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Sister Kate Maxey – all Edie’s mentions of her on 32 separate dates

Kate Maxey – all the entries in Edie’s diaries which mention ‘Maxey’
– never a mention of her first name!
These are taken from two volumes of Edie’s diaries:
All these entries are shown as the original, unedited text of the diaries, unlike the book version which was carefully edited to leave out lots of dashes and &s. Edie’s sketches are omitted here but you can see them all on the online versions on Edie’s website of Volumes 2, Part 2 and Volume 3.

First those from Volume 2, Part 2

March 18th 1916. 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, Maxey & 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 – veryold – 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.

21/3/16.  Leedam & I both had the half day yesterday.  Maxey – & Truslove too. We – Maxey 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. [On 21 March 2009 – exactly 93 years to the day – Dick and Lisa Robinson followed Edie’s footsteps between Etretat and Bénouville and found the primroses still in abundance. See pictures in Section 4 of the page about Etretat: http://anurseatthefront.org.uk/edies-time-in-etretat-1915-17/  Ed]

23/3/16 – The day before yesterday – I went for a walk with Maxey & 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.

March 31st.  Maxey & I went for a glorious walk to the woods – & brought back a big basket full of daffodils, primroses, blue & white violets, anenomies etc.

April 18th. Maxey, 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.

From here onwards the quotes are from Volume 3

May 12th. Maxey & I were too tired for a long walk last night – So went to the grounds of a house owned by a French doctor who has an English wife – He is on Military duty somewhere. She & the children away somewhere else. She has given permission for her caretaker to give us flowers – & to walk in her grounds. About a 50 acre property – part park – part woodland – & many lovely gardens – up steps & down steps & in all sorts of odd places. Tennis court & pond. I should like to meet her & thank her. We loved it there – Just for 1 hour I tried to illusion myself that there was no war – that that was my place – & I had this poor tired nurse (Maxey) down for a rest.

May 13th. Quiet day yesterday – no operations. Maxey & I took 1/2 days off – & planned – a business & pleasure tea picnic – so started off at 3 – with tea & Punch – for pleasure – & stockings to darn for business. We decided to go to my favourite wood – far from everywhere. Before we got there a few clouds had rolled up & a spot or two of rain fallen. In spite of it – we spread macks & settled ourselves to tea. Before we had got to the end of the hard boiled egg stage – the fun began. A gust or two of wind – & then an inky sky – & a down pour – we crept into the bushes – but in a few minutes that was worse than outside – so we packed our goods – & walked fast to the nearest shelter – where we found a Frenchwoman & her daughter.

It was under the eve of a thatched roof – our foot hold was the side of a cement gutter – very steep & every time our feet slipped we were in a swift running river.

The old French woman – soon gave up trying & stood in the water. They had walked out from Étretat to drive home with ‘Father’ in his tip cart – Maxey & I soon made a move further on – & found good shelter in a waggon shed – 2 waggons at home. We settled ourselves on one – & started tea again – we were absolutely drenched to the skin from top to toe. My big coat weighed about 20 lbs – I think & Maxey’s waterproof evidently leaked. Next excitement was a sharp thunder storm & very vivid lightning which drove – the Mother & daughter – Father – wagon & horse in beside us – We shared what was left of the food – & enjoyed a merry time for about 1/4 of an hour. When the force of rain abated a bit – then we joined the driving party – & rode home in state – much to everyone’s amusement.  The old French woman – simply was weak with laughter all the way. We enjoyed it too. 
Home – hot bath – Madame’s kitchen hung thick with every sort of garment – all over.  Bed early – still raining this morning.

May 17th.  Off 2-5 yesterday – it was too hot to do much.  Maxey & I went on to the beach & watched the fishing boats come in – & the fish auction.  Then 1/2 a dozen Orderlies entertained us, by diving from a boat & swimming etc.  Then we repaired to my room for tea – & did mending for the rest of the time.

Last night was a joy!  The moon well up in the E & Venus the same distance in the W.  Sea like a mill pond – & everything flooded in moonshine – Venus made a little path of shine across the sea.  I should like to have stayed out instead of stuffing off to bed – after all – the rabbits have some advantage.  Now wouldn’t it be nice if I could take my pencil & show you what it all looked like comme ça.

May 18th.  5:30 a.m.  Glorious morning tide far out.  The brown rocks look well in the sunshine – covered in patches with vivid green seaweed.  Off duty yesterday evening.  Called with Matron on the Chauffeur V.A.D.s.  They have a glorious house and garden.  Their unit consists of 17 persons.  14 Chauffeurs, a cook – housekeeper & housemaid.  I was talking to the housemaid – & admire her very much – Such a nice well educated girl – I think she sometimes wishes she were doing more than housework for the War – but, I argued with her, that it was a necessary job – & personally I rather admired the people who took the out of sight jobs – or quietly carried on with necessary peacetime work – & so I do.  They have asked us to tea on Monday.  After that I took Matron to the garden of the house where the Mother is English & we roamed all over the place, but found no one.  Later Maxey & I went – found the gardener, & he gave us each – a double arm full of flowers for the wards

May 19thMaxey & 3 V.A.D.s – Sutherland – Craig, Williams went.  They should have had a glorious crossing – judging by the sea this morning.  Last night I helped Maxey to get off.

May 20th.   The next two Sundays are mine – one for myself & one for Maxey – on leave.

June 3. Maxey & 3 V.A.Ds returned from leave.

June 10th. Received a nice budget of birthday letters last night from Lil, Madge. Baby. Hilda & Amy very nice indeed.   Lena Ashwell’s concert party came yesterday & were a great success. I went for one song & the Ventriloquist & thought them good. In the evening Maxey, Constable & I walked to the garden – of the English lady & gathered armfuls of lovely flowers – I kept some roses & honeysuckle for my own room [-] they are a great joy.

June 14th.  Took the 1/2 day y’day – Walked to Villainville with Maxey.  It was a rather enjoyable grey day – windy – going, but as happened to us once before – on the way back a terrific rain storm swept over us when we were still 5 miles from home.  However we clung to our flowers – & arrived after a time in an awful state of wetness.  It was through my mack & all my clothes to my skin.  Maxey was the same so we took an outfit of dry clothes to the baths – had good hot baths – & felt like Saints in our dry things.
I forgot to say – Maxey and I had a lift – in the funniest little cart – on our way outward bound.  The old man was just a little bit drunk – & was very keen to take us to Criquetot where he lived – And he could tell his wife – he was content he had now two English wives.  We would have gone if the weather had looked less threatening but it meant two more miles each way. The old man sat over the edge his side – so did I mine & Maxey had about 3 inches in the middle, it was a very small turn out. A French Officer dashed past in a smart dog cart & stopped & saluted – & I fancy wanted to ask us to change into his cart, but we gave a final sort of bow – & he looked as if he couldn’t collect much English.  We prefered our old drunky.

June 20. Even slacker day – only about 120 patients in the whole hosp – which can now extend to 1300 beds. Maxey, Constable – & 2 people you don’t know had long days yesterday – & went to Caudebec. I was off in the evening & walked to meet them – got as far as Villainville – was just beginning to think I should be late for both suppers – when they appeared – & picked me up – 5 in a 4 seater – quite comfortable! 

June 22.   I was off in afternoon.  Went to see Maxey’s dress fitted, then sat on the cliffs & made lace – she darned – Matron joined us for a bit.  The day was – for a wonder still & hot.  After dinner Matron & I walked towards the cliffs to watch the Sunset – a glorious panorama – truly is this place called “The Hamlet of the Setting Sun.”  The sky & sea were just a rich and glorious sight of all colours – including shining – gold & silver

July 14.  Yesterday afternoon Maxey – Constable & I crabbed – & caught 8 between us – gave them to old Madame – She will cook them today & tell us if they are “bon pour manger” if so we will get more – if we can. The rocks are a joy at low tide – more beautiful colours – & lovely plants & anemonies – & stones it would be hard to find – If I had the time I would collect seaweed in a book – There is one sort I have never seen before – under water it is a bright blue – out of water just like that valuable old pottery a sort of blackish brown – with a blue glisten on it. We walked across the fresh water stream & found it strong & cold – The old washerwomen thought we were quite mad – but that we are used to by now – old villians! We saw how it is our clothes come back in holes – each one had a bottle of chloride of lime – & at the least stain pour it lavishly on all the same – coarse or fine clo[th]

July 16.  Off in afternoon – had the most delightful bathe I remember – sea warm – & absolutely clear – waves smooth topped & lumpy. After our bathe Maxey & I took Toby on to the top of the cliffs & sat for about 1/4 of an hour – to dry our hair. After this I went to the shore – met the baby I know – & enjoyed her for 1/2 an hour – She was much pleased to watch a boy in his batheing suit – dashing about in a canoe – & three huge horses batheing. This morning bids fair to be fine now I must call folk for church.

July 21. Lovely day – off in afternoon, bathed – the sea was so clear we could see the under sea part of people swimming far away – & could see the bottom easily – in water deeper than ourselves. After bathe, Maxey, Constable & I took tea on to the cliff – watermelon – & rolls – & tea – very good 

July 30th. Off in afternoon went with Maxey to a glorious garden – where we cut flowers to our hearts’ content & when we both had a double arms full – asked the old man how much – He – with an appologetic look of “hope it is not too much” – said – 2 francs les deux!! then we did the flowers in both churches – took bundles to the ward – gave some away – & still had some left for our own rooms.

August 14th.  Maxey, Constable & I – took tea to a cave & were cool for once – It is underwater at high tide – & the water was dripping through the rocks all the time – it is a huge cave could hold 100 people without turning a hair & we just sat – & looked at the heat & Étretat & got cooler & cooler & cooler. It was a very fairyland of a cave – with all sorts of anemonies & small shell fish clinging to the rocks – when we touched the anemonies they let our a tremendous squirt of water at us!

SEPTEMBER 8th.  Yesterday I had a half day – from 2-4 took Matron in the car – to Yport – & other pretty little places along the coast. After that Maxey & I walked to Miss Wallen’s hut for a bathe. Unfortunately she was giving a tea to large number of French people – so we quickly changed our plans & trudged along the beach to some huge rocks – The tide was rough & high – We undressed into our batheing gowns – & played the mermaid in the rock pools – & over the rocks – it was great fun & we had a good buffetting – Then we sat on the rocks & got dry in the wind.

September 17th. Had the day off yesterday. Stayed in bed to breakfast – went for a walk with Wood & Maxey over the – other cliffs. Lunched with Madam – at 12 – Crab – roast mutton, grilled potatoes & salad – a delicious sort of cheese – that is eaten with sugar – cider – & coffee. At 1 o’c Matron, Ritchie T., Maxey & I – started off for Caudbec en Caux – you have got some p.c.s of it. We broke down – 5 minutes after we started & put back for a fresh car.  The journey was a joy of beauty bathed in sunshine.  The Seine was most picturesque – all the trees & hills along its banks – just beginning to turn to Autumn & there were some big steamers going to Rouen.  We looked all about Caudbec – & much enjoyed the oldness of it all – specially the church – then had tea at the Hotel de Marine & left again before 6 o’c. 

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

September 26th. Last two days have been quiet. Maxey & Constable are going a little jaunt to Rouen. I should much like to be going to.

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

September 28th.  Had the 1/2 day off yesterday – in company with Waite, Thomson, Maxey, & Constable. It was too wet to do what we intended to. So – we – had the Ford & went a joy ride to Caudebec. The rain stopped soon after we started, so everything was bright & beautiful, & every one in good temper. The country was looking lovely – just getting the autumn colourings.
We went by all the little villages I must have told you about before – & stopped at Lillebonne to look over the ruined Roman theatre. The old man knew his story well – & made it all most interesting –

The whole amphitheatre is fairly intact – all being built of thick grey stone. One thing he told us – The amphitheatre towards the theatre was stalls & seats etc – but in time of invasion, or in case of invasion from the Seine it could be used as a fort.

I think it was in the 5th Century a complete house was discovered – underground – We saw photographs of it – It looks like a Cathedral Crypt. At one time, the Theatre was used for refugees to live in during a siege. There are beautiful Roman baths & a well in the pit of the theatre, that were built for them. They have found – from time to time – all sorts of treasures, beautifully carved ivory & bone pins used by the Roman ladies – old bits of crockery bearing Roman inscriptions, nails, lead etc – We saw them all –

There is a tiny tomb in which they found the ashes of the body of a baby – in a bottle, together with all it’s possessions – a tiny bracelet – a silver spoon – & it’s toys!  It was a thick square – of stone – with a well – about 1 ft deep – & 1 1/2 long & 1 ft wide.

We saw the fine old (Roman) Tower – where William I stayed in 1063. After that we dashed on to Caudebec – along the banks of the Seine – very beautiful – & arrived at 5 o’c – just time for tea – & to see the Cathedral & a shop or two before we started for home. We came back another & equally beautiful way, by the Grand Val – which was looking grand in the evening lights & shades – through Yvetot, where the Anglo American hospital (for French soldiers) is. Home at 8 p.m.

October 17.   Off in afternoon walked along Criquetot Rd. with Wood & Maxey. Morning calm, fishing boats all going off.

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

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

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

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

The last entry in this volume is just 5 days later on 15 November 1916 and then there is an 18 month gap in the diaries.  Sadly, this means that many other likely mentions of ‘Maxey’ are not available. It would be necessary to check Edie’s and Kate’s service records to see how long they remained together in Etretat.

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