Edith Elizabeth Appleton Diaries - Volume 2 - Part 2
[N.B.: These pages have been proof read but we expect to add useful footnotes at some point.]
[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’ Hosp. Nurse & one of our batmen who was my patient at St. O. last winter.
Never spent such a calm week – for a long time – not much work to do –
have slept well eaten well - & walked a good deal.
[November]29th. 4 pts 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 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 [see drawing and text below] 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 mate [sic]."
There is little to say about the sturdy 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.
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.
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.
[December] 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.
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.
[December] 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 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.
[December] 19th. Letters from Lil & Hilda – to say their parcels arrived safely. Had the ½ day off. Went with Wood & Burnett to Benouville [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.
21. Même chose. News of
convoy coming – during the night.
[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.
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
[December] 25. Happy Xmas all!!
[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.
Have a man in who was in the attack against Hullock [Hulluch – East
of Bethune] where Robert 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.
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.
[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.
[January] 3rd. 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.
[January] 5th. 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
[January] 6th. Letters from Mother & Miss Congleton. Hear I have to go on as “Night Super” on Saturday.
[January] 7th. Large convoy in. I had 64 patients.
[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. The
lunch is intensely interesting, too. Kitchen, a wonderful array of
highly polished brass & copper. Upstairs is quite a museum of curious
[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.
[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.
[January] 14th. Quiet night – in a way - Col. Moore is in the Honours List. Has been made C.M.G. 5 matrons & 36 Sisters have got R. R. C. Am sorry Miss Denne has not. [Ed: Well she did in 1917; see: [http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME058-1917/page007-volume58-6thjanuary1917.pdf] 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 Benouville 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.
[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.
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 Hosp. &
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.
[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.
[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’c[lock] 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.
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 [illustration: “KIMBERLEY”] that they painted over - the letters are spaces. Most unheard of places amongst them.
Kimberley place name
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.
Cliff. 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
[January] 28th. 18 nights done – only thing of interest – Started a new lace pattern like this:
– very dark night, raining now.
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.
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.
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’c. so we shall
probably be much busier tomorrow.
Feb 1st. Convoy came.
No very serious cases. About 5 on the S. I. list (seriously ill).
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.
[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.
Quiet night – no excitement so far.
[February] 6th. Quiet night - glorious walk - toute seule - this morning along the Canteen Road
[February] 7. Quiet night. Lovely walk - alone. Fécamp Rd. found no primroses, but very pretty ivy, gorse - & periwinkle. Wrote letters.
[February] 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.
[February] 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
[February] 11th. Told to take over No 3 Casino tomorrow
[February] 12th. Came off night duty this morning. Am taking Ritchie-Thomson [Ritchie-Thompson?] ward. Casino 3 & 4. Convoy coming tomorrow, so probably we shall all be called early. No letters.
[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.
[February] 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.
[February] 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 Blanquet! [ex-Hotel
in Etretat] 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.
[February] 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.
[February] 18th. No convoy - storm continues - we are all dead beat.
[February] 19th. News of convoy in early morning, all to get up early.
[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
[February] 21. 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.
[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.
[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.
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.
[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.
[March] 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.
[March] 12th. Too much sadness to write about, besides being dead beat.
[March] 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 - - - -.” “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.
[March] 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.
[March] 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!
[March] 16th. 3.15 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!
[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.
[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 at11
o’c - & 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.
[March] 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 Benouville in the rain – picked primroses – they are hanging from the banks like yellow tufts now & never seem to get any fewer – very pretty. At Benouville, 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
[March] 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.
[March] 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 foster 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 Thomson [Ritchie-Thompson] coming back - to her room from night duty. Bugle - get up.
[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.
[March] 27th. 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.
[March] 28. Thomas has not had a good day - but seems
inclined to sleep tonight. My 3rd 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.
[March] 29th. 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.
[March] 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!
[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, anenomies etc.
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
Some of the glowing coals in my fire”. Very weird but it is just
like them –
I am looking
after a sick V.A.D. tonight – an elderly woman – the image of Hartigan
who has traveled & 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.
[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.].
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.
[April] 4th. To think! I may be going on leave in 2 weeks or so - No news.
[April] 5th. [But written as 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.
[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.
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. who told us a car was coming from Étretat to meet the mail boat (Smith returning from leave ). 3 o’c. 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.
[April] 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 MO [CMO?]. - 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.
[April] 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 Oud Bob [Owd Bob]- & a French book
- Lunch in bed - (Madame will cook me something nice) - then get up &
walk to Gonville [Gonneville] with Constable.
[April] 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 Hilda 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.
[April] 14. All leave stopped - 10 Australians - sorry – Austr i lians - arrived.
[April] 17th. Palm Sunday yesterday. Went to
Early & 11 o’c 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
[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 Benouville - 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, some 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.
[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’c. 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.
[April] 25th. 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.
Volume Two ends here.