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Title: Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front

1914-1915

          "Naught broken save this body, lost but breath.
          Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there,
          But only agony, and that has ending;
          And the worst friend and enemy is but Death."



William Blackwood and Sons
Edinburgh and London
1915



CONTENTS.

                                                              PAGE
I. WAITING FOR ORDERS, AUGUST 18, 1914, TO
SEPTEMBER 14, 1914                                               1

The voyage out--Havre--Leaving Havre--R.M.S.P.
"Asturias"--St Nazaire--Orders at
last.

II. LE MANS--WOUNDED FROM THE AISNE--SEPTEMBER
15, 1914, TO OCTOBER 11, 1914                                   33

Station duty--On train duty--Orders again--Waiting
to go--Still at Le Mans--No.-- Stationary
Hospital--Off at last--The Swindon of
France.

III. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (1)--FIRST
EXPERIENCES--OCTOBER 13, 1914, TO
OCTOBER 19, 1914                                                65

Ambulance Train--Under fire--Tales of the
Retreat--Life on the Train.

IV. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (2)--FIRST
BATTLE OF YPRES--OCTOBER 20, 1914, TO
NOVEMBER 17, 1914                                               81

Rouen--First Battle of Ypres--At Ypres--A
rest--A General Hospital.

V. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (3)--BRITISH
AND INDIANS--NOVEMBER 18, 1914, TO
DECEMBER 17, 1914.                                             111

The Boulogne siding--St Omer--Indian
soldiers--His Majesty King George--Lancashire
men on the War--Hazebrouck--Bailleul--French
engine-drivers--Sheepskin coats--A
village in N.E. France--Headquarters.

VI. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (4)--CHRISTMAS
AND NEW YEAR ON THE TRAIN--DECEMBER
18, 1914, TO JANUARY 3, 1915                                   143

The Army and the King--Mufflers--Christmas
Eve--Christmas on the train--Princess
Mary's present--The trenches in winter--"A
typical example"--New Year's Eve at Rouen--The
young officers.

VII. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (5)--WINTER
ON THE TRAIN AND IN THE TRENCHES--JANUARY
7, 1915, TO FEBRUARY 6, 1915                                   165

The Petit Vitesse siding--Uncomplainingness
of Tommy--Painting the train--A painful convoy--The
"Yewlan's" watch--"Officer dressed in
bandages"--Sotteville--Versailles--The Palais
Trianon--A walk at Rouen--The German view,
and the English view--'Punch'--"When you
return Conqueror"--K.'s new Army.

VIII. ON NO.-- AMBULANCE TRAIN (6)--ROUEN--NEUVE
CHAPELLE--ST ELOI--FEBRUARY 7,
1915, TO MARCH 31, 1915                                        199

The Indians--St Omer--The Victoria League--Poperinghe--A
bad load--Left behind--Rouen again--An "off" spell--_En
route_ to Êtretat--Sotteville--Neuve Chapelle--St Eloi--The
Indians--Spring in N.W. France--The Convalescent
Home--Kitchener's boys.

IX. WITH NO.-- FIELD AMBULANCE (1)--BILLETS:
LIFE AT THE BACK OF THE FRONT--APRIL 2,
1915, TO APRIL 29, 1915                                        237

Good Friday and Easter, 1915--The Maire's
Château--A walk to Beuvry--The new billet--The
guns--A Taube--The Back of the Front--A
soldier's funeral--German machine-guns--Gas
fumes--The Second Battle of Ypres.

X. WITH NO.-- FIELD AMBULANCE (2)--FESTUBERT,
MAY 9 AND 16--MAY 6, 1915, TO MAY
26, 1915                                                       273

The noise of war--Preparation--Sunday,
May 9--The barge--The officers' dressing-station--Charge
of the Black Watch, May 9--Festubert, May 16--The French
Hospital--A bad night--Shelled out--Back at a Clearing
Hospital--"For duty at a Base Hospital."



I.

Waiting for Orders

_August 18, 1914, to September 14, 1914_



          "Troops to our England true
            Faring to Flanders,
          God be with all of you
            And your commanders."

          --G.W. BRODRIBB.



I.

Waiting for Orders.

_August 18, 1914, to September 14, 1914._

The voyage out--Havre--Leaving Havre--R.M.S.P. "Asturias"--St
Nazaire--Orders at last.

S.S. CITY OF BENARES (_Troopship_).


_Tuesday, 8 P.M., August 18th._--Orders just gone round that there are
to be no lights after dark, so I am hasting to write this.

We had a great send-off in Sackville Street in our motor-bus, and went
on board about 2 P.M. From then till 7 we watched the embarkation going
on, on our own ship and another. We have a lot of R.E. and R.F.A. and
A.S.C., and a great many horses and pontoons and ambulance waggons: the
horses were very difficult to embark, poor dears. It was an exciting
scene all the time. I don't remember anything quite so thrilling as our
start off from Ireland. All the 600 khaki men on board, and every one on
every other ship, and all the crowds on the quay, and in boats and on
lighthouses, waved and yelled. Then we and the officers and the men,
severally, had the King's proclamation read out to us about doing our
duty for our country, and God blessing us, and how the King is following
our every movement.

We are now going to snatch up a very scratch supper and turn in, only
rugs and blankets.


_Wednesday, August 19th._--We are having a lovely calm and sunny
voyage--slowed down in the night for a fog. I had a berth by an open
port-hole, and though rather cold with one blanket and a rug
(dressing-gown in my trunk), enjoyed it very much--cold sea bath in the
morning. We live on oatmeal biscuits and potted meat, with chocolate and
tea and soup squares, some bread and butter sometimes, and cocoa at
bed-time.

There is a routine by bugle-call on troopships, with a guard, police,
and fatigues. The Tommies sleep on bales of forage in the after
well-deck and all over the place. We have one end of the 1st class cabin
forrard, and the officers have the 2nd class aft for sleeping and meals,
but there is a sociable blend on deck all day. Two medical officers here
were both in South Africa at No. 7 when I was (Captains in those days),
and we have had great cracks on old times and all the people we knew.
One is commanding a Field Ambulance and goes with the fighting line.
There are 200 men for Field Ambulances on board. They don't carry
Sisters, worse luck, only Padres.

We had an impromptu service on deck this afternoon; I played the
hymns,--never been on a voyage yet without being let in for that. It was
run by the three C. of E. Padres and the Wesleyan hand in hand: the
latter has been in the Nile Expedition of '98 and all through South
Africa. We had Mission Hymns roared by the Tommies, and then a C. of E.
Padre gave a short address--quite good. The Wesleyan did an extempore
prayer, rather well, and a very nice huge C. of E. man gave the
Blessing. Now they are having a Tommies' concert--a talented boy at the
piano.

At midday we passed a French cruiser, going the opposite way. They waved
and yelled, and we waved and yelled. We are out of sight of English or
French coast now. I believe we are to be in early to-morrow morning, and
will have a long train journey probably, but nobody knows anything for
certain except where we land--Havre.

It seems so long since we heard anything about the war, but it is only
since yesterday morning. (The concert is rather distracting, and the
wind is getting up--one of the Tommies has an angelic black puppy on
his lap, with a red cross on its collar, and there is a black cat
about.)


_Thursday, August 20th_, 5 P.M., _Havre._--We got in about 9 o'clock
this morning. Havre is a very picturesque town, with very high houses,
and a great many docks and quays, and an enormous amount of shipping.
The wharves were as usual lined with waving yelling crowds, and a great
exchange of Vive l'Angleterre from them, and Vive la France from us went
on, and a lusty roar of the Marseillaise from us. During the morning the
horses and pontoons and waggons were disembarked, and the R.E. and Field
Ambulances went off to enormous sheds on the wharf. We went off in a
taxi in batches of five to the Convent de St Jeanne d'Arc, an enormous
empty school, totally devoid of any furniture except crucifixes! Luckily
the school washhouse has quite good basins and taps, and we are all
camping out, three in a room, to sleep on the floor, as our camp kit
isn't available. No one knows if we shall be here one night, or a week,
or for ever! It is a glorious place, with huge high rooms, and huge open
casements, and broad staircases and halls, windows looking over the town
to the sea. We are high up on a hill. There's no food here, so we sit on
the floor and make our own breakfast and tea, and go to a very swanky
hotel for lunch and dinner. We are billeted here for quarters, and at
the hotel for meals.

A room full of mattresses has just been discovered to our joy, and we
have all hauled one up to our rooms, so we shall be in luxury.

Just got a French paper and seen the Pope is dead, and a very
enthusiastic account of the British troops at Dunkerque, their
marvellous organisation, their cheerfulness, and their behaviour.

Just seen on the Official War News placarded in the town that the
Germans have crossed the Meuse between Liège and Namur, and the Belgians
are retiring on to Antwerp. The Allies must buck up.

The whole town is flying flags since the troops began to come in; all
the biggest shops and buildings fly all four of the Allies.


_Friday, August 21st._--Intercession Day at home. There is a beautiful
chapel in the Convent.

There is almost as much censoring about the movement of the French
troops in the French papers as there is about ours in the English, and
not a great deal about the movements of the Germans.

There are 43 Sisters belonging to No.-- General Hospital on the floor
below us camping out in the same way--86 altogether in the building,
one wing of which is the Sick Officers' Hospital of No.-- G.H.

The No.-- people are moving up the line to-night. It will take a few
days to get No.-- together, and then we shall move on at night. The
Colonel knows where to, but he has not told Matron; she thinks it will
be farther up than Amiens or Rheims, where two more have already gone,
but it is all guess-work. I expect No.-- from C---- is in Belgium. (It
was at Amiens and had to leave in a hurry.)

The whole system of Field Medical Service has altered since South
Africa. The wounded are picked up on the field by the _regimental
stretcher-bearers_, who are generally the band, trained in First Aid and
Stretcher Drill. They take them to the Bearer Section of the _Field
Ambulance_ (which used to be called Field Hospital), who take them to
the Tent Section of the same Field Ambulance, who have been getting the
_Dressing Station_ ready with sterilisers, &c., while the Bearer Section
are fetching them from the regimental stretcher-bearers. They are all
drilled to get this ready in twenty minutes in tents, but it takes
longer in farmhouses. The Field Ambulance then takes them in ambulance
waggons (with lying down and sitting accommodation) to the _Clearing
Hospital_, with beds, and returns empty to the Dressing Station. From
the Clearing Hospital they go on to the _Stationary Hospital_--200
beds--which is on a railway, and finally in hospital trains to the
_General Hospital_, their last stopping-place before they get shipped
off to _Netley_ and all the English hospitals. The General Hospitals are
the only ones at present to carry Sisters; 500 beds is the minimum, and
they are capable of expanding indefinitely.

There is a large staff of harassed-looking landing officers here, with
A.M.L.O. on a white armband for the medical people; a great many
troopships are coming from Southampton; you hear them booing their
signals in the harbour all night and day.

I've had my first letter from England, from a patient at ----. The Field
Service post-card is quite good as a means of communication, but
frightfully tantalising from our point of view.

We had a very good night on our mattresses, but it was rather cold
towards morning with only one rug.

They have a Carter-Paterson motor-van for the Military mail-cart at the
M.P.O., and two Tommies sit by a packing-case with a slit in the lid for
the letter-box.


_Saturday, August 22nd._--The worst has happened. No.-- is to stop at
Havre; in camp three miles out. So No.-- and No.-- are both staying
here.

Meanwhile to-day Nos.--, --, and -- have all arrived; 130 more Sisters
besides the 86 already here are packed into this Convent, camping out in
dining-halls and schoolrooms and passages. The big Chapel below and the
wee Chapel on this floor seem to be the only unoccupied places now.

Havre is a big base for the France part of our Expeditionary Force.
Troopships are arriving every day, and every fighting man is being
hurried up to the Front, and they cannot block the lines and trains with
all these big hospitals yet.

The news from the Front looks bad to-day--Namur under heavy fire, and
the Germans pressing on Antwerp, and the French chased out of Lorraine.

Everybody is hoping it doesn't mean staying here permanently, but you
never know your luck. It all depends what happens farther up, and of
course one might have the luck to be added to a hospital farther up to
fill up casualties among Sisters or if more were wanted.

The base hospitals, of course, are always filling up from up country
with men who may be able to return to duty, and acute or hopeless cases
who have to be got well enough for a hospital ship for home.

There is to be a Requiem Mass to-morrow at Notre Dame for those who have
been killed in the war, and the whole nave and choir is reserved for
officials and Red Cross people. It is a most beautiful church, now hung
all over with the four flags of the Allies. An old woman in the church
this morning asked us if we were going to the Blessés, and clasped our
hands and blessed us and wept. She must have had some sons in the army.

We are simply longing to get to work, whether here or anywhere else; it
is 100 per cent better in this interesting old town doing for ourselves
in the Convent than waiting in the stuffy hotel at Dublin. There is any
amount to see--miles of our Transport going through the town with burly
old shaggy English farm-horses, taken straight from the harvest, pulling
the carts; French Artillery Reservists being taught to work the guns;
French soldiers passing through; and our R.E. Motor-cyclists scudding
about. And one can practise talking, understanding, and reading French.
It is surprising how few of the 216 Sisters here seem to know a word of
French. I am looked upon as an expert, and you know what my French is
like! A sick officer sitting out in the court below has got a small
French boy by him who is teaching him French with a map, a 'Matin,' and
a dictionary. A great deal of nodding and shaking of heads is going on.


_Sunday, August 23rd._--The same dazzling blue sky, boiling sun, and
sharp shadows that one seldom sees in England for long together; we've
had it for days.

We've had yesterday's London papers to read to-day; they quote in a
rather literal translation from their Paris Correspondent word for word
what we read in the Paris papers yesterday. I wonder what the English
hospital people in Brussels are doing in the German occupation,--pretty
hard times for them, I expect. Two that I know are there doing civilian
work, and Lord Rothschild has got a lot of English nurses there.

This morning I went to the great Requiem Mass at Notre Dame. It was
packed to bursting with people standing, but we were immediately shown
to good places. The Abbé preached a very fine war sermon, quite easy to
understand. There was a great deal of weeping on all sides. When the
service was finished the big organ suddenly struck up "God Save the
King"; it gave one such a thrill. And then a long procession of officers
filed out, our generals with three rows of ribbons leading, and the
French following.

This is said to be our biggest base, and that we shall get some very
good work. Of course, once we get the wounded in it doesn't make any
difference where you are.


_Monday, August 24th._--The news looks bad to-day; people say it is très
sérieux, ce moment-ci; but there is a cheering article in Saturday's
'Times' about it all. The news is posted up at the Préfeture (dense
crowd always) several times a day, and we get many editions of the
papers as we go through the day.


_Tuesday, August 25th._--We bide here. No.-- G.H., which is also here,
has been chopped in half, and divided between us and No.-- General, the
permanent Base Hospital already established here. So we shall be two
base hospitals, each with 750 beds.

The place is full of rumours of all sorts of horrors,--that the Germans
have landed in Scotland, that they are driving the Allies back on all
sides, and that the casualties are in thousands. So far there are 200
sick, minor cases, at No.--, but no wounded except two Germans. We have
no beds open yet; the hospital is still being got on with; our site is
said to be on a swamp between a Remount Camp and a Veterinary Camp, so
we shall do well in horse-flies.

It is a fortnight to-morrow since we mobilised, and we have had no work
yet except our own fatigue duty in the Convent; it was our turn this
morning, and I scrubbed the lavatories out with creosol.

I've had an interesting day to-day, motoring round with the C.O. of
No.-- and the No.-- Matron. We visited each of their three palatial
buildings in turn, huge wards of 60 beds each, in ball-rooms, and a
central camp of 500 on a hill outside. They have their work cut out
having it so divided up, but they are running it magnificently.


_Wednesday, August 26th._--Very ominous leading articles in the French
papers to-day bidding every one to remember that there is no need to
give up hope of complete success in the end! There is a great deal about
the French and English heavy losses, but where are the wounded being
sent? It is absolutely maddening sitting here still with no work yet,
when there must be so much to be done; but I suppose it will come to us
in time, as it is easier to move the men to the hospitals than the
hospitals to the men, or they wouldn't have put 1500 beds here.

The street children here have a charming way of running up to every
strolling Tommy, Officer, or Sister, seizing their hand, and saying,
"Goodnight," and saluting; one reached up to pat my shoulder.

No.-- G.H., which left here yesterday for Abbeville, between Rouen and
the mouth of the Somme, came back again to-day. They were met by a
telegram at Rouen at midnight, telling them to return to Havre, as it
was not safe to go on. They are of course frightfully sick.

French wounded have been coming in all day. And we are not yet in camp.
Our site is said to be a fearful swamp, so to-day, which has been
soaking wet, will be a good test for it.

It is so wet to-night that we are going to have cocoa and
bread-and-butter on the floor, instead of trailing down to the hotel for
dinner. Miss ----, who is the third in our room, regales us with really
thrilling stories of her adventures in S.A. She was mentioned in
despatches, and reported dead.


_Thursday, August 27th._--Bright sun to-day, so I hope the Army is
drying itself. All sorts of rumours as usual--that our wounded are still
on the field, being shot by the Germans, that 700 are coming to Havre
to-day, that 700 have been taken in at Rouen, where we have three
G.H.'s--that last is the truest story. We went this afternoon to see
over the Hospital Ship here, waiting for wounded to take back to
Netley. It is beautifully fitted, and even has hot-water bottles ready
in the beds, but no wounded. It is much smaller than the H.S. _Dunera_ I
came home in from South Africa. Still no sign of No.-- being ready,
which is not surprising, as the hay had to be cut and the place drained
more or less. The French and English officers here all sit at different
tables, and don't hobnob much. Six officers of the Royal Flying Corps
are here, double-breasted tunics and two spread-eagle wings on left
breast. Troops are still arriving at the docks, which are the biggest I
have ever seen. The men on the trams give us back our sous, as we are
"Militaires."


_Friday, August 28th._--Hot and brilliant. Eleven fugitive Sisters of
No.-- have come back to-day from Amiens, and the others are either hung
up somewhere or on the way. The story is that Uhlans were arriving in
the town, and that it wasn't safe for women; I don't know if the
hospital were receiving wounded or not. Yes, they were. Another rumour
to-day says that No.-- Field Ambulance has been wiped out by a bomb from
an aeroplane. Another rumour says that one regiment has five men left,
and another one man--but most of these stories turn out myths in time.

Wounded are being taken in at No.--, and are being shipped home from
there the same day.

This morning Matron took two of us out to our Hospital camp, three miles
along the Harfleur road. The tram threaded its way through thousands of
our troops, who arrived this morning, and through a regiment of French
Sappers. There were Seaforths (with khaki petticoats over the kilt), R.
Irish Rifles, R.B. Gloucesters, Connaughts, and some D.G.'s and Lancers.
They were all heavily loaded up with kit and rifles (sometimes a proud
little French boy would carry these for them), marching well, but
perspiring in rivers. It was a good sight, and the contrast between the
khaki and the red trousers and caps and blue coats of the French was
very striking. We went nearly to Harfleur (where Henry V. landed before
Agincourt), and then walked back towards No.-- Camp, along a beautiful
straight avenue with poplars meeting over the top. About 20 motors full
of Belgian officers passed us.

The camp is getting on well. All the Hospital tents are pitched, and all
the quarters except the Sisters and the big store tents for the
Administration block are ready. The operating theatre tent is to have a
concrete floor and is not ready.

The ground is the worst part. It is a very boggy hay-field, and in wet
weather like Wednesday and Tuesday they say it is a swamp. We are all
to have our skirts and aprons very short and to be well provided with
gum-boots. We shall be two in a bell-tent, or dozens in a big store
tent, uncertain yet which, and we are to have a bath tent. I am to be
surgical.

While waiting for the tram on the way back, on a hot, white road, we
made friends with a French soldier, who stopped a little motor-lorry,
already crammed with men and some sort of casks, and made them take us
on. I sat on the floor, with my feet on the step, and we whizzed back
into Havre in great style. There is no speed limit, and it was a lovely
joy-ride!

We are seeing the 'Times' a few days late and fairly regularly. Have not
seen any list of the Charleroi casualties yet. It all seems to be coming
much nearer now. The line is very much taken up with ammunition trains.

To show that there is a good deal going on, though we've as yet had no
work, I'm only half through my 7d. book, and we left home a fortnight
and two days ago. If you do have a chance to read anything but
newspapers, you can't keep your mind on it.

We are getting quite used to a life shorn of most of its trappings,
except for the two hotel meals a day.

My mattress, on the floor along the very low large window, with two rugs
and cushions, and a holdall for a bolster, is as comfortable as any
bed, and you don't miss sheets after a day or two. There is one bathroom
for 120 or more people, but I get a cold bath every morning early.
S---- gets our early morning tea, and M. sweeps our room, and I wash up
and roll up the beds. We are still away from our boxes, and have a
change of some clothes and not others. I have to wash my vest overnight
when I want a clean one and put it on in the morning. We have slung a
clothes-line across our room. The view is absolutely glorious.


_Saturday, August 29th._--A grilling day. It is very difficult, this
waiting. No.-- had 450 wounded in yesterday, and they were whisked off
on the hospital ship in the evening. It doesn't look as if there would
be anything for us to do for weeks.


_Sunday, August 30th._--Orders to-day for the whole Base at Havre to
pack itself up and embark at a moment's notice. So No.--, No.--, No.--,
and No.-- G.H., who are all here, and a Royal Flying Corps unit, the
Post Office, and the Staff, and every blessed British unit, are all
packing up for dear life. We may be going home, and we may be going to
Brittany, to Cherbourg, or to Brest, or to Berlin.


_Monday, August 31st._--We all got up at 5.30 to be ready, but I daresay
we shan't move to-day. Yesterday we had two starved, exhausted, fugitive
(from Amiens) No.-- Sisters in to tea on our floor, and heard their
stories. The last seventeen of them fled with the wounded. A train of
cattle-trucks came in at Rouen with all the wounded as they were picked
up without a spot of dressing on any of their wounds, which were septic
and full of straw and dirt. The matron, M.O., and some of them got hold
of some dressings and went round doing what they could in the time, and
others fed them. Then the No.-- got their Amiens wounded into
cattle-trucks on mattresses, with Convent pillows, and had a twenty
hours' journey with them in frightful smells and dirt. Our visitor had
five badly-wounded officers, one shot through the lungs and hip, and all
full of bullets and spunk. They were magnificent, and asked riddles and
whistled, and the men were the same. They'd been travelling already for
two days. An orderly fell out of the train and was badly injured, and
died next morning.

It is very interesting to read on Monday the 'Times' Military
Correspondent's forecast of Friday. He seems to know so exactly the
different lines of defence of the Allies, and exactly where the Germans
will try and break through. But he has never found out that Havre has
been a base for over a fortnight. He speaks of Havre or Cherbourg as a
possible base to fall back upon, if fortified against long-distance
artillery firing, which we are not. And now we are abandoning Havre!


_Tuesday, September 1st._--No orders yet, so we are still waiting,
packed up.

Went with one of the regulars to-day to see the big hospital ship
_Asturias_ with 3000 beds, and also to see Sister ---- at the
No.-- Maritime Hospital. They've been very busy there dressing the
wounded for the ship. Colonel ---- brought us back in his motor, and met
the Consul-General on the way, who told us K. came through to-day off a
cruiser, and was taken on to Paris in a motor. Smiles of relief from
every one. One of the Sisters had heard from her mother in Scotland that
she had five Russian officers billeted! They are said to be on their way
through from Archangel.

Troopships full of French and English troops are leaving Havre every
day, for Belgium.

Wouldn't you like to be under the table when K. and J. and F. are poring
over their maps to-night?


_Wednesday, September 2nd._--We are leaving to-morrow, on a hospital
ship, possibly for Nantes K. has given orders for every one to be
cleared out of Havre by to-morrow.

We found some men invalided from the Front lying outside the station
last night waiting for an ambulance, mostly reservists called up; they'd
had a hot time, but were full of grit.

The men from Mons told us "it wasn't fighting--it was murder." They said
the burning hot sun was one of the worst parts. They said "the officers
was grand"; many regiments seem to have hardly any officers left. They
all say that the S.A. War was a picnic compared to this German artillery
onslaught and their packed masses continually filling up.

There is a darling little chapel on this floor, beautifully kept, just
as the nuns left it, where one can say one's prayers. And there is also
a lovely church, where they have Mass at 8 every morning.

You can imagine how hard it has been to keep off grumbling at not
getting any work all this time; it is one of the worst of fortunes of
war. It seems as if most of the "dangerously" and many of the
"seriously" wounded must have died pretty soon, or have not been picked
up. The cases that do come down are most of them slight. Some of the
worst must be in hospital at Rouen.


_Friday, September 4th. R.M.S.P._ Asturias, _Havre._--At last we are
uprooted from that convent up the hot hill and are on an enormous
hospital ship, who in times of peace goes to New York and Brazil and the
Argentine. There are 240 Sisters on her, one or two M.O.'s, and all the
No.-- equipment. She is like a great white town; you can walk for miles
on her decks; she is the biggest I have ever been on; we are in the
cabins, and the wards and operating-theatres are all equipped for
patients, but at the moment she is being used as a transport for us. We
are supposed to be going to St Nazaire, the port for Nantes. They can't
possibly be going to dump No.--, No.--, No.--, No.--, and No.-- all down
at the new base, so I suppose one or two of the hospitals will be sent
up the new lines of communication.

Poor Havre is very desolate. All the flags came down when the British
left, and the people looked very sad. Paris refugees are crowding in,
and sleeping on the floors of the hotels, and camping out in their motor
cars, and many crossing to England. There is a Proclamation up all over
the town telling the people to pull themselves together whatever
happens, and to forget everything that is not La Patrie. Also another
about the military necessity for the Government to leave Paris, and
that they mustn't be afraid of anything that may happen, because we
shall win in the end, &c., &c.

We don't start till to-morrow, I believe; meanwhile, cleanliness and
privacy and sheets, and cool, quick meals and sea breeze, are cheering
after the grime and the pigging and the squash and the awful heat of the
last fortnight. I have picked up a bad cold from the foul dust-heaps and
drainless condition of the smelly Havre streets, but it will soon
disappear now.

I wish I could tell you the extraordinary beauty of yesterday evening
from the ship. There was a flaming sunset below a pale-green sky, and
then the thousand lights of the ships and the town came out reflected in
the water, and then a brilliant moon. A big American cruiser was
alongside of us.

We shall get no more letters till we land. I have a "State-room" all to
myself on the top deck; the waiters and stewards are English, very
polite to us, and the crew are mostly West African negroes, who talk
good English. The ship is very becoming to the white, grey, and red of
our uniforms, or else our uniforms are becoming to the ship, and her
many decks; but why, oh why, are we not all in hospital somewhere?


_Saturday, September 5th._--Had a perfect voyage--getting in to Nantes
to-night--after that no one knows. Shouldn't be surprised if we are sent
home.


LA BAULE, NEAR NANTES.

_Monday, September 7th._--The latest wave of this erratic sea has tossed
us up on to two little French seaside places north of St Nazaire, the
port of Nantes. There are over _500_ Sisters at the two places in
hotels. No.-- and No.-- and part of -- are at La Baule in one enormous
new hotel, which has been taken over for the French wounded on the
bottom floor; the rest was empty till we came. We are in palatial rooms
with balconies overlooking the sea, and have large bathrooms opening out
of our rooms; it is rather like the Riffel in the middle of a forest of
pines, and the sea immediately in front. The expense of it all must be
colossal! Every one is too sick at the state of affairs to enjoy it at
all; some bathe, and you can sit about in the pines or on the sands. We
have had no letters since we left Havre last Thursday, and no news of
the war. We took till Sunday morning to reach St Nazaire, and at midday
were stuffed into a little dirty train for this place. I'm thankful we
didn't have to get out at Pornichet, the station before this, where are
Nos.--, --, --, --, and --.

The Sisters of No.-- who had to leave their hospital at ---- handed
their sick officers and men over to the French hospital, much to their
disgust. The officers especially have a horror of the elegant ways of
the French nurses, who make one water do for washing them all round!


_Tuesday, September 8th._--Orders came last night to each Matron to
provide three or five Sisters who can talk French for duty up country
with a Stationary Hospital, so M. and I are put down with two Regulars
and another Reserve. It is probably too much luck and won't come off.
The duties will be "very strenuous," both for night and day duty, and we
are to carry very little kit. The wire may come at any time. So this
morning M. and I and Miss J----, our Senior Regular, and very nice
indeed, got into the train for St Nazaire to see about our baggage, and
had an adventurous morning. The place was swarming with troops of all
sorts. The 6th Division was being sent up to the Front to-day, and no
medical units could get hold of any transport for storing all their
thousands of tons of stuff. One of the minor errors has been sending the
600 Sisters out with 600 trunks, 600 holdalls, and 600 kit-bags!! The
Sisters' baggage is a byword now, and we could have done with only one
of the three things or 1-1/2. We have been out nearly a month now and
have not been near our boxes; some other hospitals have lost all
theirs, or had them smashed up. We at last traced our No.-- people and
found them encamped on the wharf among the stuff,[1] trying to get it
stored with only one motor transport lent them by the Flying Corps. They
were very nice to us, offered us lunch on packing-cases, and Major
---- cleaned my skirt with petrol for me!

[Footnote 1: Each hospital contains 78 tons of tents, furniture, stores,
&c.]

They sorted out the five kit-bags and boxes for us from the rest, as we
have to go in to-morrow and repack for duty,--only sleeping kit and
uniform to be taken, and a change of underclothing. They said we'd have
to make our own transport arrangements, as the 6th Division had taken up
everything. So in the town we saw an empty dray outside a public-house,
and after investigating inside two pubs we unearthed a fat man, who took
us to a wine merchant's yard, and he produced a huge dray, which he
handed over to us! We lent it to the Matron of No.--, and we have
commandeered the brewer for No.--'s to-morrow. Then we met a large
French motor ambulance without a French owner, with "Havre" on it, which
we knew, and sent Miss ---- in it to the _Asturias_ to try and collar it
for us to-morrow. She did.

There were a lot of Cavalry already mounted just starting, and Welsh
Fusiliers, and Argyll and Sutherlands, and swarms more. We had another
invitation to a packing-case lunch from three other M.O.'s at another
wharf, but couldn't stop.

We saw three German officers led through the crowd at the wharf. The
French crowd booed and groaned and yelled "Les Assassins" at them. The
Tommies were quite quiet. They looked white and bored. We also saw 86
men (German prisoners) in a shed on the wharf. Some one who'd been
talking to the German officers told us they were quite cheerful and
absolutely certain Germany is going to win!


_Wednesday, September 9th._--It is a month to-day since I left home, and
seems like six, and no work yet. Isn't it absolutely rotten? A big storm
last night, and the Bay of Biscay tumbling about like fun to-day: bright
and sunny again now. The French infants, boys and girls up to any age,
are all dressed in navy knickers and jerseys and look so jolly. Matron
has gone into St Nazaire to-day to get all the whole boiling of our
baggage out here to repack. P'raps she'll bring some news or some
letters, or, best of all, some orders.

This is a lovely spot. I'm writing on our balcony at the Riffelalp,
above the tops of the pines, and straight over the sea. Three Padres
are stranded at Pornichet--two were troopers in the S.A. War, and they
do duty for us. The window of the glass lounge where we have services
blew in with a crash this morning, right on the top of them, and it took
some time to sort things out, but eventually they went on, in the middle
of the sentence they stopped at.

A French rag this morning had some cheering telegrams about the
Allies--that left, centre, and right were all more than holding their
own, even if the enemy is rather near Paris. What about the Russians who
came through England? We've heard of trains passing through Oxford with
all the blinds down.


_Thursday, September 10th._--Dazzling day. War news, "L'ennemie se
replie devant l'armée anglaise," and that "Nos alliés anglais
poursuivent leur offensive dans la direction de la Marne."--All good so
far. No letters yet.


_Friday, September 11th._--It is said to-day that No.-- is to open at
Nantes immediately. That will mean, at the earliest, in a fortnight,
possibly much longer. We five French speakers are again told to stand by
for special orders, but I know it won't come off.

At early service yesterday among the Intercessions was one for patience
in this time of trial waiting for our proper work. Never was there a
more needful Intercession.

Some of us explored the salt-marshes behind this belt of pines
yesterday, up to the farms and to a little old church on the other side;
it was open, and had a little ship hanging over the chancel. The
salt-marshes are intersected by sea walls--with sea pinks and sea
lavender--that you walk along, and there are masses of blackberries
round the farms.

There are rumours that all the hospitals will be getting to work soon,
but I don't believe it. No.-- has lost all its tent-poles, and a lot of
its equipment in the move from Havre. I believe the missing stuff is
supposed to be on its way to Jersey in the _Welshman_ with the German
prisoners.


_Saturday, September 12th._--Rien à dire. Tous les jours même chose--on
attend des ordres, ce qui ne viennent jamais.


_Sunday, September 13th._--The hospitals seem to be showing faint signs
of moving. No.-- has gone to Versailles, and No.-- to Nantes. No.--
would have gone to Versailles if they hadn't had the bad luck to lose
their tent-poles in the _Welshman_, and their pay-sheets and a few other
important items.

Had to play the hymns at three services to-day without a hymn-book!
Luckily I scratched up 370, 197, 193, 176, and 285, and God Save the
King, out of my head, but "We are but little children weak" is the only
other I can do, except "Peace, Perfect Peace"! A fine sermon by an
exceptionally good Padre, mainly on Patience and Preparation!


_Sunday Evening, September 13th, La Baule, Nantes._--Orders at last. M.
and I, an Army Sister, and two Army Staff Nurses are to go to Le Mans;
what for, remains to be seen; anyway, it will be work. It seems too good
to be by any possibility true. We may be for Railway Station duty,
feeding and dressings in trains or for a Stationary Hospital, or
anything, or to join No. 5 General at Le Mans.


_Monday, September 14th, Angers_, 8 P.M.--_in the train._--We five got
into the train at La Baule with kit-bags and holdalls, with the
farewells of Matron and our friends, at 9.30 this morning. We are still
in the same train, and shall not reach Le Mans till 11 P.M. Then what?
Perhaps Station Duty, perhaps Hospital. There is said to be any amount
of work at Le Mans. We have an R.H.A. Battery on this train with guns,
horses, five officers, and trucks full of shouting and yelling men all
very fit, straight from home. One big officer said savagely, "The first
man not carrying out orders will be sent down to the base," to one of
his juniors, as the worst threat. The spirits of the men are
irrepressible. The French people rush up wherever we stop (which is
extremely often and long) and give them grapes and pears and cigarettes.
We have had cider, coffee, fruit, chocolate, and biscuits-and-cheese at
intervals. It is difficult to get anything, because no one, French or
English, ever seems to know when the train is going on.

We have been reading in 'The Times' of September 3, 4, 5, and 7, all
day, and re-reading last night's mail from home.

What a marvellous spirit has been growing in all ranks of the Army (and
Navy) these last dozen years, to show as it is doing now. And the
technical perfection of all one saw at the Military Tournament this year
must have meant a good deal--for this War.

(We are still shunting madly in and out of Angers.)



II.

Le Mans

WOUNDED FROM THE AISNE

_September 15, 1914, to October 11, 1914_

          "No easy hopes or lies
          Shall bring us to our goal,
          But iron sacrifice
          Of body, will, and soul.
          There is but one task for all--
          For each one life to give,
          Who stands if freedom fall?
          Who dies if England live?"

          --RUDYARD KIPLING.



II.

Le Mans.

WOUNDED FROM THE AISNE.

_September 15, 1914, to October 11, 1914._

Station duty--On train duty--Orders again--Waiting to go--Still at Le
Mans--No.-- Stationary Hospital--Off at last--The Swindon of France.


_Tuesday, September 15th._--The train managed to reach Le Mans at 1 A.M.
this morning, and kindly shunted into a siding in the station till 6.30
A.M., so we got out our blankets and had a bit of a sleep. At 7 a motor
ambulance took us up to No.-- Stationary Hospital, which is a rather
grimy Bishop's Palace, pretty full and busy. The Sisters there gave us
tea and biscuits, and we were then sorted out by the Senior Matron, and
billeted singly. I'm in a nice little house with a garden with an old
French lady who hasn't a word of English, and fell on my neck when she
found I could understand her, and patter glibly and atrociously back.
My little room has a big window over the garden, and will, I suppose, be
my headquarters for the present in between train and station duty, which
I believe is to be our lot. We go to a rather dim café for meals, and
shall then learn what the duty is to be. It is yet a long time coming.
We haven't had a meal since the day before yesterday, so I shall be glad
when 12 o'clock comes. Now for a wash.


_Wednesday, September 16th._--Still here: only four of the twenty-five
(five sets of five) who formed our unit have been found jobs so far: two
are taking a train of sick down to St Nazaire, and two have joined No.--
Stationary Hospital in the town. We still await orders! This is a
first-class War for awaiting orders for some of us.

Yesterday it poured all day. We explored the Cathedral, which is
absolutely beautiful, perched high up over an open space--now crowded
with transport and motor ambulances. We made tea in my quarters, and
then explored the town; narrow streets thronged with Tommies as usual.

We have lunch at eleven and dinner at seven, at a dingy little inn
through a smelly back yard; there is not much to eat, and you fill up
with rather nasty bread and unripe pears, and drink a sort of flat
cider, as the water is not good.

To-day it is sunny again. I have just been to High Mass (Choral), and
taken photos of the Cathedral and the Market below, where I got four
ripe peaches for 1-1/2d.

Writing in the garden of Mme. Bontevin, my landlady.

There is any amount of work here at the Bishop's Palace; more than they
can get through on night duty with bad cases, and another Jesuit College
has been opened as No.-- Stationary. Went up to No.-- S. this afternoon
where F---- has been sent, to see her; she asked me to go out and buy
cakes for six wounded officers. They seemed highly pleased with them;
they are on beds, the men on stretchers; all in holland sheets and brown
blankets; only bare necessaries, as the Stationary Hospitals have to be
very mobile: stretchers make very decent beds, but they are difficult
for nursing.

They have had a good many deaths, surgical and medical, at L'Evêché;
they have pneumonias, and paralysis, and septic wounds, and an officer
shot through the head, with a temperature of 106 and paralysis; there is
a civil surgeon with a leg for amputation at No.-- Stationary.


_Friday, September 18th._--Même chose. We go up to the Hospital and ask
for orders, and to-night we were both told to get into ward uniform in
the morning, and wait there in case a job turns up. I've just come
to-night from No.-- Station where F---- is, to take her some things she
asked me to get for her officers.

They have been busy at the station to-day doing dressings on the trains.
A lot have come down from this fighting on the Marne.

Yesterday I think one touched the bottom of this waiting business. The
food at the dingy inn has dérangé my inside, and I lay down all day
yesterday. The Sergeant at the Dispensary prescribed lead and opium
pills for me when I asked for chlorodyne, as he said he'd just cured a
General with the same complaint--from the sour bread, he said. Fanny,
the fat cook here, and Isabel the maid, were overcome with anxiety over
my troubles, and fell over each other with hot bottles, and drinks, and
advice. They are perfect angels. Madame Bontevin pays me a state call
once a day; she has to have all the windows shut, and we sit close and
converse with animation. Flowery French compliments simply fly between
us. We often have to help the Tommies out with their shopping; their
attempts to buy Beecham's Pills are the funniest.

This afternoon I found 'The Times' of September 15th (Tuesday of this
week) in a shop and had a happy time with it. It referred, in a
Frenchman's letter, to a sunset at Havre on an evening that he would
never forget--nor shall I--with an American cruiser and a troopship
going out. (See page 24 of this effusion.)


_Saturday, September 19th._--It seems that we five No.--s who came up
last Monday are being kept to staff another Stationary Hospital farther
up, when it is ready; at least that is what it looks like from sundry
rumours--if so--good enough.

We have been all day in caps and aprons at L'Evêché, marking linen and
waiting for orders on the big staircase. I've also been over both
hospitals. The bad cases all seem to be dropped here off the trains;
there are some awful mouth, jaw, head, leg, and spine cases, who can't
recover, or will only be crippled wrecks. You can't realise that it has
all been done on purpose, and that none of them are accidents or
surgical diseases. And they seem all to take it as a matter of course;
the bad ones who are conscious don't speak, and the better ones are all
jolly and smiling, and ready "to have another smack." One little room
had two wounded German prisoners, with an armed guard. One who was shot
through the spine died while I was there--his orderly and the Sister
were with him. The other is a spy--nearly well--who has to be very
carefully watched.

They are all a long time between the field and the Hospital. One told me
he was wounded on Tuesday--was one day in a hospital, and then
travelling till to-day, Saturday. No wonder their wounds are full of
straw and grass. (Haven't heard of any more tetanus.) Most haven't had
their clothes off, or washed, for three weeks, except face and hands.

No war news to-day, except that the Germans are well fortified and
entrenched in their positions N. of Rheims.


_Sunday, September 20th._--Began with early service at the Jesuit School
Hospital at 6.30, and the rest of the day one will never forget. The
fighting for these concrete entrenched positions of the Germans behind
Rheims has been so terrific since last Sunday that the number of
casualties has been enormous. Three trains full of wounded, numbering
altogether 1175 cases, have been dressed at the station to-day; we were
sent down at 11 this morning. The train I was put to had 510 cases. You
boarded a cattle-truck, armed with a tray of dressings and a pail; the
men were lying on straw; had been in trains for several days; most had
only been dressed once, and many were gangrenous. If you found one
urgently needed amputation or operation, or was likely to die, you
called an M.O. to have him taken off the train for Hospital. No one
grumbled or made any fuss. Then you joined the throng in the
dressing-station, and for hours doctors of all ranks, Sisters and
orderlies, grappled with the stream of stretchers, and limping,
staggering, bearded, dirty, fagged men, and ticketed them off for the
motor ambulances to the Hospitals, or back to the train, after dressing
them. The platform was soon packed with stretchers with all the bad
cases waiting patiently to be taken to Hospital. We cut off the silk
vest of a dirty, brigandish-looking officer, nearly finished with a
wound through his lung. The Black Watch and Camerons were almost
unrecognisable in their rags. The staple dressing is tincture of iodine;
you don't attempt anything but swabbing with lysol, and then gauze
dipped in iodine. They were nearly all shrapnel shell wounds--more
ghastly than anything I have ever seen or smelt; the Mauser wounds of
the Boer War were pin-pricks compared with them. There was also a huge
train of French wounded being dressed on the other side of the station,
including lots of weird, gaily-bedecked Zouaves.

There was no real confusion about the whole day, owing to the good
organising of the No.-- Clearing Hospital people who run it. Every man
was fed, and dressed and sorted. They'll have a heavy time at the two
hospitals to-night with the cases sent up from the trains.

M. and I are now--9 P.M.--in charge of a train of 141 (with an M.O. and
two orderlies) for St Nazaire; we jump out at the stations and see to
them, and the orderlies and the people on the stations feed them: we
have the worst cases next to us. We may get there some time to-morrow
morning, and when they are taken off, we train back, arriving probably
on Wednesday at Le Mans. The lot on this train are the best leavings of
to-day's trains,--a marvellously cheery lot, munching bread and jam and
their small share of hot tea, and blankets have just been issued. We
ourselves have a rug, and a ration of bread, tea, and jam; we had dinner
on the station.

When I think of your Red Cross practices on boy scouts, and the grim
reality, it makes one wonder. And the biggest wonder of it all is the
grit there is in them, and the price they are individually and
unquestioningly paying for doing their bit in this War.


_Monday, September 21st._--In train on way back to Le Mans from St
Nazaire. We did the journey in twelve hours, and arrived at 9 this
morning, which was very good, considering the congestion on the line. In
the middle of the night we pulled up alongside an immense troop train,
taking a whole Brigade of D. of Cornwall's L.I. up to the front, such a
contrast to our load coming away from the front. Our lot will be a long
time getting to bed; the Medical Officers at St N. told us there were
already two trains in, and no beds left on hospitals or ships, and 1300
more expected to-day; four died in one of the trains; ours were pretty
well, after the indescribable filth and fug of the train all night; it
was not an ambulance train, but trucks and ordinary carriages. The men
say there are hardly any officers left in many regiments. There has
never been this kind of rush to be coped with anywhere, but the Germans
must be having worse. We had thirteen German prisoners tacked on to us
with a guard of the London Scottish, the first Territorials to come out,
bursting with health and pride and keenness. They are not in the
fighting line yet, but are used as escorts for the G.P. among other
jobs. One of the men on our train had had his shoulder laid open for six
inches by a shell, where he couldn't see the wound. He asked me if it
was a bullet wound! He himself thought it was too large for that, and
might be shrapnel! He hadn't mentioned it all night.

We had some dressings to be done again this morning, and then left them
in charge of the M.O. and two orderlies, and went to report ourselves to
the A.D.M.S. and get a warrant for the return journey. We shall get in
to Le Mans somewhere about midnight. I'm not a bit tired, strange to
say; we got a few rests in the night, but couldn't sleep.


_Tuesday, September 22nd._--Got back to Le Mans at 2
A.M.--motor-ambulanced up to the hospital, where an orderly made lovely
beds for us on stretchers, with brown blankets and pillows, in the
theatre, and labelled the door "Operation," in case any one should
disturb us. At 6 we went to our respective diggings for a wash and
breakfast, and reported to Matron at 8. We have been two days and two
nights in our clothes; food where, when, and what one could get; one
wash only on a station platform at a tap which a sergeant kindly pressed
for me while I washed! one cleaning of teeth in the dark on the line
between trucks. They have no water on trains or at stations, except on
the engine, which makes tea in cans for you for the men when it stops.

We are to rest to-day, to be ready for another train to-night if
necessary. The line from the front to Rouen--where there are two General
Hospitals--is cut; hence this appalling over-crowding at our base. When
we got back this morning, nine of those we took off the trains on Sunday
afternoon had died here, and one before he reached the hospital--three
of tetanus. I haven't heard how many at the other hospital at the Jesuit
school--tetanus there too. Some of the amputations die of septic
absorption and shock, and you wouldn't wonder if you saw them. I went to
the 9 o'clock Choral High Mass this morning at that glorious and
beautiful Cathedral--all gorgeous old glass and white and grey stone,
slender Gothic and fat Norman. It was very fine and comforting.

The sick officers are frightfully pleased to see 'The Times,' no matter
how old; so are we. I've asked M. to collect their 1/2d. picture daily
papers once a week for the men.


_Wednesday, September 23rd._--Have been helping in the wards at
No.-- to-day. The Sisters and orderlies there have all about twice what
they can get through--the big dressings are so appalling and new cases
have been coming in--all stretcher cases. As soon as they begin to
recover at all they are sent down to the base to make room for worse
ones off the trains. To-morrow I am on station duty again--possibly for
another train.

There is a rumour that three British cruisers have been sunk by a
submarine--it can't be true.

I don't see why this battle along the French frontier should ever come
to an end, at any rate till both armies are exhausted, and decide to go
to bed. The men say we can't spot their guns--they are too well hidden
in these concrete entrenchments.

The weather is absolutely glorious all day, and the stars all night.
Orion, with his shining bodyguard, from Sirius to Capella, is blazing
every morning at 4.


_Thursday, September 24th_, 3 P.M.--Taking 480 sick and wounded down to
St Nazaire, with a junior staff nurse, one M.O., and two orderlies. Just
been feeding them all at Angers; it is a stupendous business. The train
is miles long--not corridor or ambulance; they have straw to lie on the
floors and stretchers. The M.O. has been two nights in the train already
on his way down from the front (four miles from the guns), and we joined
on to him with a lot of hospital cases sent down to the base. I've been
collecting the worst ones into carriages near ours all the way down
when we stop; but of course you miss a good many. Got my haversack lined
with jaconet and filled with cut-dressings, very convenient, as you have
both hands free. We continually stop at little stations, so you can get
to a good many of them, and we get quite expert at clawing along the
footboards; some of the men, with their eyes, noses, or jaws shattered,
are so extraordinarily good and uncomplaining. Got hold of a
spout-feeder and some tubing at Angers for a boy in the Grenadier
Guards, with a gaping hole through his mouth to his chin, who can't eat,
and cannot otherwise drink. The French people bring coffee, fruit, and
all sorts of things to them when we stop.

We shall have to wait at St Nazaire all day, and come back by night
to-morrow.

One swanky Ambulance Train carries four permanent Sisters to the front
to fetch cases to Le Mans and the Base. They go to Villeneuve. They say
the country is deserted, crops left to waste, houses empty, and when you
get there no one smiles or speaks, but listens to the guns. The men seem
to think the Germans have got our range, but we haven't found theirs.
The number of casualties must be nearly into five figures this last
battle alone; and when you think of the Russians, the Germans, the
French, the Austrians, and the Belgians all like that, the whole
convulsion seems more meaningless than ever for civilised nations.

This is in scraps, owing to the calls of duty. The beggars simply swarm
out of the train at every stop--if they can limp or pull up by one
arm--to get the fruit and things from the French.


_Friday, September 25th._--In train back to Le Mans, 9 P.M. We landed
our tired, stiff, painful convoy at St Nazaire at 8.45 yesterday
evening. The M.O.'s there told us our lot made 1800 that had come down
since early morning; one load of bad cases took eight hours to unload.
The officers all seemed depressed and overworked, and they were having a
very tight fit to get beds for them at the various hospitals at St
Nazaire. At about 10 P.M. the last were taken off by the motor
ambulances, and we got some dinner on the station with our Civil
Surgeon, who was looking forward to a night in a tent out of a train.

The R.T.O. found us an empty 1st class carriage in the station to sleep
in, and the sergeant found us a candle and matches and put us to bed,
after a sketchy wash provided by the buffet lady.

The din was continuous all night, so one didn't sleep much, but had a
decent rest (and a flea). The sergeant called us at 6.30, and we had
another sketchy wash, and coffee and rolls and jam at the buffet. Then
we found our way to the hospital ship _Carisbrook Castle_. The Army
Sister in charge was most awfully kind, showed us over, made the steward
turn on hot baths for us, provided notepaper, kept us to lunch--the
nicest meal we've seen for weeks! The ship had 500 cases on board, and
was taking 200 more--many wounded officers.

A captain of the ---- told me all his adventures from the moment he was
hit till now. His regiment had nine officers killed and twenty-seven
wounded. He said they knew things weren't going well in that retreat,
but they never knew how critical it was at the time.

After lunch, we took our grateful leave and went to the A.D.M.S.'s
office for our return warrants for the R.T.O. (I have just had to sign
it for fourteen, as senior officer of our two selves and twelve A.S.C.
men taking two trucks of stores, who have no officer with them!) There
we heard that ten of our No.-- Sisters were ordered to Nantes for duty
by the 4.28, so we hied back to the station to meet them and see them
off. They were all frightfully glad to be on the move at last, and we
had a great meeting. The rest are still bathing at La Baule and cursing
their luck.

While we were getting some coffee in the only _patisserie_ in the dirty
little town, seven burly officer boys of the Black Watch came in to buy
cakes for the train, they said, to-night. They were nearly all second
lieutenants, one captain, and were so excited at going up to the Front
they couldn't keep still. They asked us eagerly if we'd had many of "our
regiment" wounded, and how many casualties were there, and how was the
fighting going, and how long would the journey take. (The nearer you get
to the Front the longer it takes, as trains are always having to shunt
and go round loops to make room for supply trains.) They didn't seem to
have the dimmest idea what they're in for, bless them. They are on this
train in the next carriage.

The Padre told me he was the only one at St Nazaire for all the
hospitals and all the troops in camp (15,000 in one camp alone).

He had commandeered the Bishop of Khartoum to help him, and another
bishop, who both happen to be here.

We are now going to turn out the light, and hope for the best till they
come to look at the warrant or turn us out to change.

6 A.M.--At Sablé at 4 A.M. we were turned out for two hours; a wee open
station. Mr ---- and our Civil Surgeon were most awfully decent to us:
turned a sleepy official out of a room for us, and at 5 came and dug us
out to have coffee and _brioches_ with them. Then we went for a sunrise
walk round the village, and were finally dragged into their carriage, as
they thought it was more comfortable than ours. Just passed a big French
ambulance train full from Compiègne.

At Le Mans the train broke up again, and everybody got out. We
motor-ambulanced up to the Hospital with the three night Sisters coming
off station duty. Matron wanted us to go to bed for the day; but we
asked to come on after lunch, as they were busy and we weren't
overtired. I'm realising to-night that I have been on the train four
nights out of six, and bed is bliss at this moment.

I was sent to No.-- Stationary at the Jesuits' College to take over the
officers at one o'clock.

One was an angelic gunner boy with a septic leg and an undaunted smile,
except when I dressed his leg and he said "Oh, damn!" The other bad one
was wounded in the shoulder. They kept me busy till Sister ---- came
back, and then I went to my beloved Cathedral (and vergered some
Highland Tommies round it, they had fits of awe and joy over it, and
grieved over "Reems"). It is awfully hard to make these sick officers
comfortable, with no sheets or pillow-cases, no air ring-cushions,
pricky shirts, thick cups without saucers, &c. One longs for the medical
comforts of ----

I hear to-night that Miss ----, the Principal Matron on the Lines of
Communication (on the War Establishment Staff) is here again, and may
have a new destination for some of us details.

The heading in 'Le Matin' to-night is:--

     UNE LUTTE ACHARNÉE DE LA SOMME A LA MEUSE LA BATAILLE REDOUBLE DE
     VIOLENCE

If it redoubles _de violence_ much longer who will be left?


_Sunday, September 27th._--My luck is in this time. Miss ---- has just
sent for me to tell me I am for permanent duty on No.-- Ambulance Train
(equipped) which goes up to the Front, to the nearest point on the rail
to the fighting line. Did you ever know such luck? There are four of us,
one Army Sister and me and two juniors; we live altogether on the train.
The train will always be pushed up as near the Field Hospitals as the
line gets to, whether we drive the Germans back to Berlin or they drive
us into the sea. It is now going to Braisne, a little east of Soissons,
just S. of the Aisne, N.E. of Rheims. It is on its way up now, and we
are to join it with our baggage when it stops here on the way to St
Nazaire. We shall have two days and two nights with wounded, and two
days and two nights to rest on the return empty. The work itself will be
of the grimmest possible, as we shall have all the worst cases, being an
equipped Hospital in a train. It was worth waiting five weeks to get
this; every man or woman stuck at the Base has dreams of getting to the
Front, but only one in a hundred gets the dream fulfilled.

There is no doubt that "the horrors of War" have outdone themselves by
this modern perfection of machinery killing, and the numbers involved,
as they have never done before, and as it was known they would. The
details are often unprintable. They have eight cases of tetanus at No.--
Stationary, and five have died.

All the patients at No.-- have been inoculated against tetanus to-day.
They have it in the French Hospitals too.

Went to the Voluntary Evening Service for the troops at the theatre at
5. The Padres and a Union Jack and the Allies' Flags; and a piano on the
stage; officers and sisters in the stalls; and the rest packed tight
with men: they were very reverent, and nearly took the roof off in the
Hymns, Creed, and Lord's Prayer. Excellent sermon. We had the War
Intercessions and a good prayer I didn't know, ending with "Strengthen
us in life, and comfort us in death." The men looked what they were,
British to the bone; no one could take them for any other nation a mile
off. Clean, straight, thin, sunburnt, clear-eyed, all at their Active
Service best, no pallid rolls of fat on their faces like the French. The
man who preached must have liked talking to them in that pin-dropped
silence and attention; he evidently knows his opportunities.


_Monday, September 28th._--There are hundreds of people in deep new
black in this town; what must it be in Berlin? The cemetery here is
getting full of French and British soldiers' graves. Those 1200 sailors
from the three cruisers had fine clean quick deaths compared to what
happens here.

We have got our baggage (kit-bags and holdalls) down to the station at
the Red Cross Anglaise, and are sitting in our quarters waiting for the
word to come that No.-- train is in. Met Miss ---- in her car in the
town, and she said that it was just possible that the train might go
down to Havre this journey, she wasn't dead sure it was doing this
route! If so we shall be nicely and completely sold, as I don't know how
we should ever join it. But I'm not going to believe in such bad luck as
that would be till it happens.


_Tuesday, September 29th._--We _were_ sold last night after all. Trailed
down to the station to await the train according to orders, and were
then told by the A.D.M.S. that it had gone to Havre this journey, and
couldn't be on this line till next week, and we could go to bed. So
after all the embraces of Mme. and Fanny and Isabel, I turned up at
10.30 to ask for a bed. "Ma pauvre demoiselle," said fat F., hastening
to let me in.

This morning Miss ---- came down with us to the A.D.M.S.'s Office to
find out how we could join the train, and he said: "Wait till it comes
in next week, and meanwhile go on duty at the Hospital." I don't mind
anything as long as we do eventually get on to the train, and we are to
do that, so one must possess one's soul in patience. I am back with the
sick officers at No.-- Stationary.

There are rumours to-night of bad news from the front, and that the
German Navy is emerging from Kiel.


_Wednesday, September 30th._--Have been doing the sick officers all day
(or rather wounded). They are quite nice, but the lack of equipment
makes twice the work. We are still having bright sunny days, but it is
getting cold, and I shall be glad of warmer clothes. The food at the
still filthy Inn in a dark outhouse through the back yard has improved a
little! My Madame (in my billet) gives me coffee and bread and butter
(of the best) at 7, and there is a ration tin of jam, and I have
acquired a pot of honey.

_On duty at_ 7.30 A.M.--At 12 or 1 we go to the Inn for _déjeûner_: meat
of some sort, one vegetable, bread, butter, and cheese, and pears. Tea
we provide ourselves when we can.

At 7 or 8 we go to the Inn and have _pôtage_ (which is warm water with a
few stray onions or carrots in it), and tough cold meat, and sometimes a
piece of pastry (for pudding), bread, butter, and cheese, and a very
small cup of coffee, and little, rather hard pears. I am very well on it
now since they changed the bread, though pretty tired.


_Thursday, October 1st._--The sky in Mid France on October 1st is of a
blue that outblues the bluest that June or any other month can do in
l'Angleterre. It is cold in the early mornings and evenings, dazzling
all day, and shining moon by night.

The H.A.C. are all over the town: they do orderly duty at Headquarters
and all the Offices; they seem to be gentlemen in Tommy's kit; fine big
lot they are. Taking it all round, the Regular British Army on Active
Service--from hoary, beribboned Generals, decorated Staff Officers of
all ranks, other officers, and N.C.O.'s down to the humblest Tommy--is
the politest and best-mannered thing I have ever met, with few
exceptions. Wherever you are, or go, or have to wait, they come and ask
if they can do anything for you, generally with an engaging smile seize
your hand-baggage, offer you chairs and see you through generally. And
the men and N.C.O.'s are just the same, and always awfully grateful if
you can help them out with the language in any way.

This was a conversation I heard in my ward to-day. Brother of Captain
---- (wounded) visits the amputation man, and, by way of cheering him
up, sits down, gazes at his ugly bandaged stump on a pillow, and says--

"That must be the devil."

"Yes, it is," says the leg man.

"Hell," says the other, and then they both seemed to feel better and
began to talk of something else.

We had a funeral of an Orderly and a German from No.-- Sta. (both
tetanus). On grey transport waggons with big black horses, wreaths from
the Orderlies, carried by a big R.A.M.C. escort (which, of course,
escorted the German too), with Officers and Padre and two Sisters.


_Friday, October 2nd._--They continue to die every day and night at both
Hospitals, though we are taking few new cases in now.

I am frightfully attached to Le Mans as a place. The town is old and
curly, and full of lovely corners and "Places," and views and Avenues
and Gardens. The Cathedral grows more and more upon one; I have several
special spots where you get the most exquisite poems of colour and
stone, where I go and browse; it is very quiet and beautifully kept.

No.-- Sta. is also set in a jewel of a spot. A Jesuits' College, full of
cloisters covered with vines, and lawns with silver statues, shady
avenues and sunny gardens, long corridors and big halls which are the
wards; the cook-house is a camp under a splendid row of big chestnut
trees, and there is of course a chapel.

Our occupation of it is rather incongruous; there is practically no
furniture except the boys' beds, some chairs, many crucifixes and
statues, terribly primitive sanitary arrangements and water supply. We
have to boil our instruments and make their tea in the same one saucepan
in the Officers' Ward; you do without dusters, dishcloths, soap-dishes,
pillow-cases, and many other necessities in peace time.

My little Train-Junior has been taken off that job and is to rejoin her
unit, so I settled down to a prospect of the same fate (No.-- G.H. is at
Havre again! and has still not yet done any work! so you see what I've
been rescued from). I met Miss ---- to-night and asked her, and she says
I _am_ going on the train when it comes in, so I breathe again.


_Tuesday, October 6th._--I am now dividing my time between the top floor
of Tommies and five Germans and the Officers' Ward, where I relieve S.
---- for meals and off duty. There are some bad dressings in the top
ward. The five Germans are quiet, fat, and amenable, glad to exchange a
few remarks in their own language. I haven't had time to try and talk to
them, but will if I can; two of them are very badly wounded. Some of the
medical Tommies make the most of very small ailments, but the surgicals
are wonderful boys.


_Wednesday, October 7th._--I have been down to the station this evening;
heard that St Nazaire is being given up as a base, which means that no
more ambulance trains will come through.

The five Germans in my ward told me this morning that only the Reichstag
and the Kaiser wanted the War; that Russia began it, so Deutschland
_mussen_; that Deutschland couldn't win against Russia, France, England,
Belgium, and Japan; and that there were no more men in Germany to
replace the killed. They smiled peacefully at the prospect and said it
was _ganz gut_ to be going to England. They have fat, pink, ruminating,
innocent, fair faces, and are very obedient. I made one of them scrub
the floor, as the Orderly had a bad arm from inoculation, and he seemed
to enjoy it. Only one is married.


_Thursday, October 8th._--There was a very picturesque and rather
touching scene at No.-- this afternoon. They had a concert in the open
quadrangle, with vined cloisters on all four sides, and holy statues and
crucifixes about. In the middle were the audience--rows of stretchers
with contented Tommies smoking and enjoying it (some up in their
grey-blue pyjamas), and many Orderlies, some Sisters and M.O.'s and
French priests; the piano on a platform at one end.


_Friday, October 9th._--My compound fractured femur man told me how he
stopped his bullet. Some wounded Germans held up the white flag and he
went to them to help them. When he was within seven yards, the man he
was going to help shot him in the thigh. A Coldstream Guardsman with
him then split the German's head open with the butt-end of his rifle.
The wounded Tommy was eventually taken to the château of the "lidy what
killed the Editor somewhere in this country."


_Saturday, October 10th._--"Orders by Lt.-Col. ----, R.A.M.C., A.D.M.S.,
Advanced Base Headquarters, October 10th, 1914. Sister ---- will proceed
to Villeneuve Triage to-day, and on arrival will report to Major ----,
R.A.M.C, for duty on Ambulance Trains."

So it's come at last, and I have handed over my officers, and am now
installed by the R.T.O. in a 1st class carriage to myself with all my
kit, and my lovely coat and muffler, and rug and cushion, after a
pleasant dinner of tea, cheese, and ration biscuits in the Red Cross
Dressing Room, with a kind Army Sister.

The R.T.O. this time has given me (instead of 12 A.S.C. men) a highly
important envelope marked Very Urgent, to give to the Director of
Supplies, Villeneuve, whoever he is.

Change at Versailles in about six hours, so I may as well try and get
some sleep.

I was really sorry to say good-bye to my kind old Madame Bontevin, 22
Rue de la Motte, and fat Fanny, and charming Isabel, and my nice little
room--(a heavenly bed!)--and ducky little gay garden, where I've lived
for the last month; and my beloved Cathedral, and lots of the Sisters I
have got to know.


_Versailles_, 7 A.M., _Sunday, October 11th._--At 3 A.M. at Chartres an
officer of a Zouave Regiment, in blue and gold Zouave, blue sash,
crimson bags like petticoats, and black puttees, and his smartly dressed
sister, came into my carriage; both very nice and polite and friendly.
He was 21, had fought in three campaigns, and been wounded twice; now
convalescent after a wound in the foot a month ago--going to the depôt
to rejoin. Her husband also at the front, and another brother. I changed
at Versailles, and was given tea, and a slight wash by the always
hospitable station duty Sisters, who welcome you at every big station.
The No.-- G.H. here they belong to is a very fine hotel with lovely
gardens, and they are very proud of it--close to the Palace.

10 A.M., _Juvisy._--I am now in an empty 1st class saloon (where I can
take a long walk) after a long wait, with _café au lait_ and an omelette
at Juvisy, and 'The Times' of October 5th.

There is a pleasing uncertainty about one's own share on Active Service.
I haven't the slightest idea whether, when I get to Villeneuve in half
an hour's time, I shall--

(_a_) Remain there awaiting orders either in a French billet, a railway
carriage, or a tent;

(_b_) Be sent up to Braisne to join a train; or

(_c_) Be sent down to Havre to ditto.

We had a man in No.-- Stationary who got through the famous charge of
the 9th Lancers unhurt, but came into hospital for an ingrowing toe
nail!

_Villeneuve_, 5 P.M.--Like a blithering idiot, I was so interested in
the Gunner's Diary of his birthday "in my hole" that I passed Villeneuve
Triage, and got out the station after! Had to wait 1-1/2 hours for a
train back, and got here eventually at 12. Collared four polite London
Scottish to carry my baggage, and found the Sister in charge of Train
Ambulance people.

I wish I could describe this extraordinary place. It is the Swindon of
France; a huge wilderness of railway lines, trains, and enormous
hangars, now used as camps and hospitals. Sister B. is encamped in a
shut-off corner of one of these sheds surrounded by London Scottish
cooking and making tea in little groups; they swarm here. I sleep
to-night in the same small bed in an empty cottage with a Sister I've
never seen before. We meal at a Convent French Hospital. I delivered my
"Very Urgent" envelope to the R.T.O. for the Director of Supplies, and
reported to Major ----, and after lunch had an hour's sleep on The Bed.
There are rows of enterics on stretchers in khaki in this shed, waiting
for motor ambulances to take them to Versailles No.-- G.H., being nursed
here meanwhile. There are also British prisoners (defaulters) penned in
in another corner, and French troops at the other end!



III.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (1)

FIRST EXPERIENCES

_October 13, 1914, to October 19, 1914_

          "In lonely watches, night by night
          Great visions burst upon my sight,
          For down the stretches of the sky
          The hosts of dead go marching by.

                 *       *       *       *       *

          Dear Christ, who reignst above the flood
          Of human tears and human blood,
          A weary road these men have trod:
          O house them in the home of God."



III.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (1).

FIRST EXPERIENCES.

_October 13, 1914, to October 19, 1914._

Ambulance Train--Under fire--Tales of the Retreat--Life on the Train.


_Tuesday, October 13th._--At last I am on the train, and have just
unpacked. There is an Army Sister and two Reserve, a Major ----, O.C.,
and two junior officers.

Don't know yet what messing arrangements are. We each have a bunk to
ourselves, with a proper mattress, pillow, and blankets: a table and
seat at one end, lots of racks and hooks, and a lovely little
washing-house leading out of the bunk, shared by the two Sisters on each
side of it: each has a door into it. No one knows where we are going; we
start this afternoon.

6 P.M.--Not off yet. We had lunch in a small dining-car, we four
Sisters at one table, Major ---- and his two Civil Surgeons at another,
and some French officials of the train at another. Meal cooked and
served by the French--quite nice, no cloth, only one knife and fork.
They are all very friendly and jolly.

In between the actual dealing with the wounded, which is only too real,
it all feels like a play or a dream: why should the whole of France, at
any rate along the railways and places on them, be upside down, swarming
with British soldiers, and all, French and English, working for and
talking of the one thing? everything, and every house and every hotel,
school, and college, being used for something different from what it was
meant for; the billeting is universal. You hear a funny alternation of
educated and uneducated English on all sides of you, and loud French
gabbling of all sorts. By day you see aeroplanes and troop trains and
artillery trains; and by night you see searchlights and hear the
incessant wailing and squawking of the train whistles. On every platform
and at every public doors or gates are the red and blue French soldiers
with their long spikey bayonets, or our Tommies with the short broad
bayonets that don't look half so deadly though I expect they are much
worse. You either have to have a written passport up here, or you must
know the "mot" if challenged by the French sentries. All this from Havre
and St Nazaire up to the Front.

The train is one-third mile long, so three walks along its side gives
you exercise for a mile. The ward beds are lovely: broad and soft, with
lovely pillow-cases and soft thick blankets; any amount of dressings and
surgical equipment, and a big kitchen, steward's store, and three
orderlies to each waggon. Shouldn't be surprised if we get "there" in
the dark, and won't see the war country. Sometimes you are stopped by
bridges being blown up in front of you, and little obstacles of that
kind.


_Wednesday, October 14th._--Still in the siding "waiting for orders" to
move on. There's a lot of waiting being done in this war one way and
another, as well as a lot of doing. What a splendid message the French
Government have sent the Belgian Government on coming to Havre! exciting
for the people at Havre: they used to go mad when dusty motor-cars with
a few exhausted-looking Belgians arrived in Havre.

We seem to be going to Rouen and up from there. Villeneuve is going to
be evacuated as a military P.O. centre and other headquarters, and
Abbeville to be the place--west of Amiens.

I had an excellent night, no sheets (because of the difficulties of
washing), my own rug next me, and lots of blankets: the view, with
trucks on each side, is not inspiring, but will improve when we move:
have only been allowed walks alongside the train to-day because it may
move at any minute (although it has no engine as yet!), and you mayn't
leave the train without a pass from the Major.

M.O.'s and Sisters live on one waggon, all our little doors opening into
the same corridor, where we have tea; it is a very easy family party.
Our beds are all sofas in the daytime and quite public, unless we like
to shut our doors. It is pouring to-day--first wet day for weeks.

Orders just come that we move at 8.46 for Abbeville, and get orders for
the Front from there.

6.30 P.M.--Another order just come that our destination is Braisne, not
Abbeville. They have always seen shells bursting at Braisne. I'm glad
it's Braisne, as we shall get to the other part next journey, I expect.

8.45 P.M.--Started at last.


_Thursday, October 15th_, 10 A.M.--Braisne. Got here about 8 o'clock.
After daylight only evidence of the war I could see from my bed were
long lines of French troops in the roads, and a few British camps;
villages all look deserted. Guns booming in the distance, sounds like
heavy portmanteaux being dropped on the roof at regular intervals. Some
London Scottish on the station say all the troops have gone from here
except themselves and the R.A.M.C. There are some wounded to come on
here.

There is an R.E. camp just opposite in a very wet wood, and quagmires of
mud. They have built Kaffir kraals to sleep in--very sodden-looking;
they've just asked for some papers; we had a few. They build pontoons
over the Aisne at night and camp here by day.

4 P.M.--We have only taken twelve cases on as yet, but are having quite
an exciting afternoon. Shells are coming at intervals into the village.
I've seen two burst in the houses, and one came right over our train.
Two French soldiers on the line lay flat on their faces; one or two
orderlies got under the train; one went on fishing in the pond close by,
and the wounded Tommies got rather excited, and translated the different
sounds of "them Jack Johnsons" and "them Coal-boxes" and "Calamity
Kate," and of our guns and a machine-gun popping. There is a troop train
just behind us that they may be potting at, or some gunners in the
village, or the R.E. camp. There have been two aeroplanes over us this
afternoon. You hear the shell coming a long way off, rather like a
falsetto motor-engine, and then it bursts (twice in the trees of this
wood where we are standing). There is an endless line of French horse
transport winding up the wood on the other side, and now some French
cavalry. The R.T.O. is now having the train moved to a safer place.

The troops have all gone except the 1st Division, who are waiting for
the French to take their place, and then all the British will be on the
Arras line, I believe, where we shall go next. (There's another close to
the train.) They make such a fascinating purring noise coming, ending in
a singing scream; you have to jump up and see. It is a yellowish-green
sound! But you can't see it till it bursts.

None of the twelve taken on need any looking after at night besides what
the orderly can do, so we shall go to bed.

We had another shell over the train, which (not the train) exploded with
a loud bang in the wood the other side; made one jump more than any yet,
and that was in the "safer place" the R.T.O. had the train moved to.


_Friday, October 16th_, 2 P.M.--Have had a very busy time since last
entry. The shelling of the village was aimed at the church, the steeple
of which was being used by the French for signalling. A butcher was
killed and a boy injured, and as the British Clearing Hospital was in
the church and the French Hospital next door they were all cleared out
into our train; many very bad cases, fractured spine, a nearly dying
lung case, a boy with wound in lung and liver, three pneumonias, some
bad enterics (though the worst have not been moved). A great sensation
was having four badly wounded French women, one minus an arm, aged 16;
another minus a foot, aged 61, amputation after shell wounds from a
place higher up. They are in the compartment next three wounded
officers. They are all four angelically good and brave and grateful; it
does seem hard luck on them. It was not easy getting them all settled
in, in a pitch-dark evening, the trains so high from the ground; and a
good deal of excitement all round over the shelling, which only left off
at dusk. One of the C.S.'s had a narrow shave on his way from the train
to the R.T.O.; he had just time to lie flat, and it burst a few yards
from him, on the line. S. and I stayed up till 3 A.M. and then called
the others, and we got up again at 8 and were all busy all the morning.
It is a weird business at night, picking your way through kitchens and
storerooms and wards with a lantern over the rickety bridges and
innumerable heavy swing-doors. I was glad of the brown overall G. sent
me, and am wearing the mackintosh apron to-day that N. made me. We are
probably staying here several days, and are doing day and night duty
entire--not divided as last night. I am on day. We have a great many
washings in the morning, and have to make one water do for one
compartment--(the train ran out of water this morning--since refilled
from the river alongside); and bed-makings, and a lot of four-hourly
treatment with the acutes. The enteric ward has a very good orderly, and
excellent disinfecting arrangements. It is in my division of the train.
Lack of drinking water makes things very difficult.

I thought things were difficult in the hospitals at Le Mans owing to
lack of equipment, but that was child's play compared to the structural
difficulties of working a hospital on a train, especially when it stands
in a siding several days. One man will have to die on the train if we
don't move soon, but we are not full up yet. Twenty-seven men--minor
cases--bolted from the church yesterday evening on to the train when the
shells were dropping, and were ignominiously sent back this morning.

It has so far been the most exciting journey the train has had. Jack
Johnson has been very quiet all the morning, but he spoke for a little
again just now. I'm going to have a rest now till four.

Four Tommies in one bunk yesterday told me things about the trenches and
the fighting line, which you have to believe because they are obviously
giving recent intimate personal experiences; but how do they or any one
ever live through it? These came all through the Retreat from Mons.
Then through the wet weather in the trenches on the Aisne--where they
don't always get hot tea (as is said in the papers, much to their
scorn). They even had to take the tea and sugar out of the haversacks of
dead Germans; no one had had time to bury for twelve days--"it warn't no
use to them," they said, "and we could do with it."

In the Retreat they said men's boots were worn right off and they
marched without; the packs were thrown away, and the young boys died of
exhaustion and heat. The officers guarded each pump in case they should
drink bad water, and they drank water wrung out of their towels!

"And just as Bill got to the pump the shell burst on him--it made a
proper mess of him"--this with a stare of horror. And they never
criticise or rant about it, but accept it as their share for the time
being.

The train is to-day in a place with a perfect wood on both sides,
glowing with autumn colours, and through it goes a road with continual
little parties of French cavalry, motors, and transport waggons passing
up it.


_Saturday, October 17th._--We are to stay here till Monday, to go on
taking up the wounded from the 1st Division. They went on coming in all
yesterday in motor ambulances. They come straight from the trenches, and
are awfully happy on the train with the first attempts at comforts they
have known. One told me they were just getting their tea one day,
relieving the trenches, when "one o' them coal-boxes" sent a 256 lb.
shell into them, which killed seven and wounded fifteen. _One_ shell! He
said he had to help pick them up and it made him sick.

10 P.M.--Wrote the last before breakfast, and we haven't sat down since.
We are to move back to Villeneuve to-morrow, dropping the sick probably
at Versailles. Every one thankful to be going to move at last. The gas
has given out, and the entire train is lit by candles.

Imagine a hospital as big as King's College Hospital all packed into a
train, and having to be self-provisioned, watered, sanitated, lit,
cleaned, doctored and nursed and staffed and officered, all within its
own limits. No outside person can realise the difficulties except those
who try to work it.

The patients are extraordinarily good, and take everything as it comes
(or as it doesn't come!) without any grumbling. Your day is taken up in
rapidly deciding which of all the things that want doing you must let go
undone; shall they be washed or fed, or beds made, or have their
hypodermics and brandies and medicines, or their dressings done? You end
in doing some of each in each carriage, or in washing them after dinner
instead of before breakfast.

The guns have been banging all the afternoon; some have dropped pretty
near again to-day, but you haven't time to take much notice. Our meals
are very funny--always candles stuck in a wine bottle--no
tablecloth--everything on one plate with the same knife and fork--coffee
in a glass, served by a charming dirty Frenchman; many jokes going on
between the three tables--the French officials, the M.O.'s, and us. Our
own bunks are quite civilised and cosy, though as small as half a big
bathing-machine--swept out by our batman.

We have some French wounded and sick on the train.

I see some parsons are enlisting in the R.A.M.C. I hope they know how to
scrub floors, clean lavatories, dish out the meals, sleep on the floor,
go without baths, live on Maconochie rations, and heave bales and boxes
about, and carry stretchers; the orderlies have a very hard life--and no
glory.

Must turn in.


_Sunday, October 18th_, 9 P.M.--Got under way at 6 A.M., and are now
about half-way between Paris and Rouen. We outskirted Paris. Passed a
train full of Indian troops. Put off the four wounded women at Paris;
they have been a great addition to the work, but very sweet and brave;
the orderlies couldn't do enough for them; they adored them, and were so
indignant at their being wounded. Another man died to-day--shot through
the pelvis. One of the enterics, a Skye man, thinks I'm his mother; told
me to-night there was a German spy in his carriage, and that he had "50
dead Jocks to bury--and it wasn't the buryin' he didn't like but the
feeling of it." He babbles continually of Germans, ammunition, guns,
Jocks, and rations.

Sunday is not Sunday, of course, on a train: no Padre, no services, no
nothing--not even any Time. The only thing to mark it to-day is one of
the Civil Surgeons wearing his new boots.

We shan't get any letters yet till we get to the new railhead. I'm
hoping we shall get time at Rouen to see the Cathedral, do some
shopping, have a bath and a shampoo, but probably shan't.


_Monday, October 19th._--Rouen, 9 P.M. Got here late last night, and all
the wounded were taken off straight away to the two general hospitals
here.

One has 1300 cases, and has kept two people operating day and night. A
great many deaths from tetanus.

Seen General French's 2nd despatch (of September) to-day in 'Daily
Mail.' No mail in, alas! Had a regular debauch in cathedrals and baths
to-day. This is the most glorious old city, two cathedrals of surpassing
beauty, lovely old streets, broad river, hills, and lovely hot baths and
hair shampooing. What with two cathedrals, a happy hour in a hot bath, a
shampoo, and delicious tea in the town, we've had a happy day. The train
stays here to-night and we are off to-morrow? for ----?



IV.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (2)

FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES

_October 20, 1914, to November 17, 1914_

          "The thundering line of battle stands,
             And in the air Death moans and sings;
          But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
             And Night shall fold him with soft wings."

          --JULIAN GRENFELL.



IV.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (2).

FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES.

_October 20, 1914, to November 17, 1914._

Rouen--First Battle of Ypres--At Ypres--A rest--A General Hospital.


_Tuesday, October 20th_, 6 P.M.--Just leaving Rouen for Boulogne. We've
seen some of the Indians. The Canadians seem to be still on Salisbury
Plain. No one knows what we're going to Boulogne empty for.

We have been busy to-day getting the train ready, stocking dressings,
&c. All the 500 blankets are sent in to be fumigated after each journey,
and 500 others drawn instead. And well they may be; one of the
difficulties is the lively condition of the men's shirts and trousers
(with worse than fleas) when they come from the trenches in the same
clothes they've worn for five weeks or more. You can't wonder we made
tracks for a bath at Rouen.

We've just taken on two Belgian officers who want a lift to Boulogne.


_Wednesday, October 21st._--Arrived at Boulogne 6 A.M. Went on to
Calais, and reached St Omer at 2 P.M., where I believe we are to take up
from the motor ambulances. A train of Indians is here. Some Belgian
refugees boarded the train at Boulogne, and wanted a lift to Calais, but
had to be turned off reluctantly on both sides. Have been going through
bedding equipment to-day.

No mail for me yet, but the others have had one to-day.

3.30 P.M.--Off for Steenwerck, close to the Belgian frontier, N.W. of
Lille. Good business Just seen five aeroplanes. Have been warned by
Major ---- to wear brassards in prominent place, owing to dangerous
journey in view!

4.30.--This feels like the Front again. Thousands and thousands of
Indian troops are marching close to the line, with long fair British
officers in turbans, mounted, who salute us, and we wave back; transport
on mules. Gorgeous sunset going on; perfectly flat country; no railway
traffic except _de la Guerre_.

6 P.M., _Steenwerck_.--Pitch dark; saw big guns flashing some way off.
The motor ambulances are not yet in with the wounded. The line is cut
farther on.

8 P.M.--We have had dinner, and have just been down the line to see the
place about 100 yards off. The Germans were here six days ago; got into
a big sewer that goes under the line, and blew it up. There is a hole 30
feet long, 15 across and 15 deep--very good piece of work. They occupied
the station, and bragged about getting across to England from Calais.
The M.O. who lives here, to be the link (with a sergeant and seven men)
between the field ambulances and the trains, dined with us. It is a wee
place. The station is his headquarters.


_Thursday, October 22nd._--Took on from convoys all night in pitch
darkness--a very bad load this time; going to go septic; swelling under
the bandages. There was a fractured spine and a malignant oedema, both
dying; we put these two off to-day at St Omer. We came straight away in
the morning, and are now nearly back at Boulogne.


YPRES.

_Friday, October 23rd._--All unloaded by 11 P.M. last night. (1800 in a
day and a night.) No.-- A.T. was in; visited M. and S. Bed by 12;
clothes on for forty hours. Slept alongside quay. Two hospital ships
in; watched them loading up from ambulances. No time to go ashore. The
wounded officers we had this time said the fighting at the Front is very
heavy. The men said the same. They slept from sheer exhaustion almost
before their boots were got off, and before the cocoa came round. In the
morning they perked up very pleased with their sleep, and talked
incessantly of the trenches, and the charges, and the odds each regiment
had against them, and how many were left out of their company, and all
the most gruesome details you can imagine. They seem to get their blood
up against the Germans when they're actually doing the fighting--"you're
too excited to notice what hits you, or to think of anything but your
life" ("and your country," one man added). "Some of us has got to get
killed, and some wounded, and some captured, and we wonder which is for
us."

11.15.--Just off for ----? I was in the act of trotting off into the
town to find the baths, when I met a London Scottish with a very urgent
note for the O.C.; thought I'd better bide a wee, and it was to say
"Your train is urgently required; how soon can you start?" So I had a
lucky escape of being left behind. (We had leave till 1 P.M.) Then the
Major nearly got left; we couldn't start that minute, because our
stores weren't all in, and the R.T.O. came up in a great fuss that we
were holding up five supply trains and reinforcements; so the British
Army had to wait for us.

The worst discomforts of this life are (_a_) cold; (_b_) want of
drinking water when you're thirsty; (_c_) the appalling atmosphere of
the French dining-car; (_d_) lack of room for a bath, and difficulty of
getting hot water; (_e_) dirt; (_f_) eccentricities in the meals; (_g_)
bad (or no) lights; (_h_) difficulties of getting laundry done; (_i_)
personal capture of various live stock; (_j_) broken nights; (_k_) want
of exercise on the up journey. Against all these minor details put being
at the Front, and all that that includes of thrilling interest,--being
part of the machinery to give the men the first care and comparative
comfort since they landed, at the time they most need it--and least
expect it.

6 P.M.--Hazebrouck again. We are said to be going to Belgium this
time--possibly Ypres. There are a terrible lot of wounded to be got
down--more than all the trains can take; they are putting some of them
off on the stations where there is a M.O. with a few men, and going back
for more.

There were two lovely French torpedo-boats alongside of us at Boulogne.

7.30 P.M., _Ypres_.--Just arrived, all very bucked at being in Belgium.
An armoured train, protective coloured all over in huge dabs of red,
blue, yellow, and green against aeroplanes, is alongside of us in the
station, manned by thirty men R.N.; three trucks are called Nelson,
Jellicoe, and Drake, with guns. They look fine; the men say it is a
great game. They are directed where to fire at German positions or
batteries, and as soon as they answer, the train nips out of range. They
were very jolly, and showed us their tame rabbit on active service. They
have had no casualties so far. Our load hasn't come in yet. We are _two
miles_ from our fighting line. No firing to-night to be heard--soon
began, though.


_Sunday, October 25th._--Couldn't write last night: the only thing was
to try and forget it all. It has been an absolute hell of a
journey--there is no other word for it. First, you must understand that
this big battle from Ostend to Lille is perhaps the most desperate of
all, though that is said of each in turn--Mons, the Aisne, and this; but
the men and officers who have been through all say this is the worst.
The Germans are desperate, and stick at nothing, and the Allies are the
same; and in determination to drive them back, each man personally seems
to be the same. Consequently the "carnage" is being appalling, and we
have been practically in it, as far as horrors go. Guns were cracking
and splitting all night, lighting up the sky in flashes, and fires were
burning on both sides. The Clearing Hospital close by, which was
receiving the wounded from the field and sending them on to us, was
packed and overflowing with badly wounded, the M.O. on the station said.

We had 368; a good 200 were dangerously and seriously wounded, perhaps
more; and the sitting-up cases were bad enough. The compound-fractured
femurs were put up with rifles and pick-handles for splints, padded with
bits of kilts and straw; nearly all the men had more than one
wound--some had ten; one man with a huge compound fracture above the
elbow had tied on a bit of string with a bullet in it as a tourniquet
above the wound himself. When I cut off his soaked three layers of
sleeve there was no dressing on it at all.

They were bleeding faster than we could cope with it; and the agony of
getting them off the stretchers on to the top bunks is a thing to
forget. We were full up by about 2 A.M., and then were delayed by a
collision up the line, which was blocked by dead horses as a result. All
night and without a break till we got back to Boulogne at 4 P.M. next
day (yesterday) we grappled with them, and some were not dressed when
we got into B----. The head cases were delirious, and trying to get out
of the window, and we were giving strychnine and morphia all round. Two
were put off dying at St Omer, but we kept the rest alive to Boulogne.
The outstanding shining thing that hit you in the eye all through was
the universal silent pluck of the men; they stuck it all without a whine
or complaint or even a comment: it was, "Would you mind moving my leg
when you get time," and "Thank you very much," or "That's absolutely
glorious," as one boy said on having his bootlace cut, or "That's
grand," when you struck a lucky position for a wound in the back. One
badly smashed up said contentedly, "I was lucky--I was the only man left
alive in our trench"; so was another in another trench; sixteen out of
twenty-five of one Company in a trench were on the train, all seriously
wounded except one. One man with both legs smashed and other wounds was
asked if it was all by one shell: "Oh yes; why, the man next me was
blowed to bits." The bleeding made them all frightfully thirsty (they
had only been hit a few hours many of them), and luckily we had got in a
good supply of boiled water beforehand on each carriage, so we had
plenty when there was time to get it. In the middle of the worst of it
in the night I became conscious of a Belgian Boy Scout of fourteen in
the corridor, with a glass and a pail of drinking water; that boy
worked for hours with his glass and pail on his own, or wherever you
sent him. We took him back to Calais. He had come up into the firing
line on his cycle fitted with a rifle, with tobacco for the troops, and
lived with the British whom he loved, sharing their rations. He was a
little brick; one of the Civil Surgeons got him taken back with us,
where he wanted to go.

There were twenty-five officers on the train. They said there were
11,000 Germans dead, and they were using the dead piled up instead of
trenches.

About 1 o'clock that night we heard a rifle shot: it was a German spy
shooting at the sentry sailor on the armoured train alongside of us;
they didn't catch him.

It took from 4 to 10 P.M. to unload our bad cases and get them into
hospitals on motor ambulances: they lay in rows on their stretchers on
the platform waiting their turn without a grumble.

There have been so many hundreds brought down this week that they've had
suddenly to clear four hotels for hospitals.

We are now in the filthiest of sidings, and the smell of the burning of
our heaps of filthy _débris_ off the train is enough to make you sick.
We all slept like logs last night, and could have gone on all day; but
the train has to be cleaned down by the orderlies, and everything got
ready for the next lot: they nearly moved us up again last night, but we
shall go to-day.

I think if one knew beforehand what all this was going to be like one
would hardly want to face it, but somehow you're glad to be there.

We were tackling a bad wound in the head, and when it was finished and
the man was being got comfortable, he flinched and remarked, "That leg
is a beast." We found a compound-fractured femur put up with a rifle for
a splint! He had blankets on, and had never mentioned that his thigh was
broken. It too had to be packed, and all he said was, "That leg _is_ a
beast," and "That leg is a _Beast_."


_Monday, the 26th_, 7 A.M., _Ypres._--We got here again about 10 P.M.
last night in pouring wet, and expected another night like Friday night,
but we for some reason remained short of the station, and when we found
there was nothing doing, lay down in our clothes and slept, booted and
spurred in mackintosh, aprons, &c. We were all so tired and done up
yesterday, M.O.'s, Sisters, and orderlies, that we were glad of the
respite. There was a tremendous banging and flashing to the north about
three o'clock, and this morning it was very noisy, and shaking the
train. Some of it sounds quite close. It is a noise you rather miss when
it leaves off.

One of the last lot of officers told us he had himself seen in a barn
three women and some children, all dead, and all with no hands.

The noise this morning is like a continuous roll of thunder interrupted
by loud bangs, and the popping of the French mitrailleuses, like our
Maxims. The nearest Tommy can get to that word is "mileytrawsers." There
are two other A.T.'s in, but I hear we are to load up first.

This place is full of Belgian women and children refugees in a bad way
from exhaustion.

A long line of our horse ambulances is coming slowly in.

Had a very interesting morning. Got leave to go into the town and see
the Cathedral of St Martin. None of the others would budge from the
train, so I went alone; town chock-full of French and Belgian troops,
and unending streams of columns, also Belgian refugees, cars full of
staff officers. The Cathedral is thirteenth century, glorious as usual.
There are hundreds of German prisoners in the town in the Cloth Hall. It
was a very warrish feeling saying one's prayers in the Cathedral to the
sound of the guns of one of the greatest battles in the world.

An M.O. from the Clearing Hospital, with a haggard face, asked me if I
could give him some eau-de-Cologne and Bovril for a wounded officer
with a gangrenous leg--lying on the station. Sister X. and I took some
down, also morphia, and fed them all--frightful cases on stretchers in
the waiting-room. They are for our train when we can get in. He told me
he had never seen such awful wounds, or such numbers of them. They are
being brought down in carts or anything. He said there are 1500 dead
Germans piled up in a field five miles off. They say that German
officers of ten days' service are commanding.


_Tuesday, October 27th, Boulogne._--We got loaded up and off by about 7
P.M., and arrived back here this morning. There are two trains to unload
ahead of us, so we shall probably be on duty all day. It is the second
night running we haven't had our clothes off--though we did lie down the
night before. Last night we had each a four-hour shift to lie down, when
all the worst were seen to. One man died at 6 A.M. and another is dying:
many as usual are delirious, and the hæmorrhage was worse than ever: it
is frightfully difficult to stop it with these bad wounds and compound
fractures. One sergeant has both eyes gone from a shell wound.

The twelve sitting-up cases on each carriage are a joy after the tragedy
of the rest. They sit up talking and smoking till late, "because they
are so surprised and pleased to be alive, and it is too comfortable to
sleep!"

One man with a broken leg gave me both his pillows for a worse man, and
said, "I'm not bad at all--only got me leg broke." A Reading man, with
his face wounded and one eye gone, kept up a running fire of wit and
hilarity during his dressing about having himself photographed as a Guy
Fawkes for 'Sketchy Bits.'


_Wednesday, October 28th._--Got to Boulogne yesterday morning; then
followed a most difficult day. It was not till 10 P.M. that they began
to unload the sick. The unloading staff at Boulogne have been so
overworked night and day that trains get piled up waiting to be
unloaded. Fifty motor ambulances have been sent for to the Front, and
here they have to depend largely on volunteer people with private
motors. Then trains get blocked by other trains each side of them, and
nothing short of the fear of death will move a French engine-driver to
do what you want him to do. Meanwhile two men on our train died, and
several others were getting on with it, and all the serious cases were
in great distress and misery. As a crowning help the train was divided
into three parts, each five minutes' walk from any other--dispensary on
one bit, kitchen on another. Everybody got very desperate, and at last,
after superhuman efforts, the train was cleared by midnight, and we went
thankfully but wearily to our beds, which we had not got into for the
two previous nights.

To-day was fine and sunny, and while the train was getting in stores we
went into the town to find a _blanchisserie_, and bought a cake and a
petticoat and had a breath of different air. We expect to move up again
any time now. Most welcome mails in.

News of De Wet's rebellion to-day. I wonder if Botha will be able to
hold it?

'The Times' of yesterday (which you can get here) and to-day's 'Daily
Mail' say the fighting beyond Ypres is "severe," but that gives the
British public no glimmering of what it really is. The ---- Regiment had
three men left out of one company. The men say General ---- cried on
seeing the remains of the regiments who answered the rolls. And yet we
still drive the Germans back.

There is a train full of slightly wounded Indians in: they are cooking
chupatties on nothing along the quay. The boats were packed with refugee
families yesterday. We had some badly wounded Germans on our train and
some French officers. The British Army doesn't intend the Germans to
get to Calais, and they won't get.


_Thursday, October 29th, Nieppe._--Woke up to the familiar bangs and
rattles again--this time at a wee place about four miles from
Armentières. We are to take up 150 here and go back to Bailleul for 150
there. It is a lovely sunny morning, but very cold; the peasants are
working in the fields as peacefully as at home. An R.A.M.C. lieutenant
was killed by a shell three miles from here three days ago. We've just
been giving out scarves and socks to some Field Ambulance men along the
line.

Just seen a British aeroplane send off a signal to our batteries--a long
smoky snake in the sky; also a very big British aeroplane with a
machine-gun on her. A German aeroplane dropped a bomb into this field on
Tuesday, meant for the Air Station here. This is the Headquarters of the
4th Division.


_Friday, October 30th, Boulogne._--While we were at Nieppe, after
passing Bailleul, a German aeroplane dropped a bomb on to Bailleul.
After filling up at Nieppe we went back to Bailleul and took up 238
Indians, mostly with smashed left arms from a machine-gun that caught
them in the act of firing over a trench. They are nearly all 47th Sikhs,
perfect lambs: they hold up their wounded hands and arms like babies for
you to see, and insist on having them dressed whether they've just been
done or not. They behave like gentlemen, and salaam after you've dressed
them. They have masses of long, fine, dark hair under their turbans done
up with yellow combs, glorious teeth, and melting dark eyes. One died.
The younger boys have beautiful classic Italian faces, and the rest have
fierce black beards curling over their ears.

We carried 387 cases this time.

_Later._--We got unloaded much more quickly to-day, and have been able
to have a good rest this afternoon, as I went to bed at 3 A.M. and was
up again by 8. It was not so heavy this time, as the Indians were mostly
sitting-up cases. Those of a different caste had to sleep on the floor
of the corridors, as the others wouldn't have them in. One compartment
of four lying-down ones got restless with the pain of their arms, and I
found them all sitting up rocking their arms and wailing "Aie, Aie,
Aie," poor pets. They all had morphia, and subsided. One British Tommy
said to me: "Don't take no notice o' the dirt on me flesh, Sister; I
ain't 'ad much time to wash!" quite seriously.

Another bad one needed dressing. I said, "I won't hurt you." And he said
in a hopeless sort of voice, "I don't care if you do." He had been
through a little too much.

It is fine getting the same day's London 'Daily Mail' here by the
Folkestone boat.

It is interesting to hear the individual men express their conviction
that the British will never let the Germans through to Calais. They seem
as keen as the Generals or the Government. That is why we have had such
thousands of wounded in Boulogne in this one week. It is quite difficult
to nurse the Germans, and impossible to love your enemies. We always
have some on the train. One man of the D.L.I. was bayoneted in three
different places, after being badly wounded in the arm by a dumdum
bullet. (They make a small entrance hole and burst the limb open in
exit.) The man who bayoneted him died in the next bed to him in the
Clearing Hospital yesterday morning. You feel that they have all been
doing that and worse. We hear at first hand from officers and men
specified local instances of unprintable wickedness.


_Saturday, October 31st._--Left Boulogne at twelve, and have just
reached Bailleul, 6 P.M., where we are to take up wounded Indians again.
Somehow they are not so harrowing as the wounded British, perhaps
because of the block in language and the weirdness of them. Big guns are
booming again. (This was the most critical day of the first battle of
Ypres.)

H. sent me a lovely parcel of fifty packets of cigarettes and some
chocolate, and A. sent a box of nutmilk choc. They will be grand for the
men.

One drawback on having the Indians is that you find them squatting in
the corridor, comparing notes on what varieties they find in their
clothing! Considering the way one gets smothered with their blankets in
the bunks it is the most personally alarming element in the War so far.


_Sunday, November 1st, Boulogne_--_All Saints' Day._--We loaded up with
British after all, late in the evening, and had a very heavy night: one
of mine died suddenly of femoral hæmorrhage, after sitting up and
enjoying his breakfast.

_12 noon._--We are still unloaded, but I was up all night, and so went
out for a blow after breakfast. Found two British T.B.D.'s in dock; on
one they were having divine service, close to the quay. I listened
specially to the part about loving our enemies! Then I found the
English Church (Colonial and Continental), quite nice and good chants,
but I was too sleepy to stay longer than the Psalms: it is ages since
one had a chance to go to Church.

After lunch, now they are all unloaded, one will be able to get a stuffy
station sleep, regardless of noise and smells.

We carried thirty-nine officers on the train, mostly cavalry, very brave
and angelic and polite in their uncomfortable and unwonted helplessness.
They liked everything enthusiastically--the beds and the food and the
bandages. One worn-out one murmured as he was tucked up, "By Jove, it is
splendid to be out of the sound of those beastly guns; it's priceless."
I had a very interesting conversation with a Major this morning, who was
hit yesterday. He says it's only a question of where and when you get
it, sooner or later; practically no one escapes.

Rifle firing counts for nothing; it is all the Coal-boxes and Jack
Johnsons. The shortage of officers is getting very serious on both
sides, and it becomes more and more a question of who can wear out the
other in the time.

He said that Aircraft has altered everything in War. German aeroplanes
come along, give a little dip over our positions, and away go the
German guns. And these innocent would-be peasants working in the fields
give all sorts of signals by whirling windmills round suddenly when
certain regiments come into action.

The poor L. Regiment were badly cut up in this way yesterday half an
hour after coming into their first action; we had them on the train.

They say the French fight well with us, better than alone, and the
Indians can't be kept in their trenches; it is up and at 'em. But we
shall soon have lost all the men we have out here. Trains and trains
full come in every day and night. We are waiting now for five trains to
unload. It is a dazzling morning.


_Monday, November 2nd._--On way up to ----. The pressure on the Medical
Service is now enormous. One train came down to-day (without Sisters)
with 1200 sitting-up cases; they stayed for hours in the siding near us
without water, cigarettes, or newspapers. You will see in to-day's
'Times' that the Germans have got back round Ypres again (where I went
into the Cathedral last Monday). No.-- A.T. was badly shelled there
yesterday. The Germans were trying for the armoured train. The naval
officer on the armoured train had to stand behind the engine-driver with
a revolver to make him go where he was wanted to. The sitting-up cases
on No.-- got out and fled three miles down the line. A Black Maria shell
burst close to and killed a man. They are again "urgently needing"
A.T.'s; so I hope we are going there to-night.

Eighty thousand German reinforcements are said to have come up to break
through our line, and the British dead are now piled up on the field.
But they aren't letting the Germans through. Three of our men died
before we unloaded at 8 P.M. yesterday, two of shock from lying ten
hours in the trench, not dressed.


_Tuesday, November 3rd, Bailleul_, 8.30 A.M.--Just going to load up;
wish we'd gone to Ypres. Germans said to be advancing.


_Wednesday, November 4th, Boulogne._--We had a lot of badly wounded
Germans who had evidently been left many days; their condition was
appalling; two died (one of tetanus), and one British. We have had a lot
of the London Scottish, wounded in their first action.

Reinforcements, French guns, British cavalry, are being hurried up the
line; they all look splendid.


_Wednesday, November 11th._--Sometimes it seems as if we shall never
get home, the future is so unwritten.

A frightful explosion like this Hell of a War, which flared up in a few
days, will take so much longer to wipe up what can be wiped up. I think
the British men who have seen the desolation and the atrocities in
Belgium have all personally settled that it shan't happen in England,
and that is why the headlines always read--

     "THE BRITISH ARMY IMMOVABLE." "WAVES OF GERMAN INFANTRY BROKEN."
     "ALLIES THROW ENEMY BACK AT ALL POINTS." "YPRES HELD FOR THREE
     WEEKS UNDER A RAIN OF SHELLS."

You can tell they feel like that from their entire lack of resentment
about their own injuries. Their conversation to each other from the time
they are landed on the train until they are taken off is never about
their own wounds and feelings, but exclusively about the fighting they
have just left. If one only had time to listen or take it down it would
be something worth reading, because it is not letters home or newspaper
stuff, _but told to each other_, with their own curious comments and
phraseology, and no hint of a gallery or a Press. Incidentally one gets
a few eye-openers into what happens to a group of men when a Jack
Johnson lands a shell in the middle of them. Nearly every man on the
train, especially the badly smashed-up ones, tells you how exceptionally
lucky he was because he didn't get killed like his mate.


_Boulogne, Thursday, November 12th_, 8 P.M.--Have been here all day. Had
a hot bath on the St Andrew. News from the Front handed down the line
coincides with the 'Daily Mail.'


_Friday, 13th._--Still here--fourth day of rest. No one knows why;
nearly all the trains are here. The news to-day is glorious. They say
that the Germans did get through into Ypres and were bayoneted out
again.


_Friday, November 13th, Boulogne._--We have been all day in Park Lane
Siding among the trains, in pouring wet and slush. I amused myself with
a pot of white paint and a forceps and wool for a brush, painting the
numbers on both ends of the coaches inside, all down the train; you
can't see the chalk marks at night.

This unprecedented four days' rest and nights in bed is doing us all a
power of good; we have books and mending and various occupations.


_Saturday, November 14th._--Glorious sunny day, but very cold. Still in
Boulogne, but out of Park Lane Siding slum, and among the ships again.
Some French sailors off the T.B.'s are drilling on one side of us.

Everything R.A.M.C. at the base is having a rest this week--ships,
hospitals, and trains. Major S. said there was not so much doing at the
Front--thank Heaven; and the line is still wanted for troops. We have
just heard that there are several trains to go up before our turn comes,
and that we are to wait about six miles off. Better than the siding
anyhow. Meanwhile we can't go off, because we don't know when the train
will move out.

The tobacco and the cigarettes from Harrod's have come in separate
parcels, so the next will be the chocolate and hankies and cards, &c. It
is a grand lot, and I am longing to get up to the Front and give them
out.


_Sunday, November 15th._--We got a move on in the middle of the night,
and are now on our way up.

The cold of this train life is going to be rather a problem. Our
quarters are not heated, but we have "made" (_i.e._, acquired, looted) a
very small oil-stove which faintly warms the corridor, but you can
imagine how no amount of coats or clothes keeps you warm in a railway
carriage in winter. I'm going to make a foot muff out of a brown
blanket, which will help. A smart walk out of doors would do it, but
that you can't get off when the train is stationary for fear of its
vanishing, and for obvious reasons when it is moving. I did walk round
the train for an hour in the dark and slime in the siding yesterday
evening, but it is not a cheering form of exercise.

To-day it is _pouring_ cats and dogs, awful for loading sick, and there
will be many after this week for the trains.

Every one has of course cleared out of beautiful Ypres, but we are going
to load up at Poperinghe, the town next before it, which is now
Railhead. Lately the trains have not been so far.


_Monday, November 16th, Boulogne_, 9 A.M.--We loaded up at Bailleul 344.
The Clearing Hospitals were very full, and some came off a convoy. One
of mine died. One, wounded above the knee, was four _days_ in the open
before being picked up; he had six bullets in his leg, two in each arm,
and crawled about till found; one of the arm wounds he got doing this. I
went to bed at 4. The news was all good, taken as a whole, but the men
say they were "a bit short-handed!!" One said gloomily, "This isn't War,
it's Murder; you go there to your doom." Heard the sad news of Lord
Roberts.

We are all the better for our week's rest.


_Tuesday, November 17th_, 3 A.M.--When we got our load down to Boulogne
yesterday morning all the hospitals were full, and the weather was too
rough for the ships to come in and clear them, so we were ordered on to
Havre, a very long journey. A German died before we got to Abbeville,
where we put off two more very bad ones; and at Amiens we put off four
more, who wouldn't have reached Havre. About midnight something broke on
the train, and we were hung up for hours, and haven't yet got to Rouen,
so we shall have them on the train all to-morrow too, and have all the
dressings to do for the third time. One of the night orderlies has been
run in for being asleep on duty. He climbed into a top bunk (where a
Frenchman was taken off at Amiens), and deliberately covered up and went
to sleep. He was in charge of 28 patients. Another was left behind at
Boulogne, absent without leave, thinking we should unload, and the train
went off for Havre. He'll be run in too. Shows how you can't leave the
train. Just got to St Just. That looks as if we were going to empty at
Versailles instead of Havre. Lovely starlight night, but very cold.
Everybody feels pleased and honoured that Lord Roberts managed to die
with us on Active Service at Headquarters, and who would choose a better
ending to such a life?

7 A.M.--After all, we must be crawling round to Rouen for Havre; passed
Beauvais. Lovely sunrise over winter woods and frosted country. Our load
is a heavy and anxious one--344; we shall be glad to land them safely
somewhere. The amputations, fractures, and lung cases stand these long
journeys very badly.



V.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (3)

BRITISH AND INDIANS

_November 18, 1914, to December 17, 1914_

          "Because of you we will be glad and gay,
          Remembering you we will be brave and strong,
          And hail the advent of each dangerous day,
          And meet the Great Adventure with a song."

          --_From a poem on_ "J.G."



V.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (3).

BRITISH AND INDIANS.

_November 18, 1914, to December 17, 1914._

The Boulogne siding--St Omer--Indian soldiers--His Majesty King
George--Lancashire men on the War--Hazebrouck--Bailleul--French
engine-drivers--Sheepskin coats--A village in N.E. France--Headquarters.


_Wednesday, November 18th_, 2 P.M.--At last reached beautiful Rouen,
through St Just, Beauvais, and up to Sergueux, and down to Rouen. From
Sergueux through Rouen to Havre is supposed to be the most beautiful
train journey in France, which is saying a good deal. Put off some more
bad cases here; a boy sergeant, aged 24, may save his eye and general
blood-poisoning if he gets irrigated quickly. You can watch them going
wrong, with two days and two nights on the train, and it seems such
hard luck. And then if you don't write Urgent or Immediate on their
bandages in blue pencil, they get overlooked in the rush into hospital
when they are landed. So funny to be going back to old Havre, that hot
torrid nightmare of Waiting-for-Orders in August. But, thank Heaven, we
don't stop there, but back to the guns again.

5 P.M.--We are getting on for Havre at last. This long journey from
Belgium down to Havre has been a strange mixture. Glorious country with
the flame and blue haze of late autumn on hills, towns, and valleys,
bare beech-woods with hot red carpets. Glorious British Army lying
broken in the train--sleep (or the chance of it) three hours one night
and four the next, with all the hours between (except meals) hard work
putting the British Army together again; haven't taken off my puttees
since Sunday. Seems funny, 400 people (of whom four are women and about
sixty are sound) all whirling through France by special train. Why?
Because of the Swelled Head of the All-Highest.

We had a boy with no wound, suffering from shock from shell bursts. When
he came round, if you asked him his name he would look fixedly at you
and say "Yes." If you asked him something else, with a great effort he
said "Mother."

8 P.M.--Got to Havre.


_Wednesday, 18th November_, 6 P.M.--Sotteville, near Rouen. This
afternoon's up-journey between Havre and Rouen has been a stripe of pure
bliss with no war about it at all. A brilliant dazzling day (which our
Island couldn't do if it tried in November), rugs, coat, and cushion on
your bed, and the most heavenly view unrolling itself before you without
lifting your head to see it, ending up with the lights of Rouen
twinkling in the smoke of the factory chimneys under a flaring red
sunset.

We are to stop here for repairs to the train--chauffage, electric light,
water supply, and gas all to be done. Then we shall be a very smart
train. The electric light and the heating will be the greatest help--a
chapel and a bathroom I should like added!

At Havre last night the train ran into the Gare Maritime (where we left
in the _Asturias_ for St Nazaire early in September), which is
immediately under the great place that No.-- G.H. bagged for their
Hospital in August. I ran up and saw it all. It is absolutely first
class. There were our people off the train in lovely beds, in huge
wards, with six rows of beds--clean sheets, electric light, hot food,
and all the M.O.'s, Sisters, and Nursing Orderlies, in white overalls,
hard at work on them--orderlies removing their boots and clothing (where
we hadn't done it, we leave as much on as we can now because of the
cold). Sisters washing them and settling them in, and with the M.O.
doing their dressings, all as busy as bees, only stopping to say to us,
"Aren't they brave?" They said we'd brought them an awfully bad lot, and
we said we shed all the worst on the way. They don't realise that by the
time they get to the base these men are beyond complaining; each stage
is a little less infernal to them than the one they've left; and instead
of complaining, they tell you how lovely it is! It made one realise the
grimness of our stage in it--the emergencies, the makeshifts, and the
little four can do for nearly 400 in a train--with their greatest
output. We each had 80 lying-down cases this journey.

We got to bed about 11 and didn't wake till nearly 9, to the sound of
the No.-- G.H. bugle, Come to the Cook-house door, boys.


_Thursday, November 19th._--Spent the day in a wilderness of railway
lines at Sotteville--sharp frost; walk up and down the lines all
morning; horizon bounded by fog. This afternoon raw, wet, snowing, slush
outside. If it is so deadly cold on this unheated train, what do they do
in the trenches with practically the same equipment they came out with
in August? Can't last like that. Makes you feel a pig to have a big
coat, and hot meals, and dry feet. I've made a fine foot muff with a
brown blanket; it is twelve thicknesses sewn together; have still got
only summer underclothing. My winter things have been sent on from
Havre, but the parcel has not yet reached me; hope the foot muff will
ward off chilblains. Got a 'Daily Mail' of yesterday. We heard of the
smash-up of the Prussian Guard from the people who did it, and had some
of the P.G. on our train. Ypres is said to be full of German wounded who
will very likely come to us.


_Friday, November 20th_, 10 A.M., _Boulogne._--Deep snow.


_Boulogne, Saturday, November 21st._--In the siding all yesterday and
to-day. Train to be cut down from 650 tons to 450, so we are
reconstructing and putting off waggons. It will reduce our number of
patients, but we shall be able to do more for a smaller number, and the
train will travel better and not waste time blocking up the stations and
being left in sidings in consequence. The cold this week has been
absolutely awful. The last train brought almost entirely cases of
rheumatism. Their only hope at the Front must be hot meals, and I expect
the A.S.C. sees that they get them somehow.

A troop train of a very rough type of Glasgow men, reinforcing the
Highlanders, was alongside of us early yesterday morning; each truck had
a roaring fire of coke in a pail. They were in roaring spirits; it was
icy cold.

My winter things arrived from Havre yesterday, so I am better equipped
against the cold. Also, this morning an engine gave us an hour or two's
chauffage just at getting-up time, which was a help.


_Sunday, November 22nd._--Left B. early this morning and got to Merville
about midday. Loaded up and got back to B. in the night. Many wounded
Germans and a good lot of our sick, knocked over by the cold. I don't
know how any of them stick it. Five bombs were dropped the day before
where we were to-day, and an old man was killed. Things are being badly
given away by spies, even of other nationalities. Some men were sleeping
in a cellar at Ypres to avoid the bombardment, with some refugees. In
the night they missed two of them. They were found on the roof
signalling to the Germans with flash-lights. In the morning they paid
the penalty.

The frost has not broken, and it is still bitterly cold.


_Tuesday, November 24th._--Was up all Sunday night; unloaded early at
Boulogne. Had a bath on a ship and went to bed. Stayed in siding all
day.


_Wednesday, November 25th._--Left B. about 9.30.

Last night at dinner our charming debonair French garçon was very drunk,
and spilt the soup all over me! There was a great scene in French. The
fat fatherly corporal (who has a face and expression exactly like the
Florentine people in Ghirlandaio's Nativities, and who has the manners
of a French aristocrat on his way to the guillotine) tried to control
him, but it ended in a sort of fight, and poor Charles got the sack in
the end, and has been sent back to Paris to join his regiment. He was
awfully good to us Sisters--used to make us coffee in the night, and
fill our hot bottles and give us hot bricks for our feet at meals.

Just going on now to a place we've not been to before, called Chocques.

The French have to-day given us an engine with the Red Cross on it and
an extra man to attend to the chauffage, so we have been quite warm and
lovely. We ply him at the stations with cigarettes and chocolate, and he
now falls over himself in his anxiety to please us.

The officers of the two Divisions which are having a rest have got 100
hours' leave in turns. We all now spend hours mapping out how much we
could get at home in 100 hours from Boulogne.


_Wednesday, November 25th._--Arrived at 11 P.M. last night at a
God-forsaken little place about eight miles from the firing line. Found
a very depressed major taking a most gloomy view of life and the war, in
charge of Indians. Pitch-dark night, and they were a mile away from the
station, so we went to bed at 12 and loaded up at 7.30 this morning, all
Indians, mostly badly wounded. They are such pathetic babies, just as
inarticulate to us and crying as if it was a crêche. I've done a great
trade in Hindustani, picked up at a desperate pace from a Hindu officer
to-day! If you write it down you can soon learn it, and I've got all the
necessary medical jargon now; you read it off, and then spout it without
looking at your note-book. The awkward part is when they answer
something you haven't got!

The Germans are using sort of steam-ploughs for cutting trenches.

The frost has broken, thank goodness. The Hindu officer said the cold
was more than they bargained for, but they were "very, very glad to
fight for England." He thought the Germans were putting up a very good
show. There have been a great many particularly ghastly wounds from
hand-grenades in the trenches. We have made a very good journey down,
and expect to unload this evening, as we are just getting into Boulogne
at 6.30 P.M.


_Thursday, November 26th._--We did a record yesterday. Loaded up with
the Indians--full load--bad cases--quite a heavy day; back to B. and
unloaded by 9 P.M., and off again at 11.30 P.M. No waiting in the siding
this time. Three hospital ships were waiting this side to cross by
daylight. They can't cross now by night because of enemy torpedoes. So
all the hospitals were full again, and trains were taking their loads on
to Rouen and Havre. We should have had to if they hadn't been Indians.

We loaded up to-day at Bailleul, where we have been before--headquarters
of 3rd and 4th Divisions. We had some time to wait there before loading
up, so went into the town and saw the Cathedral--beautiful old tower,
hideously restored inside, but very big and well kept. The town was very
interesting. Sentries up the streets every hundred yards or so; the
usual square packed with transport, and the usual jostle of Tommies and
staff officers and motor-cars and lorries. We saw General French go
through.

The Surgeon-General had been there yesterday, and five Sisters are to be
sent up to each of the two clearing hospitals there. They should have
an exciting time. A bomb was dropped straight on to the hospital two
days ago--killed one wounded man, blew both hands off one orderly, and
wounded another. The airman was caught, and said he was very sorry he
dropped it on the hospital; he meant it for Headquarters. We have a lot
of cases of frost-bite on the train. One is as bad as in Scott's
Expedition; may have to have his foot amputated. I'd never seen it
before. They are nearly all slight medical cases; very few wounded,
which makes a very light load from the point of view of work, but we
shall have them on the train all night. One of us is doing all the train
half the night, and another all the train the other half. The other two
go to bed all night. I am one of these, as I have got a bit of a throat
and have been sent to bed early. We've never had a light enough load for
one to do the whole train before. The men say things are very quiet at
the Front just now. Is it the weather or the Russian advance?

Great amusement to-day. Major P. got left behind at Hazebrouck, talking
to the R.T.O., but scored off us by catching us up at St Omer on an
engine which he collared.


_Saturday, November 28th._--Sunny and much milder. We came up in the
night last night to St Omer, and have not taken any sick on yet. There
seems to be only medical cases about just now, which is a blessed relief
to think of. They are inevitable in the winter, here or at home. The
Major has gone up to Poperinghe with one carriage to fetch six badly
wounded officers and four men who were left there the other day when the
French took the place over.

I was just getting cigarettes for an up-going train of field-kitchens
and guns out of your parcel when it began to move. The men on each truck
stood ready, and caught the packets as eagerly as if they'd been
diamonds as I threw them in from my train. It was a great game; only two
went on the ground. The "Surprise," I suppose, is in the round tin. We
are keeping it for a lean day.

6 P.M.--We are just coming to Chocques for Indians again, not far from
Armentières, so I am looking up my Hindustani conversation again.

On Friday--the day between these two journeys--Sister N. and I got a
motor ambulance from the T.O. and whirled off to Wimereux in it. It is a
lovely place on the sea, about three miles off, now with every hotel,
casino, and school taken up by R.A.M.C. Base Hospitals. It was a lovely
blue morning, and I went right out to the last rock on the sands and
watched the breakers while Sister N. attended to some business. It was
glorious after the everlasting railway carriage atmosphere. Then we
found a very nice old church in the town. It is too wet to load up with
the Indians to-night, so we have the night in bed, and take them down
to-morrow.

A sergeant of the 10th Hussars told me he was in a house with some
supposed Belgian refugees. He noticed that when a little bell near the
ceiling rang one of them always dashed upstairs. He put a man upstairs
to trace this bell and intercept the Belgian. It was connected with the
little trap-door of a pigeon-house. When a pigeon came in with a
message, this door rang the bell and they went up and got the message.
They didn't reckon on having British in the house. They were shot next
morning.

It takes me a month to read a Sevenpenny out here.


_Sunday (Advent), November 29th._--On the way down from Chocques. We
have got Indians, British, and eight Germans this time. One big,
handsome, dignified Mussulman wouldn't eat his biscuit because he was in
the same compartment as a Hindu, and the Hindu wouldn't eat his because
the Mussulman had handed it to him. The Babu I called in to interpret
was very angry with both, and called the M. a fool-man, and explained to
us that he was telling them that in England "Don't care Mussulman, don't
care Hindu"--only in Hindustan, and that if the Captain Sahib said
"Eat," it was "Hukm," and they'd got to. My sympathies were with the
beautiful, polite, sad-looking M., who wouldn't budge an inch, and only
salaamed when the Babu went for him.


_Monday, November 30th, Boulogne._--Yesterday a wounded Tommy on the
train told me "the Jack Johnsons have all gone." To-day's French
communiqué says, "The enemy's heavy artillery is little in evidence."
There is a less strained feeling about everywhere--a most blessed lull.

We were late getting our load off the train last night, and some were
very bad. One of my Sikhs with pneumonia did not live to reach Boulogne.
Another pneumonia was very miserable, and kept saying, "Hindustan gurrum
England tanda." They all think they are in England. The Gurkhas are
supposed by the orderlies to be Japanese. They are exactly like Japs,
only brown instead of yellow. The orderlies make great friends with them
all. One Hindu was singing "Bonnie Dundee" to them in a little gentle
voice, very much out of tune. Their great disadvantage is that they are
alive with "Jack Johnsons" (not the guns). They take off _all_ their
underclothes and throw them out of the window, and we have to keep
supplying them with pyjamas and shirts. They sit and stand about naked,
scratching for dear life. It is fatal for the train, because all the
cushioned seats are now infected, and so are we. I love them dearly, but
it is a big price to pay.


_Tuesday, December 1st._--We are to-day in a beautiful high embankment
at Wimereux, three miles from Boulogne, right on the sea, and have been
dry-docked there till 3 P.M. (when we have just started for?), while
endless trains of men and guns have gone up past us. H.M. King George
was in the restaurant car of one of them. We have been out all the
morning, down to the grey and rolling sea, and have been celebrating
December 1st by sitting on the embankment reading back numbers of 'The
Times,' and one of the C.S.'s and I have been painting enormous Red
Crosses on the train.

'Punch' comes regularly now and is devoured by our Mess. We are very
like the apostles, and share everything from cakes and 'Spheres' to
remedies for "Jack Johnsons." Bread-and-butter doesn't happen, alas!

6.30 P.M.--We've just caught up H.M. King George's train at St Omer, but
he is evidently out dining with Sir John French. We are just alongside.
He has red and blue curtains lining the bridges to keep his royal khaki
shoulders from getting smutty. His _chef_ has a grey beard. He is with
Poincaré.


_Wednesday, December 2nd._--We got to Chocques very late last night and
are loading up this morning, but only a few here; we shall stop at
Lillers and take more on. We went for our usual exploring walk through
seas of mud. There are more big motor-lorries here than I've seen
anywhere. We wandered past a place where Indians were busy killing and
skinning goats--a horrible sight--to one of these châteaux where the
staff officers have their headquarters: it was a lovely house in a very
clean park; there was a children's swing under the trees and we had some
fine swings.

_Later._--Officers have been on the train on both places begging for
newspapers and books. We save up our 'Punches' and 'Daily Mails' and
'Times' for them, and give them any Sevenpennies we have to spare. They
say at least forty people read each book, and they finish up in the
trenches.

H.M. King George was up here yesterday afternoon in a motor and gave
three V.C.'s.

We have only taken on 83 at the two places. There is so little doing
anywhere--no guns have been heard for several days, and there is not
much sickness. An officer asked for some mufflers for his Field
Ambulance men, so I gave him the rest of the children's: the sailors on
the armoured train had the first half. He came back with some pears for
us. They are so awfully grateful for the things we give them that they
like to bring us something in exchange. Seven men off a passing truck
fell over each other getting writing-cases and chocolate to-day. They
almost eat the writing-cases with their joy.

9 P.M.--We filled up at St Omer from the three hospitals there. A great
many cases of frost-bite were put on. They crawl on hands and knees,
poor dears. Some left in hospital are very severe and have had to be
amputated below the knee. Some of the toes drop off. I have one carriage
of twenty-four Indians. A Sikh refused to sit in the same seat with a
stout little major of the Gurkhas. I showed him a picture of Bobs, and
he said at once, "Robert Sahib." They love the 'Daily Mirrors' with
pictures of Indians. The Sikhs are rather whiney patients and very hard
to please, but the little Gurkhas are absolute stoics, and the Bengal
Lancers, who are Mohammedans, are splendid.


_Thursday, December 3rd._--We kept our load on all night, as we got in
very late. I went to bed 10.20 A.M., and then took all the train:
unloaded directly after breakfast. Some men from Lancashire were rather
interesting on the war; they thought it would do Europe so much good in
the long-run. And the French might try and get their own back when they
get into Germany, but "the British is too tender-'earted to do them
things." They arranged that Belgium should have Berlin! They all get
very pitiful over the Belgian homes and desolation; it seems to upset
them much more than their own horrors in the trenches. A good deal of
the fighting they talk about as if it was an exciting sort of football
match, full of sells and tricks and chances. They roar with laughter at
some of their escapes.

There was no hospital ship in, which spells a bath or no bath to me, but
I ramped round the town till I found a hotel which kindly supplied a
fine bath for 1.75. And I found another and nicer English church and a
Roman Catholic one.

Grand mail when I came in--from home.


_Friday, December 4th._--Had a busy day loading at three places: just
going to turn in as I have to be up at 2 A.M.; we shall have the
patients on all night. It is a fearful night, pouring and blowing. We
have taken a tall white-haired Padre up with us this time: he wanted a
trip to the Front. We happened to go to a place we hadn't been to
before, in a coal-mining district. While we loaded he marched off to
explore, and was very pleased at finding a well-shelled village and an
unexploded shell stuck in a tree. It specially seemed to please him to
find a church shelled! He has enjoyed talking to the crowds of men on
the train on the way down. He lives and messes with us. We opened the
Harrod's cake to-day; it is a beauty. The men were awfully pleased with
the bull's-eyes, said they hadn't tasted a sweet for four months.

One of the C.S. has just dug me out to see some terrific flashes away
over the Channel, which he thinks is a naval battle. I think it is
lightning. It was. The gale is terrific: must be giving the ships a
doing.


_Saturday, December 5th_, 7 A.M.--We had a long stop on an embankment in
the night, and at last the Chef de Gare from the next station came along
the line and found both the French guards rolled up asleep and the
engine-driver therefore hung up. Then he ran out of coal, and couldn't
pull the train up the hill, so we had another four hours' wait while
another engine was sent for. Got into B. at 6 A.M.; bitterly cold and
wet, and no chauffage.


_Sunday, December 6th._--A brilliant frosty day--on way up to Bailleul.
We unloaded early at B. yesterday, and waited at a good place half-way
between B. and Calais, a high down not far from the sea, with a splendid
air. Some of the others went for a walk as we had no engine on, but I
had been up since 2 A.M., and have hatched another bad cold, and so
retired for a sleep till tea-time.

Just got to Hazebrouck. Ten men and three women were killed and twenty
wounded here this morning by a bomb. They are very keen on getting a
good bag here, especially on the station, and for other reasons, as it
is an important junction.

4 P.M.--We have been up to B. and there were no patients for us, so we
are to go back to the above bomb place to collect theirs. B. was packed
with pale, war-worn, dirty but cheerful French troops entraining for
their Front. They have been all through everything, and say they want to
go on and get it finished. They carry fearful loads, including an extra
pair of boots, a whole collection of frying-pans and things, and
blankets, picks, &c., all on their backs.

The British officers on the station came and grabbed our yesterday's
'Daily Mails,' and asked for soap, so what you sent came in handy. They
went in to the town to buy grapes for us in return. This place is famous
for grapes--huge monster purple ones--but the train went out before they
came back. We had got some earlier, though.

9 P.M.--We are nearly back at Boulogne and haven't taken up any sick or
wounded anywhere. One of the trains has taken Indians from Boulogne
down to Marseilles--several days' journey.


_Monday, December 7th._--Pouring wet day. Still standing by; nothing
doing anywhere. It is a blessed relief to know that, and the rest does
no one any harm. Had a grand mail to-day.

There is a heart-breaking account of my beautiful Ypres on page 8 of
December 1st 'Times.' There was a cavalry officer looking round the
Cathedral with me that day the guns were banging. I often wonder where
the Belgian woman is who showed me the way and wanted my S.A. ribbons as
a souvenir. She showed me a huge old painting on the wall of the
Cathedral of Ypres in an earlier war.

I all but got left in Boulogne to-day. We are dry-docked about five
miles out, not far from Ambleteuse.

It was bad luck not seeing the King. We caught him up at St Omer, and
saw his train; and from there he motored in front of us to all our
places. Where we went, they said, "The King was here yesterday and gave
V.C.'s." We haven't seen the "d--d good boy" either.


_Tuesday, December 8th._--Got up to Bailleul by 11 A.M., and had a good
walk on the line waiting to load up. Glorious morning. Aeroplanes
buzzing overhead like bees, and dropping coloured signals about. Only
filled up my half of the train, both wounded and sick, including some
very bad enterics. An officer in the trenches sent a man on a horse to
get some papers from us. Luckily I had a batch of 'The Times,'
'Spectator,' and 'Punches.'

We have come down very quickly, and hope to unload to-night, 9.30.


_Wednesday, December 9th._--In siding at Boulogne all day. Pouring wet.


_Thursday, December 10th._--Left for Bailleul at 8 A.M. Heard at St Omer
of the sinking of the three German cruisers.

Arrived at 2 P.M. Loaded up in the rain, wounded and sick--full load.
They were men wounded last night, very muddy and trenchy; said the train
was like heaven! It is lovely fun taking the sweets round; they are such
an unexpected treat. The sitting-ups make many jokes, and say "they
serve round 'arder sweets than this in the firing line--more explosive
like."

One showed us a fearsome piece of shell which killed his chum next to
him last night. There is a good deal of dysentery about, and acute
rheumatism. The Clearing Hospitals are getting rather rushed again, and
the men say we shall have a lot coming down in the next few days. A
hundred men of one regiment got separated from their supports and came
up against some German machine-guns in a wood with tragic results. We
are shelling from Ypres, but there is no answering shelling going on
just now, though the Taubes are busy.

We are wondering what the next railhead will be, and when. Some charming
H.A.C.'s are on the train this time, and a typically plucky lot of
Tommies. One of the best of their many best features is their unfailing
friendliness with each other. They never let you miss a man out with
sweets or anything if he happens to be asleep or absent.


_Friday, December 11th._--They wouldn't unload us at 11 P.M. at Boulogne
last night, but sent us on to the Duchess of Westminster's Hospital at a
little place about twenty miles south of B., and we didn't unload till
this morning. It was my turn for a whole night in bed. Not that this
means we are having many nights up, but that when the load doesn't
require two Sisters at night, two go to bed and the other two divide the
night. After unloading we had a poke round the little fishing village,
and of course the church. A company of Canadian Red Cross people
unloaded us. The hospital has not been open very long. It was all
sand-dunes and fir-trees on the way, very attractive, and cement
factories.

Mail in again.

9 P.M.--We came back to B. to fill up with stores after lunch, and
haven't been sent out again yet; but we often go to bed here, and wake
up and ask our soldier servants (batmen), who bring our jugs of hot
water it the morning, where we are. I like the motion of the train in
bed now, and you get used to the noise.


_Saturday, December 12th._--The French engine-drivers are so erratic
that if you're long enough on the line it's only a question of time when
you get your smash up. Ours came last night when they were joining us up
to go out again. They put an engine on to each end of one-half of the
train (not the one our car is in), and then did a tug-of-war. That
wasn't a success, so they did the concertina touch, and put three
coaches out of action, including the kitchen. So we're stuck here now
(Boulogne) till Heaven knows when. Fortunately no casualties.


_Sunday, December 13th._--We've been hung up since Friday night by the
three damaged trucks, and took the opportunity of getting some good
walks yesterday, and actually going to church at the English church this
morning.

Sister B. has been ordered to join the hospital; she mobilised to-day,
and we had to pack her off this morning. The staffs of the trains (which
have all been shortened) have been put down from four to three. Very
glad I wasn't taken off.

We saw a line of graves with wooden crosses, in a field against the
skyline, last journey.

We have seen a lot of the skin coats that the men are getting now.
Sheepskin, with any sort of fur or skin sleeves, just the skins sewn
together; you may see a grey or white coat with brown or black fur or
astrakhan sleeves. Some wear the fur inside and some outside; they
simply love them.

Reduced to pacing the platform in the dark and rain to get warm. It is
368 paces, so I've done it six times to well cover a mile, but it is not
an exciting walk! Funny thing, it seems in this war that for many
departments you are either thoroughly overworked or entirely hung up,
which is much worse. In things like the Pay Department or the
Post-Office or the Provisioning for the A.S.C. it seldom gets off the
overworked line, but in this and in the fighting line it varies very
much.

     "The number of victims of the Taube attack on Hazebrouck on Monday
     is larger than was at first supposed. Five bombs were thrown and
     nine British soldiers and five civilians were killed, while 25
     persons were injured."--'Times,' Dec. 9th.

We were at H. on that day.


_Monday, December 14th._--Got off at last at 3.30 A.M. Loaded up 300 at
Merville, a place we've only been to once before, near the coalmines.
Guns were banging only four miles off.

Had a good many bad cases, medical and surgical, this time: kept one
busy to the journey's end. We are unloaded to-night, so they will soon
be well seen to, instead of going down to Rouen or Havre, which two
other trains just in have got to do.

We have a good many Gordons on; one was hugging his bagpipes, and we had
him up after dinner to play, which he did beautifully with a wrapt
expression.

We are going up again to-night. "Three trains wanted immediately"--been
expecting that.


_Tuesday, December 15th._--We were unloaded last night at 9.30, and
reported ready to go up again at 11 P.M., but they didn't move us till 5
A.M. Went to same place as yesterday, and cleared the Clearing Hospitals
again; some badly wounded, with wounds exposed and splints padded with
straw as in the Ypres days.

The Black Watch have got some cherub-faced boys of seventeen out now.
The mud and floods are appalling. The Scotch regiments have lost their
shoes and spats and wade barefoot in the water-logged trenches. This is
a true fact.

I'm afraid not a few of many regiments have got rheumatism--some
acute--that they will never lose.

The ploughed fields and roads are all more or less under water, and each
day it rains more.

We have got a Red Cross doctor on the train who was in the next village
to the one we loaded from this morning. It has been taken and retaken by
both sides, and had a population of about 2000. The only living things
he saw in it to-day besides a khaki supply column passing through were
one cat and some goldfish. In one villa a big brass bedstead was hanging
through the drawing-room ceiling by its legs, the clothes hanging in the
cupboards were slashed up, and nothing left anywhere. He says at least
ten well-to-do men of 50 are doing motor-ambulance work with their own
Rolls-Royces up there, and cleaning their cars themselves, at 6 A.M.

I happened to ask a man, who is a stretcher-bearer belonging to the
Rifle Brigade, how he got hit. "Oh, I was carrying a dead man," he said
modestly. "My officer told me not to move him till dark, because of the
sniping; but his face was blown off by an explosive bullet, and I didn't
think it would do the chaps who had to stand round him all day any good,
so I put him on my back, and they copped me in the leg. I was glad he
wasn't a wounded man, because I had to drop him."

He told me some French ladies were killed in their horse-and-cart on the
road near their trenches the other day; they would go and try and get
some of their household treasures. Two were killed--two and a man--and
the horse wounded. He helped to take them to the R.A.M.C.
dressing-station.


_Wednesday, December 16th._--We are on our way up again to-day, and by a
different and much jollier way, to St Omer, going south of Boulogne and
across country, instead of up by Calais. We came back this way with
patients from Ypres once. It is longer, but the country is like
Hampshire Downs, instead of the everlasting flat swamps the other way.
Of course it is raining.

6 P.M.--For once we waited long enough at St Omer to go out and explore
the beautiful ruined Abbey near the station. We went up the town--very
clean compared with the towns farther up--swarming with grey
touring-cars and staff officers. Headquarters of every arm labelled on
different houses, and a huge church the same date as the Abbey, with
some good carving and glass in it. We kept an eye open for Sir J.F. and
the P. of W., but didn't meet them. Saw the English military church
where Lord Roberts began his funeral service. For once it wasn't
raining.


_Thursday, December 17th._--Left St O. at 11 P.M. last night, and woke
up this morning at Bailleul. Saw two aeroplanes being fired at,--black
smoke-balls bursting in the air. Heard that Hartlepool and Scarboro'
have been shelled--just the bare fact--in last night's 'Globe.' R. will
have an exciting time. We're longing to get back for to-day's 'Daily
Mail.'

There has been a lot of fighting in our advance south-east of Ypres
since Sunday.

The Gordons made a great bayonet charge, but lost heavily in officers
and men in half an hour; we have some on the train. The French also lost
heavily, and lie unburied in hundreds; but the men say the Germans were
still more badly "punished." They tell us that in the base hospitals
they never get a clean wound; even the emergency amputations and
trephinings and operations done in the Clearing Hospitals are septic,
and no one who knew the conditions would wonder at it. We shall all
forget what aseptic work is by the time we get home. The anti-tetanus
serum injection that every wounded man gets with his first dressing has
done a great deal to keep the tetanus under, and the spreading gangrene
is less fatal than it was. It is treated with incisions and injections
of H_{2}O_{2}, or, when necessary, amputation in case of limbs. You
suspect it by the grey colour of the face and by another sense, before
you look at the dressing.

At B. a man at the station greeted me, and it was my old theatre orderly
at No. 7 Pretoria. We were very pleased to see each other. I fitted him
out with a pack of cards, post-cards, acid drops, and a nice grey pair
of socks.

A wounded officer told us he was giving out the mail in his trench the
night before last, and nearly every man had either a letter or a parcel.
Just as he finished a shell came and killed his sergeant and corporal;
if they hadn't had their heads out of the trench at that moment for the
mail, neither of them would have been hit. The officer could hardly get
through the story for the tears in his eyes.



VI.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (4)

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR ON THE TRAIN

_December 18, 1914, to January 3, 1915_

          "Judge of the passionate hearts of men,
          God of the wintry wind and snow,
          Take back the blood-stained year again,
          Give us the Christmas that we know."

          --F.G. SCOTT,
          _Chaplain with the Canadians_.



VI.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (4).

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR ON THE TRAIN.

_December 18, 1914, to January 3, 1915._

The Army and the King--Mufflers--Christmas Eve--Christmas on the
train--Princess Mary's present--The trenches in winter--"A typical
example"--New Year's Eve at Rouen--The young officers.


_Friday, December 18th_, 10.30 A.M.--We've had an all-night journey to
Rouen, and have almost got there. One of my sitting-ups was 106° this
morning, but it was only malaria, first typical one I have met since
S.A. A man who saw the King when he was here said, "They wouldn't let
him come near the trenches; if a shell had come and hit him I think the
Army would 'a gone mad; there'd be no keeping 'em in the trenches after
that."

This place before Rouen is Darnetal, a beautiful spiry town in a valley,
pronounced by the Staff of No.-- A.T. "Darn it all."

6 P.M.--We unloaded by 12, and had just had time to go out and get a
bath at the best baths in France.

Shipped a big cargo of J.J. this journey, but luckily made no personal
captures.

Got to sleep this afternoon, as I was on duty all yesterday and up to 2
A.M. this morning.

Pouring cats and dogs as usual.

No time to see the Cathedrals.

We had this time a good many old seasoned experienced men of the Regular
Army, who had been through all the four months (came out in August).
They are very strong on the point of mixing Territorials (and K.'s Army
where it is not composed of old service men) and Indians well in with
men like themselves.

One Company of R.E. lost all its officers in one day in a charge. A
H.L.I. man gave a chuckling account of how they got to fighting the
Prussian Guard with their fists at Wypers because they were at too close
quarters to get in with their bayonets. They really enjoyed it, and the
Germans didn't.


_Saturday, 19th._--We are dry-docked to-day at Sotteville, outside
Rouen. Z. and I half walked and half trammed into Rouen this morning.

It is lovely to get out of the train. This afternoon No.-- played a
football match against the Khaki train and got well beaten. They've only
been in the country six weeks, and only do about one journey every eight
days, so they are in better training than ours, but it will do them a
lot of good: we looked on.


_Sunday, 20th_, 6 P.M.--At last we are on our way back to Boulogne and
mails, and the News of the War at Home and Abroad. At Rouen, or rather
the desert four miles outside it, we only see the paper of the day
before, and we miss our mails, and have no work since unloading on
Friday. This morning was almost a summer day, warm, still, clear and
sunny. We went for a walk, and then got on with painting the red crosses
on the train, which can only be done on fine days, of which we've had
few. The men were paraded, and then sent route-marching, which they much
enjoyed. It was possible, as word was sent that the train was not going
out till 1.30. It did, however, move at 12, which shows how little you
can depend on it, even when a time is given. They had a mouth-organ and
sang all the way.


_Monday, December 21st._--Got to Boulogne early this morning after an
exceptionally rackety journey, all one's goods and chattels dropping on
one's head at intervals during the night. Engine-driver rather _ivré_,
I should think. Off again at 10.30 A.M.

Mail in.

Weather appallingly cold and no chauffage.

On way up to Chocques, where we shall take up Indians again. How utterly
miserable Indians must be in this eternal wet and cold. The fields and
land generally are all half under water again. We missed the last two
days' papers, and so have heard nothing of the war at home, except that
the casualties are over 60,000. Five mufflers went this afternoon to
five men on a little isolated station on the way here. When I said to
the first boy, "Have you got a muffler?" he thought I wanted one for
some one on the train.

"Well, it's not a real muffler; it's my sleeping-cap," he said,
beginning to pull it off his neck; "but you're welcome to it if it's any
use!"

What do you think of that? He got pink with pleasure over a real muffler
and some cigarettes. You start with two men; when you come back in a
minute with the mufflers the two have increased to five silent expectant
faces.


_Wednesday, 23rd._--We loaded up at Lillers late on Monday night with
one of the worst loads we've ever taken, all wounded, half Indians and
half British.

You will see by Tuesday's French communiqués that some of our trenches
had been lost, and these had been retaken by the H.L.I., Manchesters,
and 7th D.G.'s.

It was a dark wet night, and the loading people were half-way up to
their knees in black mud, and we didn't finish loading till 2 A.M., and
were hard at it trying to stop hæmorrhage, &c., till we got them off the
train at 11 yesterday morning; the J.J.'s were swarming, but a large
khaki pinny tying over my collar, and with elastic wristbands, saved me
this time. One little Gurkha with his arm just amputated, and a wounded
leg, could only be pacified by having acid drops put into his mouth and
being allowed to hug the tin.

Another was sent on as a sitting-up case. Half-way through the night I
found him gasping with double pneumonia; it was no joke nursing him with
seven others in the compartment. He only just lived to go off the train.

Another one I found dead about 5.30 A.M. We were to have been sent on to
Rouen, but the O.C. Train reported too many serious cases, and so they
were taken off at B. It was a particularly bad engine-driver too.

I got some bath water from a friendly engine, and went to bed at 12 next
day.

We were off again the same evening, and got to B. this morning, train
full, but not such bad cases, and are on our way back again now: expect
to be sent on to Rouen. Now we are three instead of four Sisters, it
makes the night work heavier, but we can manage all right in the day. In
the last journey some of the worst cases got put into the top bunks, in
the darkness and rush, and one only had candles to do the dressings by.
One of the C.S.'s was on leave, but has come back now. All the trains
just then had bad loads: the Clearing Hospitals were overflowing.

The Xmas Cards have come, and I'm going to risk keeping them till
Friday, in case we have patients on the train. If not, I shall take them
to a Sister I know at one of the B. hospitals.

We have got some H.A.C. on this time, who try to stand up when you come
in, as if you were coming into their drawing-room. The Tommies in the
same carriage are quite embarrassed. One boy said just now, "We 'ad a
'appy Xmas last year."

"Where?" I said.

"At 'ome, 'long o' Mother," he said, beaming.


_Xmas Eve, 1914._--And no fire and no chauffage, and cotton frocks;
funny life, isn't it? And the men are crouching in a foot of water in
the trenches and thinking of "'ome, 'long o' Mother,"--British, Germans,
French, and Russians. We are just up at Chocques going to load up with
Indians again. Had more journeys this week than for a long time; you
just get time to get what sleep the engine-driver and the cold will
allow you on the way up.

8 P.M.--Just nearing Boulogne with another bad load, half Indian, half
British; had it in daylight for the most part, thank goodness! Railhead
to-day was one station further back than last time, as the ----
Headquarters had to be evacuated after the Germans got through on
Sunday. The two regiments, Coldstream Guards and Camerons, who drove
them back, lost heavily and tell a tragic story. There are two men (only
one is a boy) on the train who got wounded on Monday night (both
compound fracture of the thigh) and were only taken out of the trench
this morning, Thursday, to a Dressing Station and then straight on to
our train. (We heard the guns this morning.) Why they are alive I don't
know, but I'm afraid they won't live long: they are sunken and
grey-faced and just strong enough to say, "Anyway, I'm out of the trench
now." They had drinks of water now and then in the field but no
dressings, and lay in the slush. Stretcher-bearers are shot down
immediately, with or without the wounded, by the German snipers.

And this is Christmas, and the world is supposed to be civilised. They
came in from the trenches to-day with blue faces and chattering teeth,
and it was all one could do to get them warm and fed. By this evening
they were most of them revived enough to enjoy Xmas cards; there were
such a nice lot that they were able to choose them to send to Mother and
My Young Lady and the Missis and the Children, and have one for
themselves.

The Indians each had one, and salaamed and said, "God save you," and "I
will pray to God for you," and "God win your enemies," and "God kill
many Germans," and "The Indian men too cold, kill more Germans if not
too cold." One with a S.A. ribbon spotted mine and said, "Africa same
like you."

_Midnight._--Just unloaded, going to turn in; we are to go off again at
5 A.M. to-morrow, so there'll be no going to church. Mail in, but not
parcels; there's a big block of parcels down at the base, and we may get
them by Easter.

With superhuman self-control I have not opened my mail to-night so as to
have it to-morrow morning.


_Xmas Day_, 11 A.M.--On way up again to Béthune, where we have not been
before (about ten miles beyond where we were yesterday), a place I've
always hoped to see. Sharp white frost, fog becoming denser as we get
nearer Belgium. A howling mob of reinforcements stormed the train for
smokes. We threw out every cigarette, pipe, pair of socks, mits,
hankies, pencils we had left; it was like feeding chickens, but of
course we hadn't nearly enough.

Every one on the train has had a card from the King and Queen in a
special envelope with the Royal Arms in red on it. And this is the
message (in writing hand)--

     "_With our best wishes for Christmas, 1914._

     _May God protect you and bring you home safe._

     MARY R. GEORGE R.I."

That is something to keep, isn't it?

An officer has just told us that those men haven't had a cigarette since
they left S'hampton, hard luck. I wish we'd had enough for them. It is
the smokes and the rum ration that has helped the British Army to stick
it more than anything, after the conviction that they've each one got
that the Germans have got to be "done in" in the end. A Sergt. of the
C.G. told me a cheering thing yesterday. He said he had a draft of young
soldiers of only four months' service in this week's business. "Talk of
old soldiers," he said, "you'd have thought these had had years of it.
When they were ordered to advance there was no stopping them."

After all we are not going to Béthune but to Merville again.

This is a very slow journey up, with long indefinite stops; we all got
bad headaches by lunch time from the intense cold and a short night
following a heavy day. At lunch we had hot bricks for our feet, and hot
food inside, which improved matters, and I think by the time we get the
patients on there will be chauffage.

The orderlies are to have their Xmas dinner to-morrow, but I believe
ours is to be to-night, if the patients are settled up in time.

Do not think from these details that we are at all miserable; we say
"For King and Country" at intervals, and have many jokes over it all,
and there is the never-failing game of going over what we'll all do and
avoid doing After the War.

7 P.M.--Loaded up at Merville and now on the way back; not many badly
wounded but a great many minor medicals, crocked up, nothing much to be
done for them. We may have to fill up at Hazebrouck, which will
interrupt the very festive Xmas dinner the French Staff are getting
ready for us. It takes a man, French or British, to take decorating
really seriously. The orderlies have done wonders with theirs.
Aeroplanes done in cotton-wool on brown blankets is one feature.

This lot of patients had Xmas dinner in their Clearing Hospitals to-day,
and the King's Xmas card, and they will get Princess Mary's present.
Here they finished up D.'s Xmas cards and had oranges and bananas, and
hot chicken broth directly they got in.

_12 Midnight._--Still on the road. We had a very festive Xmas dinner,
going to the wards which were in charge of nursing orderlies between the
courses. Soup, turkey, peas, mince pie, plum pudding, chocolate,
champagne, absinthe, and coffee. Absinthe is delicious, like squills. We
had many toasts in French and English. The King, the President, Absent
Friends, Soldiers and Sailors, and I had the _Blessés_ and the
_Malades_. We got up and clinked glasses with the French Staff at every
toast, and finally the little chef came in and sang to us in a very
sweet musical tenor. Our great anxiety is to get as many orderlies and
N.C.O.'s as possible through the day without being run in for drunk, but
it is an uphill job; I don't know where they get it.

We are wondering what the chances are of getting to bed to-night.

4 A.M.--Very late getting in to B.; not unloading till morning. Just
going to turn in now till breakfast time. End of Xmas Day.


_Saturday, December 26th._--Saw my lambs off the train before
breakfast. One man in the Warwicks had twelve years' service, a wife and
two children, but "when Kitchener wanted more men" he re-joined. This
week he got an explosive bullet through his arm, smashing it up to rags
above the elbow. He told me he got a man "to tie the torn muscles up,"
and then started to crawl out, dragging his arm behind him. After some
hours he came upon one of his own officers wounded, who said, "Good God,
sonny, you'll be bleeding to death if we don't get you out of this;
catch hold of me and the Chaplain." "So 'e cuddled me, and I cuddled the
Chaplain, and we got as far as the doctor."

At the Clearing H. his arm was taken off through the shoulder-joint, but
I'm afraid it is too late. He is now a pallid wreck, dying of gangrene.
But he would discuss the War, and when it would end, and ask when he'd
be strong enough to sit up and write to that officer, and apologised for
wanting drinks so often. He is one of the most top-class gallant
gentlemen it's ever been my jolly good luck to meet. And there are
hundreds of them.

We had Princess Mary's nice brass box this morning. The V.A.D. here
brought a present to every man on the train this morning, and to the
orderlies. They had 25,000 to distribute, cigarette-cases,
writing-cases, books, pouches, &c. The men were frightfully pleased, it
was so unexpected. The processions of hobbling, doubled-up, silent,
muddy, sitting-up cases who pour out of the trains want something to
cheer them up, as well as the lying-downs. It is hard to believe they
are the fighting men, now they've handed their rifles and bandoliers in.
(It is snowing fast.) We have to go and drink the men's health at their
spread at 1 o'clock. Then I hope a spell of sleep.

We have chauffage on to-day to thaw the froidage; the pipes are frozen.

6 P.M.--We all processed to the Orderlies' Mess truck and the O.C. made
a speech, and the Q.M.S. dished out drinks for us to toast with, and we
had the King and all of ourselves with great enthusiasm. Mr T. had to
propose "The Sisters," and after a few trembling, solemn words about "we
all know the good work they do," he suddenly giggled hopelessly, and it
ended in a healthy splodge all round. Orders just come to be at St Omer
by 10 P.M. If that means loading-up further on about 1 A.M. I think we
shall all die! Too noisy here to sleep this afternoon. And the men are
just now so merry with Tipperary, and dressing up, that they will surely
drop the patients off the stretchers, but we'll hope for the best.


_Sunday, December 27th._--Had a grand night last night. Woke up at
Béthune. Went out after breakfast and saw over No.-- Cl. H., which has
only been there 48 hours, in a huge Girls' College, partly smashed by
big shell holes, an awful mess, but the whole parts are being turned
into a splendid hospital. Several houses shelled, and big guns shaking
the train this morning.

The M.O.'s went to the Orderlies' Concert last night, when we went to
bed. It was excellent, and nobody was drunk! We are taking on a full
load of lying-downs straight from three Field Ambulances, so we shall be
very busy; not arrived yet.

6 P.M.--Nearing Boulogne.

I have one little badly wounded Gurkha (who keeps ejaculating
"Gerrman"), and all the rest British, some very badly frost-bitten. The
trenches are in a frightful state. One man said, "There's almost as many
men drowned as killed: when they're wounded they fall into the water."
Of three officers (one of whom is on the train and tells the story) in a
deep-water trench for two days, one was drowned, the other had to have
his clothes cut off him (stuck fast to the mud) and be pulled out naked,
and the other is invalided with rheumatism.

Two men were telling me how they caught a sniper established in a tree,
with a thousand rounds of ammunition and provisions. He asked for mercy,
but he didn't get it, they said. He had just shot two stretcher-bearers.


_Monday, December 28th._--This trip to Rouen will give us a longer
journey up, and therefore some more time. And we shall get another bath.

The following story is a typical example of what the infantry often have
to endure. It was told to me by the Sergeant. Three men of the S.W.
Borderers and five of the Welsh Regt. on advancing to occupy a trench
found themselves cut off, with a 2nd Lieut. He advanced alone to
reconnoitre and was probably shot, they said--they never saw him again.
So the Sergt. of the W.R. (aged 22!) took command and led them for
safety, still under fire, to a ditch with one foot of water in it. This
was on the _Monday night before Xmas_. They stayed in it all Tuesday and
Tuesday night, when it was snowing. Before daylight he "skirmished" them
to a trench he knew of two hundred yards in advance, where he had seen
one of his regiment the day before. This was in water above their knees.
He showed me the mud-line on his trousers.

This turned out to be one of the German communication trenches. They
stayed in that all Wednesday, Wednesday night, and Thursday, living on
some biscuit one man had, some bits of chocolate, and drinking the dirty
trench water, in which was a dead German dressed as a Gurkha. "We was
prayin' all the time," said one of them. Then one ventured out to get
water and was shot. On Xmas Eve night it froze hard, and they were so
weak and starved and numb that the Sergt. decided that they couldn't
stick it any longer, so they cast their equipment and made a dash for a
camp fire they could see.

One of them is an old grey-haired Reservist with seven children. By good
luck they struck a road which led them to some Coldstreams' billet, a
house. There they were fed with tea, bread, bacon, and jam, and stayed
an hour, but didn't get dried.

Then these C.G.'s had to go into action, and the Sergt. took them on to
some Grenadier Guards' billet. By this time he and one other had to be
carried by the others. There they stayed the night (Xmas Day) and saw
the M.O.'s of a Field Ambulance, who sent them all into hospital at
Béthune, whence we took them on this train to Rouen, all severely
frost-bitten, weak, and rheumatic.

An infant boy of nineteen was telling me how he killed a German of 6 ft.
3 in. "Bill," I says, "there's one o' them big devils (only I called
him worse than that," he said politely to me), "and we all three
emptied our rifles into him, and he never moved again."

9 P.M.--At Sotteville, off Rouen. We got unloaded at 1 P.M. and then
made a dash for the best baths in France.


_Tuesday, December 29th._--We've had a quite useful day off to-day.
Still at Sotteville; had a walk this morning, also got through arrears
of mending and letter-writing. They played another football match this
afternoon, and did much better than last time, but still got beaten.


_Wednesday, December 30th._--Still at Sotteville. One of our coaches is
off being repaired here, and goodness knows how long we shall be stuck.

Had a walk this morning along the line. The train puffed past me on its
way to Rouen for water. I tried to make the engine-driver stop by
spreading myself out in front of the engine, but he "shooed" me out of
the way, and after some deliberation I seized a brass rail and leapt on
to the footboard about half-way down the train; it wasn't at all
difficult after all. We had Seymour Hicks' lot tacked on behind us; they
are doing performances for the Hospitals and Rest-camps in Rouen to-day,
but unfortunately we are too far out to go in.


_Thursday, December 31st, New Year's Eve._--Still at Sotteville, and
clemmed with cold. There was no paraffin on the train this morning, so
we couldn't even have the passage lamps lit.

This afternoon I went with Major ---- and the French Major and the
little fat French Caporal (who is the same class as the French Major--or
better) into Rouen, and they trotted us round sight-seeing. The little
Caporal showed us all the points of the cathedrals, and the
twelfth-century stone pictures on the north porch and on the towers, and
also the church of St Maclou with the wonderful "Ossuare" cloisters, now
a college for Jeunes Filles. We had tea in the town and trammed back.
This evening, New Year's Eve, the French Staff had decorated the
Restaurant with Chinese lanterns, and we had a festive New Year's Eve
dinner, with chicken, and Xmas pudding on fire, and Sauterne and
Champagne and crackers. The putting on of caps amused every one
_infiniment_, and we had more speeches and toasts. I forgot to tell you
that the French Major's home is broken up by Les Allemands, and he
doesn't know where his wife and three children are. On Xmas night,
during toasts, he suddenly got up and said in a broken voice, "À mes
petits enfants et ma femme."

The coach is mended and back from _l'atelier_, and we may go off at any
moment. I hope we shall wake up on the way to Boulogne and mails.


_New Year's Day, 1915, Rouen._--A Happy New Year to us all! We are not
off yet, and several other trains are doing nothing here. We came into
Rouen this afternoon, and heard that we are to clear the hospitals here
to-morrow, and take them down to Havre.

Thank goodness we are to move at last. Went for a walk in the town after
tea, and after dinner the O.C. and Sister B. and one of the Civil
Surgeons and the French Major and I went to the cinema. It was
excellent, or we thought it so, after the months of train and nothing
else.


_Saturday, January 2nd, 12 noon._--Just loading up for Havre with many
of the same men we brought down from Béthune on Sunday; it seems as if
we might just as well have taken them straight down to Havre. They look
clean now, and have lost the trench look.

Have been asked to say how extra-excellent the Xmas cake was; we
finished it yesterday, ditto the Tiptree jam.

It is a week on Monday since we had any mails.

There is a Major of ours on the train, getting a lift to Havre, who is
specialist in pathology, and he has been investigating the bacillus of
malignant oedema and of spreading gangrene. They are hunting anærobes
(Sir Almroth Wright at Boulogne and a big French Professor in Paris) for
a vaccine against this, which has been persistently fatal. This man knew
of two cases who were, as he puts it, "good cases for dying," and
therefore good cases for trying his theory on. Both got well, began to
recover within eight hours. And one of them was my re-enlisted
Warwickshire man with the arm amputated, who was got out by the wounded
officer and the Padre.


_January 3rd._--A sergeant we took down to Havre yesterday told me of
his battalion's very heavy losses. He said out of the 1400 of all ranks
he came out with, there are now only 5 sergeants, 1 officer, and 72 men
left. He said the young officers won't take cover--"they get too excited
and won't listen to people who've 'ad a little experience." One would
keep putting his head out of the trench because he hadn't seen a German.
"I kept tellin' of him," said the sergeant, "but of course he got 'it!"



VII.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (5)

WINTER ON THE TRAIN AND IN THE TRENCHES

_January 7, 1915, to February 6, 1915_

          "The winter and the dark last long:
            Grief grows and dawn delays:
          Make we our sword-arm doubly strong,
            And lift on high our gaze;
          And stanch we deep the hearts that weep,
            And touch our lips with praise."

          --_Anon._



VII.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (5).

WINTER ON THE TRAIN AND IN THE TRENCHES.

_January 7, 1915, to February 6, 1915._

The Petit Vitesse siding--Uncomplainingness of Tommy--Painting the
train--A painful convoy--The "Yewlan's" watch--"Officer dressed in
bandages"--Sotteville--Versailles--The Palais Trianon--A walk at
Rouen--The German view, and the English view--'Punch'--"When you return
Conqueror"--K.'s new Army.


_Thursday, January 7th._--We moved out of Boulogne about 4 A.M., and
reached Merville (with many long waits) at 2 P.M. Loaded up there, and
filled up at Hazebrouck on way back. Many cases of influenza with high
temperatures, also rheumatisms and bad feet, very few wounded. When they
got the khaki hankies they said, "Khaki? that's extra!"

9.30 P.M.--We have 318 on board this time, including four enterics,
four diphtherias, and eighteen convalescent scarlets (who caught it from
their billet). A quiet-looking little man has a very fine new German
officer's helmet and sword. "He gave it to me," he said. "I had shot him
through the lung. I did the wound up as best I could and tried to save
him, but he died. He was coming for me with his sword." Seems funny to
first shoot a man and then try to mop it up. The Germans don't; they
finish you off.

An officer on the train told me how another officer and twenty-five men
were told off to go and take a new trench which had been dug in the
night. Instead of the few they expected they found it packed with
Germans, all asleep. "It's not a pretty story," he said, "but you can't
go first and tell them you're coming when you are outnumbered three to
one." They had to bayonet every one of those sleeping Germans, and
killed every one without losing a man.

All my half of the train had khaki hankies and sweets; they simply loved
them. They are all, except the infectious cases, just out of the
trenches, and such things make them absurdly happy; you would hardly
believe it. I am keeping the writing-cases and bull's-eyes for the next
lot. There were just enough mufflers to muffle the chilly necks of those
who hadn't already got them.

The wet has outwetted itself all day--it must be a record flood
everywhere. We shall not unload to-night, so I had better think about
turning in, as I have the third watch at 4 A.M.

I found some lovely eau-de-Cologne and shampoo powders from R. among the
mufflers, and a pet aluminium candlestick from G. Such things give a
Sister on an A.T. absurd pleasure; you'd hardly believe it.


_Friday, January 8th._--Still pouring. We unloaded by 9 A.M., got our
mail in. My wardmaster was so drunk to-night that the Q.M.S. had to send
for the O.C. And he had just got his corporal's stripe. He was a
particular ally of mine and was in South Africa.

We are in that foulest of all homes for lost trains to-day, the Petit
Vitesse siding out of B. station, with the filth of all the ages around,
about, and below us. You have to shut your window to keep out the smell
of burning garbage and other horrors.

It is nearly three months since I sat in a chair, except at meals, and
that is only a flap-down seat, or saw a fire, except the pails of coke
the Tommies have on the lines.

I expect we shall be off again to-night somewhere.


_Saturday, January 9th._--Did you see the H.A.C.'s story of the frozen
Tommy who asked them to warm his hands, and then seeing they were on
their way to his trench hastily explained that he was all right--only a
bit numb. One thing one notices about them is that they have an enormous
tolerance for each other and never seem to want to quarrel. They take
infinite pains in the night not to wake each other in moving over the
heaps of legs and arms sprawled everywhere, and will keep in cramped
positions for hours rather than risk touching some one else's painful
feet or hand. If you want to improve matters they say, "I shall be all
right, Sister, it might jog his foot." They never let you miss any one
out in giving things round, and always call your attention to any one
they think needs it, but not to themselves. It is very funny how they
won't fuss about themselves, and in consequence you often find things
out too late. Last journey a man with asthma and bronchitis was,
unfortunately as it turned out, given a top bunk, as he was considered
too bad to be a sitting-up case. At 6 A.M. I found him looking very
tired and miserable sitting on the edge; "I can't lie down," he said,
"with this cough." When I put him in a sitting-up corner below, he said,
"I could a'slep' all night like this!" It had never occurred to him to
ask to be changed. They get so used to discomfort that they "stay put"
and never utter. We had missed his distress (in the 318 we had on
board), and they were sleeping on the floors of the corridors, so the
middle bunks were very difficult to get at. Any of them would have
changed with him. This happens several times on every journey, but you
can't get them to fuss. The Germans and the Sikhs begin to clamour for
something directly they are on the train, and keep it up till they go
off.

Another typical instance (though not a pretty one) of Tommy's reluctance
to complain occurred on the last journey. I came on one compartment
full, busily engaged in collecting J.J.'s off one man in the middle,
with a candle to see by. His blanket, I found, was swarming, and it was
ours, not his, one of a lot taken on at Rouen as "disinfected"! (For one
ghastly moment I thought it might be the compartment where I'd spent a
good half-hour doing up their feet, but it wasn't.) I had the blanket
hurled out of the window, and they then slept. But they weren't going to
complain about it.

There was one jovial old boy of 60 with rows of ribbons. He had three
sons in the Army, and when they went "he wasn't going to be left
behind," so he re-enlisted.


_Sunday, January 10th._--Woke up at Bailleul, sun shining for once, and
everything--floods and all--looking lovely all the way down. Loaded up
early and got down to B. by 4 P.M. to hear that we are to go on to
Rouen--another all-night touch. We have put off the fourteen worst cases
at B., and are now on our way to R. This is the first time we have
shipped Canadians, P.P.C.L.I., the only regiment as yet in the fighting
line. They are oldish men who have nearly all seen service before, many
in South Africa.

Lots more wounded this time. Some S.L.I. got badly caught in a wood;
they've just come from India.

When I took the Devonshire toffee round, a little doubtful whether the
H.A.C.'s would not be too grand for it, one of them started up, "Oh, by
George, not really!"

We have a boy on board with no wound and no disease, but quite mad, poor
boy; he has to have a special orderly on him.


_Monday morning, January 11th, Rouen._--The approach to Rouen at six
o'clock on a pitch-dark, wet, and starlight morning, with the lights
twinkling on the hills and on the river, and in the old wet streets, is
a beautiful sight.

My mad boy has been very quiet all night.


_Tuesday, January 12th._--At S. all day. By some mistake it hasn't
rained all day, so we took the opportunity to get on with painting the
train. We worked all the morning and afternoon and got a lot done, and
it looks very smart: huge red crosses on white squares in the middle of
each coach, and the number of the ward in figures a foot long at each
end: this on both sides of the coaches. We have done not quite half the
coaches, and are praying that it won't rain before it dries; if it does,
the result is pitiable. The orderlies have been shining up the brass
rails and paraffining the outside of the train, and have also played and
won a football match against No. 1 A.T.


_Wednesday, January 13th._--Woke at Abbeville; now on the way to
Boulogne, where I hope we shall have time to get mails.

5 P.M.--We went through Boulogne without stopping, and got no mails in
consequence; nor could we pick up P., who has been on ninety-six hours'
leave. We have been on the move practically without stopping since 11
P.M. last night, and are just getting to Béthune, the place we went to
two days after Christmas, where we were quite near the guns, and went
over the Cl. H. which had been shelled. Expect to take wounded up here.
The country is wetter than ever--it looks one vast swamp. Of course the
rain has spoilt our lovely paint!


_Thursday, January 14th._--We picked up a load in the dark and wet, with
some very badly wounded, who kept us busy from 6 P.M. to 4 A.M. without
stopping. Some were caked with mud exactly to their necks! One told me
he got hit trying to dig out three of his section who were half buried
by an exploded coal-box. When he got hit, they were left, and eventually
got finished by our own guns. Another lot of eleven were buried
likewise, and are there still, but were all killed instantaneously. One
man with part of his stomach blown away and his right thigh smashed was
trying to get a corporal of his regiment in, but the corporal died when
he got there, and he got it as well. He was smiling and thanking all
night, and saying how comfortable he was. Another we had to put off at
St Omer, on the off chance of saving his life. He was made happy by two
tangerine oranges.

Many of the sitting-ups have no voice, and they cough all night. We
unloaded this morning, got a sleep this afternoon, and are now, 5 P.M.,
on our way up again. The Clearing Hospitals are overflowing as of old,
and like the Field Ambulances have more than they can cope with. We have
to re-dress the septic things with H_{2}O_{2}, which keeps them going
till they can be specially treated at the base. Some of the enterics are
very bad: train journeys are not ideal treatment for enteric
hæmorrhage, but it has to be done. Two of my orderlies are very good
with them, and take great care of their mouths, and know how to feed
them. It is a great anxiety when a great hulking G.D.O. (General Duty
Orderly, not a Nursing Orderly) has to take his turn on night duty with
the badly wounded.

It is time the sun shone somewhere--but it will surely, later on.


_Friday, January 15th._--We got to Bailleul too late last night for
loading, and went thankfully to bed instead. Now, 3.30 P.M., nearly back
at B., but expect to be sent on to Rouen: most sick this time, and bad
feet, not exactly frost-bite, but swollen and discoloured from the wet.
One of my enterics is a Field Ambulance boy, with a temp. of 105, and he
only "went sick" yesterday. How awful he must have felt on duty. He says
his body feels "four sizes too big for him."

It is a mild day, sunny in parts, and not wet.


_Still Friday, January 15th._--We unloaded at 6 P.M. at B., and are to
start off again at 4.15 A.M.; business is brisk just now; this last lot
only had mostly minor ailments, besides the enterics and the woundeds.

The French Major has had a letter from his wife at last, they are with
the Germans, but quite well. We drank their health to-night in special
port and champagne! and had Christmas pudding with sauce d'Enfer, as the
lighted brandy was called! But we are all going to bed, not _ivrés_ I'm
glad to tell you. This going up by night and down by day is much the
least tiring way, as we can undress and have a real night in bed.

_Later._--Hazebrouck. We have been out, but couldn't get as far as No.--
Cl. H. (where I find T. is), as the R.T.O. said we might be going on at
11.30.

We came across an anti-aircraft gun pointing to the sky, on a little
hill. The gunner officer in charge of it seemed very pleased to see us,
as he is alone all day. (He walks up and down the road a certain
distance, dropping stones out of his pocket at each turning, and clears
out the surrounding drain-pipes to drain his bit of swamp, as his
amusements.)

He showed us his two kinds of 12 lb. shells, high explosives and
shrapnel. The high explosive frightens the enemy aeroplane away by its
terrific bang, he says: our own airmen say they don't mind the shrapnel.
He says you can't distinguish between one kind of French aeroplane and
the Germans until they are close enough over you to see the colours
underneath, and then it may be too late to fire. "I'm terrified of
bringing down a French aeroplane," he said. He was a most cheerful,
ruddy, fit-looking boy.

9 P.M.--Another train full, and nearing Boulogne; a supply train full of
minor cases came down just before us from the same place, where we've
been three days running. The two Clearing Hospitals up there are working
at awful high pressure--filling in from Field Ambulances, and emptying
into the trains. All cases now have to go through the Clearing Hospitals
for classification and diagnosis and dressings, but it is of a sketchy
character, as you may imagine. They are all swarming with J.J.'s, even
the officers. One of the officers is wounded in the head, shoulder,
stomach, both arms, and both feet. A boy in my wards, with a baby face,
showed me a beautiful silver, enamelled and engraved watch he got off a
"Yewlan"; he was treasuring it in his belt "to take home to Mother." I
asked him if the Yewlan was dead. "Oh yes," he said, his face lighting
up with glee; "we shot him. He was like a pepper-pot when we got to
him." Isn't it horrible? And like the boy in 'Punch,' he'd never killed
anybody before he went to France. I wonder what "Mother" will say to his
cheerful little story.

I have been busy bursting a bad quinsy with inhalers and fomentations.
After a few hours he could sing Tipperary and drink a bottle of stout!

There are two Volunteer shop-boys from a London Territorial Regiment,
who call me "Madam" from force of habit.


_Sunday, January 17th._--We didn't unload at Boulogne last night, and
are still (11 A.M.) taking them on to Êtretat, a lovely place on the
coast, about ten miles north of Havre. The hospital there is my old
No.-- General Hospital, that I mobilised with, so it will be very jolly
to see them all again.

We are going through most lovely country on a clear sunny morning, and
none of the patients are causing any anxiety, so it is an extremely
pleasant journey, and we shall have a good rest on the way back.

3 P.M.--Just as I was beginning to forget there were such things as
trenches and shrapnel and snipers, they told me a horrible story of two
Camerons who got stuck in the mud and sucked down to their shoulders.
They took an hour and a half getting one out, and just as they said to
the other, "All right, Jock, we'll have you out in a minute," he threw
back his head and laughed, and in doing so got sucked right under, and
is there still. They said there was no sort of possibility of getting
him out; it was like a quicksand.

One told me--not as such a very sensational fact--that he went for
eleven weeks without taking off his clothes, _or a wash_, and then he
had a hot bath and a change of everything. He remarked that he had to
scrape himself with a knife.

We have been travelling all day, and shan't get to Êtretat till about 7
P.M. It is a mercy we got our bad cases off at Boulogne--pneumonias,
enterics, two s.f.'s, and some badly wounded, including the officer
dressed in bandages all over. He was such a nice boy. When he was put
into clean pyjamas, and had a clean hanky with eau-de-Cologne, he said,
"By Jove, it's worth getting hit for this, after the smells of dead
horses, dead men, and dead everything." He said no one could get into
Messines, where there is only one house left standing, because of the
unburied dead lying about. He couldn't move his arms, but he loved being
fed with pigs of tangerine orange, and, like so many, he was chiefly
concerned with "giving so much trouble." He looked awfully ill, but
seldom stopped smiling. Of such are the Kingdom of Heaven.

_Later. On way to Havre._--These are all bound for home and have been
in hospital some time. They are clean, shaved, clothed, fed, and
convalescent. Most of the lying-downs are recovering from severe wounds
of weeks back. It is quite new even to see them at that stage, instead
of the condition we usually get them in. Some are the same ones we
brought down from Béthune three weeks ago.

One man was in a dug-out going about twenty feet back from the trench,
with sixteen others, taking cover from our howitzers and also from the
enemy's. The cultivated ground is so soft with the wet that it easily
gives, and the bursting of one of our shells close by drove the roof in
and buried these seventeen--four were killed and eleven injured by it,
but only two were got out alive, and they were abandoned as dead.
However, a rescue party of six faced the enemy shells above ground and
tried to get them out. In doing this two were killed and two wounded.
The other two went on with it. My man and another man were pinned down
by beams--the other had his face clear, but mine hadn't, though he could
hear the picks above him. He gave up all hopes of getting out, but the
other man when rescued said he thought this one was still alive, and
then got him out unconscious. When he came to he was in hospital in a
chapel, and it took him a long time to realise he was alive. "They
generally take you into chapel before they bury you," he said, "but I
told 'em they done it the wrong way round with me. That was the worst
mess ever I got into in this War," he finished up.


_Wednesday, January 20th, Sotteville._--The others have all been out,
but I've been a bit lazy and stayed in, washed my hair and mended my
clothes. This place is looking awfully pretty to-day, because all the
fields are flooded between us and the long line of high hills about a
mile away, and it looks like a huge lake with the trees reflected in it.
No orders to move, as usual. Ambulance trains travel as "specials" in a
"marche," which means a gap in the timetable. There are only about two
marches in twenty-four hours, and the R.T.O.'s have to fit the A.T.'s in
to one or other of these marches when orders come that No.-- A.T. is
wanted. We do not get final orders of where our destination is till we
get to Hazebrouck or St Omer. We have been six days without a mail now,
and have taken loads to Êtretat and to Havre.


_Thursday, January 21st._--We were not a whole day at Sotteville for
once: moved out early this morning and are still travelling, 9 P.M.,
between Abbeville and Boulogne. It has been a specially slow journey,
and, alas! we didn't go by Amiens: the only time we might have, by
daylight. Beauvais has a fine Cathedral from the outside. I believe we
are to go straight on from Boulogne, so we may not get our six days'
mail, alas!


_Friday, January 22nd._--We didn't get in to B. till midnight, too late
to get mails, and left early this morning. At Calais it was discovered
that the kitchen had been left behind, in shunting a store waggon, so we
have been hung up all day waiting for it at St Omer. Went for a walk. It
is a most interesting place to walk about in, swarming with every kind
of war material, and the grey towers of the two Cathedrals looked lovely
in a blue sky. Such a dazzling day: we were able to get on with painting
the train, which is breaking out into the most marvellous labelling, the
orderlies competing with each other. But when at 6 P.M. it seemed the
day would never end, No.-- A.T. steamed up with our kitchen tacked on,
and in the kitchen was the mail-bag--joy of joys!

We have just got to Bailleul, 10.30 P.M.: a few guns banging. We are
wondering if we shall clear the Cl. hospitals to-night or wait till
morning: depends if they are expecting convoys in to-night and are
full.

11 P.M.--P. and I, fully rigged for night duty, have just been gloomily
exploring the perfectly silent and empty station and street, wondering
when the motor ambulances would begin to roll up, when B---- hailed us
from the train with "8 o'clock to-morrow morning, you two sillies, and
the Major's in bed!" so now we can turn in, and load up happily by
daylight, and it's my turn for the lying down, thank goodness, or rather
the Liers, as they are called.


_Saturday, January 23rd._--Another blue, sunny, frosty morning. Loading
up this morning was hard to attend to, as a thrilling Taube chase was
going on overhead, the sky peppered with bursting shells, and aeroplanes
buzzing around: didn't bring it down though.

The train is full of very painful feet: like a form of large burning
chilblain all over the foot, and you can't do anything for them, poor
lambs.


_Still Saturday, January 23rd._--This is our first journey to
Versailles. My only acquaintance with it was on the way up from Le Mans
to Villeneuve to join this train. Two kind sisters, living in a sort of
little ticket office in the middle of the line, washed and fed me at 6
A.M. in between two trains, but I saw nothing of the glories of
Versailles--hope to to-morrow.

I don't think the men will get much sleep, their feet are too bad, but
we are going to give them a good chance with drugs, the last thing. We
shall do the night in three watches.


_Sunday, January 24th_, 5 A.M., _Versailles._--They've had a pretty good
night most of them. If you see any compartment, say six sitters and two
top-liers showing signs of being near the end of their tether, with bad
feet and long hours of the train, you have only to say cheerfully, "How
are you getting on in this dug-out?" for every man to brighten visibly,
and there is a chorus of "If our dug-outs was like this I reckon we
shouldn't want no relievin'!" and a burst of wit and merriment follows.
You can try it all down the train; it never fails.

They are all in 1st class coaches, not 3rds or 2nds.

9.30 A.M.--They have only four M.A.'s, and the hospital is 1-1/2 miles
off, so all our 366 limping, muddy scarecrows are not off yet. There is
a mist and a piercing north wind, and lots of mud. The A.T.'s do so much
bringing the British Army from the field that I hope some other trains
are busy bringing the British Army to the field, or there can't be many
left in the field.

They told me another story of a man in the Royal Scots who was sunk in
mud up to his shoulders, and the officer offered a canteen of rum and a
sovereign to the first man who could get him out. For five hours
thirteen men were digging for him, but it filled up always as they dug,
and when they got him out he died.

6 P.M.--Just getting to Rouen, probably to load for Havre. They do keep
us moving. We just had time to go and see the Palais Trianon with the
French Sergeant (who is nearly a gentleman, and an artist). Is there
anything else quite like it anywhere else? It was _défense d'entrer_, so
we only wandered round the grounds and looked in at the windows, down
the avenues and round the ponds and hundreds of statues, and went up the
great escalier. Louis Quatorze certainly did himself proud.

It was a long way to go, and we were walking for hours till we got
dog-tired after the long load from Bailleul, and after lunch retired
firmly on to our beds. I don't think we shall take patients on to-night.


_Monday, January 25th._--We have been at Sotteville all day; had time to
read last week's 'Times'--an exceptionally interesting lot.

Have just had orders to load up at Rouen for Havre to-morrow; then I
hope we shall go back to Boulogne. We have not stayed more than an hour
or two in Boulogne since January 9th--that is, for seventeen days; but
we've managed to just pick up our mails every few days while unloading
the bad cases. We ought to get back there for a mail on Thursday.

We have taken down a good many Northamptons lately. They seem an
exceptionally seasoned and intelligent lot, and have been through the
thick of everything since Mons.

Did I tell you that in one place (I don't suppose it is the same all
along the line) they are doing forty-eight hours in the trenches,
followed by forty-eight hours back in the billets (barns, &c.) for six
times, and then twelve days' rest, when they get themselves and their
rifles cleaned; they have armourers' shops for this.

They nearly all say that only the men who are quite certain they never
will get back, say they want to. If any others say it, "well, they're
liars." But for all that, you do find one here and there who means it.
One Canadian asked how long he'd be sick with his feet. "I want to get
back to the regiment," he said. They seem rather out of it with the
Tommies, some of them.

Just had a grand hot bath from a passing engine in exchange for
chocolate.

We shall have a quiet night to-night. Sotteville is the quietest place
we ever sleep in; there is no squealing of whistles and shouting of
French railwaymen as in all the big stations. Last night they were
shunting and jigging us about all night between Rouen and Sotteville.
Slow bumping over hundreds of points is much worse to sleep in than fast
travelling. In either case you wake whenever you pull up or start off.
But we shall miss the train when we get into a dull hotel bedroom or a
billet, or perhaps a tent. My month at Le Mans in Madame's beautiful
French bed was the one luxury I've struck so far.


_Tuesday, 26th January._--A dazzling blue spring day. As we were not
going in to load at Rouen till 3 P.M., we went for the most glorious
walk in this country. We crossed the ferry over the Seine to the foot of
the steep high line of hills which eventually overlooks Rouen, and
climbed up to the top by a lovely winding woody path in the sun. (The
boatman congratulated us on the sinking of the _Blücher_, as a naval
man, I suppose.) "Who said War?" said P. while we were waiting on the
shingle for the boat; it did seem very remote. At the top we got to the
Church of Le Bon Secours, which is in a very fine position with a
marvellous view. We had some lovely cider in a very clean pub with a
garden, and then took the tram down a very steep track into Rouen. I
was standing in the front of the tram for the view over Rouen, which was
dazzling, with the spires and the river and the bridges, when we turned
a sharp corner and smashed bang into a market-cart coming up our track.
For the moment one thought the man and woman and the horse must be done
for; the horse disappeared under the tram, and there arose such a
screaming that the three Tommies and I fell over each other trying to
get out to the rescue. When we did we found the man and woman had been
luckily shot out clear of the tram, except that the man's hand was torn,
and the old woman was frantically screaming, "Mon cheval, mon cheval,
mon cheval," at least a hundred times without stopping. The others were
out by this time and the two tram people, and the French clack went on
at its top speed, while P. and the Tommies and a very clever old woman
out of the tram tried to cut the horse clear of the broken cart, and I
did up the man's hand with our hankies; the only one concerned least was
the horse, who kept quiet with its legs mixed up in the tram. At last
the tram succeeded in moving clear of the horse without hurting it, and
it was got up smiling after all. The outside old woman went on picking
up the fish and the harness, &c., the man was taken off to have his
hand bathed, and the poor old woman of the cart stopped screaming "Mon
cheval, mon cheval," and went off to have a drink, and we walked on and
found a train at Rouen. That sort of thing is always happening in
France.

I hope the overworked people at the heads of the various departments of
the British Army realise how the men appreciate what they try and do for
them in the trenches. If you ask what the billets are like, they say,
"Barns and suchlike; they do the best they can for us." If you ask if
the trench conditions are as bad for the Germans, they say, "They're
worse off; they ain't looked after like what we are."

9.30 P.M.--On way to Havre. I was just going to say that from the Seine
to Le Havre there is nothing to report, when I came across a young
educated German in my wards with his left leg off from the hip, and his
right from below the knee, and a bad shell wound in his arm, all healed
now, done at Ypres on 24th October. And I had an hour's most thrilling
and heated conversation with him in German. He was very down on the
English Sisters in hospital, because he says they hated him and didn't
treat him like the rest. I said that was because they couldn't forget
what his regiment (Bavarians) had done to the Belgian women and
children and old men, and the French. And he said _he_ couldn't forget
how the Belgian women had put out the eyes of the German wounded at
Liège and thrown boiling water on them. I said they were driven to
it.[2] I asked him a lot of straight questions about Germany and the
War, and he answered equally straight. He said they had food in Germany
for ten years, and that they had ten million men, and that all the
present students would be in the Army later on, and that practically the
supply could never stop. And I said that however long they could go on,
in the end there would be no more Germany because she was up against
five nations. He said no man has any fear of a Russian soldier, and that
though they were slow over it they would get Paris, but not London
except by Zeppelins; he admitted that it would be _sehr schwer_ to land
troops in England, and that our Navy was the best, but we had so few
soldiers, they hardly counted! He got very excited over the Zeppelins. I
asked why the Germans hated the English, and he said, "In Berlin we do
not speak of the English at all(!!!); it is the French and the Russians
we hate." He said the Turks were no good _zu helfen_, and Austria not
much better. He was very down on Belgium for resisting in the first
place! and said the _Schuld_ was with France and Russia. They were very
much astonished when England didn't remain neutral! He had the cheek to
say that three German soldiers were as good as twenty English, so I
assured him that five English could do for fifty Germans, and went on
explaining carefully to him how there could be no more Germany in the
end because the right must win! and he said, "So you say in England, but
we know otherwise in Deutschland, and I am a German." So as I am an
English we had to agree to differ. His faith in his _Vaterland_ nearly
made him cry and must have given him a temperature. I felt quite used up
afterwards. He is fast asleep now. There is also an old soldier of
sixty-three who says General French and General Smith-Dorrien
photographed him as the oldest soldier in the British Army. He has four
sons in it, one killed, two wounded. He was with General Low in the
Chitral Expedition, and is called Donald Macdonald, of the K.O.S.B.'s.
"Unfortunately I was reduced to the ranks for being drunk the other
day," he said gaily. "But the Captain he said, 'Don't lose 'eart,
Macdonald, you'll get it all back.'"

[Footnote 2: I have since found that no sort of evidence was brought
forward by the Germans to support this charge, and it is emphatically
denied by the Belgian authorities.]


_Wednesday, January 27th._--They have found a way of warming our
quarters when we have not an engine on. I don't know what we should
have done without it to-day; it is icy cold. Mails to-morrow, hurrah!
Going to turn in early.


_Thursday, January 28th._--Got to Boulogne this morning. Have been
getting stores in and repairs done; expect to be sent up any time. Sharp
frost and cold wind.


_Friday, January 29th._--One of those difficult-to-bear days; hung up
all day at a place beyond St Omer, listening to guns, and doing nothing
when there's so much to be done. The line is probably too busy to let us
up. It happens to be a dazzling blue day, which must be wiping off 50
per cent of the horrors of the Front. The other 50 per cent is what they
are out for, and see the meaning of.

We are to go on in an hour's time, "destination unknown."


_Saturday, January 30th._--We got up to Merville at one o'clock last
night, and loaded up only forty-five, and are now just going to load up
again at a place on the way back. We have been completely done out of
the La Bassée business; haven't been near it. No.-- Cl. H. that we saw
on December 27th, where S.C. and two more of my No.-- G.H. friends
were, had to be evacuated in a hurry, as several orderlies were killed
in the shelling.

One of my badly woundeds says "the Major" (whose servant he has been for
four years) asked him to make up the fire in his dug-out, while he went
to the other end of the trench. While he was doing the fire a shell
burst over the dug-out and a bit went through his left leg and touched
his right. If the Major had been sitting in his chair where he was a
minute before, his head would have been blown off. He said, "When the
Major came back and found me, he drove everybody else away and stayed
with me all day, and made me cocoa, and at night carried my stretcher
himself and took me right to Headquarters." His eyes shine when he talks
of "the Major," and he seems so proud he got it instead.

I asked a boy in the sitting-ups what was the matter with him. "Too
small," he said. Another said "Too young"; he was aged fifteen, in the
Black Watch.

A young monkey, badly wounded in hand and throat (lighting a
cigarette--the shatter to his hand saved worse destruction to his
throat, though bad enough as it is), after we'd settled him in, fixed
his eye on me and said, "Are you going to be in here along of us all the
way?" "Yes," I said. "That's a good job," and he is taking good care to
get his money's worth, I can tell you.

Some of them are roaring at the man in 'Punch' who made a gallant
attempt to do justice to all his Xmas presents at once. There is a
sergeant-major of the Royal Scots very indignant at having been made to
go sick with bad feet. Any attempt to fuss over him is met with "I need
no attention whatever, thank you, Sister. I feel more like apologising
for being in here. Only five weeks of active service," he growled.

The latest Franco-British idea is to Arras the Boches till they Argonne!


_Sunday, January 31st._--We did go on to Rouen. B. is full to the brim.
We have only unloaded at B. three times since Christmas.

I'm beginning to think we waste a lot of sympathy on the poor wounded
rocking in a train all night after being on it all day. One of mine with
a bullet still in his chest, and some pneumonia, who seemed very ill
when he was put on at Merville, said this morning he felt a lot better
and had had the best night for five days! And my fidgety boy with the
wound in his throat made a terrible fuss at being put off at Boulogne
when he found he was the only one in his compartment to go and that I
wasn't going with him.

I had the easy watch last night because of my cold, and went to bed at
1 A.M.; got a hot bath this morning, and lay low all day till a stroll
between the Seine and the floods after tea (Sotteville). There are four
trains waiting here, and the C.S.'s have been skating on the floods. We
move on at 1 o'clock to-night. No.-- A.T. had a bomb dropped each side
of their train at Bailleul, but they didn't explode.

The French instruction books have come, and I am going to start the
French class for the men on the train; they are very keen to learn,
chiefly, I think, to make a little more running with the French girls at
the various stopping places.

Two officers last night were awfully sick at not being taken off at B.,
but I think they'll get home from Rouen. One said he must get home, if
only for ten minutes, to feel he was out of France.


_Wednesday, February 3rd._--Moved on last night, and woke up at
Bailleul. Some badly wounded on the train, but not on my half.

On the other beat, beyond Rouen, the honeysuckle is in leaf, the catkins
are out, and the woods are full of buds. What a difference it will make
when spring comes. On this side it is all canals, bogs, and pollards,
and the eternal mud.

We found pinned on a sock from a London school child, "Whosoever
receives this, when you return conqueror, drop me a line," and then her
name and address!


_Thursday, February 4th._--For once we unloaded at B. and went to bed
instead of taking them on all night to Rouen.

Moved out of B. at 5 A.M., breakfast at St O., where we nearly got left
behind strolling on the line during a wait. We are going to Merville in
the mining district where L. is.

3 P.M.--We have just taken on about seventy Indians, mostly sick, some
badly wounded. They are much cleaner than they used to be, in clothes,
but not, alas! in habits. Aeroplanes are chasing a Taube overhead, but
it is not being shelled. Guns are making a good noise all round. We are
waiting for a convoy of British now.

It is a lovely afternoon.

The guns were shaking the train just now; one big bang made us all pop
our heads out of the window to look for the bomb, but it wasn't a bomb.
A rosy-faced white-haired Colonel here just came up to me and said,
"You've brought us more firing this afternoon than we've heard for a
long time."

We are filling up with British wounded now on the other half of the
train. It is getting late, and we shan't unload to-night.

_Later._--We were hours loading up because all the motor drivers are
down with flu, and there were only two available. The rest are all busy
bringing wounded in to the Clearing Hospital.

The spell of having the train full of slight medical cases and bad feet
seems to be over, and wounded are coming on again.

Three of my sitting-up Indians have temperatures of 104, so you can
imagine what the lying-downs are like. They are very anxious cases to
look after, partly because they are another race and partly because they
can't explain their wants, and they seem to want to be let die quietly
in a corner rather than fall in with your notions of their comfort.

At Bailleul on our last journey we took on a heavenly white puppy just
old enough to lap, quite wee and white and fat. He cries when he wants
to be nursed, and barks in a lovely falsetto when he wants to play, and
waddles after our feet when we take him for a walk, but he likes being
carried best.

Some Tommies on a truck at Railhead brought him up for us; they adore
his little mother and two brothers.


_Friday, February 5th, Boulogne._--We did get in late last night, and
got to bed at 1 A.M. They are unloading during the night again now, and
also loading up at night.

One boy last night had lost his right hand; his left arm and leg were
wounded, and both his eyes. "Yes, I've got more than my share," he said,
"but I'll get over it all right." I didn't happen to answer for a
minute, and in a changed voice he said, "Shan't I? shan't I?" Of course
I assured him he'd get quite well, and that he was ticketed to go
straight to an eye specialist. "Thank God for that," he said, as if the
eye specialist had already cured him, but it is doubtful if any eye
specialist will save his eyes.

To-day has been a record day of brilliant sun, blue sky and warm air,
and it has transformed the muddy, sloppy, dingy Boulogne of the last two
months into something more like Cornwall. We couldn't stop on the train
(there were no orders likely), in spite of being tired, but went in the
town in the morning, and on the long stone pier in the afternoon, and
then to tea at the buffet at the Maritime (where you have tea with real
milk and fresh butter, and jam not out of a tin, and a tablecloth, and a
china cup--luxuries beyond description). On the pier there were gulls,
and a sunny sort of salt wind and big waves breaking, and a glorious
view of the steep little town piled up in layers above the harbour,
which is packed with shipping.



VIII.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (6)

ROUEN--NEUVE CHAPELLE--ST ELOI

_February 7, 1915, to March 31, 1915_

          "Under the lee of the little wood
            I'm sitting in the sun;
          What will be done in Flanders
            Before the day be done?

                 *       *       *       *       *

          Above, beyond the larches,
            The sky is very blue;
          'It's the smoke of hell in Flanders
            That leaves the sun for you.'"

           --H.C.F.



VIII.

On No.-- Ambulance Train (6).

ROUEN--NEUVE CHAPELLE--ST ELOI.

_February 7, 1915, to March 31, 1915._

The Indians--St Omer--The Victoria League--Poperinghe--A bad load--Left
behind--Rouen again--An "off" spell--_En route_ to Êtretat--Sotteville--
Neuve Chapelle--St Eloi--The Indians--Spring in N.W. France--The
Convalescent Home--Kitchener's boys.


_Sunday, February 7th._--This is a little out-of-the-way town called
Blendecque, rather in a hollow. No.-- A.T. has been here before, and the
natives look at us as if we were Boches. There are 250 R.E. inhabiting a
long truck-train here. We have given them all our mufflers and mittens;
they had none, and the officer has had our officers to tea with him. Our
men have played a football match with them--drawn.

We went for a splendid walk this morning up hill to a pine wood bordered
by a moor with whins. I've now got in my bunky-hole (it is not quite
six feet square) a polypod fern, a plate of moss, a pot of white
hyacinths, and also catkins, violets, and mimosa!

I suppose we shall move on to-night if there is a marche.

Many hundreds of French cavalry passed across the bridge over this
cutting this morning: they looked so jolly.

One of the staff who has been to Woolwich on leave says that K.'s new
army there is extraordinarily promising and keen. So far we have only
heard good of those out here, from the old hands who've come across
them.

9.45 P.M.--We are just getting to the place where all the fighting
is--La Bassée way. Probably we shall load up with wounded to-night.
There's a great flare some way off that looks like the burning villages
we used to see round Ypres. It is a very dark night.


_Monday morning, February 8th._--We stood by last night, and are just
going to load now. All is quiet here. Said to have been nothing
happening the last few days.

7 P.M.--Nearing B. We've had a very muddly day, taking on at four
different places. I have a coach full of Indians. They have been
teaching me some more Hindustani. Some of them suddenly began to say
their prayers at sunset. They spread a small mat in front of them, knelt
down, and became very busy "knockin' 'oles in the floor with their
'eads," as the orderly describes it.

We have a lot of woundeds from Saturday's fighting. They took three
German trenches, and got in with the bayonet until they were "treading"
on dead Germans! The wounded sitting-ups are frightfully proud of it.
After their personal reminiscences you feel as if you'd been jabbing
Germans yourself. They say they "lose their minds" in the charge, and
couldn't do it if they stopped to think, "because they're feelin' men,
same as us," one said.

A corporal on his way back to the Front from taking some people down to
St O. under a guard saw one of his pals at the window in our train. He
leaped up and said, "I wish to God I could get chilblains and come down
with you." This to an indignant man with a shrapnel wound!

I've got five bad cases of measles, with high temperatures and throats.


_Tuesday, February 9th._--Again they unloaded us at B. last night, and
we are now, 11 A.M., on our way up again. The Indians I had were a very
interesting lot. The race differences seem more striking the better you
get to know them. The Gurkhas seem to be more like Tommies in
temperament and expression, and all the Mussulmans and the best of the
Sikhs and Jats might be Princes and Prime Ministers in dignity, feature,
and manners. When a Sikh refuses a cigarette (if you are silly enough to
offer him one) he does it with a gesture that makes you feel like a
housemaid who ought to have known better. The beautiful Mussulmans smile
and salaam and say Merbani, however ill they are, if you happen to hit
upon something they like. They all make a terrible fuss over their kit
and their puggarees and their belongings, and refuse to budge without
them.

Sister M. found her orders to leave when we got in, but she doesn't know
where she is going. So after this trip we shall be three again, which is
a blessing, as there are not enough wards for four, and no one likes
giving any up. It also gives us a spare bunk to store our warehouses of
parcels for men, which entirely overflow our own dug-outs. As soon as
you've given out one lot, another bale arrives.

We have had every kind of infectious disease to nurse in this war,
except smallpox. The Infectious Ward is one of mine, and we've had
enteric, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, and diphtheria.

7 P.M.--We got to the new place where we wait for a marche, just at
tea-time, and we had a grand walk up to the moor, where you can see
half over France each way. There is a travelling wireless station up
there. Each pole has its receiver in a big grey motor-lorry by the
roadside, where they live and sleep. The road wound down to a little
curly village with a beautiful old grey church. On the top of the moor
on the way back it was dark, and the flash signals were morsing away to
each other from the different hills. It reminded me of the big forts on
the kopjes round Pretoria.

I had my first French class this afternoon at St Omer, in the men's mess
truck. There were seventeen, including the Quartermaster-Sergeant and
the cook's boy. I'd got a small blackboard in Boulogne, and they all had
notebooks, and the Q.M.S. had arranged it very nicely. They were very
keen, and got on at a great pace. They weren't a bit shy over trying to
pronounce, and will I think make good progress. They have a great pull
over men of their class in England, by their opportunities of listening
to French spoken by the French, such a totally different language to
French spoken by most English people. My instruction book is Hugo's,
which is a lightning method compared to the usual school-books. They are
doing exercises for me for next time.


_Wednesday, February 10th_, 9 P.M.--We woke at Merville after a
particularly rocky, noisy night journey, and loaded up there with
woundeds and sick, also Indians (but not in my wards for once). My
_blessés_ kept me busy till the moment we unloaded this evening at B.,
and I had not time to hear much about their doings. One extraordinarily
sporting boy had a wound right through his neck, involving his
swallowing. It took about half an hour to give him a feed, through a
tube, but he stuck it, smiling all the time.

Another older man was shot in the stomach, and looked as if he wouldn't
get over it. He told me he'd already been in hospital eight weeks, shot
in the head at the Aisne. I said what hard luck to have to go through it
again. "It's got to be done," he said. "I didn't give it a thought. I
think I shall get over this," he said, "but I don't want to go back a
third time." He has a wife and three children in Ireland.

We are to move up again at 4 A.M. Just had dinner (soup, boiled beef as
tough as a cable, and ration cheese and coffee), and the 'Daily Mail.'


_Thursday, February 11th._--We have spent most of the day at St Omer,
and got a lovely walk in this morning, along the canal, watching the big
barges which take 2000 tons of beetroots for sugar.

There is a scheme on foot for fitting up these big barges as transport
for the sick (this one came from Furnes) as moving Clearing Hospitals.
I've been over one, in Rouen. They are not yet in use, but might be
rather jolly in the summer.

It is the warmest spring day we've had. I had my second French class
this afternoon again at St Omer. We are now moving on, up to Bailleul. I
expect we shall take patients on this evening, and have them all night.


_Friday, February 12th_, 6 A.M.--We did a record loading up in fifty
minutes last night, chiefly medical cases, and took eight hours to crawl
to Boulogne. Now we are on the way for Havre, but shall not get there
till about 10 P.M. to-night, so they will have a long day in the train.

A good many of the lying-downs are influenza, with high temperatures and
no voice. It is a bore getting to B. in the night, as we miss our mails
and the 'Daily Mail.'

7 P.M.--This is an interminable journey. Have not yet reached Rouen, and
shan't get to Havre till perhaps 2 A.M. The patients are getting very
weary, especially the sitting-ups. The wards of acute liers you can run
like a hospital. Some of the orderlies are now getting quite keen on
having their wards clean and swept, and the meals and feeds up to time,
and the washings done, but it has taken weeks to bring them up to it.
When they do all that well I can get on with the diets, temperatures,
treatments, and dressings, &c. On the long journeys we take round at
intervals smokes, chocolate, papers, hankies, &c., when we have them.
The Victoria League has done me well in bales of hankies. They simply
love the affectionate and admiring messages pinned on from New Zealand,
and one of them always volunteers to answer them.

We shall be up in shifts again to-night.

We are all hoping to have a day in Rouen on the way back, for baths,
hair-washing, shopping, seeing the Paymaster, and showing the new Sister
the sights. For sheer beauty and interestingness it is the most
endearing town; you don't know which you love best--its setting with the
hills, river, and bridge, or its beautiful spires and towers and
marvellous old streets and houses.


_Saturday, February 13th_, 2 A.M.--Still on the way to Havre! And we
loaded up on Thursday. This journey is another revelation of what the
British soldier will stick without grumbling. The sitting-ups are eight
in a carriage, some with painful feet, some with wounded arms, and some
with coughs, rheumatism, &c., but you don't hear a word of grousing. It
is only when things are prosperous and comfortable that Tommy grumbles
and has grievances. Some of the liers are too ill to know how long
they've been on the train. One charming Scotchman, who enlisted for K.'s
Army, but was put into the Regulars because he could shoot, has just
asked me to write my name and address in his little book so that he can
write from England. He also says we must "look after ourselves" and
"study our health," because there's a bad time coming, and our Country
will need us! He's done his share, after an operation, and will never be
able to do any more. Everything points to this Service having to put out
all it can, both here and at home. Many new hospitals are being
organised, and there are already hundreds.

We have a poor lunatic on board who keeps asking us to let his wife come
in. The train is crawling with J.J.'s.


_Saturday_, 4.30 A.M.--Just seen the last stretcher off; now going to
undress (first time since Wednesday night) and turn in.


_Saturday, 13th February, Havre._--It is four months to-day since I
joined the train. It seems much longer in some ways, and yet the days go
by very quickly--even the off-days; and when the train is full the hours
fly.

We went into the familiar streets this morning that we saw so much of in
August, "waiting for orders," and had a look at the sea. The train
moved off at tea-time, so we had the prettiest part of the journey in a
beautiful evening sunlight, lighting up the woods and hills. The palm is
out, and the others saw primroses. We have also seen some snowdrops.

After a heavy journey, with two nights out of bed, you don't intend to
do any letter-writing or mending or French classes, but look out of the
window or sleep or read Dolly Dialogues. You always get compensation for
these journeys in the longer journey back, with probably a wait at Rouen
or Sotteville, and possibly another at Boulogne. We have been going up
and down again very briskly this last fortnight between B. and the Back
of the Front.


_Sunday, 14th._--A dismal day at Sotteville; pouring cats and dogs all
day, and the train cold.


_Shrove Tuesday._--We were all day coming up yesterday. Got to B. in the
middle of the night, and went on again to St Omer, where we woke this
morning, so we missed our mails again; it will be a full week's mails
when we do get them. Lovely blue sky to-day. Had a walk with Sister B.
round the town, and now this afternoon we are on the way to Poperinghe,
in a beaten country, where we haven't been for three months. French
class due at 3 P.M. if we haven't got there by then.

We have just passed a graveyard absolutely packed with little wooden
crosses.


_Ash Wednesday, February 17th_, 6 A.M.--We took on a very bad load of
wounded at Poperinghe, more like what used to happen three months ago in
the same place; they were only wounded the night before, and some the
same day. The Clearing Hospital had to be cleared immediately.

We have just got to B., and are going to unload here at 8.30 A.M.

Must stop. Hope to get a week's mails to-day.

A brisk air battle between one British and one French and two Taubes was
going on when we got there, and a perfect sky for it. Very high up.

A wounded major on the train was talking about the men. "It's not a case
of our leading the men; we have a job to keep up with them."

It was a pretty sad business getting them off the train this morning;
there were so many compound fractures, and no amount of contriving
seemed to come between them and the jolting of the train all night. And,
to add to the difficulties, it was pouring in torrents and icy cold, and
the railway people refused to move the train under cover, so they went
out of a warm train on to damp stretchers in an icy rain. They were
nearly all in thin pyjamas, as we'd had to cut off their soaking khaki:
they were practically straight from the trenches. But once clear of
trains, stretchers, and motor ambulances they will be warmed, washed,
fed, bedded, and their fractures set under an anæsthetic. One man had
his arm blown to pieces on Monday afternoon, had it amputated on Monday
night, and was put into one of our wards on Tuesday, and admitted to
Base Hospital on Wednesday. But that is ticklish work.

One boy, a stretcher-bearer, with both legs severely wounded, very
nearly bled to death. He was pulled round somehow. About midnight, when
he was packed up in wool and hot-water bottles, &c., when I asked him
how he was feeling, he said gaily, "Quite well, delightfully warm, thank
you!" We got him taken to hospital directly the train got in at 4 A.M.
The others were unloaded at 9 A.M.

We are now--5 P.M.--on our way to Étaples, probably to clear the G.H.
there, either to-night or to-morrow morning. It hasn't stopped pouring
all day. It took me till lunch to read my enormous mail.

Major T. has heard to-day that the French railway people want his train
back again for passenger traffic, so the possibility of our all being
suddenly disbanded and dispersed is hanging over us; but I believe it
has been threatened before.


_Thursday, February 18th._--In bed, 10 P.M. We have had a very heavy day
with the woundeds again from Bailleul. We unloaded again at B. this
evening, and are to go up again some time to-night.

There is a great deal going on in our front.

There was a boy from Suffolk, of K.'s Army, in my ward who has only been
out three weeks. He talked the most heavenly East Anglian--"I was agin
the barn, and that fared to hit me"--all in the right sing-song.

A sergeant of the D.C.L.I. had a fearful shell wound in his thigh, which
has gone wrong, and as the trouble is too high for amputation they will
have their work cut out to save his life. They were getting out of the
trench for a bayonet charge, and he had just collected his men when he
was hit; so the officer "shook hands with him" and went on with the
charge, leaving him and another man, wounded in the leg, in the trench.
They stayed there several hours with no dressings on, sinking into the
mud (can you wonder it has gone wrong?), until another man turned up and
helped them out; then they _walked_ to the Regimental Aid Post, 200
yards away, helped by the sound man. There they were dressed and had the
anti-tetanus serum injection, and were taken by stretcher-bearers to the
next Dressing Station, and thence by horse ambulance to the Field
Ambulance, and then by motor ambulance to where we picked them up. There
are lots of F.'s regiment wounded.


_Friday, February 19th._--We left B. at 5 A.M. to-day, and were delayed
all the morning farther up by one of the usual French collisions. A
guard had left his end of a train and was on the engine; so he never
noticed that twelve empty trucks had come uncoupled and careered down a
hill, where they were run into and crumpled up by a passenger train. The
guard of that one was badly injured (fractured spine), but the
passengers only shaken.

At St Omer Miss M. and Major T. and I were being shown over the Khaki
Train when ours moved off. There was a wild stampede; the Khaki Train
had all its doors locked, and we had miles to go inside to get out.
Their orderlies shouted to ours to pull the communication cord--the only
way of appealing to the distant engine; so it slowed down, and we
clambered breathlessly on. We are side-tracked now at the jolly place of
the Moor and the Wireless Lorries; probably move on in the night.


_Saturday, February 20th_, 9 P.M.--We've had a very unsatisfactory day,
loading up at four different places, and still on our way down. I'm just
going to lie down, to be called at 2 A.M. Now we're four: two go to bed
for the whole night and the other two take the train for half the night
when we have a light load, as to-day. If they are all bad cases, we have
two on and two off for the two watches. We have some Indians on to-day,
but most British, and not many _blessés_.

The other day a huge train of reinforcements got divided by mistake: the
engine went off with all the officers, and the men had a joy-ride to
themselves, invaded the cafés, where they sometimes get half poisoned,
and in half an hour's time there was a big scrap among themselves, with
fifty casualties. So the story runs.

A humane and fatherly orderly has just brought me a stone hot-water
bottle for my feet as I write this in the rather freezing dispensary
coach in the middle of the train, in between my rounds. All the worst
cases and the Indians were put off at B., and the measles, mumps, and
diphtherias, so there isn't much to do; some are snoring like an
aeroplane.


_Monday, February 22nd._--We got a short walk yesterday evening after
unloading at Rouen. There was a glorious sunset over the bridge, and the
lights just lighting up, and Rouen looked its beautifulest. We slept at
Sotteville, and this morning Sister and I walked down the line into
Rouen and saw the Paymaster and the Cathedral, and did some shopping,
and had a boiled egg and real butter and tea for lunch, and came back in
the tram. Sister S. is in bed with influenza.

The lengthening days and better weather are making a real difference to
the gloom of things, and though there is a universal undercurrent of
feeling that enormous sacrifices will have to be made, it seems to be
shaping for a step farther on, and an ultimate return to sanity and
peace. It is such a vast upheaval when you are in the middle of it, that
you sometimes actually wonder if every one has gone mad, or who has gone
mad, that all should be grimly working, toiling, slaving, from the
firing line to the base, for more Destruction, and for more
highly-finished and uninterrupted Destruction, in order to get Peace.
And the men who pay the cost in intimate personal and individual
suffering and in death are not the men who made the war.


_Wednesday, February 24th._--We have been all day in Boulogne, and move
up at 8.15 this evening, which means loading up after breakfast and
perhaps unloading to-morrow evening. It has given Sister S. another day
to recover from her attack of influenza.

Have been busy one way and another all day, but went for a walk after
tea and saw over the No.-- G.H. at the Casino--a splendid place, working
like clockwork. Lots of bad cases, but they all look clean and
beautifully cared for and rigged up.


_Thursday, February 25th._--Moved up to the place with the moor during
the night. Glorious, clear, sunny morning. Couldn't leave the train for
a real walk, as there were no orders.

This time last year the last thing one intended to do was to go and
travel about France for six months, with occasional excursions into
Belgium!

'The Times' sometimes comes the next day now.

9 P.M.--The ways of French railways are impenetrable: in spite of orders
for Bailleul before lunch, we are still here, and less than ever able
to leave the train for a walk.

This is the fourth day with no patients on--the longest "off" spell
since before Christmas. It shows there's not much doing or much medical
leakage.


_Friday, February 26th._--We loaded up this morning with a not very bad
lot (mine all sitters except some enterics, a measles, and a
diphtheria), and are on our way down again.

I am all ready packed to get off at B. if my leave is in Major M.'s
office.


_Saturday, February 27th_, 9 P.M., _Hotel at Boulogne._--All the efforts
to get my seven days' leave have failed, as I thought they would.


_Wednesday, March 3rd, Boulogne._--There is not a great deal to do or
see here, especially on a wet day.


_Friday, March 5th_, 5 P.M.--On way down from Chocques--mixed lot of
woundeds, medicals, Indians, and Canadians.

I have a lad of 24 with both eyes destroyed by a bullet, and there is a
bad "trachy."

Nothing very much has been going on, but the German shells sometimes
plop into the middle of a trench, and each one means a good many
casualties.

10 P.M.--We've had a busy day, and are not home yet.

My boy with the dressings on his head has not the slightest idea that
he's got no eyes, and who is going to tell him? The pain is bad, and he
has to have a lot of morphia, with a cigarette in between.

We shall probably not unload to-night, and I am to be called at 2 A.M.

The infectious ward is full with British enterics, dips., and measles,
and Indian mumpies.


_Saturday, March 6th, Boulogne._--Instead of being called at 2 for duty,
was called at 1 to go to bed, as they unloaded us at that hour.

Last night we pulled up at Hazebrouck alongside a troop train with men,
guns, and horses just out from the Midlands.

Two lads in a truck with their horses asked me for cigarettes. Luckily,
thanks to the Train Comforts Fund's last whack, I had some. One said
solemnly that he had a "coosin" to avenge, and now his chance had come.
They both had shining eyes, and not a rollicking but an eager excitement
as they asked when the train would get "there," and looked as if they
could already see the shells and weren't afraid.


_Sunday, March 7th._--We are stuck in the jolly place close to G.H.Q.,
but can't leave the train as there are no orders. I've been having a
French class, with the wall of the truck for a blackboard, and
occasional bangs from a big gun somewhere.


_Tail-end of Monday, March 8th._--On way down to Êtretat, where No.--
G.H. is, which we shall reach to-morrow about tea-time. A load of
woundeds this time; very busy all day till now (midnight), and haven't
had time to hear many of their adventures. They seem to all come from
a line of front where the Boches are persistently hammering to break
through, and though they don't get any forrarder they cause a steady
leakage. We heard guns all the while we were loading. A
dressing-station five miles away had just been shelled, and a major,
R.A.M.C., killed and two other R.A.M.C. officers wounded.

I have a man wounded in eight places, including a fractured elbow and a
fractured skull, which has been trephined. What is left of him that
hasn't stopped bullets is immensely proud of his bandages! He was one of
nineteen who were in a barn when a shell came through the roof and burst
inside, spitting shrapnel bullets all over them; all wounded and one
killed. We have just put off an emergency case of gas gangrene, temp.
105, who came on as a sitter! They so often say after a bad dressing,
"I'm a lot of trouble to ye, Sister."

_Later._--Just time for a line before I do another round and then call
my relief. It is an awfully cold night.


_Tuesday, March 9th, 12 noon._--We are passing through glorious country
of wooded hills and valleys, with a blue sky and shining sun, and all
the patients are enjoying it. It is still very cold, and there is a
little snow about. They call their goatskin coats "Teddy Bears." One
very ill boy, wounded in the lungs, who was put off at Abbeville, was
wailing, "Where's my Mary Box?" as his stretcher went out of the window.
We found it, and he was happy.


_Wednesday, March 10th._--We got to Êtretat at about 3 P.M. yesterday
after a two days' and one night load, and had time to go up to the
hospital, where I saw S. The Matron was away. We only saw it at night
last time, so it was jolly getting the afternoon there. The sea was a
thundery blue, and the cliffs lit up yellow by the sun, and with the
grey shingle it made a glorious picture to take back to the train. It
had been a heavy journey with bad patients, and we were rather tired, so
we didn't explore much.

We woke at Sotteville near Rouen this morning, and later in the day had
a most fatiguing and much too exciting adventure over catching the
train. Two of the Sisters and I walked into Rouen about 10.30, and found
No.-- A.T. marked up as still at Sotteville (in the R.T.O.'s office),
and so concluded it would be there all day. So we did our businesses of
hair-washing, Cathedral, lunch, &c., and then took the tram back to
Sotteville. The train had gone! The Sotteville R.T.O. (about a mile off)
told us it was due to leave Rouen loaded up for Havre at 2.36; it was
then 2.15, and it was usually about three-quarters of an hour's walk up
the line (we'd done it once this morning), so we made a desperate dash
for it. Sister M. walks very slowly at her best, so we decided that I
should sprint on and stop the train, and she and the other follow up.
The Major met me near our engine, and was very kind and concerned, and
went on to meet the other two. The train moved out three minutes after
they got on. Never again!--we'll stick on it all day rather than have
such a narrow shave.

We are full of convalescents for Havre to go straight on to the boat.
They are frightfully enthusiastic about the way the British Army is
looked after in this war. "There's not much they don't get for us," they
said.

There are crowds of primroses out on the banks. Our infant R.A.M.C.
(Officer's Mess) cook (a boy of about twenty, who looks sixteen and
cooks beautifully) has just jumped off the train while it was going,
grabbed a handful of primroses, and leapt on to the train again some
coaches back. He came back panting and rosy, and said, "I've got some
for you, Sister!" We happened not to be going fast, but there was no
question of stopping. I got some Lent lilies in Rouen, and have some
celandines growing in moss, so it looks like spring in my bunk.


_Thursday, March 11th._--Yesterday we took a long time getting to the
ship from R., and unloaded at 10 P.M. Why we had no warning about the
departure of the train (and so nearly got left behind) was because it
was an emergency call suddenly to clear the hospitals at R. to make room
for 600 more expected from the Front.

We are being rushed up again without being stopped at Rouen for the
first time on record, so I suppose there is a good deal doing. (There
was--at Neuve Chapelle.)

It is a comfort to remember that the men themselves don't grudge or
question what happens to them, and the worse they're wounded the more
they say, "I think I'm lucky; my mate next me got killed."

The birds are singing like anything now, and all the buds are coming
out, and the banks and woods are a mass of primroses.


_Friday, March 12th._--We came straight through Boulogne in the night,
and have been stuck half way to the Front all day; I don't know why.


_Saturday, March 13th._--We woke at the railhead for Béthune this
morning, and cleared there and at the next place, mostly wounded and
some Indians.

It was frightfully interesting up there to-day; we saw the famous German
prisoners taken at Neuve Chapelle being entrained, and we could hear our
great bombardment going on--the biggest ever known in any war. The
feeling of Advance is in the air already, and even the wounded are
exulting in it. The Indians have bucked up like anything. We are on our
way down now, and shall probably unload at B.

No time for more now.

11 P.M.--We unloaded at B. by 10 P.M., and are now on our way up again;
shortest time we've ever waited--one hour after the last patient is off.
A.T.'s have been tearing up empty and back full all day, and are all
being unloaded at B., so that they can go quickly up again. B. has been
emptied before this began.

They were an awfully brave lot of badly woundeds to-day, but they
always are. Just now they don't mind anything--even getting hit by our
artillery by mistake. Some of them who were near enough to see the
effect of our bombardment on the enemy's trenches say they saw men,
legs, and arms shot into the air. And the noise!--they gasp in telling
you about it. "You could never believe it," they say. An officer told
me exactly how many guns from 9.2's downwards we used, all firing at
once. And poor fat Germans, and thin Germans, and big Germans, and
little Germans at the other end of it.

A man of mine with his head shattered and his hand shot through was
trephined last night, and his longitudinal sinus packed with gauze. He
was on the train at 9 this morning, and actually improved during the
day! He came to in the afternoon enough to remark, as if he were doing a
French exercise, "You-are-a-good-Nurse!" The next time he woke he said
it again, and later on with great difficulty he gave me the address of
his girl, to whom I am to write a post-card. I do hope they'll pull him
through.


_Sunday, March 14th_, 4 P.M.--Just bringing down another load. I have a
hundred and twenty wounded alone; the train is packed.

No time for more--the J.J.'s are swarming.

We unloaded at B. yesterday evening, and were off again within an hour
or two.


_Monday, March 15th_, 2.30 A.M.--Woke up just as we arrived at Bailleul
to hear most incessant cannonade going on I ever heard, even at Ypres.
The sky is continually lit up with the flashes from the guns--it is a
pitch-dark night--and you can hear the roar of the howitzers above the
thud-thud of the others. I think we are too far N. for there to be any
French 75's in it. I had to wake Sister D. to see it, as she had never
seen anything like it before. We are only a few miles away from it.

Must try and sleep now, as we shall have a heavy day to-day, but it is
no lullaby.

4.30 P.M.--Just time for a scrawl. The train is packed with wounded,
most of whom, including the poor sitting-ups, are now dead asleep from
exhaustion. The British Army is fighting and marching all night now. The
Clearing Hospitals get 800 in at a time, many with no dressings on. We
have twenty-seven officers on this train alone.

I have a boy of 22 with both legs off. He is dazed and white, and wants
shifting very often. Each time you fix him up he says, "That's
champion."

Forty of them were shelled in their billets.

The Germans are said to be, some of them, fighting in civilian clothes
till they get their uniforms. The men say there are hundreds of young
boys and old men among them; they are making a desperate effort and
bringing everything they've got into it now.

_Later._--We also have mumps, measles, scarlet fever, and diphtheria in
the infectious coach.

A baby lieut. with measles showed me some marvellous sketch-maps of
German trenches and positions he'd made from observations through a
periscope. He also had the very latest thing in sectional war maps,
numbered in squares, showing every tree, farm, and puddle and trench: a
place with four cross-roads was called "Confusion Corner," leading to a
farm called "Rest-and-be-Thankful."

10 P.M.--Just got them all off after a strenuous day, and we are to go
up again at 11 P.M.

The two German divisions that reinforced are giving us a tremendous lot
to do.

It is just as well that this department was prepared for this, as it all
goes like clockwork and an enormous amount of suffering is saved by
their preparedness.

The amount that cannot be saved is grim enough.

Must go to bed.


_Tuesday, March 16th._--We loaded up very early this morning with 316
Indians, and are just getting into Boulogne. I expect we shall be sent
up again this evening.

One of the Sikhs wailed before, during, and after his hand was dressed.
A big Mussulman stuffed his hanky between his teeth and bit on it, and
never uttered, and it was a much worse one. What was he to do with
crying, he said; it was right for it to be done. May God bring blessings
on my head; whereas it was full of pain, lo, now it was atcha.


_Wednesday, March 17th._--I didn't tell you that yesterday a kind I.M.S.
colonel at the place where we took the Indians on showed us a huge pile
of used shell cases near the station, and we all had some. I've got a
twelve-pounder and a sixteen-pounder, like my pom-poms, only huge. Next
time he's going to get us some Gurkha's kukries. On the way down a
little Gurkha happened to get off the train for a minute, and when he
looked round the train had gone past him. He ran after it, and perched
on one of the buffers till the next stop, when he reappeared, trembling
with fright, but greeted with roars of amusement by the other Gurkhas.

We had some more to-day, including twelve with mumps, and one who
insisted on coming with his mumpy friend though quite well himself!

We woke this morning at Merville, one of the railheads for Neuve
Chapelle, and loaded up very early--guns going as hard as ever. Mine
were a very bad lot--British (except the twelve native mumpers),
including some brave Canadians. They kept me very busy till the moment
of unloading, which is a difficult and painful business with these bad
ones; but the orderlies are getting very gentle and clever with them. I
had among them eight Germans, several mere boys. One insisted on kissing
my hand, much to the orderlies' amusement.

(A truckful of pigs outside is making the most appalling noise. 11 P.M.
I am writing in bed. We generally move up about 11.30 P.M.)

Every journey we hear thrilling accounts, rumours, and forecasts, most
of which turn out to be true. We have had a lot of the St Eloi people.

There were several versions of a story of some women being found in a
captured German trench. One version said they were French captives,
another that they were German wives.

In one compartment were five Tommies being awfully kind to one German;
and yet if he had a rifle, and they had theirs, he'd be a dead man.

The hospitals at Boulogne are so busy that no one goes off duty, and
they are operating all night.

We had time for a blow across the bridge after unloading, and I happened
to meet my friend S. (who was at Havre). She is on night duty, and they
are grappling with those awful cases all night as hard as they can go.
Four were taken out of the motor ambulances dead this week; the jolting
is the last straw for the worst ones; it can't possibly be helped, "but
it seems a pity."

In all this rush we happen to have had nights in bed, which makes all
the difference.

The pigs still squeal, but I must try and go to sleep.


_Thursday, March 18th._--We have had an off-day to-day at the place of
woods and commons, which I hope and trust means that things are
slackening off. It doesn't do to look ahead at what must be coming, now
the ground is drying up before the job is finished; but we can be
thankful for the spells of rest that come for the poor army.

We had a heavenly ramble this morning, and found blue periwinkles and
anemones in the woods, but no primroses. Lots of palm and gorse. Robins,
willow-wrens, and yellow-hammers were singing, the darlings, much
prettier music than guns, and it is good to get away from the sound of
motors and trains and whistles.

We also had home-made bread and butter to-day out of the village, which
caused more excitement than the Russian successes. We are having much
nicer food since the French chef left, and it costs us exactly half as
much.


_Friday, March 19th._--On the way down. Woke up at Bailleul, and loaded
early wounded and sick. Not such severe cases among the wounded, but
several pneumonias, enterics, &c., besides measles, diphtheria, and
scarlet.

Very cold windy day, with snow on the ground and showers of snow at
intervals.

Some of mine are from the St Eloi, fighting last Sunday and Monday.

Some of N.'s regiment were badly caught between two ruined houses, each
containing Maxims and machine-guns. They had just been reinforced by
some young recruits of K.'s Army who detrained that night to go straight
into the charge. "They come on well, them youngsters," said an old
soldier, "but they got terrible mowed down. We lost nine officers in a
quarter of an hour."

It has been a very costly splash altogether.

One officer on the train has fourteen wounds.


_Saturday, March 20th, Boulogne._--The hospitals here have been pretty
well emptied home now, and are ready for the next lot.

Here we have been standing by all day while a big Committee at Abbeville
is settling whether our beloved and beautiful No.-- A.T. is to be handed
back to the French railway; and if so, whether it will be replaced by
inferior French carriages, or whether one of the four new British trains
that are coming will be handed over to us, or whether all the
_personnel_ will be disbanded and dispersed. I have a feeling that its
day is over, but perhaps things will turn out better than that.

I have been for five walks to-day, including a bask in the sun on the
sands, and a bath at the Club and a visit to the nice old R.C. church
and the flower-market.


_Tuesday, March 23rd_, 9 P.M.--Waiting all day at G.H.Q.; things are
unusually quiet; one train has been through with only ninety, and
another with a hundred. We went for a walk along the canal this morning
with the wee puppy, and this afternoon saw over the famous jute factory
Convalescent Home, where they have a thousand beds under one roof: it is
like a town divided into long wards,--dining-rooms, recreation rooms,
dressing station, chiropodist, tailor's shop, &c.--by shoulder-high
canvas or sailcloth screens; they have outside a kitchen, a boiler, a
disinfector for clothes, and any amount of baths. They have a concert
every Saturday night. The men looked so absolutely happy and contented
with cooked instead of trench food, and baths and games and piano, and
books and writing, &c. They stay usually ten days, and are by the tenth
day supposed to be fit enough for the trenches again; it often saves
them a permanent breakdown from general causes, and is a more economical
way of treating small disablements than sending them to the Base
Hospitals. Last week they had five hundred wounded to treat, and two of
the M.O.'s had to take a supply-train of seven hundred slightly wounded
down to Rouen with only two orderlies. They had a bad journey. I had a
French class after tea. We are now expecting to-day's London papers,
which are due here about 9 P.M.

Have got some Hindustani to learn for my next lesson (from Sister B.),
so will stop this.


_Wednesday, March 24th._--Moved on at 11 P.M. and woke up at Chocques; a
few smallish guns going. Loaded up there very early and at two other
places, and are now nearly back to Boulogne, mostly wounded and a few
Indians; some of them are badly damaged by bombs.

The men in the Neuve Chapelle touch were awfully disappointed that they
weren't allowed to push on to Lille. The older men say wonderful things
of K.'s boys: "The only fault we 'ave to find wi' 'em is that they
expose theirselves too much. 'Keep your 'eads down!' we 'ave to say all
the time. All they wants is to charge."

According to the men, we shall be busy again at the end of this week.

_Midnight._--On way to coast near Havre where No.-- G.H. is. Put all
worst cases off at B., the rest mostly sleeping peacefully. Passed a
place on coast not far S. of B., where six hundred British workmen are
working from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. building hospital huts for 12,000 beds, a
huge encampment, ready for future business.

Have seen cowslips and violets on wayside. Lovely moonlight night. Train
running very smoothly.


_Thursday, March 25th._--There is a great deal of very neat and
elaborate glass market-gardening going on round Rouen: it looks from the
train an unbroken success; thousands of fat little plants with their
glass hats off and thousands more with them on, and very little labour
that can be seen. But the vegetables we buy for our mess are not
particularly cheap.

9 P.M., _R._--There are three trains waiting here, or rather at S.,
which means a blessed lull for the people in the firing line.

There was a day or two after Neuve Chapelle when the number of wounded
overflowed the possibilities of "collection"; the stretcher-bearers were
all hit and the stretchers were all used, and there were not enough
medical officers to cope with the numbers (extra ones were hurried up
from the Base Hospitals very quickly), and if you wanted to live you had
to walk or crawl, or stay behind and die. We had a Canadian on who told
me last night that he should never forget the stream of wounded dragging
themselves along that road from Neuve Chapelle to Estaires who couldn't
be found room for in the motor ambulances. Two trains picked them up
there, and there were many deaths on the trains and in the motor
ambulances. The "Evacuation" was very thorough and rapid to the bases
and to the ships, but in any great battle involving enormous casualties
on both sides there must be some gaps you can't provide for.


_Friday, March 26th._--At Sotteville all day.


_Saturday, March 27th._--Ditto. Piercing cold winds and no heating for a
month past.


_Sunday, March 28th._--Ditto.


_Monday, March 29th._--Ditto.


_Tuesday, March 30th._--Ditto. This cold wind has dried up the mud
everywhere, and until to-day there's been a bright sun with it.

The men clean the train and play football, and the M.O.'s take the puppy
out, and everybody swears a great deal at a fate which no one can alter,
and we are all craving for our week-old mails.


_Wednesday, March 31st._--We actually acquired an engine and got a move
on at 4 o'clock this morning, and are now well away north. Just got out
where we stopped by a fascinating winding river, and got some brave
marsh-marigolds.

5 P.M.--Just getting into Boulogne.



IX.

With No.-- Field Ambulance (1)

BILLETS: LIFE AT THE BACK OF THE FRONT

_April 2, 1915, to April 29, 1915_

          "The fighting man shall from the sun
             Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
          Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
             And with the trees to newer birth;
          And find, when fighting shall be done,
             Great rest, and fulness after dearth."

          --JULIAN GRENFELL.



IX.

With No.-- Field Ambulance (1).

BILLETS: LIFE AT THE BACK OF THE FRONT.

_April 2, 1915, to April 29, 1915._

Good Friday and Easter, 1915--The Maire's Château--A walk to Beuvry--The
new billet--The guns--A Taube--The Back of the Front--A soldier's
funeral--German Machine-guns--Gas fumes--The Second Battle of Ypres.


_Good Friday, April 2nd._--We got into Boulogne on Wednesday from
Sotteville at 5 P.M., and as soon as the train pulled up a new Sister
turned up "to replace Sister ----," so I prepared for the worst and
fully expected to be sent to Havre or Êtretat or Rouen, and began to
tackle my six and a half months' accumulation of belongings. In the
middle of this Miss ---- from the Matron-in-Chief arrived with my
Movement Orders "to proceed forthwith to report to the O.C. of No.--
Field Ambulance for duty," so hell became heaven, and here I am at
railhead waiting for a motor ambulance to take me and my baggage to
No.-- F.A. wherever it is to be found.

The Railway Transport Officer at Boulogne let me come up as far as St
Omer (or rather the next waiting place beyond), on No.-- A.T., and get
sent on by the R.T.O. there. We waited there all yesterday, lovely sunny
day, and in the evening the R.T.O. sent me on in a supply train which
was going to the railhead for No.-- F.A. The officer in charge of it was
very kind, and turned out of his carriage for me into his servant's, and
apologised for not having cleared out every scrap of his belongings. The
Mess of No.-- saw me off, with many farewell jokes and witticisms.

This supply train brings up one day's rations to the 1st Corps from
Havre, and takes a week to do it there and back. This happens daily for
one corps alone, so you can imagine the work of the A.S.C. at Havre. At
railhead he is no longer responsible for his stuff when the lorries
arrive and take up their positions end on with the trucks. They unload
and check it, and it is done in four hours. That part of it is now going
on.

When we got to railhead at 10.15 P.M. the R.T.O. said it was too late to
communicate with the Field Ambulance, and so I slept peacefully in the
officer's bunk with my own rugs and cushion. We had tea about 9 P.M. I
had had dinner on No.--.

This morning the first thing I saw was No.-- A.T. slumbering in the sun
on the opposite line, so I might just as well have come up in her,
except that there was another Sister in my bed.

After a sketchy wash in the supply train, and a cup of early tea from
the officer's servant, I packed up and went across to No.-- for
breakfast; many jeers at my having got the sack so soon.

The R.T.O. has just been along to say that Major ---- of No.-- Clearing
Hospital here will send me along in one of his motor ambulances.

11 A.M.--Had an interesting drive here in the M.A. through a village
packed with men billeted in barns and empty houses--the usual aeroplane
buzzing overhead, and a large motor ambulance convoy by the wayside.

We are in the town itself, and the building is labelled No.-- F.A.
Dressing Station for Officers. The men are in a French Civil Hospital
run very well by French nuns, and it has been decided to keep the French
and English nurses quite separate, so the only difference between the
two hospitals is that the one for the men has French Sisters, with
R.A.M.C. orderlies and M.O.'s, and the other for officers has English
Sisters, with R.A.M.C. orderlies and M.O.'s. There are forty-seven beds
here (all officers). One Army Sister in charge, myself next, and two
staff nurses--one on night duty. There are two floors; I shall have
charge of the top floor.

We are billeted out, but I believe mess in the hospital.

All this belongs to the French Red Cross, and is lent to us.

The surgical outfit is much more primitive even than on the train, as
F.A.'s may carry so little. The operating theatre is at the other
hospital.

As far as I can see at present we don't have the worst cases here,
except in a rush like Neuve Chapelle.

It will be funny to sleep in a comfortable French bed in an ordinary
bedroom again. It will be rather like Le Mans over again, with a billet
to live in, and officers to look after, but I shall miss the Jocks and
the others.

_Later._--Generals and "Red Hats" simply bristle around. A collection of
them has just been in visiting the sick officers. We had a big Good
Friday service at 11, and there is another at 6 P.M. The Bishop of
London is coming round to-day.


_Still Good Friday_, 10 P.M.--Who said Active Service? I am writing this
in a wonderful mahogany bed, with a red satin quilt, in a panelled room,
with the sort of furniture drawing-rooms have on the stage, and electric
light, and medallions and bronzes, and oil-paintings and old engravings,
and blue china and mirrors all about. It is a huge house like a Château,
on the Place, where Generals and officers are usually billeted. The fat
and smiling caretaker says she's had two hundred since the war. She
insisted on pouring eau-de-Cologne into my hot bath. It is really a
lovely house, with polished floors and huge tapestry pictures up the
staircase. And all this well within range of the German guns. After last
night, in the A.S.C officer's kind but musty little chilly second-class
carriage, it is somewhat of a change. And I hadn't had my clothes off
for three days and two nights. This billet is only for one night;
to-morrow I expect I shall be in some grubby little room near by. It has
taken the Town Commandant, the O.C. of No.-- F.A., a French interpreter,
and an R.H.A. officer and several N.C.O.'s and orderlies, to find me a
billet--the town is already packed tight, and they have to continue the
search to-morrow.

This afternoon I went all over the big French hospital where our men
are. The French nuns were charming, and it was all very nice. The
women's ward is full of women and girls _blessées_ by shells, some with
a leg off and fractured--all very cheerful.

One shell the other day killed thirty-one and wounded twenty-seven--all
Indians.

I am not to start work till to-morrow, as the wards are very light;
nearly all the officers up part of the day, so at 6 P.M. I went to the
Bishop of London's mission service in the theatre. A staff officer on
the steps told me to go to the left of the front row (where all the red
hats and gold hats sit), but I funked that and sat modestly in the last
row of officers. There were about a hundred officers there, and a huge
solid pack of men; no other woman at all. The Bishop, looking very white
and tired but very happy, took the service on the stage, where a Padre
was thumping the hymns on the harmonium (which shuts up into a sort of
matchbox). It was a voluntary service, and you know the nearer they are
to the firing line the more they go to church. It was extraordinarily
moving. The Padre read a sort of liturgy for the war taken from the
Russians, far finer than any of ours; we had printed papers, and the
response was "Lord, have mercy," or "Grant this, O Lord." It came each
time like bass clockwork.

Troops are just marching by in the dark. Hundreds passed the hospital
this afternoon. I must go to sleep.

The Bishop dashed in to see our sick officers here, and then motored
off to dine with the Quartermaster-General. He's had great services with
the cavalry and every other brigade.


_Easter Eve_, 10 P.M.--Have been on duty all day till 5 P.M. They are
nearly all "evacuated" in a few days, so you are always getting a fresh
lot in.

Another Army Sister turned up to-day in a motor from Poperinghe to take
the place of the two who were originally here, who have now gone.

At six this morning big guns were doing their Morning Hate very close to
us, but they have been quiet all day. Two days ago the village two and a
half miles south-east of us was shelled.

I found my own new billet this morning before going on duty; it is in a
very old little house over a shop in a street off the big Place. It is a
sort of attic, and I am not dead sure whether it is clean on top and
lively underneath, but time will show. The shop lady and her daughter
Maria Thérèse are full of zeal and kindness to make me comfortable, but
they stayed two hours watching me unpack and making themselves
agreeable! And when I came in from dinner from the café, where we now
have our meals (quite decent), she and papa and M.T. drew up a chair for
me to _causer_ in their parlour, to my horror.

At 8 P.M. the town suddenly goes out like a candle; all lights are put
out and the street suddenly empty. After that, at intervals, only
motorcyclists buzz through and regiments tramp past going back to
billets. They sound more warlike than anything. Such a lot are going by
now.


_Easter Sunday_, 3 P.M.--The service at 7 this morning in the theatre
was rather wonderful. Rows of officers and packs of men.

We have been busy in the ward all the morning. I'm off 2-5, and shall
soon go out and take E.'s chocolate Easter eggs to the men in the
hospice. The officers have any amount of cigarettes, chocs., novels, and
newspapers.

A woman came and wept this morning with my billeter over their two sons,
who are prisoners, not receiving the parcels of _tabac_ and _pain_ and
_gateaux_ that they send. They think we ought to starve the German
prisoners to death!

This morning in the ward I suddenly found it full of Gold Hats and Red
Tabs; three Generals and their A.D.C.'s visiting the sick officers.


_Easter Monday._--It is a pouring wet day, and the mud is Flanderish.
Never was there such mud anywhere else. A gunner-major has just been
telling me you get a fine view of the German positions from the
Cathedral tower here, and can see shells bursting like the pictures in
'The Sphere.' He said his guns had the job of peppering La Bassée the
last time they shelled this place, and they gave it such a dusting that
this place has been let severely alone since. He thinks they'll have
another go at this when we begin to get hold of La Bassée, but the
latter is a very strong position. It begins to be "unhealthy" to get
into any of the villages about three miles from here, which are all
heaps of bricks now.

I'm leaving my billet to-morrow, as they want us to be in one house. And
our house is the Maire's Château, the palatial one, so we shall live in
the lap of luxury as never before in this country! And have hot baths
with eau-de-Cologne every night, or cold every morning. And the woman is
going to faire our cuisine there for us, so we shan't have to wait hours
in the café for our meals. There is only one waiter at the café, who is
a beautiful, composed, wrapt, silent girl of 16, who will soon be dead
of overwork. She is not merely pretty, but beautiful, with the manners
of a princess!

I shall be glad to get away from my too kind billeters; every night I
have to sit and _causer_ before going to bed, and Ma-billeter watches me
in and out of bed, and tells me my nightgown is _très pratique_, and
just like the officers Anglais have. But she calls me with a lovely cup
of coffee in the morning. They've been so kind that I dread telling them
I've got to go.

An officer was brought in during the night with a compound-fractured
arm. He stuck a very painful dressing like a brick to-day, and said to
me afterwards, "I've got three kids at home; they'll be awfully bucked
over this!" He had said it was "nothing to write home about."

Another, who is chaffing everybody all day long, was awfully impressed
because a man in his company--I mean platoon--who had half his leg blown
off, said when they came to pick him up, "Never mind me--take so-and-so
first"--"just like those chaps you read of in books, you know." It was
decided that he meant Sir Philip Sidney.

Yesterday afternoon I had a lovely time taking round chocolate Easter
eggs to our wounded in the French hospital. The sweetest, merriest
_Ma-Soeur_ took me round, and insisted on all the orderlies having one
too. They adore her, and stand up and salute when she comes into the
ward; and we had enough for the _jeunes filles_ and the grannies in the
women's ward of _blessées_. They were a huge success. Those men get very
few treats. She also showed me the Maternity Ward.


_Tuesday, April 6th_, 10 P.M.--I am writing in bed in my lovely little
room overlooking the garden, and facing some nice red roofs and both the
old Towers of the town (one dating from le temps des Espagnols) in le
Château, instead of in my attic in the narrow street where you heard the
tramp of the men who viennent des tranches in the night. We had a lovely
dinner, served by the fat and _très aimable_ Marie in a small, panelled
dining-room, with old oak chairs and real silver spoons (the first I've
met since August). So don't waste any pity for the hardships of War! And
an officer with a temperature of 103° explained that he'd been sleeping
for sixteen days on damp sandbags "among the dead Germans."

Nothing coming in anywhere, but when it does begin we shall get them.

The A.D.M.S. is going to arrange for us to go up with one of his motor
ambulances to one of the advance dressing stations where the first
communication trench begins! It is at the corner of a road called
"Harley Street," which he says is "too unhealthy," where I mayn't be
taken. Won't it be thrilling to see it all?

Officers' "trench talk" is exactly like the men's, only in a different
language.

It has been wet and windy again, so I did not explore when I was off
this afternoon, but did my unpacking and settling in here. With so many
moves I have got my belongings into a high state of mobilisation, and it
doesn't take long.

Last night at the café, one of the despatch riders played Chopin,
Tchaikowsky, and Elgar like a professional. It was jolly. The officers
are awfully nice to do with on the whole.


_Wednesday, April 7th._ _In bed,_ 10.30 P.M.--It has been a lovely day
after last night's and yesterday's heavy rain. We are busy all day
admitting and evacuating officers. The lung one had to be got ready in a
hurry this morning, and Mr L. took him down specially to the train.

A very nice Brigade-Major came in, in the night, with a shell wound in
the shoulder. This morning a great jagged piece was dug out, with only a
local anæsthetic, and he stuck it like a brick, humming a tune when it
became unbearable and gripping on to my hand.

I was off at 5 P.M., and went to dig out Marie Thérèse from my old
billet, to come with me to Beuvry, the village about two and a half
miles away that was shelled last week; it is about half-way to the
trenches from here. It was a lovely sunsetty evening, and there was a
huge stretch of view, but it was not clear enough to make anything out
of the German line. She has a tante and a grandmère there, and has a
"_laisser-passer soigner une tante malade_" which she has to show to the
sentry at the bridge. I get through without. The tante is not at all
_malade_--she is a cheery old lady who met us on the road. M.T. pointed
me out all the shell holes. We met and passed an unending stream of
khaki, the men marching back from their four days in the trenches,
infant officers and all steadily trudging on with the same coating of
mud from head to foot, packs and rifles carried anyhow, and the Trench
Look, which can never be described, and which is grim to the last
degree. Each lot had a tail of limping stragglers in ones and twos and
threes. I talked to some of these, and they said they'd had a very
"rough" night last night--pouring rain--water up to their knees, and
standing to all night expecting an attack which didn't come off; but
some mines had been exploded meant for their trench, but luckily they
were ten yards out in their calculations, and they only got smothered
instead of blown to bits. And they were sticking all this while we were
snoring in our horrible, warm, soft beds only a few miles away. We went
on past some of the famous brick stacks through the funny little village
full of billets to the church, where le Salut was going on. We passed a
dressing station of No.-- Field Ambulance. The grandmère had two
sergeants billeted with her who seemed pleased to have a friendly chat.
Some of the men I said good-night to were so surprised (not knowing our
grey coat and hat), I heard them say to each other "English!" Marie
Thérèse simply adores the _Anglais_--they are so _gais_, such _bon
courage_, they laugh always and sing--and they have "_beaucoup de
fiancées françaises pour passer le temps_!" She told me they had
yesterday a boy of eighteen who was always _triste_, but _bien poli_,
and he knows six languages and comes from the University of London. When
he left for the trenches he said, "_Je vais à la mort_," but he has
promised to come and see them on Saturday or Sunday, "_s'il n'est pas
mort, ou blessé_," she said, as an afterthought. Her own young man is _à
la Guerre_, and she is making her trousseau. They do beautiful
embroidery on linen.

I was pretty tired when we got back at 8 o'clock, as it was a good
five-mile walk, part of the way on fiendish cobble-stones, and we are on
our feet all day at the Dressing Station. But I am very fit, and all the
better for the excellent fresh food we have here. No more tins of
anything, thank goodness!


_Thursday, April 8th._--Talking of billets, a General and his Staff are
coming to this Château to-morrow and we three have got to turn out,
possibly to a house opposite on the same square, which is empty. We live
in terror of unknown Powers-that-Be suddenly sending us down. The C.O.
and every one here are very keen that we should be as comfortably
billeted as possible. He said to-day, "Later on you may get an awful
place to live in." Of course we are aiming at becoming quite
indispensable! If you can once get your Medical Officers to depend on
you for having everything they want at hand, and for making the patients
happy and contented, and the orderlies in good order, they soon get to
think they can't do without you.

There are two nice tea-shops where all the officers of the 1st and 2nd
Divisions go and have tea.

On Saturday morning they sent three hundred shells into Cuinchy, in
revenge for their trench blown up (see to-day's _Communiqué_ from Sir
J.F.).


_Friday, April 9th,_ 10.30 P.M.--An empty house was found for us on the
same square, left exactly as it was when the owners left when the place
was shelled. It was filthy from top to toe, but we have found a girl
called Gabrielle to be our servant, and she has made a good start in the
cleaning to-day. There are three bedrooms--mine is a funny little one
built out at the back, down three steps, with two windows overlooking a
corner of the square and our road past the hospital.

It is my fourth billet here in a week, and Gabrielle and I have made it
quite habitable by collecting things from other parts of the house. We
are back in our own rugs and blankets again without sheets, and there is
no water on yet, but we filled our hot-water bottles at the hospital,
and are quite warm and cosy, and locked up--I shall have to let
Gabrielle in at 6.30 to-morrow morning. She is going to shop and cook
for us, with help from the kind Marie at the Château, who is aghast at
our present more military mode of living. The Château is now swarming
with Staff Officers, to whom Marie pays far less attention than she does
to us!

When the wind is in the right direction you can hear the rifle firing as
well as the guns--and they are often shelling aeroplanes on a fine day.
We have two bad cases in to-night--one wounded in the lung, and one
medical transferred from downstairs, where the slight medicals are.

A Captain of the ----, hit in the back this morning when he was crossing
in the open to visit a post in his trench, has a little freckled Jock
for his servant, who dashed out to bring him in when he fell. "Most
gallant, you know," he said. They adore each other. Jock stands to
attention, salutes, and says "Yes'm" when I gave him an order. Their
friends troop in to see them as soon as they hear they're hit. So many
seem to have been wounded before--nearly all, in fact.

Letters are coming in very irregularly, I don't quite know why.


_Saturday, April 10th_, 10.30 P.M.--It is difficult to settle down to
sleep to-night: the sky is lit up with flashes and star-shells, and
every now and then a big bang shakes the house, above the almost
continuous thud, thudding, and the barking of the machine-guns and the
crackling of rifle firing; they are bringing in more to-day, both here
and at the Hospice, and we are tired enough to go to sleep as if we were
at home; I shouldn't wonder if the Night Sister had a busy night.

We had to rig up our day-room for an operation this evening--they have
always taken them over to the Hospice, where they have a very swanky
modern theatre.

We couldn't manage to get any food to-day for Gabrielle to cook for us,
as our rations hadn't come up, so we went back to the café. She has been
busy nettoying all day, and the house feels much cleaner.

The dead silence, darkness, and emptiness of the streets after 8 o'clock
are very striking.


_Sunday, April 11th._--This afternoon they shelled Beuvry (the village I
went to with Marie Thérèse on Wednesday) and wounded eleven women and
children; the advanced dressing station of No.-- F.A. took them in. The
promise to send us in one of the M.A.'s to "Harley Street" (the name of
the first communication trench) has been taken back until things quiet
down a little. There was an air battle just above us this evening,--a
Taube sailing serenely along not very high, and not altering her course
or going up one foot, for all the shells that promptly peppered the sky
all round her. You hear a particular kind of bang and then gaze at the
Taube; suddenly a shining ball of white smoke appears close to her, and
uncurls itself in the sun against the blue of the sky. As it begins to
uncurl you hear the explosion, and however much you admire the German's
pluck, and hope he'll dodge them safely, you can't help hoping also that
the next one will get him and that he'll come crashing down. Isn't it
beastly? It was so near that the French were calling out excitedly,
"_Touché! Il descend_," but he got away all right.

Another officer dangerously wounded was transferred to my ward to-day
from the French hospital. He was feebly grappling with a Sevenpenny
which he could neither hold nor read. "Anything to take my thoughts off
that beastly war!" he said.

A small parcel of socks, cigs., and chocs, came to-day. Soon after, I
found the road below was covered with exhausted trench stragglers
resting on the kerb, the very men for the parcel. They had all that and
one mouth-organ--wasn't it lucky? One Jock said, "That's the first time
I've heard a woman speak English since I left Southampton six months
ago!"

Gabrielle cooked a very nice supper for us to-night--which I dished up
when we came in. It is much more fun camping out in our own little empty
house than in the grand Château--but I didn't have time to look at
nearly all the lovely engravings there.

Streams of columns have been passing all day; one gun-team had to turn
back because one of the off horses jibbed and refused to go any farther.

Though it is past 11 P.M. the sounds outside are too interesting to go
to sleep; the bangs are getting louder; those who _viennent des
tranches_ are tramping down and transport waggons rattling up!


_Monday, April 12th._--No mail to-day. This has been a very quiet day,
fewer columns, aeroplanes, and guns, and the three bad officers holding
their own so far. The others come and go.


_Tuesday, April 13th._--There is something quite fiendish about the
crackling of the rifle firing to-night, and every now and then a gun
like "Mother" speaks and shakes the town. Last night it was quite
quiet. All leave has been stopped to-day, and there are the wildest
rumours going about of a big naval engagement, the forcing of the
Narrows, and the surrender of St Mihiel, and anything else you like!

These Medical Officers have always hung on to the most hopeless, both
here and at the Hospice, beyond the last hope, and when they pull
through there is great rejoicing.

It doesn't seem somehow the right thing to do, to undress and get into
bed with these crashes going on, but I suppose staying up won't stop it!


_Wednesday, April 14th._--Very quiet day; it always is after exciting
rumours which come to nothing! But it has been noisier than usual in the
daytime. I rested in my off-time and didn't go out.

The Victoria League sent some awfully nice lavender bags to-day, and
some tins of Keating's, which will be of future use, I expect. Just now,
one is mercifully and strangely free from the Minor Scourges of War.

The German trenches captured at Neuve Chapelle, and now occupied by us,
are full of legs and arms, which emerge when you dig. Some are still
caught on the barbed wire and can't be taken away.

We are not being at all clever with our rations just now, and manage to
have indescribably nasty and uneatable meals! But we shall get it better
in time, by taking a little more trouble over it.

We had scrambled eggs to-night, which I made standing on a chair,
because the gas-ring is so high, and Sister holding up a very small dim
oil-lamp. But they were a great success. And then we had soup with fried
potatoes in it! and tea.


_Thursday, April 15th._--This afternoon has been a day to remember.
We've had our journey up to the firing line, to a dressing station just
over half a mile from the first line of German trenches! It is between
the two villages of Givenchy and Cuinchy, this side of La Bassée. The
journey there was through the village I walked to with Marie Thérèse
(which has been shelled twice since we came), and along the long, wide,
straight road the British Army now knows so well--paved in the middle
and a straight line of poplars on each side. As far as you could see it
was covered with two streams of khaki, with an occasional string of
French cavalry--one stream going up to the trenches after their so many
days' "rest," and the other coming from the trenches to their "rest." We
soon got up to some old German trenches from which we drove them months
ago; they run parallel with the road. On the other side we saw one of
our own Field Batteries, hidden in the scrub of a hedge--not talking at
the moment. There were also some French batteries hidden behind an
embankment. "The German guns are trained always on this road," said our
A.S.C. driver cheerfully, "but they don't generally begin not till about
4 o'clock," so, as it was then 2.30, we weren't alarmed. They know it is
used for transport and troops and often send a few shells on to it. We
sat next him and he did showman. Before long we got into the area of
ruined houses--and they are a sight! They spell War, and War
only--nothing else (but perhaps an earthquake?) could make such awful
desolation; in a few of the smaller cottages with a roof on, the
families had gone back to live in a sort of patched-up squalor, but all
the bigger houses and parts of streets were mere jagged shells. The two
villages converge just where we turned a corner from the La Bassée road
into a lane on our left where the dressing station is. A little farther
on is "Windy Corner," which is "a very hot place." We had before this
passed some of our own reserve unoccupied trenches, some with sandbags
for parapets, but now we suddenly found ourselves with a funny barricade
of different coloured and shaped doors, taken from the ruined houses,
about 8 feet high on our right. This was to prevent the German snipers
from seeing our transport or M.A.'s pass down that lane to the
communication trench, which has its beginning at the ruined house which
is used by the F.A. as one of its advanced dressing stations. It is
called No. 1 Harley Street. Here we got out, and the first person we saw
was Sergt. P., who was theatre orderly in No. 7 at Pretoria. He greeted
us warmly and took us to Capt. R., who was the officer in charge. He
also was most awfully kind and showed us all over his place. We went
first into his two cellars, where the wounded are taken to be dressed,
instead of above, where they might be shelled. They had a queer
collection of furniture--a table for dressings, and some oddments of
chairs, including two carved oak dining-room chairs. Round the front
steps is a barricade of sandbags against snipers' bullets. The officer's
room above the cellars was quite nice and tidy, furnished from the
ruined houses, and with a vase of daffodils! He had been told the day
before to allow no one up the staircase, because snipers were on the
look-out for the top windows, and if it were seen to be used as an
observing station it might draw the shells. However, just before we left
he changed his mind and took us up and showed us all the landmarks,
including the famous brick-stacks, where there must be many German
graves, but we all had to be very careful not to show ourselves. The
garden at the back has a row of graves with flowers growing on them,
and neat wooden crosses with little engraved tin plates on, with the
name and regiment. One was, "An unknown British Soldier." There were no
wounded in the D.S. this afternoon.

The orderlies showed us lots of interesting bits of German shells and
time fuses, &c. The house was full of big holes, with dirty smart
curtains, and hats and mirrors lying about the floors upstairs among the
brickwork and ruins.

They then took us a little way down the communication trench called
"Hertford Street," under the "Marble Arch" to "Oxford Circus!" It is
quite dry mud over bricks and very narrow, and goes higher than your
head on the enemy side, and has zigzags very often. You can only go
single file, and we had to wait in a zigzag to let a lot of men go
by--they stream past almost continually. One officer invited us to come
and see his dug-out, but it was farther along than we might go without
being awfully in the way. We had before this given one stream of ingoing
men all the cigarettes, chocolates, writing-paper, mouth-organs,
Keating's, pencils, and newspapers we could lay hands on before we
started, and we could have done with thousands of each. Every few
minutes one of our guns talked with a startlingly loud noise somewhere
near, but Captain R. said it was an exceptionally quiet day, and we
didn't hear a single German gun or see any bursting shells. It was a
particularly warm sunny day, and the men going into the trenches were so
cheerful and jolly that it didn't seem at all tragic or depressing, and
there was nothing but one's recollections of the Aisne and Ypres after
what they call "a show" to remind one what it all meant and what it
might at any moment turn into. One hasn't had before the opportunities
of seeing the men who are in it (and not at the Bases or on the Lines of
Communication) while they are fit, but only after they are wounded or
sick, and the contrast is very striking. All these after their "rest"
look fit and sunburnt and natural, and the one expression that never or
rarely fails, whether fit, wounded, or sick, is the expression of
acquiescence and going through with it that they all have. If it failed
at all it was with the men with frost-bite and trench feet, who stuck it
so long when winter first came on before they got the braziers, and in
the long rains when they stood in mud and water to their waists. Now,
thank Heaven, the ground is hard again.

I saw three small children playing about just behind the dressing
station, where some men unloading a lorry were killed a few days ago.
The women and children are all along the road, absolutely regardless of
danger as long as they are allowed to stay in their own homes. The
babies sit close up against the Tommies who are resting by the roadside.

We saw a great many wire entanglements, so thick that they look like a
field of lavender a little way off. From the top windows of the ruined
house we could see long lines of heads, picks and shovels, going single
file down "Hertford Street," but they couldn't be seen from the enemy
side because of the parapet.


_Friday, April 16th._--At about 7.30 this evening I was writing the day
report when the sergeant came in with three candles and said an order
had come for all lights to be put out and only candles used. So I had to
put out all the lights and give the astonished officers my three candles
between them, while the sergeant went out to get some more. The town
looks very weird with all the street lamps out and only glimmers from
the windows. It was kept pretty darkened before. It may be because of
the Zeppelin at Bailleul on Wednesday, or another may be reported
somewhere about.

This afternoon I saw a soldier's funeral, which I have never seen
before. He was shot in the head yesterday, and makes the four hundred
and eleventh British soldier buried in this cemetery. I happened to be
there looking at the graves, and the French gravedigger told me there
was to be another buried this afternoon. The gravedigger's wife and
children are with the Allemands, he told me, the other side of La
Bassée, and he has no news of them or they of him.

It was very impressive and moving, the Union Jack on the coffin (a thin
wooden box) on the waggon, and a firing party, and about a hundred men
and three officers and the Padre. It was a clear blue sky and sunny
afternoon, and the Padre read beautifully and the men listened intently.
The graves are dug trenchwise, very close together, practically all in
one continuous grave, each with a marked cross. There is a long row of
officers, and also seven Germans and five Indians.

The two Zeppelins reported last night must have gone to bed after
putting out all our lights, as nothing happened anywhere.

The birds and buds in the garden opposite make one long for one's lost
leave, but I suppose they will keep.

We have only nine officers in to-day; everything is very quiet
everywhere, but troop trains are very busy.

10.30 P.M.--It is getting noisy again. Some batteries on our right next
the French lines are doing some thundering, and there are more
star-shells than usual lighting up the sky on the left. They look like
fireworks. They are sent up _in_ the firing line to see if any groups of
enemy are crawling up to our trenches in the dark. When they stop
sending theirs up we have to get busy with ours to see what they're up
to. It's funny to see that every night from your bedroom windows. They
give a tremendous light as soon as they burst.

When I went into the big church for benediction this evening at 6.30,
every estaminet and café and tea-shop was packed with soldiers, and also
as usual every street and square. At seven o'clock they were all
emptying, as there is an order to-day to close all cafés, &c, at seven
instead of eight.

All lights are out again to-night.

Another aeroplane was being shelled here this evening.


_Sunday, April 18th_, 9.30 P.M.--It has been another dazzling day. A
major of one of the Indian regiments came in this evening. He said the
Boches are throwing stones across to our men wrapped in paper with
messages like this written on them, "Why don't you stop the War? We want
to get home to our wives these beautiful days, and so do you, so why do
you go on fighting?" The sudden beauty of the spring and the sun has
made it all glaringly incongruous, and every one feels it.

One badly wounded officer got it going out of his dug-out to attend to a
man of his company who was hit by a sniper in an exposed place, one of
his subalterns told me. His own account, of course, was a rambling story
leaving that part entirely out.

This next shows how the Germans had left nothing to chance. They have
about twelve machine-guns to every battalion, and are said to have had
12,000 when the War began. Passing through villages they pack ten of
them into an innocent-looking cart with a false bottom. We captured some
of these empty carts, and some time afterwards found them full of
machine-guns!

Gold hats and red hats have been dropping in all day. They do on Sundays
especially after Church Parade.


_Saturday, April 24th._--We were watching hundreds of men pass by
to-day, whistling and singing, on their way to the trenches.

News came to us this morning of the Germans having broken through the
trench lines north of Ypres and shelled Poperinghe, which was out of
range up to now, but it is not official.

The guns are very loud to-night; I hope they're keeping the Germans
busy; something is sure to be done to draw them off the Ypres line.


_Sunday, April 25th._--The plum-pudding was "something to write home
about!" and the Quartermaster sent us a tin of honey to-day, the first
I've seen for nine months.

A General came round this morning. He said the Canadians and another
regiment had given the Germans what for for this gas-fumes business
north of Ypres, got the ground back and recovered the four guns. The
beasts of Germans laid out a whole trench full of Zouaves with chlorine
gas (which besides being poisonous is one of the most loathsome smells).
Of course every one is busy finding out how we can go one better now.
But this afternoon the medical staffs of both these divisions have been
trying experiments in a barn with chlorine gas, with and without
different kinds of masks soaked with some antidote, such as lime. All
were busy coughing and choking when they found the A.D.M.S. of the
---- Division getting blue and suffocated; he'd had too much chlorine,
and was brought here, looking very bad, and for an hour we had to give
him fumes of ammonia till he could breathe properly. He will probably
have bronchitis. But they've found out what they wanted to know--that
you can go to the assistance of men overpowered by the gas, if you put
on this mask, with less chance of finding yourself dead too when you got
there. They don't lose much time finding these things out, do they?

On Saturday I shall be going on night duty for a month.


_Monday, April 26th,_ 11 P.M.--We have been admitting, cutting the
clothes off, dressing, and evacuating a good many to-day, and I think
they are still coming in.

There is a great noise going on to-night, snapping and popping, and
crackling of rifle firing and machine-guns, with the sudden roar of our
9.2's every few minutes. The thundery roll after them is made by the big
shell bounding along on its way.

Two officers were brought in last night from a sap where they were
overpowered by carbon monoxide. Three of them and a sergeant crawled
along it to get out the bodies of another officer and a sergeant who'd
been killed there by an explosion the day before; it leads into a crater
in the German lines, and reaches under the German trenches, which we
intended to blow up. But they were greeted by this poisonous gas last
night, and the officer in front of these two suddenly became inanimate;
each tried to pull the one in front out by the legs, but all became
unconscious in turn, and only these two survived and were hauled out up
twenty feet of rope-ladder. They will get all right.

The wounded ones are generally in "the excited stage" when they
arrive--some surprised and resentful, some relieved that it is no worse,
and some very quiet and collapsed.

Captain ---- showed me his periscope to-day; you bob down and look into
it about level with his mattress, and then you see a picture of the
garden across the road. He has seen one made by Ross with a magnifying
lens in it so good that you can see the moustaches of the Boches in it
from the bottom of your trench. The noise is getting so beastly I must
knock off and read 'Punch.'


_Tuesday, April 27th._--Have been busy all day, and so have the guns.
When the 15-inch howitzers began to talk the old concierge lady at the
O.D.S. trotted out to see _l'orage_, and found a cloudless sky, and,
_mon Dieu_, it was _les canons_. It is a stupendous noise, like some
gigantic angry lion. The official accounts of the second dash for Calais
reach us through 'The Times' two days after the things have happened,
but the actual happenings filter along the line from St Omer (G.H.Q.) as
soon as they happen, so we know there's been no real "breaking through"
that hasn't been made good, or partially made good, because if there
had, the dispositions all along the line would have had to be altered,
and that has not happened.

The ambulance trains are collecting the Ypres casualties straight from
the convoys at Poperinghe, as we did at Ypres in October and November,
and not through the Clearing Hospitals, which I believe have had to move
farther back.


_Wednesday, April 28th._--Here everything is as it has been for the last
few days (except the weather, which is suddenly hot as summer), rather
more casualties, but no rush, and the same crescendo of heavy guns. Some
shells were dropped in a field just outside the town at 8.30 yesterday
evening but did no damage.


_Thursday, April 29th,_ 4 P.M.--The weather and the evenings are
indescribably incongruous. Tea in the garden at home, deck-chairs, and
Sweep under the walnut-tree come into one's mind, and before one's eyes
and ears are motor ambulances and stretchers and dressings, and the
everlasting noise of marching feet, clattering hoofs, lorries, and guns,
and sometimes the skirl of the pipes. One day there was a real band, and
every one glowed and thrilled with the sound of it.

I strayed into a concert at 5.30 this evening, given by the Glasgow
Highlanders to a packed houseful of men and officers. I took good care
to be shown into a solitary box next the stage, as I was alone and
guessed that some of the items would not be intended for polite female
ears. The level of the talent was a high one, some good part songs, and
two real singers, and some quite funny and clever comic; but one or two
things made me glad of the shelter of my box. The choruses were fine.
The last thing was a brilliant effort of the four part singers dressed
as comic sailors, which simply made the house rock. Then suddenly, while
they were still yelling, the first chords of the "King" were played, and
all the hundreds stood to attention in a pin-drop silence while it was
played--not sung--much more impressive than the singing of it, I
thought.

We have had some bad cases in to-day, and the boy with the lung is not
doing so well.

My second inoculation passed off very quickly, and I have not been off
duty for it.



X.

With No.-- Field Ambulance (2)

FESTUBERT, MAY 9 AND MAY 16

_May 6, 1915, to May 26, 1915_

          "We have built a house that is not for Time's throwing;
          We have gained a peace unshaken by pain for ever.
          War knows no power. Safe shall be my going,
          Secretly armed against all death's endeavour.
          Safe though all safety's lost; safe where men fall;
          And if these poor limbs die, safest of all."

          --RUPERT BROOKE.



X.

With No.-- Field Ambulance (2).

FESTUBERT, MAY 9 AND MAY 16.

_May_ 6, 1915, _to May_ 26, 1915.

The noise of war--Preparation--Sunday, May 9--The barge--The officers'
dressing station--Charge of the Black Watch, May 9--Festubert, May
16--The French Hospital--A bad night--Shelled out--Back at a Clearing
Hospital--"For duty at a Base Hospital."


_Thursday, May 6th_, 3 A.M.--It was a very noisy day, and I didn't sleep
after 2 P.M. There is a good lot of firing going on to-night.

A very muddy officer of 6 ft. 4 was brought in early yesterday morning
with a broken leg, and it is a hard job to get him comfortable in these
short beds.

Yesterday at 4 A.M. I couldn't resist invading the garden opposite which
is the R.A. Headquarters. It is full of lovely trees and flowers and
birds. I found a blackbird's nest with one egg in. From the upper
windows of this place it makes a perfect picture, with the peculiarly
beautiful tower of the Cathedral as a background.


_Friday, May 7th_, 1 A.M.--The noise is worse than anywhere in London,
even the King's Road. The din that a column of horse-drawn,
bolt-rattling waggons make over cobbles is literally deafening; you
can't hear each other speak. And the big motor-lorries taking the
"munitions of war" up are almost as bad. These processions alternate
with marching troops, clattering horses, and French engines all day, and
very often all night, and in the middle of it all there are the guns.
Tonight the rifle firing is crackling.

Sir John French and Sir Douglas Haig have been up here to-day, and every
one is telling every one else when the great Attack is going to begin.

There are three field ambulances up here, and only work for two ( --th
and --th), so the --th is established in a huge school for 500 boys,
where it runs a great laundry and bathing establishment. A thousand men
a day come in for bath, disinfection, and clean clothes; 100 French
women do the laundry work in huge tubs, and there are big disinfectors
and drying and ironing rooms. The men of the F.A. do the sorting and all
the work except the washing and ironing. And the beautifully-cared-for
English cart-horses that belong to the F.A., and the waggons and the
motor ambulances and the equipment, are all kept ready to move at a
moment's notice.

Colonel ---- showed me all over it this evening. It is done at a cost to
the Government of 7d. per man, washed and clothed.

My blackbird has laid another egg.


_Friday, May 7th_, 10 P.M.--A pitch-dark night, raining a little, and
only one topic--the Attack to-morrow morning.

The first R.A.M.C. barge has come up, and is lying in the canal ready to
take on the cases of wounds of lung and abdomen, to save the jolting of
road and railway; it is to have two Sisters, but I haven't seen them
yet: shall go in the morning: went round this morning to see, but the
barge hadn't arrived.

There are a few sick officers downstairs who are finding it hard to
stick in their beds, with their regiments in this job close by. There is
a house close by which I saw this morning with a dirty little red flag
with a black cross on it, where the C.-in-C. and thirty commanders of
the 1st Army met yesterday.

The news to-day of Hill 60 and the gases is another spur to the grim
resolve to break through here, that can be felt and seen and heard in
every detail of every arm. "Grandmother" is lovingly talked about.

The town, the roads, and the canal banks this morning were so packed
with men, waggons, horses, bales, and lorries, that you could barely
pick your way between them.

Since writing this an aeroplane has been circling over us with a loud
buzz. The sergeant called up to me to put the lights out. We saw her
light. There is much speculation as to who and what she was; she was not
big enough for our big "'Bus," as she is called, who belongs to this
place. No one seems ever to have seen one here at night before.

We are making flannel masks for the C.O. for our men.

Our fat little Gabrielle makes the most priceless soup out of the ration
beef (which none of us are any good at) and carrots. She mothers us each
individually, and cleans the house and keeps her wee kitchen spotless.

4 A.M.--The 9.2's are just beginning to talk.

Here is a true story. One of our trenches at Givenchy was being pounded
by German shells at the time of N. Ch. A man saw his brother killed on
one side of him and another man on the other. He went on shooting over
the parapet; then the parapet got knocked about, and still he wasn't
hit. He seized his brother's body and the other man's and built them up
into the parapet with sandbags, and went on shooting.

When the stress was over and he could leave off, he looked round and saw
what he was leaning against. "Who did that?" he said. And they told him.

They get awfully sick at the big-print headlines in some of the
papers--"The Hill 60 Thrill"!

"Thrill, indeed! There's nothing thrilling about ploughing over parapets
into a machine-gun, with high explosives bursting round you,--it's
merely beastly," said a boy this evening, who is all over shrapnel
splinters.


_Saturday, May 8th,_ 9 A.M.--This is Der Tag. Could anybody go to bed
and undress?

I have been cutting dressings all night. One of the most stabbing things
in this war is seeing the lines of empty motor ambulances going up to
bring down the wrecks who at this moment are sound and fit, and all
absolutely ready to be turned into wrecks.

10.30 P.M.--Der Tag was a wash-out, but it is to begin at 1.15 to-night.
(It didn't!)

The tension is more up than ever. A boy who has just come in with a
poisoned heel (broken-hearted because he is out of it, while his
battalion moves up) says, "You'll be having them in in cartloads over
this."


_Sunday, May 9th_, 1.30 A.M.--The Lions are roaring in full blast and
lighting up the sky.

Have been busy to-night with an operation case who is needing a lot of
special nursing, and some admissions--one in at 11 P.M., who was only
wounded at 9 o'clock. I hope these magnificent roars and rumblings are
making a mess of the barbed wire and German trenches. There seems to be
a pretty general opinion that they will retaliate by dropping them into
this place if they have time, and pulverising it like Ypres.

5.25 A.M.--It has begun. It is awful--continuous and earthquaking.

9.30 A.M.--In bed. The last ten minutes of "Rapid" did its damnedest and
then began again, and we are still thundering hell into the German
lines.

It began before 5 with a fearful pounding from the French on our right,
and hasn't left off since.

Had a busy night with my operation case and the others (he is doing
fine), and in every spare second getting ready for the rush. The M.O.'s
were astir very early; the A.D.M.S. came to count empty beds. It is
to-night they'll be coming in.

Must try and sleep. But who could yesterday and to-day?


_Monday, May 10th_, 9.30 A.M.--We have had a night of it. Every Field
Ambulance, barge, Clearing Hospital, and train are blocked with them.
The M.O.'s neither eat nor sleep. I got up early yesterday and went down
to the barge to see if they wanted any extra help (as the other two were
coping with the wounded officers), and had a grim afternoon and evening
there. One M.O., no Sisters, four trained orderlies, and some other men
were there. It was packed with all the worst cases--dying and bleeding
and groaning. After five hours we had three-fourths of them out of their
blood-soaked clothes, dressed, fed, hæmorrhage stopped, hands and faces
washed, and some asleep. Two died, and more were dying. They all worked
like bricks. The M.O., and another from the other barge which hadn't
filled up, sent up to the O.D.S., when my hour for night duty there
came, to ask if I could stay, and got leave. At 11 P.M. four Sisters
arrived (I don't know how--they'd been wired for), two for each barge;
so I handed over to them and went to the O.D.S. to relieve the other two
there for night duty. The place was unrecognisable: every corner of
every floor filled with wounded officers--some sitting up and some all
over wounds, and three dying and others critical; and they still kept
coming in. They were all awfully good strewing about the floor--some
soaked to the skin from wet shell holes--on their stretchers, waiting to
be put to bed.

One had had "such a jolly Sunday afternoon" lying in a shell hole with
six inches of water in it and a dead man, digging himself in deeper with
his trench tool whenever the shells burst near him. He was hit in the
stomach.

One officer saw the enemy through a periscope sniping at our wounded.

4 P.M.--In bed. It seems quiet to-day; there are so few guns to be
heard, and not so many ambulances coming. All except the hopeless cases
will have been evacuated by now from all the Field Hospitals. There was
a block last night, and none could be sent on. The Clearing Hospitals
were full, and no trains in.

Those four Sisters from the base had a weird arrival at the barge last
night in a car at 11 P.M. It was a black dark night, big guns going, and
a sudden descent down a ladder into that Nelson's cockpit. They were
awfully bucked when we said, "Oh, I am glad you have come." They buckled
to and set to work right off. The cook, who had been helping
magnificently in the ward, was running after me with hot cocoa
(breakfast was my last meal, except a cup of tea), and promised to give
them some. One wounded of the Munsters there said he didn't mind nothink
now,--he'd seen so many dead Germans as he never thought on. As always,
they have lost thousands, but they come on like ants.

They have only had about seven new cases to-day at the O.D.S., but two
of last night's have died. A Padre was with them.

They had no market this morning, for fear of bombs from aeroplanes.
There's been no shelling into the town.


_Tuesday, May 11th_, 6.30 P.M.--In bed. I went to bed pretty tired this
morning after an awful night (only a few of the less seriously wounded
had been evacuated yesterday, and all the worst ones, of course, left),
and slept like a top from 10.30 to 5, and feel as fit as anything after
it.

The fighting seems to have stopped now, and no more have come in to-day.
Last night a stiff muddy figure, all bandages and straw, on the
stretcher was brought in. I asked the boy how many wounds? "Oh, only
five," he said cheerfully. "Nice clean wounds,--machine-gun,--all in and
out again!"

The Padre came at 7.30 and had a Celebration in each ward, but I was
too busy to take any notice of it.

One of these officers was hit by a German shell on Sunday morning early,
soon after our bombardment began. He crawled about till he was hit again
twice by other shells, and then lay there all that day and all that
night, with one drink from another wounded's water-bottle; every one
else was either dead or wounded round him. Next morning his servant
found him and got stretcher-bearers, and he got here.

I don't know how they live through that.


_Wednesday, May 12th_, 6.30 P.M.--Slept very well. I hear from Gabrielle
that they have had a hard day at the O.D.S.; no new cases, but all the
bad ones very ill.

My little room is crammed with enormous lilac, white and purple, from
our wee garden, which I am going to take to our graves to-morrow in jam
tins.


_Thursday, May 13th_, 11 A.M.--Can't face the graves to-day; have had an
awful night; three died during the night. I found the boy who brought
his officer in from between the German line and ours, on Sunday night,
crying this morning over the still figure under a brown blanket on a
stretcher.

Of the other two, brought straight in from the other dressing station,
one only lived long enough to be put to bed, and the other died on his
stretcher in the hall.

The O.C. said last night, "Now this War has come we've got to tackle it
with our gloves off," but it takes some tackling. It seems so much
nearer, and more murderous somehow in this Field Ambulance atmosphere
even than it did on the train with all the successive hundreds.

We can see Notre Dame de Lorette from here; the Chapel and Fort stand
high up in that flat maze of slag-heaps, mine-heads, and sugar-factories
just behind the line on the right.

9 P.M., _O.D.S._--Everything very quiet here.

A gunner just admitted says there will probably be another big
bombardment to-morrow morning, and after that another attack, and after
that I suppose some more for us.

Another says that the charge of the Black Watch on Sunday was a
marvellous thing. They went into it playing the pipes! The Major who led
it handed somebody his stick, as he "probably shouldn't want it again."

It is very wet to-night, but they go up to the trenches singing Ragtime,
some song about "We are always--respected--wherever we go." And another
about "Sing a song--a song with me. Come along--along with me."

11 P.M.--Just heard a shell burst, first the whistling scream, and then
the bang--wonder where? There was another about an hour ago, but I
didn't hear the whistle of that--only the bang. I shouldn't have known
what the whistle was if I hadn't heard it at Braisne. It goes in a
curve. All the men on the top floor have been sent down to sleep in the
cellar; another shell has busted.

12.15.--Just had another, right overhead; all the patients are asleep,
luckily.

1.30 P.M.--There was one more, near enough to make you jump, and a few
more too far off to hear the whistling. A sleepy major has just waked up
and said, "Did you hear the shells? Blackguards, aren't they?"

The sky on the battle line to-night is the weirdest sight; our guns are
very busy, and they are making yellow flashes like huge sheets of summer
lightning. Then the star-shells rise, burst, and light up a large area,
while a big searchlight plays slowly on the clouds. It is all very
beautiful when you don't think what it means.

Two more--the last very loud and close. It is somehow much more alarming
than Braisne, perhaps because it is among buildings, and because one
knows so much more what they mean.

Another--the other side of the building.

An ambulance has been called out, so some one must have been hit; I've
lost count of how many they've dropped, but they could hardly fail to do
some damage.

5 A.M.--Daylight--soaking wet, and no more shells since 2 A.M. We have
admitted seven officers to-night; the last--just in--says there have
been five people wounded in the town by this peppering--one killed. I
don't know if civilians or soldiers.

That bombardment on Sunday morning was the biggest any one has ever
heard,--more guns on smaller space, and more shells per minute.

Nine officers have "died of wounds" here since Sunday, and the tenth
will not live to see daylight. There is an attack on to-night. This has
been a ghastly week, and now it is beginning again.

The other two Sisters had quite a nasty time last night lying in bed,
waiting for the shells to burst in their rooms. They do sound exactly as
if they are coming your way and nowhere else!

I rather think they are dropping some in again to-night, but they are
not close enough to hear the whistle, only the bangs.

There is an officer in to-night with a wound in the hand and shoulder
from a shell which killed eleven of his men, and another who went to
see four of his platoon in a house at the exact moment when a percussion
shell went on the same errand; the whole house sat down, and the five
were wounded--none killed.


_Saturday, May 15th_, 10 P.M.--Tension up again like last Saturday.
Another TAG is happening to-morrow. Every one except three sick
downstairs has been evacuated, and they have made accommodation for 1000
at the French Hospital, which is the 4th F.A. main dressing station, and
headquarters. All officers, whether seriously or slightly wounded, are
to be taken there to be dressed by the M.O.'s in the specially-arranged
dressing-rooms, and then sent on to us to be put to bed and coped with.

Now we have got some French batteries of 75's in our lines to pound the
earthworks which protect the enemy's buried machine-guns, which are the
most murderous and deadly of all their clever arrangements, and to stop
up the holes through which they are fired. We have also got more
Divisions in it along the same front, and our heavy guns and all our
batteries in better positions.

Some more regiments have been called up in a hurry, and empty
ammunition-carts are galloping back already.

This morning I took some white lilac to the graves of our 12 officers
who "died of wounds." Their names and regiments were on their crosses,
and "Died of wounds.--F.A.," and R.I.P. It was better to see them like
that Pro Patria than in those few awful days here.

10.30.--Just admitted a gunner suffering from shock alone--no
wound--completely knocked out; he can't tell you his name, or stand, or
even sit up, but just shivers and shudders. Now he is warm in bed, he
can say "Thank you." I wonder what exactly did it.

The arrangements the -- F.A. happen to have the use of at the French
Hospital, with its up-to-date modern operating theatre for tackling the
wounds in a strictly aseptic and scientific way within a few hours of
the men being hit, are a tremendous help.

Certainly the ones who pass through No.-- get a better chance of early
recovery without long complications than most of those we got on the
train. And while they are awaiting evacuation to the Clearing Hospitals
they have every chance, both here and at the French Hospital, where all
the trained orderlies except two are on duty, and practically all the
M.O.'s. But, of course, there are a great many of the seriously wounded
that no amount of aseptic and skilled surgery or nursing can save.


_Sunday_, 11.30 A.M. _May 16th._--They began coming in at 3.30, and by 8
A.M. the place was full to bursting. We managed to get all the stretcher
cases to bed, and as many of the others as we had beds for, without
sending for the other two Sisters, who came on at 8.15, and are now
coping. Most of them were very cheery, because things seem to be going
well. Two lines of trenches taken, all the wire cut, and some of the
earthworks down; but it is always an expensive business even when
successful--only then nobody minds the expense. There are hundreds more
to come in, and the seriously wounded generally get brought in last,
because they can't get up and run, but have to hide in trenches and
shell holes. One man, wounded on Sunday and found on Friday night, had
kept himself alive on dead men's emergency rations. They were all
sopping wet with blood or mud or both.

The ---- lost heavily. I heard one officer say, "They drove us back five
times."

After breakfast I went to the Cathedral, and then boldly bearded the big
dressing station at the French Hospital, where all the dressings are
done and the men evacuated, armed with a huge linen bag of cigarettes,
chocolate, and writing-cases which came last night. I met the C.O., who
said I could have a look round, and then rowed me for not being in bed,
and said we should be busy to-night and for some time. It was very
interesting, and if you brought your reason to bear on it, not too
horrible.

Every corridor, waiting-room, ward, and passage was filled with them,
the stretchers waiting their turn on the floors, and the walking cases
(which on the A.T. we used to call the sitting-ups) in groups and
queues. No one was fussing, but all were working at full pitch; and very
few of the men were groaning, but nearly all were gruesomely covered
with blood. And they look pretty awful on the bare gory stretchers, with
no pillows or blankets, just as they are picked up on the field. Many
are asleep from exhaustion.

What cheered me was one ward full of last Sunday's bad cases, all in
bed, and very cheery and doing well. They loved the writing-cases, &c.,
and said it was like Xmas, and they wouldn't want to leave 'ere now.

A great many of this morning's had already been evacuated, and they were
still pouring in. One has to remember that a great many get quite well,
though many have a ghastly time in store for them in hospital.

The barge is in the canal again taking in the non-jolters.

Some stalwart young Tommies at No. 4 were talking about the prisoners.
They told me there weren't many taken, because they found one in a
Jock's uniform.

I've drawn my curtain so that I can't see those hateful motor ambulances
coming in slowly full, and going back empty fast, and must go to sleep.
I simply loathe the sight of those M.A.'s, admirable inventions though
they are. Had a look into a lovely lorry full of 100-lb. shells in the
square.

7 P.M.--Only one officer has died at the O.D.S. to-day, but there are
two or three who will die. They have evacuated, and filled up three
times already.

The news from the "scene of operations" is still good, so they are all
still cheerful. The difference to the wounded that makes is
extraordinary. That is why last Sunday's show was such a black blight to
them and to us.


_Monday, May 17th_, 10 A.M.--Another night of horrors; one more died,
and two young boys came in who will die; one is a Gordon Highlander of
18, who says "that's glorious" when you put him to bed.

It was a long whirl of stretchers, and pitiful heaps on them. The
sergeant stayed up helping till 3, and a boy from the kitchen stayed up
all night on his own, helping.

In the middle of the worst rush the sergeant said to me, "You know
they're shelling the town again?" and at that minute swoop bang came a
big one; and we looked at each other over the stretcher with the same
picture in our mind's eyes of shells dropping in amongst the wounded,
who are all over the town. I hadn't heard them--too busy--but they
didn't go on long.

The Boches have been heavily shelling our trenches all day.

One boy said suddenly, when I was attending to his leg, "Aren't you very
foolish to be staying up here?" "Oh, sorry," he said; "I was dreaming
you were in the front line of trenches bandaging people up!"

Our big guns have been making the building shake all night. The Germans
are trying to get their trenches back by counter-attacking.


_Tuesday, May 18th, is it?_ 1 A.M., _in bed._--It has been about the
worst night of all the worst nights. I found the wards packed with bad
cases, the boy of 18 dead, and the other boy died half an hour after I
came on. Two more died during the night, two lots were evacuated, and
had to be dug out of their fixings-up in bed and settled on stretchers,
and all night they brought fresh ones in, drenched and soaked with
clayey mud in spadefuls, and clammy with cold.


_Wednesday, May 19th, 12 noon._--Mr ---- has been working at No.-- at
full pitch for twenty-four hours on end, and had just got into bed when
they sent for him there again. They are all nearly dead, and so are the
orderlies at both places; but they never dream of grousing or shirking,
as they know there's not another man to be had.

Two more officers died last night, and three more were dying.

The Padre came and had a Celebration in my ward. Three R.A.M.C. officers
are in badly wounded. They are extraordinarily good.


_Friday, 21st May_, 3 A.M.--Last night the rush began to abate; no one
died, and only one came in--a general smash-up; he died to-night, and a
very dear boy died to-day. I've lost count now of how many have died,--I
think about twenty-four.

The Guards' Brigade here went by to-night from the trenches to rest,
singing "Here we are again," and the song about "The girls declare I am
a funny man!"

11 A.M.--The little Canadian Sister has just been recalled, I'm sorry
to say, but probably we shall get another one. Five Canadian officers
came in last night. The guns are making the dickens of a noise, very
loud and sudden. Yesterday they shelled the town again, and two more
_soldats anglais_ were wounded.


_Saturday, May 22nd_, 6.30 A.M.--Things have been happening at a great
pace since the above, and we are now in our camp-beds in an empty
attic at the top of an old château about three miles back, which is
No.-- C.H., at ----.

Just as I was thinking of getting up yesterday evening they began
putting shells over into the town, and soon they were raining in three
at a time. My little room here is a sort of lean-to over the kitchen
with no room above it; so I cleared out to dress in one of the others,
and didn't stop to wash. Gabrielle came running up to fetch me
downstairs. At the hospital, which was only about 200 yards down the
road, the wounded officers were thinking it was about time Capt.
---- moved his Field Ambulance. One boy by the window had got some
_débris_ in his eye from the nearest shell, which burst in my
blackbird's garden, or rather on the doorstep opposite. (That was the
one that got me out of bed rather rapidly.) The orders soon came to
evacuate all the patients. At the French Hospital, about six minutes
away, three wounded had been hit in a M.A. coming in, and the Officers'
Mess had one (none of them were in), and they were dropping all round
it. Then the order came from the D.D.M.S. to the A.D.M.S. to evacuate
the whole of the --th, --th, and --th Field Ambulances, and within about
two hours this was done.

Everybody got the patients ready, fixed up their dressings and splints,
gave them all morphia, and got them on to their stretchers.

The evacuation was jolly well done; their servants appeared by magic,
each with every spot of kit and belongings his officer came in with
(they are in _all_ cases checked by the Sergeant on admission, no matter
what the rush is), and the place was empty in an hour. The din of our
guns, which were bombarding heavily, and the German guns, which are
bombarding us at a great pace, and the whistle and bang of the shells
that came over while this was going on, was a din to remember.

Then we went back to our billet to hurl our belongings into our baggage,
and came away with the A.D.M.S. and his Staff-Major in their two
touring-cars. The Division is back resting somewhere near here. We got
to bed about 2 A.M. after tea and bread and butter downstairs, but slept
very little owing to the noise of the guns, which shake and rattle the
windows every minute.

We don't know what happens next.

At about four this morning I heard a nightingale trilling in the garden.

2 P.M.--In the Château garden. It is a glorious spot, with kitchen
garden, park, moat bridge, and a huge wilderness up-and-down plantation
round it, full of lilac, copper beeches, and flowering trees I've never
seen before, and birds and butterflies and buttercups. You look across
and see the red-brick Château surrounded by thick lines of tents, and
hear the everlasting incessant thudding and banging of the guns, and
realise that it is not a French country house but a Casualty Clearing
Hospital, with empty--once polished--floors filled with stretchers,
where the worst cases still are, and some left empty for the incoming
convoys. Over two thousand have passed through since Sunday week. The
contrast between the shady garden where I'm lazing now on rugs and
cushions, with innumerable birds, including a nightingale, singing and
nesting, and the nerve-racking sound of the guns and the look of the
place inside, is overwhelming. It is in three Divisions--the house for
the worst cases--and there are tent Sections and the straw-sheds and two
schools in the village. We had our lunch at a sort of inn in the
village. I've never hated the sound of the guns so much; they are almost
unbearable.

It is a good thing for us to have this sudden rest. I don't know for how
long or what happens next.

The General of the Division had a narrow escape after we left last
night. The roof of his house was blown off, just at the time he would
have been there, only he was a little late, but an officer was killed;
six shells came into the garden, and the seventh burst at his feet and
killed him as he was standing at the door. I'm glad they got the wounded
away in time. Aeroplanes are buzzing overhead. The Aerodrome is here,
French monoplanes chiefly as far as one can see.

10 P.M., _in bed_.--We have now been temporarily attached to the Staff
here.

Miss ---- has given me charge of the Tent Section, which can take eighty
lying down.


_Whitsunday, 1915._--In bed--in my tent, not a bell, but an Indian tent
big enough for two comfortably. I share with S----. We have nothing but
the camp furniture we took out, but will acquire a few Red Cross boxes
as cupboards to-morrow. It is a peerless night with a young moon and a
soft wind, frogs croaking, guns banging, and a nightingale trilling.

It has been a funny day, dazzling sun, very few patients.


_Whit-Monday._--Very few in to-day again. I have only six, and am making
the most of the chance of a rest in the garden; one doesn't realise till
after a rush how useful a rest can be. There has been a fearful
bombardment going on all last night and yesterday and to-day; it is a
continual roar, and in the night is maddening to listen to; you can't
forget the war. Mosquitoes, nightingales, frogs, and two horses also
helped to make the night interesting.

8.30 P.M.--Waiting for supper. Wounded have been coming in, and we've
had a busy afternoon and evening.


_Wednesday, May 26th._--No time to write yesterday; had a typical
Clearing Hospital Field Day. The left-out-in-the-field wounded (mostly
Canadians) had at last been picked up and came pouring in. I had my Tent
Section of eighty beds nearly full, and we coped in a broiling sun till
we sweltered into little spots of grease, finishing up with five
operations in the little operating tent.

The poor exhausted Canadians were extraordinarily brave and
uncomplaining. They are evacuated the same day or the next morning,
such as can be got away to survive the journey, but some of the worst
have to stay.

In the middle of it all at 5 P.M. orders came for me to join No.--
Ambulance Train for duty, but I didn't leave till this morning at nine,
and am now on No.-- A.T. on way down to old Boulogne again.

_Later._--These orders were afterwards cancelled, and I am for duty at a
Base Hospital.



THE END.


PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.





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