300. Not much news.

30th               We were all called early - yesterday - Convoy - 362 was chiefly surgical - very few sick - & badly - terribly badly wounded [-] some in many places. One poor fellow died soon after he was brought in. They tell tales of great doings at the front. We have been bombarding hard for 5 days - at the rate of 1000 shells a battery - per day - & how many batteries - hundreds upon hundreds. The Germans are getting very windy - if we send over a shell or two - they at once, or send out a small party to find their strength, they blaze away as if the general attack has begun. Also they are carrying on with their dirty tricks. Their snipers bandage themselves up - & lie out & shout for mercy - & when it is shown - start sniping our men - but not twice! & I’m afraid they have done their own wounded a bad turn. It is 6 o’clock & I am wondering if the batheing boat will be out in 1/2 an hour - Hope not.

S.N. Williamson - joined the Staff June 27th. Sister Weirle

June 28th     The sea far out is a blaze of roughness but close in it looks calm - I don’t want to bathe.

One old man - who had lied about his age to be young enough to enlist - wept like a baby yesterday - when I told him - he was going to England by the next boat. All he could say was - “Oh I have been lucky.” & told me once - when they had to attack, he dropped as soon as he was over the parapet - [his] rheumatism was so bad - & an officer hauled him up - & pushed him back over it - & neither was hit! He has a wife & 10 children to go back to - & has honestly done his bit - so good luck go with him.


1st                    Not much time for diary this morning - I “slept in” & Collins called me at 6. to go for a bathe - now it is nearly 7. The water was A.I. cold - strong tide, but low - even so one is out of one’s depth very quickly - not like Hunstanton - where at low tide it is impossible to get in water deeper than 2 ft - Our English patients left yesterday - leaving the work light. Five Sisters arrived from England. 2 stripes 3 staffs. They had been travelling a long time & were weary people. Letter from you last night - you seem to have had a happy time on the Moor. Received a little silver paper knife from Thomas last night - a memento of her illness - very kind of her.

[The Battle of the Somme opened on 1 July 1916. Despite a slow but progressive British advance, poor weather – snow – will bring a halt to the Somme offensive on 18 November. During the attack the British and French will gain just 12 kilometres of ground, the taking of which will result in 420,000 estimated British casualties, including many of the volunteer ‘pal’s’ battalions, plus a further 200,000 French casualties. German casualties were estimated to run around 500,000.]

2                     The last 8 days - guns have been firing the whole time - fine big ones they need to be for us to hear them so distinctly - & how the china must be rattling at the Clearing Stations. The Germans have been giving themselves up & coming across in dazed groups - which is fine - How absolutely glorious if we knock them right out & level them flat - & our Infantry & Cavalry - have a walk over - such as shall make good reading in history. We had a quiet day yesterday - sent more patients to England - Took the 1/2 day - & went to Gonneville with Matron & Toby. We walked there - along the Havre Rd. 9.Ks. had tea at the famous old inn - I must have told you about - found a couple of Padres at tea before us - so we all came back in their car, along the valley - by Criquetot. Parry Evans - & Mr. Girdlestone. There was a wonderful sunset last night - the sea like a mill pond - & the reflection on it like molten gold - too bright to look at - & as it changed - through every colour in the paint box - it became more & more beautiful. I must dress for church now - it is past 6 - Wonder if the others will bathe.

3                      Our much longed for advance has begun after many days of heavy bombardment - we launched an attack at 7.30 - on Saturday morning. They went over in waves - The second one so many minutes after the first & so on. Where one man came from the first wave was wiped out, so was the second - which gave the Germans time to adjust their machine guns to receive the rest. After the second - they began to make headway, and had them fairly on the run. We took the front line trenches for a distance of 25 miles - we actually took the four front lines but had to retire to the first because - they had the range of the other three & started shelling them. We had a couple of train loads of wounded down - 1100, in all - 153 officers - very dirty - the London Scottish kilts were a sight to behold. I don’t know how many we took in the Annexes - I remembered up to 140 - then lost count - The first lot were all fed - more or less washed - & not all dressed - when the second lot came - at 6 p.m. At 9.30 we sent off 360 - from the whole hospital - at 2 a.m. - more were to go - & at 7 the next train of wounded is expected - I hear the calling bell - going & must be up - betimes - so no more now. I don’t know if there were any letters for me - forgot to look, so may get an agreeable surprise this morning. Miss Wilton Smith is a fine Matron - & Major Martyn a fine M.O. - in a rush. 3 of our M.O.s were sent to the front yesterday.

4                     Wounded! hundreds upon hundreds on stretchers, being carried, walking - covered from head to foot in well caked mud. The rush & buzz of ambulances & motor busses is the only thing I can remember of yesterday - of outside my wards - Inside it took us longer than the day - to anything like cope with the work of changing - feeding - & dressing the wounds of our share of them. I can’t tell you much about them. We had - in numbers - horribly bad wounds - some crawling with maggots, some stinking & tense with gangrene. One poor lad had both eyes shot through & there they were lying smashed & all mixed up with the eye lashes. He was quite calm - & very tired. He said “shall I need an operation, I can’t see anything?” Poor boy - he never will. 3 men died in the train & 2 only just reached hospital & went again - West. They say we are serving the Division that has acted as “draw” – to save the other divisions – if any are left they deserve all honour. Three were dumb.

5th                  Ditto of day before – no time.

6th                  I give up description – It beats me. In ordinary times we get a telegram from Abbeville saying a train with so many – on board – has left – coming to us. Then they stopped giving numbers – just said “full train” Now – not even a telegram comes, but the full trains do. Yesterday in addition to our 1300 beds we took the lounge of a large Restaurant, the Orderlies barracks the Ambulance garage - & the Casino front - & part of the Officers Mess - & used all except the Garage – which is ready for today. We were not able to send any on as the boats were full. So if full trains continue to pour in today – we shall have to start on private people’s houses. I have 41 German prisoners amongst my lot. How many English I don’t know. I hadn’t time to make lists they just sent in as many as they liked – it is just a case of all houses over full. The Restaurant lounge – & Officers mess belong to me too. Some of the men are terribly wounded – 8 have died & more will. One thing to be grateful for – very few officers came down with the last lot. It is wonderful how sufficient work – makes one not mind certain things . Unpleasant insect companions are the terror of my life. Many came down with the Tommies - & some have transferred their affections to us. & we hadn’t a quarter of a second to hunt them so just forgot all about them until bed time which came late. It is a mercy to have had dry weather – for the men we have out in the open. My Germans see very little of me or of my V.A.D.s. Some must do without a woman’s care & are [be] left chiefly to Orderlies so with pleasure they may. Some of them are Prussians and very bitter, so they can just get on with their bitterness. Yesterday I had to close the shutters of their room – the French people were treating us like a peep show - Now I must get up – What is before us today I only think – for the moment to [&] dress & go to breakfast – which is not difficult or unpleasant.

8th (7th – the limit - & no time)                  It is to be hoped our attacking is doing useful work for the War – we are paying a tall price! Every day now we have trainfuls down – the place is thick & threefold with them. The Surgeons are amputating limbs - & boring through skulls at the rate of 30 a day - & not a day passes without Death taking his toll. My German prisoners have gone to England - & yesterday one came is in the attic with 3 Englishmen – One thing we all get up early & work late & feel a bit “done” sometimes which gives us the satisfaction of feeling that now at least we are giving our full strength to the War. What the weather has been like & other odd bits of news I can’t tell you because all I know for certain is that it was pouring when I came along to Qrs. yesterday.

This is the sort of last straw! Yesterday afternoon we were doing dressings etc. as fast as we could – In came Major Martyn - & said – “If you can find 12 stretcher cases – who could sit as far as Havre – get them quick & I can put them on full cars going now. I then had to rush like a lunatic through all the houses to find 12 (and only did 8) who could sit for 1 1/2 hrs. Rig them up – in any clothes - & get them carried to the Ambulances as they passed. The Batman has just rung the call bell - & has not thumped on the door & said “Convoy Sister please”. I am so thankful – Must get up for first breakfast all the same. They took one of my Orderlies yesterday for up the line leaving me – 1 V.A.D. (a good one) & 3 Orderlies for ? patients – One house has 100 in – the other 3 not so many – but more stretcher cases – However we can only do our best – now ooo-aah – the day must begin.

9th                  Yesterday – was a big scramble 600 were evacuated from all parts of the hospital – chiefly to England – but also to Con-Camp - & 1 to Havre – I don’t know how many we sent – but all our stretcher cases & English walking cases – You have no idea Mother dear what it is like! To begin with & all through – to be the person – to answer everyone’s inquiries – about my own place only of course but there seem to be so many questions. All dressings to be done – all patients to be fed once or twice - & all got ready – off or on a stretcher, & moving these painful people takes it out of one – To get all away when there was room on the floor of a car I looked round for a stretcher case who could sit for a short time & shot him in. I think they would rather be strapped to the roof than be left behind. I have just come back from 6:30 service - & am going to second breakfast for the first time for 8 days. It is like meeting an old friend to look at the sea - & to be able to spend long enough to enjoy its colourings & doings.

I have not written to you for ages but you will guess why.

10th)              We evacuated all day yesterday & cleared most of the hospital. I have only 8 patients left. Spent the afternoon in Casino 5. where the cases too bad to travel are – and was OFF DUTY in the evening. Went to church with Matron – had a good sermon. The Padre asked me to play the organ – I said “yes” failing a better – thank Goodness – the better soon came – the Presbyterian Padre plays beautifully & he arrived in the nick of time. It is like old times – very old they seem – to be sitting up in bed & writing before getting up – instead of being as quick as a lunatic from 6 a.m. to midnight. Oh – the sea looks lovely & jumpy & clean & thirst quenching – By the way – I wonder if any one – short of a wounded man really knows what thirst is. If you were to stand at the door of any ward you would hear – one continuous plead from all sides for water, a drink – anything to drink - & all of us are giving drink as much as we possibly can as well as doing the other jobs. One man in 5. died while I was there - & at least three will be the happier when they manage it too – one with his brain out – another his intestines - & a third wounded all over and wildly off his head. Some drink deep – vomit it anywhere - & plead for more water. Many men have told me that after our men have attacked – the Germans sweep the ground low – with a machine gun – to kill our wounded – I should think that is an act best left to God to reward. He will do it thoroughly.

11th                 Many Happy Returns to Elizabeth - I must write to her today. We were grateful for a calm day yesterday - to put our houses in order. The D.G. Sir Arthur Sloggett - & Col. Black came round, the D.G. asked Matron to accept for herself - & to convey to her staff - his thanks for the way the rush - of the last week - was met & dealt with. It was kind of him to be appreciative. Off in afternoon went for a walk with Constable - & another after supper with Matron. The morning is bright - sea rough. Al—most time to get up.

12th)              Sorry I have slept late this morning & now have been called - with the well known - “Convoy Sister please” so there is no time for anything. Yeserday was a peaceful day - I gardened in our back yard in the morning - crabbed in the afternoon caught quite a lot, but gave them to a woman - who showed us how. I took my shoes & stockings off - the sea was warm. Many variecoloured anemonies - shells & seaweeds made the rocks beautiful. In the evening short walk with Constable - & now - Convoy Sister please. so get up.

13th                Yesterday was a very busy day. Convoy in first thing - sent one out in the afternoon - to be ready aye ready for the next on - rush (thank Goodness - no “Convoy Sister please - with the call bell”). I had only 63 of yesterday’s convoy - 2 too ill to go on for a time - I fear one boy may not get better. He has pneumonia - caused by a lump of lead in his left lung - I suppose they will not be able to operate - & he is so blue & bad - poor dear.

Went for a short walk with Matron along the Fécamp Rd. last night. She is much distressed that the muzzling order is to be enforced here. & Toby has to wear one - or die. We made him a soft little one - & hope he will get used to it. Yesterday’s cases were on the whole not so bad - only about 20 on the D.I. list - We had 5,000 men through this hospital last week.

14)                  Calm day. My two ill boys are still one very ill, D.I. the other a little better. If only I knew the creature had no bits of shrapnel in his lungs I should be much happier, but am terribly afraid he has.

One motor V.A.D. told me things last night - that if all true are horrible. She said sometimes on the way to Havre the men on stretchers cried out, with pain caused by the jolting - One man told her - that he would rather stay in France for 20 years than do that journey again. Another started bleeding badly from the jolts - what is to be done - Our poor M.O.s - on the one side have a man fit to travel - & on the other - If he is going to die - get him home to see his people - & the D.M.S. & A.D.M.S. - coming & sending to say - “Clear all beds you anyhow can.” One thing - the driver V.A.D.s - are very young - & probably can’t help - thinking a mole hill a mountain -

Yesterday afternoon Marcey - Constable & I crabbed - & caught 8 between us - gave them to old Madame - She will cook them today & tell us if they are “bon pour manger” if so we will get more - if we can. The rocks are a joy at low tide - more beautiful colours - & lovely plants & anemonies - & stones it would be hard to find - If I had the time I would collect seaweed in a book - There is one sort I have never seen before - under water it is a bright blue - out of water just like that valuable old pottery a sort of blackish brown - with a blue glisten on it. We walked across the fresh water stream & found it strong & cold - The old washerwomen thought we were quite mad - but that we are used to by now - old villians! We saw how it is our clothes come back in holes - each one had a bottle of chloride of lime - & at the least stain pour it lavishly on all the same - coarse or fine do - In the evening after supper I went for a walk with Matron & Toby - without his muzzle - I made him a new one in the evening that is a muzzle, but he can open his mouth wide in it.

15th                MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY TO YOU[29] - and joy in the coming year - also St. Swithin’s Day.

Had a glorious 1/2 day yesterday. Sister Nicholas looked after my ill boy for me. Matron & I went to Havre by the C.C. car. she had to see the P.M. I watched patients loaded on to the Asturias, meanwhile, & spoke to some of the Sisters whom I knew on her. She is a magnificent boat. The ship’s officers were playing tennis on a deck away up in the sky. When Matron came back, we mounted our car again, & after touring round the pretty parts of Havre, came back along the Étretat Rd as far as the turning to St Jouin. Then we alighted & found our way to St Jouin - a charming little seaside place famous for its old Hostess - La Belle Ernestine - & the home she lives in, where one can get tea. We saw the house we thought was it, but would not go in without asking, it looked so exactly like an old chateau, belonging to some high & mighty family. In its beginning, I feel sure it was. Having made sure - we went in - & were introduced to La Belle. She is 75 - a tall fine woman not very pretty now - but such a dear old thing. After tea she showed us some of her treasures - a letter written to her in Indian by an Indian Prince who lived for some time at Étretat & was an admirer of hers, & some queer Indian gods he had given her - The picture of his body being burnt on the shore at Étretat - according to Indian custom - (surely I told you all about him long ago). A little sketch of Queen Elizabeth of Spain - done by an artist while she was staying there. Several poems written to her - many years ago by artists & poets staying there, she read to us - with great feeling. I couldn’t understand all but most of them eulogised “her beautiful blue eyes” - “her figure - her spirit - which was so joyful - so kind - that to demand - was to have the thing done.” She read them all in a most unconceited way. There are dozens of pictures of her painted in all sorts of attitudes - one she looks very fine on horseback - another where she is fishing - a charming one - is of her, most fashionably dressed [drawing of the Hostess - caption “this period”] frying an omellette over the kitchen fire - done on a little wooden panel. In another she is “Hostess of the village” - with many smartly dressed men paying homage. The house is full of valuable old china - pewter & copper & brass - & would take days - to really see & know. The garden - a dream - Her granddaughter, her daughter’s child whose father was a nobleman - was there - a very pretty aristocratic girl of 18 who spoke English like a well bred Englishwoman. She was educated in England. N.B. … La Belle … has never … been married … she has … a large … family. We walked home by the valley – through Bruneval – La Poterie-Cap-d’Antifer – Le Tilleul & home at 8:30 – late for supper. The view along the valley beat description, the hills on both sides were a blaze of all colours! & we had occasional peeps of the sea – through clefts in the hills on our left. We gathered heather & honeysuckle. The V.A.D. who drove us was a nice woman poor dear – she has lost both brothers in this War. The Elder was a barrister, doing well in China. He died at No 2. C.C.S. at Bailleul 3 months after he joined the Army. The younger was in the Navy & lost his life in that great battle that our muddle headed papers at first gave out as a defeat. Silly fools. He was on board one of the three plucky little cruisers who rushed – like 3 terriors into a pack of mad bulls – An officer told Miss Douglas all about it afterwards. It was a splendid act of the utmost bravery – These three cruisers went full speed all guns blazing away right in amongst the German fleet & drew all fire on to themselves, for the sake of our Battle Squadron coming up behind & they expected & knew they must all die in the doing of it. Miss Douglas’ father retired Admiral - & was given a beautiful all silk Admiral’s flag - at the time. She had been longing for a Naval Victory - for an occassion to hoist the flag. When the news of this battle came - she thought “It is not a victory” but she heard the truth later - & hoisted it - on the day of her brother’s memorial service - It had only been used once - & that was to cover her Father’s coffin. She was very sad about her elder brother’s death, because he did not belong - to the Army - & was her advisor & about all she had - The younger one - she said had been in the Service since his school days - & they always knew he might have to give his life.

16)                  Calm day yesterday - My ill boy is holding his own - & that is all - & if there is a bit of lead near his heart - has he a chance! he may be dead when I go on duty even. Off in afternoon - had the most delightful bathe I remember - sea warm - & absolutely clear - waves smooth topped & lumpy. After our bathe Marcey & I took Toby on to the top of the cliffs & sat for about 1/4 of an hour - to dry our hair. After this I went to the shore - met the baby I know - & enjoyed her for 1/2 an hour - She was much pleased to watch a boy in his batheing suit - dashing about in a canoe - & three huge horses batheing. This morning bids fair to be fine now I must call folk for church.

17th                Rough - rainy - cold day yesterday. Today bids fair to be the same. Convoy of 300 - odd - arrived at 1.30 p.m. None - Thank God - D.I. or S.I. Where they all went I don’t know. I only had 34. 13 stretchers - the rest sitters. They all seemed very comfortable. My poor little chest boy is dying. The lump of lead is in the diaphragm - causing an agony of pain - & a poisonous abscess. He has a general poisoning from it now - T. 104° all the time. I hope he will still be there this morning, so far as I am concerned - but for him - I wish him well away - where he only knows about happy things.

THE BRITISH CAVALRY HAS BEEN IN ACTION - first time since 1914. & we have entered our enemy’s 3rd line of defence - oh happy day - when the Blighters start to run!

18th                There is a thick white haze - Cliffs are out of sight - boats & shore very dim - perhaps it is the fore runner of a gloriously hot day. [Above.] My ill boy was surprisingly well yesterday, and yet they say there is humanly speaking no hope at all for him. Perhaps he will have quietly slid out through the night - I hope he won’t mind going. Sent most of my patients to England yesterday morning - was off - but in & out - in evening. Went for a walk with Matron after supper. No letters.

It was — —’s wedding yesterday - 15th anniversary. He says - he is quite pleased with married life - thinks it infinitely preferable to living single - & advises one - to “take the man - if he loves you” even if you don’t love him - it will grow. I said I would bear it in mind, but was afraid it had come a little late for me. News good but not much of it.

19th)               I hardly dare write down - my dying boy was a shade better yesterday - Perhaps we have yet to learn what the Great Physician can do - or perhaps it was a flash of betterness - I am longing to see this morning.

Yesterday six of us - went down to bathe, but the S.M. said it was too rough for the boat to go out. So much as we should have enjoyed the dip - we could not have it without breaking a very rigid rule - we went to the rocks instead & paddled in the breakers for a bit.

Made lace beside my sick boy in evening - as the other patients were well enough to be looked after by an orderly. This morning is cold but sunny, & the sea & rocks look beautiful - I always want to draw them, but can’t for nuts - So au revoir - I have been glued to the Base - for 8 months - wish they would send me back to a C.C.S. Never mind - take your job & don’t grizzle. This is a lovely place.

 

Ill boy still holding his own - but we won’t say too much about it. Am longing to know how he is this morning. Lovely summer’s day yesterday - the boat was out - & many off duty people bathed. I was not off till evening, then went for a long walk with Matron & Toby. Rested in a hay field on the Cliff top - to enjoy the view - & came back - just a breath late for second supper. Two English airships & some English trawlers were on the submarine hunt yesterday afternoon & evening. This early saving bill is most misleading. It was really 4.30 a.m. when I got up - & very cold - only now - 5, calling itself 6 - is it beginning even to look warm. The sea is dead calm - & there are salmony-pinky coloured clouds warming up to full day. Excitement is growing amongst the people here - & they think the war will end in or before September. Long may they be right! It is frightfully tempting to run out for a dip - but rules are so strict - not to go without a boat! If only the boat would go - It looks so tempting for a swim.

21)                  No. My ill boy is going to die after all. He is simply being poisoned by his own poison. I suppose the lump of lead is making havoc of the lung - & that is going bad & poisoning him. He talked more yesterday than ever before, but does not look right - & has such a quick pulse. I think he will die quite soon. Yesterday was a gloriously fine day. I was off in afternoon - Many of us bathed, & one Miss Andrew, swam out into the strong currents & was nearly drowned - sank twice, then the boat got her. It is a pity to swim out too far - it only means rules being made for everyone After my bathe I sat in a hay field & dried my luxuriant locks. Miss Kaberry (Q.A.) our Ass. Matron left yesterday to be Matron of No 26, Étaples. Went for a short walk after supper with Matron & Toby. This morning - would give an extravagance of francs to be allowed a dip & a swim in the sea.

Ill boy still alive, but very, very ill indeed. Lovely day - off in afternoon, bathed - the sea was so clear we could see the under sea part of people swimming far away - & could see the bottom easily - in water deeper than ourselves. After bathe, Marcey, Constable & I took tea on to the cliff - watermelon - & rolls - & tea - very good - New Ass. Matron arrived - she has been jumped from Staff Nurse to her present job. Name, Wilson. It is only a little past 5 - perhaps at 6.30 - we shall bathe - if the boat condescends to go out.

23rd               I will not give you a bulletin of my ill boy. it might not be true. We will wait & see how he is today. Off last night, Walked to Bénouville with Matron & Toby. Weather unsettled - & very blowy this morning. (Excuse me - I have just inked my sheet & am going for some milk) - then it will be time to get up for church.

24)                 Many happy returns of the Day to Little Min[30]. A heavy Convoy is coming in this morning, so we must all be up for first breakfast. And it isn’t to be wondered at after the fighting there has been the last two or three days. La Longueville - we took - & then the Germans got a footing in the North of it again - & another village - before 5.30 yesterday - had changed hands twice. Off yesterday afternoon - slept on my bed. Truslove off night Wait, on.

JULY 25th      Busy day yesterday - Convoy of 450 arrived at 9 a.m. We took in 80 - sent 22 on to England - & 20 to No … Gen. Poor wretches! one cannot help feeling sorry for them, while they are waiting for their car to take them to their destination - 2 of them added to their troubles by getting away & drinking brandy. They were found drunk - & put in the guard room, where they became violent & smashed all they could. I wonder why they have sunk so low, they may have the kindest natures, and a whole lot of good in them.

When I told one old Sergeant to change back quick to khaki to go to England - He laughed & sobbed & thanked me - all in one. He had been through many “thick of its” & had not been home - to his wife & children. I told him it was the M.O. who was sending him - not me. They so often think it is we, Sisters who send them - & after all - what could we do without the signature of the M.O. in charge - & of the C.O. The sea looks very tempting for a dip - but the boat is sure to be late or not at all - & I am tired of being made a fool of. Ill boy - in statu quo.

26th)             Lovely day yesterday - Many of us bathed & enjoyed it very much - the evening - sky & sea - were a picture of beauty & soft shadows. This morning is just right too, but the silly boat will not be out - for sure. Did not do much else in afternoon. The airship was over yesterday very low down & near in - Mahoney - an Irish Sister entirely in sympathy with the Sinn Feiners left on Monday to take a Matron’s job in a Civil Hospital in Dublin. Don’t ask me how my ill boy is - I dare not say, in case he is not really. 7.30 - later. I risked it - found the boat was out - & had the bathe of my life. The water was as clear as glass - when farish out of my depth I could see the pebbles - as clearly as in 6 inches of fresh water. Collins came too - & the others will be sorry they did not.

27.                  My ill boy may be dead by now. He was dying yesterday & knew it. I stayed with him until 11. He implored me “not to leave him the night” but that would be impossible I only hope the poor little creature is happily away. No boat out this morning - so no bathe. The English patients were to go at 4 - so I expect the men were all up then and are too tired. No other news. Epilepsy is very much like being possessed of devils. While I was on duty late - one Epileptic had a succession of about 4 fits -

28th)             My poor ill boy did not manage to get away yesterday, but he is terribly feverish & weak & keeps coughing up - stuff from fresh abscesses - as soon as one dies off - another starts - Lena Ashwell’s Concert party were here - & gave us a charming selection of songs - & violin & piano - pieces. Yesterday was muggy, everywhere shrouded in white mist - Today bids fair to be the same. The sea is just right for a dip - but I have not the least doubt - the men of the boat will say it is too foggy. Any excuse is better than taking the boat out. I had a pathetic letter from my boy’s Mother last night - poor thing, she is suffering far more than he is.

 29)                Ill boy in statu quo. There was a heavy sea mist yesterday - Bathed in afternoon, went for a walk with Matron & Toby after supper. The lights & shades & various effects were wonderful. From the Golf Course cliff - Étretat showed clear - like a tiny view in a penholder - all the country even close round - was blotted out, the opposite cliff & the church - not to be seen at all - only the little crescent of houses & batheing huts. Out to sea, there was a magnificent sunset in progress but only at the brightest part was it able to glimmer through. The sea - dead calm, managed to get just a few of the sunset rays - to play with - very curious & wonderful. This morning is calm - & if the boat goes out - perhaps I will - but I know it is very cold - The freshwater stream is steaming like it does in winter.

30th               The boat did go out & we had a glorious bathe. a French girl went out too far & got into trouble. A Frenchman in all his clothes dashed after her first - then one of our orderlies went to the rescue - by the time we had floundered up - she was out & had returned what she had taken of the sea - & was feeling better - If only they would bathe nearer our boat! Yesterday was a glorious day. Sunny & summerlike - & there were many people of the Gay Parisienne type to amuse us - they - do - dress - queer! Now I must get up for church.

Off in afternoon went with Marcey to a glorious garden - where we cut flowers to our hearts’ content & when we both had a double arms full - asked the old man how much - He - with an appologetic look of “hope it is not too much” - said - 2 francs les deux!! then we did the flowers in both churches - took bundles to the ward - gave some away - & still had some left for our own rooms.

31                    Not a glimmer of hope for my poor boy. He is getting a generally poisoned condition, & is daily weaker & worse. He has been good, but now, is so tired I think he will be glad of a rest. Off duty last night, went for a lovely walk with Matron & Toby, over the Golf Links cliff as far as the first Coast Guard Station, climbed down to the shore - & found to our great surprise - Miss Waller’s hut was there, not miles further on, as we thought. The evening was the sunniest & hottest we have had - She was just going for a bathe, & I wished I could - she was undressing like lightning to go out in a little fishing boat, that was starting off. Matron had a brain wave, she said - why not hurry up & have a dip - a boat is a boat - & that is enough to swear by. So I borrowed a gown that was there, & had a delightful bathe, all far from Étretat & everyone - in this wild little bay. Never enjoyed a bathe more in my life. It was twins with one Fred & I had once, on our way from Sandwich to Deal - When we couldn’t bear it any longer & bathed in what was next our skin - & loved it - & an old shepherd - thought we were stark mad.

Miss Blakely & 5 or 6 V.A.D.s - came to tea here from Havre yesterday - they like this place. I don’t so much on Sundays. It is crowded with smart cars - & ultra smart people - from Paris & thereabout. It is amusing to look at their clothes, they are really quaint in their extremeness, but they made the place so noisy for my poor ill boy.

This morning is cold - & draughty. & I am hoping those fiends will notcome & dig me out for a bathe - why can’t they quietly go & bathe - if they want to.


AUGUST 1st Fine calm morning for the 1st of Aug. A most queer thing passed here at 1/4 past 5. I imagine, something to do with the excitement of yesterday. All the morning & up to tea time 4 or 5 hydroplanes - & the airship were scouting busily. Just at tea time (I was at tea with Matron) there was an explosion - to those who knew - it was unmistakably a shell bursting - We were both startled nearly out of breath, & went out - to find - absolutely nothing. No one even seemed to have heard it - or wondered what it was. When I went back to the ward - the men all said - it was a bursting shell - perhaps a shot from a naval gun at sea - or a bomb - dropped - for practice by an aeroplane. One man told me he was quite sure he had seen a submarine. In the evening we heard from the coast guard on the cliff that the aircraft had been scouting for a submarine all day - & one of them had dropped a bomb on it. If so good luck & I enjoyed the noise. A convoy of 380 arrived soon after 8 o’clock yesterday morning - my share made me up to a family of 69 - so instead of a bathe it was “Convoy Sister please.” & first breakfast. I wonder if some unwelcome nuisance of a person is coming to call me for a bathe. I got up soon after 5 o’clock by mistake, but am glad, because I saw that queer thing - what the break of white was - I could not make out. she was going at a decent rate. [Below.]

Had a letter from you last night - So sorry you have been plagued with that beastly neuritis again.

2d                   Yesterday was the hottest day this summer, lovely. Off in evening went for long

walk with Matron & Toby. Havre Rd - home by cliffs - sunset a glory - Ill boy - weaker & more nearly dead. Had a lovely bathe before breakfast yesterday. Again there was a man batheing! Standing order - for batheing “On no account is mixed batheing to be allowed.” but as 6.30 a.m. is our time - He was the mixture, not us. The A.D.M.S. has received orders - to prepare all base hospitals - on the super expansion scale - for the next big push - which means we are to be ready to take 1600 - without turning a hair - any number at a push.

3rd                  Yesterday was calm - & no special news. The afternoon was so hot. all I felt equal to was a bath & then to sit on the shore & watch the bathers. the women kind finish at 3. Then patients, Orderlies - Officers, all & sundry have their innings. There must have been well over 100 of them & all but about 12 could swim well - They looked like so many seals swarming round the raft - & diving off in all directions! My ill boy has got a surgical emphasema which shows - lung destruction is going on - & I am afraid he cannot put up a fight against that. Call bell! & a beautiful, beautiful sea.

4th                 No fresh news. Hot - calm - lovely weather. Off last night - walked over the cliffs with Matron & Toby. Had a letter from the Mother of my ill boy. She asks that he may write just two words to her & she will feel more content. So I went back to the ward last night - in case he is not there this morning - & helped him do it - It is a poor little 5 words scrawl - but I hope it will please her poor soul. The Hospital Sports are to be held tomorrow bar convoy etc. Two items for Sisters - an egg & spoon race - & a table decoration competition. Our Mess is giving the prize for the Tug o’War.

6.30 a.m. A hospital ship has just slipped past - looking very cool & white & beautiful.

5th                  Ill boy - very sick & sore all day - worse. No special news - 3 sisters are already up & away to gather flowers for the decorating of their tables this afternoon.

6th                  I’m too headachy & bored - to write my diary. The Sports were a great success - & all went off well - & the Ordinance Band was a great treat to us all. Both my V.A.D.s - went in for the table decoration - one got 1st Prize & the other 2nd - so that was not so bad for the old Annexe - Iglu (orderly) took two prizes too & came in 4th - in the 3 mile race. I did not go up until the evening, but it was all very pretty & good fun.

7th                  I am sorry I didn’t tell you more about the Sports, but will try to get some snap shots for you. Yesterday - quiet - Walk in evening to Cliff with constable. No letters - Westminster. Ill boy even worse. Two or three Sisters were promised “long days” but at suppertime a telegram came - telling of a Convoy of 400 - coming this morning so it will be “Convoy Sister Please” - & early breakfast.

The Port has been closed for 3 or 4 days - owing to submarines. A merchantman with ammunition arrived safely 3 days ago - the vessel behind him was blown to bits - & he was unable to help. I expect the Spies keep our enemies well informed of when ammunition is sent. The submarines are probably caught as there was a mail last night.

8th                  Convoy of 400 in - Sent an English Convoy out - Busy day. I am left with a family of 64. None seriously ill - except poor Lennox, who really seems to be chained to Earth. He is so utterly weak, that even to turn his head is hard work. I wrote for him to his Mother & fiancée again yesterday, wanted him to tell me his own words - but all he said was, “I don’t know what there is you could say.” I knew his Mother was his greatest anxiety, & wrote “I am no stronger at all - but I have tried my hardest to take all my food & medicine, & to get well” he said “Yes - say just that I wanted her to know just that.” I don’t think he will be detained longer than this week, & hope not for his own sake. There was an old S.A. campaigner [-] D.S.M. amongst my men - a Sergeant Major - a typical old soldier - Wonder if the boat will be out - it is calm enough in all conscience. Was not off duty, but went for an hour’s walk with Matron from 6.30 - about which I shall hear from my M.O. If ever I am off in the evening - he tells me I had a half day off - old silly. He likes to come at the same time, sit in the same chair - find the same person writing the night report - every night. I suppose because at home - he finds the same person to talk to - he thinks he ought to here -

9th                  It is getting uncommonly parky in the early morning - of course we must not forget that 5.30 - is really 4.30 so it would be cold. Quietish day - yesterday. sent patients to England. Off in afternoon, took tea - with old Atky (V.A.D.) - to the small woods off Havre Rd - very delightful - Yesterday morning something rather interesting - crossed our path. A biggish steamer, evidently wounded - was towed backwards - past here towards Havre. There were two mine sweepers - just in front - & an additional tug in attendance. Some people say there was a submarine alongside - personally I did not see that, if so - probably - the steamer had been torpedoed - ineffectually, & the submarine had been taken. I had a terrible fierce lecture from my M.O. last night, on not being married - He is a dear old thing, & says he has found marriage - an undiluted success! So - I told him - with the saddest look I could raise - that “my day was done” - it was too late!

The sea is calm & high & strong. I have promised to be ready for a dip at 6.30, which is a nuisance - I far prefer - someone to come & persuade me!

10th                Many happy returns of the day to Fred. I had a half day yesterday. Matron & I took tea to the beautiful, solitary bay where Miss Waller has her hut. She is very kind & allows us to use it & all her things - so we only took milk & eatables. First we bathed, the sea was dead calm & warm - then had tea - if you like to know what - hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumber - & bread & butter. We started for home at about quarter past 6 - & met Miss Waller - with a heavy load of supper. She was having two of our Sisters out to supper. She has asked us to go some day. The sea is choppy & I don’t want to bathe, but - if others do & I do not - there will be trouble.

11th                 Nothing of note. McBride - Q.A. had orders for Wimmereux - & will go this morning. In some ways I wish it was me. Had a lovely rough bathe yesterday - sea is calmer today - Suppose in half an hour I shall be chased out. Now-a-days we help shove the boat off - it warms us up before going in to the sea. Not off yesterday - My ill boy was too ill - I thought he was going to manage to slip away - but no - he was not allowed to, poor boy - he will be vastly happier when he does. I hope he will be alive this morning, all the same - I have a letter from his Mother, he will like to know about.

12th                31 days ago - Lennox came in - & he is still not able to get away. He won’t be long - the bad chest attacks are more frequent now - & poor dear - he will be so grateful to be away. The last two days & nights have been sultry, & I have been glad of my morning dip to cool me down. This morning is beautifully calm. Poor old Maj. Martyn has to bathe all alone after us - he can’t get any of the others to come out! He is a married man - with a large family - I don’t see why he shouldn’t come with us - Mrs. Grundy makes a bit of an ass of herself sometimes, I think. Went for short walk with Matron last night, then back to the ward. Toby is ill - we think he has been kicked. The old Vet - my blue corporal is attending him & he is getting better - Yesterday he gave him a dose of Epsom salts, turpentine, iodine - & olive oil - all mixed up together. He was much better for it - Flowers are lovely & in abundance. Birdy left for Boulogne. We hear that the firing we heard two nights ago - was from some of our boats probably firing at Zeppelins on their journey to & from England - There were three outbreaks of heavy firing - at 9 p.m. 10 p.m. & 2.30 a.m. Looks rather like it - Now I must get ready for my dip.

13th                Lost my pen yesterday. Hottest day we have had [-] bathed before breakfast & in the afternoon too. Capt Scott came to examine Lennox in the evening - wish to Goodness he would leave him alone - Toby better. Port closed! more submarines about.

14th                Pen not found. The firing & explosion we heard about 4 days ago - was a steamer of ours being blown up by a submarine - there were six hidden away there & our vessels fired at them - I don’t know if any have been caught - The Port is still closed. Lennox in statu quo. Marcey Constable & I - took tea to a cave & were cool for once - It is underwater at high tide - & the water was dripping through the rocks all the time – it is a huge cave could hold 100 people without turning a hair & we just sat - & looked at the heat & Étretat & got cooler & cooler & cooler – It was a very fairyland of a cave – with all sorts of anemonies & small shell fish clinging to the rocks – when we touched the anemonies they let our a tremendous squirt of water at us!

15th                Many happies to the twins. Yesterday was quiet in the hospital. Matron is – on the Sick list – with an over strained heart. We are all terribly sorry – but I do not in the least wonder at it – after all she has gone through & done - & the little leave she has had. As I know her I am doing her washings & bed makings – morning & evening – while my wards are not heavy. She & Lennox are my two bad patients. English patient left yesterday although the Port is still closed. Palmer – Allen – Gunboar [?] Smith & Leedam – visited us – from the Asturias – they are looking fat & well. Two submarines have been caught – so I suppose there are still four more to be rounded up. Now I must get up betimes, to see about my private patient before breakfast.

Port open. Huge mail in last night. The early mornings are getting very grey. It is low tide & the men crab hunting on the rocks – look like big crabs themselves creeping about in their red, sail cloth garments. Batheing still off – owing to roughness of sea – Yesterday was a scampering busy day – for me – up early – did Matron for the day – when I was going to be off – had to be back in ward – for Maj. Monty plat [& Capt] Scott to explore Lennox’s chest. Evening – bathed Matron – then flew on duty again – poor Lennox is bad. Everywhere – seemed to mean at the top of the house – except Lennox – Matron is at the very top of the Blanquet – I am at the top of the Blanquet Annexe & then on duty – everything is up & down – the two houses I have open. But – when no one watches – if you take the stairs at the bounce – they are not so tiring - & I am more than pleased to do just all I can for matron. Another Sister off duty. Hickman.

17th                Lennox worse – Matron the same. Off in evening. Glorious day. Batheing boat out again – I was too busy.

18th                No news – coldish – roughish – day. Off in afternoon did nothing. Matron & Lennox – in statu quo.

PEN FOUND

19th                I see by yesterdays Casualty lists that 4 nurses have been wounded. I knew one of them – Miss Tunley was Matron at No. 10 Stationary when I was there. Funnily enough – she was told by a fortune teller there, that she would be sent up the line & would be wounded! That was nearly 2 years ago & she has been to Egypt – Nice & all over the place – in between. A convoy is expected today. 8 V.A.D.s were to have had long days but convoy will put the lid on it! One thing it is rough & raining, so they need not grieve quite so much. Letter from Fred.

20th               We had a Convoy of 450 in on Saturday, making my family up to 79. As we have only 2 orderlies we were quite busy enough. Matron is still my Out patient. She has improved much in her week of complete rest - & may be allowed to wash herself after today. The morning is rose coloured & beautiful & I shall have to get right far away – for a breather. The sea has been too rough for batheings but it looks calmer today. I feel sunk in debt in the way of letters & must try to write some today. Poor Lennox is even worse only his heart & eyes are alive – all other of him is dead poor dear.

22nd              Quiet day. Did not want to bathe – did - & loathed it – shan’t today if I don’t want to. Matron up for the first time yesterday. She looks none too well - & my private opinion is that she ought to be sent away for a long rest. Maj. Martyn – has fixed a good map of the Western front – on the wall of my bunk – so now we shall know all about where we are!

23rd               Lennox died soon after 8 o’clock last night. Never have I seen such a slow painful death. It was as if the boy was chained to Earth for punishment. Towards the end it was agony for him to draw the little gasp breaths - & I felt I must clap my hand over nose & mouth - & quench the flickering flame. I am very glad for the boy to be away. Had a glorious bathe yesterday afternoon. No letters – no news. Matron better.

24th               Quiet day. Had earache all yesterday – it is the size of half a pigeon’s egg (sideways) this morning, but less painful – too rough & rainy to bathe.

28th               Quite a gap in my diary – since I last wrote – I have had a 1/2 day - & a long day – spent both of them fomenting my ear – yesterday morning Maj. Martyn opened it with a knife since when it has been vastly more comfortable, but I’m as deaf as an adder in both ears – One because I have wool in it - & the other – I have a cold. Collins, Cummings & Armstrong received orders to join Nos. 4 – 5 & 9 Hospitals – one each. The weather has been rough & rainy. There is going to be a Board on Maj. Martyn today – to consider the advisability of giving him 3 weeks sick leave. His heart goes wrong at times. I had a letter from Mrs. Sharpe last night, offering me - lavender - sweet lavender - which I shall accept. Hope you are all well - this weather is very exhaustive.


SEPTEMBER 8th     I have not written my diary since Aug 24 because my ears have been bad & I have been a very miserable person - just creeping out of bed in time for breakfast - & spending all my free time in my bed with head poultices on my ears. On the 6th we saw a dis-abled submarine pass in company with a torpedo boat - I don’t know what nationality it was. Yesterday I had a half day - from 2-4 took Matron in the car - to Yport - & other pretty little places along the coast. After that Marcey & I walked to Miss Wallen’s hut for a bathe. Unfortunately she was giving a tea to a large number of French people - so we quickly changed our plans & trudged along the beach to some huge rocks - The tide was rough & high - We undressed into our batheing gowns - & played the mermaid in the rock pools - & over the rocks - it was great fun & we had a good buffetting - Then we sat on the rocks & got dry in the wind.

9th                  The Col. is away on urgent family affairs. Major Martyn on sick leave for 3 weeks - Matron off duty. Truslove went sick yesterday - & our staff is far under number - so heaven help us - when the expected rush does come. Off duty last night - Gathered & skinned mushrooms for breakfast.

11th                 We had a convoy of 399 in yesterday, only 70 wounded - Far the most of the sick were suffering badly from shell shock. It is sad to see them, they dither like palsied old men, & talk all the time about their mates who were blown to bits, or their mates who were wounded & never brought in. The whole scene is burnt into their brains & they can’t get rid of the sight of it. One rumpled - raisin faced old fellow said - his job was to take bombs up to the bombers, & sometimes going through the trenches, he had to push past men with their arms blown off - or wounded anywhere - & they would yell at him - “Don’t touch me,” but he had to get past, because the fellows must have their bombs. Then he would stand on something wobly & nearly fall down - & see it was a dying or dead man - half covered in mud. Once he returned to find his own officer blown to bits - leg in one place - body in another. One man told me quite calmly, “Our Div was terribly cut up - because we had to be a sacrifice to let the others advance - & they did advance all right.” A Canadian said to me yesterday he didn’t know how the British Tommies had done - what they had - advanced up hill & taken dug outs - like underground fortresses - some as much as 60 ft deep - & well fortified. They all think the next advance will be less difficult than the last - also - that Fritz’s number is up. May they be right.

12th                I sent 17 of my shell shocks off to Havre yesterday - where they are to receive special treatment - Should have liked to keep them here - treating them will be very interesting. I got very sick of hospitals - rules - people in clean aprons etc yesterday, & in my off time – 2–5 - took Toby for a walk over the cliffs to Miss Wallen’s hut. I was quite alone there - & enjoyed it immensely - bathed, sat with not much on - & my hair loose & read - then a heavy rain shower came - & we sheltered in the hut - I must do that again quite soon - while I was there an aeroplane flew past - so low over the water, that the man on board waved. A mine sweeper - put a boat load of men ashore for provisions. Such a relief - to see the blue uniforms! The sailor boys - looked such young clean creatures. They went off again during the afternoon.

No letters.

Lena Ashwell came with her party yesterday and gave us a most excellent concert, quite the best so far. She is a true artist in the way of reciting and acting. The men loved it. There were two short acts, one something about - a bathroom at 8.30 - funny one - & the other “The £12 look” in which Lena took chief part. As I was really on duty I was back in the ward before it was over. The men were like great children when they came back - trooped after me - all talking at once - One boy knew Mr. Ben Field - the principal actor - he had taken boys’ parts with him before his voice broke - Very measley English mail. New Sister (stripes) arrived - The tales the men from the Somme tell are terrible. How some poor fellows go mad - & some die - from fright or shock - & all swear terribly - One very quiet man told me - swearing was not his habit, or any joy to him - but he swore as much as any man when shells were coming over - it helps one to bear it - wonderfully, he said. One time they were following the 1st Warwicks & the Black Watch - & had to advance over no man’s land - strewn thick with our own dead - not a square yard without a dead body on it. The Warwicks had been almost entirely wiped out - & the Black Watch nearly as bad, they - as they always say “Took what we had to.”

14th                We had a sudden hurried order - to clear the hospital yesterday - So we have. I have only 20 patients left. Should have had 19 - only a sergeant threw himself into the water - & is now a prisoner patient. It was sad to send so many to Con Camp [Convalescence Camp] - who have only been in 4 days. They were not well - but too nearly well to go to England - & they will be wanted back - up the line as soon as possible. No letters.

15th                Hospital reduced to 13 patients - awaiting the great push - Took Constable to Miss Wallen’s hut to tea - Matron is supposed to come on light duty tomorrow. I fell down last night - & cut my knee & broke my watch. Calm morning.

[Tanks were used in war for the first time on this day, part of the Battle of the Somme.]

17th                Had the day off yesterday. I think about half the Staff had - we have so very few patients in. Stayed in bed to breakfast - went for a walk with Wood & Marcey over the - other cliffs. Lunched with Madam - at 12 - Crab - roast mutton, grilled potatoes & salad - a delicious sort of cheese - that is eaten with sugar - cider - & coffee. At 1 o’clock Matron, Ritchie T., Marcey & I - started off for Caudbec en Caux - you have got some p.c.s of it. We broke down - 5 minutes after we started & put back for a fresh car. The journey was a joy of beauty bathed in sunshine. The Seine was most picturesque – all the trees & hills along its banks – just beginning to turn to Autumn & there were some big steamers going to Rouen. We looked all about Caudbec - & much enjoyed the oldness of it all – specially the church – then had tea at the Hotel de Marine & left again before 6 o’clock. We were not knocked up early for a convoy – so I don’t know whether we shall get one or not. Yesterday’s communiqué was the best I have seen for a very long time. Today is cold & calm & bright – a blessed relief from the stifling weather.

19th                We were called at 4 a.m. yesterday to admit a heavy convoy – of wounded from the Centading [?] only 115 walkers – all the rest badly wounded. Amongst mine there is one boy – with his leg in such an awful state that I think it will have to come off – His chest with a deep wide – wound – 8 inches long - & both arms wounded. The two beside him have wounds right through the chest - & another man in the same room has his intestines sticking out through his sides! etc – etc. They all seem very cheerful about things – A C.S.M. told me that these new guns that go in the advance with them – are a tremendous help – they crash along over German trenches in everything - & the Germans fear them. The Germans have been giving themselves up in groups – They come over - & help any stretcher bearers - & do anything they can – to not be killed. They are quite right not to expect mercy, because they have been doing the despicable thing of killing our wounded! The C.S.M. has an excellent photo of the Kaiser & some of his Officers – given him by an old old man to spare his life – He need not have given it. The C.S. Maj – said he could not have killed such an old man. They say the numbers of German dead are appalling! So far they seem to be living right well - & the Tommies have found – wine – cigars – soda water & other comforts in their front line trenches. Evidently they considered their dug outs absolutely safe – because they had their wives & families to stay with them there - & often our people have found women’s bodies amongst the dead. They are wonderful underground hotels! bathrooms, h. & c. electric light etc. The C.S.M. told me about one very young & ardent Tommy who yelled down a dugout “How many of you”? They hoping to be spared said “Five Camarad” “All right says Tommy “Here is one each for you” & sent down 5 bombs! One would have done it - & the stink & smoke was awful – but the Sgt. Major could not help laughing . We were supposed to get another train load in last night (including 15 stretcher Germans for me) but the last we heard of it it was derailed & as we were not called up – I suppose it still is. We are living through one of Étretat’s special storms – Sea where it shouldn’t be – Things blowing about – all we can do is to batten the windows & hope for the best. The theatre was going all day - & probably all night.

20th               Our train met with a second accident – the engine went wrong – so all on board were put off at Rouen - & we were left – not lamenting as we had quite enough to do already.

Mrs. G. Jones came to day Goodbye forever – she is going home for good - & it is very meet & right & her bounden duty that she should. I was locked in the one & only — lavatory in this house yesterday One of my D.I.s has the D.C.M. & Le Croix de Guerre avec Palme, both won at Loos. The French took a fright & our boys rallied them & helped them to gain their objective. Calm morning.

22nd              Another D.I. (not of mine) died yesterday. I spent the morning in Matron’s Office writing to the relatives of men of the S.I. & D.I. lists – we did 60 before lunch. In the afternoon I walked to Benouville with a Sister whose name I will not mention – because I want to tell you the story of a great experience she had.

23rd.              Spent most of yesterday in the Office, writing letters & doing pay sheets. Matron invited Wilson, Marcey & me for a motor drive in the afternoon – we went through tiny country lanes – so small that all donkey carts even – had to turn into the fields to let us pass. We came home by Yport & the coast.

When I went down at 6 to make my tea – it was quite dark - & the old Moon & Venus were looking very beautiful –

Would it bore you to hear the experience that Sister had. She was in charge of a train at the time which was held up for a few days for repairs at St Pol. My lady heard that Arras was only 33 kilometres away, & thought it would be short sighted to miss seeing it. One night she told her C.O. not to worry if he did not see her for the whole day [-] she was going for a tramp. She left at 6 a.m. & walked where she had to - & got a lift where she could - & considered herself lucky in riding the last few miles in an Ambulance - which was going up to fetch wounded. She alighted in the town of Arras & was nearly petrified with fear, at an awful rumbling, indescribable noise - as if an earthquake was in progression. She asked the officer of the Car what it was, but he was nervy•& frightened & said “I don’t know - one never does know what is happening.” She left him & asked a Tommy the way to the Square & Cathedral - noticing all the way - what a dead city it was - not a soul about - except on-duty Tommies, who were hurrying to do their job & get back. The Tommy told her she mustn’t mind that noise, it was only our own guns (Don’t I know it!). She much enjoyed the sight seeing & picking up - souveners of the interesting ruins; when a new & terrible noise alarmed her. A sickening shrieking whistle overhead - then an explosion & the rattle of falling masonry. She knew it was a shell - & thought she would go. On her way a nun saw her from a cellar & called her down - She lunched with them & went out to find some way back - Shells occassionally falling somewhere - At last she was promised a lift on an ambulance - which had to go to the trenches to get its wounded, & finally had amongst it’s load - the driver & officer of the car that brought her in. She was told to walk slowly on & the car would pick her up. When she got to W. — H.Qrs of the Div. a brass hat spotted her - & questioned her narrowly as to who she was & how she came. Then she was left alone - & her ambulance arrived & picked her up - on account of being in Sister’s uniform not a single sentry had challenged her. Meanwhile the brass hat, telephoned - to the O.C. of the train & told him to send out a picket to escort - an arrested Sister back - then he chased after the ambulance - arrested her - took her in his own car, until they met the picket - which escorted her home. She had much unpleasantness & was threatened to be sent to England - but in the end - she was sent here - she supposes for duration of War.

26th               Last two days have been quiet. No convoy, but there are still many very heavy cases in hospital. There was a case of diphtheria in No 5. so the ward was closed - & disinfected & today the Sisters are having the day off. Marcey & Constable are going a little jaunt to Rouen. I should much like to be going to.

27th               No news. Marcey & Constable had a joy ride to Rouen yesterday - lucky - devils as their ward is not working yet - The car went to take an Indian - to the Indian hospital there. They brought me back a fairing of 6 dainty hankies! Every one seems to know my weakness.

28th               Am feeling very contrite because there is a 6.30 service, & I am not going to it. Had the 1/2 day off yesterday - in company with Waite, Thomson, Marcey, & Constable. It was too wet to do what we intended to. So - we - had the Ford & went a joy ride to Caudebec. The rain stopped soon after we started, so everything was bright & beautiful, & every one in good temper. The country was looking lovely - just getting the autumn colourings.

We went by all the little villages I must have told you about before - & stopped at Lillebonne to look over the ruined Roman theatre. The old man knew his story well - & made it all more interesting - The whole amphitheatre is fairly intact - all being built of thick grey stone. One thing he told us - The amphitheatre towards the theatre was stalls & seats etc - but in time of invasion, or in case of invasion from the Seine it could be used as a fort. Take a sectional view

I think it was in the 5th Century a complete house was discovered - underground - We saw photographs of it - It looks like a Cathedral Crypt. At one time, the Theatre was used for refugees to live in during a siege. There are beautiful Roman baths & a well in the pit of the theatre, that were built for them. They have found - from time to time - all sorts of treasures, beautifully carved ivory & bone pins used by the Roman ladies - old bits of crockery bearing Roman inscriptions, nails, lead etc - We saw them all - There is a tiny tomb in which they found the ashes of the body of a baby - in a bottle, together with all it’s possessions - a tiny bracelet - a silver spoon - & it’s toys! It was a thick square - of stone - with a well - about 1 ft deep - & 1 1/2 long & 1 ft wide - We saw the fine old (Roman) Tower - where William I stayed in 1063. After that we dashed on to Caudebec - along the banks of the Seine - very beautiful - & arrived at Soie [5 o’c] - just time for tea - & to see the Cathedral & a shop or two before we started for home. We came back another & equally beautiful way, by the Grand Val - which was looking grand in the evening lights & shades - through Yvetot, where the Anglo American hospital (for French soldiers) is. Home at 8 p.m.

29th               Quiet day yesterday. Helped in the office gathering & writing up particulars of leave. Does it mean leave is going to start? I wonder!

30th               Quiet day. Off in afternoon - walked in the rain. At 1/2 past 9 last night there was great excitement along the front. It was pitch black darkness. A siren was being blown, about a blow a minute – at about a mile out it sounded. No light showed from the place - & the sea was very rough. A man along shore – was waving a lamp seawards - & another in a little boat 100 yds out to sea was doing the same. They thought it was a fishing boat trying to get in – poor things I hope they managed it – it was such a rough dark night. It was very weird & horrible to hear that scream of distress, repeated & repeated – in the pitch darkness – It may be that the waving lights were all they wanted to show them where Étretat was.


Oct. 1              It was a fishing boat in distress the other night. A big lugger – She was water logged - & blew her siren until some of our Étretataise went to her assistance. They brought her ashore here. We had a Convoy of 347 in yesterday – badly wounded – only a dozen walking cases amongst them, so although numbers were not high, work was much & we are all going on after first breakfast. I only took 43 patients German prisoners. They always fall to my share. 6 were slight cases, but the rest! were shot to rags & putrid! Really the smell of gangrene added to always unpleasant German smell – was a trial to one’s stomach - & as I was the only trained person I had to do the dressings – which meant – doing dressings all the morning until dinner time finishing them after dinner, & then starting a most necessary second round – the minute they had finished their tea - & keeping on until ? Most of them are Prussian Infantry, some Württembergers some Saxons - & some - something else. One poor Saxon youngster got his wounds from his own bomb – he held it too long after the pin was out. As before when I had the Germans – the whole population of Étretat turned out to see them carried in – 37 were on stretchers - & made themselves such a nuisance, that I shut the ground floor shutters. The youth of Étretat have been parading in front of the house whistling & singing the Marseillaise, for the benefit of the Germans. Our own people are as bad. I find bunches of strange orderlies gazing at them – make myself thoroughly unpleasant - & banish the lot. I’m not going to keep a peep show. If they want to see Germans – I tell them to join an Infantry Reg. & they will get what they want.

One man gives me the creeps to look at. He is so like Beelzebub - caused by a scar on the outside & an evil spirit inside. Our boys do their work very thoroughly judging by the wounds. They are not at all a brave set this time - they whimper & cry over their dressings before they are touched. The early daylight bill leaves off today - & I am beginning to feel - that I must have slept through the calling bell. but no - There it goes - Sunday morning - no service.

2nd                Many happy returns to Guy! Rampant day yesterday I sent 16 of the least bad Germans to the Canadian Hospital at Havre. They did look quaint! dressed in funny old brown civilian caps! & tweed caps - they really looked like robbers - & yet some poor cringing creatures amongst them. They were not pleased to go. Those remaining are stinking with gangrene - & ought all to be operated on - but they must wait until our own Tommies have had their turn in the theatre - & even now there are quite 30 urgent English cases still not done - & the theatre people are working night & day as it is. I gave each V.A.D. 1 hour off duty & the orderlies a short spell I can’t get off as I have no one to leave in charge. Must get up now for early breakfast.

3rd.                 Many happy returns to Syd. The Port of Havre has been closed for about 4 days - so I am having to keep my Alleman prisoners. 6 are too ill to travel - & one of them is going to die - The whole street smells worse than a bad drain of him - & two very gangrenous ones - I expect will be struck off the list too. A Sgt Major among them, told us the War would not go on through the Winter, he thought it would end next month - we asked who would win - & he said - “Not us.” I expect he thought he was throwing sand in our eyes - but on principal - I don’t believe a word they say. There was a report of a Zepp having been brought down over London - One of the orderlies told them about it - The Saxons rejoiced - One Prussian said - Das ist nix [-] & so I said - “Ya - das ist nix - & explained to him, that it happened too often for it to excite us any more. One speaks English & has to interpret for us. Another Prussian asked if it were true - & when & where - & went to sleep on the facts without commenting. Some of them are very young. Two say they are 18, but don’t look it & some say they are 20 & 21 - & look - 18 & 19. I am sad to say a Patrol boat has been sunk - with loss of life. I fancy their adversary must be dead too, as the Port is to be opened today, & that would not be - with a submarine at large. The Germans are very lousie[31] & we who are looking after them have to hunt carefully every night. We go on duty louse free - but regularly after a few hours feel things chasing up & down our spines etc, & the remainder of the busy day they rest not, if only they would have their game & go to sleep for a time - but no - either they never rest, or they take it in duties to keep us well paraded.

Major Martyn has a long extension of leave, & I very much doubt if he ever will come back. I am very sorry. The present Company Officer is too slow for the job. He is M.O. of my Division - very good hearted - but is as slow as a funeral. He was at Dover College - same time as Sydney - but did not know him - Billing - in Priory House. A very charming lad of 18 died at Officers 2 days ago - badly wounded - His Mother was here - poor thing, she has lost her husband killed in action - & this boy - & I think one other & now has only one son left. He is in the Navy - & she knows not where. There is a Sergeant attached to this Unit who has lost 6 brothers killed in action - a child - & both parents - since the beginning of War. I think leave will be started soon…ish. My German prisoners - are as happy as sandboys. They sing & laugh & talk & some seem to be really nice men. They are most grateful for all that is done for them - & their stinking wounds are cleaning up wonderfully.

4                     Still no sign of shifting my prisoners, day after day I hope for a boat - but no boat comes - & still the Port is closed. I shall be glad to pack them off - one of the 7 too ill to travel, is going to die I think - The rest are doing well.

I took 2 hrs off yesterday & sat on the beach & watched the batheing - & drank in clean sea air. It was such a glorious sunny afternoon. I am missing my own M.O. very much. He is so practical & helpful. My present one is like this

It is raining this morning & very muggy & warm.

5th                  Just where I left off the night super came to me - & said there was going to be an evacuation soon after 6.30. I dressed & went with great joy - & fixed up 20 of my Bosches for England. 21 were to have gone but one was too ill. I am left with 7. Five shot through the lungs. 1 with his whole shoulder joint removed & many other wounds & very gangrenous & one trephine, who has fits. After getting those 20 really heavy cases away - we were much lighter. The orderlies had a busy day - ridding us of the creepy crawlies - 36 beds - mattresses - pillows [-] blankets - all had to go to be baked. Of the men who went to England - some were pleased to go - some would rather have stayed here - & one old man was shaking with fright. He thought they were being taken to be shot. They were all profuse in their gratitude. One poor old Saxon stopped his stretcher by clinging to the seat in the hall as he passed, & seized my hand & shook & shook it. Quite a fierce black - bolt-on-end haired person - made me quite a long speech - of thanks etc - & presented me with his identity disc - for a souvenir.

Last night when I was doing their dressings they were roaring with laughter at a Cartoon of the Kaiser in the Tatler. I told them they ought not to laugh at their own Kaiser. They said even people in Germany considered him very eccentric. They were with great pride telling me - that the Kaiser’s Mother was the King’s (Edward’s) own sister[32] - I don’t know why they should - but they do all seem to envy England & the English.

One of those who went to England yesterday - left a note book in his locker with much German writing that no one could understand - & a map of Metz - showing where barracks were - & a list of the names of barracks - It was most interesting - & looks as if - airmen would catch military buildings in whatever part they might drop bombs - The place - was almost covered with them. The map - & notes have been sent to the Intelligence Department. I only hope our young feather pates think to tear up - or otherwise destroy - maps or notes they may have on them when they are captured. The Hospital is still heavy - 6 of the last convoy are dead - & others dying.

6th                  Much more peaceful day yesterday. Gave Schreiner the 1/2 day. She has one bad ear like my two - funny thing. Bosches quite happy. The one I think is going to die - is quite off his head - & wanders. I don’t know what he is talking about - just catch odd words - like Infantry - Metz - so I suppose he came from there. Off yesterday afternoon - unpacked Red + [Cross] stores for Wilson. She is looking tired. Letter from Matron - Am glad to say she is better - hope she will soon be back again.

7th                  Same story. Still have my 7 Bosches - but 4 of them are fit & marked for England. One looking at the Daily Mail yesterday - was trying hard to understand the headline - BRITISH EXHAUST 256000 GERMANS IN - ? I forget how many - DAYS. He could understand British & German - & the numbers - but was much worried over the “exhaust” - & much surprised when I told him what it meant. Apparently they get no news of failures of any kind in the trenches. He is a clever keen boy of 19. very polite & quite happy. We have taken a new house for Sisters’ Quarters instead of a dirty little pig sty in the slums - that some had to sleep in.

8                      All my Englishmen left yesterday - so now all we have in the way of patients is 7 Bosches - I feel they will never go - are here for “duration”. Gloriously rough day. high sea strong wind. It is very beautiful to see the sunshine on clouds of spray - as it was yesterday when the sun was setting.

9th                  There is a patient in Casino V. called McLaughlan (please excuse this roughness  as I was telling you again - that I had not an Englishman left - but I see I told you that yesterday & now I have to get up.)

10th                who was brought in so badly wounded across the shoulders - that both arms were entirely paralised. The story of him is pathetic. He was servant to their Major. At the attack they were both wounded - they were together getting over the parapet - quite soon the major was hit in the lungs. Mac carried him to the nearest shelter - a shell hole - but soon found that unsafe - then he carried him further back - & put him in a little nook - & sat to shelter him. After a bit Mac got hit - & found he was unable to do anything with his arms for the Major - but stayed on, he might quite well have walked to the dressing station - had his own wounds attended to - but he stayed on, doing what he could for the Major - by nosing round him like a dog & useing his teeth - After 12 hrs the stretcher bearers came - & took the Major first where he was caught by another shell & killed. When the stretcher bearers went back they found “Mac” unconscious - having been hit again. When he reached here - he asked if his Major had come down on the same train - & asked Constable to write to a Lieutenant, whom he liked to ask about him. He wrote back & told Constable the whole story of it - also he wrote to Mac - such a nice letter - you would like to read it. “Dear Mac - I have heard from your nurse & am glad to hear you are getting on well, though I am afraid the Bosches made a bit of a mess of you. Still you mustn’t mind that. I’m afraid though I can’t send you cheerful news in return. Major Sands was killed at the Aid Post, either by the shell that laid you out - or one immediately after. We all knew what you did for him & are grateful to you. Such bravery will not go unrewarded. You must not worry too much about Major S. He was too great a man to be stopped by a little thing like Death - & is carrying on somewhere - although we don’t know how or where. Yours… Yoxall”

I sent 3 of my Bosches to England yesterday - & have about 160 empty beds - ready for the next convoy. Went to Havre yesterday to get the pay - 12064 - or 120064 francs I forget which - a big lot - because the V.A.D.s are being paid up - all their Field allowance since June - when it was stopped.

11th                 Went for a lantern lecture on Lourdes last night given by the R.C. Padre - in his chapel. Most interesting pictures were shown - of the little shepardess Bernadette - seeing the vision - & scratching the ground - where the Spring of healing waters came up - & of people who had been cured there. I expect you know more about it than I do.

12th                We had a convoy of about 400 in yesterday. Many very bad cases - one was dead & one dying on the train. I had 53 English - & 2 Allemans, who were sent to the Canadian Hospital at Havre - as they were slight cases. They were standing & laughing at our badly wounded - so got short shrift from me. I bundled them into bed at once - & told them they were not going to stay with us - they were to go to the Canadians. It made them jibber - the cowards - because they are terrified of the Canadians. Am getting up to first breakfast to see my English patients off - so au revoir.

13th                Sent 12 patients to England & my remaining Bosches are marked “E” so will go soon - Some of my men were very bad with shell shock - One poor child looking not a day older than 14 - but who said he was 18, was very bad - too conscious & could not forget for a moment what he had seen. 3 new staff nurses arrived.

14th                Quiet, busy day. Still have 44 patients - chiefly surgical & 4 Allemans. Off in afternoon - went with Wood to put the big church in order & to arrange flowers there & in our little chapel in case I have no time today. Warm muggy, damp weather. I learnt yesterday that a “barrage” is when all the batteries fire as fast as they can - at the same time. It is used to stop the enemy’s advance often. Where these men came from, there were two “Tanks” out of action - in one the bodies of two men - apparently burnt to death. Letter from Eve.

15th                Many happy returns of the Day to dear old Bud.

16.                   Calm & peaceful day yesterday, capped by an agreeable surprise. At 5 p.m. my M.O. told me the Germans would leave at 5.30. So with great joy I fixed them up - & had them ready. We are having much more bracing weather now - bright sunshine sharp showers - & a blustering wind - all very welcome - after the weeks of mug. Went to early service - but none other. This morning the sea is a clean blue green - with salmon coloured waves - the reflection of the clouds. Sky - baffles description of beauty - Poor old Daly who went sick a few days ago - was dispatched to England on Saturday much against her will. 4 more men have died - 1 an officer [-] since I last wrote this two days ago.

17.                   2 more patients to England. Condensed all but 8 into [Annexe] D. & am hoping for the best. It is too much for 2 orderlies to keep 4 large homes clean. Off in afternoon walked along Criquetot Rd. with Wood & Marcey. Morning calm, fishing boats all going off.

18th                Saw a thing that interested me much & of which I still do not know the explanation. Marcey & I were walking through the valley - towards the sea - I was ahead - looking at the sea. Suddenly my slow working brain said to itself - “Funny - that wave seems to be staying up in spray. It is not spray - it looks like steam” - Then I waited to show it to Marcey, & by the time I had her vision on the spot, flames were leaping out of the water - just one at a time leapt up - & went down. Quickly 7 mine sweepers came from the north - & placed themselves round the spot - like people playing rounders. I dashed up the cliff to the French sentry box - for information - found both men - the worse for drink cooking a rabbit in a shed - hadn’t seen anything of it. I should like to show you what it was like – [above]

19th                Convoy arrived at 10.30 p.m. last night - I got to bed before 2 a.m. & must get up now for first breakfast. I took only 19 men - but they are rotten with gangrene & German.

20.                  Very busy day yesterday. The Germans - some at least are very badly wounded - 4 on the D.I. list. They all belong to the 111th Baden Rgt - except 1 Prussian. Were their consciences tender - if they have such things, that made them such terrified creatures when they were admitted? They are settling down now. After all they might know - we don’t want the nasty job of killing them - one man is simply entered as “German prisoner name unknown” he has a bullet in his brain & has been unconscious all the time probably does not even know that he is a prisoner. Another arrived with both legs badly gangrenous, one has been amputated high up - the other - may clean up - or - may be taken off. Another has the flesh torn off his thigh so deep - one can see the femeral artery, he is lying dead still in the hope it won’t bleed - if it does there will be little chance of stopping it - as the wound extends to his stomach. The 4th D.I. has three gaping wounds across his back - into the lung. Five of the less bad ones were sent to the Canadian hospital - at Havre - Amongst my English patients I have a young thing of about 17. Short - baby faced creature. He makes us laugh - with his stories of the trenches He said “Fancy a big fellow - putting up his hands to me - & crying “Mercy Kamarad” but they do - to a little fing like me, but he was so big - I was frightened too - but when I saw he was frightened - I wasn’t any more. & then some one else shot him.” It is better than a story to listen to the men’s conversation.

Lena Ashwell’s concert party came yesterday. A most unfortunate day - only a few patients & no sisters were able to go. We were all much too busy. This morning is calm - cold, beautiful.

21st                 Very busy day. When I went on duty I received a message that English patients were to go in 1/2 an hour - I said they would be quite ready, knowing quite well that their half hour would be more like 1 1/2 hrs, but even so - we had to chase to get 10 badly wounded men - wounded each one in many places - wounds - dressed - clad, & on to stretchers in the time - We were ready all right. It is an extraordinary thing that the Germans rejoice to go to England, & may talk of Colonizing in England - after the War. I think they won’t. One of the slightly wounded - marked for the Canadian Hospital at Havre - was left behind as the hospital was full. He asked me where he was going & I told him ‘Havre’ - he was very grumpy about it - & tried to be very ill to get marked England - but to Havre he will go, some even have asked if their wound is a “Blighty” one. Of this last lot not one speaks French or English - which sometimes makes it a little awkward - For instance one man asked me for a cushion under his buttocks (probably because I had just put the man next him an air ring), from his pantomime description of asking - I sent the orderly to him with a bed pan!! much to his disgust - as he did not want it.

This morning is beautiful - sky all colours of pale blue - pink & salmon - & all the boats & my verandah are white with hoar frost. & now the warmth of the day is making itself felt, a cloud of steam is rising from the sea, just like it does over the marshes - If- for one short week - there could be no war - & all the men were well, what glorious walks - picnics we could have.

22d                My hand is too cold to write - Sunday - I have just come back from 6.30 service. Everything is white with frost, & glistening in the pinky morning sunshine - & all is very beautiful & very cold.

My head case Bosche was operated on yesterday & will die soon. Others as usual - a new stripe Sister arrived yesterday - named “Walker”.

23d                 The “Unknown German prisoner” died yesterday & 1 went to Havre. of the remaining 5, 3 are D.I. & two are for England.

The Moon & Venus in the E & Jupiter in the W. are making the early morning skies beautiful.

25th               St. Crispin’s Day. Many happy returns to Madge. 2 Bosches left for England on the 23rd - So now I have only the three D.I.s left - & so far - they are doing well. A great flutter was caused in the dovecote by the reenforcement of an old rule - “No meals are to be taken in the Sisters’ duty room” as a rule we have a mid morning cup of tea & a biscuit, & invite our M.O. to join us - In some wards they have exaggerated it to a huge feed - that takes far too much time. There was the usual complaining & grumbling - & “we ought not to sit down under its”, but in time they will get used to it. After all it is an Army rule.

26th               Had the 1/2 day off yesterday - & walked with Waite to the Lighthouse. Called at Miss Wallen’s for tea. She lives in a fairly big old French house - far away from everything & everyone - except a few odd farms.

She is quite alone with one servant. The house is emaculate, beautifully polished floors, old French furniture - brasses - & bronzes. It is most refreshing to visit there, I hope to go again. We were overtaken by darkness - long before we had crossed the country between the Lighthouse & the Havre Rd & at last decided to make a straight cut - over hill or dale - ploughed or sewn, & eventually we struck the Rd. It was pitch dark - & we were miles from home - when heavy rain came on - & in 2 mins we were soaked. Luckily after a bit one of our ambulances overtook us & brought us the rest of the way - there - bath - supper - bed. It is pouring with rain - & very rough this morning. One Bosche is very ill.

27th               Quiet day yesterday. Bosches still very ill. Only 23 patients all told - there is a rumour of a convoy today. Lovely blowing cold wind this morning. I feel quite weather beaten with lying in bed.

Another new stripes arrived yesterday - perhaps some of us will be moved! who knows!

28th               I got up before the break of day - & watched it come - It made all sorts of lovely colours in the effort. Yesterday was the same as usual. I am afraid one of my Bosches will lose his left foot - the right leg was amputated the day after he arrived here. I saw a beautiful shooting star last night - We had a short very sharp thunderstorm yesterday - at lunch time - It really seemed as if bricks were falling: but they weren’t.

29th               Anniversary of a sad day - 19 years ago [Miss Appleton’s father died this day, 1897]. “He is altogether lonely.” Quiet day yesterday. My very D.I. Bosche is if anything better. A Hospital ship has struck a mine. 30 R.A.M.C. drowned. The sisters were all saved - & one at No 2 Gen. Havre. Rumour of a Naval Battle.

30th               Quiet, uneventful - wet - windy day - y’day. Off in evening - talked to Matron. No convoy in or out - no mail - people due back did not come. Port of Southampton closed. Leave started.

31st                  Big storm raging. I have been hopping out & in of bed - trying to hit the happy medium between the stuffiness of my tiny room when entirely closed - & being blown out - when there is a crack of window open. Now I have cleared the decks and am letting it all come in. Had a heated discussion yesterday with my washerwoman on the treatment of ill Bosches - she thinks “kill the lot.” Bought a pair of sabots yesterday - & am longing for rain to wear them. Ward ‘in status quo’ - We hired a good piano for the mess - the other was horrible. No mail - I am beginning to think there never will be.


NOVEMBER. 1 & 2           All quiet - All Saints day yesterday some of us went to 6.30 a.m. service - & in the afternoon put flowers on the graves of some of our men. Wet - & calm this morning. Had the 1/2 day off yesterday - walked over the cliffs & home by the beach with Marcey & Waite - & got drenched with sea water - tres bon.

Port still closed.

3d                    Big boats heading for Havre this morning so perhaps the Port is open. Yesterday one boat got across - because she did not catch the wireless message - that she was to return to port soon after she left - 7 of them started & were called back, because a French boat was blown up just outside Southampton. Off in evening went for a lovely walk along the Havre Rd with Matron. Moonlight was perfect. Stars also.

4th                 Chief event of yesterday, Maj. Martyn returned to the great joy of all of us. And brought me the most beautiful pair of black silk stockings that I have ever possessed - Great care must be taken of them.

7th                  The last 3 days have been quiet. Convoy in on the 4th - amongst my lot were 3 Germans. 1 badly wounded - 2 not so bad. Shall I ever be quit of Germans. I wonder. Concert last night given by the Staff male & female - quite good - went for a walk with Marcey in glorious moonlight - after it.

10th                Nothing of note has happened - the Germans are still with me - One morning there was word of evacuation & I went on duty early - & dressed them & got them on to stretchers & gave morph[ia] to the painful ones - Then word came from Havre - cancelling the order - & back to bed they all had to be put. I don’t think I shall ever be without Germans. We spent a pleasant evening at the Officers’ Mess last night - music & Bridge - all very pleasant - Maj Nicholins & Maxey played - Maj Martyn & [???] me.

11th                 Convoy expected. It was due at Étretat at 3 a.m. but evidently did not arrive as we were not called up - & now the 6.30 call bell has rung - & still they have not called us second breakfast folk - Off last night - went for walk with Wood.

13th                Am nearly driven crazy with these terrible 150 AustrIlians. They are not ill - & are the dirtiest & most untidy men. I have ever had dealings with - & only 2 orderlies to cope with the lot. No other news.

14                    Place still seething with Australians - only 15 went yesterday to Convalescent Camp. On Sunday night - they broke out all over the town - took no notice of the police - & went to the Cafés - & generally made nuisances of themselves. 2 arrived home - next morning dead drunk - they are horrid men. It was so strange this morning I was sitting at my window in the dark - drinking my tea - & brushing my hair. The washerwomen were already at work - by the dim light of dawn - washing at the sea’s edge - & the men drawing the day’s supply of water from the tap - & so much going on in the dark.

15th                This morning at 5.30 the place reminded me of a fairy tale. It was brilliant blue moonlight, & the stars glittering, air frosty. The washerwomen were all at work - washing on the shore - & then coming up with their enormous packs on their shoulders & the water carriers - with their washing tents on barrows - filling them at the tap - & taking them home - for the day’s supply of water. It all looked so eerie - in the moonlight - & everything & everyone cast sharp black shadows on the ground. We are still seething with Australians - I have 100 still, they are getting to be less unruly now thank goodness. Off yesterday afternoon, went for trudge along the shore with old Waite - we wanted to go through the cave that comes out at the Station but the tide was too high for us to get in. Maj. Martyn announces that he would like to come & see you - & stay for a few days - after the War - I said - I was quite sure you would welcome him.

Journal 3 ends here, at page 134

Journals covering the 19-month period November 1916 to June 1918 are lost. According to her service record, Miss Appleton transferred from 1 General Hospital at Étretat to Abbeville, probably attached to the Nurses’ Hostel there, on 21 February, 1917. Correspondence from her to the Matron-in-Chief concerning the shelling of 45 CCS on 17 June 1917 reinforces the notion that she was posted to 45 CCS as Sister-in-Charge, relieving Miss Watkins during that summer of 1917.


At No. 3 General Hospital, Le Tréport

Posted to No 3 General Hospital, Le Tréport Jun 1918 – Dec 1918, with Temporary Duty on Ambulance Train 42 during the final period of the journals, December 1918.)

Journal 4 begins.

 1918

Tréport June 21st  I returned to Abbeville from leave - June 15th & found orders awaiting me to proceed forthwith to No 3 General Hospital.

They seemed a sad little group at Sick Sisters & the Home - & I was sorry to leave them. There was very little work being done - & why they don’t close both places remains a mystery. I did not proceed at once. I wanted a few hours to say Goodbye & collect my odds & ends. So - postponed the procedure to next morning.

Major Jolley of the R.A.F. very kindly lent a tender to take me - instead of going by train - & we made a good spin of it round by Dieppe etc - a good day & I enjoyed the trip, but not the arriving at a fresh hospital. There is nothing I hate much more than that - The hospital is splendid - partly in a huge hotel perched on the top of a high cliff - In a way it reminds me of when we ( No 3. C.C.S.) were in the International Lunatic Asylum at Bailleul.

I arrived in time for second lunch 1 p.m. & after that, not being wanted for duty - made myself scarce in my room for the rest of the day - picking my trunk lock - & sawing off the padlock of my kit bag - as I had by accident left my keys either in Leeds or Burnsall - or Abbeville or at the Gibbs.

I have a ward of 60 beds - in the big building - acute medical & surgical - At present there are only 40 patients in it - but some of them are pretty bad. It felt a little strange at first being back to large numbers, big wounds - the smells of g.g. (gas gangrene) & pus - & antiseptics -[but] my nose is getting used to them now. One poor fellow died a few hours after admission - & another two are I am afraid following him - One badly gassed - & the other was in the C.C.S. suffering from Trench fever - when it was bombed. He has lost an arm - & one foot is useless. I am afraid he will not get over it.[33]

Every day I have been for a long & lonely walk - A big mess is a rare place for making one feel desperately alone - but as I enjoy my own company all is well.

Yesterday & today have been very stormy & I can hardly see the vessels at anchor for the storm of mist or spray over the sea. Fourteen small steamers came in to anchor this evening. It is rather a pathetic sight - I think they all anchor near some one else - & I suppose it is that there shall be some one to rescue the other - if the other gets hit.

Up on this cliff there are 4 or 5 hospitals & no other camps within about 2 miles - but we know the Bosche so well now - that every hut is being sandbagged as a protection in time of air raid - I have been down into the town once- rather a “dirty little place” was my impression. There is a funicular railway down the cliff - or if you like to walk - you can do so, down 365 steps - I chose the steps, as there were people I had never set eyes on at the railway - Sisters! terrifying people! The M.O. of my ward is a Yankee. Young & quite amenable & conscientious. No 2 Canadian, had a convoy in today & I think we take the next.

The last one we had was chiefly wounded - & many badly wounded.

There is a concert on tonight, but as you see I am not there.

Now as day light is fading I think I will turn in.

June 24th     We have had a continuous big wind storm since I last wrote - this morning seems a wee bit calmer - Although the sea is still very rough - A sister went a joy ride to Abbeville yesterday - they had Fritz over twice during the day - so were probably bombed again last night - I wish they would send the few remaining sisters away from there. It is very trying having your night’s rest shortened to two or three hours. My ward is lighter than it was - we have sent about 16 patients to England - The poor “gassed” boy has died - & the one with bomb wounds is better, may live, but is still quite off his head.

It is a great interest to listen to the mens’ conversation. Their opinion on the situation in Ireland. How prisoners should be treated, what was the matter - that the 5th Army played false - & the general situation. I wonder if there is truth in what they say about the bombing of hospitals.

They say - that in German territory (the flying men) have seen - what are without doubt - aeroplane hangers & amunition dumps - marked with huge red crosses, near no railway - & so placed that they simply cannot be hospitals - I suppose they think we do the same - & they bomb us on the chance of it - we - of course bomb their hangers & dumps - should be fools if we didn’t! I am quite sure though that they do know - what is a hospital. They can see the wounded men walking about & some lying out in beds. No as a nation they are dirty dogs! In one C.C.S. a German spat at a Sister - & the Tommy nearest him, hit him over the head with the butt of his rifle, & got punished, ought not to have been.

June 25th      I awoke this morning to find the weather had changed from very rough - high wind & sea - to a gentle breeze & sea dead calm - If I were an artist - I would show you what I can see from my window - The cliff edge - with many crows very busy along it - & beyond - a big, wide stretch of calm grey blue sea - one little steamer & about a dozen fishing smacks getting on with their daily work -

Shrieks! are coming from the plot of grass just below - some V.A.D.s are out early, practising cricket for the match tomorrow - The Patients were well satisfied with the news in the Daily Mail yesterday - “Get the Austrians to give in - & we’ll see this war over, by the end of July” If only that would happen! Anyway the Austrians have made a bit of a failure of their offensive so far! & for once the weather favoured the Allies - rain came down in big storms & swept away the bridge across the Piane - & made it impossible for the enemy to bring up supplies or guns.

The night super - Tilney got orders last night to report at Abbeville - in a way - I envy her - but believe in taking what comes. How near turn I am for night duty - I don’t know, or for the matter of that - care.

June 28th     We had a Convoy in yesterday - I only took 8 of them. Some nasty wounds - 2 with appendicitis - one a New Zealander who has been in the war since 1914. He thinks Taff[34] must be at Doullens - as all the N.Z.ers are there. I hope he is - as at the moment that part of the line is quiet - if you can call any part of it quiet.

Another sister got her orders for Abbeville yesterday.

A sad tragedy happened at 5 yesterday morning. A mental patient - a lady driver - managed to dodge her special attendant - & flung herself over the cliff. Her body was soon picked up - quite smashed in every part. She evidently meant to do it - as she had left letters for people telling them so. It is said - she had a similar attack a few years ago - & her father insisted on her coming out to France to work - he thought the complete change & occupation would cure her. I think myself - if he knew her tendency - it was wrong - at any time to allow her to be in charge of helpless men -

The cricket match was much enjoyed by all - but no one seems to know quite clearly who won. They all turned up smiling for a strawberry & cream tea after it - so I think no one was badly beaten.

I have not dared to bathe yet - it looks cold. Have found one nice country walk - & must look for others - I usually take myself for my walks - as I don’t know any one here - & naturally they all have their own plans - & friends - & catch me putting myself in with any party! Anyhow - what is the matter with a walk alone - I enjoy it.

It is evidently calmer this morning - the crows are able to drill - during the stormy weather they could not - but they had fine fun - They used to start off from the edge of the cliff - & see who could stay like an aeroplane longest - without moving tails or wings - they are funny creatures. I shouldn’t wonder if Miss McCarthy or Miss W. Smith comes today - after yesterday’s tragedy.

The other end of Tréport - the one like the South end of Deal - is very typical - of a French seaside resort - Gay - quite gaudy little houses - in all odd shapes & forms - very gimcrackily built, & painted all colours - are along the whole sea front - which is - from our cliff - to the next - Tréport is in a valley - or a little dip - in the cliffs.

It quite interested me yesterday - watching the visitors - well off people - are staying along there with nice children - all smartly dressed - Their little youngsters have to play in smart clothes - you hardly ever see a child dressed for digging in the sand - or doing just what it likes like you do in England.

The lads in the ward are still satisfied with the news - & we are all hoping hard that Austria Bulgaria - & Turkey - will get themselves a separate peace - Then according to yesterday - Russia would not mind coming in again - & having another go at the Germans - but - that is not exciting - as I don’t suppose they would be much use - for ages - long after - the war is over perhaps. Now up.

June 29         When I got down to breakfast yesterday, everyone was asking if I were kept awake long - by the air raid warning - a bugle call - & saying how many hours they were kept awake - etc - etc - I lay dead low - as I had slept through it all - The morning before I was wakened by Bosche planes passing overhead - that is a noise once heard, never slept through I think - & tonight - I was up like a bird at what I thought was a bomb - but as I heard no planes or other excitement, think it must have been a door banging. It ought to be a punishable crime - to bang a door in these days.

This morning the sea is like glass - with a light haze over it - going to be a hot day I think -

The poor suicide is to be buried this morning. I went for a nice long country walk last night. Have somehow felt off - the cliff walk - alone - the last day or two.

Letter from Major Martyn - he has broken loose from his moorings & is to report to D.D.M.S. Etaples for a fresh job - I wonder - what & where it will be - hope somewhere nearer than his last one -

Some of my lost laundry has returned, & in with it - was a packet of delicious, Blackie made, rock cakes - they are kind -

June 30th      The poor suicide girl was buried yesterday - to my way of thinking - far too much of a pageant was made of it - There was a long procession headed by the Convalescent Camp band - The ambulance with the coffin - smothered in flowers first - then all the Drivers - about 40 - then the girls own car - also full of most lovely flowers - then big contingents of M.O.s - Sisters from 47. G.H. our own hospital - the Canadian & American hospitals - men from the C. Camp. then the D.D.M. our own Col. & the Surgeon General, then the 3 commandants of the Drivers - Must have been about 300 people. The French photographers were all over the place taking photos for post cards! If I were her people I should be heartily disgusted at the whole thing - A quiet funeral would surely have been more comely. The whole thing reminded me of when the bomb victims were buried at Abbeville - I was on my way to the Station with some patients, & all round the Cathedral was so absolutely blocked by debris of fallen houses - about 20 hearses gaudily trapped - with the bodies of the dead - & a crowd of 100s & 100s of civilians seething round - our M.P.s - were keeping order - & sending all traffic another way.

yesterday - I had a half day off - & went with other 3 to Bois de Cise - a very pretty wooded little place about 4 miles along the coast.

We walked by the main road - as the flag was flying from the Tank Camp - warning us that they were practising firing - & that it was not safe to walk seawards of them. We passed right through their camp. It is very well laid out - there are blocks of huts - divided by broad roads - each road named after a battle - “Poelcapp[el]le Street - Messines Street - Bois Boulins - etc. etc. In front of the huts the ground has been worked into little flower beds - with big green tubs of shrubs - to mark the entrances - every hut & tub has a yellow painted Tank - on it.

It is a big camp - It is a school for Officers & men - for instruction in the working of tanks. We had our tea at a Restaurant at Bois de Cise - like everywhere else near here - It was already thick with officers & Sisters & Tommies - for my own part I would take tea - & have a quiet picnic where no other folk are - We took a loaf - which came in very handy for our own - & other people’s tea. They had only a very little there.

Have just come back from early service - quite a big congregation today. about a dozen sisters & V.A.D.s - & 2 men. now I must get ready for breakfast. My view was charming first thing - there was a brigantine in full sail - coming in - Sun - full on her, besides lots of other little fishing boats.

Evening          I heard today - from two New Zealanders who were visiting one in my ward - that the New Zealanders were to go over the top last night - I am wondering if our boy was going with them - & hope he is all right - am longing to hear from him.

The whole line seems to be livening up a bit - & the Germans are preparing for an offensive again - Hope they will fail as badly as the Austrians did.

A Padre - who is down to rest with the 21st Division preached tonight - I have heard since that he has a church at Leeds - must try to find out if he knows Fred - There is a very virulent form of influenza spreading like wild fire among the hospitals & our hospital is nearly full up with them - Temperatures anything up to 104° or 105°. The good thing is, it is usually over in a week - but if everyone is going to get it! We shall have a long time with it -


July 1st            Today - is Dominian Day with the Canadians which probably accounts for the band & cheering I heard a short while ago - 6 a.m.

Yesterday - a procession of Sisters, Officers & men - headed by their band - marched to all cemeterys where Canadians are resting - & held short services - & sounded the Last Post. The Sisters marched well - & looked rather pretty in the distance - quite a long line of them four deep - in their bright blue dresses & white caps.

July 3              The Canadian’s Sports went off well - I did not go - but those who did - say so, & they gave a good concert in the evening.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving [probably ‘Independence Day’ on July 4, as she appeared to start but crossed out; Thanksgiving comes to Americans in November, to Canadians in October!] Day - & the Americans will be en Fête.

I went for a country walk yesterday - nearly as far as Eu - The country is very beautiful - in places - quite scarlet with poppies. The one drawback - is when one meets Portugese soldiers - they are an ill-mannered lot - & very objectionable to meet. I can’t think why it is - The colouring at Étretat was about triple what it is here - sunsets, sunrises - clouds - sea - were all, far more glorious there. I have heard it said that it is so, but never believed there could have been such a great difference. Sister Gregson took a patient there two days ago - & did not come back until quite late. She asked me what sort of sunset we had - I told her - ‘ordinary’ & she said that Étretat was aglow - like it used to be of many colours. No wonder we all liked it so much.

I love watching the life on the strip of sea opposite me - just now - a line of steam trawlers is heading out to sea - & there is a tiny tug with three queer looking - lighters? in tow - hurrying after them, & there are - I should think hundreds of fishing smacks out. I sometimes wonder - if I realize that I am living in one of France’s smartest Hotels - beautifully situated - good rooms - wide corridors - bath-rooms galore - I always choose one that looks towards the rising Sun - & over the Harbour & Town - it is so quaint & beautiful in the early morning. And all - free of charge! Influenza is still raging - & my poor surgical patients, are surrounded & swamped by them - my ward & corrider all full of them - and still they come!

The Huns have scuttled another Hospital Ship! They did not take the trouble to board her - to see if all were correct - just torpedoed her without warning, & then fired on the small boats full of survivors, because they thought there were American airmen on board - There were none - but that of course was a detail to them - It made an excuse!

They are asking for trouble - & they will get it. - It would do them good - I find it soothing myself - to see the men’s faces stiffen when they read a thing like that, & the comment I heard many of them make was “and all those sisters gone”. only 14 after all! but men are so wonderfully chivalrous. Then you hear them say “H’m! catch me taking any more prisoners - we don’t want them & they have to be fed.” It doesn’t matter what nationality they are - there blood is up - & they are going to remember it. It was luckily not carrying patients - was on it’s return journey from Canada - fully marked as a hospital ship. The Llandovery (?) Castle. Brutes!

July 5th          This is my day off. Thought I would sleep late, but Nature can’t do with such irregular habits - & it was business as usual at 5 a.m. A great blow! some one is sharing my room - & it makes early rising rather an agony as I am afraid of waking her. A staff nurse - quite nice - she objected to sharing rooms with the one she was supposed to - a Bart’s contemporary of mine & an absolute Prize grouser - so - if I get tired of this child - I know what to do - start bemoaning my Fate - & perhaps she will again ask to be moved. Major Martyn is working at Etaples now – No 24. He likes the work by day - but does not like spending hours in a dug out at night.

It is absolutely dead calm this morning - & I feel tempted - first time - to bathe.

The grouser - & one other day off sister want me to walk to La Madeleine - the day will see what we do do -

Yesterday was the Yanks great day - They gave a Baseball match & invited all of us & the officers to it & to tea - I went to the Match but did not stay to tea - I hear the tea - was a feast to remember [-] cocktails - iced tea & coffee - wonderful cakes just like in pre war time - I am not sorry I missed it - all the same.

The Yanks at play - are most un-English. They loose all scrap of self control & act like so many lunatics - not knowing the game - I can’t judge it - but it gives me far greater pleasure to watch a good game of Rugby - than Baseball - any day. They are queer folk - Sisters & orderlies were all crowded together & standing on seats - & yelling - for their side - I suppose they were so much excited. The Town was full of tipsy Yanks before 2 in the afternoon. I tremble to think what they were like later on. My staff have insisted on sending my breakfast to me from the ward - good of them! The order of the day here is - to draw your rations over night & make your own breakfast.

The Germans seem rather long winded about making their next great attack, perhaps they don’t fancy facing the music -

There is a rain board - across my window - which obstructs my view - why shouldn’t I remove it - I must try - I could replace it when the rain comes.

Now I must call my room mate -

July 6th          Had a delightful day off yesterday. Breakfast 8.45 a.m. brought by my kind ward V.A.D.s. Sewed & enjoyed myself until 10 o’clock, then dressed & prepared lunch - for two of us - Hansard - the other - & at 11.30 - we started for a long walk - to the Woods of Eu. Post arrived just as we were starting, & so I took my 3 unopened to enjoy at leisure! The day was very fine & calm - & the way there along pleasant country roads. The Woods themselves are EXquisite. The property belongs to the Count d’Eu - very large & beautiful grounds & woods & a fine old Chateau! He is poor - & has let the place to the English - but as far as we could see, no one was in it - & we seemed to have it all to ourselves.
7/7/18          We chose a pleasant slope under some pine trees, the pine smell pleased us - & the midges & flies do not like it - The birds were singing joyfully - & a squirrell was very busy in the tree above us - quite big sticks & all sorts of debris were constantly hurtling down round us - We could see him up there. After lunch - ham - sandwiches, cheese - & tea - we sat & enjoyed our surroundings for an hour & a half - & then walked on to Eu. It is a quaint, very old place I should think a gay place in ordinary times. Close round the Count’s chateau, are many very fine old houses with large grounds. Besides them there is the small village – the College & its chapel - & the old Notre Dame church a very fine structure. The only date we could see anywhere on the building was 1308. Perhaps it was built then. We came back by tram – in time for first dinner, & a dramatic performance given by the Americans.

The orchestra was enjoyable - & the piece funny.

The view out of my window is a never ending joy to me – The colouring at eventide is not a patch on what Étretat can show – but it is very pretty - & we look right down on to the shipping. On the evening of my day off we saw a large convoy of steamers – big merchantmen – about 30 of them, heading for England. It looked so very funny – like a fleet of them. There is always something going on. I rather think we must have invented an aeroplane like the Gothas – sometimes I hear the same noise – brrr – brrr – brrr – first one engine, then the other – they take it in turns. It still makes my heart jump into my mouth – it is so much like a Gotha. Heard from Miss Wilton Smith yesterday – she thinks the Office will quite soon be moved to Boulogne.

I’m glad.

Yesterday I took myself for a long country walk & gathered an armful of poppies, cornflowers - & corn & white flowers – wild & today the ward is a blow of red white & blue. The “up” patients in blue suits with white shirts & red ties. & huge vases of poppies daisies & cornflowers dotted about look very gay.

Most of our influenza patients are a good deal better, but some are still very ill indeed.

8 p.m. The picture on the next page needs an explanation. I have never seen anything like it before – I am in my bedroom – above is clear blue sky - & an unclouded Sun. The cliff also is clear – but over the sea looks like nothing else – than mountains, covered in thick soft snow & glistening in the sunshine – I suppose it is a fog bank & we are above it. I remember once in

Wales –you (Mother) & I saw the same thing from a mountain top. Under all that fog – bells are ringing - & horns being blown – there must be quite a number of vessels there but we can see absolutely nothing beneath the glistening top of snow like cloud.

6 a.m. 8/7/18.          Fog bank still there & I am in clear air & bright sunshine. There are some vessels so close – we can hear rattling of machines, but cannot see a thing of them. The original is much more beautiful & soft & billowy than the picture would lead you to believe.

9/7/18. Yesterday was a boiling day. Sea dead calm. I took my first plunge - & enjoyed it A.1. Bought a gown from Sister Hansard & made up my mind all on the spur of the moment. She is about 2 sizes taller & bigger round than me – So I cut off a good bit of the skirt of the coat – that was all right. Made a deep tuck in the body of the trousers, & made them short enough – never thought about the elastic being too loose - & when I began to swim – the way of the sea nearly washed them off – I had to swim two strokes – pull up my breeches - & so forth & so on- but they did keep on all right. For a change, this morning is stormy – but quite warm. Hope it is true – that the Germans are suffering so many losses of men through influenza that they cannot attack, more the merrier, because in the meantime the Americans are still arriving.

14th July        – last Thursday – I had a lovely walk along the sands – shoes & stockings off – It was very beautiful, the varying lights & colours of the setting sun – reflected on the Cliffs & wet sand & rocks were beautiful – people were out crabbing & shrimping – quite tiny crabs they use for food –

On Friday – I took patients for England – sisters – to Abbeville to join the Ambulance Train there.

We had a fine run there - Spent 5 hours in visiting my old hospital - & friends - including Miss Wilton Smith - & started back for Tréport at 2.30 p.m. We came through a field so blue with cornflowers- we had to stop & gather armfuls - The lady driver was a good sort - & like us - in no hurry to get back - we left at 6.30 a.m. - got back - 4.30 - & did not go on duty as the wards were slack. The other Sister who came with me - arrived back - with a high temperature & influenza - & has been a patient in Sick Sisters ever since.

I had a strong feeling all along that I had been sent in disgrace from Abbeville - it was so sudden and unexpected.[35] I heard - on Friday - that it was the Matron of the Home - who had me ejected - she told Miss McCarthy that I influenced the Staff - so that she could do nothing with them. The truth is - that she tried to boss me & run the hospital when I was in charge. I would not have that - & told her so - After all - when I am in charge it is quite sufficient for me to boss the staff. She hated me for not allowing her to - & so got me thrown out! The dirty dog! Being in disgrace does not sit heavy on my chest.

Austria seems to be in a fine old muddle - The Army is in Retreat & loosing heavily. The Germans are anxious to put Germans in command - but the Austrians say, as they have never sent the twelve Divisions they promised – they refuse to have German generals over them until the Divisions are sent. Sensible folk - & poor creatures - their plight seems to be deplorable.

Today - the 14th - is a National Fete - & all ships in the Harbour are decked with flags - & those poor dears in the cemetery - had another service held over them! on June 30th - the Canadians held one - Today - the French & Americans did. It is the Anniversary of the taking of the Bastille? Isn’t it?

A convoy is due to arrive tonight. The hospital has been terribly slack this week - & it has been difficult to find enough for the Staff to do - let alone myself.

The two last evening skies have been lovely - but not up to Étretat effects. I think it would be difficult to equal that.

Col. Barfoot the A.D.M.S. of Etaples is in here a patient - He has had a rough time through the war & very little leave - he has been spitting blood - is to go home.

My new dresses arrived today & fit well.

I went for a long walk yesterday along the Dieppe road - quite pretty - the corn is ripening - & though it is a pity - from the corn’s point of view - it is all very gay & bright - with myriads of poppies - I suppose it was not weeded when it was young.

Miss Baldry! the Matron of the Home - came up to me - on Friday - as if she had never been fonder of any one - but it didn’t last - as I was dully polite to her - & saw as little of her as I could - She knew she had done wrong! So did I. Now I want to watch the Sun set - it is beautiful again - Goodnight.

15th July.       Many happy returns of the Day to Mother! & many of them - will there be biggeroo, cherries for tea at home? I wonder. We had a convoy in last night - I fancy chiefly wounded - the sister who shares my room - was called up - for the Theatre - a head case.

July 16th        I took 15 patients only from the convoy - but most of them were badly wounded - One poor thing had a shot across the back - from side to side - & it seems to have left a furrow of about 4 inches across & very deep. He is D.I. very cheerful - lying on his water bed - says he is as comfortable as a ship at sea. Another one S.I. has a gash across the left chest - & a biggish piece of shrapnel in his lung. He belongs to the Tank Corps - & says going over the top in a Tank is “great”. Telling me about one attack he said “A hundred tanks went over - each tank has a crew of 6 + 1 officer - each one has his allotted job - we just go on until we see the infantry held up somewhere - then we make straight for the place & fire on the MG nest - & if they won’t shift - we ride over them.”

One sergeant brought down two beautiful little photo maps - taken from the air - showing the country round Hamel. Nowadays when they are ordered to take a certain position or space - the Sgt is given one of these maps, showing his objective. The maps - or photos have been useful in another way - they have shown how very distinctly even tiny foot paths show - & of course when the Bosche takes photos, he sees them too, & gathers from them often where a Battery is. Paths to Batteries are to be camouflaged - he thinks - & rightly too. Yesterday - was so hot & heavy. I did not go out - & during the night we had two or three very heavy thunderstorms, squalls of wind & torrents of rain. It does not feel much cooler this morning.

The Sunset was beautiful, & reflected on a mill pond like sea - made quite a picture - with the fishing fleet coming in - so slowly, they hardly seemed to move. I had to get up to shut my window - & saw a wonderful sight, about half a dozen small vessels were at anchor - just beneath - each burning a huge light - the sea was calm - & the lightning very vivid - & incessant - I could distinctly see all the rigging - by the glare of lightning.

People living on the other side of the house say there was a heavy bombardment two nights ago - patients from this convoy think we are going to make an attack soon.

The Bosche devils have got a new gas [-] odourless. It’s effect is to paralize people - the first they know of it is - that they have lost all power of voluntary muscles.

July 18th        The Bosches – opened up on a 50 mile front on the 15th – against the French & Americans. I think they made a poor show – they threw in 40 of their best Divisions, but did not come on much – and by the end of the first day the attack was counted “broken.” I think the French Airmen didn’t give them much chance of bringing up – supplies & reinforcements in comfort – The Americans made a brilliant counter attack at one place - & drove the enemy back. Our counter preparation artillery fire seems to have upset them also - & killed large numbers of them who were assembled to make the attack – but I hope before the end of the Battle they will get more than that.

I read in yesterday’s paper – that America has a great number of bombing planes ready to come across – that will not be pleasant reading for the Bosche.

We have been having intensely hot weather with stormy intervals – thunder, lightning – rain - & a hot strong wind – off the land.

July 20th       We sent several patients to England today – so shall be pretty slack – bar convoy –

My half day has been a dead failure – so least said soonest mended. A Sister whom I do not like – tied herself round my neck - & would not be shaken off. Poor thing! Nobody likes her – she talks nothing but unpleasant things about everybody & anybody – which is very boring to folk who are forced to listen. The Bosche offensive seems to have met with a speedy nip in the bud. The French & Americans have done magnificently. Today’s paper says – 17,000 prisoners 360 guns! That really is good. Naturally all Americans have been on tenter hooks – waiting - & wondering how their men would do – in an important affair - They need not fear now – I hope. Their men have done capitally. I think I won’t write any more diary – I am far too much on edge – at having wasted good afternoon hours – in a dreary slouch round the dirty little beast of a town - & tea in a horrid place – instead of having a decent country walk – this person – said she was coming - & then after the first few steps was too tired for the country. Do come to the town!

July 23rd       Up to the present the news keeps good. The British are in it now – near Reims - & are doing as well – as the French & Americans are South – The Italians are with us –

The total of prisoners in the paper two days ago – was 20,000 - & nearly 400 guns. We are using a deadly gas that eats through the German helmets. I really wish both sides would give up gas – it is a devilish way of fighting – it isn’t fighting – One patient told me yesterday that one time they were using this gas – a German rushed across to give himself up - & said it was terrible they couldn’t stand it. He died almost at once.

One poor creature in the ward is very ill indeed. D. I. & has gas gangrene. He wrote home yesterday – “Dear Mother – You will be pleased to know I am wounded in the left leg - & am in hospital –“. I have never yet known a man write a letter home – that could worry his people. They are a wonderful lot.

July 26th       I heard a convoy arrive in the night – I wonder what came – our last batch are doing well – the Mother of the boy with g.g. is here - & the one with the badly wounded chest is extraordinarily better – in spite of – as shown by X ray – having a large piece of metal near the 1st sacral vertabra, which has fractured one of the bones of the pelvis - & another biggish piece in his chest! - They cannot possibly operate, until he is able to breathe a bit better.

The news still keeps good! What a thing to be grateful for - & how very disquieting pour les Bosches – if they know. Many of our orderlies have been taken away – we have heard – that a general hospital is being mobilized to be sent with the 47th Division to Russia. They say – 3 General Hospitals are going. I should like to go too – unless I could be where I could see something of brother Taff – no luck in that direction so far. I watched the French Army tailors at work the other day. They are established in what was well I don’t really know – in my own mind I had always called in Swimming baths – the room I looked into was about 60 feet long & wide in comparison – It was filled with tables running nearly the whole length of it – just one table ran across – at one end.

All tables had the light blue serge of the French service uniform – running the whole length – I tried to count how many thicknesses - & came to the conclusion “24” – on one table a girl had a trolley laden with a huge roll of the stuff. It ran up & down on rails – same idea – as a breakfast tray on legs is across the patient - & as it went the roll of stuff unwound on to the table – two girls followed it & laid the material smoothe. The middle table was already covered with its twenty four layers. At the small cross table – a tailor was chalking out the pattern of a greatcoat – the middle table was waiting to be chalked into greatcoats.

At the table nearest the window the cutter out was at work – wonderful, he has an electric apparatus something like I’m going to try to draw –

(Of course like a silly I did not leave enough room: 1 is a great steel hand shaped plate very thin at the far end – that runs under the part that is to be followed by the knife. No 2 is a deadly sharp blade – that I imagine is worked up & down by electricity – although it only appeared to shiver – No 3 is the handle the tailor pushes it by & the cord is the connection with a battery which was out of sight – He changed some part of it while I was watching - & it seem to burn his hands.)

- he put it down in a mighty hurry. He was a careful cutter, & all the little bits from the pattern were cut into small squares - to go behind buttons, or something. Behind him came a girl - with a huge bundle of self-edge - of calico - She tied all the different parts in bundles. Then came a trolley & neat bundles of front sleeves - back sleeves - shoulder straps - backs - & fronts - were piled up on it - to be taken to the machinists I suppose. I could not see them.

The weather has been very unsettled all this month - but not bad - windy - but of course we do feel every puff of wind here.

It makes one almost nervous to look at the paper - lest the news shall not be good. I do hope it still will.

July 27th       Weather still noteable for devastating heavy showers of rain & hail. Yesterday a sister - McCorqudale & I had half days - took our tea & went for a most glorious walk. To Eu by tram - then straight out & up - up - up - all the way - first through cultivated land - then woodland - When we had walked what seemed to us about 4 miles we came upon an old man - tidying up a château garden - Château - as most, closed. We asked if we were nearly at “La Madeleine” - our destination. He laughed and said he hoped we were not in a hurry - as we had “encore cinq kilometres”! more than three miles more! We had plenty of time, so didn’t mind a bit - & went on - still up hill for a little way - then a gentle down - through heather clad moorland - & then La Madeleine!

La Madeleine is a huge - forest owned by the State, - pines, larches, oaks, mountain ashes - birches - every sort of tree. The pines & larches keep very much to themselves. It was like walking on velvet - going through them - the ground thick in last year’s needles - & the scent was refreshing & good. The mountain ashes, were just red - & it was very pretty to look far into the depths of the forest - all the tree trunks were covered in brilliant green moss - & the bright red berries of the mountain ashes - peeped through - & all the many tints of greens & browns - & above - violet blue sky & dead white clouds. There is only one house - & that is a trim red brick one - with lots of quaint old out houses - The Forester lives there - the head forester I suppose - judging by a photograph on the wall - there are quite a lot of them - The wife & daughters have quite a good sized farm - We had tea there, (saying nothing about having had one at 4 o’clock by the road side). Fruit, & cream rusks & butter & tea. They put a bowl quite full of cream on the table & are hurt if you don’t finish it - we did. The walk back was very beautiful - after the one little up hill - it is a gentle slope down into Eu - all the time. The view of the place was interesting - the church, the many fine old châteaux, round about the Château of Le Conte d’Eu -, the rambling quaint old town, - & just now - what looks like another town outside - Camps upon camps upon camps, all in huts, of Belgians & Americans - there is a war on. We might not have known it - from the blessed peace & quiet of our half day beyond all signs of it. We meant to go - weather or no - & luckily it was kind - one tre-mendous shower - while we were waiting for the Tréport tram to Eu - & were in shelter - & one on our way home - just where the Forest was very dense - & it didn’t come near us. We got to Eu - just as the tram was starting, & with the rest of people anxious to ride to Tréport - threw ourselves at the way in - & were successfully packed in - on or off our feet by the crowd behind. I should think there were about twice too many on board - I was standing with the knees of a sitting Belgian shoving me into the middle of the car - & the behind of a very fat Frenchman standing behind me - shoving me towards the Belgian - I was carrying a huge bunch of mountain ash etc. & had to plant both hands firmly on the wall over the Belgian’s head - to keep myself in any sort of shape at all - The berries hung - just where they hit his nose every time the car rattled, & he did look cross - but as he might have at least - offered me his seat - I left things as they were.

While we were waiting for our tram in Tréport, a lorry arrived from somewhere near Amiens - bring[ing] twenty officers down - on a few hours leave. Just about there I was looking in a Café. Some tables were occupied by soldiers - at one - were two girls, dressed & painted to a high degree - “playing cards” & laughing loudly. They did not seem much interested in their game - but the lorry load of clean young officers seemed to need all their attention. There are hundreds of such in every big French town. I asked the lorry driver if Amiens has been much knocked about - He said - as I thought he would - not so much - only once the Cathedral has been hit - I marvelled at that - then he told me - that we had billetted German officers there! Oh, clever thought! I would pack it with them - it is such a beautiful cathedral.

July 29th       An old friend of mine appeared here yesterday. She is going on leave - from her train - A.T. no 20 which brought us a convoy last night.

She & I went for a long walk last night Eu - Road - & home Dieppe Rd - & cliffs - all very beautiful. We found quite a lot of mushrooms.

There are a great many of the “Guards” out at rest at Mesnil Val. Grenadiers - Coldstreams - Irish - It is noticeable - how dearly they love us to say even “Goodnight”. & one man said, “I was hoping you were going to speak. it is 18 months since I heard an Englishwoman talk.” They do like it. We had an air alarm at 11 a.m. yesterday - I think there was a raid about 25 Kilometres away. Sister Woods (from the train) told me - they had been having disturbed nights - They were never allowed to sleep on the train - when they had no patients on board and wherever they happened to be – they were sent off either to some one’s dug out – or with blankets & pillows to the fields! This moon – I must say has had greater decency than the last – in the way of shrouding its treacherous face. I’m sick of the moon – it seems to be always there –other times we used to get dark nights. Abbeville & Etaples have been raided again too. It is the railway they want. There is a man out here – a Col. Boden – who started the war – in the munition department – but I think he is sort of Specialist at the job he is doing now. That is – he is in charge – of making light railways - & trucks & cars to run on them – right the way from the base to Kandas (?). There is an ‘up’ rail & a ‘down’ & junctions & by rails – innumerable – They say it is a marvelous organization & saves a tremendous amount of traffic on the main railway – Ammunition, supplies – patients, troops, can now – all go up on his rail – so leaving the other less congested & also greatly relieving the lorry traffic & leaving the roads alone – très bon.

July 30th I have come to the conclusion that we are so high up – that we do occasionally get that cloud effect. Here it is this morning. I am looking down on to a leaden sea with bunches of soft cumulus cloud over it - a long strip of (cirus ?) cloud at the horizon & here I am in the clear pink melon colour of sunrise - never a cloud. Yesterday was calm & two trawlers & three aeroplanes were very busy – looking for a mine or a submarine - instead of going out, I stayed in my window & watched them. The aeroplanes reminded me of seagulls over sewage - they would swoop down - & along - almost on the water - then up – & circle round - then down again. In the meantime there was a great deal of tooting going on from trawler to trawler & they were steaming - what looked like round in circles. I don’t know if they “found”.

Another convoy came last night. I don’t know how big - or how bad. 20 Canadian Sisters were added to our strength yesterday! For temporary duty! It is a great education and I am sure - very good for us to rub shoulders with all sorts. In my ward I have two sorts of Americans. One a Yankee – & one who would scorn to be a Yank – & now – a Canadian, as well as English – Scotch & Irish! Not a single letter yesterday – better luck today.

July 31st          Yesterday was wonderful – from a spectacular point of view – the sea – for the whole enormous spread of it that we can see – like glass – I should think hundreds of fishing boats were out – chiefly sitting in the one place – with all their sails up – not moving an inch – They are about the size of Deal luggers – & have all coloured sails – blue – red – brown – white – Think of them all in reflection! If it hadn’t been upside down you wouldn’t have known which was boat - & which was reflection – some drifted home to harbour - & as soon as they were near enough sent a long tow rope ashore in the dingy - & a long line to men & women pulled them in – they had a fine catch of mackerel – I only wish you could have seen the sun set last night – you could have drawn it with a ruler – I have never seen such a straight strip of brilliant gold – of course the glow – couldn’t hold a candle to Étretat, it must have been wonderful there last night.


Aug 2nd        I wonder how Fred is getting on. I think he will like it – I have had glorious bathes yesterday & the day before. Yesterday – a non batheing friend & I walked to Mesnil Val – where is a huge Con. Camp & Rest Camp. The water there was thick with bathers – but we turned sharp to the right & walked along to where there was not a soul on the shore - & lovely little cliff caves to undress in.

On the way we passed three Canadian Sisters sitting on the beach – two non bathers & one pining to go in but not liking to alone – So we went together – I was meaning to bathe alone – but vastly prefer some one beside me in the water. The sea looked calm – but it was a very strong current - & we were out of our depths long before we thought, a delightful dip – must try to go there again soon.

The day before – braved the crowded room – but I loathe it. We are busy – have had a convoy down every day for the past 12 days.

News in the paper still good – Von somebody – a big German in Moscow – has been assassinated.[36] As one of my men says – he does not like murder, but thinks it quite a good thing for some of these influencial Germans to be put aside.

Aug 3rd         I heard yesterday that Boulogne had been badly raided the night before – The Bosche got through the barrage & did pretty much as he liked – Hotel Devereux (D.M.S. – H.Q.) burnt to the ground – a Food Store - & a Detail Camp – luckily very little loss of life – which is a great thing to be grateful for.

This morning looks like being a fine day.

3rd                  I had a very pleasant half day on Saturday. Sister Payne & I took tea to Mesnil Val – walked there over the cliff – then came back – under it – until we found a quite deserted spot – The tide was at its lowest, but after walking – for what seemed like 1/2 a mile over sand & rocks & pools I came to a deep basin into which every wave dashed – I bathed there - & had a thorough swirling – it was lovely – I did not go out to sea as I was alone – sea strong – rocks unknown. We thought as it looked to be working up for a storm – the S. W. sky was deep violet & spreading – we would walk home by the coast as a short cut. We found our mistake – when every inch was over rocks & pebbles - & it was somehow much further. The storm raced us - & gave us a drenching before we got home. My coat now looks like nothing on Earth.

We still feel like holding our breath about the news - up to yesterday - it was still excellent! Long may it last. Soissons has fallen to us - & we are near Reims! All the Allies seem to have fought splendidly, including the Americans - who of course ought to, they are useing the cream of their men - & they are fresh.

We are getting a convoy of wounded down every day now - Etaples is not being used. I suppose it is still out of action from it’s last bombing raid. Wish I could hear of or from Taff - am wondering very much where he comes in, in all this.

On the cliff - behind where we had our picnic is a big Rest Camp - Australians are there just now, & we much enjoyed their band - which was just a right distance away to sound pretty.

Aug 4th         Since the last entry we have been fairly evenly busy - a convoy every day but one - I heard that a million men were to go over the top, & I am deeply wondering if A.J.A. will be one - good luck to the boy! He will be sorry if he does not go - & with Tommy I say - if there is no bullet with his number on - he won’t get it. Good luck - to them.

The Dining Hall - gave a huge tea the other day - to their boys - & kindly invited all who were able of mine - to go. They had an excellent tea - salad - cakes - jellies - fruit -

After tea - there was an impromptu concert got up by a Sick Officer who when he is not fighting composes music. Judging him by his appearance & the way he sings & plays - [his] peace time occupation suits him better than his present one. Two or three of our staff contributed - one a violin solo - one played the ’cello & one sang. That officer - Mr. Vernon Lee - has gone back to duty now - we were all sorry - while he was in, he used to borrow the piano from the M.O.’s mess - & give a concert somewhere - nearly every night.

Yesterday - I went out with a sister who plays golf - she wanted to practise, so I did too! My. It is not a bit like - it looks! You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to hit the ball! & when you do - it goes & hides itself so cleverly - that it takes ages to find, but I can quite realize the fascination of the game to one who can play. I may try again one day.

A very funny thing for about 10 days - I have felt positively ill, like influenza - with a stiff neck - & left arm - & nothing has done it much good - rubbing, applications, all have failed. So I sort of settled down to calling it “chronic rheumatism” & letting it take it’s chance. It is like a bad toothache - mine is a good bit better now - but I can’t look sideways very well - Well - that is not the funny thing. Two days ago - I met a sister on the stairs looking about 100 years old - & stiff - She had it just the same - was having the day off next day - & felt so needy [seedy] was going to spend it in bed. Last night I heard of another with it - & another with a stiff back - & another with stiff legs. I believe it is some sort of a germ going round.

Some of my own patients were on the Warilda[37] when she was torpedoed. I was very thankful to get a letter from one of them yesterday - a boy who had been on the D.I. for some time & whose Mother came. I think I mentioned him.

Aug 10th       Many happy returns of the day to Fred.

The times are stirring - & of an exciting week - I think yesterday was top day. When I went on duty at 8, I was met by a patient half way - & asked if I had heard the news? we had broken through at Albert & in front of Amiens & had advanced 9 miles - a little later my Yankee M.O. arrived - flushed & excited - Had I heard - we had taken prisoner two Divisional Generals - lots of big guns, 2 complete C.C.S. (or as he said 2 C.C.s in to-to). Our tanks had done wonders & we had taken lots of German tanks. The ward is full of men who had taken part in it - Some had got only as far as the German first line - some to the 2nd & some to the 3rd - & they were perked up - & longing for more to arrive to know - if the wood in front of - behind - - no - well anyway the German side of the 3rd line trench had been taken.

Of course - we only had the slight cases down so early on - during this night - more trains were to arrive - & today more again - & will probably bring the severely wounded. The spirit & cheer of the men is unbounded - You hear them talking about it - as excitedly as if it were a game of football & once the tale is told they, many of them - go off into such a sleep, there seems no wakening them for anything. Just sometimes I wish I were up at a C.C.S. but I don’t think I really do. They say - British - by that I mean all English speaking troops including Americans - have done it so far - The French - are held in readiness, resting with their very best cavalry - & when we are tired out - the French are going to make a dash & carry on - that is the plan - let us only hope it will carry out all right.

 Also - they say - that our Casualties are light [-] one serious to 5 slight wounded, & not a heavy toll of killed - Thank God for that. Our tanks did good work - they went over 5 to a battalion, & when they got to the German front line - they turned & paraded up & down the line - firing all the time - which made a good protection for our Infantry. The weather was misty two days ago - & our big bombing planes could not take part. Yesterday was clear - & I expect they did.

11th                 Yesterday was a good old time busy day. Convoys in, convoys out – patients going to the theatre – others to be X-rayed. It was for a time, a whirl of men with stretchers. We had some very badly wounded in – those who were left behind in C.C.S.s. or F.A.s when we got the slight ones yesterday.

There is one youngster with his leg off above the knee – who says – when the doctor comes round to mark them for Blighty – he wishes to be sent to Brighton. The bad ones were all very exhausted – poor dears – tired from the fight – as well as having in most cases lost a lot of blood, & what a quantity they drink! The very best thing for them & their natures evidently demand it – what an agony of thirst a wounded man – out of reach of water must suffer.

My neck is still frightfully stiff, & some other people have it now. - out of my window – is such a pretty ‘Peace”. Sunday picture – hazy morning – pink sunshine – lots of little fishing boats, with coloured or white sails – to & fro on a nearly mill pond sea. The reading in the Daily Mail was thrilling yesterday, especially where the Cavalry & Whippets charged ahead of the Infantry. The Infantry opening out to let them pass. The Tanks! really did marvels – some of them went so far into the German lines – they paraded the streets of a village occupied by the enemy & fired their guns – point blank into rooms where Officers were feeding or dressing or working – truly a great surprise for them! Surely the Germans cannot stand long of such treatment – Letter from Taff yesterday written on the 3rd – held up by way of censoring probably.

14th                This “push” is a very steady going one. We have had 3 & 4 trains a day in since it began. Everywhere is crowded out. Those fit to travel go almost straight on to Blighty, but we are accumulating a heavy residue of those “unfit”. In my ward I have 10 D.I. & S.I. 3 bad spine cases, one fractured skull & so the work if anything becomes heavier.

We have a great number of very badly wounded Germans - & I hear from Major Martyn that 24 Gen. is full of them. By what the men say as well as by the paper the enemy resistance is stiffening considerably, & our casualties less light in consequence. I wonder how long they can keep up this pitch of warfare!

The weather I think has favoured us.

The Theatre has been busy all day & the greater part of the night lately.

Aug 16th       My ward – is rather a sad place just now – so full of extremely badly wounded – plenty of gas gangrene – 2 fractured spines – dying & a room – which is very difficult to ventilate. One feels the horrible smell in one’s throat & nose all the time – poor old things! They are very good – one died yesterday – an Australian – his leg was very gangrenous & had to be taken off high up – but it was too far gone – His one cry was to get up - & go out, he was quite all right – then about 1/2 an hour before he died he settled down – said “I’m done – I’m dying fast” & he was quite right – It is very sad for these Colonials with their people so far away – but when he was off his head – I think he thought I was his Mother – from the way he hugged & kissed my hand – Well – so long as he does not get a great disappointment in a lucid interval I do not mind. The news is keeping very good – long may it last.

There is a heavy sea fog this morning. I am getting quite blazy [sic = blasé] of them now but it is a funny sight - a cloudless sunny sky above us – the soft fluffy mass that looks like newly fallen snow on the sea - & from out it ships bells and steamers’ horns – no sign of the vessels themselves.

Joyce Simpson called yesteday – She is “resting” at Mesnil Val. W.A.A.C. Con Camp. She is still working at H.Q. L. of C. whose office moved from Abbeville to Dieppe a little while ago – She says Officers on the staff speak very hopefully of the progress of the War.

Aug 19th       Our last convoy was a heavy one – of gassed men. I only took eleven such as they added to my already very busy ward means a lot. The two poor spines are dying so slowly – one an old Sgt is quite happily rambling on to his wife a queer old fish who looks reproachfully & almost reprovingly at him - for dying - in broad Lancashire “I did not think he would die”! The other is an Australian – of Danish descent really a most handsome fair lad – 24 years old yesterday. His Mother & fiancée are in Australia, I hope to get his Aunt from England to see him. He is a marvel – can’t feel a single thing below his chest – upper part is always happy & content & cheerful.

A sister of another ward, who comes from nearly the same part of Australia comes & talks to him when she can.

The gassed patients all say this is quite a new sort of gas. Their eyes are all swollen – blood shot & streaming - & their skin burnt a copper colour, the tender parts of their bodies is burnt too. The gas does not take effect at once – but comes on by degrees. They may be sick after their first meal as a preliminary symptom – then their eyes begin to prick – By the time they reach the base they are extremely ill – Breatheing like a person dying from bronchitis – horrible discharge pouring from nose & mouth Temperature about 104 pulse about 140.

My own M.O. is on leave - & taking his place is a Bart’s man – Capt. Randle of my own year. I like him. He was with a Battalion until a few weeks ago - they did well - were terribly cut up - & the remnant sent to the base - to be quiet for a bit.

In talking one day - I said I thought not one person if they spoke the truth would say they want to go back to the front - he quite agreed - but said he knew just one man - who was an exception - a Major in his Battalion - a big man - very slow of speech - who was absolutely fearless - once - when the Germans had advanced - he went back - to where the Batt[alion] had retreated from - to find out some information for his Colonel. He found out what was wanted, & then went down to one of their old dug outs, where he knew there was a telephone back to H.Q., rang up his Col. & told his tale - The Colonel asked him where he was, & when he heard - said “Thank you very much for the information which will be most useful - & now - will you please come back as quickly as you can.” The Major answered in his drawl “Very well Sir - I will if I can - but there are rather a lot of Bosches about - I can hear some talking outside the dugout.” He got back all right. He was always loathe to take leave - & had to be sent. Someone showed him an account in a home paper of some of his exploits on the Marne - no name mentioned but a Major who has won the D.S.O. & Military Cross - both with bars - & the exploits left no doubt it was he - He was extremely angry about it.

In my ward I have a sergeant with 14 years Army Service - rather a character too - He was in the Navy two years - didn’t like it, because he said - “you get beaten every time you dare speak to an A.B.” so he swam ashore - to Plymouth - at 1 a.m. one night, bought himself some clothes - took train to London - without a ticket, & straight away enlisted in the Army. He was caught & court-martialled two years later - at Malta, but seems to have got on all right.

This is his 6th time of being wounded - He has two bits through his lungs - but he “thinks if he starts deep breatheing exercises he will be better soon - he is accustomed to doing them every day.”

Etaples is still being bombed from time to time - there are 100s of Bosches there & at Abbeville & here.

An Australian was telling me - that they were obliged to take more prisoners than they wanted, because they were too tired to bayonette any more. They came over in shoals - & the Australians - bayoneted & bayoneted until they could do no more. I sat out on the Pierhead yesterday afternoon it was gloriously breezy - & I was entertained by watching a Belgian officer, making love to a Belgian lady - who seemed far more taken up with keeping her skirts from being blown over her head than with him. - as it was her little powder puff blew away & two little boys had a fine game chasing it, until it finally dodged through a port hole & flew out to sea -

A large convoy passed on it’s way to Dieppe - & one of three - from Dieppe to England.

My staff nurse is going on leave today - hope she won’t have a bad crossing.

Aug 22nd     St. Bartholomew’s Day. I wonder if the children will get their buns - don’t suppose there will be many plums in them - if any, but it is the bun - that is the joy. One spine case died yesterday. His wife was with him.Dear simple soul - it was very pathetic, & she suffered untold anguish but Grief is strange - the heart enveloped in it is constantly finding little peepholes of comfort, & occasions for rejoicing. The poor thing would weep that she was losing a good husband, then “but his Colonel was proud of him, & is going to write to me, and then it’ll all be in the paper!” Then she would be sorry again - & then - “All Accrington will know of him - it’ll all be in the papers” [-] “Ah well - I’m glad I’ve seen the last of him - I shall be more content.” He - Sgt. Partlin, was only 35, I thought from looking at him he was about 50. War does age them. I heard a good argument from that other Sgt. I told you about who ran away from the Navy - in favour - of being 2 parts drunk - when you “go over the bags.” He is a man who has done well - & won medals. To begin with - if you’re wounded - you don’t bleed as much - 2nd - You are quite sensible enough to know what is expected of you - & you do the job - with a crest high spirit - & daring - minus fear.

He told me - in one big attack - at their first objective they found a dug out - where four German officers were lunching - ham, bread - wine in plenty - they killed the four - had lunch - themselves & had a good drink of rum - of which they found dozens of bottles in our English Bass bottles. First he & four other sergeants had it - then an officer joined them - then the Colonel - & when they had finished they sent the men down. After that they took another 90 yards in a brilliant dash - I take a good deal of notice of what this Sgt says - he is a man of fine physique - goes in for long distance running - deep breatheing & all sorts of things. When he is in the line he takes 2 meals a day - & his rum issue - but when they are back for a rest he eats 3 meals a day & drinks 3 pints of stout every night at the Estaminet before going to bed!

Judging by the tramping there was a convoy in last night! We are getting rather short of staff but - who is not used to that!

My gassed men are terribly ill - every one of them the colour of a dirty penny, pulses rocky, throats raw - eyes streaming - lids swollen - & off their heads at intervals - weather, like living in a Green house. It is all right at night, because no one cares if you have nothing on – but the day time! with correct uniform! I ask you!

27th Aug.     The battles are raging – hot & strong & up to date of yesterday – there seemed to be no holding back the allies – God speed them still! Our boy is in the thick of it at Bapaureux [Bapaume] – at least so I imagine – a New Zealander I have in told me the whole Division was there – which of course includes Pte 54268. – It is a difficult part of the line - & I’m wishing the whole bloody war at an end - & all the boys safely home.

The ward is a shambles – of men with broken skulls – legs off – spines broken – it is also a shifting scene – of ins & outs – every day 2 or 3 train loads come in - & every day – those who are at all fit to travel go on – Roll on the war & why oh why – since you have to squeal for Peace – don’t you wretched Bosches start about the squealing now.

We are getting 100s of Bosches in – many mortally wounded – no time for me or things as diaries… if there were I would just say how pretty the sea & sky are this morning - blue - & copper!

Miss Wilton Smith is on leave - first time of going to England since the beginning.

Aug 30th       Thank God! The news keeps good – we have no breathing time between trains, & trains & more trains – how the whole British Army is not at the different Bases by now I don’t know.

The New Zealand Div. is at Bapaume – God speed our boy. My ward is full to overflowing all the time & many have their relatives wired for by the War Office – really it is heart breaking – one dear old old lady came all the way alone – had never traveled in her life before – to see her youngest boy – Fathers – Fathers & Mothers – Brothers – Aunts – all kinds of relatives.

I can hardly answer for the weather nowadays – we have no time to realize what it is doing but it seems all right.

Every day more Bosches come – they are thick on the ground – many badly wounded.


Sept 2nd       Bullecourt has been taken – and lost – Peronne is ours – and lots of other places Roye – Noyon – Mont St Quentin – lots of prisoners taken! & still the tide of wounded comes in & passes on – to England, or to its last resting place. September is here - & the War not nearly ended – God speed the Allies to do something to stop it before it’s 5th winter!

A Corporal in my ward tells how – a Chink was killed in an air raid – the Chinese Compound was close to a huge German Prisoners cage – at the death of their man – they broke bounds – got to a bomb dump, equipt themselves & left not one alive in the German cage.

We are still flooded out with Germans – and – talk about the “Blighty smile” it sits as surely on the face of prisoners going to England as on our boys – Yesterday I was watching a huge bus that carries about 40 sitting cases – The two last rows were Bosches - & they were all smiles & just as excited looking as our own men.

Sept 4th        The Battle proceeds – all along the line - & in Russia one feels breathless - & nervous of shouting too soon – but up to yesterday – the Allies were sweeping forward – all hospitals are kept at top speed – receiving & passing on wounded – all those not likely to be fit to fight in 10 days – Blighty – others C.C. Even so – they say – thanks to aeroplanes & tanks, our casualties are light – for the Victories won.

The Germans got news that we were bringing out a new tank – so our people wrote many accounts of the “whippet” a small new one in use – to throw dust in their eyes – of the real new ones – that we are now using – They are big enough to carry 15 Infantry men as well as their own crew - & are so big that up to the present they have not come to the trench – too big for them to cross.

We are absolutely flooded out with Germans, and I imagine hundreds are being killed. A Canadian I had in yesterday was surprised when I told him how many we had – he said – they had orders to kill as many as they could - & said they killed them just as fast as they could. God help us.

I went crabbing last night with a V.A.D. It is great fun – you scramble about over rocks - & poke them out with a stick – we brought about 9 home of an edible size. Besides – it is very beautiful there in the evening – with the Sunset making pretty pictures & so far away from everybody.

They are still nibbling at our Staff – I suppose to lend help to the C.C.Ss. – quite right – although we are so busy – we don’t know which way to turn.

Sept 11th        The busy time continues – although the last two train loads have had quite a percentage of what we call “I.C.T.” that is such things as poisoned sore – or tears of barbed wire – but an empty bed is still an unknown thing. I don’t know how the soldiers keep it up – but I think hospital staffs are beginning to feel a bit done – but still we would much rather them get on with the war – If it means ending it sooner. We have got the funniest old Scot in the ward – shot through the stomach – has to be dressed often. He knows each time exactly how he wants to be laid & tells us – “on ma right side – with ma belt in bottom theyre” – or sometimes he does not say which side. “Poot ma bottom theyre, & I’ll be right” so we do exactly as he says - & he is quite content.

Rogers – that Sandwich boy – is still running a temp between 103° & 105° – but I hope he will pull through – The newspaper news is good still – but we don’t seem much nearer the end of the War. No news of Taff – I suppose he is still in the thick of it.

Quite a well off wounded relative, said she would like to send me something for the ward – I warned her – I really did not know the prices of things - & said I should like a gramophone. She has promised it. I hope it is not too expensive – her husband is Head master of a School & the children like collecting –

12th                Pouring rain! This will put a stopper on our “Push” but I fancy we are in better position than the Bosche. Looking down a row of beds yesterday – No. 1 was an Australian – 2 – a S. African 3 – a N. Z.er – 4 – a Scot – 5 & 6 Canadians – 7. Irish – 8 English – 9 Portuguese – after that it became more monotonous.

13th                Very rough weather – I was in & out of bed a dozen times shutting the window for rain – opening it again at last, knowing it was only heavy showers. I tucked my head under my kaion – when it rained - the bed & floor & everything blows quite dry in the tween times. Yesterday’s paper reported the Germans counter attacking I do hope we shall get St. Quentin before the Winter sets in – It is a beautiful touzled morning – black & copper clouds & a rough sea.

Miss Eardley & I went for a rough & muddy walk last night – got caught in two deluges – luckily we were in a corn field at the time, & buried ourselves in the sheaves – found a fair number of mushrooms. We were coming home by a straight narrow lane – muddy everywhere – ponds, in parts. We scrambled along the upright banks past the ponds. An old, old – Frenchman was coming towards us - & was evidently very anxious to help us over the difficult parts – we met him in due course - & he insisted on helping us from one side of the lane to the other – p-e-r-haps a shade less muddy than the one we were on – a dear old man – he hurried to help us along the bank I think – but as we had finished we thot [??? Can’t make sense of this] for the time he helped us over whatever we happened to be on.

Rogers still critically ill – I had a letter from his Father yesterday - & a box of chocolates from poor old Limbrick’s (now dead) fiancée.

Really this push makes one’s correspondence a bit heavy. The Padre is fine – out after all. The D.I.’s relatives, like to hear from those who nurse their dear ones.

Sept 19th The last few days have been quieter although busy. All our American Sisters & 3 your own have been taken – an old friend of mine of 45 C.C.S. days has come here for duty. She went on leave from her Ambulance train - & asked for a move when she came back. The strain was too great for her – most nights in dug outs, & no steady work to counterbalance things.

The weather has been hot. Several N. Zers came on the last convoy.

Have you ever read Kipling’s poem called “Trawlers”. It is true to life – We see it done in our view. The good little trawlers are up & down the fair way scooping up mines & seeing that all is safe – then at evening – a huge convoy – often over 40 big steamers shoot across – from Dieppe to somewhere in England.

I had two spine cases in a month ago – apparently wounded the same - & paralysed the same – One died in a few days – one is much better – & going to England today. Three head cases all looking to be equally wounded – one got (apparently) quite well – one became childish - & traveled home – well – but 10 years younger than when he came out - & the third is dying by quarter inches poor fellow! Mother & wife both in N.Z.

Sept 24th      The morning is beautiful – Golden red clouds – making – golden red patches on the steely calm sea - & little ships sailing past - & it is cold - & lovely – news – up to date is good – work steady & quite enough of it.

25th               Had a half day off yesterday - & enjoyed it. Went with Sister Payne in the afternoon to – the pier – tide was very high & rough – yet many people were fishing – There was a school of sprats in the sea - & it was a case – of catch who catch could, between the fishers on the pier - & the porpoises in the sea. They used no bait – simply lowered a line, with many hooks on & drew it up – with the little sprats – hanging on – One man had a sort of shrimp net which he lowered deep – by the four corners – but he hadn’t much luck.

It was wild & glorious there. The end of the pier is railed off – dangerous – Each big wave – made it wheeze - & creak – In harbour was quite a big Brigantine Norwegian drew 14 feet of water. The Harbour is a joy at high tide with all the steamers & fishing boats in - & it did feel very tempting to step on some vessel or another & fly the country!

In the evening Miss Williams (Ass. Mat.) & I walked to the country – gathered flowers – picked mushrooms & returned for first dinner & an early bed. A convoy was scheduled to arrive during the night so – we may expect a busy day today. My ward was already pretty full – The mornings are getting very dark now - & I shall be quite pleased when the clock is moved back – 5 days time. 7 o’clock up.


Oct 1st            Weather cold - & stormy – I thought even this hotel would be blown away last night – but after all it has stood 6 years – perhaps it will manage one or two more. It was built by the Germans – I think I told you – I expect they thought it would be a good observation place – for when they took Le Tréport.

We are very busy all the time - & they keep taking from our staff – to reinforce up the line – News A.1. up to date[38] - & the men say – the newspapers do not exaggerate it! The casualties are the sad, tragic part – whatever the papers say in that direction the men say we have lost a terrible lot killed and wounded.

Poor old Sgt Chitty died two nights ago – that frac. skull – I told you about.

My second spine case I had in ages ago – went to England - & is now marked for Australia – his home.

Leave is still being granted – quite right too because if fighting goes on all the winter – we should never get any leave at all – if we waited for a calm period.

47 Gen. Hosp. – a hut & tent camp – beside us was all blown down last year – I wonder – if it will fare better this year! All the same – I have a sneaking regard for this hurly burly weather. I went to the end of the pier yesterday – it was glorious – although very difficult to stand. We had one man brought in dying two days ago but something is very good to the dying. He laughed & seemed delighted to see us, & said “Oh it’s good to be here” & he died smiling - He must have thought we were his home people.

I have just taken a poor old Irishman from the mental hut, one leg off at the top of the thigh - other foot wounded - one hand wounded - one eye - & his throat, badly cut. He did that himself - as he lay on the field - he had lain there a long time - couldn’t move on account of his wounds - & heard a creeping barage coming towards him. He couldn’t bear it - groped for his razor - cut his throat, & knew no more - I don’t blame him - & nobody would, but of course he is under arrest. He is getting on well now.

2 Oct.             Many happy returns to Guy! I am enjoying myself very much this morning. It is still grey dawn, the clouds as yet have not a tinge of colour, but soon they will be putting on little dabs of gold & heliotrope & all sorts.

A brig has taken the lucky chance of high tide, & no one looking, & has quickly left the harbour & is speeding out to sea FREE - Two men, looking very friendly - walking in step - & rubbing shoulder to shoulder have just passed. When they were opposite my window I saw one was a Bosche & the other his guard — so in the darkness even enemies may be friends! In daylight the Bosche walks in front - & the guard behind, carrying a fixed bayonet. There was no bayonet this morning. Dare we - feel that there is one small chip of Peace? Yesterday’s paper talked about the Bulgarians unconditional surrender - Peace on Allies terms - armistice to be arranged at once! Thank God for Peace in one small part. And now - of course [-] Turkey will not be able to get ammunition for her big guns through from Germany - so perhaps she also - will sue for Peace - Peace deserves a capital letter every time it is written.

Our last load of wounded - are very badly wounded - half mine were either D.I. or S.I. & some will die - poor - poor mothers - It is not as bad for the boys themselves, they die happy - but the relatives are left unhappy. Now - I must get up - the clouds are burnished copper.

Oct 6th          We are living through stirring times - Three mornings ago “Bulgaria has asked for Peace at our price” - was on every one’s lips - Yesterday - “Turkey - is going to give in” - & today - “The Central Powers have asked President Wilson for a 2 months armistice.” They must not be granted it! Oh I do hope no one will be in favour of it!

Think how they would prepare & dig in - & then at the end make our task twice as heavy as it would be - if we keep straight on - No! for all sakes - & tired as every one is - I do hope - we shall keep on - until he asks for Peace - in a rather less arrogant tone - than appears in today’s paper.

A Jew Padre - from 24 General - called on me two days ago - He was most interesting. He said - the Jews would still be in mourning - in spite of Jerusalem being taken, until the Temple was rebuilt. The Jews have already a vast amount of money for the rebuilding of it.

When a Jew dies - he has to say three times - in Hebrew - “Christ did reign - Christ is reigning, & Christ shall reign” (something like that). An English Jew & German Jew - were in hot conflict - trying to kill each other - when they both thought their last hour had come - they both repeated the three lines of verse in Hebrew - heard each other - stopped killing - & saved each other. Part of the Jewish creed is that a man must repent the day before he dies, but as he never knows the day of his death - he must repent every day.

Oh - I do wish the fighting could stop! We are all wondering if Turkey will stand with Germany whatever happens - or if she will sue for a separate Peace - in the event of us - not granting the 2 months armistice.

We put our clocks back an hour last night - & now - 18 o’clock (army time) it is getting quite appreciably dark.

I have never known the men - so absolutely buoyant over the news - as they have been this week.

11th Oct.        We had some cavalry men down - with our last batch - One was telling me what a surprise they gave the Germans - at the turn of the tide of War on the Amiens front. There were four Divisions of Cavalry following the Infantry. & as soon as a breach was made - through they went – & had a clear run of nearly 9 miles - Then they dismounted & dug themselves in - The Germans apparently ignorant of them having broken through. They saw three Fritzs bicycling towards Amiens & took them & found out from them where their B[riga]de - H.Q. was - They found it & captured it - They found a “Leave” train full of men going on leave - Shot the engine driver - made all the men prisoners - Also they found an Ambulance train - again - shot the driver & took the complete train - apparently there were chiefly sisters on board - no wounded - the sisters were sent down the line & subsequently returned to their own land. - Another man I had in - with a knee so bad - that he will most likely lose the leg - told me - that he was a prisoner with the Germans for a few days - & he was never given even a drink of water the whole time - & his wound was not dressed - hence its badness - That I forgive them - they probably do - as we do - our own first - & God help them! do they ever get to the end of their own? They have enough - & judging by the ones we have - each badly wounded man is enough to get on with - Whether they left their worst for us - or not I don’t know - but they are blown to bits - & torn to ribbons - inside & out.

We had an unusually busy day. I have only one staff nurse - & two V.A.D.s at present - on that day - my staff nurse - & one V.A.D. went sick - & two blue boys - whom we have taught to help us with the dressings - had to be kept in bed - high temperatures & sore throats -, but the 2 G.S. [Girl Scout – they were formed pre-WW1 and many volunteered] girls - which were all I had of them, turned up trumps & we got through all right - by the end of the day -

Our whole hospital is very understaffed [-] only 20 trained people - for about 2,000 beds is not enough. Thank Goodness my V.A.D.s are good in fact splendid. I don’t know if I told you - Nicol  - a 45 C.C.S. friend of mine - is now on night duty here - which is fine - & yesterday I heard that Hamilton Watts - another of our 45 staff is at the hospital adjoining ours - I am glad.

- Sad - I have taken my beautiful winter coat to be made hideous & regulation. (silly fools).

I went for a walk along the sea front at Mers [Mers-les-Bains?] yesterday - & saw a French hydroplane - broken - on the beach. How it came by its trouble I don’t know - but it came down at sea - & evidently sent word for help - It was towed in here at about 3 in the afternoon - It looked pretty badly smashed - but it was very interesting to see it - No wonder they shine like silver birds when they are high up - The car was of shining aluminium.

I thought the sea front quite a respectable place to walk alone in the evening, but evidently it is not. Every Frenchman - who was by himself - cooed me - at least I don’t know what you call it - a sort of “tweet tweet” noise - so there you are - I can’t walk alone at night now the clocks are put back - I suppose they thought I was on the lookout for a companion! Not much! They evidently don’t realize the bliss & joy of being quite alone - when you live in a hum of many voices always.

Oct 14th        Great excitement yesterday over the newspaper heading “Kaiser’s Cabinet gives in”. & we are all wondering - just what it means. The Hun is no more sorry for what he has done now - than he was 4 years ago. Of that all are certain - and - as to saying - he agrees to vacate Belgium - The fool! agrees! There’s not much “agrees” about it - He is being made to do it - every minute of his life - and at top speed. Dirty dogs every one of them. They want an armistice - & time to prepare some foul new device of Satan to launch at us. An arrogant Prussian officer here - was saying yesterday - boastingly - “It has taken the whole world to move us.” They are dirty dogs every one of them. (Prussians) We had an airman officer to dine with us last night. He says there are no first class Germans now - & their planes are made of bad material [-] propellers of coarse rough wood - instead of polished mahogany! He was a gentleman & not an evil speaker of his kind - but he did say that in the early war days - The German flying men - showed considerable chivalry - but that now that was sadly lacking - & they did very ill tricks - in the air.

This airman said they had great fun dropping their first bomb on Lille - They floated over & over the place - & finally dropped it - The Huns saw this object descending & flew for shelter, & many were still flying when it arrived - plumb in the middle of the “Place” - It bounced - & bounced - a few times & finally stayed still - Little by little the Huns became brave - & ventured to look at this unexploded object. - It was a football - with the message - “Love from the R.F.C.” tied on. He said they did not bomb places like Lille - more than they were obliged to. We - English have got a diabolical new bomb - which makes an unearthly syren whistle on its way down. I believe its moral effect is very far reaching.

This morning is as pretty a picture as one needs - a light emerald sea - brilliant pink clouds - bright blue sky - & six mine sweepers just swinging with the tide - a mist is rolling off to the right - & a full rigged brig is making its way through it - very beautiful.

I think the Americans should give the Germans a thorough rap over the knuckles - before they finish.

15th                Many happy returns of the Day to Bud -

The Peace talk seemed all fizzled out yesterday - & now the popular opinion is - 2 years more! It is no good going by papers or popular opinion - we must just wait & see.

It is drenching with rain - & not so pretty to look at out of the window - I thought as we sent patients out the day before - & no convoy was announced - we should have a few empty beds yesterday - but the convoy came unannounced. Men from the Douai region - They say - the Germans are making a bit of a stand there - but that we are both sides of it.

Rogers - that man from Sandwich - who has been D.I. for such a very long time & still is - has taken a most funny turn - & makes the men roar - with laughter - He mimics my voice - to a T. It quite made me jump when he began it, because I recognized myself quite well. He calls the V.A.D. “nurse” - but lately it has been “Miss Welford! I want you.” I suppose it is that he is only partly sensible - & doesn’t really know -

Oct 18th        Not useing newspaper talk, or authorities ideas - or thinking it out one bit in my own brain - I hope - we shall not give the Germans Peace yet, - for the one reason that the men, one & all are fiercely against it – and – it is they who bear the brunt – if they feel they can stand a little more of it, why should they be held back – They feel they have not yet hit hard enough for the dirty mean brutal tricks played by the very unhonourable enemy. Given another few months – they may make a far more satisfactory job of it.

The C.C.S.s – are playing a great game of leap-frog and just sometimes something stirs in my blood – that I wish I were back at one – advancing every few weeks – over the heads of all the others – then feeling – annoyed when they get ahead again - & then taking our turn to jump comes again. I love it all – except the shelling & bombing - & that’s horrible.

It must be very interesting just now – as of course – they are following up the Armies – over the new battlefields - & unsalvaged battlefields do tell such thrilling tales – Yes – on the whole I believe I should welcome orders to go up – but – it never pays in the Army to ask for anything at all.

My ward is full up of heavy cases – some are “residents” & likely to be – far too ill to move on – but most of the beds we fill – the man becomes fit to travel in three or four days – & he goes to make room for someone fresh. There has been an unending stream of them since August, or July – whenever we did begin.

We are glad – all the while the news is good!

No one knows the difference in nursing men from a successful & unsuccessful battle, except those who have done it – Ill as they are – these men are happy & cheerful. The German Sisters must be having a hard & sad task.

Oct 19th        I was off last evening & had to go to town for my coat. It was nearly dark when I got there - & there were huge flags flying! I wondered what on Earth for – but I soon found! The people were rejoicing over the retaking of Lille – Ostend & Bruges – Lille especially. – Little urchins were marching through the town with improvised bands – drums – voices & whistles – but it sounded joyful –

Many of the inhabitants here are refugees from somewhere the Bosches invaded.

The tailor who altered my coat, & who lives in a tiny house – told me last night that he came from La Bassée. He had a big shop – tailor’s shop - & as he said “beautiful things also” & many assistants. There are, I think hundreds in this place alone the same.

News good – still busy. I hear rumours of eleven sisters coming – may it be true! We could do with double the number.

Foggy morning –

We had a poor youngster from the last convoy – with a ghastly shoulder wound. I do not expect to find him there today – it was all gas gangrene. We have an Anti gas serum now – but to do any good – it must be given at the earliest stages - & this boy was too far advanced when he came. His Mother was told she might come – but I doubt if she will arrive in time – poor dear.

The church bells are making a great to do – a special service perhaps.

Oct 23rd The news yesterday was good – but didn’t make such splashy headlines as usual lately.

The good thing seems to be that the French are at the Danube – so that Germany cannot sent to Constantinople by that way – in fact all ways except by Russia seem to be barred.

We had a very heavy convoy in yesterday – most of them from the front near Cambrai – They say – that there are hundreds of civilians in the villages we are taking now – one boy was trying to tell me all about it yesterday – but he was not a very fluent person.

He said the people had been told that the “Tommies” were coming – The people were delighted when they came - & as this boy said – “some of the chaps who speak French – told me – the people said – the Germans made them do all the cooking & slapped them if it was not well done.” Lots of the girls & women had been taken “to work” for the Germans. One old man this boy said was very funny – he didn’t seem to know what to do – he was over 80 – he walked up & down - & half cried & half laughed. Many of the civilians have been wounded - & are in our C.C.S.s – (wish I was at a C.C.S. again).

I had a terribly sad case on the convoy before last. Such a nice cheery man – a gentleman farmer – was brought in with a very deep thigh wound. It looked fairly clean - & he was so all right in himself – except for a bad headache (great symptom of gas).

He wrote to his wife saying he hoped to go to England soon - & was constantly rejoicing, at soon going to his wife & child & farm – There was g.g. [gangrene] in the wound & he died in less than a day.

We still have some very very ill people – whom I have not the least idea – if are going to get better or not. We took 22 mostly bad yesterday – 5 S.I. – I saw in yesterday’s paper – that we have captured a 15” gun on the Belgian coast – that was used for shelling Dunkerque.

The 4th Army are “At home” today - if I can – I shall go. There is an old 45 friend of mine at the next hospital & we both decide that we should like to go back to a C.C.S. but doubt whether we ever shall.

Misty morning –

Oct 24th       Miss Williams – Assistant Matron – & I went to the Army School At Home… did we enjoy it? The first part was quite interesting – when they showed us the School mascot – a boar – which they had brought with them from – Fliers [?] Wood - & when they showed us all sorts of photographs of the battle areas – taken from aeroplanes. Tea was all right – then - there was a band – which played outside the mess during tea – but after tea – played in the lecture hall – a large hut – with a splendid waxed floor – British nurses are not allowed to dance – Canadians & Americans are. That explains our misery in a nut shell – OUR PEOPLE DANCED & it is Miss Williams’ duty as being in charge of the party to report it. If she reports it officially – it means drastic punishment for the offender – If she does not she has not done her job -

The moment we spotted 3 of ours in full swing – we fled from the hut - & spent the rest of the time wandering anywhere – that was not near the dancing. We talked the matter inside out - & came to the conclusion – the thing to do – is to tell Matron unofficially - & pretend we did not see it – but to warn them if any one dances next time, no further invitations will be accepted. Do you wonder I asked not to have a charge – in some ways it is a grizzly, policeman’s job –

The photographs were most interesting, one – of the Hindenburg system– looked roughly like this

Mild idea of what crossing the Hindenburg line means:

Key showing wiggly lines as “Trenches”, hashed lines as “Barbed wire defences”, and “P.” as Pockets –

“The Yanks – often went into the pockets to find perhaps an easier way through – Then as soon as they were there in any numbers – the Germans caught them with machine gun fire.”

There was another interesting photograph of a part where the Americans had been holding the line. They had to advance over a canal – which ran underground for about 2,000 yds.

The Yanks – dashed straight ahead over the canal – never thinking to guard the two ends of the tunnel – The Bosches were lying in wait – in numbers along the towing path in the tunnel - & when the Yanks were well over – came out - & with machine guns – killed most of them. The Australians were coming over after the Yanks - & the Germans bobbed up in between & gave them both a bad time.

- Getting up time – misty morning.

25th               Many happies to Madge –

British are making a fresh attack – round Valenciennes - & are having a stiffer job – than over their last attack. Am afraid our Casualties are heavy.

The place is bristling with Bosches.

Did I tell you a little way back – about an airman who came to visit his brother – a dangerously ill patient in the Officers’ ward? & who dined with us? He flew over two days ago - & did some marvelous low flying - & dropped a message for his Father & Mother – who are visiting the other son – We thought he would graze the huts he was so low. He started back – when it was dark - & difficult to see - & crashed to ground & was killed. It really is a sad thing – for us all & his Father & Mother – poor dears, who have already had one son killed - & one is a prisoner in Austria – the third here – D. I. & now this 4th one killed. – He had only been married a short time – He looked so young – I couldn’t believe he was married.

Oct. 27th      Some C.I.R. (Canterbury Inf. Reg.) came down on yesterday’s convoy – Taff is with them – one of them told me they left their place of short rest last Tuesday night to be ready for the attack on Wed. They had a hard hot time. I wish he knew Taff – but he does not.

The Colonel has bought 50 Turkeys – 8 geese - & many head of chicken – a good idea.

Weather very cold indeed.

Just back from early service

Oct 28           Sister Nicol had a letter from an Officer who passed through Achiet[39] a little while ago - & who was a patient of hers there in 1917 - I read the letter - he said “Do you know - I spent the night where the old 45 CCS used to be - It is now a scene of devastation & ruin - it made me feel very sad - the Officers Ward - where I spent so many happy hours - is just a tumbled ruin - I could just recognise where your little bunk used to be. And then the Sisters Mess! The only recognisable thing was the fireplace - which I remember being built & the two little chimney corner seats - The Mess was also marked - “Believed to be mined - Not to enter” The hut where your room was was removed bodily & a disused machine gun post had been ?busted? there.” So that’s that—

I often wonder if these men know - how funny they are - our Ass. Matron - a charming person of whom we are all fond - amongst - her many jobs - brings round the bundles of magazines sent to the hospital - One day she came in looking like - I don’t know what - from the huts - drenched blown - sou’wester on any way but straight - I was just thinking, she didn’t mind a bit what figure she cut - when a man bobbed up in bed & said “Here comes the sketch” - She noticed it - & enjoyed the aptness very much - I think they love the Sketch most of all the papers we get.

Influenza is raging everywhere.

Oct 31st.         Sister Nicol has gone back to a C.C.S. & why have not I? I wrote to Miss Wilton Smith yesterday - & asked her not to let me become a shirker at the base - I have had over a year at a base now - Still it is always best to take what comes. A new Red Cape arrived yesterday - with orders that she was sent here as Assistant Matron - That means the present one must go - & every one will be terribly sorry.

Of yesterdays convoy - most were Jocks - two of mine very badly wounded - the rest not so bad. The news seems good - & I believe the heads of the Nations are conferring in Paris on the Peace Problem - good luck to them.

I have got a sailor in my ward a stoker from a collier - I was telling him something the paper had - reported from Norway - “Don’t believe it” - he said “Don’t believe a single thing any Norwegian tells you.” He says that they are the biggest lot of spies imagineable - They were caught carry[ing] letters for enemy subjects, to & fro from England - lots of times. Now when a Norwegian vessel enters the Humber, or any other port - the Pilot who boards the ship - has to take all binoculars - & telescopes & lock them up - not to be used until the vessel is out of port again. That is not done on a British vessel.


Nov. 3            I am sorry to say Miss Williams - our Ass. Matron has been moved to 72 Gen - at Trouville - thanks to those young villains who let her down by dancing the other day. On Nov. 1st she & Matron & I walked to La Madeleine to tea - I expect I have told you all about the place - a glorious unspoiled forest, 7 kilometres beyond Eu. We went on All Saints Day. All people were dressed up - finer than on Sunday - & were going in huge groups - & families to honour their dead - The cemetaries were a blaze of flowers when they had finished.

The news of the Surrender of Turkey came on that day - so they ended in making quite a day of rejoicing of it - & French, British - Belgian & American flags - were flying - everywhere. The men off our yesterdays convoy - (we had two convoys in yesterday) were all very cheerful. They had come from Le Cateau - & said that the enemy there was putting up hardly any fight at all - wise enemy!

Bulgaria

entered

Oct 1 - 1915.

Armistice took effect

Sept 30 1918

Turkey

Nov 5th 1914

” ” ”

Oct 31st ”

Austria

July 28th-29th 1914

” ” ”

Nov 4th ”

Germany

” ” ”

Nov 11th ”

Nov 9th         There is a whole lot of peace talk going on - but they don’t seem to be getting on with it. The news has been absolutely glorious - & yesterday - we have had lots of convoys down - chiefly not very severe cases. & my head has been too much like a pumpkin with neuralgia - to tell a single word of anything that may have happened - they have swarmed in & swarmed out - & some have had influenza & all are very cheerful about the news.

Rather helpful for us! the German navy has mutinied - badly.

Nov. 12th      Peace! Thank God for that!

- It feels very queer too - kind as if your elastic had snapped.

Matron & I took some sick Sisters to Abbeville yesterday - leaving here at 4 a.m. & reaching the A.T. at 6.30 a.m. The moment we stopped at the Siding - we were pounced upon by the Ambulance drivers - & told we were much behind the times for not knowing the news - they had been told the night before -

We shifted the responsibility of our load to the Sister on the train - & then went back to the nurses Home - my old billet - & told them the news - then to the Sisters hospital & told them - we stayed there to breakfast - walked about Abbeville - & I showed Matron - the various air raid damages - I lost my watch - not mine either - & then we had a lovely ride back. Evidently the folk everywhere had heard the news - French girls were embracing Tommies, & French children blew kisses to us as we passed - French soldiers waved ecstatically, & looked as if - for two pins, or if we were not going so fast - they would climb aboard & kiss us. We came back to Treport only a few minutes after the news reached it - & in less than an hour - the whole place had gone stark mad - Flags - of all nations flying from everywhere - Sirens - blowing - in long shrieks - short shrieks - jerks - every way -

All the bands turned out & processed along the Camp - with convalescent patients - & oddments of French following - Ambulances (allowed to carry 8 sitting - or 4 lying - & 1 sitting) bedecked with flags & streamers, & about 16 inside & as many as could manage to stay there on the roof - paraded solemnly round & round the roads - the men - cheering & shouting & flag waving.

In the afternoon - I think many had drunk the good health of the occasion - & the ‘Entente’ spirit was well to the fore - French soldiers & Tommies - & French girls - walking about in long lines - locked in each others arms. Even the motor lorries went mad - & bedecked themselves with flags -

In the Music Room - we bought 6 bottles of good port - & when the lights were up - we made the longest-in patient - a Sergeant of the Naval Div - make a little speech - & they all drank - to Peace. In some wards they had a special tea.

If only my gramophone would come! We are to have one more convoy - direct from the line - & then — local sick —

Here endeth the fighting part of the War - GOD SAVE THE KING.

 


Nov 16th On the 14th I was detailed to go as escort to a wounded Officer - being transferred from here to a hospital in Paris - His people live there.

We had a reserved carriage - & no change which was a blessing - the stretcher rested well along one seat - & I had the other to myself. The train was slow - & we took 6 hours to do the journey - but with a nice luncheon hamper - & books - the time passed all right for him - he was a fidgety youngster - The hospital he has gone to is in the Hotel Astoria - where the Kaiser had ordered lunch for a certain date in 1914 - the day he entered Paris. In those days it was a spies H.Q. & they had a wireless station on the roof.

Paris looked fine! Such a wide streeted - clean looking city - & flags, flags, flags, everywhere - We drove right through the City & it was all - brightly lit - - hundreds of beautiful cars dashing about. Shops gay - I should very much have liked to do some shopping, but had no spare time -

The Hendrys - live right through Paris - through the Bois [de] Boulogne - & beyond the city gates - They have a delightful house - beautifully furnished - I had a small suite of rooms - bed-room - sitting room - & dressing room - my train left before 8 next morning - so I had to be up - by times - Mr. Hendry - was a charming host - we started too early for the station - & he drove me - all through the Bois de Boulogne - & round all the principal parts of Paris to let me see everything there was to see - Hundreds of German field guns - Minnewerfer [Minenwerfer ("mine launcher") is the German name for a class of short range mortars used extensively during the First World War by the German Army], French mortars one big gun - (not a Bertha) - a whole long line of Bosche aeroplanes - a Bosch tank - & - a sand bag air raid shelter - quite the size of no 1 Hamilton Avenue - was hung thick - with Bosche tin hats! The Statue of Liberty was draped in the National Flag - everyone seemed gay.

They are going to have a great Fête day on Sunday - I should like to have seen it then!

The 13th        Sister H. W. & I had a good half day - & walked to the Madeleine for tea - Yes - thank the Good God - we are nothing like as busy now - 20 of my beds have been taken down & put into store! So now I have only 40 beds - & 40 patients - & some of them will be going soon. It’s a funny thing - talking about “as thy day so shall thy strength be” [Deuteronomy 33:25, of course!] while we were so busy - we could have any number of badly broken people each with 5 or six wounds - & get on with it - with a swing - now - it almost bores me to put on a simple fomentation -

Nov. 19th      What a difference! I have only 40 beds in my ward now - instead of 60 & the work is decreasing in heaviness - of course we have & shall have for some time - heavy surgical cases - in - but - it is a very different matter nursing them, when they are well established - no shock to contend with - & no convoys in khaki - all smothered in mud & blood - straight through from the fight -

They all come down nicely washed & in pyjamas now - They don’t mind half as much being marked “Base” or “C.C.” (convalescent camp) - no, things are quite altered - Instead of bustling off a large number to England every day - & getting all our beds filled up - straightaway - we are keeping them - Have not sent any to England for four days now.

We are starting days off - my last V.A.D. - has hers tomorrow & then if all be well - I shall take the next day - Think of it! A whole day - Poor old Lil - I wish she could have one too - & that we could spend it together.

My room mate is in the Sick Sisters Quarters with a terribly bad sore throat.

20th               A very sudden & merry thing happened last night. Ten of the M.O.s took themselves to a Peace dinner in the town - the rest were a little hurt that they were neither told about it nor asked to it - so - two of them had an idea of being equal - with them - Fled to Matron - & asked her to come - & bring 7 sisters with her - to an impromptu dinner - I met Matron - as I was on my way to dinner - wearing a worried look to find a 7th - she had caught 6 - So here went - instead of going to dinner at 7.15 I simply flew back to my room - changed & was down before 1/2 past to join the rest at the “Impromptu” - It was great fun - the A.D.M.S. & the D.A.D.M.S. were both there - & enjoyed the fun like anything. After dinner - Col. Thorboon - the R.C. padre - S. Stephenson & I - played Bridge - some played the Rowdyist game of vingt & un - you ever heard - & some sang - 11.15 - in came the diners out! & their expressions were a study! Mr. Marriott - who took me in to dinner - has spent 17 years in China, & is most interesting on the subject. If a Chinaman - who is sentenced to death can raise 50 - Dollars (?) - he can always get some one to take his place – many of them will accept 30 dollars & give up their life in exchange – also if you tip the executioner highly enough – he will do the job at one blow – otherwise he is not so particular –

The Chinese like us British - & most important ports where Mr. Marriott has been – are held by British. He says the British Prestige is very high indeed – since we have beaten the Germans at their own game of War – During the War – the Japanese have been – on the fence – ready to side with the stronger Power – now they have plumped for the Allies.

There is a dense fog this morning - & the Moon is shining full on it – weird - .

I rather like impromptu Peace dinners.

Nov. 22.         Yesterday – I had the day off - & thoroughly enjoyed it. My kind people – sent up breakfast from the ward – then until 10 o’clock – I chiefly slept – it was too cold to put as much as a nose out of bed – Then I got up - & Swanzy & I went to the Casino – to lunch - & after joined several folk – who had the half day off. We walked through the Tank Camp – to Bois de Cire – it was a frosty afternoon with golden sunshine - & the autumn tints showed up to perfection – We went to a quaint little Hotel for tea – which is kept by a charming old man & his wife – They are rather a picturesque couple – he played the gramophone to us – while she prepared tea – It was quite dark before we left - & no moon & no lights made it a bit difficult to find the way – but we did all right - & got home soon after 7 o’clock early to bed - & slept like a log –

The great excitement in Treport yesterday – was the huge catch of herrings – boat after boat came in to harbour laden with them. The sea was dead calm – barrows – barrels – baskets – full of them - & heaps – just on sails – being sold to the people – everyone – from toddlers upwards seemed to be carrying herrings.

I judge – by the ripe melon sky - & the frost on everything – that we are in for another cold day – and – it IS cold.

25th                We sent off a batch of wounded to Blighty two days ago - & filled up with medical cases yesterday. What a difference! What a mixture! We still have nearly a dozen wounded left – too bad to be moved – the rest are – strained hearts – bad ears – boils – etc –

Rumour is about the busiest element in camp just now – a fresh program every day – One day we are to stay as a Demobilization base – next – to disband within a month – next to get out of the building – the rent of which is enormous & keep on the huts & tents & so on & so forth – that it is quite as interesting – as wondering where you’ll spend your summer holiday. The weather has been frightfully cold – Today is muggy & wet – but – warm. I have been for some delightful walks in my off time – being less tired now-a-days- I had a letter from Sister Nicol – saying her C.C.S – 48 – had gone to Germany - & she had been told that 6 of them (sisters) were to follow – She asks me to work it – that either I go to Germany or that she comes here – How can I? How would I if I could? Not at all – It is best for each are to take what comes.

Nov. 29th Nov. 26th         I got orders to proceed at once to No. 7 Stationary Boulogne – for duty – so – I had to make a sudden ending at Le Treport & come –

We gave a splendid concert in the ward on the night of the 25th. Matron & many of the sisters & M.O.s – came - & the place was packed with patients from other wards – All went well - & it was a success –

This hospital – is a camp – high up – about 40 minutes walk along the Boulogne – Calais Rd. My first day here – yesterday – was one drench of heavy rain all day – it looks as if it means to start again too – what a change on a wet day – from living in a smart hotel – with a roof over one’s head all the time – to living in one hut – messing in one a muddy walk off - & working in two more – a longer & muddier walk off – Instead of a private bathroom one has to walk a fair distance through the camp – to a general bathhouse – common to all – It is a ramshackle camp – but everyone seems quite happy which is the great thing – I have charge of a couple of surgical huts – M.O. Major Martin – quite a pleasant young man.

There are scores of birds of passage sisters here – waiting for distribution – Many have been sent to Bruges to nurse the Belgians - & some will be sent into Germany – when the places are ready for them. Matron here is Miss Jones – whom I knew as a patient at Sick Sisters – not in my care – Ass. Matron – pleasant – whole staff – all right as far as I know.

30th               The night has been very cold & I missed my Cats’skin – must try for a half day - & go & search for it –

An evening off is a bit of a quandary – on a wet night – our sitting room gets up to any temperature & everywhere else is cold – but as soon as I feel my feet – I hope to go for walks. Quiet day yesterday – 4 patients went to England - & 4 fresh ones took their places.

No letters – hope for some today.

Our Cavalry Div. That is to be part of the army of occupation – they say is a glorious sight. Beautiful horses – equipment the last word “Wth [??] new lances – for the lancers – with new flags – King’s & Queen’s head on the top of each lance. At present it is on Show in Paris -. I should very much like to go & see it.

Dec. 6th        Boulogne – What a life! I was just starting dressings in the ward this morning when – Matron came in & told me to go at once to 42 Ambulance Train for temporary duty – so – I had to take off my rubber gloves - & fly to my room to pack up all my worldly belongings – (that were not astray) - & join this train – taking with me hand luggage only. The longer one lives in this war – one learns to take less about. I brought no blankets & very few clothes with me – wrapped in a ground sheet – my hold all being – anywhere in France.

This is the top dog – of Ambulance Trains – the very latest out from England.

The Sister-in-Charge – had a telegram from home - & has gone on a fortnight’s leave. - & I feel like a fish out of water – who doesn’t know his job – but it is a fine train - & of course it is A. 1. having – a compartment quite to myself – instead of half a beastly little hutch – where you could hear every word spoken – in the beastly little hutches both sides of you – they are beastly little hutches or at least not very good for beasts.

Alongside of us – is a Bosche train – one of those he has to surrender – according to the Armistice terms.

The O.C of this train has taken off an enamel notice – from the train – as a souvenir – It is just like the train we used to go to Berlin by from Sudende.

So help me God – I am in charge – we were supposed to leave here at 2:30 p.m. but have not yet got our engine on. 6:30 p.m.

Major Martyn came to tea on Tuesday. It was nice to see him again – He was coming over again tomorrow – but I have sent him word – that I shall not be there.

Now – I think I will have a game of Patience to wile away the hours – I hear we are to go to Etaples to take a load to Calais.

Dec 7th           We got to Etaples at 11 last night - & loaded at 3 this morning – 291 patients – chiefly stretchers – 90 repatriated prisoners of war – one of whom was taken prisoner in 1914 – in the Battle of the Marne – They do not seem in a bad state. We can order special diet for them – bacon for breakfast – milk pudding & fruit for dinner, sardines for tea – also they are given an extra ration of cigarettes & matches. We unloaded at Calais straight on to the boat – at 10 a.m. – I dashed out & did a little shopping - & we started back to Fontainette near Calais before lunch. Some of the prisoners looked quaint enough – in civilian overcoats - & odd woolen tammies – odd – in colouring – some half brown & half red - & so forth. Where we are now –I don’t know [added:] we are at Fontainette but our tanks are being filled – which takes about 2 hours.

Major Martyn came on the train to see me. His hut is right by the ambulance train siding - & how he gets any sleep al all – I do not know.

There was a very large & most weird vessel in Calais harbour called “War Emu”[40] I only wish I could remember her well enough to draw – but she must have been for some special work – There were lots of German trains there - & guns! Hundreds of them - our own - & captured German ones. Gun carriages by the hundreds! I suppose all that War materiel is being collected at the different Ports – to be returned to Angleterre. One man died on the trip last night. Gun shot wound of neck. His carotid artery had been tied & broke down. The M.O. did his best – but it was a very quick & quiet ending. Wounded exactly a month ago, poor fellow! I love my little bunk. “G coach” is for the Staff & is like this

Mine is like a first class carriage one side - & the other has a wardrobe & dressing table – of course there is precious little room – you almost stand on your other foot when you walk – but it is very comfortable.

The French have been very busy all afternoon – mending steam pipes etc – they say we are to go a long run to fetch – P.O.W.s.

At Calais this morning – it was interesting to see the mixture of nations working – French – Belgian – German – Chinese - & at other parts – British.

It is quite funny to do nothing but listen to the engine whistles & the hooters of the men guarding the line – you could not stick a pin between the hoots & shrieks –

No 9 - & No 38 A.T.s [Ambulance Trains] – are lying beside us.

Sunday 8th This morning reminded me – of 1914 – the morning we arrived at Ostend – I woke – found the train still – not a sound of any kind to be heard – then soon – the clang of Church bells! & I knew we were at a big town. We are lying in a siding - & our engine has left us. So perhaps we shall be able to get out & look at the place – Tournai – It looks a very big important place - & from the number of railings - & telegraph lines – must be a big junction. – Days when there are no patients on – we live like millionaires – stay in bed until our batman calls us with tea – breakfast not soon than 9 o’clock – breakfast leisurely - & then go out to see the place!

This morning was glorious – Sunny & clear

Church bells sounded joyful - a train load of Tommies past us - on their way to Blighty - & everything seemed happy. I felt inclined for church - so out the two of us went to see about service - & after a bit heard a band - & guessed - it was church parade - they came our way & we followed them - to the Garrison Church - which is the Cinema - at the other times.

The church was packed - there must have been - nearly 1,000 men - The music was a good brass band - the Padre - a fine fellow. Everything went with a swing - as services up the line usually do - one thing - impressed me - done I think, more by accident than intention - In the responses before the Venite - the music & congregation could not get together in “As it was in the beginning is now - and” etc. (& only a few sang it) - but when it came to the last one “The Lord’s name be praised” the clarionettes & all the band were full blast - & the men sang it at the tops of their voices - It fitted the day & the sunshine - & the war being over – well. They wanted us to sit in front with the officers - but we couldn’t face it - & went to the gallery - we were the only two women there - the result was - that many of the men screwing their heads round to have a look at us. After service - the troops all assembled in the Square in front of the Cathedral - & marched off - headed by a fine band. They looked splendid.

Next we did a little sight seeing. Climbed to the top of the Belfry tower - I will send you a picture of it - from where we had a fine view for miles around. Tournai - is gay with flags - chiefly huge Belgian national flag - The King & the Prince of Wales & Prince Albert were here yesterday - & had a great welcome & acclamation from the people. An R.E. officer - showed us all we saw - the Belfry - & all the bridges that had been blown up by the Bosche a few days before he left, & King Henry VIII tower - I will also show you a picture of that. The Germans had machine guns on the roof when they were here. It is a round tower - with a flat roof - a wonderfully strongly built affair - about twice as big as a gasometer - same shape. We went on to the top of it. Too tired to write more tonight. E.

Dec. 10th      We have stayed at Tournai all night, so have had a lovely undisturbed sleep.

In the afternoon yesterday, Mr Lowry - our American M.O. took us out again - we visited the Cathedral - & stayed to a service - as onlookers. The music was glorious, & the pageant very magnificent, but we didn’t understand it. - then to tea - at a hotel - tea without milk - & biscuits - then to the evening performance of the Cinema - quite amusing. Packed with Tommies & Officers - a few of the men had brought French children, or women with them - they seemed highly amused at it all.

The piano was being played all the time, & every time a well known tune came - the whole house whistled or sang to it - it was fine. Home 9.15 p.m. dinner, bed. The Cinema hall is wonderful place - huge - & I really don’t know how to explain it. It represents old Tournai & some of the buildings are painted on the walls - & others are really built of brick & stone. so where you buy your tickets inside the hall - is a small round grey stone tower - that is an exact model of the one that was in old Tournai. There are about 8 or 10 - buildings in brick or stone, making the walls - & the buildings - which would be back - down the streets are painted on the wall.

The Cathedral - I thought quite the most beautiful I have seen in France. No tawdry decorations & the stone work & sculpture are very good - The windows - beautiful old stained glass - & the organ a great joy. It is a huge place.

You remember that America sent flour to feed the Belgians? The women here have been amusing themselves during the German occupation - in embroidering the bags it was sent over in. Tournai is called the town of Art in Belgium. You know the ordinary small flour sacks - something like this They have embroidered the words - & picture in the middle & made them into all sorts of things. sheaf of corn [with line to middle of sack] The large coarse bags - they have made into floor mats -

The shop where we bought those cough lozenges - the woman told us what greedy brutes the Germans were, they swarmed into her shop in large numbers - & while she was serving one - the rest would take all they could find. She had sham packets of chocolate made - piles of them - & no real sweets at all - so when they stole - they were only the better off of so much paper & firewood.

All honour to our airmen - they did their bombing here - most scientifically - & kindly - there is hardly a house touched. The beautiful cathedral is not minus as much as one pane of glass - but by the station & the bridges! God help those who were near - they are blown to blazes.

You would have laughed yesterday morning to see sister & me crossing a temporary railway bridge - we had to go over it as our train is this side in a siding. - just beams & planks & rails, with huge gaps - looking down to the road beneath, & big enough to fall through. We had gone a little way & then suddenly both took stage fright & could not budge another inch. Then a Tommy came along & said “It’s all right, ’ere, I’ll take you.” He took my hand & I had sisters & we got over safely.

Altogether we had a very full very happy day here. I forgot to tell you some time ago - that in the Belgian tower at Calais - a Belgian spy used to hide - & signal to the invading German aeroplanes - we had our suspicions, so had a sham raid - discovered it was true - & put a French 75 shell right into the tower - to close the incident. It saved a Court Martial.

Later.             We got orders to load here & then to go to Asque(?) [Villeneuve d’Ascq] to finish. Pulled in to the Main Station at 11 o’clock. Soon after an R.E. came on the train & told us to open all our windows - as they were going to blow up a bridge - just behind us. We had hardly got them all open - when the explosion went off - & the bridge - & a mountain of smoke & muck flew up into the air - Twice they blew it up - & as we had to have our windows open - the whole train was filthy with ash - sort of stuff.

We took on at Tournai, & then stopped at [Ascq] for about 120 more. One or two seem rather poorly but on the whole they are a very convalescent load. We have 56 P.O.W.s on board - some have been in Germany over 4 years - & some only a few months. Most complain of ill treatment, & of being shockingly badly fed. The officers in charge of Camps - used to take most of the food out of their parcels from home - & send it to their families -

Our load tonight consists of 3 Chinks - 12 Frenchmen [-] 2 Germans - 56 P.O.W.s - & the rest up to nearly 600 ordinary hospital cases. The C.O. says he expects quite soon trains will be running right into Germany.

The P.O.W.s tell endless tales - They (the Germans) complain that it was the English who caused all Revolutionary Riots in Germany - that an English Dreadnought sailed into Kiel Harbour flying a red flag - & that was a signal that there was Revolution in the British Navy - & that they were to do the same. I asked our boys if they believed that of the Navy - they said “No! we knew it wasn’t true.” One of them had been working in a bakery - & he said - they put a large quantity of saw dust in the bread. He had a bit - to show me & true enough there was sawdust & quite visible sized flecks of wood too.

When the armistice was signed, the people flew flags - & decorated the place - they would not have stood another winter of war.

11th                 We left Turlington [Tourcoing??] at about tea time yesterday - were not able to leave the train all day - as they told us we might be off at any moment. Came to Lille making short stays at St. Omer & Hazebrouck -

We are supposed to be leaving at any minute for Ath [near Mons] - a place a fair way beyond Tournai. Expect to load & return straightaway.

Can’t see much of Lille from here - but it looks a big place - & not at all smashed. We are just outside at a place called St. André [-lez-Lille].

Dec 12th       We did not go out last night - left Ascq at 9.30 this morning & are now on our way to Tournai - not Ath - for a load. You may look out of the window - at the myriads of lines - & wonder why they hold us up every 1/2 hour or so to let some train pass - why can’t they send it along one of the other lines? they all look all right. They look all right, but as a matter of fact they are all wrong. The Bosche has rendered them all useless - by taking out all bolts at the junctions - & breaking off about 6 inches at the end of each length of rail. So if you look - you see the rails are like this.

These Belgians are thieves - There were many coal trucks standing alongside of us this morning - and I was simply amazed to see an army of Belgian women & children - arrive with sacks - barrows & perambulators. They climbed into the trucks, filled their sacks - & cleared off - with any amount of our coal. Two Tommies were helping them too. Our O.C. says in some places it is so bad that they keep armed guards by the coal trucks. What else of our transport do they thieve I wonder.

We went for a bit of a walk around Ascq yesterday afternoon - but it was drizzling with rain & not very enjoyable - It is a small place - sort of half village, half town - one or two good houses - but chiefly cottages. The church was a nice clean ungaudy - un-striking one. There have been 2 C.C.S.s at Ascq - but one is closing down. Not enough work for two. They are tent hospitals - not very comfortable in this weather.

Dec 13th. 3.30 a.m. I am taking the second half of the night this trip - & we are nearing Calais - which means we shall reach Boulogne - somewhere about 7 a.m.

I have just made my round of the train - quite a walk from one end to the other. There are 16 coaches in all - of which 12 are wards - 36 beds in each - although we carry more than 432 patients. In wards where we keep the stretcher patients, we sometimes have all the beds full - & a dozen stretchers on the floor - & where the wards are used for “sitters” the beds are put back - & they pack over 60 in a coach - 72 - 80 - any number.

Tonight we have a light load - only a little over 300. It is an interesting study to go along - & see them all asleep - I only wish I could draw one vision of beauty there was in the Sitters ward tonight: There they all lie - looking perfectly happy [-] most fast asleep - About 8 Frenchmen - 8 Moroccans - 1 Indian - 5 Germans - Australians many - & of course the vast majority British - You see such lots of feet sticking out everywhere & they are lying about on the floor - quite as comfortable - as if they were in a good bed.

While we were loading at Tournai– No 35 A.T. passed us also with a light load – She had been to a place on 20 miles from the German frontier.

Later – We unloaded at Wimmereux - & started off again a few hours later on a different run – this time we are bound for Montigny – a place beyond Douai. We were not allowed to leave the train this morning so spent the time waiting for her to “leave at any minute” playing ball on the railway lines – It was a change from sitting still.

There was a good Bosche train just alongside of us. A first class compartment had been broken into and wantonly torn to bits, seats & doors – racks - & glasses all smashed – The stuffing pulled out of the seats!

The night is fair - & Etaples was a wonderful sight – as we came through – the vast expanse of hut & tent encampments – all brightly lit – looked like a vast town.

The moon is shining brightly - & the sandhills & trees looked lovely.

Very dull post indeed today - & still no news of my kit or laundry! I hate the French railway people -

A trainload of Yanks passed us outside Wimereux – either a Medical or flying corps unit – with truck loads of stuff all packed – for transport – it was a whole unit on its way back to America – several of their hospitals have already gone.

Five Ambulance trains have been demobilized already - & more are to be.

I shouldn’t mind being on a train for a bit – I think.

Dec. 14th      We were at St. Pol – when we went to bed last night - & expected to wake up at our destination Montigny – To our surprise we were still moving & looking out found ourselves passing through a vast coal mining district – Sister said – “It looks like Valenciennes” – still we looked – The first name we read was “Jemappes” - & looking it up on the map – we found we were nearing Mons –

Mons we badly wanted to see – so we dressed in double quick time & watched our way through that ever famous place. It is a huge place & the station is a very big one – with myriads of platforms. All morning we spent glued to the windows, leaning out – dashing across & looking out of the other side windows. It was one long pageant of intense interest to us all. They have not had many A.Ts through & passing the villages the inhabitants line up and wave & bow to us and shout “les Anglais”. We waited quite a long time in Charleroi & we two sisters got off the train & had a good brisk walk up & down.

We passed a newly made line of trenches this side of Mons. The last the Bosche made in preparation for retreat.

At Charleroi our orders were changed & we are now on our way – via Namur & Liege to a Herbesthal – just across the German border. By that I should imagine we are to bring back repatriated prisoners.

We took on a fresh engine & crew at Charleroi & are now going at a fine swing.

Several times on our journey we have met German trains – both passenger & goods laden with refugees from Germany. In some of the Vans – women were cooking - & men & children were huddled around eating –

Lots of civilians – women – men – children – French - & British soldiers too – such long train loads - & such quaint luggage – chiefly huge bundles – like washing.

Bosche trains! Our eyes nearly ache with looking at them – We have seen hundreds today – one – quite new – was brought into Charleroi while we were there. It was clean - & empty – the Belgians cheered as it came in. One thing is very striking – Every new place we come to – the first thing we notice – British Tommies – British lorries – British R.E.s – mending the damage everywhere.

Twice we have been assailed by a Belgian – first an Officer – then a well dressed lady – asking us to take them with us – Not Much! – in any case it is not allowed.

At one stop of the train – Sister & I hopped out & were grubbing over the debris – of Bosche aeroplanes - & a destroyed ammunition train – intending to pick up a souvenir – All the shell cases were badly scorched - & not much are - & we were still busily culling when Mr. Lowery – our M.O. yelled to us that the train was off. It takes a little time to get up speed - & we chased & caught her quite easily – but it was just a bit thrilling.

Beyond Mons – also beyond Charleroi – there are large areas – of hundreds upon hundreds – of ammunition trucks all blown up! Never was such a scene of desolation – there had been supply trains – ammunition trains – empty trains all standing there - & when the Bosche found the game was up – he destroyed them. It is the only part of the district that shows devastation, but there is past description & complete. For instance one supply – a very very long one of over 100 trucks, was burnt right out – the only thing even showing what it had been was a truck laden with steel helmets - & they were all burnt & twisted.

There are shells by the 1000 – some lying about unexploded – whole tracks – are blown up sleepers, rails - & all standing on end.

At three different stations it was the same. - & must have been a very wonderful sight while they were burning - Our O.C. says they must have destroyed about a million pounds worth of materiel. There is still some good ammunition lying about. We are through Namur now - another big place - & fine station - from the train these places all look much the same style - but the scenery was beautiful just through Namur - on one side high - beautifully overgrown rocks - on the other the river - gay with barges - Some way further back we were much interested in the barges - Some very heavily laden - being towed by a man - wearing a sort of harness across his chest - & straining all he could - & then managing about half a mile an hour - Some were drawn by 2 women - some by 2 boys - All were decorated with flags & looked gay. At Charleroi we saw any number of destroyed German aeroplanes.

At the moment we are passing an orchard – with a large number of German field guns in. At Namur there were lots of German guns – big ones – festooned with moss - & stuff that looked like green seaweed – minnewerfen – trench mortars – all sorts.

All round Douai, the line was very dicky, every bridge – blown to bits - & the train had to go over * //Boulogne, St Omer, - St Pol, Arras, Douai, Valenciennes, Mons, Charleroi, Namur, Liège // temporary plank bridges – the train seemed to be going dead slow & very gently all through that part - & it was very bumpy – that was the worst knocked about part of all.

Those places named a few lines above – are the way we have come – Sister was reading them off the map - & I quickly jotted them down as she read. We are waiting at Liège now – an official has been along & taken the number & letter of each coach & the number of the train – as this is the last big station before we cross the frontier. I think – at least the O.C. thinks we are the first A.T. to do this trip - & all along the people wave & shout Vive l’Angleterre etc.

There is a N.Z. Division stationed along this line - & I have gazed & gazed – not to miss seeing dear old Taff – but no luck - & no French grey stars on a black back ground on the back of the coat so far. I must say – the Germans have not spoiled these places – they all look in perfect order – the people look well fed & in good health - & the shops – all we could see from the train seem to be well stocked - & the gardens are full of vegetables. Even the refugees from Germany did not look at all bad - & were neatly dressed – our Tommies & the French soldiers looked the hungriest.

At Charleroi – there was one poor old Belgian man – who made me feel very sad – He was so polite to us - & looked frightfully thin & ill – I do hope to goodness he has enough to eat. The line along here is strewn with Bosche refuse – tin hats - & tins that have held food stuffs. The scenery has been very beautiful this side of Charleroi - & today – altogether has been a great joy ride to us all – We are 40 kilometres from our destination Herbesthal[41].

We have just been told that we are the first A.T. this side of Mons - & there is a whole lot of red tape to be arranged. We go on two stations further – then are handed over to the Germans – either take a German engine & crew – or they take on a German pilot – I thought from the excitement of the people we must be the first Ambulance train.

It was very interesting to look out at Liège - & to remember that it was the guns of her Forts – that first held the Germans up in 1914 – Held them up for nearly a week & so gave time for the French to mobilize - & our men to come out.

It was interesting at Mons – to remember that in this war – it was the first place we lost & the last we won – of course – Mons has been the site of a great deal of fighting in other wars too – hasn’t it?

For miles & miles & miles– we seem to have been passing through coal & iron mining districts – & there are wonderful overhead railways & all sorts of clever machinery things – a bit like it was at Jaegersfontein – where we saw over the diamond mine there.

17th                It has been a long & weary journey for the poor patients – 2 whole days – but with luck we should be at Boulogne in an hour now.

They took us across the border – just into Germany – left us there half the night then took us back to Pepinster, I think– where we loaded - & have since been trying to get back –

At Mons – we were diverted – owing to a smash on the line - & the way we came was a single line – so we were constantly held up - & at one place we had to wait while they repaired the lines – and at another we waited & waited – until at last Mr. Lowery walked along to the signal control to ask what was in front of us – found 2 Jocks having a nice little tea party with two French girls - & we were quickly on our way again –

At Lillers we stopped 2 hrs for coal - & we have come by Ath – Tournai – La Bassée – Bovaise [??]– Lillers – Hazebrouck– St O – etc – can’t remember the order – The La Bassée canal is beautiful – the place - is no more - absolutely every building is to the ground - station too - I thought of the little tailor at Tréport who altered my coat - who had a large business in La Basée - & hoped his house had escaped - no luck.

We are carrying lots of P.O.W.s - from German hospitals - poor things! they look like raisins - skin & bone - their thighs are not so big round - nearly as my arm. There wounds are foul - & their backs in a horrible state of bed sores -

Their digestions, so upset by starvation they can only take little drinks - & tiny little bits of bread & butter - or jam - They can’t digest meat. Their foreheads & noses look huge - the rest of the face & neck - are sunk right in. They had their dressings done once in four days.

We have several frac. femurs - all the extension they had - was a couple of bricks tied on the leg - no splint at all & consequently their legs are in very bad shape - & short.

Thank Goodness we are stopping - Boulogne at last!

We have a suicide officer on board - poor thing as he went so far it is a pity he did not finish it - His brain is oozing - & he is paralised all down one side.

We are bringing a sister down - from a C.C.S. - she has orders for the base & this seemed the only way to get here there.

Sir Douglas Haig’s train passed us at Pepinster [in Belgium, west of Verviers, on the confluency of the rivers Vesdre and Hoëgne.] yesterday - It is a fine train indeed - We heard he had been off the rails the day before.

I noticed many N. Zealanders at Huy [located in the Belgian province of Liège, Huy lies along the river Meuse] - & asked a chance one if he knew Taff - He did not - but has promised to find him & give him a message from me - they are all together there. The Sgt Major who came over from N.Z. is a patient on the train. Pierce. I was talking to a New Zealand boy through the window - & when I came in the S.M. said - Excuse me - were you asking for a machine gunner? I said I was - he said “I trace a likeness is it - Appleton?” then he told me what a fine set of men they were - said Taff was thin - but hard as nails - he thought very highly of Taff. It was very tantalizing to be so near the boy - & yet so far - We didn’t know we were calling there - or that his Division was there. They are supposed to leave for Germany today.

When our prisoners asked for more food they were told - it was England’s fault - that there was a complete blockade - Bravo the Navy - they did their job - very thoroughly.

I asked one man - what he knew of the war news - he said - when there was talk of an armistice being signed - he thought we must be winning because - one day the German orderlies were talking about it - & ended by taking down a big calendar with the Kaiser’s picture on - & tore it to bits & trampled on it -

You should see the Prisoners who are up & dressed They are not so underfed looking - but their dress! Russian trousers! Belgian coats & waistcoats - French - German - civilian - any old cap! They look like so many Bil Sykes [Charles Dickens’ character??] -

They say - the soup they had was only cabbage water - & they though themselves very lucky - if they found any little bits of anything floating in it - The German civilians - they say - look absolutely starved & wretched - are wearing clothes made of paper - & wooden shoes.

This trip has been very interesting - but very long - Friday to Tuesday -

The night has been brilliantly moonlight - good as day.

Our R.E.s have an endless task - it looks - in repairing miles & miles & miles of broken railways -

At Ath - Jerry had evidently meant to spoil the whole system the line was blown up by mines every 20 yds in one place. There were about 20 lines abreast & every one was blown up - great deep mine craters - & the rails all twisted & broken - The one we were on was the only repaired one - & we had to go dead slow - just on plank bridges over the mine craters -

The bridge they were blowing up at Tournai is quite down - & looks a ponderous wreck. I can’t tell you the number of big - roadway bridges that are reduced to vast heaps of wreckage on each bank - & the number of iron bridges that we see over the canal like this

We are busy in odd moments making paper roses for the Orderlies Christmas decorations. We may be where we can’t buy flowers, & anyway that cost nearly a franc apiece -

Dec. 18th We are being punished today - for our sins of yesterday. Our O.C. had a bit of a row with the R.T.O. [Railway Transport Officer] at Boulogne - & our train was not ready to start at its appointed time - consequently we lost our “marche” in the traffic - and are being constantly held up - Yesterday Sister & I went into Boulogne - & I did a few necessary shoppings - lunched at the Hotel Meurice - & were back at 2 p.m.

We are taking 6 Canadian Sisters to Nos 1 & 2 Canadian C.C.S.s. One is at Huy - & where the other is - we none of us knows. At the moment we are waiting in Tournai station - at this rate we shall be about 3 days on the outward journey.

The day is bitterly cold - & raining a little. Had a nice mail yesterday - parcel & letters from Mother - dozens of other letters - & word of the gramophone - it is on its way to Boulogne from Tréport.

19th 9 a.m.    Waiting for breakfast. At 3 this morning we stopped at Charleroi & took on a fresh engine - & a vastly better driver - & after that we made good pace - The country a little past that looked lovely in the moonlight - the canal a river (River Sempre [added later. Ed]) - I don’t know which - very full to overflowing - What a blessing there is no fighting for our fellows to suffer from the drenched & flooded country! Through - Trooz - La Brouck - along the winding road for miles - we saw the New Zealand - artillery - on its way to Germany. There were infantry men standing about - & in the houses as if they were billetted there - & not yet under weigh for Germany - I waved hard - on the chance of brother Taff being anywhere near - & reading our large “42 A.T.”

They looked fine men, & made a good show.

The last we saw were within a few kilometres.

Later Here we are across the border again! & everywhere - are the square heads - Some wearing white armlets - a sign that they are in favour of the Revolution I believe.

There are girl engine cleaners - dressed - in ordinary mens clothes - dirty old trousers & boots & coats & caps - none of them look the least bit hungry.

A troop train has just passed us - a German train & engine - & a German driver - crew - & guard - All the vans & coaches are packed with laughing - irresponsible British officers & Tommies - enjoying themselves.

Later We have spent the whole day at Herbesthal waiting for an engine to take us to Cologne - we have not been dull - In the morning I wrote - then we went for a short walk along the lines - not daring to go too far - in case the engine came on - After lunch we turned out our 6 Canadian visitors & took them for a brisk walk - up & down the line - One of them had a camera - one film left - & we had great fun - having a snapshot taken. After that Sister Sumner & I set to work in earnest to make paper flowers for Christmas - then we changed & made ourselves smart & went to tea with the Canadians - Mr. Lowery came too - the O.C. went for a long sleep. The Canadian Sisters are a cheery crew - & we had a gay tea party. There is word now - that we are to be taken on at 7-7 tonight. It annoyed me, the other day - to see the Belgians - bold facedly stealing sacks & sacks of coal from our trucks - I suppose really one is as bad as another - Tonight - I see our own Tommies are out pilfering lovely big cabbages from 2 trucks of them - German property. Fraser - the O.C.s batman even brought one in to show me - & told me they had not nearly finished yet - they had only taken 4 so far!

Another troop train went past while we were at tea - As each coach - passed our coach - which was brightly lighted - & the blinds not down - they shouted to us - & cheered loudly.

Bosches - rushed out of some of the houses - & stood gaping. Some of the N.Z. Artillery that we saw at Trooz this morning - has entered Germany - we saw some of them this evening.

20                   We lay at Herbesthal until 4 p.m. - & then were taken back to Pepinster again to load - starting loading at 6 p.m. We had a great time at Herbesthal - & I think the Germans working in offices round about have done very little work - they have been too deeply interested in all the happenings.

We could not leave the train - as we were liable to leave anytime - Every hour or two a troop train has passed on its way to Cologne.

The trains are just trucks for the Tommies & coaches for the officers. The Tommies all seemed in high feather. We always stand at our window & wave to them - & as each truck passes - they cheer like mad - & sing & wave. Some of them were waving Union Jacks - one was ringing a big bell - Some were cooking. Lots were eating - No 33 A.T. came alongside us this morning - & she has turned us down - & is doing the trip to Cologne instead of us - bad luck. Taff is due at Cologne tomorrow & we might have met - but I have left lots of messages for him - & have asked the Sister I/C of 33 - to Mother him for me - she is an old & good friend of mine.

I called to a New Zealander this morning - before I was dressed - & asked him news of Taff. He shared beds with him at Grantham - & saw him yesterday - & says he is very fit & well - It is provokingly tantalising to miss him each time. I was talking to an officer - the N. Z. E. O. [maybe NZ Evacuation Officer]. He is going to try to see that Taff gets leave whenever A.T. 42 - comes up to Cologne - He was a very charming officer & stands no nonsense from the Bosche.

He was sleeping on the floor of a hut here last night - & this morning told some people here he wanted a decent room - They said - “By the terms of the Armistice - no claim can be made on private property” - he answered - “Give me the key - & a room instantly” & he said - the key was not long in being handed to him - He loathes the Hun. So do I - they don’t look a bit repentant, or even becomingly - thin - or poor -

We all had tea with our 6 Canadians yesterday & today - we were to have had a tea party of 15 - that was including 3 Sisters & 2 M.O.s - from No 33 - but we moved out too soon - we had to transfer our Canadian sisters to No 33 - They were sad to go - nice cheery folk - they have been.

We had great fun this afternoon - An R. Op. D. engine came to take an Ambulance Train to Namur - first he hitched on to us - then the Germans - for some unknown reason - put him on to 33 - then all the staffs of both trains came out & had battle royal - each said they were to go to Cologne - Of course orders are orders - & in the end it was we who were ordered back to Pepinster - whether they will go on or not is a matter of conjecture - things are in such a muddle there.

No cooperation between Germans & this side the border.

Taff is due to entrain at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Herbesthal for Cologne.

Later                I am on night duty tonight - We have about 400 odd on board - & are to fill up at Huy in about 1/2 an hour.

Our O.C. is a deaf - old - rather inclined to the strong minded batchelor - one fad is to visit each man - ill or well - In the sitting wards - they are thick on the ground - & it is nothing to see him take one man’s card - & ask the questions of quite a different one - Like tonight - with a card in his hand he went to a fellow & said “Any diarrhea?” “No Sir” said the man angrily “Any sickness?” “No Sir” - “Any pains in the stomach?” “Put out the tongue.” “That ain’t my complaint Sir - I got a ‘ammer toe.” Then he finds he has been reading the card belonging to the next man. We have got a good engine & a good driver - & are going along at a nice pace.

That N.Z. Major I was talking to, said the Bosches had so spoiled - a huge iron foundry outside Liège - that it would take 4 years to get it ready for use again - the Hun idea - that the Belgians should be handicapped for long enough - for them to work up a big trade - the Belgians think otherwise & have arranged to take over a large German foundry - to work for themselves until the Bosches have repaired the Liège one.

21st                 I was up until 3 a.m. We made a good run - & were well through Namur when I went to bed. We stopped at Huy for a load - & to our surprise found no patients - The C.C.S. - had moved the day before - & another A.T. had taken all their patients.

We are nearly at Douai - well through Valenciennes. All the country round about - is terribly disfigured & broken. Pill boxes are wonderful things. Shells burst all round & about them - & they stay intact - About 1 1/2 or 2 yds high.

The way we are going today we go through - Douai, Arras & St. Pol. The last time I was in Arras & St Pol - they didn’t look badly hurt - I expect there will be a big difference.

So - not taking that second load - we have a fairly light convoy. One man is very ill indeed with pleurisy - which he says he caught - lying so long - cold - on his stretcher at the C.C.S. yesterday - It was a cold day. Now I must work. Write letters - do the pay sheet - etc.

We have met 6 trains on their way up the line!

The R.T.O. at Namur yesterday - told us - a tragedy happened there in the morning - A supply train was standing in a siding - & a troop train came in - reinforcements on their way up - to Cologne. The troops raided the supply train - & the R.T.O. saw a long line of them proceeding back to their train - each with a sack of something - Bread - bully - biscuits - anything that could be eaten - they took. That of course meant short rations for lots of people -

The R.T.O. had an inspiration - & walked along the troop train - shouting “All change.” - & he held the train back - out tumbled all the men - sacks & all - & he rescued a good many of them - but even so - lots of them got off with pockets bulging.

23d                 That last run was the slowest I have known - The French had taken control of the line the day before & were not quite used to it - We were about 12 hours late - & the patients overtired of their long journey. We off loaded at Wimereux - waited there an hour or two - just time for us to scuttle off & do a little shopping - then came to Étaples - where we still are.

We have just got orders to go to Tréport to take an evacuation load either to Havre or Boulogne.

Sister & I have been for a good walk & blow this afternoon – such a treat after being cooped up so long.

We looked at 24 Gen - & saw Maj. Martyn’s little hut – a dreary – awful place to live.

I went to bed early with a sore throat last night – it is living this shut up existence – not a daily walk.

24th               4 a.m. We are taking our load to Calais – which should suit us rather well – if all be well! Off load about 11 a.m. – be free for the rest of the day – have our Christmas dinner tonight – As I was walking through the train tonight I was greeted with “hullo sister” - & behold - two of my old patients! At last on their way to Blighty! I am soon going to call Sister & shall then turn in.

I saw my old No 3 – perched away on the cliff top. It looked very peaceful in the moonlight –

Christmas Day.        A happy Christmas to all.

3.30 p.m.         I am enjoying myself immensely – in a comfortable chair in the kitchen. Windows wide open - & glorious sunshine making even this wrecked – desolate – uninhabited area – beautiful. We are creeping – slowly – over some of the most fought ground in France. – that between Armentieres & Lille.

Everywhere is trenches – now kindly covered in soft green grass – dugouts – gun – emplacements – barbed wire entanglements – all of Bosche construction -. The poor trees are all standing – split - & dead. & over towards the town – is one sad chaos – of bricks & mortar – walls – even skeletons of houses – but I don’t see a roof on a single one. Nobody lives here now - & the ground will have to be cleared of all sorts of war hamper – before it can be cultivated.

We are having a very happy Christmastide. Yesterday was our day – Today is for the men. We had a very moving dinner party last night – only 4 of us – the O.C., Mr. Lowery, Sister Sumner, & I. Would you like to know the menu? Soup – Julienne – Fish Fried plaice Roast porc Fowl Roast chicken – Sweets Xmas pudding – mince pies – jelly & blanc mange. Dessert Coffee. Drinks Champagne, the gift of the O.C. After a long & cheery meal – we played bridge & ended the evening – 11-45 – by dancing in the kitchen – to the music of the gramophone.

- We were at Fontainette – just outside Calais - & expected to be left there over Christmas Day. Sister & I got up early - & went out in search of a Church service – 8 o’clock – this morning – We found a very nice one – in the Church Army Hut – held by a fighting man – Parson in China in peacetime – but he is in an infantry Regiment – fighting – in wartime – a very nice man. – Going back to the train – Sister said – “She’s not there - & sure enough – she was not where we had left her - & we thought she had gone & left us behind – then we saw an engine & train higher up the line – Cheers! No 42! But between us & her was a goods train about a mile long – we were going to climb under it, but it began to move – so we hopped on to it - & jumped out the other side - & flew to our own train - & found – that the engine had come on a few minutes after we started out - & that she was ordered to leave at 8 a.m. (I thought myself I felt a little bump – like an engine coming on – just as we were leaving – but didn’t think they would take us out on Christmas Day).

After breakfast – we dismissed our staff – 2 cooks - & 2 batmen – for the whole day & we are running our own mess – hence am able to sit in the kitchen & enjoy myself this afternoon – Now that lunch is cleared & washed up.

Sister & I helped decorate the men’s tables this morning - & their coach looks really fine. When they sat down to dinner – We – went in a procession - O.C. me Mr. Lowery – Sister Sumners – along to see them. The O.C. made a most kind & appropriate address to them - & the senior man responded then three hearty cheers - & we left them to it – We are halting now at a place – that sounds like Berenges – (Tommies’ pronounciation) – You can see quite well where the Station buildings & platforms use to be but there is not a soul in sight – nor a sound – I suppose we are waiting for some other train to get out of our way ahead of us.

We are bound for Tournai.

26th               Christmas was a great success – with our men – They had a splendid dinner – followed by a whist drive – in the afternoon.

In the evening they gave a concert – to which we were all invited. Really it is wonderful – what can be done in a train –

All their festivities were held in “P” coach – which is at other times a ward of 36 beds. – Some of the beds had been unhinged - & made into a long table – down the centre. The other beds were folded up – (like our table outside the drawing room at Sea Valley [the family home in Deal which I have visited. I have some photos somewhere] – only up instead of down). For the concert – a stage had been erected at one end of the coach - & draw curtains borrowed from the ward – where they are used to divide – the half used for Officers – from the other half used for – other ranks.

The rule of the concert – was that every one had to do something – Some say well – some very badly – some did card tricks – “The thing that to me was quite funniest was the Minstrel troop called - “Cpl. Fox & his lunies”. They were dressed anyhow - pyjamas - cooks - white drills - anyhow - faces well blacked - one - our cook - played the big drum - a muffled coal hammer - on a large round tea tray - another - the symbols - had - a couple of metal ash trays - which he banged together - The small drum - a 7 lb. biscuit tin - & a couple of pieces of fire wood - another beat a huge poker - which was hung up - with a small iron used for lifting the round off the stove - another beat a gong - & Cpl. Fox conducted - Behind the scenes - the gramophone played - some go[o]ey piece - & the band played to the tune of it. Cpl Fox - was funny & the whole thing had every one weak with laughter - at the end - some one - seized a big bunch of paper roses on prickly stalks - which we had made for their decoration & presented them to the conductor. Cpl Fox is really cleaver & later recited a poem made up by himself - on “42 A.T.” - Hits at everyone - Q.M.S. - all the M.O.s [N.C.Os – Non Commissioned Officers] & of course - the officers & Sisters did not escape. Beer - lemonade & sandwiches 1/2 inch thick were handed round - but we had dined too recently & well - to be able to join in. At the end we had a speech by the Chairman - Cpl. Hunt - one by the O.C. - & finished up with “The Soldiers farewell” [-] 2 Christmas Carols - Auld Lang Syne - (all holding hands - crossways) - & God Save the King.

As good luck would have it - the train was still during the whole concert - & only moved on - at 11.45 - just when we were singing God save the King.

We woke at Tournai - at - 9 a.m. & still not called - I got up - cleaned my own boots - & risked a brisk walk - along the canal - came back at 10 - & found breakfast nearly ready. We were told we should be in garage all day - so - we went for a lovely walk in glorious sunshine in the morning. In the afternoon it came up wet - & we slept well. In the evening we went to the Cinema - you know - in that fine hall - I told you about where we went to Service - first time we were here.

27th               Still no orders - so we are still here. It is a filthy rainy day - I have ironed all my clothes - & written all my letters, & propose to do a little shopping later - if there is anything cheap enough to buy - Fancy! eggs - 1 franc 20 centimes each.

Do you remember reading about a very famous German Spy - who in 1916 lived in America - & used to send knowledge through from Germany to England & England to Germany? Our American M.O. was telling me how he was finally caught.

He always sent his papers a different way - one time in a box of cigars - next in a case of fruit - & so on.

After much searching & trouble - the American secret service men suspected him - & explained to his girl clerk - all about it. At last one time she found that he packed a tin of documents in a case of tins of fruit - the case was one of a hundred - all looking the same. She kept her eyes on it - & wondered how - she was to mark it without being suspected. She was sitting on it - eating her lunch & thinking hard - when Van Pepin came in. He was a great man for flirting & came & sat by her - & she encouraged him - During their little flirtation - she took an indelible pencil & drew a heart on the case she was sitting on. He took the pencil from her & drew a Cupids arrow through the heart. Lunch over each went their own way. The girl went straight to the secret service men - & told them the case with the documents was being shipped to Liverpool that afternoon - It was one of a hundred - & was marked - with a heart - & Cupid’s arrow - The cables were soon busy - & the boat was met by Secret Service men - who helped unload - the box was found - & Van Pepin trapped.

[On 3 January, 1919, Miss Appleton went on a two-week leave to England, apparently for only the second time since arriving in France in 1914. She returned to France and worked on the staff of the Matron in Chief at Boulogne from March until December, 1919, involved in the demobilisation of the Nursing Services. She was made an Officer of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire in June, 1919. She was finally demobilised on 22 December, 1919, when she returned to her family home in England.]

 

Poems given to Sister Appleton—probably in 1918


ENGLAND
Dear Land of my birth the land of the free,
Land that holds all that I cherish,
Land that I dream of over the sea,
Fair land may thy enemies perish.
By the sea thou art guarded from all thy foes,
And thy navy with skill harbours them close,
So that freedom still reigns in that blessed land,
And armies are formed while schemes are planned
Thy Empires great, thy colonies splendid,
And of their best they have presented,
So, when the Huns great power is ended,
In greater unity we are blended.

DAY DREAMS
When on my bed in thoughtful mood,
I lie with stiffened limb secured,
My days from boyhood to the man
Pass like a vision sweet to scan.

I see myself in trousers short,
Whistling a tune and caring naught,
Trudging to school down country lane,
Happy in sunshine, happy in rain.

Then as a taller lad and swanky,
In breeches, showing legs so lanky,
Beginning to think of serious things,
Of falling in love and buying of rings,

The girls were sweet & young & dainty,
I swore to them my love in plenty,
The sweet young things, they soon forgot,
And so did I, why care a jot.

Next in the world alone I’m landed,
Hard work and toil, but, when I’m handed
The money earned I feel quite proud,
Oh quite a man, and dress quite loud.

Then Britain called her sons to war,
To stop the rush of Prussian boar,
To foreign lands I sailed one day,
Equipped quite ready for the fray.

For months in trenches drear & cold,
I’ve helped my comrades young and old.
To hold our line by day and night,
Sometimes so quiet, sometimes strife.

A bursting shell, and here I am,
With leg outstretched but half a man,
Hoping and praying the time will come
When doctor says “England for her son”.

[The Sausage]
The sausage is a thin one,
The outside is of skin,
The inside are the promises
Made by Kaiser Bill.

‘Twas first the march to Paris,
Through little Belgium’s land,
But France was waiting steadily
With Britain near at hand.

Then Calais’ port was promised,
With bragging great and loud.
At Ypres he was shaken
For British hold their ground.

Then off to Russia marched he,
Oh Petrograd is ours,
‘Gainst Michael’s wily army,
He crashed with all his powers

But Petrograd still safely
Stands free from Prussian rule,
For Germany’s army faltered
Outwitted and befooled.

I really think it’s Verdun
We’ll have this time said Bill
But 75’s and Frenchmen,
Have made his host so thin.

The sausage really bulges
With promises nothing more,
Still German people feed on,
The same thing o’er & o’er.

We hope they’ll see the folly,
Of playing losing game,
And let us all be jolly,
With peace & joy again.

To Sister Appleton
From a grateful patient
J. Cooper, 2827, A. Coy.,
1/8 R[oyal] Warwicks



[1]

Collecting Zone. Diagram representing the distribution of the medical units. The plain circles are regimental aid posts. The circles with a dot in the contra are advanced dressing stations, and those with a cross are main dressing stations of field ambulances. The circles with a vertical line through them are rest camps and other annexes to main dressing stations. The upper oblongs are a couple of casualty clearing stations connected by road with the field ambulances and with the base by a railway line and canal traversing the evacuating zone. The oblong below (S.H.) is a stationary hospital in the evacuating zone. Opposite it is an advanced depot of medical stores (A.D.).

[2]  Probably Sir Anthony Alfred Bowlby, 1855-1929, who served in Army Medical Service, 1914-1919 and had a long-standing connection with St. Batholomew’s Hospital, where Miss Appleton trained.

[3] Large artillery shells. The power and the large amount of dark smoke given off by big shell explosions were reminiscent of then-current black heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.

The trenches may have been eight feet deep, but the men in them never felt safe from the Whizbangs, Minnies, Jack Johnsons, Rum Jars, and Coal Boxes, whose ingenious nicknames masked their deadly purpose.

-Vimy by Pierre Berton

[4] Probably Sir Anthony Alfred Bowlby, mentioned earlier.

[5] This could be Sir William Arbuthnot-Lane, 1856-1943, a Scottish surgeon of note.

[6] Miss Appleton’s elder brother, Fred, 1873-1963.

[7] Odd that the 12th and last Earl of Cassilis died in 1846. One wonders who this Earl may be?

[8] The British will launch the Battle of Loos on 25 September. It will not be successful.

[9] Miss Anderson’s brother Fred never did acquire a place as a Chaplain to the Army.

[10] The Battle of Loos began. It continued fitfully until 13 October.

[11] The Battle of Loos was the British component of a larger assault by the Entente, the Third Battle of Artois.

[12]  Sydney Edward Appleton (1882-1963), Miss Appleton’s younger brother.

[13] Miss Appleton’s older brother, Walter Rowland (Bud) (1875-1962)

[14] Miss Appleton’s elder sister, Mabel (1871-1954)

[15] Edward Appleton (1831-1897) was a Trinity pilot who died in an accident at sea.

[16] Miss Appleton refers favourably to Robert Chambers, but on 20 October 1915 she noted that he had been killed.

[17] Bishop Gwynne is also mentioned as the Bishop of Khartoum in this journal.

[18] Miss Appleton’s service record indicates that she moved to Abbeville, probably associated to the Nurses’ Hostel, on 21 Feb 1917. Her journal for that period of the War is missing.

[19] Dame Emma Maud McCarthy was the Matron-in-Chief

[20] Could this be the Restaurant des Vieux Plats at 2, rue Paul-Aubourg?

[21] The KING has been graciously pleased to give directions for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, for services rendered in connection with Military Operations in the Field, to be dated the 1st January, 1916.

Lieutenant-Colonel George Abraham Moore, M.D., Royal Army Medical Corps.

[22] Miss Appleton will receive her own Royal Red Cross (First Class), gazetted on 1 January 1918.

[23] Actually, Miss E. M. Denne was honoured with an R.R.C. in the New Year’s Honours of January 1917.

[24] Elsewhere, the Battle of Verdun began and would continue until December, 1916, ten months later and the longest battle of the war, ultimately defended by the French at great cost to both sides.

[25] Princess Helena Victoria was the daughter of Princess Augusta Victoria, who had married Prince Krisian of Schleswig-Holstein. Her brother, Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, served with the Prussian Army.

[26] Trench mortar bomb.

[27] Family records maintain that Miss Appleton was 38 this day, born in 1878; however, she mentions earlier (9 May) in this journal that she anticipated her 39th birthday.

[28] Russian Brusilov offensive in Carpathia nearly knocks Austria-Hungary out of the war.

[29] Miss Appleton’s mother, Eliza (1842-1922).

[30] Miss Appleton’s sister, Minnie (1869-1947).

[31] Included on loose leaves in this journal:

Pilgrims of The Night

When you’re a little Army Corps.
On your body forming fours.
Allways on a night attack.
Making charges up your back.
Till you shout with all your might.
Gott strafe the Pilgrims of The Night.
You can pick them out in batches.
You can burn them out with matches.
You can kill them by the score.
But you’ll find there’s allways more.
You can scratch yourself to pieces.
Then you’ll find you stock increases,
Though hundreds you may kill.
You will find there’s hundreds still,
For they hide behind each other.
And they are good at taking cover.
And they have an awful bite.
And a shocking appetite.
There are families in dozens.
Uncles, Mothers, sisters, cousons.
And they have there married quarters.
Where they rear there Sons and Daughters.
And they take a lot [of] catching.
Allso cause a lot of scratching.
When you’re getting off to sleep.
Then there’re forming up two deep.
When you’re in the land of nod.
Then there’re forming up in squad.
And you’ll find it most annoying.
When the sections start deploying.
Till at last there comes a day.
When you throw your shirt away.
And you would cast your trousers to[o].
If they would only let you do.
And adopt the ancient style.
Wearing nothing but a smile.
When you get a clean shirt on.
You may think that they have gone.
But with sorrow you will learn.
That like Russians they return.
Reinforced from far and near.
To attack you in the rear.

Pte. D. J. Dennis 4213
C. Company
6th Buffs
No 1 Annex D. General Hospital
B. E. F.
France

[32] Kaiser Wilhelm’s mother was Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria. He was a cousin of King George V of England, who reigned throughout the War.

[33] Dec 17th he did get over it & is now on his way home to Australia.

[34] Miss Appleton’s youngest brother, Alfred James (Taff) (1887-1963), emigrated to New Zealand in 1908, serving in the New Zealand Artillery during the War.

[35] Miss Appleton was posted to Abbeville in February, 1917. She apparently spent two months from August to October, 1917, at 45 C.C.S., but was otherwise in Abbeville for more than a year until June, 1918.

[36] The German ambassador to Russia, Count Wilhelm von Mirbach was murdered on 6 July, 1918. As a result of his assassination, the German government made increased demands on the Soviet Russians, and ended all hope for cordial relations between the German and Soviet governments. A more influential person, Vladimir Lenin, barely escaped with his life from an assassination attempt on 30 August, 1918.

[37] Warilda. Steamship, 7713 tons. Built 1912. A.S.S. Co. Torpedoed and sunk while acting as a hospital ship, in the English Channel, 3 August 1918. One hundred and twenty lives lost.

[38] Haig’s forces stormed the Hindenburg Line between 27 Sep and 17 Oct, breaking through at several points.

[39] Miss Appleton was with 45 Casualty Clearing Station in Achiet-le-Grand during the summer of 1917.

[40] War Emu may have been an ammunition ship. She was reamed Tritonia in 1919 and was lost in 1929 at Buenaventura, Colombia, when a cargo of gunpowder exploded.

[41] On the German/Belgian frontier near Cologne.