This covers the period 21 November 1915 to 25 April 1916.
Edie has been posted to General Hospital No. 1 at Étretat
Volume 2 of the diaries is very long so we have divided it into two parts: the first, for the period 25 July to 20 November 1915, when Edie was in a CCS near the front line and the second, from 21 November 2015 to 25 April 1916, when Edie had relocated to a General Hospital at Etretat on the coast.
Click here to read Volume 2 Part 1
Click here for lots of background on Etretat as well as pictures of many of the places Edie mentions.
Update 7 January 2016
Special welcome if you have arrived here from
Tweets from WW1.
To find Edie’s entry for ‘today’s’ date (100 years ago) just scroll down to the same date below.
To access all four ‘volumes’ of the original unedited text you can find the links here.
Details about the book version are here.
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.
November 28th. Never spent such a calm week – for a long time – not much work to do – have slept well eaten well – & walked a good deal.
Our Padre is going up the line tomorrow to Bailleul or Béthune or somewhere – lucky devil – wish I were.
November 29th. 4 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 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.
[The home of the VADs at Etretat was La Villa Orphée – picture here.]
There is a charming boy upstairs – just 18, he enlisted when he was 15 1/2 – & was a drummer boy. He has been in France since the beginning of the War – was bugler – all through the Retreat from Mons – He has been wounded 5 times, shot right through the chest once – in the stomach once – & arms & legs many times – He has got a bad toothache tonight & says it is worse than all his wounds – He tells the most thrilling stories of the Uhlans – & what dread of them he had – He says they are great strong fellows – with long bamboos with bayonettes at the end – & they just dig them into the men – without turning a hair. [At the outbreak of war the German Army had 26 regiments of these mounted cavalrymen, who wielded 10 foot lances of steel that were sharpened at both ends to provide a double-ended weapon. Ed]
December 6th. I had the day off yesterday – spent half in bed – & went for a walk. Have had cracking neuralgia which evidently means to spend the rest of the winter with me – it is making me loathe the place & everything else – There is nothing at all to write a diary about, so shan’t try to keep it up – I would ten thousand times rather be busy & have no headache. Have written no letters for a long time – not much use to when there is nothing to say.
There is a legend of this place, that many years ago a poor suffering woman & her child went to a mill – & asked the miller for help. He refused – & she turned away – cursing him. Next morning his mill was dry – & the whole stream was found pouring down the beach into the sea – Whether the legend is true or not I don’t know, but there the stream is pouring in full force down the beach & tumbling into the sea. The women of the place make good use of it – & it is a quaint sight to see many of them every day – spade under one arm bundling a heavy wheelbarrow of wet clothes down to the beach to “rinse” the clothes having been washed & boiled at home. They dig deep holes in the beach which become their wash tubs – with a river of water running swiftly through them so it is always perfectly clean – [see pictures of the washerwomen here.]
December 7. A true story of Étretat is that once an Indian Prince came here to visit his father. The father died & the son said his body must be cremated that night according to his religion – & asked the Town Prefect’s permission to have it done. He would not give his consent – but as the Prince said it must be done that night – the Prefect telegraphed to the Chief Prefect in Paris – & asked his permission & said “ If I get no reply – ceremony will take place this evening.” No reply came – & the ceremony was performed on the beach. Half way through the body fell off & had to be lifted on to the pile of logs again – with poles. Next morning a telegram was brought to the Prefect. “On no account allow ceremony.” The P[refect’s] office had closed at its usual early hour – & the message was there all night. No evil consequence happened. [Look at the end of section 3 on this page to view a copy of the painting of this event by American artist Henry Bacon.]
One Sister wants some of us to get up a play for the men for Xmas! I told her I would help if needed – but oh help! I can’t seem to see me acting. Perhaps they will find enough without me. No letters received or written – my head has been like a battered pumpkin – & that is not much use for letter writing. Matron & Sister Thomas back from leave – both looking very ill – the sea does not look inviting! The patch of beach where the body was burnt is just opposite the Roches Hotel – where my ward is.
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.
On the 9th Lena Ashwell’s concert party came & gave us a good selection of songs. All the voices were good & there was a clever conjuring man – but to me the cream of the whole thing was the ’cello – the girl who played it was a very musical person – & she seemed to forget all about us – & it was fine. [See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lena_Ashwell] On the 9th I bought a cheap umbrella. On the 10th my longed for mack arrived – so now it may go on raining if it likes.
11th. There was a big explosion at a munition factory outside Havre – & I am afraid a great many women injured – Some of our orderlies were sent to help – & 8 Sisters – of whom I was one – had orders to stand by – which meant we packed our hand bags & went on with our ordinary work. We were not needed- & today is Sunday. I went to the early service as usual – & found my self the whole congregation. Up at No 3. 5 of us supported our Padre at the early service every Sunday – & here out of about 50 – no one seems to go.
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.
December 21. Même chose. News of convoy coming – during the night.
If it does come we shall be called – I shall put my light out & get some sleep first if possible. Fearfully rough day. One door slammed so hard it broke a panel right out. No letters. No nothing.
December 22nd. Very busy day – Convoy of 300 odd came in at midday. 41 to me. With settling them in & seeing about decorating of course there was no time off but it was great fun doing the decorations with 70 men in various states of health helping – only a few were in bed. We have carried it out in red white & blue as far as possible. The wall facing the way up has a huge Union Jack – opposite that two French flags crossed – 3rd wall – or at least archway that would be a wall if it were a room instead of a huge square landing, red twill drapery – with “Merry Xmas” – & ornaments done in white wool to look like snow our artist Wynn has painted some pictures (Xmas ones) and they are on various parts of the walls & framed in snow & ivy. The ceiling is done with red white & blue streamers – & ivy too. They are all very proud of their work.
December 24th. Last night I went to sleep with never a thought of my diary I think the concert & other arrangeings had full possession of my brain. Very busy day. 72 patients take quite a lot of keeping pace with added to Xmas preparations.
However – we have their stockings filled & ready for distribution by the night nurse. We also have large stores of cake – dessert – crackers – mince pies etc. – so I hope they will be happy. They have decorated beautifully.
We Sisters had our Xmas dinner tonight quite a success. It made quite a pretty scene – the big room daintily decorated – tables too – with flowers – & ribbons – & a present in each place with the owners name on. I gave a little tea party & invited two of the M.O.s to help us fill stockings.
In orders today that I am to receive Sisters pay – & wear stripes.
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 [see page for Captain – later Major – 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.
[We have a wonderful photo of the Medical Officers in Etretat which includes several of those mentioned by Edie. It’s here. Ed]
December 30th. 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.
Went for a walk alone over the golf links. Am now so sleepy don’t know how to keep my eyes open.
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.
Have had half a day off. Hear that 4 of our orderlies are wanted higher up the line – that they are to be replaced by ward maids – do not look forward to the change. I forgot to tell you what we did at the “party” – musical chairs – bumps – all sorts of tricks – and one competition game every one had the name of a well known person pinned on their back – & had to guess who they were by asking questions – Like “Am I still alive?” “Do I write books?” till they guess right. Then they have another name pinned on. When the bell rings the one who has guessed most times – right – wins the prize – it was a little pig – & an Irish girl won it. Hear rumours that I am to go on night duty – & I don’t want to. Capt Martyn has been promoted to Company Officer – in place of Major Franklin who has been made D.A.D.M.S. to the 3rd army. Have Capt Billing [See photo of the Medical Officers in Etretat which includes Capt. Billing. It’s here. Ed]in the ward now.
2nd. Miss Rentzsch [see page for Assistant Matron Ethel Rentzsch] has just been to my room to tell me my name is in Despatches.
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.
4th. Letters from the twins dear things I don’t think they are growing up very fast. I have had the day off – & much enjoyed it – breakfast in bed – (always a joy) got up about 10 bathed & went for a long walk alone – to the lighthouse [see picture of lighthouse here] & home by the Havre Rd. It is a wonderful walk for scenery, the most beautiful little peeps of sea, over the “downs” in the cliffs – The hills are all colours & shades – of purple mauve, blue, green brown, red, with dashes of bright yellow gorse – The sea & sky were both a cold blueish greenish grey. The sea smooth, sky covered with rough clouds. It rained in the afternoon (I missed dinner – had 2 pieces of Lil’s most excellent plum pudding instead) so I took my lace pillow into the sick Sisters’ room & made lace & had tea beside her. Miss McCarthy came today & is staying the night.
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 short walk.
Letters from Madge & HG. Have only 29 patients on my floor – so are slack at present. I thanked Miss McC for sending me to such a nice place, & she said she thought people who had been long at the front – needed it.
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 ? Ed] 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. [See old pictures of the Hôtel des Vieux Plats plus how it looks in 2009 in section 4 of this page.] As this is to be my last night in bed – here goes to make the most of it. I did not go on night duty y’day – but am tomorrow.
11th 1.30 a.m. On filthy night duty – & by way of celebrating my first night – I hear our convoy are to go off at 6 a.m. 3 from here – 1 from there, 20 from some where else – Oh! we shall be all right.
I hear there is a man about who tries to get in at the Sisters Qrs. & now they have a guard outside the house. I hope I shan’t meet him on my next round. The streets are very dark, but they are cold too so perhaps he won’t be there.
January 12th. Quiet night, moved into quieter bedroom in the Annex. [See a picture of the Blanquet Annexe in Section 2 of this page on Etretat here] 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. [Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig (1861-1928) commanded the British Expeditionary Force from December 1915 to the end of the war. Ed] 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. [See photo of the Medical Officers in Etretat which includes Col. Moore. It’s here. Ed]
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. See separate page for Acting Matron Ethel Denne. Ed] 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.
January 20th. 4 of the night people hired the “bus” & went to Fechamp [Fécamp] yesterday morning – but not I. I don’t like being late. They had a glorious drive through pretty country. Saw all over the French 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. [Edie has this name wrong. It should be J.Berrel. See http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101626. Ed]
I talk to the men most nights & hear all sorts of interesting stories about when they have been at close quarters with the Germans. Once when they were billeted on a farm at Kenmel [Kemmel] they were much worried every night by a hidden sniper – they hunted but could not find him. One day their Major told the farmer he wanted hay for the horses – the farmer was most unwilling to give it, but at last told them to take it from the hay loft. The men went up & began dragging the hay down from the highest stack of it, the farmer came & told them very sharply not to take from there – but he was too late & they had pulled it down – & left exposed a trap door that led into a big pigeon cote & sitting in the pigeon cote surrounded by empty beer bottles etc – sat “my sniper” – a German – in German uniform. They shot him. Another time they (5th D.Gs) were in the ditch at the side of the Road – & the Germans were in the one on the other side – He said it was most exciting – they would see the nozzle & barrel of a rifle stealthily be pushed up & leveled down towards their ditch, then slowly appeared the spike of a German helmet, then was the moment of their lives for the one who shot first & true. At one place, where the village was being taken alternately by us & the Germans – our police found 2 spies, Inn keepers, who had been most jovial with the men, gave them beer & took no money. They were German soldiers in disguise – & when they were taken to be shot marched & right wheeled in a most soldierlike way. Their Inn was looted – & all the furniture – chests of drawers, etc. counters – tables – taken out to make a barricade across the road. In the same village another spy was discovered by one of our airmen. He alighted & said he had seen signalling. The Major said – all inhabitants had been cleared out except one old bed ridden man, who had been a cripple for 4 years – & an old woman who looked after him. The airman was so certain of what he saw, that he asked to see the invalid. When they got there, he recognised it as the house where signals had shown from – went in – & said he had a fancy that the invalid could beat him in a race for life – flung back the bedclothes & found the man fully dressed in uniform. They shot him – & her too.
Another spy in that place they never did catch – one day a little shockheaded man – looking like a little wild animal ran out – quickly looked up & down & round & round – & darted back into the house – they at once made search for him – but never found him – the little devil!
January 21. Quiet night – Mair [see page on Staff Nurse Jean Mair] & 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.
The abbey is a fine old place – chiefly Gothic I think with some good old carving – & beautiful windows – old but not the deepest coloured glass I have seen. Then we went to the Benedictine Convent – part of which is being used as a Military French hospital. The rest is where the Benedictine Liqueur is made – the only place in the world – & they send to every part of the world – except to our enemies just now. We were shown all over – & it was most interesting. In peace time they had 400 work men – now many of them have gone to the war & their places are taken by women & little girls. Now it is done by Civilians: before the Revolution by monks. The men wear blue caps & long blue smocks – the women – overalls – & a belt with Benedictine worked on it round their waists. It is an enormous concern – they make 18,000 bottles full every day. First we went through many huge halls of casks of the finished stuff – casks varying in size, the biggest holding 36,000 litres each, the ends of them more than 6 ft in diameter. Then we went to where pure alcohol was being distilled & the syrup made – huge plants of machinery all about – huge wheels joined to little ones by wide leather straps! and the noise!
The syrup was boiling in huge copper pans about 3 ft deep & 5 across the top. Next we went to where it was being bottled. Two women tended a filling machine – which fills about 18 at a time [-] they had to go as fast as they could – taking away & replacing an empty bottle.
They hand on to 2 more who washed – & handed on to two more – who worked the automatic corking machine & handed on to two more who loaded up in trollies – took to the next department where 2 unloaded & stood on the end of a long table – girls down both sides of it – 1s cut the corks – & held wet parchment over – while 2s wired it & cut it off – 3 trimmed & stuck on labels 4s soldered metal ribbon on round the neck & down to one side.
5s sealed the top – dipping into hot wax & sealing it – 6s sealed the metal ribbon down on the side – 7s wrapped up in paper – 8s stuck another Benedictine label over the join in the paper – 9s loaded on to a trolley & took to the packing room where 3 men were at work. Stacks of cases were there, & they have division made to fix in to keep the bottles from touching each other. Each case holds about 2 doz – & in less than 2 mins, the first man – fixes the bits of wood – throws in the bottles, next layer of wood – & so on & passes on to the next man to nail the box down – who passes on to the next man to pack.
There was a huge wall – with names of places – where they have to send things to, I mean. metal squares that they painted over – the letters are spaces. Most unheard of places amongst them.
[More about the Palais Bénédictine here. Ed]
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.
It was a glorious starlight drive home. Early to bed – raging headache most of night & this morning. Everyone does have on night or day off – Long walk – bed again at 2 – & then back to duty.
January 27th. Quiet night. I have sent the V.A.D. on duty in this building “La Plage” to bed for 5 hrs. She is new to night duty – & has hardly slept all day – I have thoroughly enjoyed being alone – & have seen all sorts of interesting people & things in the fire.
Talking to a patient tonight – I found he was at No 10 Stationary as a patient when I was there & remembers the Prussian Guard being brought in & recognized as the man who had been killing our wounded “Black Watch” & was tried & shot for it – serve him right. Government are docking us of lodging & fuel & light allowances – in all £57-15 a year – The men are not giving up any.
January 28th. 18 nights done – only thing of interest – Started a new lace pattern like this:
– very dark night, raining now.
January 29th. Truslove off duty with Influenza – gone to sick rooms. Officers are having a Soirée tonight – about 20 Sisters have gone – only 3 from my staff. It is No. 14 Stationary not General Hospital that has been burnt down. Poor old Miss Congleton is Ass[istant] Matron there! I expect had a bad time, she is so highly strung & has had a hard time through this war.
Went for walk toute seule to Bénouville, this morning. Weather & country very pretty & enjoyable but under a thin white mist. Heny has gone on leave & perhaps Truslove will go after flue – that gets two of them out of the way for when leave really starts. Think I will make lace now, so sleep well & au revoir.
January 30th. Letters from my twin foster babies – must write to them – Hardly slept at all today. Nurses are the most inconsiderate wretches under the sun – they tramped about slammed doors & pulled plugs to distraction, then the orphans were let loose to kick tins & play – & the paper man blew his horn – toot tooting – & yelling _ “Petit Parisien” – now – at 1:30 a.m., I feel I shall bust if I don’t say what is truly unkind – that the V.A.D. – who sits in this room – will drive me to drink – she talks tracts – gives tracts & is bulging with saintly & innocent holiness – till I could shriek. I once met her equal at Cousin Walters, but thank Goodness – he went away by train.
Went for a walk toute seule – in a thick white, wet mist – at the top of the hills suddenly found myself – in hot bright sunshine – birds singing – blue sky – & below me – nothing – but fluffy whiteness, that I felt I could jump on to like a feather bed. After a time that cleared & the day was perfect. Sea dead calm – the fishing boats look so pretty – painted bright colours & with red sails – going out – in a long line one behind the other – making a vivid reflection in the sea – bunches of clean women standing about to see them off. Letter from Miss Congleton – she says the fire was awful – too awful to write about. No-one was hurt. They are nursing the Enterics in the “Compound” wooden huts – My V.A.D. has just threatened me – with something aloud – from the Church Times – I can’t stand it – I must make my round early. At 11 o’c. a Sick Officer lurched into the Plage – & asked “Plege ca’nyou te’ me where the shickossifers – hoshpital is?” There was nothing for it but to take my lord by the arm – & gently lead him there along two streets & up a short hill _ I did not carry my lord’s alight as I did not want anyone to see me arm in arm – with the poor chap – distinctly, the worse for wear – how he got out, I don’t know.
10 a.m. Poor little V.A.D. It was horrid of me to feel irritated at her – she is such a good conscientious little soul.
January 31st. Quiet night. M. Parry Evans preached twice at the Anglican Church today – & was much appreciated by those who heard him. I did not go. Went for walk along the shore – found a secret passage running under the cliff towards inland went along it for some distance – then came back, bed early. News of convoy coming in today at 11 o’c. so we shall probably be much busier tomorrow.
I see by today’s paper that bombs have been dropped on Paris – causing loss of life – & material damage. That will annoy the French so should not be surprised if they did something big in the way of reprisals.
Quiet night – news of a convoy for today, supposed to be coming in at 11 a.m. but I think I said this at first.
Feb 1st. Convoy came. No very serious cases. About 5 on the S. I. list (seriously ill).
Miss Garrett has got influenza now. T. 104 Everyone seems to be getting it. No letters. New shoes came from Sorosis. Went for a walk alone, was much alarmed by hearing heavy-ish – firing, came in expecting to hear that a German submarine was at work off our shore but to my joy – found it was gun practise at Havre.
Hear Paris has been attacked again – They are asking for it! The G[erman]s I mean – Quiet night. I went for long walk to Bénouville with Sister Thomas, bed in fair to middling time. The Sisters of No. 3 C.C.S. are at No. 10 Stationary – for a rest. Waiting to be sent somewhere. No. 3 is now a Canadian Unit.
February 4th. Not a quiet night. The wind has blown a gale tiles & chimneys have been flying, doors banging. Craig – our new batman was put here to sleep – as he had a temp – & felt sick.
He rose up in his sleep & walked (as his habit is when ill) & tripped back to the quarters. The Orderly & I chased after him in double quick time, and after much anxious & fruitless searching, found him fast asleep on his own bed – I didn’t know where the men slept – & had to hunt every coal shed & stable _ till I found their billet – a loft, over stores. He seems much better this morning his night run in the rain has done him good. No mail last night. Have taken great care of my self the last 2 days – feeling a bit influenzaish, each morning been for a brisk short walk, then had a good hot mustard bath over in the Qrs. Rushed like a lunatic from the Qrs. to Annexe where I sleep – to my bed – between blankets.
February 5th. All wards seem to be settling down. One young Officer must be suffering badly from nerves – he is so restless in his sleep – & calls out – “Let ‘em have it – turn on the gas – give it them – now – more – more – get your bayonets to them the swine.” Then he wakes up in a heavy sweat – fearfully disappointed to find no Bosches to gas & kill. Weather muggy – starlight.
February 6th. Quiet night – no excitement so far.
5:30 a.m. I don’t think I told you that two days ago – we had a very sad death – A young lad 21 only who seemed not extremely bad – was taken to the theatre for examination – & died on the table. 5 pints of fluid found in his lungs.
P.S. I have put my exasperating little V.A.D. in a ward where there are two staff nurses – she is very happy there & I have an older & more woman of the world one in the Plage – so that’s an improvement.
Me going to the bath!
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.
Heavy showers yesterday – & through the night. Quite fine & starlight in between times.
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 [A wheat-flour based white powder mixed with hot milk to make a creamy, vanilla-flavoured drink. It was a popular compound to give to children and invalids. Ed] – (with brandy) & am going to get into bed. Hope you are sleeping well now-a-days.
10th. Quiet night – am not off night duty yet. Bought an old Normandy paste – a St. Esprit jewel (pendant) for 150 francs. Went for a walk with Thomas. Saw some beautiful little terrier pups at the Canteen. Mother will not be bothered to feed them so we bought the corporal a babies feeding bottle for them. Bed – bon nuit.
February 11th. Told to take over No 3 Casino tomorrow morning.
Poured all night – did not go out – went to night cottage to hear Thomas playing piano.
Mair, Gibbens & Johnstone have gone to Havre, Craig has to go this afternoon, so they will be a very tired family tonight.
February 12th. Came off night duty this morning. Am taking Ritchie-Thomson [Ritchie-Thompson? See page for Sister Ritchie-Thompson. Ed] 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! [converted Hotel in Etretat. Ed] 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 16th. The enemy score one today – they have made a big attack near Ypres – & taken 600 yds of trenches.
Tremendously rough day – the place is strewn with broken glass – slate & woodwork. The natives say it is the same every year – & that is why the entire place is battened up & closed during the months of winter. Our English patients who left this morning are held up at Havre as it is too rough for the hospital ship to go.
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 name). [We cannot be certain but we think Gunner Faulkner died on 2 April 1916. See Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register for details: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=395073. Ed]
One man tells me that the Station Master & our driver at Pop[eringhe] have been shot as spies – good luck! The more the better – no wonder – some of the shells – made decent shots for the station. The place is riddled with spy vermin. – No letters – Good bye.
February 21. 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 [This is Private Kerr – see separate page for him. Ed] , & poor old Sgt. Middleton is as bad as he can be & so is Rudman, poor dears – I do wish they could get better. Was off duty in afternoon – walked up cliff, caught in snow storm, back early – bathed – tea with Madame. Very tired – don’t know why?
March 7th. Slept through the first bell – & woke at the second – to find my room aglow with a beautiful pink light. The outside world was a foot deep under snow. Telephone wires looking like those fluffy bell pulls about 3 inches round in snow & all glittering in the early morning sunshine. Truly beautiful & unwarlike.
Telephone wires covered in snow
Now I must quickly dress or I shall be late for breakfast, but by tonight – if the snow thaws – I may forget what the morning was like – as there is plenty every day to drive out all thoughts but patients – wards – etc lists, & Convoys.
March 8th. I want to write to you today – but whether I shall or not is a different matter. We have a big Convoy to get off to England – & another arriving – supposed at 10 a.m. so we shall not be slack – but – the difference – here we have about 12 hrs. notice of a Convoy coming – & up the line they just tumbled in at all hours of the day & night. My heart is very sore for one poor boy, or for his Mother – We have had him 10 days – & he is no better & is in a state to die at any moment. I am writing to his Mother & telling her so, she is evidently a refined old lady – writes back to say she is “so glad to hear Charlie is with us – the rest & good food will do him good”. Have my letters not reached her? Or won’t she understand that the boy is dying. I think he must have been gassed – he is purple & just like a gas patient.
Étretat is beautiful – this is Ash Wednesday – & I ought to be at the 6:45 service but some horrid crank always takes me in Lent. I miss more services & eat more nice things & smoke more than any time of the year. Étretat is really beautiful now. Yesterday’s snow, thawed a little in the sunshine, but is still deep & frozen again with the night’s frost. My Western horizon is just tinged with pale pink which suits the soft clouds & pale blue sea to distraction & the cliffs are a picture in themselves all snow covered & rugged – No letters from England last night. Now I must get up! If only I could sketch I would make the most lovely little pictures in this diary.
March 9th. I was to have been called at 2 a.m. to help in with a heavy convoy, so went to bed & to sleep at 9 p.m. & the next thing I knew it was 1/4 past 6 – broad daylight – & no one had called me & even now – here I sit in my night attire – 7 a.m. trusting it is all right & that the convoy has been held up somewhere & that we are to go to second breakfast as usual.
The morning is as yesterday, the sea perhaps a trifle calmer & more shimmering – tide further off, & the brown rocks glowing red in the light of the rising sun. Yesterday was a delightful day of calm between the storms, of despatching a large convoy & receiving the one that didn’t come. My pneumonia boy benefited from the quiet & perhaps… the creature has a chance, & feel he must get better – for his Mother, poor thing, she wrote to me – & said she was heartbroken – however, it was no good for me to pretend he was not dangerously ill. He was – & is. I must get up now, for Matron Miss E. M. Denne –had sudden orders to go to Havre to relieve Miss Steen [see page for Matron Lavinia Steen. Ed] invalided home. She was sorry to go – & we to lose her, although it is a great promotion. She will be Principal Matron of the Havre district soon. Get up.
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. [See Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register for details: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101737. Ed] 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.
A bugle has just gone – which means an ambulance train in – & I expect we shall be called for early breakfast! 7 a.m. instead of 7.45. We have much to be thankful for that many patients went to England the day before yesterday, & Convoy did not arrive yesterday – 3 more Sisters went down with measles, making our staff about 26 under number. The rest of us have been spread out to the best advantage but it has meant precious hard work – & no off duty times. Imagine my joy – when I was in Constable’s room – telling her – she must report her rash – out of fairness to other people etc. – to see – 8 beautiful fully trained Sisters arriving at the Quarters – all in the pink of health. (Three fishing boats have just launched – & look like an old Bible picture – with their dark red sails – & making a long reflection.) Dear things – we nearly fell on their necks with joy. They have just come home – from a slack time in Egypt so ought to be good for work now. (Another boat just off – the four of them are racing.) As is always the way – everything in the way of relief happens at once – my three heavy cases died – the Convoy did not come – & 8 new Sisters did. Did I say Sgt Middleton [See Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register for details: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101769. Ed] died the same day as Kerr – & they were buried together, & chose a glorious sunny afternoon for it – both had been in about the same time.
The third was an abdominal – poor creature came in in an agony – & remained in it till he died – having been operated on – & all things possible done. P.M. exam showed it was typhoid. No new Matron yet & poor Miss R. [probably Miss Rentzsch. Ed] not at all well – & worked all yesterday with a T. of 102.4.
This quaint liner is just scurrying past for dear life, as if it trying to dodge torpedoes.
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!
The sea is angry about something this morning, can’t imagine what – there is no wind at all – may be because the fishing boats are late in getting off. The men are chasing round now – & won’t be long, but when they heard our Irishman’s band it was too much for them – they ran to see the excitement.
Yesterday it rained incessantly all day – In the afternoon Constable and I walked along the beach – the only clean place & watched the fishing boats come in. The fishermen live a very sporting life – they race to get off in the morning & race back in the afternoon. First boat ashore sells its fish first. There is a salesman who goes from boat to boat as the fish is unloaded – & sells the haul by auction. It takes the men about 2 mins to arrange the fish, all cod together soles – plaice – dogfish crabs – all separately. Then the salesman – & crowds of women with baskets follow on & hold the sale. It is most entertaining to watch.
Before the war they used to throw dogfish away now they get 10d each for them. One of my V.A.D.s has been taken to go to another ward – as 2 more folk – a Sister & a V.A.D. have gone sick, so we are under staffed again. However we won’t cry out till we are hurt – Leedam –1/2 day yesterday [see page for Sister Leedam. Ed].
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, Maxey [see detailed page for Sister Kate Maxey – a special friend of Edie’s. Ed] & 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.
The football match ended in a win for us – England 2 to 1. Patients who were able were allowed to attend the match & 12 Irish men – in their hospital blues – faces blacked & gay turbans – got up a wonderful band – of whistles & drums – & headed them. Such a procession of the maimed the sick the halt & the blind! & men in wheel chairs – you never saw. No home letters. Must get up.
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.
Went for a walk in evening picked primroses & watched the sun set.
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. 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 here. 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. Yesterday we had in a big Convoy – filling us right up – Some very serious cases amongst them. The man “Moules” in my Ward of the shoulder – had another operation yesterday. They found pus in the joint & a good deal of necrosed bone – poor man – he has a painful time between him & recovery I’m afraid.
In 4 – we took only 3 fractures but filled up – to relieve other wards – one – an old man of 59 such a dear old thing has both legs badly wounded
& may have to lose one – but we hope not – Letter from Miss Cong[leton].
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.
The 10 Sisters arrived yesterday. All Terriors [Territorial Force Nursing Service? Ed]. They are supposed to be a new Unit – but cannot find a place to settle. Amongst them is Hindle – a Bart’s contemporary of mine – By the way did I tell you that Thomas, whom I am nursing, is a Nottingham Children’s Hosp – friend of mine. I wonder if they will let us go on leave now – same old motto “wait & see”.
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.
The 10 new Sisters are to be made use of while they are with us. They have done no work for a long time – 8 are wards – 2 in the Qrs. 3.45 a.m. I have just been to the kitchen for my supper! Cats! Poor – mangy starved looking creatures stealing what they can find to eat – Quite 12 of them. Really one would think this was the only place in Étretat where there was food. 11 of them are for destruction today. One very mangy one – was 1/2 in the stock pot eating meat off a bone! I think I will be off soup for a bit. Local tragedy. Our hairdresser’s maid stole off to the woods at 1 a.m. yesterday. Some children – plucking [picking? Ed] flowers early, saw her staggering back – & a little later found the body of a newborn baby – still warm. The girl has been taken to prison – poor thing.
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. [See Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register for details: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=62211. See also page on Major Edward Basil Blogg DSO here. Ed]
Went for lovely walk – alone – this morning – miles along the Canteen Rd. Beautiful hilly country – both sides of me – some parts thickly wooded, some smothered in primroses & daffodils – The air was sweet with their scent – larks singing – the colouring of the whole sky & country wonderful. It would have been a perfect feast for an impressionist!
How some of the sisters can spend their half days off – in going to Havre – I don’t know – the car we have is an awful old broken down thing. Yesterday they got back at 11 p.m. instead of 6.30 – car had broken down on the way back – & was stranded until another car came by – & towed them in – they used blankets knotted together for a tow rope.
March 31st. My 6th night 2/3s done – not much like active Service. My patient has slept all night – & I have sat in a chair. I am looking after a sick V.A.D. too, have been to her room twice, both times the door has made a disastrous noise but she has not stirred. Maxey & I went for a glorious walk to the woods – & brought back a big basket full of daffodils, primroses, blue & white violets, anenomies etc.
Children would think they were in fairy land – Elizabeth would be in her element – the sky was intensely blue & the birds singing ecstatically – No letters no news. Smith (D) has gone on leave – after measles. No news of us getting it.
[The ‘Elizabeth’ mentioned above is Mary Elizabeth Appleton Ledger, the only child of Edie’s older sister Mabel (‘Madge”) and her husband , Percy Ledger. Elizabeth was born in 1908 so she would have been just seven here. She died in tragic circumstances in 1928, aged 19. There is a memorial to her in Northbourne Church in Kent which records that Elizabeth “gave her life by plunging into the rough sea at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France in an heroic though unsuccessful attempt to save a Frenchman from drowning 16th June 1928”. Here it is below. Editor]
April 1st. Very foggy – yesterday – went for walk – bed – Patient doing well so far. We have such a charming cook for our Mess – He has fits & is very small – yesterday – I was asking him for a fried potato to take to eat before I went to bed – & as he turned round to say “yes” pulled the whole tin of gravy – for both lunches – off the stove on to the floor – about a gallon – all wasted. I was terribly sorry – & told him I would keep out of his way at meal times – so last night he said – “Aren’t you coming no more for a snack before you go to bed?” so I said “No” – Tonight – when I went to get my tray of things for the night – I found a wonderful – fancy cake – made for me – He was a pastry cook in peace time.
Fog horns have been hooting all night until about 1/2 an hour ago – now it is clear, must be 4 o’c. Ward is just changing.
Some of the glowing coals in my fire”. Very weird but it is just like them –
This is a case of Satan finds some evil still – for idle hands –
My patient is asleep – & I have only the fire light to do things by.
April 2nd. 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.
4 o’c. Guard has just changed which means that 2 sleepy Frenchmen stagger out of the house which is open for the men on duty – about 2 mins before changing time. Two come up from their billets take over – & when the late guard are well away – the fresh ones – go into the house & to sleep! The little dog calls them if by unusual chance anyone should pass – then if he barks loud enough to call them one comes out & curses him & goes in again.
April 3rd. Think there must have been some spirit influence at work this morning that made me do a thing I hate doing & quite against my own will – but which gave me great pleasure – It was – I met the Ambulance train – started for a country walk as usual – & then hating every step – & the thought of the crowd – & strange sisters I should run against went straight to the station. I found that the two Sisters of the train were old friends of mine – one – was one of the 4 St. Bart’s I started the Campaign with – was with one at Chatham – on the Palm Branch (same cabin) No. 14 Gen. She only left there to join No. 19 train at the end of Jan – so she has had a less moveable time than mine – We had a great talk about old times from St. Barts onwards – I brought them both up to Matron – then out to coffee – then showed them over the hospital & bits of Étretat, then back to their train [at 1 a.m.].
I had given my camera up for lost – but Paterson has sent it to her own home to be kept for me! The Convoy was not a big one – chiefly wounded – some from poor old Robert’s hospital No. 18 C. C. S. at Lapugnoy. Miss Rentzsch donned red cuffs today denoting the rank of Matron. I began to feel like perpetual night nurse to the Sick Sisters – have another one to look after tonight – with an abscess in her ear – I know it is a most painful thing, but she was a bit hysterical about it. I gave her Asp & a good tot of Whiskey – after treating the ear – the last I heard of her was heavy snoring – whisky is good stuff. This is my NINTH night – & they said for a night or two.
Good news – a Zepp – has been brought down by the Thames. Mr. Boyd has left for 2nd Army – all are sorry to lose him.
3 a.m. I have just been promenading on the verandah – the shape & size of a ship’s bridge – It was pitch dark – except for stars – & the sea beating at my very feet made it seem like being on the Capt’s bridge at sea – & I wished I were.
April 4th. To think! I may be going on leave in 2 weeks or so – No news.
April 5th. [But written as 4th. Ed] Do not feel inclined to write my diary – & anyway there is nothing to say. These blessed submarines are a nuisance! Havre harbour is closed again, & the two who went on leave yesterday – are still in Havre – it may affect all our leaves. Still on night duty. Thomas doing well – so far – Stitches taken out today. Saw the new moon – not through glass. Did not go for a walk yesterday morning – was too tired – tumbled into bed & slept soundly from 12 to 6.30 – with only waking once – delightful. No mail in – hope to Goodness – there have been no boats torpedoed. 4 a.m. The monotony of the night was relieved at 3 a.m. by the coming of the Night Super – to say that the Staff nurse in Casino 5 – fearfully heavy surgical ward – had fainted badly so we decided to tell Matron & have her brought along here where I could keep an eye on her – She is fixed now with hot bottles – Soda & Salvolatile – & the Night Super will be coming back in a few minutes to take a friendly plate of porridge with me. Poor Sheard had to be rudely awakened & sent on duty in place of Bell. the sick one.
Midnight, 6th & 7th. Nothing has happened at all exciting the last two days & I have not even been for a respectable walk. Felt tired for some reason & went to bed early. No sign of coming off night duty yet have done 12 1/3 nights now. Two submarines have been caught at Havre – & 1 at Folkestone. Our English patients who left today are held up at Havre – as the port is closed. Watson is hoping she will get off for leave tomorrow all right – & we 3 for next week are hoping we shall get off all right too.
Every morning at day break the crows amuse me very much. They come up in battallions of about 1000 each to over the cliff on the left – & they drill – & exercise & squawk for about 1/2 an hour – & then fly off again to their various feeding grounds – but they do everything exactly like one bird – swing round together, ascend – alight – It must be drilling.
Great consternation in the dovecote tonight because the CofE Padre – has called to see me – two days in succession – I did see him tonight – but if they had only known – it was only to talk about the chapel arrangements – & to get two photos of graves – for relatives of two of my men who died.
April 9th. ’Ad ’orrible day on the 7th – Went to Havre with Allen (Day off) – because she was alone – Hired the bootmaker’s car – & started off 10 a.m.
Got to Havre – saw a great congestion of shipping in the Harbour – held up for submarines, & the masts of a torpedoed vessel
Then we did some shopping – & lunched – & went to the Galleries – where our car was to meet us – 1 p.m. no car – 1.30 – no car – 2 – the bootmaker bustled up in a heated condition to say the car has broken down & would not be repaired for 3 days. No cars to hire – no ambulances – no train to Étretat until 4.30 p.m. Went to H.Q., saw A.D.M.S. 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. Ed]– & a French book – Lunch in bed – (Madame will cook me something nice) – then get up & walk to Gonville [Gonneville] with Constable.
12 – 13 – 14 – Oh I do ‘ope it won’t be very rough. Hope you are better – hope to see you soon!
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.
Hope you are better. Matron got orders yesterday to take duty on the Asturias – don’t fancy she will care for a seagoing job – & there are no allowances on board ship! [HMHS Asturias was built in 1907 for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company but was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914 and converted to a hospital ship able to accommodate 900 patients. In 1917 she was torpedoed by a submarine. The attack blew off the stern, killing 35 crew, but the hulk was kept as a floating ammunition store in Plymouth until the end of the war. Ed]
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 happened.
Yesterday an airship & a torpedoe destroyer were up & down to & fro, round & round – like a couple of terriers after a rat. The airship sighted the quarry later – & the steamer blew it up – crew & all complete – i.e. a German submarine.
A letter from Hilda – she is in N. Wales.
April 18th. 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.
[Searches on Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Register reveal the following:
Colonel Frederick Thackeray: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101842.
Captain Paul Hammond: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101705.
Private Charles Kerr: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101737.
Sapper George Sawdon: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=101811. Editor]
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.
This creature was out scouting yesterday – shiny dark grey – big one – no steamers in attendance.
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 Part Two ends here.
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