Edith Elizabeth Appleton Diaries - Volume 2 Part 1
[N.B.: These pages have been proof read but we expect to add useful footnotes at some point.]
This volume of the diary included 4 loose sheets of hastily written notes in pencil which we have added below the entry for each date. They cover the period 1st August to 21srt October.
July 25th. 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 [Poperinge]. & the two G. 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. 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.
Miss McC [Miss McCarthy?] 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’c 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.
Rain & wind all day. Went over hosp. [ital] fine place well run.
Chilly under canvas. Hear our hosp is in flames. If so – let’s hope
the M. Os 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.
No orders. Walked to St.O [St Omer]. 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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 5th. Walked to Arques with Miss Denton after lunch - tea there - back by car - The Q.M. & S.S. Riley came from Bailleul - brought our letters & the news that all is calm there - Bombs dropped on Hazebrouck - The other two C.C.S. at Bailleul are not keeping patients - just dress them & send them on –]
[From loose sheets of notes for: 6. We refugees picniced on a Common at the back of Sir J F’s house]
[From loose sheets of notes for: 7th. We all went to St O - saw the damage done in the Rue St Bertin]
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 hosp[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.
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.
Many Happies to Fred. 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.
We are taking in – not many so far. Guns going all day. Generals
Plummer [Plumer] and Porter and a few others called.
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.
[August] 14th Evacuated nearly all patients. Had 1/2 day off duty. Spent it at Mt. des Cats with Miss C. delightful sunny day – splendid view all over Pop [Poperinge], Ypres, Vlamertinge – 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.
[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.
[August] 16 We had 4 Belg [Belgians] 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
[August] 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
[August] 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.
[August] 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
[August] 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.
[August] 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.
All leave stopped: Submarine making itself a nuisance. Off in
[From loose sheets of notes for: 22nd. Early service - quiet day. All leave stopped - reported submarine in ships way.]
23rd. Yesterday was the clearest day on record through the War.
The men in our observation balloon discovered 3
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.
[August] 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 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.
[August] 26. 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.
27. 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.
[August] 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. 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.
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 call – “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
[August] 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.
[August] 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 – The 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 bare [base] ball match at No. 8. today which I hope to dodge. I would rather learn lace tha 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.
[September] 3rd .
.1 a.m. Three Sisters got their marching orders today – Tully & Coulter for No. 8 Gen – Rouen – Charlesworth for No. 3. Gen Letrepore [No 3 General Hospital at Le Tréport]. 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
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 is concerned but he 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[eringe] yesterday – they say the big church is a good deal knocked about - & on an average – 1 in 3 houses - 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.
4:15am: 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.
[September] 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.
[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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 5th. Miss Clement arrived in exchange for Charlesworth.]
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 – by 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.
[September] 7th. Our 8 patients tonight all comfortable - Did shopping with Miss C 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 [sic] cabinet - & about 7 inches of lace in the night.
[September] 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 & bed. Latham called.
[September] 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.
[September] 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.
[September] 12th. Busy night. Some quite badly
wounded people in.
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.
[September] 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 off 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.
[September] 15th. Nothing fresh. 3 concerts in town - I went to
none from choice –
[September] 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 - I think he will like the work
[From loose sheets of notes for: 17th. Town to be closed for 10 days - for the passage of troops.]
[From loose sheets of notes for: 19th. Miss McCarthy
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.
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
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.
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.
[September] 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.
[September] 25th. Tonight has been quite a revelation 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.
Very busy night - extra nurse on night duty
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. The wounded we have are not
nearly so bad as those we had from Hill 60. Perhaps the worst have gone
to Merville and Sillars [?] & places down South. The C. O. asked for my
particulars at the office yesterday - I suppose it means a move soon.
We took in about 20 Prussian wounded last night - great strong clean looking creatures they are too!
[September] 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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 29th. German aeroplanes very busy all day - none hit]
[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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 31st. [No such date! - Ed] We hear tonight that 3 Divisions of the French cavalry & all have broken through the G lines in the Champagne district. The French have taken 3 lines of trenches at Souchez - & we have done well - & the Russians too - work slack again.]
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.
|"....when the intestine is like a badly damaged inner tube of a bicycle - with tears & holes all along it. "|
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. & 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 mins 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
wks 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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 16th. We had rather a busier taking in day - some bad abdominals - operated on - one doing badly - one query -
I went to Canadian Service at the theatre.]
[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.
Busy day – 3 cases in the theatre, the last a very young Officer –
about 18 - with his poor head – cracked - like a nut
[From loose sheets of notes for: 19th. Fairly busy. 3 cases in theatre. 1 officer [
nephew] head - died 12 hrs later.]
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.
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.
[From loose sheets of notes for: 21. Two head cases in theatre
Two big explosions somewhere near this afternoon - our men testing bombs - some one says.
Canadian concert in aid of British prisoners Miss Hutchinson & I went. They took £60.
[Two addresses - presumably relations of patients - written perpendicular to the other notes:]
Mrs Ethel Wilson Field House - Home Church Lane Beverley Yorks -
Thomas Cooper abdominal Mrs. Cooper 29 Wilbert Lane Beverley Yorkshire -]
[October] 22nd. 1 case in theatre this evening – tidying up a leg which had been blown off. Letter from J. H. C. Not off – did not take in many. No news.
Quiet day – one op. trephine – fairly hopeful case.
Off 2 to 6 – Went for lovely walk along Neuve Eglise Rd with Miss Hutch[inson].
Wrote to Madge. Very young Officer admitted this evening very
badly torn & wounded in a painful part of his anatomy at present heavily
under morphia– 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[eringe] 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 – 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 ½ 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.
[Should be 27th as the next date is 28th?]
We took in not many – one head case too bad to operate on who died in
about 1 hour.
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 [sic] 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.
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 Vlammertinghe [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.
Anniversary of the Passing of a Good Man - our dear Father.
Our two abdominals died in the night. One was Lord George Sanger’s [http://www.berkshirefamilyhistorysociety.com/journal/Sep2000/Sep2000OWhatACircus.htm] 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.
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 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 [known as Mesen in 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.
[There is a very faint pencil sketch of this scene between the text here but not clear enough to reproduce.]
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 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.
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.Os & 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. Not come yet. Capt. M. R. T. on leave tomorrow. Mr. Leach has gone to his regiment R. Scots. Hutchinson on night duty visa [sic] 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[November] 7th. Little abdominal boy died quite peacefully at midnight. Quiet day. Went to 7o’c 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.
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.
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 [Khartoum] 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.
[November] 14th. Bishop Gwynne 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.
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 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. 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. Hosp No 1, Etretat. Constable & Bond from No 8 are going too. A tremendous bombardment is going on tonight – sounds like continuous heavy thunder.
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.
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.