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Title: Finding Themselves - The Letters of an American Amy Chief Nurse in the British - Hospital in France
Author: Stimson, Julia
Language: English
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                          FINDING THEMSELVES

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                 NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
                        ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

                       MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
                      LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA

                   THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

                    [Illustration: JULIA C. STIMSON

           From the photograph for her passport, May, 1917.]

                          FINDING THEMSELVES

                   _The Letters of an American Army
                       Chief Nurse in a British
                          Hospital in France_

                     JULIA C. STIMSON, M.A., R.N.
               CHIEF NURSE, NO. 12 (ST. LOUIS, U. S. A.)
                      GENERAL HOSPITAL, B. E. F.

         “Now God be thanked who has matched us with His hour
         And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping.”
                           --RUPERT BROOKE.

                               New York
                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                         _All rights reserved_

                           COPYRIGHT, 1918,
                       BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

          Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1918.

                             Norwood Press
                J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
                        Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


                           TO ALL MY MAJORS

                        WHOSE KIND HELPFULNESS

                           WAS NEVER FAILING


These letters were written as the daily record of the work of a Unit of
Red Cross nurses who were sent to France in May, 1917, in response to
the request of the British authorities. The Unit, almost immediately
after its arrival in England, was sent across the Channel to take over a
British Base Hospital established on a race course, where they have
cared continuously for a stream of from eight hundred to two thousand
wounded “Tommies” at a time.

The original sixty-five American nurses were assisted for several months
by English Volunteer Aids, and when these were withdrawn, they were
reënforced with some thirty American nurses.

Though written with no thought of publication, as the war lengthens out,
these letters have become of especial value as the record of first
impressions and experiences which for those concerned were startlingly
new. Since then much has been happening of tremendous significance both
to the participants and to the world, but the events recorded here have
not lost their interest, nor has their graphic character been blunted,
by recent occurrences. Hence, though the initial purpose of printing
these letters was to furnish this group of women with a permanent story
of their devoted service, it has been suggested that the letters have a
much wider interest, and they have therefore been given for publication
by Miss Stimson’s family.

_Pastor emeritus, Manhattan
Congregational Church_.

NEW YORK, June, 1918.


St. Louis, May 4, 1917.

Dearest Mother and Dad:--

As you have probably seen by the papers, we all are in the midst of
alarms. We have had less than a week’s notice to get ready for
mobilization for service in France, and so it has been a rushing week.
Last Saturday afternoon we received word we were likely to be called out
soon--in two or three weeks--but on Tuesday night I received word to
have the nurses ready by Saturday. It is now Friday evening and most of
the nurses are ready, but it is quite certain we won’t be leaving for
several days as the doctors’ uniforms, for instance, won’t be ready till
next Wednesday. I am glad indeed for the extra time. The nurses can take
a very small steamer trunk and a suitcase. As we apparently are to be
sent abroad “for the duration of the war” it is rather a puzzle to know
what to take.

Of course this order for foreign service is playing havoc with the
personnel of the Unit, so few expected to be called for duty abroad. In
fact no one expected a call of this sort at all. I have been quite
disgusted with the quitters who, for one reason or another, have begged
to be excused. I have had about ten drop out, but I am finding
substitutes who I think will be much more desirable than such weak-kneed
individuals. But every substitution means a great deal of work and much
telegraphing; for each name has to be approved at Washington, and after
physical examinations are made here they also have again to be approved
at Washington. I have had a number sent back for more complete details.
I am to have a detachment of Kansas City nurses attached to my corps.
Ten, and maybe more, for there are to be sixty-five, and I had only
fifty in my original order and some of these have been dropped or have
had to fall out. Two whose names I submitted I have had to drop by
orders from Washington because they were born in Germany. So there is
much to do, you see.

It is now Sunday, and we are going down to hear Joffre speak if we can
get into the Coliseum. He and his staff are coming out to review the
Unit at the [Barnes] hospital to-morrow. I do hope that by this time
next Sunday we shall be on our way, for waiting around after one is
ready is very trying, particularly when people of all sorts are weeping
farewells over you all the time. Well, anyway, here is loads of love to
you all. We know it is the biggest opportunity of our lives.

People are being wonderful and are rallying around us splendidly. We are
offered more help than we can possibly use. It has been pretty fatiguing
but I am beginning to realize that I can take things more slowly now.
Naturally I wanted to be as nearly ready with all my force by Saturday
as I possibly could be. You can imagine the number of questions I have
had to make up answers for, that come to me every hour of the day and
night, not to mention all the details I have to impress upon many
people, those who go, and those who stay.

But it is all wonderful beyond belief. I just wish I had the words to
express what I think about this opportunity. Aside from what we think
about the causes and principles involved, and the tremendous
satisfaction of having a chance to help work them out, to be in the
front ranks in this most dramatic event that ever was staged, and to be
in the first group of women ever called out for duty with the United
States Army, and in the first part of the army ever sent off on an
expeditionary affair of this sort, is all too much good fortune for any
one person like me. The responsibility of my big job of whipping into
shape a band of heterogeneously trained nurses and of competing for
loyalty and spirit with groups of nurses from the East, and mostly all
from one school, seems almost an overwhelming job, but naturally I am
going to do my very best. I have some splendid women to help me in the
executive line, and although we do not know each other’s ways at all we
will do what we can. As for the men, we could not have a more splendid
group to work with. I shall have every possible help from them.
Personally I am feeling fine and oh, so keyed up. I cannot ever be
worthy of all the honor and opportunities that have come to me, not to
mention all the happiness. It seems as if my life has just overflowed
with good things and that I can never live long enough to put back into
the world all that has been given to me.

My little nurses[1] are being so fine. The present Senior class of
thirty-two would have been my first real class, the first I have taken
all through, and they are weeping around that I am not going to be here
to graduate them. But to-morrow night after chapel I am to have a
heart-to-heart talk with them and I believe I can make them feel better.

_May 7th, Marshal Joffre presented the American colors to the St. Louis
Unit (U. S. Base Hospital) No. 21 of Washington University at the Barnes

_May 16th, These colors were consecrated at the Cathedral in a special
service for the Unit._

_May 17th, The Unit left St. Louis and sailed from New York on Saturday
the 19th._

On board ship.
May 21, Monday.

Dearest Family:--

If only all you dear people at home could know how comfortable and happy
we all are, you would not worry the slightest bit about us. Of course
the danger is still here even if we don’t notice it, but everything is
so serene it seems as though it couldn’t possibly touch us. The only
time that one can even imagine any danger is at night when on the decks
not a single particle of light can be seen, except a dark purple glow at
each companion-way. All the portholes are fastened shut and all the
windows of the dining-saloon are shut and shaded as soon as it begins to
get dark. The main hall, or whatever the place is called, in the center
of the boat where the main stairways are, is also entirely dark, so that
when the doors to the deck are opened no light will shine out. We are
told that we are one of a group of boats going out together although out
of sight of each other, and that when we get nearer the other side we
are to be convoyed by battleships. We are getting wireless directions
from cruisers now, but are not sending out any messages. We had
lifeboat drill this morning, with lifebelts on and each person knows to
exactly what boat he or she is to go. At times like those drills there
is nothing but the greatest jolliness and cheerfulness. In fact, all the
time there seems to be nothing but cheerfulness and eagerness to get to
work. I haven’t even heard of any apprehensiveness on the part of a
single person. As one of my nurses said in her slow drawly way: “There
isn’t any use worrying about the submarines. If the Germans are going to
kill us, worrying isn’t going to prevent it. If the Germans do kill me,
I’m going to come back and haunt the whole German army.”

Everything has gone so very smoothly from the very beginning, I really
don’t see how arrangements could have been improved upon. Even the one
trunk that got left behind reached the steamer in time, and the two
nurses who were to join us in New York turned up exactly as scheduled
and all the missing documents from the War Department came before we
left and as far as I could tell, everybody had everything that she ought
to have. When the gangplank was pulled up and I realized that not one of
my group could get lost for at least ten days, and there were no more
documents to expect by mail and no more telegrams giving more
instructions, it seemed as if a great load dropped off my shoulders. It
was a glorious day and the sail down the harbor was wonderful. All kinds
of boats tooted and blew their whistles at us and people on ferry boats
waved and cheered us. Soon after lunch, the few necessary room
adjustments were made and trunks were carried to the proper rooms.
Nurses had been assigned to rooms alphabetically, but a few changes
seemed to make everybody happy. Some of the nurses are three in a room,
but quite a lot of them are only two in a room. With the portholes
screwed down there is no difference between the inside and the outside
rooms. The whole Pennsylvania Unit, Base Hospital No. 10, is with us,
going no one knows where, any more than we do. They seem very nice
people, and the Chief Nurse is the Miss Dunlop with whom I had been
corresponding about work at the American Ambulance. Miss Dunlop was in
charge of the nursing at the Ambulance for some time and can give me
lots of pointers about foreign service.

When we reached the _St. Paul_ that Friday evening about 6, going
directly from the train to a ferry and from the ferry to the pier, we
found the other Unit on board. A committee from the Red Cross was here
giving out uniforms. It took not much over an hour and a half before
each nurse had received all her things and was free to go. Each one was
given caps and armbands, a lovely soft cape lined with bright red
flannel; a soft dark blue felt hat, with hat pins, a heavy dark brown
blanket, a long heavy double-breasted, dark blue military coat and a
dark blue serge dress. The whole equipment is excellent and extremely
good in quality and the fit was fine, considering the way measurements
had to be sent. There was a box there addressed to every single nurse,
each one containing a dress and a coat. The dresses are very good
looking. They have high standing collars with a little edging of white
at the top and an edging of white at the cuffs. Extra edging was found
in an envelope attached to each dress. There is a pleat that runs from
each shoulder to the waist and a row of big black buttons follows those
pleats. There is also a row of buttons up the outside of each sleeve. At
the waist there is a belt and a cloth-covered buckle. The skirt has a
pocket on each side and has a panel back. The effect of the whole outfit
is very shipshape, though a little somber. There is no distinguishing
mark for Chief Nurses, but Miss Noyes, the Chairman of the Bureau of
Nursing Service, who came on from Washington to see us off, said she was
going to work out some sort of a method for distinguishing the Chiefs
and would let us know later what it is to be. A great many of the nurses
sent back to their homes the heavy coats they had brought for the
steamer. I sent mine.

All the officers and the enlisted men are having regular drill every
day. I asked for some drill for the nurses too, and we began yesterday,
greatly to the delight of every one, the spectators as well as those
participating. We have regular setting-up exercises as well as some
military formations so that we can march in decency and order when we
have to. On shipboard standing on one foot and raising the other knee is
apt to be accompanied with some merriment. And some of our fat doctor
officers have more or less difficulty lying down flat on their stomachs
and getting up very fast. But by the end of the voyage we all may be
very proficient. At any rate it is awfully good for the digestion.
Speaking of digestion, we are having excellent food and, as is always
the way on a steamer, altogether too much of it. The dining-saloon holds
us all at one sitting, which is pleasant. No. 10 takes up all of one
side and No. 21 the other and the few civilian passengers sit in the

I was assigned to a very good stateroom all by myself. Then yesterday
the purser moved me into a still larger and better room, where I have a
table and a droplight, which is more luxury than I ever traveled with
before. People are all so good to us. Even the stewards and the
stewardesses, most of whom are English, seem to be only too glad to do
what they can to make us all comfortable. There have been a few seasick
nurses, which is hard to explain, as the weather has been perfect and
the ocean very smooth. To-day there is a slight roll, but not enough to
notice. Every day there is target practice with the guns. Empty barrels
are thrown overboard and the gun crews shoot at them with the big guns
that are on the forward and after decks.

Evening prayers are held every evening at 9.30, and yesterday we had
church service and had all the enlisted men up. Our [Chaplain] Dean
Davis is a real man. We got a choir together yesterday and last evening
had some fancy singing, which an overly critical person might call
bellowing. It is a mixed choir and it certainly can sing. Now it is time
I studied some French.

Friday afternoon, May 25.

Since I last wrote we have had some real weather, and such a lot of sick
people! Doctors as well as nurses succumbed; and great was the misery.
To-day it is bright and sunny again and not so cold, and everybody is
recovering. It was up along the Banks and opposite Labrador, I guess,
where it was the worst. It was cold and rainy and really very rough, so
much so that we had to have the racks on the tables. I have not been
sick a minute myself, but there was one day when I was not much
interested in eating. Still I did not miss a single meal.

It is a heavenly day to-day. We are already in or near the danger zone
and extra precautions are being taken. It all seems so queer. To-night
we are not to undress, and the few nurses who are on the deck below this
one, where most of them are, are to sleep to-night in the
doctor-officers’ rooms on the upper deck and the latter are to sleep in
the sitting-rooms. There has been some special target practice when no
passengers were allowed on deck, and there was an elaborate boat drill
this afternoon. It is all strange business and still most
incomprehensible to me. I still feel as if I were dreaming and that in a
few minutes I would wake up. We are due to land Sunday afternoon at
Liverpool, it seems, and are scheduled to go to London. But after that
all is shrouded in mystery. My crowd of nurses are fine and have been
behaving splendidly. Comparing them to the Philadelphia bunch I feel
that I have no reason to be ashamed of them or to fear for what they are
going to do. They have all shown a splendid spirit and seem to be full
of enthusiasm and eagerness to show what Missouri can do when it tries.
I feel perfectly sure they are going to be a loyal, hard-working group.

All the nice things that people sent to eat and read have been greatly
appreciated. I was just swamped with nice things, but there have been
lots of people to enjoy them with me. I have slept and slept and read
and read and shall be in fine shape when we land. I was pretty tired
when we started and was not sleeping as I should because of the
multiplicity of details that were on my mind. Except for the sick nurses
the responsibility has let up a lot here on the boat, but will of course
begin again when we land. My Squad Leaders have proved most efficient.
Miss Dunlop of No. 10 and I have had some very nice talks. I shall be
sorry to lose her advice and assistance when we go our separate ways.
She is considerably older than I am and much more experienced. For
destinations there are rumors of Mesopotamia, Saloniki, Russia, England,
and the North of France. Take your choice. It’s a great game to be
traveling thousands of miles and not know where you are going, nor how
long you are going to stay, nor really what you are going to do when you
get there. We may even be in camp somewhere. All the camp equipment is
with us. Well, I like the game anyway.

Last night all my dear little nurses [in St. Louis] were having their
graduation exercises without me. I hope they got the little speech I
sent them, poor as it was. We were thinking of them. One of the men at
our table is keeping one of his watches at St. Louis time, so at every
meal we discuss what is going on in St. Louis.

When this letter reaches you, you will know that everything is well with
us. You will know that before then, come to think of it. For it will
take a long time for letters to get back to the U. S. A. It is going to
be ages before we shall receive letters from you, worse luck.

I have enjoyed Elsie’s ginger and her book ever so much and Mother’s
wonderful Dean box is going to continue to be a delight for a long time.
I am going to try to take the box along for eats, and to keep it for
that. I am not sure yet just how much luggage I can manage and I seem to
have accumulated a good deal more than I started with. The Ever Warm
Safety Suit is awfully nice to have. I trust I shall not have to use it,
but it is nice to have around anyway. There are several of them on the

This letter can be kept just for the family. I am writing others to St.
Louis. I do hope Philip[2] will be coming along over soon and that it
won’t take long to find out where he is.

Don’t you worry about me one least little bit. I am having the time of
my life and wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world.

Good-by for now. I hope all your summer plans will work out smoothly
and happily for you all.



Sat. May 26.--First night in danger zone safely passed and everything
O.K. My bunch all went to bed and slept finely.

Liverpool, The Adelphi Hotel.

Monday, May 29, 1917.

Dearest Family:--

I do not know how I am ever going to manage to write down all the things
I am learning and all the wonderful impressions that are beginning to
crowd upon me. But I feel as though I could not bear to lose them; and
so many new ones will come every day, I surely will lose them if I don’t
write them down at once.

We arrived last evening but did not dock until this A.M. at 7.30. We
were met by a Colonel B., who said he came to welcome us in the name of
the Director-General and the King. He was an extremely affable old tall
thin boy in a much-decorated uniform and a swagger stick. He told us we
were to stay in Liverpool 24 hours, the nurses at the Adelphi and the
doctors at the Northwestern, and that to-morrow at 11 we are to be
conducted to London, to stay there at the Waldorf Hotel four or five
days, and then to be sent to France. He said the Cleveland Unit had
already been sent over, the Boston one was to go to-day, and the New
York one Wednesday. The Philadelphia Unit and we are to stay together as
far as London, but will be sent to separate destinations. We know where
we are to go, but if I should tell you now the censor would cut it out.
We can tell you later, not before. Anyway we are delighted, for we are
to have lots of work, and mighty hard work too. We have been told
considerable details about what we are to do, but I shall have to wait
before I can tell you about it all.

We reached the hotel about 11 and were assigned to rooms with the
greatest dispatch and courtesy. I have a most luxurious room and bath.
After lunch I gave some directions to the squad leaders[3] about letting
the nurses do what they wanted the rest of the day, in parties not
larger than four, etc., in order not to be conspicuous, and then I came
upstairs to sit down in quiet and read the paper and rest. I took a nice
little nap and had a perfectly good bath, and a little before five was
telephoned to that Miss Dunlop, the Chief Nurse of No. 10, and a Colonel
J. wished me to come down to tea. I went on down and found Miss D.,
Colonel B., and Colonel J. in the lounge, which was filled with a gay
crowd of people having tea and listening to the orchestra. There were
lots of uniforms, and many limping, bandaged soldiers, and I had my
first heartache over the one-legged young officers.

Pretty soon Colonel J., who is the English member of the R. A. M. C.
(Royal Army Medical Corps) who is to escort us nurses to London
to-morrow, went and brought over to our table a friend of his, a Major
F., also R. A. M. C. This last man was a lean, hollow-eyed man of about
40, who pretty soon got talking, and for the next hour I heard such
tales as I hardly ever thought could be true. He had been a German
prisoner of war for eleven months. On the way to the prison camp he had
been kept in a railway carriage without food or water for three days. At
German towns through which the train passed and where they always
stopped, he said it frequently happened that women in Red Cross uniforms
came to the stations and offered the prisoners cups of tea or milk and
held them to their lips, only to snatch them away again and jeer and
call them “schweinhund.” He told of the treatment in the camps, where
the prisoners in the dead of winter had only the rags of their uniforms
to wear, their great coats had been taken away from them, and they slept
on sacks of straw without even a tent or any kind of a roof over them.
He said he saw men die at the rate of seven a day from starvation. He
said he never in all his hospital experience has seen such emaciation
from either cancer or tuberculosis as he saw among the prisoners there
who were starving. He saw men kiss the shoes of their guards and beg
like babies for bread. Not the British Tommies but some of the other
prisoners did this. The men had no opportunity to wash and no soap.
Their beards and hair hung down to their waists and were alive with
lice. He was in several different prison camps. The final one was one
where he was sent as a punishment for writing a letter of protest to the
American Ambassador. The letter was never delivered, and he was sent to
a camp where he was the only British person among thousands of Russians.
He had complained because parcels sent to prisoners by their friends
were not delivered to them but were allowed to rot and mildew and be
eaten by rats. He was exchanged after eleven months’ torture, he called
it, in January, 1916. He himself had dysentery and scurvy but not
typhus. After he recovered he was put in charge of a hospital ship,
which was recently torpedoed. Of the 600 sick and wounded that he had on
board he lost only 27.

He told of a hospital ship crossing the Channel just behind his ship on
one trip within 500 yards of his ship and of its striking a mine. There
were no wounded on board at the time, but 12 nurses and officers and
crew. One of the destroyers which was convoying his ship went to the
rescue and got alongside the sinking hospital ship and a little French
trawler also got alongside. Nine of the 12 nurses and the men all jumped
and landed on the destroyer, but no sooner were they on that boat than
it also struck a mine and was blown to atoms, and everybody on it and on
the trawler was blown to bits. The three nurses who were in the water
were picked up by Major F--’s boat. He is here in Liverpool fitting up
another hospital ship and will probably be ordered East again to bring
back more wounded.

He asked if Miss Dunlop and I would like to see his ship. Would we? We
got our coats in a jiffy and flew off with him in a taxi to one of the
docks quite a way off. His boat is a big ship that was a passenger ship
between here and South America. He has taken out the cabins and made big
wards and has accommodations for 800 sick or wounded men. I never saw
anything so cleverly done as the way he is making over that ship. He has
a splendid operating room, an X-Ray complete equipment, a steam laundry,
and absolutely everything that a modern big city hospital has. It will
be ready to sail, he said, in ten days, although to us there seemed to
be an enormous amount yet to do. They no longer have women nurses on
the hospital ships.

We came back from the dock by an “overhead” tram and got here about
eight o’clock, although it was as light as four o’clock. Miss Dunlop and
I then went to dinner together. Ruth Cobb and Rachel Watkins (our nice
dietitian) spent the afternoon in Chester and had a wonderful time, they
said. People are so wonderfully nice. The kids on the street salute us,
and people come up and ask if we aren’t American nurses and if they
can’t do something for us, and take nurses to tea and put them on the
proper trams and show them all sorts of courtesies.

I had just come in to start to write, about nine o’clock, when Major
Murphy[4] was announced, and I went down to see him. He had called to
see if there was anything he could do for us and to find out if we were
all right. They are so considerate and good to us. I told him of our
wonderful experience this afternoon, and just then Colonel J. and Major
F. hove in sight and as I wanted Dr. Murphy to hear some of Major F--’s
tales I introduced him, and soon left them, to come up here and write.

It is now almost eleven and Miss Dunlop has been in to tell me the
latest instructions she has received from her Majors. We always have to
compare instructions and see which of us knows the most about what is
going to happen. If we have the same experiences as the nurses of the
two previous Units, we are to be much fêted in London, and are to be
reviewed by the Queen. We have been trying desperately hard on shipboard
to learn how to march and keep step and to right about face without
falling over ourselves, but I fear we won’t be much on looks when it
comes to being reviewed. I trust we are not expected to curtsy. And now
I must hustle to bed, for to-morrow will be an exciting day. Good night
and so much love to you all. If only you were all having this wonderful
experience with me nothing more could be desired.


Wednesday, June 6, 1917.

Dearest Family:--

I have not written since that day in Liverpool, and now we have been ten
days in London. If only I had the ability to write what we have seen and
what we have felt. The contrasts have been so great some of us have
almost lost our mental equilibrium. We are fêted and cheered and taken
from one entertainment to another and made much of by people of every
class; and then between such social affairs we visit hospitals, military
hospitals, because it is necessary for us to see how such hospitals are
run. First we see 1700 men, young men with faces or arms or legs blown
off, and then we go to a tea at a fancy club; next we see 500 blinded
men fighting their way back into normal life by learning various
occupations, then we are taken in a body to the silliest musical comedy
that was ever staged. Again we see thousands of crippled soldiers
brought out to see the King give decorations to 350 heroes and heroines,
soldiers and nurses, or “the next of kin” all in black, and we nearly
choke when a blinded officer is led up to the King by his orderly who
directs his every move, and lame men go hobbling up to receive their
medals, and we watch the King use his left hand to shake hands with one
man, because the man’s right arm is gone, and then we go to St. Paul’s
and see the Stars and Stripes carried up to the altar with the 64
British flags to be blessed at an “Empire day” service, while thousands
and thousands of people sing “O God, our help in ages past.”

Do you wonder that our emotions are wearing us to a frazzle? It is not
only feminine emotions that are affected, because there are those of our
directors who said they could not go to St. Dunstan’s (the hospital
school for blind soldiers) because they would not be able to sleep for
nights afterwards. It is a mistake not to see such a wonderful place,
however. There never was a more cheerful, hopeful place in the world.
Sir Arthur Pearson, the blind man who runs the place and is its
inspiration, is doing the kind of reconstructing of lives that probably
has no parallel in the world. He is having the men taught not just the
trades and occupations that blind men are taught in other places, but
all sorts of things. We saw men learning anatomy, who after a year’s
most strenuous training will be certificated masseurs. They take the
regular examinations that the sighted people take and get excellent
marks, and always get positions. There were men learning cobbling and
carpentry, and chicken-farming and shorthand and typewriting and
matmaking and weaving and basketry. The whole place was full of
whistling, singing men who were going about their business as though
they were like everybody else in the world instead of in total darkness
forever. There were 500 of these men.

People tell me that English men and women have passed the emotional
stage and have now settled down to work without the waste of riotous
emotions and bursting feelings. It must be so or they would be dead, and
they could not be doing the wonderful “war work” that each one of them
is engaged in. From the highest to the lowest each woman has her work,
her nursing, her preparing vegetables in hospitals (as Mrs. Waldorf
Astor’s sister was doing), her making of supplies, her managing a
hospital in a private house, her organizing “hostels” for nurses,
raising funds, everything that one can conceive of as a job for women is
being done, as never before. Of course the street-sweeping by women is a
kind of war work, and the bus conductoring, and delivering mail and
telegrams, and driving cars and ambulances. The streets are full of
women in uniforms of all sorts, all smart and business-like. Women in
England are coming into their own. What is to happen after the war when
the men come back can well fill the minds of those who are given to
prophesy changes, for a change is taking place here that can never be
undone. In addition to women taking a new place in the working world,
class distinctions are being broken down in a way that is making itself
felt to those who a few years ago could never have dreamt that such a
change was possible. A few days ago Miss Dunlop and I were lunching with
a Lady H. on Carlton House Terrace, overlooking St. James Park. In front
of her house is the famous Crimean monument, flanked on one side by the
beautiful statue of Florence Nightingale and on the other side by a
statue of the father of the husband of our hostess. In the course of the
talk at the luncheon, which was most informal and frugal, the
conversation turned to the most-talked-of subject at meals nowadays, her
“work,” and Mrs. A., who has a thousand-bed hospital on her grounds at
C. and who spends almost her entire time in the wards, not nursing but
talking and cheering the men up, said the men don’t know it, but they
are giving us far more than we are giving them, and Lady H. replied:
“Our whole outlook is changing. Take, for instance, us here to-day. A
short while ago you (meaning Miss D. and me) and we (meaning Mrs. A.,
Sir Harry L., the other guest, an elderly man who had recently lost his
only son, and herself) would have had nothing in common, and now we have
everything in the world.” This was said most simply and sincerely and
was what she really felt.

I can’t tell you the number of people who have given us this same
impression, and I can’t begin to tell you how they all have tried to
express to us what they think about our coming over to help them. Many
individuals have talked to us separately with tears in their eyes and
the warmest handshakes, and we have had speeches made to us in theaters
by actresses and managers, who have led the whole audience in cheers. We
have been stopped constantly on the streets by people who have asked us
if we were not some of the “American Sisters” and wasn’t there some way
in which they could express to us their appreciation of what we had come
to do. Could they not take us to their homes and give us tea, and could
they not come to our hotel and take us out in groups to sightsee, and
could they not send us tickets to this or that, and could they not make
special arrangements to have Towers of London, and the Zoölogical
Gardens and Lambeth Palaces and Houses of Parliament and such little
things opened for us at unusual hours? We have been literally swamped
with kindnesses. One officer has made himself almost a nuisance by
giving us theater tickets for every single night and has been so
insistent that every single nurse should go out to see something every
night that we have come to dread his daily telephone calls or visits.
Mrs. Page had a reception for us and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, and the
Archbishop of Canterbury asked us to tea, and we spent a wonderful
afternoon at Cliveden, and Sir Thomas Lipton sent us all chocolates and
invited some of us to motor out to his place. The Royal Overseas
Officers Club gave a reception for us, the American Woman’s Club opened
its doors to us. We have been sent choir seats at St. Paul’s for special
services and special tickets to the Royal Investiture, and there have
been a number of other things which lords and ladies of high degree have
asked us to in greater or lesser groups.

To-morrow there is luncheon for me at Lady P.’s (a St. Louis woman whose
sister I know), then a motor ride to somewhere on the Thames to see a
hospital where the nursing is done by New Zealand women. In the evening
there is dinner for Miss D. and me with Mrs. F., the editor of the
_British Journal of Nursing_, and after that I hope to get out to
Elizabeth M.’s to spend the night, as I am afraid that will be my last
chance to see her, as we are due to leave Saturday the 9th. I spent a
most beautiful Sunday with her last Sunday, going to church with her in
the morning and just sitting and talking with her most of the afternoon.
She has two splendid boys, Jim just four and John about 18 months. Jim,
Sr., is doing three men’s work, it would seem, on the go from early
morning till 10 or 11 at night. E. seems very well. She is this year
most sensibly putting all her time into taking care of her men folks
large and small. I had a little call this afternoon on Lady H.-H., and
found her most lovely to look at and charming. We had such a nice talk
and wasted no time on preliminaries. I am going to a special service
with her in the morning at Westminster Abbey in St. Faith’s Chapel. My
nurses are all pawing the ground, they are so eager to get to work.



_Extract from letter from Lady H.-H. to Mrs.
L. in New York_:--

“Thank you for sending me a letter by your most interesting and
delightful niece. I wish I might have seen more of her and her wonderful
contingent of nurses. I went to the Waldorf Hotel to talk to them all at
8:30 on Friday night. I can’t tell you what I said, but they seemed
satisfied and I felt that it drew me nearer to you and your wonderful
nation, and I wish it were possible to come to you and help you bear the
heavy cross and suspense and anxiety. I know every step of the way and
what it means, the long, weary march on the road of sorrow. But now God
has let me see the glory and the triumph of it all, and I am no longer

France, Monday, June 11, 1917.

Dearest Daddy and Mother
and all of you:--

We have at last arrived! I wish I could tell you where, but I can’t.
This much I believe I can say, that it is on the outskirts of a large
city, a beautiful old city. Our particular hospital is on a race course,
which looks now like a vast circus establishment or a county fair, for
it is covered with rows and rows of canvas tents, each of which holds
about 14 beds. All around the edge are lovely thick trees, sycamores and
locust they seem to be, under which are small conical tents, small
single-room shacks of canvas and paper, and long, single-story “huts,”
as they are called. These huts are made of thin wood and roofed with
tarred paper and are divided into single cubicles, the whole hut
accommodating about 16 or 18 people. This part that I am describing is
the nurses’ corner of the paddock. It is really very beautiful, for the
grass and hedges and trees are so green, and along the walks are little
flower-beds, and pansies and geraniums and roses are all in bloom. If
one looked only at this corner of the huge place, one might imagine
oneself in some summer camp at home. But just a few hundred yards away
are those scores of tents full of wounded, and every night more are
brought in and others are sent away. This of course is the most
beautiful time of year. The trees are full of birds, who chirp and sing
all day long. And every few minutes along the road on the other side of
our hedge troops go marching by. Some have bands and some whistle their
marching tunes, but all march on and on. There are any number of
hospital establishments like this all around here, and also thousands of
troops of all sorts are in camp near. We got just a little glimpse of
the situation as we were driven out here in huge motor ambulances from
the station.

We have not as yet gone over the hospital proper, for our luggage has
not come and we have only our street uniforms, and the “Matron” says it
is not wise for us to go into the hospital tent until we have our wash
clothes. For the last two nights we have not had even our hand bags.
When they come, they will be welcome. The lack of tooth brushes is our
only serious lack. It is surprising how quickly one can accustom oneself
to get along without frills like wash cloths and night-dresses! And as
for new titles, I already no longer turn a hair when I am introduced as
“Matron” Stimson. My bad and disrespectful children come to me all the
time and say “Matron,” may I do this or that? That is the way the
English sisters address their Chief Nurse. As we all arrived before we
were expected my nurses have not been assigned to their regular rooms
yet. Last night they all slept in some of the large hospital tents that
were empty. My place was got ready for me and is most attractive. I have
two shutoff rooms at the end of one of the “huts.” The whole width of
the hut is 15 ft. The depth of my rooms is 11 ft. And there is a
partition about 7 ft. high which cuts off my bedroom which is 6 ft.
wide, leaving 9 ft., the width of the sitting-room. I will draw a kind
of plan on the other side for those who are interested in the details.
It is all unpainted, but, just think, there is an electric light in each
room. That is far more luxury than I ever dreamed of. The furniture is
of the simplest, but quite sufficient. I think the things that are in
here now are to be taken away when the English sisters go, and our own
equipment is to replace it. There are two casement windows in the
sitting-room, and one in the bedroom. There are plain white curtains at
them all, and there are small matting rugs on the floor. So you can see
I am going to be most comfortable. There is a mess “hut,” where all the
nurses eat, and eat very comfortably and well, we have already
discovered. All we want now is work to do, and we can see that coming,
enough to satisfy the most energetic and ambitious of our number. The
nurses are all off wandering around this morning. Some have gone to the
city and some are taking walks along the country roads. The roads are so
full of soldiers, some of whom wear turbans and carry scimitars, that
they feel a little strange and out of place, but that feeling is likely
to wear off soon. We hope that our things and our officers will arrive
soon, but there is no telling.

Now I must go back and tell you what I can of our crossing. Our last few
days in London were like the first, chock full. I was particularly busy
in helping make arrangements for sending one of our nurses home. It was
a very sad and hard thing to have happened to the poor thing, and it was
absolutely not her fault in any way but merely a technicality. When we
were getting our passports at the American Embassy in London, those born
in England had to go to the British Embassy. Mrs. S. went with the
others, and in answer to their question explained that many years ago
she had married a German, but that ten years ago she divorced him. He
married again and later died. But according to British law she is a
German subject, because she married a German. So they refused to let her
go to France and she had to be sent back to the States. Rather hard on
her? She took it splendidly and waved us off from the Waterloo Station
on Saturday in the bravest way.

Both the Philadelphia Unit and ours left together on a special train for
Southampton. It is something of a trick to get 120 women into busses and
on trains, and all their baggage too. But we have got it down to a
pretty good system. Our eight squad leaders each pass on orders to their
subleaders, then they each find the three people that belong to them and
they are entirely responsible for them, and all I have to do is to ask
the eight squad leaders if all of their groups are ready. The scheme has
worked beautifully. Yesterday at noon on the boat we had an unexpected
order to be ready to disembark at once. And the whole 64 were lined up
in squads inside of three minutes. We started out from Southampton in a
tender, but were transferred to a large hospital ship. We were
wonderfully taken care of on board of her, as we have been on all our
travels. They gave us an excellent dinner, and gave over to our use,
large wards. So each nurse had a comfortable bed for the night. It was
on the hospital ship that we got separated from our bags. They had been
brought in “lorries” from the hotel, then put in luggage vans on the
train, then transferred to the tender and then to the hold of the
hospital ship. We had not known we were going to spend the night on the
ship. You see we never know anything in advance for more than a few
minutes. It was one of the most beautiful evenings I have ever seen. We
got off in the big ship about seven, but the sunset wasn’t really over
until nearly ten. We were preceded by a destroyer and followed by one,
and flying all around were aëroplanes. Sometimes we could see as many as
ten or twelve. We were told that during the evening our destroyer in
front rammed a submarine and stove in her own bow and had to be replaced
by another, but other than that there was no excitement of any sort.
About ten thirty I had all of my flock tucked in, with their dresses and
shoes off and life belts handy. There wasn’t an awful lot of sleeping
done because at four we entered the harbor of Havre with much blowing of
whistles, as it was raining and misty by that time. After breakfast we
hung around on the boat, watching the unloading of the luggage and the
separation of the belongings of the two Units. We also watched the
taking on board of some trainloads of wounded soldiers who were being
taken back to “Blighty.” That is what they call England. The Sisters
here say that what they want most of all is their “Blighty tickets.”
Just at 12, when we were about to go to lunch, we received word to get
off the boat at once and get into motor ambulances which would take us
to a station, where we were to take a train for about a three hours’
ride. So with a hasty farewell to our friends of No. 10 we went off in
the rain. We were pretty hungry and tired when we arrived at our city,
but before the big motor ambulances came for us we had time to go to a
pleasant little café garden and have high tea. Bread and butter, cold
meat, and tea set us up immediately and we all felt like new women when
we set off on our four-mile drive. Captain Allison and Chaplain Davis
had been ordered to accompany us in our hasty departure, so they are the
only officers of our Unit who are here with us. We have just heard that
our things are to arrive this afternoon.

We are all just hanging around, that is why I have so much time to
write. “Matron” said she would just carry on in the usual way and later
she would show me what I am to do. The first thing we have to do is to
find out how to do things in the English way, particularly the records.
Then later the English sisters are to be withdrawn, we understand. We
have not nearly enough nurses for this hospital, so some of the “V. A.
D.’s” are to be left until we receive reënforcements from America. The
“V. A. D.’s” are like our Nurse’s Aids, Voluntary Aid Detachments. They
have apparently done wonderful things during this war. They have no
regular training, but after one or two years of active service they have
many of them become very proficient. Here we find them doing all sorts
of things. Some are in the tent wards, and some are detailed for mess
duty and take entire care of the mess hut and the meals. In a New
Zealand hospital that we visited there were five of the nicest “V. A.
D.’s” doing all the cooking for 400 patients. They were women of
maturity and position at home, who had come on from New Zealand at the
request of the Matron in Chief and were serving entirely without pay and
doing wonderful work. Their hut kitchen was the best-looking kitchen we
had seen anywhere. We are told here that word has been sent back to the
States that we need more help. I should like 65 more Red Cross nurses
from St. Louis, or if I can’t have them, 65 of the Nurse’s Aids that we
trained. They would certainly find here a sufficient outlet for their
energies. They could be of the greatest help, and on the whole I do not
know but that I should rather have the Aids that I know than a lot of
trained nurses that I do not know. If Miss Bridge can get this word on
to Miss Noyes, I hope she will. Our nurses’ aids’ blue uniforms and
aprons would be excellent, but they would need some kind of a cap, I
think, and certainly a traveling or outdoor uniform.

I think our equipment is going to be fine. Rubber hats and rubber boots
may be needed later, but we can get them very easily, I think, by
sending to London, or possibly in the city here. I got a dandy rubber
hat, in London. I am not to wear my white uniforms yet a while, at the
Matron’s suggestion, so that the people here can tell me from the rest
of my group. There is now no way of distinguishing me from the rest
except my height. My assistant matron, Miss Taylor, is the smallest in
the Unit. The nurses have a good deal of fun about our appearance

It has been fine to have so much time to write to-day, for when we get
started I do not think we shall have much free time. And at night I do
not know whether I can use this precious typewriter without disturbing
all the other nurses on the other side of my room wall. I think I shall
have to train them to get used to it. More marching feet tramping along,
and helmeted heads appearing over the hedge!

You all seem so far away. Not a scrap of mail since we left and no
immediate prospect of any.

I am now due to go and have tea (the third time to-day) with “Matron”
and the Senior Chaplain. So good-by for now.

       *       *       *       *       *

P.S. I decided not to draw a picture this time. Our baggage came and we
are quite happy. So to-morrow we begin work. I hope you are all well and
having a good time. Good night and loads of love to you all.


Rouen, France.
Sunday, June 17, 1917.

We have been told in our instructions about letter-writing that we may
now state where we are. So now you can all know definitely just where we
are. We got our first mail from home day before yesterday, and I can
tell you there was great excitement. It is just a month to-day since we
left St. Louis and it seems like a year. The latest date of any of my
letters was May 27th. But now that the letters have actually begun to
come we feel more hopeful that we are not entirely cut off from our
friends. It has been a rather dreary feeling to know that up to now,
none of you knew where we were or where we were going, but soon we ought
to be in regular communication.

We have been here just a week to-night and are beginning to get over
our strangeness. We have learned much of our duties and do not now feel
that we can never learn them all. All the nurses have their regular
places of duty and are getting to know their patients, and what to do
for them. Fortunately for them we have not received any new convoys of
men during the week, but we have been sending some out every day or
night; but in a few days, after we are a little more accustomed to our
duties, we shall begin to get in more wounded by the hundred. There are
only five or six of the English nurses left here with us, and they are
to go this week, we understand. The Matron, who is a most pleasant and
helpful person, is to stay here another week, which gives me the
shivers, for two weeks is an awfully short time in which to learn the
ropes, and all this first week I have not been doing much more than
attend to my nurses’ work and their quarters, equipment, etc. But
to-morrow I am going to retire to the Matron’s office and stay there.
One of my little jobs is to hire cooks and maids for the nurses’ mess
and quarters, and I am also hunting a stenographer. Between 40 and 50
V.A.D.’s are to stay on with us here, and we are mighty glad to have
them, for they are splendid. I understand that our C.O. (Commanding
Officer) has cabled home, or is going to cable home as soon as he has
proper British authority to do so, for more help for this hospital. I
have said that I want 40 more nurses and 25 carefully picked nurses’
aids. I think Miss Bridge could pick out the ones that are the most
capable and the most adaptable and the most willing to endure
difficulties and do without luxuries and even some comforts. I feel
quite sure that there are 25 of that kind among the large number that we
trained these past months. I do hope that the Red Cross will give the
authority for them to come out with the regular nurses.

If this were a summer resort, people would say the weather could not be
more delightful. I have my little table and typewriter and my camp chair
out on the grass under the trees in the little grove where the nurses’
quarters are. There is a delightful breeze, and the blue sky is full of
fluffy white clouds. The sun is very warm, and down in the tents where
the patients are it is not so ideally summer-resorty. But with the side
awnings up, a nice breeze blows through and the men said they were very
comfortable. The sun was so hard on some of the nurses who had to go in
and out of the tents a great deal to do the dressings of the patients
who are kept out of doors under big parasols or temporary awnings of
some sort, that at Major Murphy’s suggestion I got large, broad-brimmed
hats for the whole lot. To-day they have found them a great comfort.
They certainly look a bit informal with their large farmer hats on and
their white dresses, but they look sensible and comfortable. We are
likely to have trouble with the laundry question as water is scarce,
also starch, and there are labor problems to be reckoned with. We all
have white aprons that Mrs. R. insisted on our bringing from London. We
are glad she did, as we already find we need them badly, not because of
the laundry question but because of the nature of the cases. We have
very badly wounded men and their dressings are terrible.

Amputations are being done almost every day. Yesterday I went down to
the “Theater Hut” to see how our nurses were going to handle a very bad
case, for the “Theater Sister” is to be taken away soon. Our people at
home would marvel to see what fine work can be done when all the water
used has to be heated on top of a small oil stove and all the
instruments boiled the same way. The poor boy whose leg had to be
amputated was in such bad shape, he could have only the minimum of a
general anæsthetic, but local anæsthesia was given. Besides having both
legs badly hurt, his lower back is in terrible shape from injury; after
the operation he was put on his face on his bed. Before eight o’clock
one of the nurses held his head up so he could have a smoke! And this
morning he says he is “in the pink,” which means feeling fine. It is
perfectly wonderful, their fortitude, and it is making us all so ashamed
for all the complaining we have done. Their bravery is harder to bear
than anything else. The other day I nearly disgraced myself when the
Matron took me with her to the large tent from which all outgoing
patients are sent off in ambulances to the trains or boats. It is a
large empty tent with benches around it where the “sitters” wait to have
their papers and tickets looked over, and a dirt floor where the
stretchers are put. Most of the men are smoking cigarettes as they wait.
One man was pointed out to me as having both legs off and one arm and
part of the remaining hand also, but he was smiling cheerfully and
chaffing with the sisters, and although overwhelmed by the awfulness of
his condition I did not grasp the full meaning of it until as I passed
him he said, “Sister, will you put out my cigarette for me.” Stooping
over him, I took it out of his mouth and asked him if he didn’t want any
more of it as it wasn’t half burned away. And he said, pulling out his
huge bandaged hand from under the blanket, “No, sister, thank you, I
only want a little of it since I can’t take it out of my mouth after I
once get it in.” I wonder what any of you would do under circumstances
like that. It seemed as though my throat would burst, and I had to think
very quickly how absurd it would be for the new Matron to weep before
all those heroic, stoical men and the matter-of-fact, externally brusque
but inwardly most kind, English officer, and orderlies, so I got myself
together speedily while I was putting out the cigarette in the sand with
my boot toe. And he was only one, and there are thousands like him.

Two of our men were buried by the explosion of a mine. The one who had
his head out in the air put his hand over the face of the other so that
the latter could breathe and did not suffocate, but the first was badly
hurt in the chest. There are hundreds of stories like these. The nurses
are always telling something new about their men. Little things that
come out in the course of conversation, enough to fill a book. One of
the most pitiful groups are the “shell shocks.” The other night the
explosion of shells could be distinctly heard, and almost all these
cases shook as though they were having convulsions all night. As one of
them said, “Some poor devils are getting theirs now.” One interesting
case was brought in unable to speak several days ago. The other night he
fell out of bed, and sat up and said “Sister, I can talk now.” These
shell-shock cases are always falling out of bed, it seems.

Yesterday I went to town for the first time since I have been here. I
went for the straw hats. I went into the Cathedral, which is by far the
most beautiful I have ever seen, I think, with the exception of that at
Milan. It is going to be a constant joy to have that place to visit.
Rouen is an interesting city and has good shops. It swarms with uniforms
of all hues.

I was glad to get all your letters yesterday and day before yesterday.
According to the accounts of the very cold weather they had here last
year our patients and any patients in the neighborhood are going to need
all the warm knitted things they can get. Nurses say that the solutions
in their bottles froze in the tents and their first early morning duties
were to thaw out the bottles. We hear that this hospital is to be hutted
before the Autumn, which will be much better for the winter, but even
then there will not be any steam heat. When I have the Matron’s office,
which is the jockey-room of the grandstand of this old race course, I
shall have a large table and some shelves, also a little stove for cold
days. We are all so delighted and interested to hear from Elsie’s letter
that more Units are being ordered out. And we are all so glad we were in
the first lot.

A Colonel commanding a neighboring base has just been to call. He rode
down, he said, to pay his respects to the “American Matron.” He was very
charming and we had a nice talk. He says he is going to ask us up to
tea. He “goes in for a garden and all that, you know.” I am meeting so
very many delightful people. All the Matrons from the various hospital
camps near have either been to call or invited us to concerts at their
grounds. Last night there was such a pretty affair at the Australian
camp,[5] a concert, a kind of variety show given by members of the camp,
orderlies, cooks, and other regular army people, but really very clever.
It was out of doors, of course, under some lovely trees, and there must
have been 400 to 500 people there as audience, all in uniform of some
sort: mostly officers and nurses and Y. M. C. A. workers, etc. It began
at 8 and lasted until about 10.30. Refreshments were served from a large
tent, and it was all very pretty and very English.

Ruth C--has just been in to see me a moment. She is on night duty and is
working very hard. She says there never in the world were such wonderful
patients, that no matter how much they are suffering they are “quite all
right, thank you, Sister,” and they won’t ask for things, and when she
asks them if they are in pain, they say, “Not too much, Sister.” The
first night she says she went all to pieces, but nobody saw her; now she
too is getting steadier. That first night she was responsible for 90
men, many of whom were in the most awful condition. It was no wonder
that it got on her nerves a bit. She was so much interested in my
letters from you, as she has had no word from St. Louis, in fact no
letter at all as yet. I can really see very little of her since I am in
charge and so much in the midst of the group all the time. In London,
Miss Dunlop and I went to everything together, and here the Matron and I
go in pairs, or my own assistant, Miss Taylor, and I. From a personal
point of view there are lots of disadvantages in being the head. I have
to be on show all the time and always have to meet people and be
sociable and go to all the functions, and I hate having things better
than the rest of my people. For instance, our table in the mess hall has
a tablecloth instead of oilcloth, and sometimes we have little extra
things like strawberries when the others don’t. By and by things won’t
have to be that way. But the Matrons here are very much honored and set
apart and kotowed to in a way that disturbs our democratic American

Dad’s letter was so wonderfully cheering and helpful. It is so pathetic
the way one can lose sight of one’s inspirations if one’s feet are
tired, or the way one can forget one is on a crusade if there is no
drinking water to be had for half a day, and can be just an ordinary
uninspired human female and be fretful and discouraged because you don’t
like the tone of voice of a supervisor. It is my job of course to keep
before my people the why of our coming and to keep their spirits up. As
the director said this morning, we must never be discouraged or
depressed, that our biggest job is to keep our people full of
enthusiasm. Sometimes it is hard if one’s own head aches, but it really
is not hard for those of us who understand the meaning of our being
here. No coffee for breakfast can actually blind some people to visions,
and tea offered them five times a day can make them speak in a way that
will really antagonize the people we have come to help. Our minds and
bodies are funny things. There is not much thrill in putting your tired,
luxury-loving body to bed on a hard camp cot after washing it as well as
you can in a cup of warm water. We shall probably have mattresses issued
to us when we can get them, but in the meantime the canvas cot is not so
bad when it has a folded blanket in it. We have no business to bring
ourselves up to be so finicky. Nobody should ever always “have to have
two pillows or she can’t sleep a wink” or be “terribly dependent on
sugar” or “just has to have so much sleep” or “just can’t touch a thing
with cheese in it.” Those of you who have kids to bring up, if you want
to make them adaptable to every possible circumstance, do make them eat
everything at any time, or be able to get along without anything. Make
them sleep any way on anything at any time, and you are giving them
something worth more than rubies. My nurses are not bad about these
things. On the whole they are bricks, and I have had and am having the
very minimum of trouble. I really have been proud of them, the fine way
they traveled. There wasn’t a murmur, only jokes, the day they had
nothing to eat from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., standing about all morning on the
boat--there weren’t seats enough to go around--and in the train all

Saturday, June 30, 1917.

Dearest Dad and Mother
and all the rest:--

It is a cold, rainy day and you’d be surprised to know how really cold
it is. At night the night nurses are already wearing all their heavy
underwear and their sweaters and their capes. I don’t quite see how they
are going to manage when real winter comes. It is hard to realize that
it is only the end of June. We had just two warm days, but when the sun
is out it gets warmed up around the middle of the day, but most days
coats are very comfortable. I am having a new blue serge uniform made
here in town, for I can foresee that, with my office work, I shall be
wearing the “stuff” uniform much more than the white ones. My office
which was the jockey-room of the grandstand, in one corner of the back,
is a very pleasant room. It is about as large as the central one of our
Training School offices at home. The furniture is a large plain table
covered with a dark blanket, shelves and cupboards made of boxes, a
small folding table, some camp stools, a couple of straight chairs, and
some matting. But the effect is quite cozy, and some reddish art squares
on the stained boxes make the room quite cheerful.

I have not written for about two weeks, for there has been very little
to write and I have not felt much like writing, since we have had no
mail at all since those first few letters that reached us here just
after we got here. I have kept thinking that I would put off writing
until I had some letters to answer. But none have come. To-day the
doctors got a whole batch, but there were only two letters for the
nurses. That is the way our mail has been coming through, one or two
letters at a time. It seems very probable that some of our mail has been
lost or missent, for the few of us who have received letters say that
reference is made in them to previous letters which have never arrived.

For a whole week now I have been entirely “on my own” here with the
nursing, and the hospital has not stopped! We have been continuing to
get in convoys and to send them out, not big ones but varying from 30 to
100 patients. The other night at midnight I went down to the receiving
tent to see how a convoy coming in was managed, and it was one of the
most interesting hours I ever spent. The big marquee has about two
feeble electric lights in it; some of the doctors had electric torches,
but it was all very dim and spooky. The ambulances backed up near to the
door, and our stretcher bearers were all there ready to receive their
patients by the time they had stopped. We get telephone messages when to
expect a convoy. The stretchers are brought in and laid on the dirt
floor as close together as possible. Then another group of men begin at
once to examine the tickets that are fastened to the coat of each man,
and assign them to particular tents where men with similar injuries or
in similar condition are taken care of. Another couple of men hand out
steaming hot soup, and the doctors talk to the men a little, but do not
examine them there at all. Then very quickly the stretcher bearers come
and carry out the men that have been assigned, out through the opposite
end of the tent out into the darkness off to a bed in some comfortable
tent where a nurse and an orderly are waiting to get the poor tired
creature into bed. They give baths if they can; and get the infected and
dirty clothes listed and off to the fumigator, and unless the patient is
in very bad condition let him go right off to sleep. The doctors have
found that the men are much more in need of a good sleep than of a
doctor’s care right off, and, unless absolutely necessary, dressings are
not changed until the morning. That night 64 men, most of them stretcher
cases, were brought in, assigned, given soup, and taken off to their
wards (tents) in 25 minutes, which you see is pretty speedy work.

The men have very little to say when they first come in. They are tired
out and forlorn and often in pain and dazed. They some of them seem
surprised to see Americans taking care of them, but they don’t say much.
They answer wearily, “Not so bad, Sister” or “A bit rocky, sir,” but
later some of them tell most awful stories. One of them told the other
day of getting caught on a barbed wire entanglement on which he was
thrown by the explosion of a shell and of hanging there all day before
he was rescued. It had happened early in the morning, and the rescuing
party could not get to him until after dark. Another told of lying out
between two lines of trenches three days. He was hurt in the hip and
could drag himself only a few inches at a time. He got water from the
bottles of the dead soldiers. We get not only surgical cases but a good
many medical ones, pleurisy, nephritis, trench fever, lots of them, and
all sorts of heart conditions. We also get a good many not due to
military life, appendicitis, injuries from kicks from horses,
infections, etc., but most are “G. S. W” (gunshot wound). Some are
unbelievably awful, whole parts blown away, as for instance all the
flesh across the shoulders or between the thighs, where a shell tore
right through from behind. I cannot see how some of them live, and live
so bravely and cheerfully.

And it is not only the men that are brave but the women too. This
afternoon I have been trying to arrange for one of our “B. V. D.’s,” as
the doctors call them, meaning the “V. A. D.’s” to get a permit to go to
a hospital in E., where her brother is. He has been wounded but not
seriously enough to be sent back to England. She has had one brother
killed, another is a prisoner, and now this youngest brother is wounded,
and she is the cheeriest, bravest little thing you ever saw. Another has
had three brothers killed, and you would never dream it to see her. A
third, whose fiancé was killed about a month ago, I am a little worried
about; she is driving herself into the work so hard. Oh, there are so
many pitiful people over here it keeps one’s heart torn up the whole
livelong time. You can’t get away from the sorrows of people ever. Not
that one wants to, if there is anything that can be done, but at home
there are times, thank God, when one can forget all the woe of the
world, and pain and sorrow, but not here. It is before your eyes every
waking minute and in your ears even in your sleep when the feet go
marching, marching by.

Last evening I had a beautiful walk with doctor Veeder. The sunset was
glorious, and we walked along roads that looked like Corot pictures.
After quite a long time we came out from our woodsy road to an open
space which seemed to extend away for a mile or so without any grass or
any trees on it. It was getting dark and we could not distinguish things
clearly, but Dr. Veeder said he thought this was the place where the
daily practice in trench warfare went on. We walked a bit over the very
rough field and heard voices, though we could not see any one. Pretty
soon an officer appeared from nowhere, and when we asked him if we could
look around, he said “Certainly,” and he himself conducted us. The field
had been made into a regular practice battle field. It was criss-crossed
with trenches and craters. But the worst was the dummy men placed all
over everywhere. These dummy men the men have to learn to bayonet as
they rush by, so as to learn how to use their bayonets even in the
narrow trenches. Our officer and another who joined us explained things
to us and told us it was a relief to have some one new, to talk to, as
they have to stay out there in the trenches with their men from 10 P.M.
to 9 A.M. when they are relieved by another batch. It was most
wonderfully interesting; but impresses the horror of warfare on me even
more than it has been impressed before. The trenches were most
wonderfully and elaborately made and have dugouts and lines of
communication and bayous and many other technical things which I could
not grasp fully at the first hearing.

Another incident that happened to one of my nurses this past week made
more very vivid impressions. I say “incident” because that is all it was
in the life of the camp, but the young woman said it was the most
interesting day she ever spent. She, Miss Cuppaidge, had been detailed
to go with a doctor, an anæsthetist, and an orderly to a “Casualty
Clearing Station.” When called for, small groups like this are sent up
from the base hospital whenever there is a big drive. I received an
order that Miss Cuppaidge was to go for her “gas training” at a certain
time. The group is just got ready and kept at their regular jobs until
an order comes for them to proceed to the “C. C. S.” At the appointed
time for the training Miss Cuppaidge went to the “gas school” in the
neighboring training camp. There she and four others, nurses from other
hospitals, were taken in charge by an officer. They first had minute
instructions about properly adjusting their gas masks. These are rather
complicated, as they are regular respirators. A piece through which
they breathe has to be held in the mouth, and a pair of padded clamps
shut off the nose. This is inside the mask which fits around the face
and is held on by straps around the head. They must learn to put on the
things and fix the clamps and mouth pieces in six seconds. They then
have to learn how to breathe just through the mouth without choking or
what is worse, Miss Cuppaidge said, without dribbling. They also have to
get used to the queer sensation in the ears when they swallow. When the
masks are all right and everybody is breathing all right, they are put
into a gas-filled room. This gas is just a tear gas. They are left there
five minutes, then taken out and they are asked about irritated eyes. If
there is irritation the masks are leaking or improperly adjusted. They
are then taken into trenches where other gases are liberated to get them
used to the odors, so that they can detect the presence of gas quickly.
Some gases are so deadly three breaths of it will cause death, hence the
hurry in quick detection and quick adjustment of masks. Some of these
gases travel six and seven miles. As near as I could make out the gases
are mainly of two sorts, a chlorine gas and a “phosgene” one. The
officer lectured to the nurses upon the effects of these gases and about
the treatment of them and in the middle of the afternoon sent them home
smelling like the dickens, but, as Miss C. said, entirely unafraid of
gas and quite prepared to guard against it if they meet it. Their gas
outfits they have hitched to them all the time when near the place they
are likely to meet it. We shall have other small groups go up to the C.
C. S. after this one is called out and I mean to be detailed to go with
one. These parties stay sometimes only a few days and sometimes a few
weeks, but I certainly mean to go if I can persuade the authorities to
let me leave Miss Taylor in charge. I have so little contact with the
patients and so little of anything but office work and receiving
officials and company of all sorts I believe that they would think I
ought to have a little of the real war work.

The hospital end of my work is going very smoothly, because I have
excellent supervisors, and the head nurses are all doing very well. For
those who are interested I will mention that Miss Stebbins is the Day
Surgical Supervisor, Mrs. Hausmann the Night Med. Sup., Miss Habenicht
is the Day Med. Sup., and Miss Claiborne the Night Surg. Sup. The place
is so big and there are so many lines of tents to be covered we have a
supervisor for the medical side and a separate one for the surgical side
both night and day. Some of you people at home would be amused to see
our night supervisors on a rainy night. In rubber hats, coats, and
rubber boots and carrying a lantern they go ducking about in and out of
tents, having a beautiful time, they say, splashing about and tripping
over tent ropes. Any way we all seem to be thriving under these new
conditions. We all are getting very brown. All have enormous appetites
and can eat with relish the tinned bully beef that we get four or five
times a week and the hard dark war bread. Never again will I talk about
wrapped bread. Here, as somebody said the other day, loaves of bread are
used to spike the cart wheels. But we eat it just the same in huge

Our food question is a problem. It does not need to be as poor as it is,
and I mean to see pretty soon that it is improved. The trouble really is
with the help. My domestic problems are driving me crazy, but this last
week I appealed for help and Captain Veeder has been asked to assist me
to clean our places and work out some kind of scheme. Our kitchen is one
of the old stalls, quite open at the end as stalls are. Other stalls are
used for storage, and oh the dirt. I had not been assigned enough help
at first and anyway there had been such a muddle of V. A. D.’s working
in the Mess, some old good-for-nothing soldiers, hangers-on, and a few
Belgian girls who help take care of the nurses’ room and do odd jobs, I
could not possibly see what I was going to do with the place for some
time. To add to my difficulties the V. A. D.’s draw a certain ration
from the British quartermaster and pay into the Mess a certain amount of
money, and the American nurses’ ration was to be quite different, and
the whole arrangement quite different. There are 40 V. A. D.’s and 64
nurses. Consider the problem. I got some fairly decent French women to
come and clean and help cook. The American man cook could not talk to
them and had a fit, for whenever his back was turned, they did things he
did not mean to have done. I got the place cleaned only by getting extra
fatigue men up with shovels and brooms. We are to be whitewashed
to-morrow. An extra American has been put on to keep the other man
company and give him somebody to talk to! The French women are to keep
on cleaning and are to do the dishes that the British soldiers have been
swishing around in tubs of cold water. The V. A. D.’s are gradually
being put in the wards, where they won’t have a chance to have tea so
many times a day. Everybody can have it five times a day if desired!

While waiting to hear from Washington about increased rations on account
of the greatly increased cost of food over here we are taxing everybody
a franc a day for extra green things for the Mess. The U. S. A. allows
40 cents a day per nurse for messing. The usual custom is to draw not
as many rations as there are persons to provide for, then to draw the
difference in money and buy extra things with the money. But over here
that scheme at 40 cents a day cannot work, food is too high. So a cable
has been sent to Washington. The doctors are not having this trouble
because they always expect to buy most of their food out of their
salaries. They draw their regular rations and buy lots of stuff, then
divide the cost among the whole group. They have a much smaller group to
take care of and are not complicated as I am by the servant or V. A. D.
problem. They have American men looking after them. Oh well, I can begin
to see light ahead now, and although no one likes the food, as it is
they are not starving. A slice of ham all dried up to nothing and dark
army bread and tea and possibly a little marmalade does not make a very
good breakfast for Americans, but it will keep one going if enough bread
and butter is eaten. We are now getting coffee, such as it is, and I
mean to see about cereal very soon. Eggs have been seven cents apiece,
not centimes but cents. I am not letting my perfectly good dietitian put
her energies on this domestic problem of ours, for I am keeping her for
the poor sick soldiers, and in a few days or weeks I mean to have a
regular diet kitchen started for her. My “Home Sister” is finding the
complication of four kinds of help and several languages almost too much
for her, but between us all we shall plow through this mire, and now
that Dr. Veeder has turned his attention upon our difficulties I am sure
we shall get through them all right. You ought to hear me engage
servants in French. They understand and come. When they see some of the
difficulties of lack of hot water, etc., they go, and I have to begin
all over again. It is a great life.

One of the greatest things about it is meeting so many different kinds
of people. Two such nice Australian Sisters were here to call upon me
this afternoon. And the New Zealanders are so very polite and nice, and
these little V. A. D.’s are charming. Anyway I am glad I am here, only I
wish you were all here too. Then things would be ideal. You’d all love
this beautiful country, and this quaint old city that is nearly swamped
under this enormous influx of strange foreign people. The paper to-day
says (we get a little single-leaf edition of the _London Daily Mail_)
that our troops have landed in France. I hope thousands more come along
soon, so that all this beastly business can be stopped soon. People are
counting on the coming of our troops so much. Everybody says France
needs help badly. Surely our forces can bring an end to all this
frightfulness. No mail yet. None at all except those written for my
birthday. Oh well, that is war. Loads and loads of love to you all.

Sunday, July 8, 1917.

Rouen, France.

Such a nice lot of letters as we got to-day. There is very little
difference between Sundays and other days here, except perhaps a little
more business than usual is done on Sundays, but mail comes and goes
these days just like other days. Ever since we came only one or two
letters for nurses have been dribbling along through until to-day when
some people got as many as 12 or 14 letters, and great was the rejoicing

Dr. Veeder can do no medical work at all just now, Phil will be
interested to know, or in fact doctoring of any kind. At the present
time he is spending his entire time quartermastering. He is entirely
responsible for the officers’ mess and does all the buying and planning,
arranging about cooks, cleaning up, etc., and he is doing it well too,
and with a mighty good grace. He has been helping us up at the “Sisters’
Mess” with our problems and has been pursuing coal to its lair, and
getting whitewash from nowhere, and doing all sorts of miracles that
only a very persistent and determined man can do. The result is that all
the doctors and nurses are able to do their work in a much better way
than if a less efficient person were back of their food and comfort.
But Dr. Veeder’s spirit in doing his particular job and doing it well,
even though it is so absolutely different from what he was trained for,
and what he would prefer, is the spirit which is found throughout the
whole organization. It does one’s heart good to see the way men who are
Ph.D.’s can do regular orderly work, and put a lot into it, and get a
lot out of it, and the way accountants can be stretcher bearers, and
other highly trained men do the rough work in laboratory and mess hall.

There is a remarkable spirit of service and glad service everywhere. Of
course there have been a few grumblers who have complained that they did
not come ’way out here to do this or that, but most of the men have been
converted by coming into contact with the attitude of men like Dr.
Murphy. All that has been necessary is a few words from him to make them
pretty much ashamed. And words haven’t been necessary often. For when
they realize that Dr. Murphy has not performed a single operation since
he has been here, but has been putting all his ability in organizing and
administering, and being up nights and days, seeing convoys out and
convoys in, seeing that they are all properly ticketed and all their
forms are properly made out, finding out why sufficient oil has not been
left for the lanterns of the night orderlies, why only 6 eggs were
delivered to one of the tents when 12 were ordered, letting the nurses
know who the right person is to give the up-patients permission who wish
to leave the compound to attend the Catholic Church across the road,
going personally to buy a better oil stove for the night-nurses’ supper
hut, finding out why the ward-master did not notify a particular nurse
long enough before a convoy was to go out so that her patient could be
ready, etc., etc.--when they realize all these things and a thousand
more that he is doing all the time that he did not come out to do, they
pretty generally shut up and put all their energies on the job that has
been given them.

Last night the Director saw a convoy come in just about midnight. It was
a pretty big bunch of men and it took some time. One was in such a
condition that he had to go to the operating room about 3. Dr. Clopton
operated. At 4.45 a convoy was sent out to catch a particular ambulance
train, and Dr. M. was down at The Point, as our receiving tent is
called, to see them off. At 7.30 he was at the service in our little
chapel, all the morning he was down in the tents conferring with the
other doctors and making plans to get the things they needed in their
work. At 2 he brought a Red Cross official to talk over some things in
their work with me, and I know that at 4.30 he had an appointment with
a neighboring Colonel. When he sleeps I know not. In the intervals of
doings like these he comes to ask me if I will make out a list of
magazines I would like for the nurses, or he sends roses and vases to
put them in! We are lucky to have such a man at the head of an
expedition like this. His kindness and genuine goodness reach down to
the most ordinary private. Late yesterday afternoon he was batting ball
with a bunch of enlisted men. They of course are crazy about him, as are
all the people who work with him. There is never a matter too trivial
for his attention or too vital and too important for discussion with

This letter was not meant for a eulogy, though it seems to have turned
into one. But my attention has turned to our unusual good fortune in
having such a leader, by the fact that other Chief Nurses do not always
get the kind of help and coöperation that I am getting. What would I do
if I had forbidden my nurses to do something which I felt was wrong or
inadvisable and then the director of the Unit reversed the action? It is
an unbearable situation to conceive, but I am afraid some Chief Nurses
may have to face just such difficulties. But here such a situation could
not possibly exist. Other Units have sneered a little at what they call
our religious attitude, having nightly services on the boat, regular
attendance at services here, and making the whole thing a prolonged act
of service. But as Dr. Murphy said when he talked to our nurses that
last night in London, there is only one way of bearing the close contact
with such pain and sorrow, of bearing whatever discomforts we may
ourselves have to bear, of working out our own internal problems of
antipathies or antagonisms, of keeping our souls serene, and that is by
doing it all with the deepest religious motive and in utter devotion to
service. I have heard him say many times, “We have come to serve in
whatever way we can and as long as we are needed.” And so I look ahead
to the future with the greatest peace of mind. I am not afraid of any
difficulties with my women or with the men.

My women are splendid. A few, of course, have periods of rearing, but
they all have steadied down most beautifully. And I think now that it
was emotions strained almost beyond endurance at first that caused the
rearing. We are all happy, contented, and well, and I am so proud of the
spirit of coöperation I find among them I can hardly express it. I
certainly have some wonderfully splendid women with me. Some of them
have queer exteriors and some queer ways, but they are fine within.
Every now and then I put on the bulletin board some little poem about
the meaning of the war and the ideals we are fighting for, or a
paragraph from some newspaper about America’s quick response to the call
for help to defend these ideals, and you ought to see their heads go up
and their eyes brighten. They don’t care that they have had bully beef
twice in one day or that the knives and forks are sticky, and they have
no tablecloths or butter dishes. It would be so hopeless if one did not
get a response. My bulletin board is the side of a packing box put on a
standard just outside the mess door.

I seem to write such queer things. I was going to tell you about our
Fourth of July party. We invited the other American Unit (from
Cleveland) down to a baseball game and tea. It was a great success, as
the day was fine and we could have our refreshments on the grass under
some trees. Miss Watkins, our dear dietitian, and some of the others
worked all the afternoon getting sandwiches, and strawberries, and tea,
and little cakes, and lemonade ready, which the doctors paid for. It was
a great success. Then after dinner we went up to No. 9 General, where
the Clevelanders hold forth, and had a little dance in their nurses’
mess hall. We stopped at 11, as we all had a half hour’s walk home. It
was a wonderful night. Dr. Allison and I brought up the rear of the
procession and discussed the affairs of the universe.

July 10. Ruth and I have been to town this lovely afternoon to do a few
errands and wander around the quaint little back streets and visit the
wonderful churches. I am having an extra serge uniform made. It has
already been a month in the making, but it will probably be finished
soon now. It looks as if it were going to be very satisfactory. Before
we came back to our camp we had supper at a very French place and
enjoyed our omelette aux champignons, sole frite, petits pois au beurre,
salade aux fines herbes and café and pêches to the very limit, although
we had to pay the very limit for it, and all felt very extravagant when
we saw the bill. Food is very expensive, but the French are not losing
anything from the English and American trade. They tack on all sorts of
prices to everything they can get away with. It is very restful and
relieving to the mind to get away from the hospital, and I try to do it
at least once every week for the best part of an afternoon.

We are not working too hard here, any of us, but I find that I am pretty
tired most of the time because I cannot escape from my responsibilities
at any time, even when I am off duty, which is not much except in the
evenings because I am right in the middle of things all the time, and
each one of the sixty-four has some question to ask almost every time
they see me. You see everything over here is different, the details are
hard to learn, or rather they are hard to get over to each one of the
sixty-four. I have not been sleeping very well for the same reason. I
hear every one that goes by my room and I hear all the women in my hut
get to bed and all they have to say as they get ready for the night, and
I hear them all get up in the morning etc. But I keep thinking that I
shall get used to all of this and not be so noticing. I am better than I
was in London or on the boat. I have my room fixed up so that it looks
quite comfortable. I probably shall spend most of my spare time down
here in the office in the grandstand, for down here I am more isolated
from my responsibilities. Just outside are the doctors’ tents, but when
they perform their ablutions out here in front of my door, it does not
disturb me in the least, because it is not up to me whether they are as
comfortably taken care of as possible. Their quarters are even more
primitive than ours. Many of them are two in a tent in which they can
hardly stand upright, and their toilet articles are laid on a box and
their clothes they have to hang on the tent pole. We all have a little
washstand, and an enamel basin and pitcher and pail, which were
furnished us since we arrived here. With that and a small table and a
little shelf and some hooks in the corner we can be very civilized.

Hot water is a very great problem, for all our water for cooking,
washing dishes, and bathing 104 women is heated in two small tanks over
little coal fires, and the supply is very inadequate. But little by
little things get made more practical and sensible. So many things were
unnecessarily uncomfortable. My next domestic job is to find out how to
get dishes for one hundred people washed when hot water is entirely
insufficient, so that they are not always sticky and smelly. I presume
it can be done, but at present I acknowledge I am baffled. I am taking
it for granted that you are interested in these sordid details. They
really seem very important over here, although to you in America they
probably do not rank as highly as stopping hemorrhages and writing
letters for dying soldiers. They truly don’t to us all the time. But
this is a trivial letter meant for only a few who want to know details.

To-day our Major Fife, the U. S. Army man who joined us in St. Louis,
with two other regular army men, took over the command of the hospital,
and Col. J. left. Col. J., the English O. C. (Officer Commanding), has
been perfectly charming, and we are all very sorry to see him go. He has
been transferred to a neighboring hospital camp, not very far away, so
we still may see something of him. Yesterday afternoon, late, I had a
little tea party here in my office, which was very delightful. A few
days ago I had met the two Colonels of the Australian hospital camp,
which is on the other side of the race course, and as the one who is the
M. O. (Medical Officer) said he wanted to meet Major Murphy, I invited
him and the other O. C. and had Major Murphy and Col. J. and Miss
Taylor, and we had a very nice party, with tea, bread and butter, and
jam. Then afterwards we took the visiting Colonels down to see some of
the American apparatus that we are using on some of our cases. Our
Surgical Hut looks like a carpenter shop. We have about ten beds under a
wooden canopy frame, to which the poor shattered legs of our
blown-to-pieces men are fastened. When a leg is broken in half a dozen
places and there are several gaping infected wounds besides, it is
something of a trick of carpentry and mechanics to make the poor fellows
comfortable, put on extensions so the legs won’t contract, and yet make
it possible to irrigate the wounds. We have some wonderful arrangements.
It is remarkable the way pulleys and ropes can be arranged so that the
men can pull themselves up with their hands to let the nurses rub their
backs and change their beds. So many men come to us with terrific
bedsores to add to the distress of their shattered legs it takes much
ingenuity to take care of them. We have one man who is practically slung
in hammocks which are attached with counter weights to the frame over
the bed. These small hammocks, or slings, go, one under his shoulders,
one under his lower back, and then his leg is in a frame with weights
attached to the foot. Rubber tubes are run in and out of his thigh, and
knee, and his wounds are irrigated through these tubes which are
perforated. This method of irrigating is the Carrel Method. The men in
this hut are getting to feel they are such an interesting show, so many
people come to see them, that they have begun to make fun by rattling a
coin in a tin box and taking up a collection when people ask what they
are doing that for.

It’s about time I went up to my room now, as it is after nine and the
doctors are beginning to go to their tents and I must sit here ticking
away on the machine with the door open. Some nurses came in to talk to
me so I was disturbed, even when I thought I had got away from them.
They meant well and only came to inquire if I was not well, because they
thought I did not look well and were worried. Wasn’t that dear of them.
It’s only a lack of proper sleep that makes me look a bit queer. I am
not a bit sick, just a bit “groggy.” I really am quite brown, and my
hair is quite curly! from all this dampness. It rains part of every day

Good-night for now. It is always fun to think at night, maybe I will get
a letter to-morrow. You just cannot imagine how much letters count. I
never had them count so much before.

Much love to you all.


Rouen, France. July 16, 1917.

I am inclosing a copy of a letter Miss Taylor received to-day, in reply
to the letter she wrote to Private Murphy’s mother, the day after her
boy died here. He was here of a gunshot wound in the chest, one of those
treacherous injuries that seem to be getting along all right and then
knock a man out with a sudden hemorrhage. The boy was not even on the
Seriously Ill or the Dangerously Ill list, and the worst part was that
he died before we could get the priest to him. We have a Catholic priest
as well as C. of E. and Nonconformist padres always in attendance. They
live on the grounds. Of course a formal notice of the man’s death was
sent to his mother through the War Casualty Office, but Miss Taylor
wrote to tell his mother the details, and to explain why the priest was
not with him when he died. Her reply is so typical of the bravery of
English women I want you to see it.

“To Assistant Matron:--

“I thank you for so kindly answering my letter for my dear lad Pte. W.
Murphy. I am quite sure you all concerned did what possibly could be
done for him. I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I’ve felt it
very keenly, more than I can ever say, but I have the satisfaction of
knowing he was cared for by a woman at the last and given a decent
grave. Perhaps God took him then because he was then fit, he was a good
boy at home to us and I know the last three years of his life he
honestly tried his level best. I think God understands us each one best.
I should like you to thank the nurse personally for me who was with him
at the last, and every night you brave women are remembered in our
prayers. My wee daughter aged three years prays, ‘God bless our nurses
at the front.’ I have not received his treasure bag and am sorry as my
little son aged 15 yrs., who was passionately attached to our dear lad,
hoped to have his rosary, but perhaps I shall get it--only you asked me
to let you know if I did not receive it. I must now conclude, thanking
you once again, believe me

“Yrs. sincerely

“Bell Brown.”

All day yesterday and in the night we heard the booming of guns, and the
night nurses say the windows in our surgical hut rattled. It was the
loudest I have heard since we have been here. And every time I hear them
those words of one of our patients come to my mind: “Some poor devils
are getting theirs.” The men recently sent down from the front tell us
that rumor has it that there is going to be a big drive in a few days.
We wonder if it has begun and if we shall be getting more convoys in.
Our hospital is not half full now, we have been sending out so many
convoys over to “Blighty.” We need to be a little busier for our best
good. The weather is lovely, very cool at night, we always sleep under
blankets, warm in the sun. Almost every day it rains at least a part of
the day, but the ground here is so sandy there is very little mud. It is
a drizzling evening, but it is cozy and pleasant here in my office. It
is getting on toward ten and outside in their tents I can hear the
voices of some of our officers talking together, and from time to time
across the road come bugle calls, and there is that faint bustling sound
of large numbers of people getting ready to be quiet for the night. We
are in the midst of such thousands and thousands of people, mostly
soldiers, and all day long there are myriads of soldier sounds, bugle
calls, tramping of feet, motor cycles, lorries, bands playing, men’s
voices, sharp commands, the slap of the hand on the musket in salute,
the popping of small bombs or guns all day long from the practice
trenches near here. On the fourth of July we thought how like a home
Fourth it was, but here the popping and the shots sound every day. And
it is not fireworks that are being shot off. At neighboring camps there
are experts in bayoneting, experts in gassing, experts in Hate Talk.
There are actually special men who sometimes talk to as many as three
thousand men to make them feel that their chief business is to kill. It
is incomprehensible. Whenever will this toppling world right itself? It
will be a long time before we come home. The more we know the more sure
we are that it is going to be a long business. And the man who wrote
“The picture, That I saw that day, Of home folks bidding home good-by,
For traitor seas, And ‘somewhere,’ Out beyond the seas, And after that,
Just God, And what He wills,” was right. That is the situation.

July 19. Such nice letters to-day. It is such fun to get the home news
and to learn the details of your doings. We are not working hard and we
find it embarrassing to have people take it for granted that we are
overdoing all the time and suffering real hardships. We are comfortable
and well fed and have interesting work and many very interesting

There is a lot of very simple entertainment back and forth among the
camps. Once or twice every week there is a tea party or a tennis party
with tea or a concert with refreshments somewhere here. To-morrow we are
going to return some of the many courtesies that have been shown us and
be “at home” to our neighbors here on the Race Course: No. 10 General
Hospital and No. 1 Australian General. The party will be out of doors
and there will be tennis and a baseball game between nurses and
officers. The officers are having baseball suits made for them by the
nurses. These suits are to be very gay _skirts_, so that they will be as
much hampered as the women. We have started our V. A. D.’s on baseball
against the American nurses. They take to it like small boys and find it
“ripping.” It has been the best mixing process I ever invented. It is a
great sight these lovely evenings between eight and nine to see the
crowd of hilarious nurses careering over the grass between the hedge and
the fenced-off center of the course where all the tents are, and hanging
on the fence a couple of hundred “blue boys” or convalescent patients in
their blue hospital suits. Then the officers come straggling out after
their dinner, peacefully smoking their pipes, and they line up and root
and laugh too and coach. It does not look much like war. It does
everybody the best possible good, for it has them all roaring with
laughter, and sends them off to bed in the best of humor, like a bunch
of kids.

The English tea parties are charming, and I think myself in a storybook
every time I go to one. The uniforms of the English Sisters are so gay
and bright with their flowing caps and red-bordered little capes, and
all the men are in uniform, and the little tables set out on the grass
are under large sunshades, or there are special marquees set up for the
occasion, and it’s all very gay. Last week around at No. 10 General
after the tea party, they had games, tennis for some, hunting for hidden
treasure in the grass and hedge (I found a souvenir spoon in a mole
hole), and a potato and spoon race, and also a tug of war that was so
fiercely strenuous that it left many of us with cricks in our necks ever
since. The tug of war seems to be a favorite sport. Our white-dressed
nurses with their scarlet-lined blue capes look mighty pretty on these
occasions. Of course different groups of nurses and doctors get off for
different parties. They are usually from 5 to 7 or after 8.

Then in the Y. M. C. A. huts there are frequent forms of entertainment,
not only for the convalescent patients but for the staff. A “concert”
usually means a kind of variety show. All kinds of pretty good troupes
are sent out to go the rounds of the various hospitals, and then, too,
each hospital has its own band, which is trained or run by the Y. M. C.
A. people. We here have some very unusual Y. M. C. A. people. A Prof.
B., his wife, and son are living here and giving their whole time to
this work. They are from Cambridge, both father and son. I am told that
the father is a professor of theology, and the son of archæology. They
are very talented people, quite eccentric geniuses, all of them, I
should judge. The father leads the band, the son plays the little organ
in our chapel, the mother hovers around, and all the time some one of
them is in attendance at the Y. M. C. A. hut to help the boys play and
to manage the many concerts and lectures that take place there all the
time. The first time I met Mrs. B. was the first night I arrived. The
first thing she said to me was, “Good gracious, how funereal you look!”
I was in my dark uniform and it was after dark in the evening and I did
look like a crow, but then! She was very cordial afterward and has been
very charming to us all. She gave a big tea for us in the hut one Sunday
afternoon and had many officers, Y. M. C. A. workers, and nurses there
to meet us. Everybody here is devoted to the B.’s and they add much to
the community life. Both father and son are tall, thin, stooped,
spectacled souls. The son is more or less of an invalid, it seems.

We have just heard a piece of news that delights us very much and that
is that Miss G. is to come over to be “Matron-in-chief for France” as
the corresponding official is called for the other nursing forces. I had
already written, as had the Chief Nurses of some of the other Units,
asking Miss N. to send us some one to advise us, and make uniform
regulations for us all and standardize our actions and customs. Now,
each Chief Nurse is entirely responsible, under her Commanding Officer,
who leaves all the details to her, for every little thing. And the
consequence is that there are as many ideas about discipline, uniforms,
hours of duty, social usages, etc. as there are Chief Nurses. Miss G.
will be ideal for this position. Dr. Alexander Lambert was here last
evening and he told us that she was coming. It may be that she has only
been sent for, but I hope it means that she is to come. We have received
word that five American nurses are to be added to our force here soon.
We don’t know where they are to come from or anything about them. It was
an official notice that we had yesterday that 33 were to arrive at
Havre, five of whom are to be sent to us. We shall be glad to see them
whoever they are. Five of our V. A. D.’s are to be taken when the
Americans come.

Two of my people heard me say the other day that I wished I had my
violin here, so yesterday they went down to Rouen and bought me one. I
wish you could hear the accounts of how they did it, for neither of them
has any French or knows anything about violins. But it was a violin all
right that they brought out to me wrapped up in a newspaper, and last
night it played perfectly good tunes in the mess hall. One of the V. A.
D.’s plays the piano very well, so we had a fine time trying out the
instrument. To-day I have some bad blisters on the ends of the fingers
of my left hand, which makes it almost impossible to write on the
typewriter. We have not much music here, but a few popular dance airs.

Loads of love.


July 25, 1917.

I do not know how to write about our doings of the past few days, for I
cannot write numbers, and it is only numbers that would give you any
idea at all of what we have been doing. I wrote in my last letter, I
think it was, that we were not working hard, well, we have begun our
hard work, and for our own sakes we are glad of it. In the past 24 hours
we have admitted more patients than the total capacity of the Barnes and
Children’s Hospital, not the average number of patients, but the total
capacity. And all these patients have been bathed, fed, and had their
wounds dressed. Some of course were able to walk and could go to the
bath house and the mess tents, but most of them to-day are stretcher
cases, and oh, so dirty, hungry, and miserable. The mere (I say mere,
but it is really the most important part of the whole thing) proper
recording of the names, numbers, ranks, nearest relatives etc., is in
itself a huge task. Of course the nurses don’t have all that to do, but
they have a lot of it. The boys who are stretcher bearers must be so
lame, they can hardly move, for just consider what it means to lift down
out of ambulances as many patients as that, and then afterwards carry
them as far sometimes as a city block, for we filled our farthest tents
to-day. It is most remarkable how things have gone. There are many
aching backs to-night, for all the beds are very low and the stooping is
terrific, but every one has been a brick. Many of the nurses have worked
14 straight hours to-day, and many of the doctors had only two or three
hours’ sleep last night, and were working all day. The difficulty to-day
was, that we had to put patients into rows of tents that have not been
used for some time and were not equipped, and our warning was not long
enough to prepare. We had the beds ready, but little else. To-night
things have straightened out a lot, but it is going to be a busy night
as we are to send out a convoy, and get another in. Three additional
night nurses are on to-night, taken from the day force that has to
stretch itself a little thinner.

Our nurses don’t need any “Hate Lecture” after what we have seen in the
past few days. We have been receiving patients that have been gassed,
and burned in a most mysterious way. Their clothing is not burned at
all, but they have bad burns on their bodies, on parts that are covered
by clothing. The doctors think it has been done by some chemical that
gets its full action on the skin after it is moist, and when the men
sweat, it is in these places that are the most moist that the burns are
the worst. The Germans have been using a kind of oil in bombs, the men
say it is oil of mustard. These bombs explode and the men’s eyes, noses,
and throats are so irritated they do not detect the poison gas fumes
that come from the bombs that follow these oil ones, and so they either
inhale it and die like flies, or have a delayed action and are affected
by it terribly several hours later. We have had a lot of these
delayed-action gassed men, who cough and cough continuously, like
children with whooping cough. We had a very bad case the other night who
had not slept one hour for four nights or days, and whose coughing
paroxysms came every minute and a half by the clock. When finally the
nurses got him to sleep, after rigging up a croup tent over him so that
he could breathe steam from a croupkettle over a little stove that
literally had to be held in the hands to make it burn properly, they
said they were ready to get down on their knees in gratitude, his
anguish had been so terrible to watch. They said they could not wish the
Germans any greater unhappiness than to have them have to witness the
sufferings of a man like that and know that they had been the cause of
it. It is diabolical the things they do, simply fiendish, and like the
things that would be expected from precocious degenerates.

I cannot imagine what kind of change is going to take place in our minds
before we get home. There are so many changes coming over our ideas
every day. They are not new ideas, for many people have had them before,
since the beginning of this war, but they are new to us. Human life
seems so insignificant, and individuals are so unimportant. No one over
here thinks in any numbers less than 50 or 100, and what can the serious
condition of Private John Brown of something or other, Something Street,
Birmingham, matter? One’s mind is torn between the extremes of such
feelings, for when a nurse takes the pulse of a wounded sleeping man and
he wakes just enough to say “Mother,” she goes to pieces in her heart,
just as though he weren’t only one of the hundreds of wounded men in
just this one hospital.

This morning when the big rush was on, I was in the receiving tent when
the last three men were unloaded: One had his head and eyes all bandaged
up and seemed in very bad condition, so I went with the stretcher
bearers to see if I could help get him into bed. The eye specialist was
sent for at once, and got there in a few minutes. We untied the big
triangular bandage that was keeping the wads of cotton on his head and
eyes, and found his eyes in a terrible condition from being bandaged for
over 24 hours without attention. We soaked off the dressings with some
boric solution that I had procured from the Operating Hut. There was not
even a single basin in the tent to which the man had been brought, not
to mention a nurse or medicines. After a while we got the eyes open a
tiny bit so that they could be examined and washed out a little, and
then the doctor blew out: “It’s a perfect crime to send a man down here
in this condition, look at this puncture wound of this eye, and see what
a terrible condition his eyes are in. A whole lifetime of blindness will
probably be the result.” The patient was delirious and quite incapable
of understanding. Just then an older officer came along and heard the
remark and said: “Crime! my dear boy, you’ve got absolutely the wrong
point of view. How could they keep a man like this up there at the
front, from which they have sent him? Don’t you realize that at a place
like that every wounded man is simply a hindrance and must be gotten out
of the way? Just stop and think how well they are doing to get so many
of them to us in any decent shape at all.” Then the other one said:
“Oh, I suppose so. War’s the thing now, all right.” After he was
dressed, and things had been straightened out a bit, this patient was
transferred to one of the lines that is better equipped to take care of
such serious cases. He was put on the “Dangerously Ill,” and word was
sent to his mother! His head injury is bad, so maybe he wont live to be
blind. (Later. He is much better now and will get well and probably have
the sight of one eye.)

No man leaves here in his own clothes. It couldn’t be done. All the
things have to be sent to be disinfected and then they go to the clothes
tent, and then are just drawn, as clothes for so many men, when the
convoys go out. That is unless they are going to the Convalescent Camp
or back to a base, then they are fitted as nearly as possible and given
a full equipment, but the men going to England are fixed up just so that
they can travel. They are lucky if they can stick to their little
comfort bags in which are their little treasures. Just so many pins that
must have so many moves is all they are. And they are so good and
patient. They are so grateful, it just makes everybody wish she were a
dozen people and could do twelve times as much as she can possibly do
with her one set of arms and legs.

But what will we think when we get through with it all? How are we
going to stand the mental strain? Yet others do, and go on being normal,
cheerful human beings, teaching bayoneting one hour, and playing tennis
the next, or having tea with pretty nurses. Oh, it’s a queer world! as
the orderly said who came to tell me of a few more hundred wounded
expected in soon. “Isn’t it a cruel world?”

July 30, 1917.

Dearest Family:--

This is just a letter to you, not a general epistle to the United
States. Major Murphy has just cabled to-day that we are all well, and
the reason that there has been such a long delay in your getting our
letters from France is that they were held up in London. We do not know
why. A number of friends have cabled, and that is how we know that our
letters have not been received. I spoke to the Major about it this
morning, as so many nurses have said they thought they had better cable,
and he said he would cable Miss Hudson at once, which he proceeded to
do. I began this last evening, but was interrupted by having an orderly
bring me a huge bunch of sweet-peas, mignonette, etc. from a nice
Colonel commanding a neighboring Infantry Base Depot. Of course I had to
stop and put them in such vases as we have. I brought some down to the
officers’ mess, where they were just finishing dinner, and where I had
to stay and chat a bit.

This afternoon we have had distinguished guests! Mrs. Christie, the
Chief Nurse of the Presbyterian Unit from N. Y. and three of her nurses
motored down from E. to call on me and more especially Miss Allison of
the Cleveland Unit. It was pleasant to see them and to compare notes.

My, but you all seem far away in another world. But it is fun to think
about you. We feel now as though we had been here forever. If you have
not read Lord Northcliffe’s new book, “At the War” do get hold of it,
for it describes just what we are in the midst of, and everything about
us and our surroundings etc., not really us--of course, but hospital
people out here in general. One of our men lent me his copy. We are
going to be very short of reading matter here very soon. We had a small
library from our steamer books, but in Rouen, it seems, there are not
many English books. (I’m reading some French, of course.) We have
subscribed for a good many magazines, but none have come yet, nor
papers. If you should mail a good novel once in so often, I believe it
would reach us easily and it certainly would be appreciated. Another
thing we would love to have is some music. Popular new dance music, or
songs, and a hymn-book. We have rented a piano, but no one brought any
music. We have some good singers, and we need some good popular airs. I
believe I told you about the 12-franc violin some of my girls bought me.
You’d be surprised what sweet tunes it can play! The three or four old
torn pieces that were hanging around are almost worn out and I can see
that if we enjoy playing and singing now, we will much more when the
little sitting-room end of our mess hall is the only warm place to go to
on a rainy, cold, winter night. So there are two things you can do for
me. The Parcel Post is bringing things over from the States already, and
I guess that is the best way to send things.

Everybody over here talks about the cold of the winter, and we shall
have no heat except in occasional small oil stoves, or a coal stove, for
each hut. Our tented Hospital is not to be hutted this year, as we have
been told. But if the English could stand it last year, I am sure we
can. Mrs. Whitelaw Reid has written to ask if we want sleeping bags, and
I have replied “Yes.” We have rubber boots, rubber hats, and rubber
coats, which we shall have to wear constantly. Washington is trying to
work out some suitable uniform for us. It will take considerable
imagination to design a costume that will be warm enough, short enough,
washable, and suitable for use in tents where you must dress very
infected wounds. Our white caps are absurd for popping in and out of
low-entranced tents.

Elsie asks how the responsibility of taking care of all my people is
burdening me. For a while it was a pretty big burden, but now it does
not weigh nearly as much as it did. I have such splendid people here
with me. Just a few have been a little troublesome, but nothing to
mention. And the rest are loyal, affectionate, and entirely to be
depended upon. The ten that came from Kansas City have been bricks. The
two from Hannibal have turned out to be good nurses and fine women, and
the rest, almost all of them, developed fine qualities that I really did
not know they had in them. We have had so little trouble I cannot help
wondering what it is, when I hear of difficulties the other Units are
having. “Oh yes,” Matron X. said, “I have forbidden my nurses to go out
with officers, but they are doing it.” We allow ours to go out with
doctors, but have made the only restriction that they go in groups of at
least three. They have been fine about it and go off half a dozen at a
time, and have splendid walks, etc. “Yes, I’ve forbidden mine to smoke
or drink wine in public, but they do it in private, and I don’t think
it’s any of my business to meddle with their private lives,” said she.
Our nurses talked the matter over at a meeting after I had presented the
whole thing to them, and voted to go on the water-wagon and not to
smoke while they were over here, and they are doing it too! I don’t ask,
or pry, but tell them how proud I am of them when I can tell other
people of the stand my people took by themselves. Miss E. of the
American Ambulance, who was down here, was so much impressed by the
attitude of my nurses on these matters, she went back to Paris and told
her nurses there about it, and said it made a big impression on them. It
is hard not to drink wine where so much wine abounds, but we are not out
in public places much, and one can always get water or their horrid
cider. And the point is, my people are proud of themselves, and are
proud to tell the English officers, who offer wine at parties, that we
American nurses don’t drink wine. The officers say: “Aren’t you allowed
to? your Matron won’t know.” Then they answer with pride, “It isn’t our
Matron that won’t let us, we decided not to ourselves.” By that time the
officers quit fooling, and say “Well, it’s a mighty good resolution,

You can’t begin to guess how welcome your letters are. Some seem to come
through so very quickly now. One of Mother’s dated July 12 reached me
July 28th and Elsie’s of the 13th came just as fast. I wish Elsie’s
kiddies could make jigsaw puzzles for our men. They are just crazy
about them, and we arrange tables so they can get at them, and they
spend hours working on them. It is so much easier for the one-armed ones
than reading. Couldn’t Billy make and send me one, or some knitted
things. I’d give it myself to one of our boys and have the boy write
Billy a letter. I wish I could send you pictures, but we can’t send a
single thing. All the kodaks were taken, and we each had to sign a paper
that we had none in our possession. I wish I could draw, there are so
many wonderfully interesting and picturesque things about here, and
right in our camp.

August 8, 1917.

We have just finished our weekly inspection by the “D. D. M. S.,” which
means the Deputy Divisional Medical Supervisor, who is a very pleasant
Colonel. Every Wednesday at 3.30 we all line up at the entrance to our
camp and wait to meet him after he gets through inspecting No. 10
General Hospital. By “we” I mean our “C. O.” Major Fife, our “M. O.”
Major Murphy, our Liaison Officer, a British Colonel, the Quartermaster,
and the “Matron,” me. It really is a very pleasant occasion. We sit out
there in the sun, if there is any, on a park bench and gossip until we
see the D. D. M. S. aide appear from out of the last tent of No. 10,
then we stand up and walk over a bit to greet him. He always shakes
hands with me first and asks me how I am getting along, then salutes the
others and has a word or two with them, then turns to me and asks what I
want him to see. I usually turn to Major Murphy and ask him if he has
anything special to show the Colonel, and Major Murphy says: “Let’s show
the Colonel line so and so.” I have accidentally mentioned before what
lines I would like to have visited. It is usually tea time when he
comes, and, unless we tell the nurses to hold off with the tea until
after the inspection is over, the tents are in a mussy state. So every
Wednesday I usually warn two or three different lines that I may have
them inspected. To-day as a matter of fact we went to three different
lines that had not been warned, as Major Murphy wanted to show the
Colonel some special cases. After inspection is over, the officers take
him and his aide to tea in the Officers’ Mess, or I take him up to the
Sisters’ Mess. While we were making rounds to-day, it began to pour, but
one of my nice aides brought me an umbrella and Captain Schwab lent me
his rain coat to save my clean white dress. When I went down to the
point to wait for his Elegance, the sun was shining beautifully, but it
was about the second peep of the sun we have had in over a week. And now
it is pouring.--I had to stop then and put on my rain hat and coat and
go up to the Sisters’ Quarters with a Lieutenant from the Royal
Engineers, who came to inspect the leaks in the roofs of the nurses’
huts. He saw them all right and will have them fixed.

We are wondering so much whether you are getting our letters. Letters
coming to us have told of a long stretch of time without word from us;
in fact no letters had been received from any of us since we landed in
France. Major Murphy cabled Miss Hudson a week ago that we were quite
all right, so I hope none of you are worrying. We heard to-day that some
postcards I sent on June 24th had been received, so it seems that cards
go through safely anyway. I hope that by this time you are getting our
letters. Wasn’t that account of my interview with the London reporter
absurd? Of course I did not say all that bosh, but I did say that I
could not make any comparisons between the American and the English
hospitals. That is what she wanted me to do. I saw copies of that
interview from San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, and St. Louis
papers, which shows how far a little bit of “swank” can go.

It is ten days since I have written at all to any one. We have been very
busy, and have all had long hours of work and I have not felt much like
writing when I have had the time to do so. The pressure has now let up a
bit, but I think it will be only a temporary let-up. Our hospital is
very full and we have many very bad cases. My nurses are beginning to
show the effect of the emotional strain. Their nerves are a bit on edge,
and I find that when they lose for a few days time-off-duty, as they all
have been doing, they are not standing the strain and loss as well as
they did the last time we were so busy. I have had about a dozen of them
weeping, so I am hunting about for more forms of diversion. The
continuous rainy, damp weather, the accumulating emotional strain, and
the real hard work are having an effect upon them all that is bothering
me. There is a convalescent hospital for Sisters at E., to which I can
send one or two at a time for a short rest as soon as I can spare them.
But I do not want to have to begin to do that yet. So we are having a
little dance in our Mess to-morrow night and perhaps I can get up some
bridge parties or some other games. Our sitting-room space is so small
we are very much handicapped but if it will only clear up, we could play
some outdoor games. You see my real problems are beginning. I would have
given a good deal myself to have had some one like Mother to weep on,
last Sunday. You can imagine how I miss my older women friends.
Naturally I cannot do any weeping here, since I have to be wept on; but
there are times when it would be such a comfort to be braced myself.

There was nothing really wrong on Sunday, but that day we had so many
sick men to look after, and things got a bit complicated and several
nurses got hysterical and I felt things were just too much. Any one
would have thought so if they had seen our poor gassed men who are so
terribly burnt. One of my most stolid nurses came to me that day and
said “I just don’t know how I am going to stand it, taking care of so
and so.” I said “Why not?” and she replied, “When he was brought in to
us he was so badly burned we could hardly see any part of him that we
could touch except the back of his neck; but that isn’t the worst part,
instead of cursing or moaning he was singing, and I just can’t stand
that.” It isn’t only women that are affected by these things, the men
don’t weep often, but they come near it. And they get just as edgey and
worn to a frazzle. They lose more sleep than the nurses do, for they
have to get up in the night all the time, to operate, or attend to
patients, or look after convoys, in or out.

I want to tell you about the most unique day I ever had in my life. It
was last Monday when I and five other nurses went out for our gas
training. All soldiers receive gas training, as you know, and are fitted
with gas helmets, which they take with them to the front. Recently all
doctors and nurses who go up to the Casualty Clearing Stations have
been given gas training too. Only about ten nurses so far have had this
training. We have already sent one surgical team to the front, including
one nurse, and I have been quite determined that I shall go as soon as
possible. Major M. hasn’t been altogether willing that I should,
thinking that I ought to stay here with my children, but I have pointed
out to him that Miss T. and the Supervisors could take care of them
perfectly well, and he has consented to let me go. I want some real
manual work with the patients and I can’t get it here, for I have to do
so much office work. I have been going down to the operating room as
much as I could to help a little and get my hand in, but I cannot get
there often. Major M. says I can’t go with him, for I must not be gone
while he is away, so I am to wait and go with Major C. Now about gas
training. There is a regular school here where thousands of soldiers are
given their training daily. It takes the greater part of the day. I
cannot describe it. You will have to wait till I get home. But we had
our masks tested first in a room filled with lachrymating gas; we were
drilled in putting them on any number of times, for speed is a very
important element, so each motion is counted and timed. We were lectured
for an hour, the most interesting and barbarous lecture I ever heard in
my life. It is at one and the same time the refinement of science and
civilization, and of hideous barbarism. We had lunch in a dugout with
the officers of the school, for the school is in the middle of a huge
plain, and then we were taken into a trench filled with lachrymating gas
so that we would know what it is like. This without helmets. Then with
three officers, one before, one in the middle, and one behind our string
of six nurses, and a medical officer standing outside, we were taken
into a closed, tunnel-like affair into which chlorine gas was being
poured in clouds from special pipes. We of course had our masks on and
were all carefully inspected before we went in. This gas would not hurt
us, they say, but we get the smell and get used to wearing the masks and
are ready afterwards to get our certificate.

August 20, 1917.

The last letter I wrote was August 8th and here it is the 20th. The time
goes so very rapidly I forget when I last wrote and am surprised to find
that it is over a week. We have not been so very busy these past two
weeks, I mean not as we were before then. It has not been raining as
much these past few days, to our great relief, and we are beginning to
get dried out a bit. When mattresses begin to get moldy inside of huts,
it has been pretty damp. The spirits of my people are improving under
the let-up of strain, but they are showing a few physical signs of the
over-fatigue. We have been having a number of infected fingers and other
little things and have really broken our good health record. I have one
nurse, Miss S., away at E. for a ten days’ change at a lovely
Convalescent Home for Sisters, and another is to go soon,--Miss M. who
had a bad attack of bronchitis. Miss S. had a lot of little infections
which showed she was below par. Then yesterday we had our most serious
trouble, for we had to send Miss S. to the Hospital for Sick Sisters
here in Rouen to have an operation due to an old injury. The British
officials could not have been more courteous to us. They made it
possible for our men to perform the operation and let one of my nurses
go and stay with Miss S. The operation was a very long, serious one.
Major M. and Major C. operated and Miss S. assisted while I held the
arm. The operation was performed in the Operating Room of No. 8 General
Hospital, which is five minutes’ ride from the “Sick Sisters” where
there is no Operating Room. She was taken back in an ambulance before
she was out of ether. The “Sick Sisters” is a lovely place on the other
side of Rouen, about 8 miles from here. We go and come in a little Ford
Ambulance. Major M. and I have been over to-day, and everything is
getting along beautifully. We took our second patient over with us
to-day,--Miss P., with a bad infected thumb. We are not supposed to
keep a sick sister in Quarters more than 24 hours. We have been very
lucky up to now in not having to send any one away. But this hospital is
ideal. It is taken care of by British doctors and Sisters and is in a
lovely location, higher than the spire of Rouen Cathedral. It is
worrying to have my children sick, but it is good to know what excellent
care they will get when they are sick enough to be sent away from us.

We have been having some lovely walks these past few days, since the
rains have let up. There are loads of beautiful places to go to all
around. One can take a little excursion boat from Rouen, down the river
a bit, then get off and walk back here through the woods. Several times
I have gone with some good walker into town, late in the afternoon, had
supper in a most interesting little French café, and walked out here
afterwards, making a nice walk of about 7 or 8 miles. The evenings are
light and the sunsets wonderful and the crowds going home across the big
bridges and out in our direction are most interesting. Ruth has walked
one way with me but not the two. She is on day duty now, but I do not
get a chance to go out with her very much as I cannot plan my free times
much beforehand.

Yesterday we had two very interesting callers: Miss Draper and Miss Hoyt
from New York. They looked very smart in neat gray and blue uniform
suits with A. R. C. on the shoulder straps. They said they were sent to
make inquiries about hospital needs for the American Red Cross. They
were very charming and pleasant and I liked very much talking with them.
They came just as we were starting to leave to attend to our operation,
so we asked them to come back to supper, which they did. They had driven
down from Paris in Major (Dr.) Alex. Lambert’s car, a humble Ford, they
called it. It looked pretty beautiful to us.

On the 13th I got a telegram from Philip saying he had landed at
Liverpool on the 11th. I wonder where he is and hope I shall be able to
communicate with him soon. I had to stop there to take a patient’s
mother down to see him. The boy is very badly hurt in several places,
two legs and one arm. A nice Y. M. C. A. person just turned her over to
me. It is a wonderful system that brings a relative out here, almost
personally conducted the whole way. This Y. M. C. A. person also brought
the brother of another of our patients, but he got here too late and I
had to tell him that his brother died last evening. He can be here for
the funeral to-morrow anyway, and he can talk to the nurses who looked
after the boy in his last hours. The Y. M. C. A. lady took him away for
the night, but will bring him back to-morrow.

There is not very much of special interest to chronicle just at present.
I am very well myself and trust I am going to stay so. Our food is quite
good and sufficient. We all have huge appetites from being out of doors
so much.

We are longing for letters very badly. It must be about three weeks now
since I have had a line from the States. I get some letters every day,
but they are mostly from England about patients or from people in the
locality, on business. There goes the third aëroplane that has flown
over us in the past half hour. They are such pretty things. I should
like to have a ride in one.

With loads of love to you all. This is a stupid letter, I know, but they
can’t all be thrilling, for naturally there have to be many unthrilling


August 28, 1917.

For almost 24 hours we have been having one of the severest wind storms
I have ever seen. It has been beautiful. It has been pouring for two
days, then last evening it began to blow, and such a whistling and
shrieking and rattling as there was. Up in our grove our little huts
were pretty well protected, but the trees lashed themselves with fury,
and branches broke, and doors and windows slammed and smashed. Several
small tents were blown down, but no serious damage was done. All day it
has been blowing great guns and it has been gray and cold, like a late
Fall day. I have been in the office all day doing accounts and other
tiresome things, with one or two trips to the lines for various
purposes. Miss Taylor had been off all the afternoon. I had tea in the
Officers’ Mess, which made a diversion of a few minutes. One of my
Colonel friends sent over some sweet peas and dahlias, and I took some
down for the officers’ tables, and got invited to tea, so stayed a few
minutes. Their mess is a bare, barracky kind of room under the grand

Yesterday I had a little different kind of day. All the morning I was in
and out of the office, down on the lines, and all over in the pour. Then
at 12:30 the Major and I went over in the ambulance to the Sick Sisters’
Hospital to see our invalids and take out the final stitches. Our lady
with the serious operation has been doing wonderfully well from the very
beginning. She has been up and about for several days, though she was
operated upon only nine days ago. She will be back on duty before very
long, if everything continues as it has been going. We shall probably
send her to the Sisters’ Convalescent Home for ten days after she is
well enough to go. It is such a blessing to have such splendid places to
have our sick nurses taken care of. I have one nurse now, at E.,
recovering from bronchitis, and just this operation case, and the nurse
with the badly infected finger, so I feel we are doing mighty well.
Well, after our visit to the hospital, we rode back to town in the pour,
and had lunch at Rouen’s best hotel, the Hotel de la Poste. It is a
regulation Continental hotel, full of staff officers, and has excellent
food. We in uniform were the only Americans there, but we saw a number
of our English friends. Afterwards we separated to do various errands. I
had a long séance at the Base Cashier’s, where I received 18,000 francs
from the British Government for my nurse mess, laundry, and field
allowance for July, and had to sign my name 138 times. Then I went to
the bank and deposited the money and straightened out some difficulties
there. That bank is so stupid, and makes so many mistakes; one has to
watch them very carefully. Then I paid a rations bill of £91, was picked
up by the ambulance, went to buy a sewing machine for the nurses, and
drove back to the hospital.

It poured all the time, but I enjoyed being out in the rain, for I was
properly dressed. I had on my heavy army boots, leather gaiters, blue
serge uniform under my nice belted tan raincoat, and my blue uniform
hat. My feet were not exactly dainty and ladylike, but they were so
comfortable and dry. All of us who have large enough feet are getting
our shoes from the quartermaster, and those with small feet are
bewailing their fate. Our paths are all mud and sharp stones, and the
ordinary sole of a woman’s regular shoe lasts about two weeks, and even
when new does not prevent the stones from hurting one’s feet. The shoe
question is going to be a problem this winter. I started the fashion of
wearing these very heavy army shoes, then many clamored for them; since
I wore leather gaiters yesterday, Major Murphy says he thinks I had
better have all the nurses get them.

_Sept. 2, 1917--Sunday_: We all have rubber boots. Some had bought them
for themselves and some were sent by Mrs. Whitelaw Reid. She is being a
regular fairy godmother to us. She has sent me, as a personal present
from her, the most wonderful Jaeger sleeping bag. It’s a perfect beauty,
and so soft and warm. She is sending sleeping bags for all the nurses,
but I imagine not fancy ones like mine. She sent us sheets and
pillowcases, which we were so glad to have, as we had been using stained
old things that had been issued to us from the hospital supplies. She
also has sent extra hot-water bottles, instrument kits, rubber aprons,
rubber coats, and hats, and she has just written that she is going to
attend to getting gray uniforms for us. She is Chairman of the London
Chapter of the American Red Cross, and is apparently much interested in
the American nurses that are with the British forces. She has just
written that she will send us woolen spencer waists to wear under our
uniforms, if I want them. I think I shall let her send them. She has
also written that she would like me to run over to London to talk things
over with her. I should like to go, but I am afraid I cannot, as Dr.
Murphy is just about to go up to the front with a surgical team.

I made my final trip over to the Hospital for Sick Sisters yesterday to
see Miss S. before she goes to the Convalescent Home at E. She has
entirely recovered, and has made a most remarkable record for herself
and our surgeons. We shall have her back on duty in a very few days,
probably about ten.

_Sept. 3d_: This letter has been written at several different sittings,
and the result is going to be pretty poor. Now that I have not such
interesting descriptions to give you or accounts of adventures, I am
almost ashamed to send on these dull commonplace letters. It is a
glorious, cool, sunny day to-day, and the hospital is not very heavy. I
have been off duty a while, sitting under the trees up in our compound,
reading an _Atlantic Monthly_ story aloud to Ruth as she lay on a
blanket on the ground. Her mother has just sent her some _Centurys_ and
the August _Atlantic_. We are getting the _Scribner_, and Dr. Clopton
brought me his August _Harper’s Monthly_, so we feel very rich. But for
69 American nurses these few copies won’t go very far. In a little while
the band from a neighboring base depot is coming to play for our
patients. I have been trying to manage this for some time, and at last
the day has come. And to-night there is to be another little dance in
our mess. All our tables have to be taken out, but we keep our guests
after the ball is over, and make them bring the tables back and help set
them for breakfast. To-night our officers are giving the party, and we
are the guests, but in our mess, as that is the only possible place for
dancing. We have had word from Washington that 30 more nurses are coming
to us. We shall then lose our V. A. D.’s, for which I shall be sorry,
for though they are more or less of a problem, the advantage of having
an interesting group like them in such close contact outweighs any
difficulties I may have with them.

We are all wonderfully well, and everything is well with us. In spite of
all that I say about bands and dances and the sun shining, there is
always the other side. Almost every day we have a death, if not more
than one. Night before last a poor boy died of tetanus, and just a few
days ago we had the sad experience of helping a poor mother watch her
son die, oh so hard. We had sent for her from England, and she was so
glad to be here. She came every day from the Y. M. C. A. hostel, and sat
by his side. He knew her when she first came. He had such terrible
wounds, and he could not stand the awful infection of them all. She was
here with him all that last night, and when he stopped breathing about
three o’clock, Miss Claiborne, the Surgical Night Supervisor, took her
away to the night nurses’ hut, a tiny place where they have their
suppers at midnight. She made her some coffee and wrapped her in
blankets and fixed her comfortably in chairs. The poor soul did not weep
a tear. She slept till morning, then went back to her hostel, and slept
all day, the Y. M. C. A. worker told us. The next day she came to get
his little belongings. I took her down to the mortuary, and it was not
until she saw the flowers Miss Watkins had put down there on him that
she went to pieces. She went to the funeral that afternoon, then left,
so full of gratitude to us, as though we had done anything.

Sept. 3.

Dearest Family:--

Such a wonderful lot of letters as I’ve had recently. I am sending
Mother’s letter on to Phil. I have had two notes from him. He is so
lucky in having the splendid chance he has, so near the front. Our men
envy him. I will try to keep close track of him, and write him often, so
he won’t feel so far away; and if he should get sick or hurt, he is to
have my address on him all the time, and I could get to him at once. I
am sure I have sufficient pull with officials, and I should work it
hard. He is, of course, in much more danger than we are here. You must
realize that. But there are not so many dressing stations and field
ambulances shelled or bombed. And he will be all right. He is lucky to
be there, and I wish I were too. I suppose he will write you that there
is no danger, but I want you to know the truth. A Clearing Station was
bombed the other day, and people killed and an American nurse injured,
and he is nearer the front than that Clearing Station, we understand.
I’ll let you know everything I know, so don’t worry; and if he gets
hurt, I’ll look after him all I can.

Loads and loads of love to you all. You must not think I am doing
anything but exactly what I wanted most to do, and there is no heroism
in that. I am very happy at being so much better.

3d Canadian b. b. s.

4th Sept., 1917.

Dear Miss Stimson:--

This note is on behalf of your brother, who was admitted to-day into
this hospital, slightly wounded in the muscles of the back by shrapnel.

There is no cause for alarm. He will be sent on to the Base after a
short treatment here, and will let you know from there how he is getting

Yours sincerely,
T. M.

B. E. F.
4-9 17

Dear Miss Stimson:--

I very much regret to have to inform you that your brother was wounded
this morning, he was hit in the back, and I don’t think it is serious;
the piece of shell entered his back just below the right scapula in a
slanting direction. I sent him on immediately to C. C. S., and I am
advising him to try to get down to your hospital. The Boche began
shelling our Dressing Station and we thought they had finished and went
back to our tents, when he sent a parting shot--so to speak, which
nearly got the lot of us. I think he will be able to write to you
himself to-morrow, so there is no need to worry. He has proved himself a
very good officer whilst with me, and I am very sorry to have to lose
him, as we very rarely get them back, once they go to the Base. I
greatly regret that this has happened.

Believe me,

Very sincerely yours,
G. H. L. H.,
Lieut. Col.

Sept. 8, 1917.

Dearest Mother:--

By the time this reaches you you will have received my cable about Phil.
I will repeat what I said just in case it may not have arrived safely. I
sent it this noon. “Phil slight shrapnel wound right shoulder. To be
brought here. Don’t worry. Will cable often.” The news came in the mail
that came in this morning. The two inclosed notes were in the bunch of
letters that I received. I read the Chaplain’s first and afterwards
found the one from the Colonel. I shall write to thank both these people
who were so kind as to write me. I have been able to get a little more
information about Phil from Major C. of the Cleveland Unit. Last evening
Major C. telephoned me but I was undressed and could not go to the
telephone. Miss Taylor took the message and said that Major C. just
wanted to know if I knew where my brother was. She has told him that I
did not know exactly, but that he was at some Field dressing station
with a B. E. F. unit. That was all. This morning, wondering why Major
C. was asking about Phil, I called him up and had just the same
conversation with the Major. He said he had himself just come down from
the front and that there were a number of Americans up there and wasn’t
it pleasant for me to have my brother over here? I still wondered why
this conversation, until the mail came. Then I called up Major C. again
and asked him if he knew that Phil was wounded, and he said Yes; he had
seen him but had not wanted to tell me until I had been notified some
other way. He said that Phil had been stationed not very far from where
he was, and when he heard that he was hurt, he had gone over to see him.
This was the morning after the accident. He said he saw Phil soon after
the operation. I said operation? and he said, “Yes, the usual operation
removing the shrapnel pieces and opening up for drainage.” He said Phil
had been in a good deal of pain at the time but was sitting up in bed.
He could not write himself as it was his right shoulder. He said, “I
talked over with him about where he wanted to go and he said he wanted
to be brought to No. 12 General.” I broke in, “Will they allow that
since this is not an officers’ hospital?” He said, “Oh yes, if that is
what the officer wants. They have the opportunity to choose where they
want to be sent, and Phil had chosen here.” “Of course,” Major C. said,
“this may not be final that he is to come to you, but I personally saw
all the authorities I could and I think he will be brought to you very
soon.” Then he went on to say, “You may take it from me you need not
worry about your brother’s condition, for it is not a serious wound. It
probably will take a long time to heal as it is a deep muscle wound, but
there is no occasion for anxiety.” I thanked him profusely for his
kindness and hung up.

Then I went to Col. Fife, who was terribly nice and said he would make
inquiries at once about having Phil brought here. He told me afterwards
that he communicated with the D. D. M. S. (Deputy Divisional Medical
Supervisor), who is responsible for all the hospitals in this area, and
now all I can do is to wait. It must be that the boy will be brought
down on the next convoy. He was hurt the 4th and this is the 8th, so I
may expect him any time. But of course he has to be sent on a regular
ambulance train. Col. Fife and I talked the matter over and I told him I
knew Phil would rather be put in one of our hospital tents and be taken
care of here among his friends than be sent to any fancy officers’
hospital. Major Murphy left this morning with our second Surgical team
to go to the front, as luck would have it, but Major Clopton will give
him every possible care when the boy gets here. There is much interest
and solicitude here in the camp about Phil, for his is the first real
casualty that has happened to a relative or friend of any of us. When
Phil gets here, if he does not feel too badly, he will be just spoiled
to death. Major Clopton says that there are excellent doctors up at the
3d Canadian C. C. S. where he was taken. And Dr. Schwab spoke up and
said that they have a good neurologist there too, and it’s sure to be a
good hospital if there’s a good neurologist there. The other men laughed
and said, “That is why this is such a good hospital, isn’t it?” (Dr.
Schwab is our neurologist and is a splendid one too.)

I have just been notified that a convoy is to be prepared for at 1 A.M.
and I shall be on hand to meet it on the chance that Phil may come in
it. I shall leave this letter open until after the convoy is in.

I cabled because I was so afraid the English authorities might send a
message to you, and any way I was sure you had rather know the exact
facts always just as soon as possible. I shall be so relieved when the
boy gets here and I can look after him. For when he is once here, he
will get as good care as he could get in any place in the world. I’m so
glad I’m a nurse and am here. Isn’t it wonderful for me to be here?

P.S. Phil did not come on the convoy last night. I saw Major C., who
said that Phil was to receive every care, because he had spoken to the
officers in charge of him and had identified him and told them who he

Sept. 10, 1917.

Dearest Mother:--

Another day has gone and I have not made much progress about getting
Philip here. After much telephoning and pulling wires we have found out
that Phil has been sent to No. 20 General Hospital at E. and is likely
to be transferred to England. I am going to raise the roof to-day--to
see if I can’t go there to see the D. D. M. S. of that area and see why
the boy can’t be brought here. I am going to do everything possible
before I give up, and anyway I shall see him, for if he gets sent to
England, I shall go over. I was going anyway next week, as Mrs. Whitelaw
Reid had written for me to come over about uniforms, etc. and Major
Murphy and Col. Fife had said they thought I ought to go, so I’ll go
anyway if Phil gets sent over there, but probably not if I can get him
here. All reports are that his condition is good.

It just occurred to me that you may not have received my letter of the
8th--telling all I know about his injury. The inclosed notes were my
original information. I will cable just as soon as I know anything more
definite. You poor old dears--you’ll be so shocked by my cable just as I
was by these notes Saturday. I felt sick at my stomach all day after
getting them. But don’t you worry, Phil is strong and he will get well


Sept. 19, 1917.

You cannot imagine how much my mind is at rest, for I have Phil here
with me and everything is all right. After waiting and waiting for some
word as to the chances of bringing him down from C., on Saturday last,
the 15th, I called the Aide of the D. D. M. S., and asked him to see
what he could do for me. On Sunday he telephoned that he had learned
that Phil was not able to travel, but that I could have an ambulance and
go up Monday morning, the 17th, and see the boy. It was necessary to
send an ambulance up to N. to bring a Chinaman up to the British
hospital for Chinese that is there. I was told I could take an officer
with me if I wanted to and if we found Phil well enough to travel, we
could bring him down. So I asked Capt. Veeder to go with me, and Col.
Fife gave us both two days’ leave of absence. It is about 130 miles to
C. We left at 10 A.M., and I took with me all the things that we might
possibly need if we were to bring Philip back, extra pillows, a feeding
cup, thermos, hypodermic set, etc., etc.

We had a beautiful trip up. The country for two thirds of the way is
most lovely and the day was beautiful. Both Capt. Veeder and I sat on
the front seat with the driver. The car was a great big regular
ambulance that can be used to carry four stretcher cases. The shelves
for the two upper cases can be hooked up. We made very good time. Had
dinner at a little hotel in E., stopped twenty minutes to say hello to
our friends of the Philadelphia Unit, had our tea en route from the
lunch box we brought from here, dropped our Chinaman at N., and dashed
on along the coast and reached C. about 6:30.

We went to the Chicago Unit’s hospital and were taken in most cordially
by Miss Urch, the chief nurse, and Capt. Veeder by Col. Collins, the
Commanding Officer. They told us that 20 General was just next door, and
that Phil was getting along finely. Col. Collins had seen him. He said
he thought we could take him back with us and that we would go down to
see him right after dinner. Meanwhile he would send word that I was

After dinner he escorted us through the pitch-black darkness to the
hospital. On account of recent air raids they have no outside light at
night and no unshaded inside. The result is very spooky. Ten days or so
ago the Boche had flown over and dropped some bombs on those hospitals,
killing a doctor from Boston, attached to the Peter Bent Brigham Unit
which is at C. also, and right next door to the Chicago Unit and their
officers’ hospital where Phil was. Several other people had been hurt,
some doctors and enlisted men. I saw a crater made by one of the shells.
Phil was sitting propped up in bed and he seemed mighty glad to see me.
He had no temperature and the M. O. said I could take him the next day:
so we told them to have him ready at 10 A.M., and left. He did not look
very badly, and, although his back is very painful when he moves and he
finds it difficult to stay in one position very long, we could tell that
the trip down would really not do him any greater harm than to tire him
very much. There was no danger of hemorrhage.

Then we went back to No. 12 Unit and were each of us given the greatest
hospitality. I had my first tub bath since I left London, though I took
it by the light of my electric torch. The quarters up there are better
than ours, but our location is much better than any of the others that
we saw. We came back even more satisfied with our station than we were
when we left. We got a good start in the morning, having the personal
attention of Col. Patterson of the Boston Unit and Col. Collins of the
Chicago Unit and the M. O. of the 20 General and several other people.
The pillows that we fitted around Phil’s back made it quite bearable for
him, and frequent turnings and readjustments and feedings and pleasant
converse made the hours go pretty rapidly. Capt. Veeder spelled me on
sitting inside on the little hard seat between the two stretcher places.
It was fearfully dusty, but I had plenty of nice cloths and could keep
the boy fairly comfortable. We stopped for lunch coming back at E. Capt.
Veeder and I went inside to see about ordering and to let Phil rest
quietly a few minutes while we had our lunch. We were near the window of
the dining-room, when suddenly I saw the wife of the inn-keeper climbing
into the ambulance with a large loaf of bread in one hand and a plate of
something in the other. I rushed out to stop her and pulled her out
looking quite horrified and saying “beaucoup malade.” Phil had wakened
up from a little nap and was convulsed to see her standing there holding
out the loaf of bread to him. I took the food back inside and in a few
minutes the Captain and I fed him comfortably with a nice little
audience standing around with much curiosity. Then we went on our way,
stopping once more about 4 to get some hot tea and to have a little

We reached here at 6:45 and really I don’t think Phil was much the worse
for wear except very dirty and pretty tired. Col. Fife and Major
Clopton met us and made arrangements to have him put in an empty tent,
so the stretcher bearers pulled him out of the ambulance and carried him
in and we got him into a nice, clean, comfortable bed, and you can
imagine he was pretty glad to get there. His dinner was soon sent down
to him from the officers’ mess and he was cleaned up just enough to make
him comfortable. Major Clopton decided not to do his dressing until the
next morning, but to let him rest. He had a fairly comfortable night, he
said, sleeping at intervals, but he had not been sleeping well before he
left C. The next morning his temperature was only 99.6, so you see the
trip really did not do him any harm. When Major Clopton dressed him at
10, I went down to watch. He has what to you would appear to be a pretty
nasty wound, but what compared to so many of the things we see here is
really a very small matter. A jagged piece of shell about an inch long
entered just below the lower angle of his right shoulder blade and tore
right down through the muscles to the sacroiliac joint, which is where
the pelvic bones join the spine. It did not injure his spine at all, for
he can move very well except that he has pain. The doctors at the
Clearing Station opened up the whole tract almost, which was of course
necessary for free drainage.

Phil said that after the dressing the wound felt very much more
comfortable. He eats finely and is now having the time of his life,
having all his old friends visit him and make much of him. I have not
had much time to talk with him since I have been back, for of course
there was accumulated work for me to attend to, but I am so relieved to
have him here it does not matter whether I have time to spend with him
or not. I have seen that he has plenty of magazines and picture puzzles
to do, and he has been reading to-day all the letters from the various
members of the family that I have received in the past month, and also
the copies of all my letters to you all. I shall see him to-night
probably. We shall have him up in a chair out in the sun to-morrow; in
fact he may have been out to-day. He is occupying a tent alone although
there are 13 other beds in the tent where he is. I have said that he
does not need to stay alone, but while we are light it can easily be
managed. He has a convalescent patient as his personal servant, a “blue
boy,” as we call them, a “light duty patient” who is so proud because he
has an officer to wait on. There are American orderlies in his division
of course, but the blue boy fetches his meals and putters over him, etc.
Of course my nurses are in charge.

I brought all his kit and belongings down with him in the ambulance. I
have his metal helmet hanging here in my office. You can’t really
imagine what a narrow escape he had until you see the dent in the edge
of the thick steel hat that was made by the piece of shell. It broke the
edge and made a curved dent about an inch wide. It is a perfect miracle
he was not killed. It was the helmet that saved his life. He is so
marvelously fortunate, for no permanent damage has been done, and Major
Clopton does not think he will have any permanent disability, and he
might so easily have been killed or paralyzed by that little piece of

Friday, Sept. 28, 1917.

Yesterday afternoon I was writing a little note here in my office when I
heard the bugles sound for calling the convoy party and I finished my
note saying, there comes the convoy we have been expecting and I must
get busy. I must tell you how busy we got. It is now a little more than
24 hours later. On my way to the receiving tents I met a sergeant, who
said to me that the men coming in were in very bad shape. They were
being carried out from the receiving tents as fast as possible, after
their cards had been made out and their throats examined for diphtheria
suspects. We have had a lot of diphtheria brought to us and a number of
our own people have caught it. We now have four nurses away in the
contagious hospital near here, one has diphtheria and the other three
had positive throats without any clinical symptoms, so they just have to
be kept away from everybody until they are negative. So all suspected
throats are isolated in a special line until cultures can be made and

Capt. Rainey, who is Acting Chief of the Surgical Service in the absence
of Major Murphy, and Major Clopton, spoke to me in the tents and said we
have a big night’s work ahead of us, for many of these men will have to
be operated on at once. They have had nothing done to them but their
first-aid dressings and they are in pretty bad shape. He then asked me
to go with a special case that was in very bad condition and see that he
got a saline stimulation at once. This boy, a head case, was scheduled
for Line B, tent 2, and as I went into the tent with the stretcher
bearers, another patient was being brought in by two more bearers. The
nurse spoke up and said that she had only one empty bed. It was apparent
then that the assigner had made a mistake. I told the bearers to put
their patients down on the floor, and giving a hurried glance at the
other patient and a hasty feel of his pulse, I decided that my patient
was in the poorer condition, so I got the bearers to put him into the
empty bed and sent one of the other carriers back to the receiving tent
for instructions about the other man. Meanwhile I got things started
for the saline subcutaneous infusion. In a couple of minutes, the bearer
came back and said he had been told to put his patient in the nearest
vacant bed and report later where he had put him. We had a vacant bed in
B 2, so we carried him in there and got him into bed. We asked the man
if he could help himself at all as he was huge, and there is always
great difficulty lifting patients off of the stretchers because there is
so little space between the beds and the two carriers can’t do much more
than hold the stretcher at the bed level. Mrs. Hausmann, the Supervisor,
came along just that moment, and an up-patient; when the patient said it
was his back that was hurt and he could not help himself, we knew then
how to proceed and between us we lifted him on his blanket and got him
on the bed until the bearers could put down their stretcher and then
help us get the blanket out and make him comfortable. While doing this I
noticed that one of his legs was crossed over the other and I
straightened it out and saw big purple spots where they had been in
contact. Realizing from this that they had been crossed a long time, we
discovered that he was totally paralyzed from his waist down. On his
card it said “Penetrating wound of spine, not operated on.”

The poor fellow immediately went off into heavy sleep, as they almost
always do, they are so glad to stop being jiggled, and I went to report
to Capt. Rainey and to get extra operating-room nurses ready. We had
taken in 130 patients from that convoy, but every one is immediately
examined by the staff men who make their report to Capt. Rainey, who in
no time had a list of 15 needing immediate operation.

A steady stream of patients is carried into the X-ray room and from
there either directly to the operating room or back to their tents. The
plates are developed almost immediately and are examined while wet and
stuck up in improvised holders on the windows of the operating room.
They all showed foreign bodies and often bubbles, indicating the dreaded
infection by the “gas bacillus,” which causes such dreadful gas
gangrene. All these cases have to be opened up and the necrotic tissue
cleaned out. Then we began in the operating room. Miss Taylor was on
duty in the office, so I was free to help in the operating room. The
supervisors were each on their side of the hospital, and the nurses were
all getting the poor creatures as comfortable as possible. One patient
who was too far gone from bloodlessness to stand operation was made as
comfortable as possible and the minister sent for; they were all given
tea and partially bathed. This was about 4:30 P.M. Then we began in the
operating room, taking out foreign bodies and incising and draining. I
scrubbed up and helped, not so much because they needed me but because I
wanted to be in it. We kept three tables going all the time. The medical
students gave ether and even some of the medical men were helping. Out
in the little hall there were always three or four patients on
stretchers on the floor. My friend, Dr. (Sgt.) Voorsanger, the Rabbi,
was in charge of the records and stretcher bearers and worked like a
Trojan. We took pieces of shell out of necks, hips, knees, skulls,
ankles, shoulders, and out of the spine of my poor paralyzed man. Some
of the men took the ether badly and screamed and fought and cursed; some
thought they were in the battle and called out to their comrades “There
go the 61st, after them, after them.” But most of them took it pretty
quietly and just went off to sleep.

About 7 o’clock a message came in from the connecting “Theatre Hut,” a
ward at the other end of the hut, where the operating room is, that a
man who had had a fearful hemorrhage from the wound in his shoulder that
morning was very much worse. It was decided to transfuse him, a
complicated job under the very best of circumstances. An up-patient was
sought to volunteer to be the donor of the blood, and promised as a
reward that he would be sent to England and not back to the Base (how
good a promise I do not know, but at least he might get a glimpse of
Blighty for a few days if our men send him there, but of course if found
fit there, he would be sent back to the front). He was brought,
wide-eyed and wondering, into the brilliant, messy operating room filled
with strangely garbed and bustling people and put on a table and his arm
prepared. Some doctors got busy with him and I went with another doctor
to get ready the vein in the patient’s arm. In a few minutes we were
ready and the other doctors came to insert the tiny point of their glass
tube into the hole in the vein we had ready. A nurse was holding a
droplight over the bed, another nurse was holding the arm, a doctor was
adjusting the tourniquet so that the vein would show up well, then the
two men who were working were bending over the arm, I was handing them
instruments, for I was scrubbed up, since everything must be sterile.
The patient was just gasping, rapidly growing worse, but the point went
in successfully and the blood began to flow into his vein, when all the
lights went out and the patient stopped breathing!

I knew where a whole batch of candles had been put for use at the next
air raid alarm, so I dashed for them, knowing I could get them more
quickly than by sending any one. They were not far away. In about two
minutes we had candles stuck on every available spot, and the operating
teams who had to stop dead and wait, began to go on. The orderly who
was working over a miserable acetylene lamp which is supposed to be all
right for emergencies, finally got it going. It is quite all right for
emergencies if you have about ten minutes in which to start it. A couple
of oil lanterns were brought and given to the patients who were on the
floor in the hall to hold, so that they would not be stepped on. The
ether bottles were moved as far away from the candles as possible so
that we would not have an explosion to add to our difficulties, the
doctors came in from working over the dead man, and we all “carried on.”
It was now near eight, and Capt. Rainey said when these cases are
finished that are on the tables, we will stop for dinner. A couple of
nurses who had had their dinner reported just about then and we set them
to cleaning instruments and boiling and fixing up. The others of us went
up to a belated supper by candle light. The night nurse and orderly for
the theatre hut came on duty just in time to help with the gruesome duty
to be done there, and supper was kept for the day nurses from there when
they should be able to get off.

By 8:30 we were back again refreshed by scrambled eggs and coffee. The
operations continued till 3 A.M. I sent one day nurse off about 10,
because I knew she would have to have a full day to-day and would need
to be at her preparations early. Another nurse and I left at 1:30 after
getting some of the night nurses’ supper which I had ordered heavily
reënforced. Another nurse left at 3 and one stayed all night. In these
last 24 hours there must have been 34 operations. I haven’t the exact
list here. I was on duty here in the office at 9:15 A.M. Two nurses did
not come on until noon, and the one who was up all night (as well as
being up all day yesterday too, though not working, as she was just
coming off night duty and had expected to sleep that night) has been
sleeping all day. I have just been notified that 160 more are to be
brought to us at 6 A.M. to-morrow. That 6 A.M. will mean some time
during the morning, for the convoys are almost always several hours
after they are scheduled.

One of the night Supervisors has just been telling me that last night,
after that patient died, before he had been taken out, he was of course
behind the screens, the patient in the next bed said to her, “Sister, is
my pal all right? I haven’t heard him speak for some time,” and she had
to tell him what had happened. But only this one and that very bad one
have died so far.

It is now Sunday afternoon, Sept. 30. We are having a little respite
from our busyness and no convoys have been received since yesterday
morning when we received 140. The doctors are getting a little
well-earned rest, and the nurses, who have not lost so much sleep as the
doctors, are catching up with their work on the wards. Operations were
going on in the operating room till 1:30 again last night, but to-day
there have been none, but there has been much sterilizing, glove
mending, and preparing of supplies.

It is a beautiful sunny afternoon, and we would hardly believe that this
morning, up to almost noon, it was so cold that everybody was
complaining of the cold.

I have just had orders to have my next nurse ready to go up to the front
with a surgical team. They will probably go in a couple of days, three
men and one woman. It was my turn to go with this team, but a few days
ago Col. Fife told me he would not let me go. I am tremendously
disappointed because I wanted above all things to go. I want the great
interest and excitement of the work, which is hard but thrilling;
operating 16 hours on end, then off for 8 hours. These are the hours
while the rush is on. Then I wanted to find out how I would react to
real danger. I can’t ever remember being frightened, and everybody who
goes to a C. C. S. admits that he or she is frightened most of the time,
and especially when there are raids, and bombs and shells are dropping
about. Of course these are just selfish reasons, but there were others
too. I think Miss Taylor could run my affairs perfectly satisfactorily
in my absence for a month. But now I must wait. We learn to do that with
considerable success in the army. I hate to let the nurse I have
appointed for this team go. When the first one went up, we did not know
much about what it meant, but since she has come back to us, we know
more. Also Phil’s accounts have been enlightening. But it is her turn to
go. She is ready, has had all the preparations, and she is most eager to
go, so I must not make any change in the schedule, but we shall all miss
her and be worried about her until she gets back to us. All the teams
have a two days’ ambulance ride to begin with, then when they get there,
they have to pretty much rough it. They take their cots and blankets and
sleep in bell tents. When they have air-raid signals, they all have to
lie down flat on their stomachs wherever they may be. One of our teams
had a special hole in a cemetery they had to hop into all the time.
Phil’s fellow officers had a little drainage ditch full of mud that was
their hiding-place.

I suppose that long before this you have learned that our Unit was not
bombed. There seems to have been an official confusion between ours and
the Chicago names. Officially, until it can be changed, we are the “No.
12 (St. Louis U. S. A.) General Hospital.” You see Chicago was American
Base Hospital No. 12 to begin with, and it is easy to see how the
confusion arose. They are 18 General Hospital, B. E. F.

I have been sitting with Phil out in the sunshine beside his tent. He
has not had much attention paid him lately, neither from me nor the
surgeons, but he has not needed it. He is getting along slowly but well.
I saw his dressing yesterday, the first time for ten days, and I could
see a great improvement. He is not being allowed to walk more than the
few steps to his chair, and I find he has not much desire to. He is
anxious to get back to work, but he won’t be able to do much for a long
time. He is now finding out how closely his legs are hitched to his

I meant to tell you about a curious little incident that happened on our
trip to C. I told you we escorted a sick Chinaman up to the British
Hospital for Chinese at N. Dr. Veeder had been given the envelope he was
to turn over to the authorities of the hospital. When we arrived just
outside the hospital compound and stopped, a British sergeant came out
to help the patient out of the ambulance and a lot of
blue-hospital-garbed Chinesers gathered around to see what was doing.
Capt. Veeder and I had gotten out to stretch our legs and were standing
by the tail of the ambulance. Dr. Veeder handed the papers to the
sergeant, who opened the envelope, read the paper twice with a puzzled
look, then burst into roars of laughter. He handed the paper back to
Capt. Veeder, and this is what we read: “6 cups, enamel, spitting.” It
was an “indent” for some necessary supplies that had been put in the
envelope and addressed to the C. O. of the hospital instead of the
transfer papers of the poor Chink. Fortunately we did not have to take
him on with us, as he was properly tagged himself. It’s a comfort to me
to know that even the British Army can sometimes make mistakes.

Next week, not this week, Thursday, I am expecting to go up to Paris to
attend the first conference of American Chief Nurses in France. There
are about sixteen of us, and Miss Russell, the representative of the
American Red Cross Nursing Service, has asked us to meet with her in
Paris. It ought to be good fun to get together and compare notes after
four months of this life, and we ought to get some really definitely
useful suggestions from our getting together.

There are to be various festivities of a heavy and enlightening sort. I
think the little change will do me good, as I find I am a bit tired. The
London trip is off, since Philip is here with me, and this Paris one is
on. I am asking for five days’ leave, but if things here continue to be
as heavy as they are now, I shall not stay the five days.

When a page stops abruptly at the bottom of the sheet and there is no
proper ending, don’t be worried that something has been taken out by the
censor. It often happens that when I have finished a sheet I have to
stop and don’t try to wind things up properly, though I usually try to
put in a few personal remarks at the end on a separate piece of paper,
and answer questions from letters, etc.

Now I must close, so good-by for now.

With loads and loads of love from us both.


Rouen, October 9, 1917.

It is so good to be back at work and with my own people again. I could
not lay down my responsibilities for that short time I was in Paris, and
I could not help thinking about everything here all the time and
wondering about everybody, so it wasn’t so very restful, and then when I
got back last night, I found it so restful to be back, and all day with
all the many things to do I have been peaceful and contented and so very
glad to be back. I just wish you could have seen this place last night
when I arrived in the pouring rain and pitch blackness. Our train got
in about 8. My telegram had not been received and there was no ambulance
to meet us and there are never any taxis to be had at the station. The
station was full of poilus going out, and as the R. T. O. (Royal
Transport Officer) had his hands full, I didn’t have the heart to ask
him to telephone for our ambulance for us. I could not. So we decided to
try a tram to the quay and there hoped for a taxi. It was still pouring
but finally we got on to a tram with all our bags and bundles and at the
quay we had the very good luck of catching the only taxi which just tore
us out here to the camps. At the gate of our quarters I got out in the
mud and waded through the darkness to the door of my own room, and how
good the old place looked. To an outsider I imagine it would have looked
like the abomination of desolation, the camp and our quarters. For it
was so dark, and the rain was pouring down and there were such pools of
water everywhere, and only such weak glimmerings of light here and
there. As Miss Taylor had not come up from the office, I stopped just
long enough to get my rubber boots, rubber hat, and coat. My big great
coat was soaked through. Then I paddled happily off to talk things over
with Miss Taylor. The hospital had been very, very busy all the time I
was away, but everything had gone smoothly. We have over 1200 patients.
Then afterwards I went down to see Philip. He was no longer in a tent
alone, as the hospital had become so busy it had been necessary to fill
up the beds in his tent. As he was on the shell shock line the cases
with him were not bad surgical cases. We had a nice talk over in his
corner and read the letters that had come for both him and me in my

It has been raining here every day for the past ten days and is very
cold. We all are wearing sweaters and all our heavy things. The dampness
is so penetrating. The sweater Mother and Bab made arrived safely and is
exactly right. I have it on this moment and shall probably not take it
off until it falls apart. The bloomers are very nice too and I think
will be useful with the serge uniform in rainy weather when I pin my
skirt up. We are soon to have gray wash uniforms, which will be much
more suitable than these white ones, but they won’t be so very much
warmer. We are to have “spencers” or “woollies” to wear under them.

Phil has now been moved into a bell tent which was an office of Dr.
Schwab’s. It is a tiny little affair, but looked most cozy last night
when I was down to say goodnight to Phil. The rain was pouring down on
the canvas with a pleasant sound and coming through the opening on the
wood floor, but Phil was as warm and comfortable as can be. He has no
electric light, but my candle lantern held on his lap not only makes
sufficient light to read by but warms his hands. This cold is no joke. I
suppose we shall get used to it, but these first days of it are very

My children at the front are having such wonderful times. They are
working terribly hard, sleeping with helmets over their faces and enamel
basins on their stomachs, washing in the water they had in their
hot-water bags because water is so scarce, operating fourteen hours at a
stretch, drinking quantities of tea because there is no coffee and
nothing else to drink, wearing men’s ordnance socks under their
stockings, trying to keep their feet warm in the frosty operating rooms
at night, and both seeing and doing such surgical work as they never in
their wildest days dreamed of, but all the time unafraid and unconcerned
with the whistling, banging shells exploding around them. Oh, they are
fine! One need never tell me that women can’t do as much, stand as much,
and be as brave as men. And to-morrow another of my finest goes up, keen
as keen to do her bit and only hoping she will be equal to it. It’s Miss
Claiborne to-morrow. She is packing her things to-night after a hard day
in the operating room here. First, she has a long, difficult trip, then
plunges into the maelstrom up there. Five more went for the gas training
to-day to be ready to substitute if any of the nurses at the front have
to be relieved for sickness or accident. And all these five are just
pawing the air for a chance to be sent up, even after knowing all they
do about what it is like up there, and in all this cold. And oh, how I
want to go myself.

Our meeting in Paris was very pleasant, and worth while too. There were
thirteen of us Chief Nurses there. Six are with the B. E. F. and the
others with the American Forces. They, the latter, have not had any real
work yet. Some of us Britishers could not help laughing when some of the
others said they were beginning to be right busy as they had about a
hundred patients! The night before I left here we admitted over 200.
To-night on several lines one nurse and one orderly are taking care of
over 100 patients (not the sickest). We have so many awfully sick
patients now. But to go back to the meetings, we had lots of things to
discuss. We sent back to Washington suggestions about uniforms and
equipment. We decided on what we wanted for distinguishing marks for
Chief Nurses, black bands on the white caps and red bands on the cuffs
of the uniforms. We had to take up the matter of the Army Efficiency
Records, which were open to many interpretations. Then matters of social
life, dancing, going out with officers, leaves, a hotel in Paris, etc.,
were talked over. The question of dancing is a very warm one. The
English nurses in military hospitals are not allowed to dance. Some of
us think our nurses should be allowed to do it for their good and the
good of our own officers. The question was left over unsettled until our
next meeting in February. It will now go on according to the ideas of
the heads of each Unit.

Mrs. Sharp, the wife of the American Ambassador, entertained us at
dinner elaborately. The Lyceum Club gave us a reception, after an open
meeting when we heard of the Red Cross baby work, tuberculosis schemes,
surgical dressings, division, etc. I saw several very nice people that I
know, and had various meals and doings with them, so the time we were
not at meetings went very pleasantly. It is surprising how one can enjoy
fancy food when one gets it, even though all along you have been
thinking that food is very unimportant. I noticed that lobster and
sweetbreads and soufflés and oysters, and once, really, corn on the cob,
made a pretty big hit with me. But all the same I was so awfully glad to
get back to my job. The day to-day has been pretty full of problems and
I am a bit tired, so I guess I’d better turn in.

Phil had a nice little walk to-day in his clothes, but he is pretty well
used up to-night after a long, mean dressing done in the operating room,
from which he walked back alone, which he should not have done, but
insisted to his nurses that he wished to do. I am furious that I was not
on hand to prevent it. But he was warm and cozy and comfortably reading
in bed awhile ago when I went to say good night. This is not much of a
letter, but it must go as it is, I think, without waiting for additions.

Thanks so much for the book and for your dear letters. “Carry On” is
wonderful, and we love to read such things over here. I’m lending it
around now. Bab’s music came to-day; it was dear of her to send it. It
has been played already with much success. The violin is such a comfort.
I played last evening right straight through the book. I’ve never
enjoyed playing so much before.

Oceans of love,


Sunday evening, October 14.

Dearest Dad and Mother:--

Miss Taylor and I are in our cozy office waiting for the time for the
evening report, which won’t be for about half an hour yet. We have both
been to first supper and will now rest ourselves a little for this half
hour. She has decided to do a picture puzzle. I wish you all could see
how nice our office is. We have the tiniest coal stove that ever
existed, and yet it is just the right size for this place. We have been
having a fire in it for the past few days, for it has been very cold
and raining almost every day. An orderly with a lantern has just come in
out of the darkness to tell us that sixty cases are on the way to the
hospital now and sixty more are coming at midnight. We are just about
full to capacity, but every day we send out some, so every day we can
take more in. I have been off duty a couple of hours late this
afternoon, the first time off since I got back from Paris last Tuesday.

Phil, who is walking a little with me every day, came up to our mess for
tea this afternoon and afterwards I walked with him around the race
track. He was pretty glad to get back to bed after this rather lengthy
expedition. His wound is very nearly closed. It has done remarkably
well. After I left him being put to bed by the nice convalescent patient
who looks after him, I went down to the evening service in the Y. M. C.
A. hut, the Sunday evening Episcopal service that comes just before the
Non-conformist service.

Dean Davis conducted the service, and how I wished that some of his St.
Louis parishioners could have seen him. His audience in that rough hut
was about 200 convalescent patients in their blue suits, with heads or
arms bandaged, or coughing, coughing the way so many of our poor gassed
men cough. There were a few English Sisters and V. A. D.’s there, but I
was the only American, this evening. I wish you could hear these men
sing. There is nothing like the singing that I’ve heard the Tommies do.
Their deep voices singing in unison, and with great earnestness such
words as “Plenteous grace with thee is found, Grace to cleanse from
every sin, Let the healing streams abound, Make and keep me pure
within,” can never be forgotten. The Dean spoke briefly, but right out
from the shoulder to them from that chapter in the letter to the
Ephesians about, “Lie not, for ye are members one of another, and let
him that stole, steal no more but rather let him work, that he may have
wherewith to give to him that hath need,” etc. There was more about
tenderness, and growing in grace.

Speaking of tenderness, I have never in all my life seen such tenderness
as these men show to each other. If you could see, as we so often see,
men with horrible leg injuries reaching way over to feed the man in the
bed next to them, who may have arm injuries and be helpless. And always
the up-patients are so good to the bedridden ones. Our hospital simply
could not run without the help of the patients themselves. They fetch
and carry and bathe and scrub and hold legs and arms for dressings, and
joke and jolly each other along till it would break your heart, for they
themselves are sick men. For our up-patients here have been mighty sick
or they would have been sent on to England, unless they are some of the
few that are going back to the Convalescent Camp and from there back
into the lines. So often, too, we see a man reach way over from his bed
to give his neighbor a puff at his cigarette.

I have felt so rich recently, for I got such a wonderful lot of letters,
all in one batch. How I did enjoy them. All the family ones I took right
down to read with Phil in his little tent. We had a regular orgy.

It’s now Friday, the 18th, and such a lovely day as it has been, clear
and sunny and cold. I had a little walk with Ruth just after lunch and
it reminded us of November days at home, except for what we saw. For all
we saw was camps, camps, camps and soldiers of every sort. We did not
have time to go beyond the area of camps, but off in the distance we
could see the lovely ridges that make the edge of this little basin that
Rouen is in. When we came back, I walked a few minutes with Phil. It
takes a long time for his strength to come back, poor boy. He is awfully
good and patient and as little trouble as a person could be. I think he
is a little depressed to-day by his feeling of mimsiness, and the being
out of things. He finds it harder to be up a little every day, for, as
he says, when he is dressed he looks like every one else, and then he
can’t do like them at all. When he was in bed all the time, he did not
mind his incapacitation so much. Now is the time that he needs petting
and amusing and fussing over. His injury was no little thing and he is
being a marvel of goodness about it all, but it is beastly hard for him,
to have to hang around and wait to get strong. After a little while I am
going to see what can be done about convalescence in some better place.
It is hard to know whether a convalescent home for officers in the south
of France, alone without his friends and me, would do him more good than
these plain doings and all of us. When he can get about a bit more, he
will find it more interesting; for then I can go down town to meals with
him and take walks, and he can do those things with other people too. He
has had a hard experience, but it is doing big things for him, I can see
that plainly. I am so glad he is here with me. I can never be grateful

Our great busyness has continued all week though we have not been quite
full to the limit. On Monday last, Major Murphy and his team, and Capt.
Post and his team, returned from their Clearing Stations. Each team had
one nurse. I wish so much you could know what those people have been
doing and going through. You really would hardly believe their tales.
They are all absolutely tired out. Major Murphy seems to be in the best
condition, but he said he was dreadfully tired. The nurses are almost
all in. We made them stay in bed 36 hours and have started them off on
the easiest places we could find for them. But it will take a good many
weeks, I am afraid, before they will sleep properly and not dream about
stopping hemorrhages, and stop smelling the smells they smelled up
there. What with the steam, the ether, and the filthy clothes of the
men, which they had to cut off before they could begin to start, the
odor in the operating room was so terrible that it was all that any of
them could do to keep from being sick. One of my nurses was sick at her
stomach all night long the first night she worked there, and just ran in
and out all night, but kept right on with her work, though she says that
if she lives to be a hundred and fifty years old, she will never forget
that night. One doctor and one nurse work at each table and you can
imagine what surgical work the nurse has to do, no mere handing of
instruments and sponges, but sewing and tying up and putting in drains
while the doctor takes the next piece of shell out of another place.
Then after fourteen hours of this, with freezing feet, to a meal of tea
and bread and jam, and off to rest if you can in a wet bell tent in a
damp bed without sheets, after a wash with a cupful of water.

The trip down from the front was very hard. They all came by train this
time. One team after a long train trip arrived at a fair-sized coast
town at 2 P.M. The doctor tried to get a room at the hotel for the
nurse, who was dead with cold and fatigue, but all the rooms had been
taken by officers going through on their way to posts. Their train was
to go out at one A.M., so the doctor only wanted the room for the
evening for this nurse. Finally the proprietor said he would let the
nurse have the room of an officer who had gone out for the evening but
he was expected in at twelve. But that seemed fine, so the nurse had a
little rest in this man’s room, but at twelve was called, for the
officer had come back and was waiting outside the door. The rest of the
night she sat up in a freezing French railway carriage, the only woman
with her doctor, her two orderlies, and two Tommies. The Tommies and the
orderlies piled up on each other and went sound to sleep, but she and
the doctor waggled and jolted through the miserable, damp, cold night.
They reached here at one o’clock the next afternoon, and really had come
so few miles as the crow flies. How I wished for a warm bathroom and a
quiet cozy sleeping place for these weary, dirty, splendid women of
mine. But willing, eager hands brought pitchers of hot water and put
hot-water bags in little beds that are clean if small, and brought trays
of food, and now after two days both of the nurses are looking a little
less green and black around the eyes. And how glad and grateful we are
to have them back. There are two more away, and another is probably to
go soon, and she is none the less eager after hearing the tales of the
others. Major Murphy says the experience is, of course, very wonderful,
but it is brutal. He means brutal on the teams. But English men and
women have been doing this for months and months. This was a very big
push that these two teams have been through. It is a marvel to me that
human beings can stand it all.

October 30, 1917.

Dearest Dad and Mother:--

It is quite a long time since I last wrote anything more than just short
handwritten notes. It was the 14th that my last letter was dated, I
find. Since that time we have been pretty hard at work. We had very
little let-up at all for about six weeks. Our numbers have kept over the
thousand mark all along, which means for us very little time for play.

I guess I will tell you about to-day which was rather typical. It was
bright and shiny when I went over to the Mess hall for breakfast. I can
tell you it is good preparation for an Arctic exploration expedition to
be living as we are. I sleep every night in woolen stockings and
knitted bed socks, woolen pajamas, that lovely light blue sweater mother
made for me, my Jaeger sleeping bag, which has two layers over and one
under, and then three folds of blanket on top of all that, topped off by
my heavy bathrobe, all this on me, the regular old hotbox that I always
used to be. Well, after a nice warm night in all that, with a hot-water
bag inside, it is not the nicest thing in the world to get up into an
utterly unheated room. The water from my hot-water bag makes very
comfortable bathing water (for all the bathing that I do then). But a
few vigorous arm exercises start up my blood enough to make me fairly
comfortable by the time I have on all my woollies. Over in the Mess hut
there are two nice little coal stoves, which make the place very
cheerful. There is a big coal stove in all our sleeping huts, but none
of the heat from the one in my hut can get as far as my end room. I hope
to get some kind of an oil stove that will heat things up a bit. I now
have a little single-burner coal-oil lamp on which I can heat a small
kettle of water, but it doesn’t do anything in the way of heating.

By the time we had finished breakfast (bread and butter, coffee,
scrambled eggs, and marmalade this morning) it was pouring, so we all
ran for our raincoats and hats, and then the six of us, Miss Taylor and
I and the two day and two night supervisors, walked down to my office
in the grand stand. There the batman had already started my tiny stove
and a cheerful little heat was beginning to make itself felt. It takes
about half an hour or more to read about the admissions, discharges,
operations, the condition of all the “S. I.’s” (Seriously Ill) and “D.
I.’s” (Dangerously Ill), and to hear that there did not seem to be
enough blankets for the outgoing convoy, many of whom were stretcher
patients, that there is difficulty about coal for some of the tents at
night, about this or that nurse’s good work when so and so had such a
terrific hemorrhage, and that an incoming convoy is just being unloaded,
apparently very badly wounded cases, but no report on them as yet. Then
the day supervisors go off to their lines to see about the new
admissions, see if the head nurses have everything they need, tell this
head nurse to send one of her assistants, who has such bad chilblains on
her hands that she can’t do the surgical dressings that she has been
doing, to report to a head nurse on one of the medical lines, where she
won’t have to be doing quite so many wet things, etc. At nine Capt.
Rainey, the acting head of the surgical side, comes for the written
report that the Night Surgical Supervisor has made out for him of the
most important cases. Then Major Fischel comes to ask about sick nurses.
We had told one nurse, who had reported a sore throat, to be here at
nine, and she was and was examined and advised. We had heard of another
nurse who had lost her voice, so she was sent for. Miss Taylor got her
figures of number of nurses on duty, number of yesterday’s operations,
etc., ready and took that and our big Night Report to the C. O.’s office
and came back to check up her list of the new S. I.’s and D. I.’s, to
all of whose families it is her job to write a personal letter. One day
she wrote as many as 25 of these letters. She had been out for “last
hours” yesterday, so there were a number for her to add to her list. The
official telegram is sent to all families, but it is one of the regular
jobs of this office to do all the personal corresponding with families.
Miss Taylor has learned to use a typewriter since she has been over here
and can write very fast on it. She does not like to have the little
secretary write these letters, for she often sends messages from the
boys to their families and likes to do them all herself. I begin by
writing my regular army form about nurses off duty. Then I made out
several formal communications to the Colonel, about the need of a sink
in the Nurses’ Mess, the need of a special new hut for sitting-room
purposes for my 104 women. We now have just the 12 feet at the end of
the Mess Hall which is quite inadequate. All the other hospitals in this
vicinity have special sitting-rooms, and I am going to keep at the R.
E.’s (Royal Engineers) until they give us one.

At 9:30 the nurses and V. A. D.’s begin to come up from the lines for
Red Cross supplies, which are handled through this office and a little
supply room we have next door. Pajamas, socks, mittens, old linen for
handkerchiefs for the patients, oilcloth, treasure bags, writing paper,
gramophone needles and records, razors, shaving soap, tobacco, record
books, magazines, cologne for rubbing backs, chewing-gum, back rests,
picture puzzles, cards, draughts, pipes, toasting forks, metal polish,
brad boards, sweets, irrigator cans, etc. All these things are actually
handled by us, not all the time, but some at one time and some at
another. The British Red Cross sends us these supplies on our
requisition every week. This morning we had very little to give out, for
our supplies for this week had not come. We keep store only from 9:30 to
10:30, but this morning there were a number of other things than
supplies that various nurses wanted to see me about. A V. A. D. wanted
to see me about special leave to England because her aunt is dying.
Another V. A. D., who knows better and should have reported at 9 A.M.,
came to tell us of another bad boil on her arm and had to be sent to the
operating room and Capt. Rainey looked up. Several wanted to know if
they could go to a special concert to be given in a neighboring camp
to-night. The general invitation to all had come, but had not been
posted, or these need not have asked for permission. Then it was time
for the mail, which was huge this morning, and always has to be sorted
in this office, because no one else knows just what to do with a number
of letters each day that have to be specially looked after. This of
course is just nurses’ mail. We still get a lot of mail for the English
Sisters who were here before us. We often get many letters intended for
other American Units. I have the lists of nurses of all of the Units
that are with the B. E. F. and can readily send on straying letters. We
have nurses away at C. C. S. and some in the Contagious Hospital and we
must see to their forwarding. The mail this morning took a long time. As
soon as it is sorted it is sent up to the Mess, where the nurses will
get it at lunch time. My own six or seven personal letters I could not
look at till near one.

The Red Cross Supplies came along about 11:50 and had to be put away.
Miss Taylor had gone down to the lines to see the supervisors, see how
we needed to man the operating room for the afternoon, etc. Simone, the
little secretary, had been helping all morning with supplies, letters,
etc., and very quickly we got the things put away. Then a sergeant from
the O. C.’s office came to ask about a missing package of “knickers”
which should have arrived from London. He had found it and had that too
dumped in my office. As it contained some instruments that I wanted
right away, I wanted it unpacked here. Then Phil came along to share
some mail with us, but I told him he would have to come back later, for
it was just time for the O. C. to come for this morning’s interview, so
just as he and Ruth C., who had also dropped by to tell me about her
wonderful birthday mail, cleared out, along came Major Murphy. There
were several matters to take up with him, such as the possible removal
of a bed or two from several too-crowded tents, the matter of the
insufficient blankets, a little misunderstanding that some of our
American boys had had with the British Y. M. C. A. people, about which
the latter had come to see me yesterday afternoon. When the Major left,
I had to see about some notices for the nurses that I wanted them to
read at their lunch. Miss Taylor came back, Simone went off for her
lunch, and we sat a moment or two and looked at the headlines of the
two-sheet _Daily Mail_ and Paris _N. Y. Herald_ and read our home

At one we went up in a pouring rain to our lunch. We had baked beans,
cold bully beef, which is canned corn beef and not half bad, lettuce
salad, tea, bread and butter, and cheese, and stewed prunes. Miss
Taylor was to be off from 1:30 to 4:30 to go down town to do some
errands, so I came on back to the office and started some accounts,
writing of checks, etc. They were to have a big afternoon in the
operating room, but all was working out smoothly. For the next two hours
I worked steadily at my desk, acknowledging supplies, doing accounts,
and writing business letters. Simone was doing all sorts of routine
things for us on her typewriter. She is very useful and saves many steps
as well as many minutes. Miss Taylor and I have been trying to be very
punctilious about going off duty these days. She has been after me most
severely, and the only way to keep her quiet is to do as she says, so
off I go every day, alternating her.

Nov. 1, 1917.

I had to stop on my account of day before yesterday before I had
finished the day. At five I went off in the rain with the Ford with one
of the nurses I like very much--to bring some mail and things to our
isolated nurses in the Contagious Hospital up the road. (They are
diphtheria carriers--three of them.) On the way up the road we met an
ambulance convoy bringing in wounded men. There must have been over a
hundred of them from the long line of ambulances. And passing them,
marching out, were companies of men walking along in the mud and wet
and thinking of course that that was the way many, many of these would
be coming back, as those mangled things were in the ambulances. One
can’t get used to these sights. It chokes me every time I see the men
march away. We can always tell when they are going to the front, for on
top of all that they carry on their backs is a little white
bag--containing limited rations.

After we had left our things at No. 25, we went on down town, did our
errands, left a gramophone to be repaired for one of the wards--then
went into the Cathedral for the evening service at 6. It is most
wonderful, for only a few low lights are lighted, and the shadowy
arches, the several hundred kneeling black figures, the clear tenor
voice of the priest, who sings most of the service, the hundred
responses, make it all seem like something unreal--till one realizes
that the unreal part is that it seems so strange and unusual to us, for
there have been going on just such services as that in that Cathedral
since before America was discovered! Many of us go there often to the
six o’clock services, the only trouble is that one gets frozen stiff
after a few minutes. After leaving the Cathedral we wandered about the
little narrow, wet streets, looking into windows,--clattering along in
our nailed boots, so that we sound like soldiers (but our feet are dry,
though the streets are very wet). Then came a nice supper of hot, thick
soup, steak, crisp fried potatoes and a salad,--then back to the camp in
time to hear the evening report and see the night supervisors before
they went on duty. That evening I wrote in the office.

To-day is Nov. 1st, and Phil’s birthday. I can imagine how you all are
thinking about him. I am going to play somewhere with him this afternoon
and do whatever he wants to do. Yesterday I could hardly speak to him at
all, I was so busy all day. At 5.30 I went with him for three fourths of
an hour to hear a lecture in the Y. M. C. A. tent--It was by that fine
Dr. Kelman--the Edinburgh Presbyterian minister, who has been talking in
the U. S. He spoke on “Why America Is in the War”--spoke most
wonderfully--to the British the evening before when I was in town, and
Phil could not go because he wanted to attend a medical meeting
here--But to-night we will have dinner down town.

Loads and loads of love,


Nov. 2, 1917.

Dearest Mother:--

You are all so good about writing--I cannot thank you enough and if only
there were more free hours I’d write everybody, but I just can’t.

Our hospital again is almost full to capacity, and such badly hurt
men,--amputations, two or three of them, every day out of sixteen or
seventeen operations every afternoon. Day before yesterday they had a
man on the operating table before they decided which of his legs they
had better take off! Such a price as is being paid for the new
world--but it is not too big to make the new world and liberty and peace
and brotherhood and democracy mean something. And how small a share we
are having in that price and how we’d give more if we could. I wish E.
wouldn’t think that anything we are doing is worthy of admiration--it
isn’t--we are doing so little. We love being here and would not leave
our jobs for anything that could be offered us. I am writing in bed; it
is very late but I don’t feel like sleeping yet. It is very comfortable
here in my little bed with my good light hanging beside me. The light is
such a comfort. I have bought an oil stove to try and heat this room. I
think it will make things more comfortable.

Please tell B. the music she sent me was dandy--the Kreisler piece is a
beauty. I cannot play the double stops well yet, but I’ll do better with
them after a bit. It’s a stunning thing and stays in the mind. One of
our nurses made a hit at a concert for the privates singing “Over
There,” which was new to us all here. We’d like to have all the
patriotic new things you can send like “Goodby Broadway, Hello
France”--we haven’t that yet. Tell B. I love the College news and want
to know all she is doing.

Now I guess I’d better try to sleep a bit. I’ve had a lovely time
talking to you. God keep you all, my dear ones.


November 16, 1917.

It has been a pretty long time since I last wrote a regular letter. It
has not been because we were so terribly busy, for in the last ten days
our census has come down a little and things stopped being quite as
strenuous as they had been since the first of October. Sometimes,
however, I find it hard to write and I put it off, thinking that I’ll be
feeling more like doing it the next day. I usually love to write. These
last few days, however, we have been most busy, for on the 13th at noon
we had notice that our long-expected 31 nurses would arrive that
afternoon. Capt. Johnston and I went down to meet them, leaving the
people here scurrying around trying to get enough food to feed all those
extra people and to work out the plans we made long ago, as to how we
would house them until the V. A. D.’s were taken away.

The next day most of the V. A. D.’s were taken away to the different
hospitals in this neighborhood, and to-day we are beginning to settle
down. The details of the records that are necessary, both for the
outgoing people as well as for the new-comers, have been very numerous
and complicated, but Miss Taylor and I and the little stenographer have
put things through in fairly rapid shape. I have yet many payrolls and
traveling expense vouchers and pay allotments and lists galore to attend
to, but the most immediate and important ones are finished.

We have started the new ladies all off on the wards and they seem very
much interested and thrilled and glad to be here. Since it is almost
three months since they left St. Louis, they are mighty glad to arrive
somewhere and get started to work. Poor things, they have to go through
the adjusting that we all had. They never will get used to some things,
such as the awful wounds, the appalling cheeriness of the men, and the
sight of the troops marching off to the front.

There is a perfect hubbub outside now, for the new enlisted men who
arrived to-day with the officers are celebrating with a couple of drums.
I have been so occupied all day I have not had a chance to see the new
officers, but I have seen Dr. Thomas for half a second. So E. may know
that her package will doubtless be forthcoming pretty soon.

One of my children has just been in here. A little while ago she
received a cable that her father is not expected to live, which she
can’t help interpreting to mean that he is dead, as she does not think
her family would have cabled otherwise. She is a night nurse and is, of
course, going right on with her work to-night. She is the first of our
group to whom a big sorrow has come. Of course, we all know they must
come, but when they do, we feel so far away.

I have been making many speeches this week. Just a little while ago I
had a long talk with all my American nurses; then of course I had to
have a farewell talk with the V. A. D.’s; and then all the poor new
nurses had to have me tell them, not rules and regulations, for they can
read those on the bulletin board, but a little about the way we all feel
after six months and some of the processes we have been through, which
they are pretty sure to have to go through too. It is very curious with
a group of people such as I have here, how they light up and are moved
when they are interpreted to themselves. It is the greatest delight to
me to try to make them see themselves and what they are doing, in large
terms. I try to fit the daily trials and depressions and difficulties,
and the way they take them, into their right place in their sense of
patriotism. I tell them how they felt when they were at the wonderful
service at the Cathedral at home, and at places where the bands played
and the flags waved, as in London, and such places, and then I try to
show them how their daily work can be a part of such feelings. And when
I told them of the change that had come over most of us in the six
months we have been here, I surprised them so much. I told them we had
come glad to pay that part of the price that was convenient. We had been
quite willing to give say six months’ service, and give up our big pay
for a while, and to stay as long as our future plans were not interfered
with, and as long as our health did not suffer, and so long as it really
was not a hardship to any one. But I had seen the change coming to us
all, that a bigger price than that was expected of us. I told them how
proud I was to see them all coming to the conclusion that no price would
be too big to pay for what we were working for. I told them of the peace
that I knew had come to them because individually they had decided that
their future plans did not count, their hopes deferred were of no
importance, or their health, so long as their efficiency was not
impaired, or their families, or their salaries, or their whole lives.

The change has really come. It has been most noticeable. I felt it in
myself of course, and no longer am restless and questioning. And the
questions of so many that came to me for the first few months about the
possible length of time, etc., have entirely ceased. About two weeks ago
I had to tell two nurses, for whom I had applied for discharge after six
months, that it was refused. One was to go home to be married and the
other to join her husband whom she married one hour before we left St.
Louis. Both were so splendid about the matter, and acted as though this
was the decision that they themselves would have made; I was most
impressed. And that is the spirit of the whole group. Nurses say all the
time, “I couldn’t be hired to go home now, knowing what I know now.” Oh,
they are so fine. The new group seem so surprised to find us so happy.
They also seem much surprised to find us so well off for food and
general conditions. We all look more husky and rosy-cheeked and fat than
they do.

I am going to send this much along with Phil’s, as there is no telling
when I can continue. The Gerard book and “The Chosen People” we are glad
to have. Thank you so much.

With loads and loads of love,


Nov. 25, 1917.

We had our first military funeral on the 23d, for our little boy
Sergeant who died of pneumonia. It was most impressive. At two o’clock
all who could be spared from the wards assembled in front of the grand
stand. The procession started there, first the group of sergeants who
were honorary pallbearers, then all the Officers, then American enlisted
men, then British enlisted men, then about fifty blue-coated nurses. We
marched in twos down to the mortuary and lined up along the road; then
the quaint French hearse, driven by a man in a three-cornered hat, was
driven through the long line of his friends. His brother, a little
private from the Canadian Army, accompanied by one of our men, walked
just behind, and the six active pallbearers, his best friends, walked on
the two sides. Then we all fell in and marched the mile through the mud
to the military cemetery. It is just a big field, nearly filled with
small wooden crosses, each bearing the name of a soldier. Ours was the
first American laid there. The two padres were waiting for us in their
surplices, the dearly loved British clergyman, Dr. Page, and our new
young American, Mr. Taylor, who came to relieve Dean Davis. This special
place has been set apart for Americans.

It is a lovely, quiet place outside the wall of an old French
burying-place. Far off to the West were the blue, blue hills that are on
the other side of Rouen, and nearer a long double row of bare, black
poplars. And near were the rows and rows of others who had given their
all and gone on before. One could almost feel a welcoming stir as we
laid our first American among them. A little group of French people had
gathered to see what had brought so large a cortège to a place where
there are daily interments and where every day the firing squad gives
the last salute for the brave boys from our hospitals. The beautiful
words of the service had new meaning to them. Then the salute from the
firing squad, and “Taps” from the bugler. While the officers and most of
the nurses marched away, his Masonic “brothers,” led by our Rabbi, held
their symbolic ceremony. There were many flowers, weird French wreaths,
which were hung all over the outside of the hearse when it left the
mortuary. If only Evart’s mother could have been here, it would have
comforted her to feel the love and respect of all his friends and to see
the quiet, lovely place where he is laid to rest.

We know that both the American groups have been most fortunate to have
had no deaths before this. In the natural course of events they are
bound to come, and to have our first not till after six months have
passed since we left home, was not to be expected. We will have others,
but oh, if I could only bring all my nurses back home safe to their
families! Of course, it can’t be, some will have to be sent back because
of ill health; there is a question about the lungs of one now, and some
we shall have to leave behind. It is a fearful thing to have the
responsibility of one hundred women so far away from home. Sometimes it
all seems so much, too much for me,--their health, their happiness,
their reputation and morals, their general safety and welfare. I try to
remember that the responsibility is not all mine. There are strong men
helping me, but they only have the important things to attend to about
them; I have the accumulation of all the little things as well.

All our recently received patients have been so tremendously elated and
excited about the advances made towards Cambrai. It has been wonderful
to see their enthusiasm. We have been quite busy taking care of the poor
things, 71 operations in 48 hours, a couple of days ago. It has been
raining again, and such a wind and rain storm as we had all last night
and this morning, but this afternoon it cleared up beautifully and is
very cold.

A few days ago an interesting little incident occurred. There was a
knock at my office door. When I opened it, there was a patient in his
clumsy blue suit, steadying himself against the wall. “Can you tell me
where I can find the Matron?” he said. “Yes, right here,” I answered. “I
am the Matron. What can I do for you?” He was so wobbly he almost had
to lean up against the wall. “Somebody told me,” he said, “that you had
a violin. I am a professional violinist and I have not touched a violin
for five months, and to-day I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I got up
out of bed to come and find you.” I made him come in and sit down. As it
happened I had a new violin and bow, which had been bought for our
embryo orchestra, here in my office. The violin was not tuned up, but
that didn’t matter. The man had it in shape in no time and then he began
to play, and how he could play! We let him take the violin down to his
tent, and later I sent him some of my music. He was a shell shock, and
all the evening and the next few days until he was sent to England he
played to wrapt audiences of fellow patients. In our wards we have lots
of kinds of music, from gramophones to comb-and-tissue-paper bands. The
men are keen about anything that makes a tune. A lot of harmonicas would
be a great blessing.

We had such a wonderful lot of letters this morning. I got 12 and Phil
9. I had four from Mother--October 29, November 1, and November 8, and I
forget the other date, as Phil has it with him. We had a wonderful time
reading each other’s mail. I could not finish until way into the
afternoon, I had so many things to do. Letters do make such a
difference. I was so glad all these came this A.M., for it is very cold
and we admitted 250 patients at noon, but letters will counteract most
anything. Somebody wrote in the only copy of the _Survey_ I have seen
since I left home that the two things that did troops the most good were
letters and singing, and it is true about nurses too. Speaking of
singing, can you send me some copies of the new Army and Navy Song
Book--say 2 or 3 dozen, if they are not too expensive, or more if
possible? I have 100 women, but of course we never can all get together
at one time. The October 6th _Survey_ mentioned that book as excellent.
I’ll answer the letters soon. They were wonderful and full of juicy
bits. You are all so very, very dear to write so much and your letters
make such a difference.

Phil has his “Board” to-morrow and will soon know what is to happen to



December 8, 1917.

Dearest Dad and Mother:--

I wonder if this will reach you before Christmas, if so it brings you
all my love. It is just beastly not being able to send presents, but we
found so few things that were not dutiable and worth the trouble you’d
have to take, so hardly any one in the Unit is sending gifts. I have
been writing notes and letters as much as I could, but I have not sent
half on my list, for I have been feeling quite badly the past week and
for the past three days have been in bed. It’s just an inflammation or
infection in my trachea,--not really bronchitis but quite an acute
affair which has made me very sick. I have been having wonderful care
here in my own room and people are just spoiling me. Steam and benzoin
inhalations have done me the most good. Major Fischel and Lieut. Praetz,
the throat specialist, have been seeing me every day and I am about to
be well, and hope to be up to-morrow. It began with terrific hoarseness
and the trouble has stayed below my throat, and also there has been a
bad cold in my head,--but with chills and a little fever; it might have
been much worse if I had not had such good care. It has been very cold
and damp and many of my poor children have had very bad colds and
coughs. I was awfully embarrassed to have to go and do likewise. My
cough is much better, and I really don’t feel as sick to-day as I did
yesterday and before.

Ruth has been doing so much for me and looking after me and lots of
others too. Phil is here beside me now, reading. E.’s eiderdown jacket
came just in the nick of time, and I’ve looked very smart in it, my
Jaeger bag and darker brown blanket. My little oil stove has made the
room quite comfortable (for me in bed); not so much so for my callers,
as the floor is quite cold. Everything was frozen solid yesterday
morning,--I mean fire-buckets, etc., but to-day is milder and I’m not
needing the stove at all this afternoon. I have been showered with
flowers and books and all sorts of things, but I am keen to get up.

To-day Miss Taylor brought a lot of mail, a few letters, and packages of
all sorts. It’s being very hard to keep track of all the things that are
being sent to us. I am trying to keep a list. It is down in the office
now. But lots of strangers are sending things. Some day I’ll write you a
story about missionary barrels! But I’ll surely send you a list of
things that have been sent. We do appreciate gifts here, but, oh Mother,
some have been so funny, and never in the whole of our lives have we
seen so much candy and chocolate.

This is not a good preamble to say thanks for your dear things which
have been so thoughtful. The white cap and wristlets came to-day and are
wonderful, so soft and nice. I shall very probably wear the cap nights.
I have been using one of the khaki crocheted caps you sent Phil as a
sample and model for some dark blue ones for my nurses. I am having them
made in town. They must be dark blue to be uniform and to go with the
dark blue sweaters. My night nurses’ heads nearly freeze. Phil let me
have two of the brown caps right away till I can get blue ones made. I
am having my two night supervisors wear them. Just think, they are out
of doors these freezing nights practically the whole twelve hours. You
see they go from tent to tent and all over the place, looking after the
sickest and the dying patients and helping the nurses any way they can.
Often it is just comforting the nurses that is their main job. Night
before last on one line two men died suddenly almost at the same moment
and the poor little nurse could hardly stand it, but the supervisor just
had to comfort and brace, as well as help physically. These supervisors
have a hut to go into where all the night nurses have suppers and where
there is a little stove. They write their reports there, but it is
almost twelve solid hours out of doors every night for a month. We have
them all bundled up with gaiters and knickers and two or three sweaters
and caps and coats and mittens, but they do get chilled through. If you
want to knit us some regulation wristlets with a hole for the thumb,
please do. We need lots of them. They can be either gray or dark blue.
Our nurses are not wearing anything on duty that isn’t gray or dark
blue. The sweaters were too awful until this rule went out, lavender,
old rose, yellow, green, dirty white, etc.

Well, so much for caps,--you could send us more of those too, if you
want to, or mufflers, all gray or dark blue, preferably dark blue. The
wristlets with thumb holes can be worn working and the fingers are left
free. I’ve knitted several pairs here myself.

Well, to return to presents. The Cross handkerchief case with the beauty
handkerchiefs also came and I just love them. They are so dainty and
wonderful and so _unsuitable_ for active service that I know that is the
reason you sent them and I’m so glad. I shall use them too, and not let
them get lost and they’ll be so _inappropriate_ held in a gray-mittened
hand mopping a frozen nose, but so nice! I have a weenty bottle of rose
perfume that L. put in my medicine case,--I’m sure for just such a

We love your letters so much. The Nov. 1st one with all its inclosures
was fine.

We are so glad people are sending us things for our men for Christmas.
Oh, they need them so badly, the poor, poor things, and we want them to
have a wonderful Christmas, and they are sure to. For many of our
friends are sending us things or money for them. The underwear I have
heard from, from Paris, and it ought to arrive soon. The _Outlook_ has
begun to come and is fine. We shall enjoy that tremendously, for it
condenses things for us in a way we need. I could use some more
bed-socks, high ones. We have to wear them in bed, and I find that by
putting the pajama leg inside the sock, my legs and feet are very
comfortable. I’d like them to come nearly to the knees; any color will

We were so glad to know about your service flag. I wish we could have a
picture of it, as we don’t know what it is like. The cold cream you sent
I wanted very much. I have to use quantities of it to keep from
chapping, and we can’t get any glycerine over here. Some of my nurses
have such dreadfully chilblained hands and feet, and they are so

D.’s letters are very interesting. Please thank her for them. I just
can’t write and answer them all. You’ve no idea how many strangers I
have to write to,--in the States, I mean,--answering questions and
acknowledging gifts; but I just love to get the letters from the girls;
I can’t write them often. I’m snowed under now with letters that need to
be answered.

You must think of us over here as having one of the happiest Christmases
possible. Our work is pitiful, but we are at peace in our hearts and
very happy to be here. I never felt so at peace and quiet in my mind. We
have a very big and vital work to do right here and that is enough, and
we are blessed beyond all words to be here and able to do it.

I believe there is more real peace on earth in men’s and women’s hearts
now in the midst of this world turmoil than has ever been known before.
No one should be sorry for us, for any of us who are here in connection
with the army. You can’t be sorry enough for the wounded and sick, but
most of them too are very peaceful, undisturbed, and unafraid. Oh I wish
I could tell you what all this is meaning, as I see it. Maybe some day I
can, for every day I am seeing things more clearly, but as yet I can’t
write it all down,--after a while perhaps. We talk about it, from time
to time, some of us, every once in a while, and oh, dear people, no
greater thing can ever come into any one’s life than this chance of
ours,--to get away from little things and self and to know what the
things of the Spirit are, and what true values really are.

A happy Christmas to you all and oh, so much love. I can’t bear to stop
writing when I think that this will reach you at Christmas time. (Phil
is going to Paris to-morrow and may not be back by Christmas.) But
together or apart, we’ll be thinking of you all and praying to God to
spare you till we can see you again. But if it can’t be that way, it
won’t matter so much, for if any one of you goes on before, you will be
just so much nearer to us, for you will understand the end from the
beginning and be content as you watch how we fight our fight, and we’ll
feel your nearness and get strength and comfort from it, and there won’t
be anything but complete love and understanding between us. It is going
to be a long time before we come home, but it doesn’t matter, miles make
no difference. You are wonderful, and we, of course, must be wonderful

I believe this will be one of your happiest Christmases, as it is ours.

Good-night, good-night, dear ones,


Dec. 15, 1917.

My little Corona has come back from London where it went to be cleaned
and I feel as though an old and dear friend had come back. It’s a cold
Saturday night. Up in the Mess nurses are making Christmas stockings,
one thousand of them, so that they can be filled with all kinds of nice
little things that we are receiving from all over the country, and be
given, one to each man on Christmas morning. It really is quite a job
for each nurse to make ten stockings, but they are getting done. The
hospital is not quite so heavy as it has been very steadily all autumn,
and temporarily, at least, the pressure has let up a bit. I have sent
five nurses away on leave. After six months’ service each nurse is
entitled to 15 days’ leave with pay, but up to now we have not been
able to spare the nurses, for we have always a few who are sick. I have
six sick ones over in the Sick Sisters’ Hospital now, but if things stay
as they are now, I won’t have to send for the ones who are on leave. My
sick ladies are not very sick. One has an infected finger, another an
infected big toe, and the others have slight fevers, or very bad colds
which are really the grippe. It is such a blessing that we have such a
splendid place to send our sick nurses.

To-night I want to tell you a bit about gifts and givers. All the mail
for the nurses has to be brought to my office to be sorted again: some
to be forwarded to English sisters or V. A. D.’s who have left, some to
be taken out to be brought up to the Sick Sisters, some to be put away
until those on leave return, and some to be hunted up on lists and
forwarded if possible. A man brings the papers and packages in large
sacks. Sometimes there have been three or four sacks full on the same
day. He empties them on the floor and Miss Taylor and I sort it out. I
wish you could see what we have had here on the floor. There have been
jam, coffee beans, and pounds of ground coffee, lump sugar and
granulated sugar, cocoa and chocolate by the pound, hard candies and
soft candies, cookies, and fruit cake, chewing-gum, cigarettes, woolen
underwear, shoes, knitted things, magazines without wrappings or
covers, bits of glass bottles, letters without envelopes, talcum
powder, Christmas cards “with love from Aunt Mary,” “Merry Christmas and
don’t forget me,” from John H. Jones, Jr., Kansas City, or Roanoke, Va.,
and toothpaste. You just ought to see what a tube of pink toothpaste can
do to a bag of mail, but the worst of all were the jam and the talcum
powder. You would not believe that a large can of Colgate’s talcum
powder could break right in two, but I have seen two of them broken
clean through the middle. And as for the comfort bags for soldiers, you
ought to see the way some of those have arrived, sans paper, sans
string, together just because the things were in a bag and the address
was tied to the bag string. Cardboard boxes never arrive intact. Tin
containers get stove in. (I don’t know the past participle of that word,
maybe it’s _stiven_.) If a tin box with sharp edges is nicely wrapped in
paper, it is apt to arrive without the paper, which the sharp edges have
worn through. Even wooden boxes are frequently broken. Everything is
crushed and then of course the strings come off and the contents begin
to shake out. The long, long journey is what does the damage, the many
weeks of rubbing and shaking. A five-pound box of Maillard’s candy
packed in a round tin box, arrived for me the other day without the
cover of the tin box and with the cover of the inside box broken, the
candy just protected by the tinfoil inside. But not a piece was missing.
There really have been very few instances where we have not been able to
identify the person for whom the package was meant, but sometimes, I can
assure you it has taken considerable ingenuity.

The British and the Australians have discovered that the best way to
insure the arrival intact of any article is to put it in a box and then
sew it up in cloth. If it gets mashed or jammed or “stove in,” the
contents are very likely to remain inside the cloth covering. Just
ordinary heavy unbleached muslin does beautifully. I’d hate to have Dad
know how his lovely electric pad arrived, or E. her pretty brown
bed-jacket. Magazines and papers should be rolled and wrapped and tied
around and through. The parcel post is the quickest and safest and
entirely the most convenient way for us to receive things. For express
packages we have to go to town and usually pay charges, even if they
have been paid before. And express is very slow.

People are sending us wonderful things. We really are being too awfully
spoiled and are getting so much more than we deserve. Fortunately lots
of people are sending us things for our patients’ Christmas, which is
what we like best of all. But oh the acknowledging! I really am so
swamped with the list I have already made of strangers to whom I must
write, I have decided to use a regular form letter and have Simone write
this for me on the typewriter. I am sure people will forgive me; they
would if they knew what a lot I have to write and how little free time I
really have. Here in the office daytimes there are things to be done
every minute. I have been trying for a week to get my accounts ready to
be audited, just merely to put the receipts by months, and I have not
had a chance till late this afternoon, and then I was interrupted a
dozen times, once to take a sister of a very sick patient down to the
lines to see him. She had just come from England. On the way down she
said, “My, but this is different to London, but give me London.” Other
times I had to stop to give knitted caps to nurses. I have just had some
made here in Rouen. Another time it was to help a Y. M. C. A. worker
look up a patient’s record, another time to let a little night nurse
tell me about a patient who had died on her line last night, and how he
had said to her, “Sister, stay with me,” and she had sat beside him and
held his hand, and how she wouldn’t have missed this opportunity of
working with the English for anything in the world, and although she has
a cough which hangs on pretty long she is feeling fine and well and just
loves night duty here, the nights are so wonderful, and last night the
searchlights on the clouds were most beautiful and gave one such a
feeling of protection. She’s a little, slender, 25-year old Virginian
with such a pretty speech. Such are the constant interruptions, but they
are of course what I am here for, just such interruptions.

And now I want to tell you a little about givers. To begin with, there
was an old lady in an Old Ladies’ Home in St. Louis who wrote to ask if
she might make for me and my patients some bookmarks with verses on
them. Of course I wrote back that she could. After a while along came a
box of about a dozen long ribbon bookmarks, all the colors of the
rainbow, with cross-stitched verses on them like “God is love,” “Be of
good cheer.” I got a wounded soldier that I knew pretty well to write
her the best note of thanks he knew how, and I have since heard from her
that she received his letter and felt fully rewarded for her pains. The
padre said he would help distribute some of them. I saw the soldier’s
letter. It was quite typical and was full of such expressions as “fed up
with,” “carry on,” “stick it,” “Blighty,” etc., and I am sure would be a
real object of interest and curiosity at the Old Ladies’ Home!

Then there was the King’s Daughters of Pilgrim Church, dear kind people,
who sent 40 lbs. of sweet chocolate to Ruth and me, also I don’t know
how many pounds of coffee. The chocolate was in four ten-pound cakes:
delicious chocolate about two feet long, a foot wide, and two inches
thick, Hershey’s. We’ve given it away in hunks. Nobody in all the world
ever saw such cakes of chocolate. We pounded it up, or rather cracked it
up with a hammer, and many people enjoyed it. R. never can have too
much. I have another 5 lbs. of sweet chocolate unopened as yet
(Maillard’s), put away for the time when rations fail us. There is also
a three-pound box of Chicago candy in storage on my shelf. We’ll eat it
all after a while, you may be sure. Then the fruit cakes, such wonders.
Mr. C. sent some simply perfect ones to both R. and me, and I have
another from Scruggs in St. Louis being saved. People are so dear. Mrs.
H.’s box of salted nuts, dates, and raisins struck a most popular chord,
they were such good things. A dear Jewish lady in St. Louis who hardly
knew me at all sent a box of cookies and little cakes, which didn’t
arrive in very good condition, as they were all in crumbs, but wasn’t it
kind of her? We feel like missionaries getting barrels. The Sorosis
Carol Club’s comfort bags have been coming and coming. They are now
stacked up in my sitting-room waiting till Christmas, when they are
going to give lots of pleasure to sick boys, who are so much like little
children. Think of a whole tent-full of men howling to have some powder
put on their backs because a nurse had just put some on a very sick
man’s back when she was rubbing his back for him. I have a letter to-day
that the St. Louis Comforts Committee of the U. S. Navy League is
sending us 100 wristlets. Well, we can use them.

It is snowing to-day (Sunday the 16th) and you can’t imagine how lovely
the camp looks. It is very cold. But I think all my people are warmly
enough dressed. They are funny-looking nurses and not much like the
fancy pictures of nurses, as they paddle around to-day. They have on
round, blue, tight-fitting knitted caps, sweaters, and wristlets, gray
dresses and aprons. Some have on their rain-coats and rubber boots, and
some have on leather gaiters and heavy boots. They all have
knickerbockers under their uniforms, and some, I know, have knitted
sleeveless Jimmy shirts on top of two sets of underwear. But they are as
happy as can be and make all sorts of fun about being sewed up for the
winter and not needing to brush their hair if they keep their little
caps on both night and day, as many do.

Getting up in the mornings is great. The fires have just been started
and have not heated things up a bit and frost is all over everything,
and it is a real stunt to get dressed. Over in the Mess at breakfast
sometimes the nurses eat with gloves on. But soon the two little stoves
warm things up, and groups gather around each fire to make toast, “just
to get the frost out of the bread,” as one said this morning. Then they
bundle up and go chattering down to the lines to look after their boys.
The tents are really quite cozy when they are shut up tight, but the air
in them gets very bad. The night nurses have the hardest time because
they can’t move around so much and they find it hard to keep warm, but
the Night Supervisors make hot cocoa and toast for them in the Night
Duty Hut over their little stove there, and give each nurse a chance to
get warmed up about four o’clock in the morning. They have a hot supper
in the Hut at midnight. We have a big basket of food sent down from the
Mess each evening and one nurse who is “Jane” for a week at a time
prepares it and makes coffee. It is no end primitive, for they have no
running water and just a tiny stove and an oil lamp, but I bought some
pretty dishes for them and they seem to enjoy their night suppers very
much. When the doctors operate late, they drop in for a bite too. Many,
many nights the nurses have scarcely a moment in which to eat. They
can’t always be relieved by a supervisor or another nurse, and may have
to leave their lines in charge of the orderly while they go to eat. But
almost every nurse likes night duty, the nights are so beautiful and so
varying and the experiences are so vivid.

But to go back to gifts and givers. The packages for soldiers are
waiting to go into stockings. The Washington University nurses sent such
nice boxes to all of us W. U. people,--sleeveless sweaters, bed socks,
nuts, candies, and nut cake, with coffee and chocolate. A stranger who
had heard some of my letters is sending a gramophone. Magazines and
notes and cards galore come all the time. People are so good. And we are
just being spoiled. We have heard of lots of other things on the way. I
am just worried that I will neglect to make a note of some of these
things that come and the kind giver won’t know how much pleasure and
happiness the gift has brought.

I suppose most of you have read Donald Hankey’s book “A Student in
Arms.” We have had a lot of discussion about the chapter called
“Discipline and Leadership.” The Major says he has changed his point of
view entirely since he has been in the army, and now he agrees with the
book entirely. I have not reached that point as yet. I am sure that I
must be wrong, but I can’t get away from the feeling that you can do the
most with people when you appeal to the best in them, and don’t insist
on discipline for discipline’s sake. Army life is altogether different
from civilian life, and what held there does not hold here. But in my
dealings with the nurses I am probably on the wrong tack, and will
undoubtedly come a cropper before we get back because my discipline has
not been rigid enough, and I’ve been getting results because of my
“personality” rather than because of my “orders.” It is an interesting
matter for discussion.

This letter has grown to be very long because it has rambled all over
the field. It must call a halt now, for soon it will be time to have
supper, then practise hymns for Christmas Eve.


Dec. 28, 1917.

The wind is swirling and howling outside and it is very cold, about the
coldest day we’ve had, I think. I have put a little table over nearer
the stove than my big desk-table is and here a couple of feet away from
the fire, the heat is quite noticeable. It’s an amusing sight to see
Miss Taylor and me doing our work down here mornings with mittens on.
With those nice fingerless ones, we can typewrite or write most
comfortably. It’s the wind that is making things so cold this evening.
Not that it has been warm on the days when there was no wind, for it has
been for over two weeks that some fire buckets in my sitting-room have
been solid ice. Useful in case of fire, I can hear some one say. Yes,
but to-day some chemical fire extinguishers, that I have been making a
big howl for, have arrived upon the scene and I shall sleep more
peacefully, for our huts are like match-boxes. Every morning the water
in our pitchers is frozen and the ink in fountain pens. We have to jerk
our tooth-brushes out of the glasses and pry the soap off of the
soap-dishes. In the Mess, our drinking-water bottles have ice in them,
like the Waldorf. There is one story that some believe and some don’t,
but the nurse swears it is true, and that is--that her hot-water bottle
was frozen solid in the morning in her bed. I asked about it and learned
that it had been placed outside her sleeping bag and had slipped down to
the foot of the bed where the blankets were loose, but it was frozen. It
is most amusing the howls one hears in the mornings; it is so hard to
get up. The fires don’t get things warmed up a bit, for a long time, and
it is like getting up out of doors. We all have schemes about how to
dress at night so that dressing in the morning will necessitate the
least exposure and the least changing. It is awfully funny and doesn’t
hurt us a bit. The chilblains hurt and are awful, but heroic treatment
helps. There are parades of barefoot ladies who go and walk in the snow
nights, then come in and rub and roar; then there are the cold-water
foot baths, which are said to be worse than the snow treatment.
Occasionally a day or two off duty is necessary for very bad hands or
feet. Almost everybody wears two pairs of woolen stockings and monstrous
shoes, and oh! the money that is being spent on having shoes made to
order--very high ones with extra thick soles. But on the whole a
stranger would think our group looks mighty fat and well. There are a
lot of coughs that hang on. To-day, for instance, out of my 99 women, I
have just three off duty sick,--one has an infected thumb; another an
infected toe; and the third, poor dear, has been having a painful
attack. But at home in steam-heated apartments, we could not do better
than that. Some dear lambs walk with a good deal of a limp when they
first go on duty in the mornings, but as the days progress their feet
feel better. I have been awfully lucky, though I came near getting some
trouble started. I walked downtown with Major Veeder last Sunday, when
we were going down to dinner, and that night the balls of my feet and
the heels got very burning and swollen, but vigorous treatment stopped
the trouble.

This is a very quiet Sunday--Dec. 30th, 1917,--and every nurse is having
a full half day off duty. We have over eight hundred patients, but there
are not so very many that are desperately sick. I want to tell you all
about our wonderful Christmas and I hope I won’t be much disturbed, for
I am in the office, as Miss Taylor is off duty. The nurses and doctors,
helped by a few home gifts, raised about $600 to be spent for
Christmas. About $200 of that, it was decided, was to go to some Rouen
charity for children. So one cold day, Major Murphy, Major Veeder, and I
went to look up the names of some philanthropic organizations that had
been given us by the Mayor. I forgot to say that the first move was a
call that Major Veeder and I made on the Mayor to get a list of the
accredited charities. You would have been amused and proud (?) to hear
me explain in slow and careful French who we were and what we wanted.
But I got it over, and the list was sent us with many respectful
salutations. When we visited some of the societies on the list, we had a
most interesting time. We three would take turns in speaking the French
and explaining what we wanted. We’d rehearse on the front door steps
like so many kids. We visited a refuge for little boys--such a poor,
bare place, managed by a priest and some sisters; then a sort of
industrial school; then the office of the Society for the care of war
orphans. Here we got the names of ten families to which we could send
special New Year’s baskets. We decided to give something to each of
these societies, and, in all, spend about $200. There has been lots of
fun about the baskets, for the doctors auctioned off the privilege of
having a family, and with each family there went the name of a nurse who
was to help. Many of the families got visited yesterday, and baskets of
clothes and toys and food were purchased, and on New Year’s morning,
they are going to be delivered.

Then for our patients, we bought pork, extra, for their dinner, and
beer. The English Government sent them plum puddings. We wanted turkey
or chicken, but found we could not afford it for so many. But they loved
the pork. We had been making fancy Christmas stockings for days, and a
committee, of which Ruth Cobb was chairman, had been having a very bad
time trying to buy and get delivered enough supplies to fill them. There
had been great fun filling them. We had requisitioned all the candy and
cigarettes we could from the officers, and we got them to help fill, so
by Christmas Eve, when we had about 750 filled, we thought we were quite
safe, as a great many patients had been sent out, but that evening we
were notified to be prepared to receive two convoys of a hundred each,
during the night. The Committee almost wept, but they got very busy and
by 10 o’clock on Christmas morning every patient in the hospital had
received a stocking with fruit, tobacco, candies, nuts, and some kind of
a present in it. Only one of the convoys had arrived by noon--the other
one got delayed somewhere. The patients were just like little boys with
their stockings, and the nurses had just as much fun with them as
though they had been. The one-armed men could not untie the necks of
their stockings, which had to be tied up tight, and so their shouts all
through those tents: “Oh, Sister, come and snip mine next.” The Sisters
dashed around, snipping and untying and pulling snappers and fitting on
paper caps. The British Red Cross sent us a lot of decorations and
things we could use for the stockings, and the Australian Red Cross gave
some money as did the American Red Cross. The boxes the St. Louis
Chapter of the American Red Cross sent for the Unit have not arrived

Now about the singing on Christmas Eve, which was the loveliest part of
the whole Christmas to me. At 8:15 about 50 bundled-up nurses left the
quarters and walked down across the snow, each carrying her candle
lantern. It was the loveliest sight, for the night was perfect. It was
not too cold and the snow made everything so bright. I had my violin to
start them with and keep them on the key. We began at one corner of the
camp and just as soon as we had started we were joined by all the
officers and a number of the enlisted men, and soon up-patients gathered
around too, so as we went from place to place between the lines of tents
we must have been a crowd of over 200 people. I wish you could have seen
what I saw. I knew the tunes so well I could watch the others as I
played. Officers and nurses, and patients and nurses looking together
over one sheet of words (we had had the words mimeographed, for we have
only two hymn books of the same kind), while one of them held the
lantern so that the light fell on the paper. And all were singing so
intently and so happily. One group of patients, who said they wanted to
learn those “Yankee tunes,” pushed and shoved to be by me every time
because they said they wanted to be near the “band.” We sang--“Oh, Come,
All Ye Faithful.” That everybody knew; and “Hark, the Herald Angels,”
and “It Came upon the Midnight Clear,” and “Oh, Little Town of
Bethlehem,” and “Holy Night, Silent Night.” We sang in eight places. It
is something I shall never forget if I live to be a hundred, and I
imagine a good many felt the same way. If there only were some other way
we could have community singing. There is nothing like it. I was worn to
a frazzle afterwards, but it was worth any amount of effort. The night
nurses said the patients loved it, only there was not enough of it,
though we sang for an hour and a half all together.

After the singing we in our hut had a little hut party. We had a little
Christmas tree, with fool presents on it for each one of us with a
rhyme. You don’t know what lovely tree decorations can be made out of
the silver-foil out of candy boxes; a bit of gilt fringe which was
carefully raveled was a great find. We had a nice little family party,
ending with cocoa and little cookies; then parted for the night. At
midnight Ruth and I went with a group of the Catholic nurses over across
the road to the midnight service in their chapel.

Christmas night we had a party in our Mess for just our American
officers and nurses. The Mess had been beautifully decorated with holly
and greens and we had our dinner early (4 and 5), so that all the tables
could be taken out and a stage set. Three or four of the doctors and a
couple of nurses acted a little burlesque which they adapted from
something they saw in _Punch_. It was full of local hits and was very
amusing and clever. Then we had a monologue by another of the doctors,
which was very good; then some songs by another doctor. Do you know
“Joan of Arc, They are Calling You”? That was one of them. Then came the
“Army Alphabet” written by two of the nurses and read by me. It wound up
with a scene about “U is us as we used to be” and gave a chance for a
bunch of pretty girls to dress up in mufti, and how pretty they did look
after all this somber uniform stuff. They had a little business about
going to say good-by to a friend of theirs who was just off for France
as a nurse, then when I got to--

    “Y’s for the years and years till we’ve done,
     When we’ve healed every Tommy and killed every Hun,
     Then old and decrepit and wrinkled and gray,
     To America’s shores we’ll wend our way.
     They set dogs on old ‘Rip’--
     He was gone twenty years--
     Oh, what will they do--
     When this Unit appears?”

Then they had a scene to show how we would appear. It was killingly
funny and brought down the house. Then we wound up with a dance. Lots of
the group said it was the nicest Christmas they could possibly imagine.
I was so glad, for it might have been so different, for Christmas is a
lonesome time and nobody had time to be lonesome here. We have not had
any mail for ages. Some packages came through the week before Christmas,
but I have had no letters from the States since those that came written
about November 24th. We keep hoping every day that a big batch will

All the hospitals around us are entertaining a lot this week. They are
having “at homes” or concerts or little plays, and there seems to be
something doing every afternoon or evening. It is an awfully good thing,
and I really suppose we ought to give some sort of an affair here, but
how I don’t want to!

Now good night and loads and loads of love to you all, you very dear
ones. The Red Cross card Mother sent nearly broke me up,--especially
what she wrote on the back.


January 22, 1918.

I have just realized that it is about three weeks since I last wrote. I
don’t know how it happened to be so long, except that I guess there has
not been very much of special interest to say. I have not done all my
thanking for Christmas presents yet and I have been getting along with
those little by little and so had not noticed that I had not written a
regular for so long. The past two weeks have been very mild, in great
contrast to the month before. The warmish, damp weather has not been any
too good for the general health of the group, for we have continued to
have a good deal of the “flue,” as the British call the influenza. But
the chilblains are all better.

The hospital has continued to have about the same number of patients
right along. We vary between eight and ten hundred, sending out some
every day and getting in convoys nearly every night. We get such a lot
of medical cases now and such a lot of trench feet, which are such
dreadful things. They are the result of wet and cold and are often very
serious. They are very painful and sometimes result in gangrene. To-day
one poor lad had to be told that he would have to lose both feet because
of this trouble, and he is simply crushed. To-morrow he will buck up,
but to-night it seems too much to be borne. We have some terribly sick
men, but not so large a proportion of them as awhile ago. I am sending
as many nurses away for their leave as I possibly can while the work is
not so dreadfully heavy. I have had about thirty away for their fifteen
days already. Ruth Cobb is in Paris now with Miss Watkins. Most of the
nurses go to Paris. Three have been down to Cannes, but they were sent
through the British authorities. In a few days my splendid assistant is
going to Paris with three of her pals. I shall miss her very much as she
is a wonderful right-hand man, and one I depend on a lot. After she gets
back, which will be Feb. 8th, I expect to go for my leave. I am planning
to go to London, for I want to see Elizabeth M. and I want to get away
from nurses. I could not do that in Paris, nor at Cannes, nor at
Mentone; besides which I don’t want to go to any of those places alone,
and I can’t go very well with any nurses from here. So it’s London for
me. I don’t mind the Channel trip, nor possibilities of air raids, nor
bad weather.

I find I am right tired though it is not from hard, physical work of any
kind, for I certainly am not doing that. I guess it is from
responsibility, and more or less of a long-continued strain. Anyway a
change will do me good. We all get fifteen days every six months if we
can manage it. You see we are all overdue here, and there are so many of
us I can’t possibly get around before the second fifteen days will be
due. I will cable from London some time while I am there just to let you
know I am there safely.

More strange gifts still come along.... I am not properly grateful for
cast-off clothes, I’m afraid, especially when they are flung at one
without a word. However, I ought to be ashamed to growl. But so many,
many people have been so wonderfully good to us and have sent us such
superlative things with dear notes saying that the best was none too
good for us, I am afraid we are plain spoiled.

You can’t imagine what fun we have talking about what we will do first
when we get home. It is a favorite game. Some want theaters, some want
real concerts, like symphonies, some want warm, marble bath-rooms, some
great big soft beds, some lovely fluffy evening clothes, some automobile
rides in parks, some ice-cream. A whole lot want some kind of bread
stuffs, muffins, biscuits, popovers, waffles, pancakes. That is what I
want among other things, but most of all I want to see my family and my
friends. The days go by rapidly, but it seems years since we left, and
it is going to be a long, long time before we get home. We play games at
the table about the food, pretending that it is something else. We have
awfully good food considering, but of course it gets monotonous and
tiresome, and one needs to be good and hungry all the time to enjoy it.
But most of us are very hungry at meal-times and have good appetites; it
is when you are a bit off your feed you think how nice it would be to
have some good milk toast with real butter, real milk, and real bread.
To-day, for instance, I’ll tell you what our food was. Breakfast: good
oatmeal with boiled milk and sugar, coffee, war bread, which one of the
group toasted before the fire for our table, “bacon” the eternal, which
is fried ham, and not very good. Lunch: a kind of meat loaf, rice, with
cheese (which we have about every other day), bread and butter, cocoa,
and stewed figs, stewed without sugar. With the meat and rice was
creamed yellow turnip. Dinner: brown meat and gravy, boiled potatoes and
beets, coffee and a kind of chocolate bread-pudding, which somebody said
was bread soaked in left-over cocoa. This really was not a very good day
for food, but you see it was all nourishing, and it was cooked well, but
it is not fancy. After lunches and dinners like that, if we have some
candy or fruit cake in our rooms, we go and have some of that for
dessert. Mother’s box from Charles with all the fancy things for a
tea-party came yesterday. It had been opened and not very well repacked,
so that the crackers and cookies were a bit the worse for the journey,
but I think I can freshen them up. It is queer that any one should have
found it necessary to open a box of crackers to see what it contained.

The music E. sent and the songs that Mother sent all came safely and I
am so glad to have it all. Sunday night I had a beautiful time with one
of the nurses, playing through the new book of duets. The new songs are
being used constantly. Mrs. McB.’s box of books arrived this week after
its long wanderings. It was most welcome. The books are already giving
the greatest pleasure. I have already read three of them myself. Even
the doctors come to me for books every now and then, so it is fine to
have some good ones on hand to lend to them as well as the nurses.

I see Phil every once in a while. He was down last night at a little
dance in our mess which I did not attend. I have learned both the
onestep and the foxtrot over here in my old age! I was down to dinner
twice the week before with him. It is very pleasant to walk down with
him late in the afternoon, wander around a little, get a good dinner,
then walk back again, talking over all the latest news from letters or
camp gossip. He seems to be enjoying his work at No. 25 Stationary
Hospital very much, though he does not find the work at all arduous.

This is a very dull letter, but it is meant to tell you that we are all
“carrying on” as usual, are all “in the pink” and feeling “champion.” A
few of our number have been a bit “seedy,” but are “going on fine.” We
are all wondering “where do we go from here,” but rumor says that we
won’t be moved before Summer, which we hope is true. We have very few
among us who are “grousers,” but even they would not like to leave this

Tell Elsie, please, that I use her brown jacket every night and it is
the nicest thing. I don’t need anything for my sitting-room now that it
is so comfortable and attractive. It has a little coal stove in it now,
which makes it awfully nice for evenings. I am not there much in the
daytimes except for French lessons. I am always having some flowers
there, people are so nice. I have some white lilacs (!) there
now--lovely forced things that are really sweet.

It is getting late and I must beat it to bed. I’ll try to write sooner
this next time.

With loads and loads of love,


Dad’s letter dated Dec. 25th is the latest I have heard from you, I
think. A nice letter from Isabelle dated Dec. 13th arrived a few days

Feb. 6, 1918.

A draft of men is marching by singing and whistling and shouting, which
shows us that they are off to the front, for that is the way the troops
leave to go to the trenches. I am very tired and spunkless to-night, and
I haven’t any lofty thoughts and inspirations, for the needs of the
flesh are seeming to predominate, and what I want more than anything
else is a wonderful hot bath in a beautiful warm bathroom, and then such
a long sleep in a beautiful big bed, where I cannot hear any
bugle-calls, any breakfast bells, any coughing nurses, or anything
except perhaps soothing, joyriding automobiles. You can see my state of
mind. Miss Taylor has been away on her leave for almost a fortnight,
which has meant that things have been a good deal harder for me, even
though I have had a very capable nurse to assist me in the office. But I
am edgy and irritable and need to get away myself.

We have had a lot of perplexities to deal with, and I have needed to use
continuous alertness of mind to keep up with the details. For instance,
it requires five separate papers for each nurse who goes on leave, and I
have had fifteen gone at a time for over two months, the group changing
every day or so, and I must see that every paper is correct or
something will go wrong; the Ford won’t be there to take them to the
train, they won’t have the papers which enable them to get the military
fare on the train, or they won’t have the proper form of request for a
new serge uniform which they can order and get fitted in Paris, or they
will arrive back at the station with a heavy suitcase and no way of
getting home except with much difficulty; or some one won’t be scheduled
to take their work in the wards, or they won’t have received their
salary before they left, or they have not told at which hotel they were
planning to stay, etc. etc.

Ah well, I will be a much nicer person when I get back from my leave. I
am due to go on the 11th to London to be with Elizabeth M.

The present group that are on leave, at least most of them, had the
experience of being in a bombed city. Ruth was there and thought it all
most interesting. Their hotel was near enough to the bombed district to
make the experience unforgettable, although they were not in any way
alarmed or hurt.

Will Elsie please thank little Alice for her fine letter? I didn’t know
that she could write so well and use such big words. I hope she will
write me again soon. I am crazy about my little service flag. It is
quite a curiosity here. The cold you have had over there has been far
worse than ours. So far we have had only about a month of really cold
weather. Some of my Jewish nurses--I have three or four--were much
interested in the “Chosen People.” I am so glad that there is a chance
of Dad’s getting the song-books for us. We had a great sing a week ago
Sunday evening, only such hymns! regular revival ones.

It is late and I must get to bed. I do feel your love and I need it so

Loads and loads of love.

Feb. 10, 1918.

It is a glorious, sunny, mild, Springy day here. The patients who can
walk are crawling out into the sun. Many beds have been carried out so
that some of the sickest may have the benefit of the warm rays of the
run. The nurses walk around with a kind of sauntering air that shows
that they are able to appreciate the lovely day and the precious lack of
rush. This afternoon there will be many walks. Last Sunday afternoon I
had a perfect walk. We were gone from two to six-thirty, and walked
miles through lovely country roads and lanes. Pussy-willows are out and
bushes show budding leaves, and it feels as though Spring were really
here. But we are likely to have more cold weather yet, we are told. I am
_on_ until about four-thirty. Miss Taylor is back and I am due to go
to-morrow. Phil is coming down soon to play basket-ball with our
officers against some Canadian officers. There is a good place to play
right in front of the grand stand on the track, which is all turf. I am
looking forward most eagerly to my leave. I need to see new faces for a
while. Phil and I had dinner together down town a few days ago. I had
many errands at the Base Cashier’s, banks, etc., and met him at our
favorite rendezvous--the Cathedral; then we wandered around together,
did little errands, had a nice dinner, and were back here by

That evening we had a lecture in the Mess by one of our young
officers--a very brilliant young fellow--on the war. He has been giving
a series of talks to us. The first was on the Western front and its
changes, and the second was on the Balkan States. The nurses were much
interested. We are too near to be able to get any kind of a good view of
the whole situation, and we have not time to hunt for it in periodicals.

We have no further word about the Vassar proposition. It would be a
fearfully hard thing to leave this Unit.

I shall have such a nice time with Elizabeth in London. Food is scarce
there; the paper says they in London can have only one meat meal a week!
But what do I care? I’m bringing E. a present of sugar! I’ll write you
from there. Loads and loads of love.


London W.
Friday, February 15, 1918.

I want to tell all the details about going on leave to England, for it
is something of an experience. On Monday morning the eleventh, when I
left, I had to report at the office of the D. D. M. S. in Rouen to get
my travel warrant. Although I had asked for leave to England with
permission to go on my own expense, because we are not asking leave
permission from the British, I was told that that was not going to be
possible, but that I would be sent through just as the English Sisters
are. The Havre train left about half past ten and reached Havre about
twelve-thirty. I was held up at the station when I wanted to leave and
had to show my identification papers, but was soon let through. I
learned afterwards that if I had been with some English Sisters that
were going to England too, I’d have been met and conducted as the others
were. As I did not know that and was not with the others I went off by
myself and was rather glad I did as I had a very interesting time. I
went to a near-by hotel, that I had heard was the best, and had a very
good lunch. Strangely enough, in the dining-room I ran into Mrs.
Christy, the Chief Nurse of the N. Y. Presbyterian Unit, who was on her
way to Cannes. I had only two words with her, as she was just leaving,
but when I told her I was going to England, she said she wasn’t allowed
to. It is most strange how different rules and regulations get through
to the different Units.

As I had the whole afternoon before me to spend in Havre I went to the
nice women at the office and asked their advice as to the best
promenade. They spoke no English, but we were able to understand each
other beautifully. They directed me by means of two trams and a
funicular railway to a very high part of the town, with a lovely view
over the city and harbor. It was a glorious, sunny day so I had a
beautiful time wandering about by myself. After walking quite a long way
I found myself near a cemetery as a pitiful little French procession was
entering. I followed just to see how this sort of thing was done in the
French way. The funeral was for two tiny babies which were borne in tiny
boxes on small litters carried by two men each. Two priests walked ahead
and behind followed the relatives and friends. This was not really a
cheerful way to spend part of one’s holiday, especially as I could see
at a little distance the interment of an Australian soldier, but it was
interesting. I wandered around and talked to little children and watched
people and gazed at aëroplanes sailing over the town for over three
hours, then I went back to the hotel and had tea and then read until
dinner time.

At dinner a Frenchman engaged me in conversation, much to my interest,
as he spoke not a word of English and was just going over to England. He
was as nervous and excited as could be and seemed so glad to talk. He
had been wounded and was now permanently out of the army. At dinner we
had had, among other vegetables, something called “soissons,” which I
had discovered to be a kind of bean. In the cab which the Frenchman and
I took together to go to the quay he told me that he had been wounded at
“Soissons” and that was why he always took “soissons” when they were on
the menu. He showed me the watch charm he had had made from the piece of
shell that had been taken out of his chest. They are so cunning, some of
these French people. I lost him on the boat and didn’t see him again
except in the distance the next morning.

On the boat I found that by paying a reasonable sum I could have a
stateroom by myself instead of having to share with six English Sisters
the ladies’ saloon, which has had berths put into it which are perfectly
comfortable, but which afford no privacy. I had a splendid night and
slept like a top almost the whole night through. I woke once to find
that the boat was tossing a little, but I was too tired and sleepy to
care and promptly went to sleep again. I had not undressed very much,
but even the discomfort of day clothes could not keep me awake. I was
quite surprised when the stewardess called me at six-thirty, and we were
approaching the docks of Southampton. I don’t know what time the boat
left Havre. We went on board at eight-thirty and I was asleep before we
left. After a breakfast of sorts on the boat we landed about
seven-thirty. As the train to “town” didn’t leave till nine-thirty there
was plenty of time to send telegrams back to Rouen and on to Elizabeth
in London. I came on to London with the English Sisters, who told me
they had been met and taken care of and put on the boat and fed with a
spoon almost every minute since they got off the train at Havre. I was
awfully glad I was not with them, but was also glad to know that that
was the way nurses traveling to England are looked after ordinarily, if
they are not as exclusive and standoffish as these English ladies
thought I was. I took pains to show them that I had not meant to be, but
I simply had not expected to be looked after.

London is just as fascinating as ever. There has been no sunshine since
I have been here, but the weather has not been at all bad. It is just
dark and smoky. It is wonderful to be here with Elizabeth in a home. Jim
is so awfully busy with his hospital work we scarcely see him at all.
He often does not get in for meals, and so far he has had to be out
every evening. Elizabeth is doing some very hard work on the American
Committee at the Embassy. This is regular social service work for
Americans in difficulties and is a part of the continuation of that big
committee that did such splendid work at the beginning of the war. The
committee that E. is on takes care of the women and married men with
children and it still has plenty to do.

I have just been reveling in the civilization and comfort of this home.
E.’s china and silver and linen are a perfect joy which I never
appreciated in any home so much before. The food question is getting
pretty serious, but at present there is enough to eat, though Jim says
he doesn’t know how long there will be. It is very difficult to get
things, as only small quantities can be sold at a time. There is no milk
to be had except for invalids and children, there is scarcely any
butter, sugar is sold by cards, and in a few days almost everything is
going to be rationed. The sugar card that was issued to me before I left
France allows my hostess to buy for me sugar not to exceed one and one
seventh ounces a day for the exact time I am to be here. I brought E. a
present of some domino lump sugar which you would have thought was a box
of diamonds. When one is to lunch out anywhere one produces one’s own
sugar from one’s pocket; otherwise the meal would be sugarless.

I have been sleeping and sleeping ever since I arrived. I have my
breakfast in bed almost every morning and lie abed afterwards in lazy
sloth. The roar of the city is utterly soothing to me. Am I not an
urbanite? Sometimes it is too dreadfully quiet at our camp at Rouen. My
room is very high up in this narrow, tall English house, so that the
noise of the streets is somewhat less than it would sound down lower. I
have not wanted to be energetic yet, but I have been having such a good
time, mostly doing nothing. E. and I have made pleasant pilgrimages out
of the need of doing several small errands, and we have been to the
theater twice already. I just ache for the theater and am leading E. a
quite willing martyr right up to as many shows as I can get in. We have
seen Charles Hawtrey in “The Saving Grace,” which was very entertaining,
and not too much about the war, and this afternoon we went to the
Colosseum to a variety show which included Mrs. Lillie Langtry and Vesta
Tilley. To-morrow we are going to see Mrs. Patrick Campbell in “The
Thirteenth Chair”--all of which you see is the greatest dissipation.

I have not seen a single American nurse so far as I know, and I have not
visited a single hospital and don’t mean to. This morning I went to pay
my respects to the British Matron-in-Chief. She was less formidable than
the last time I saw her and was really quite cordial. She took me to see
General Goodwin, who is to be Director General of the medical forces and
who has recently returned from the States. He was most charming and I
had a delightful talk with him. I was glad of a chance to tell these
British officials how fortunate we think we are to have been sent to
work with the British, and to tell them how we have appreciated all the
innumerable courtesies they have shown us and the way they have helped

E. and I have had lunch down town one day and we have had her
mother-in-law and brother-in-law here to dinner. I have had a splendid
real shampoo for the first time since we left London last June. We have
several pleasant little things planned to do next week, but I like best
just sitting around here on real, soft-cushioned sofas. E.’s two little
boys are darlings. I don’t see them much as most of the time they are
off with “nurse.” Jim is four and a half now and John just two.

You see I am having a wonderful rest. Good night, and loads of love.


Rouen, March 14, 1918.

Here I am back with my children, very happy that I am not to return to
the States, and perfectly content to stay here where I know I am needed
and can be of use. The future is on the lap of the gods. If I get orders
to go to Paris, or anywhere else, I will go, leaving these dear people
with the greatest regret. But I have nothing to worry about and can go
about my work with the greatest peace.

We are having a great number of the most pitiful cases these last few
nights; gassed men in terrible condition. Nearly three hundred the last
two nights, and a hundred and fifty due to-night. Major Murphy said that
last night’s convoy was the worst he has seen since we have been here.
Ambulance load after ambulance load of stretcher cases with bandaged
eyes and burning lungs. The men tell awful stories of whole companies
affected so that not a man, an officer, or a doctor is able to do a
thing for anybody else. It seems to be a new kind of gas. At any rate
the effects seem to be different from those we have observed before. The
masks have not seemed to protect the men. We have had so many put on the
Seriously Ill and Dangerously Ill lists to-day, Miss Taylor has been
writing letters to families all day.

March 18, 1918.

Dearest Mother:--

It is such heavenly weather here and things are so beautiful. Everything
is quiet and happy and peaceful here with us though our work seems to
be increasing pretty steadily. I cannot help feeling more or less
agitated inside, for I know that an order to leave this Unit and go to
Paris may come any minute. When the order actually arises, there is not
going to be anything but approval, I think, among my nurses as far as my
action and my duty go--for they’ll know this is an _order_ and not a
choice in any way--but there is going to be a bad time when it comes to
parting. I dread it fearfully, for I know they all care for me and won’t
want me to go from a personal point of view, and I shall feel dreadfully
about leaving them. We have all been through so much together we feel
very close. Same way about the officers. I shall hate to leave them. But
it is coming. Phil won’t like it either.

Such is life in the army!

Loads of love,

March 25, 1918.

This typewriter is almost hot, it has been worked so hard to-day. I
think Miss Taylor and I have written over forty Dangerously Ill and
Seriously Ill letters to-day, from which you may infer that we are busy.
We are busier than we have ever been before. I am snatching a few
moments while the day and night shifts change to tell you a little
about things, then in a little while I must go down to the lines and see
how things are and send off to bed the many day nurses I am sure to find
on duty still. The nurses all hate so terribly to go off when there are
so many things remaining to be done, but I cannot have them working both
day and night, for in a few days, if they keep that up, they won’t be
able to work at all. No one has had a minute “off duty” for five days
now and they are beginning to show it, but they have got to keep this up
for a while longer and so I drive them off with many things left undone.
Of course there are always night nurses to go on with the work, but they
are usually only one to a hut or line, where in the day-time there may
have been four or five.

Our excitement began last Thursday the 21st with an order that for all
ranks Rouen was to be “Out of Bounds.” This was because they had
Smallpox there. We have maids, French teachers, stenographers, and
sewing-women coming back and forth every day and things looked
complicated--and were. But only for a while. Everybody was vaccinated,
and the important civilians were given daily passes, and so our work
goes on about as usual. I made temporary arrangements for four maids to
stay here on the grounds with us.

That very day we were given an hour’s warning in getting our next team
off for a Clearing Station. The people had been designated but they
were not packed. You never saw any woman packed in more double-quick
time than our dear nurse was. We have been a bit worried about her ever
since she left, for disquieting reports of great activity in her
vicinity have been coming to us every day since she left. She has six
good American men to look after her, which is a comforting thought to

That day patients began to pour in upon us. We were told to be prepared
to receive unlimited numbers. Well, they have been coming. Day before
yesterday we operated on fifty cases, yesterday fifty-one, to-day they
had seventy-three scheduled. I have just been down on the lines and to
the operating-room. You would not believe me if I told you how that
place looks. They have at least forty more cases to operate on to-night.
Both the day and the night shifts of nurses are there, but the day shift
promises to go up in an hour. As more convoys are due to-night, there
may be even more to be operated upon than are scheduled. The doctors are
about dead. They are working in shifts as much as they can. The
stretcher-bearers are dead tired, but as cheerful as monkeys. I was just
at the “Point,” where ambulances are loaded and unloaded, and a convoy
of stretcher cases was just going out to be shipped to England, I think.
Our American boys were jollying the Tommies who were on the stretchers,
and it all sounded so cheerful.

It is not so cheerful when the convoys come in. Last night we had a
convoy come in that seemed to be all D. I. cases, many were too badly
off to be operated on. It still makes one sick at the stomach to read on
a man’s card: “Gun-shot wound, face, chest and right arm, amputation
both legs.” Major Fischel has just been in to say that since there must
be two hundred “walking wounded” ready to go out by ten A.M. he wants to
know if I can have nurses to help dress their wounds early in the
morning. I said “Yes, if he meant by early, 7:30” because I wanted the
nurses to have something to eat before the start. Seven-thirty will do,
so 200 walkers who came in to-day will have fresh dressings put on their
injuries and be ready to be shipped along at ten.

So it goes. We have no time for sore vaccinated arms, but fortunately I
have heard of only one that is sore so far. People are such bricks under
pressure like this. It is perfectly marvelous. I cannot say how glad I
am that we managed to give every nurse a whole day off a week or so ago;
they certainly needed any reserve strength they could store up. Two
nurses just got back from leave in Paris this evening. For the past
three days they have been bombed and raided. Most of the past three
nights they have spent in cellars. But they have had a wonderful
vacation and are so glad to get back. We need them here all right. All
leaves for all ranks are now stopped until further notice. I don’t see
Phil at all these days, for he too is très occupé. He was here a minute
to-day and left mother’s letter of Feb. 28, but I did not see him as I
had dashed down town in the Ford (with special duty pass) to do some
necessary banking and to get some Carrel tubing from the British Red
Cross stores. Our supply is exhausted and new lots have not come through
and we are using it by the mile. I got some, and other necessary things

You ought to see the way we are using up supplies. But so far we seem to
have enough of the necessities. We have long since ceased to attempt to
change sheets between patients. A good many patients have been in beds
without sheets at all, but that is a minor matter. Major Fischel just
gave me a guess on the number of patients we have taken in or sent out
to-day. I said five hundred, and he replied, “nearly double that.” We
have taken in and sent out all day long, and to show the spirit of the
men, Major F. repeated the remark of the head Sergeant of the records,
who said he wished we could get in a few more before midnight so that he
could say it had been over a thousand. It is a stupendous piece of work
and it all goes so smoothly. Now I must go to bed for I am weary, but
first I must see about the nurses for the morning.

It is the next evening now and we are waiting for the Night Supervisors
to come to get the evening report and to be told the arrangements for
the night. Things have been keeping up the same way ever since last
evening. Only, two of our men have died and we were so glad to have them
die. The sister of the man with the double amputation has arrived from
England after such a rough, cold trip. We have had a case of diphtheria
develop to-day among the nurses and she has been sent off to the
contagious hospital, where Phil will probably have charge of her. She
had a throat yesterday and we isolated her until a report from her
throat-culture could be obtained. Of course we are taking cultures from
the “contacts,” but hope there will be no more positives. Still no bad
arms from the vaccinations!

The men tell such dreadful stories and are so glad to get into bed and
to be made clean. Often we cannot get them bathed even the least little
bit before they have to be taken to the operating room, but we try to
wash them up as soon as possible. Just think of the problem of hot water
to bathe five or six hundred patients in a camp where all the hot water
has to be heated on camp stoves after being drawn from about a single
pipe. The “walking wounded” are so pathetic. They go limping off to the
tents to which they have been assigned, leaning on each other and
helping each other all they can. A nurse told me a few minutes ago that
one of her incoming patients who walked in was a young boy who had had
his right arm amputated four days ago! Another one said he had had
nothing to eat but cigarettes and tea for four days! Another with an
amputated arm was so troubled to have a sister bathe and shave and
shampoo him. She is a crackerjack at shaving, and all the orderlies are
carrying stretchers. But oh, she was so glad to make him clean and
comfortable. Our dietitian, Miss Watkins, is doing regular nursing work
and doing it so well. One of the nurses told me that before Miss W. gave
her first bath she said, “Now, I’ll just pretend that this is my
brother.” She takes temperatures and pulses and bathes and feeds but
does not do dressings yet. She is so fine, but says she does not ever
want to go back to cooking. Here are the night people, and I must stop.
I have been down to the camp since I started to write.

Much, much love,


April 6, 1918.

I last wrote on March 25th, and now it is nearly two weeks later. Our
rush has kept steadily up until day before yesterday. Yesterday was the
very first day in two weeks that any nurse had any time off duty.
Yesterday, because of reënforcements that arrived, we were able to send
every nurse off to rest for three hours. It was the most extraordinary
Easter anybody ever spent. For two nights before we had over two hundred
patients sleeping on the benches on the grand stands. These were
“walking wounded,” but wounded, you will notice. On one of those days we
had over fifteen hundred patients. We never kept any “walkers”; they
were sent right on to the Convalescent Camps, where they were able to
expand more. We dressed every case here, though, before they were sent
on. We certainly found out not only what we can do in an emergency, but
what the British Army system can do. We are constantly marveling at the
efficiency, speed, and lack of waste with which the English manage their

We all physically were so hard pushed Major Murphy wired for help, and
just a day before this lull we received a mobile Unit from the A. E. F.,
fifteen nurses and thirty-odd enlisted men. You may be sure we were glad
to get them, though fifteen nurses were just lost in the shuffle and did
not seem to make the slightest difference. They all were very young,
inexperienced, little things from Kentucky, who had only recently
landed and had not seen a patient since they had been over. Some of them
are only twenty-one (the age limit has been lowered; it was twenty-five
when we left) and have only been out of a training-school a very short
time, and had only been in very small Kentucky hospitals. So it seemed a
heart-breaking thing to thrust them into this unbelievable hell of a

Such a baptism of fire as they got that first afternoon! I tried to
prepare them all I could, but no words could convey anything like the
reality to their inexperienced minds. It was pouring when they came at
12:30 A.M. (and me to meet them here, and feed them, and find them a
place to sleep with a half-hour’s notice of their coming!) and it was
pouring rain the next afternoon when the Supervisor started off with the
little rubber-coated-and-hatted group to drop one here and another there
according to assignments we had made here in the office. A little later
I had occasion to go down in the lines, and I looked in one of the huts
just to see what the little new thing looked like. Just before I got to
the hut a little procession had come out of the door. First two of our
men carrying a stretcher covered with a Union Jack, then a second
stretcher also covered by a flag, then our Supervisor walking behind
accompanying them to the mortuary. People along the line stood rigidly
at attention as they passed, and saluted. Then I went into the hut. The
odor that hit me as I entered was terrific, for most of the cases in
this hut have penetrating chest wounds which drain. The little nurse was
standing by the stove stirring something in a cup on it with a spoon.
She was green-white and looked utterly nauseated. I did not dare speak
to her, for fear she would lose any control she had left, so I told the
weary head nurse to be as gentle with the little thing as she could and
try to realize what she was going through.

That evening I spoke to their group for about ten minutes and told them
that it was not going to be like this always, and about the mitigations
and the happy part of it all. Then I asked them if, after all, this was
not what they had come for, and weren’t they glad they were here. A most
sincere response made me feel that they would be all right soon. Like
all young things, they are adjusting wonderfully and are already making
themselves felt, and are going about as chipper and happy as monkeys.
But oh, the poor little dears, they will never forget that first day.

The night after these fifteen arrived another contingent appeared at
1:15 A.M. in the pouring rain! This time I had known it about three
hours, but at that time of night there was very little I could do to
make preparation, for I simply insisted that my poor tired nurses should
not be disturbed. I lay on my bed part of the evening, but as a nurse
was sick and I had to get Major Fischel for her, it was not for long.
When they arrived, weary and miserable, I fed them hot soup, made from
bouillon cubes that some kind person had sent us, and gave them bread
and cheese and jam, and then put them to bed in the night nurses’ beds
in their separate huts. They could not even have a wash, but they said
they did not care, all they wanted was sleep.

These poor souls had been ordered to leave their Unit that morning with
a couple of hours’ notice only and were sent off in several different
directions, fifteen to us here and fifteen to the Cleveland hospital up
the road and somewhere else. Naturally they are the homesickest, bluest
group of nurses you ever saw. You can just imagine how we would feel if
we were suddenly ordered to scatter. The reason for their scattering is
pretty obvious to us here, but I cannot write about it. These nurses are
a real help, for they have been in a busy British hospital as long as we
have and they are all experienced, well-trained nurses. But how they are
all hating us at present. For my ways are not their Matron’s ways and
everything about this hospital is far inferior to theirs. I have seen
their hospital and they are right in lots of ways. Their former quarters
were far superior to ours, and of course all these last comers are
having only make-shift quarters. We have erected three marquees for
them, but they are pretty dreary. They have no lights but lanterns as
yet, and their luggage has just come and some of it has been lost, and
it rains, and you can see the picture. They will settle down pretty
soon, and my people are being as kind as they can be to them and are
trying not to mind their grumbling. I tell them they would grumble worse
if the positions were reversed, or I don’t know anything about them.

Well, so much for the war, except that to-day we have had no convoys in
and are catching our breaths. I cannot tell you the details of the days
that have passed since I last wrote. There were so many deaths and so
many awful cases and such pitiful things going on all the time it was
hard to keep steady, especially as every one was much over-worked. Miss
Taylor and I had to stick pretty tight to the office work or it would
have swamped us; so we tried to keep up with ourselves each day, and
never left at night until we had every S. I. and D. I. letter written.
Of course the end of the month came along just then, and all the regular
monthly things had to be tucked in also. And of course there was no
possibility of having a clever man-stenographer for two days to do my
complicated British payroll, as I have had before, for every available
man was working night and day, hence I had to squeeze that in also. So a
job that takes about two solid days of an uninterrupted clerk’s time had
to be put into the midst of an office where people were running in and
out every minute; but it got done, and I was a bit proud when I finished
the thing at ten o’clock that night when the first reënforcement

We have certainly learned what we can do. I don’t mind for myself, but
it breaks my heart to see my children get hollow-eyed and white, and see
them one by one succumb, at least temporarily, and have to be sent to
bed. They have done wonders. To-day, for instance, with 130 nurses here,
after all they have been through, I have just three in hospital; one
with diphtheria, one with a kind of trench fever due to exhaustion, and
the third, my dear, brave soul who came down from the evacuated C. C. S.
She has just “exhaustion” for a diagnosis. She was sent down without
baggage or the rest of the team, 48 hours after arriving. The last ten
hours of her trip were standing in a freight car packed with refugees.
She arrived here at five one morning dead to the world. She had slept on
the floor the two nights before as much as she could and been operating
sixteen hours straight before that. We were so thankful to get her back
safely. The men arrived safely later. Her C. C. S. was captured. She
went on duty 36 hours after she arrived here apparently as good as new,
but she could not stand the strain and could not eat, so we sent her to
the Sick Sisters’ Hospital for a rest. In quarters I have one nurse
recovering from gastro-enteritis and another with a bothersome knee, and
all the rest are working! Isn’t that doing pretty well for women? After
my two nights up until after two and going each morning as usual for
very, very busy mornings, making arrangements about new nurses and
seeing to their records, I had a bit of an upset myself and felt pretty
miserable. So one afternoon I went to bed at four and stayed there until
the next morning and have been much better since. It has all been
something of a strain.

Then the morning after the second night up (April 4) Major Murphy
brought me in my order to go to Paris to be Chief Nurse of the American
Red Cross. It was almost too much, but I was too busy to think about it,
so I put it in my pocket and tried to forget it. To-night I am going to
tell my original group. I am appointed by the Chief Surgeon and am still
in the Army. It is an order, and there is no disputing it. When I get
away, I shall be glad of the opportunity it presents, but just at
present I cannot seem to bear it. These were just the American orders,
and I must wait for the British ones, which will probably come through
in a few days. I am “relieved from further duty at No. 12 General
Hospital B. E. F. and will proceed to Paris, France, reporting on
arrival to the Chief Surgeon, Am. Red Cross in France, for duty as Chief
Nurse with the American Red Cross.”

I saw Phil yesterday a moment and told him of my order, and strangely
enough he had just received an order to go to Paris for duty with Dr.
Blake’s hospital. Curious, isn’t it? But won’t it be nice for us both to
be there? Paris is not such a sweet little health resort just at present
as it has been. But bombs and long-distance guns are nothing to me.

I guess you don’t need to be told how I feel about leaving my children
here after all we have been through together. It is quite beyond words.
I am just trying to steel myself to it, and to get it over as fast as
possible. Now it is time to go and break it to them. How can I make them
glad to have me go? For I must do that.

It’s the next day now--a quiet, sunny Sunday. Everything went all right
last night, and my nurses are bricks. They weep, but they are glad to
have me go. I am trying to get ready to leave in a few days. I am so
sorry for all your uncertainty about me. It was a grand mix-up. Miss
Taylor is to be Chief Nurse here.

Loads and loads of love,


It was getting dark as I went down between the A and B lines of tents.
Ducking under the entrance of A. 3 tent, I stopped just a moment inside
the door, to get used to the darkness in the tent. The fourteen beds in
the tent were all full and I thought at first that no nurse was there.
Then I saw her. She was kneeling beside the low cot of a lad whose whole
head was bandaged. The tight starch bandage covered his ears and his
eyes, and came down under his chin. A glance at his face showed that he
was not far from the end. “Robert, lad, what are you trying to say?” she
was asking, bending over him with her arm across his shoulder and her
face close to his lips. “Say it again, boy, so that I can hear you. Did
you want me to do something for you?” Slowly pulling his arms out he
reached up and drew her head down to his and kissed her on the cheek. “I
think,” he said, “you must be like my sister.” Just then she saw me.
“Oh, excuse me, Matron,” she said as she rose, “I didn’t hear you come
in.” We walked through to the connecting tent while the other thirteen
men stirred and pretended to wake up.

A nurse stopped at the office to leave the notices of two new
“Dangerously Ill” cases. As she handed me the slip she said, “Of the
sixty-four new stretcher cases we got in last night, all have bandaged
eyes. They are the worst gassed men I have ever seen. I’ve done nothing
but irrigate eyes all the morning. One man discovered that he could see
a little when I got his lids opened and his eyes washed out, and he
burst out ‘Oh, sister, I can see, and I am not going to be blind after
all, am I?’ Then I realized what an agony of fear there must be in the
minds of those sixty-four motionless men, not one of whom had even
whimpered--so since then I’ve been saying to each one that he was sure
to see after a while, for you know if they live they nearly all do get
back their sight, and probably not more than those two D. I.’s will die.
But think what they have been suffering!”

Another nurse was giving a bath to a man who had just been brought in on
a stretcher, “Oh, but you are the dirtiest man I ever saw,” she laughed
at him, “absolutely the very dirtiest.” “Oh, sister, don’t say that,” he
said. “How could I help it? I haven’t had a bath nor a change of
underclothes for twenty-two days.”--Quick came the answer, “If that’s
the case, I call you clean.”

The orderly came up to the sister and said, “May I have a piece of gauze
and a bandage?” “Surely,” she said, as she handed it to him, “and what
do you want it for?” “For the Hun there at the door who has cut his
finger.” Looking down the hut to the door, she could see standing just
outside a Boche prisoner and his British guard. The orderly took the
dressings outside and bandaged up the finger. When he came back, some of
the patients who had been watching said, “I wish his finger were off,
and why didn’t you cut off his head? etc.” Then a man in a near-by bed,
whose leg was stretched out in a weighted extension, said, “Oh, boys,
don’t talk like that; we are fighting the Huns up the line, but we are
not fighting them down here.”

When he came up with the rest of the blue, hospital-clothed men for
final inspection before being signed out for Convalescent camp, the
Major noticed that he had a D. S. M. ribbon on his coat. “How did you
get this, Jock?” the Major asked, pointing to the ribbon. “Oh that,
sir,” he said, “there were a few occurrences, sir,” and he went on his

His right leg had been amputated, his right hand was badly wounded, and
his left foot had a hole right through it, but he was always smiling and
cheerful, and had a come-back for every foolish thing that was said to
him. One day the Padre asked him how he could keep so cheerful all the
time when he must have so much pain. “Oh,” he laughed, “it’s in the
book, Boy Scouts Manual, page 8, paragraph 3, ‘Smile and keep

Here’s the copy of a telegram I got Major M. to send last week.
“Director General of Voluntary Offerings, Scotland House, London: Number
Twelve General Hospital urgently needs three thousand each, two, three,
and four inch roller bandages, thousand each abdominal, chest, shoulder,
hip, elbow, head triangular and T bandages. Two hundred each, elbow,
arm, and leg splints, two hundred sand-bags, three dozen pairs crutches,
five hundred limb pillows, thousand pneumonia jackets, five hundred arm
slings, five cases each absorbent wool (in America, ‘cotton’) and
absorbent gauze, also unlimited gauze dressings.” The next day we got
the message: “Bulk of all articles named being shipped immediately.”
Pretty good business? We have received notice of twenty bales sent from
London already.

Paris, April 12, 1918.

If I don’t hurry and write I shall not be able to remember a single one
of the really memorable things that have happened to me since I last
wrote. I am getting new impressions so fast I can hardly straighten out
one from another. I last wrote April 6 just after I got my orders to
move. On Sunday the 7th the British orders came, and I decided that I
would be ready to leave Wednesday the 10th.--Just then Philip was
announced and I went down to see him. He had just arrived in Paris. It
was a curious coincidence his being ordered here, too, just as I was.

Sunday evening we had one of the finest sings up in our mess that ever
anybody had. Every Major, including the two English ones, was there, and
all the young officers too, and the mess was full, and there was much
amusement, as they all tried to ask for their favorite tunes at the same
time. We used the new Y. M. C. A. service hymn-books that Aunt M. sent
and they proved most acceptable, and everybody seemed to find his or her
favorite hymn in it. I played my violin and a fine player played the
piano, and I can tell you we made the welkin ring. It was a bit hard for
me, especially when some idiot asked for “God be with you till we meet
again.” But nobody could know how badly I was feeling.

Monday was very busy all day. That evening was our usual little family
dance, which I attended. The next day I finished turning things over to
Miss Taylor, went up to Sick Sisters’ Hospital to say good-by to the
nurses up there, and the afternoon, packed. The D. D. M. S. came to say
good-by and the Acting Principal Matron, which was nice of such busy
people at such a busy time. The nurses were full of mysteries all those
last days and that afternoon I found in my room a wonderful fitted
dressing-bag, the kind my soul has always longed for. It is like a small
suitcase, is black, and has a cloth cover and is a perfect beauty. That
was from my whole family. Then the original 64 gave me a lovely little
gold mesh-purse to go on my watch chain with my other dangles. That too
was another thing I had been hoping to have some time.

I forgot to say that on Saturday evening I had talked to the 64 and told
them about my going. They were all splendid about it and are glad that I
am going to have this position which they think needs me. They told me
individually and collectively how badly they felt about my going, but
they all think it is the right thing and there has not been one murmur
or horrid feeling about it. They are giving me to the bigger cause
freely and gladly, though with truly sincere sorrow, I know. So that has
made things easy for me, in a way.

That last evening they all had a big reception for Miss Taylor, Miss
Claiborne, the new assistant, and me. The officers sent wonderful
bunches of roses to all three of us. The party was a wonder. After
everybody was there, three Majors came for us three over in my
sitting-room and escorted us over to the mess, where we were lined up,
and everybody came up and shook hands and said nice things. After some
general talk we all sang songs out of the back of Aunt M.’s books, “Old
Oaken Bucket,” “Swanee River,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Juanita,” and the
like; then Miss Taylor and I ran away and it was all over. My four dear
Majors gave me the most beautiful charm to wear on my watch chain. It is
a round, flat unpolished crystal, about as big as a quarter, with a red
cross in the center, made of large garnets. It is a perfect beauty.
Major Clopton got it at Tiffany’s in Paris for me, and the four of them
all signed the dearest note that went with it. They have been such
wonderful friends to me and I am so horribly lonesome without them. No
woman leaving a job ever had such things said to her as I have had, this
past week.

But, oh, I need to remember them now, for if ever there was a desolate
soul, it is I. My predecessor left before I arrived. Her assistant has
been sick and away from the office ever since I have been here, and I
have been simply floundering. Miss Morgan is a great help, but, I wish
it was a month from now and I knew something of my job, which is huge.
One can only sit tight and not let oneself be discouraged. It’s got to
come out right. Our job is, I am sure, to do our job and wait patiently.



Paris, May 17, ’18.

Now to go back a bit. Last Sunday I was down in Rouen! By Friday the
19th I was so homesick and lonesome for all my children and the hospital
that when some of the officers blew into my office and said they were
going back Saturday evening at five, after their meetings were over, I
decided I would go with them. It was very easy to arrange, and oh, I was
so glad I went. Our train was late and we did not reach the camp until
about nine-thirty, but I got a welcome all right! It did me more good
than anything else possibly could have done, and I came back renewed in
courage and strength in a most remarkable way, and perfectly sure if so
many dear people loved me so much and had such confidence in me, maybe I
could manage this awful job after all. Sunday morning I played with Ruth
and talked with lots of other people. That noon we had Maj. Murphy up to
dinner with us. Before that I went to the office and talked “shop” with
the “Little Matron,” as my children, who are now her children, lovingly
call her. I stayed with her in my old rooms that night and we talked
long into the night, much to the easing of my heart and mind. She has a
bed in the sitting-room, used as a couch, which she says is ready for me
any time I want to use it. Later I met lots of people, officers and
nurses, for tea in the mess. Then M. T. (Miss Taylor, the little
matron) and I had early supper together in her sitting-room. Then Maj.
Murphy said that he had been planning to go up to Paris the next day,
and he would go a day ahead, so he came along with me. We left at seven
and arrived at ten. Phil met me and we came home to this nice apartment
into which Phil had moved all his and my things that day. I am going
again to Rouen just as soon as I possibly can, because I need so much to
see them all. They don’t need me, for everything is going wonderfully
smoothly, but I need to see them. We don’t talk about their shop, for
naturally I am not doing a single thing about their local business, but
M. T. talks over my shop with me and helps me lots. That is certainly
the most wonderful group of men and women it has ever been my privilege
to work with. The more I see and hear of other groups, the more I
realize how exceptional ours is. And oh, how good they have been to me.
Most of them, I feel, will be my friends forever, and a few of them will
be some of the most precious possessions that a person could ever have.
Sundays are my own, and so I want to go down there often. The
anniversary of our leaving [May 17th] will be my next visit, I hope.

Printed in the United States of America.

|  The following pages contain advertisements of a few  |
|     of the Macmillan books on kindred subjects.       |

       *       *       *       *       *

A War Nurse’s Diary


_Illustrated, cloth, $1.25_

High courage, deep sympathy without sentimentality, and an all-saving
sense of humour amid dreadful and depressing conditions are the salient
features of this diary of a war nurse. She has been “over the top” in
the fullest sense; she has faced bombardments and aërial raids; she has
calmly removed her charges under fire; she has tended the wounded and
dying amid scenes of carnage and confusion, and she has created order
and comfort where but a short time before all was confusion and
discomfort. All the while she marvels at the uncomplaining fortitude of
others, never counting her own. Many unusual experiences have befallen
the “war nurse” and she writes of them all in vivid, gripping fashion.

“Unlike most volumes which have dealt with this subject, the nurse gives
some delightful reminiscences which are more closely identified with
impressions recorded in her heart than with conventional entries in a
diary. The inspired recollections of the author constitute an important
contribution to war literature.”--_Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger._

“To say that ‘A War Nurse’s Diary’ is an unusual book, the only one of
its kind, would be putting the matter much too mildly. In fact, it seems
nothing short of a miracle that any woman should be willing to enlist
for such service as the author of this volume, and, having enlisted,
that she should survive to write about it.”--_Chicago Evening Post._

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

       *       *       *       *       *

“The Good Soldier”: A Selection of Soldiers’ Letters, 1914-1917


_Cloth, $1.25_

Mrs. Dawson has made an admirable selection of soldiers’ letters, some
of them written to mothers, others to sweethearts, sisters and friends.
It is an interesting and appealing book, and gives a more intimate
picture of the soldier than can be gained from almost any other single

     “Here are boys,” writes the editor in her Introduction to this
     collection, “all sorts of boys: French, English, Italian, American;
     young artists, budding novelists and poets; musicians; drab and
     spectacled London office clerks just off a stool; an auctioneer
     from Brixton; elderly married men as old as thirty-five and ‘little
     nephews’ of sixteen; Catholics, Protestants, Christians, Jews;
     grave young students in arms; Crusaders of France; Oxford and
     Cambridge men and French school boys; American college men and
     American rich men’s sons from New York and California....

     “As one reads these letters written home, one finds that he does
     not think of them as letters at all but as boys: Enzo, Antonio,
     Robert, Arthur, Gaston, William, Marcel, Harry, Victor. And one is
     filled with pity that they are boys--‘mere men,’ as more than one
     of them says, pitted against professional soldiers, experts in the
     refined arts of modern war. But if one thing more than another is
     revealed in the letters, it is that the writers do not want to be
     pitied, rather envied. All express in one way or another that death
     has no terrors for ‘the good soldier.’”

     “In such a collection ... the letters themselves are their own best
     comment. A mere reviewer has no place with these offerings.... They
     are such important matters as history leaves out, but hearts
     remember.”--_N. Y. World._

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

       *       *       *       *       *


A Traveler in War-Time

With an Essay on “The American Contribution and the Democratic Idea”


Author of “The Inside of the Cup,” etc.

_Illustrated, cloth, 12mo, $1.25_

Here we have an account of Mr. Churchill’s experiences in France and
England during the latter half of 1917. Many privileges were extended to
the distinguished American novelist on his trip abroad, with the result
that he has a most interesting story to tell as to conditions in the
warring countries in the third year of the great conflict. He writes of
famous battlefields which he visited, of distinguished people with whom
he conversed and of the spirit and temper of the times.

Not the least compelling section of the volume is the final one,
occupying nearly one hundred pages, entitled The American Contribution
and the Democratic Idea.

     “Coming as it does at a most timely moment, it is a great
     document.... Mr. Churchill has written a chapter in the history of
     American thought, and one to be considered faithfully by all true
     Americans.”--_N. Y. Times._

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

       *       *       *       *       *


In the Fourth Year


_Cloth, $1.25_

“He pleads the cause of the League of Nations idea with all his
well-known vigor, daring, forcefulness and unconventionality.... It is
as a forceful argument for the establishment of a League of Nations and
for seeing to it at once that such a league shall be under democratic
control rather than under that of men of the old-style diplomatic
school, and as a vigorous setting forth of the alternative, that Mr.
Wells’ new book challenges and merits attention.”--_N. Y. Times._

“ ...The abundant thought which Mr. Wells’ genius has clarified and
presented to his readers with his usual bold lucidity. The book is
replete with vision and modernism, and affords a tremendous amount of
solid food for thought.”--_Philadelphia Public Ledger._

“A brilliant and suggestive volume.... For the popularization of what is
most genuinely liberal in the best general thought of his tone, Mr.
Wells has assuredly no equal.”--_New Republic._

“Most stimulating perhaps of all the new books about peace.”--_Boston

“He represents better than any one else, perhaps, the reactions of the
war of the keen-thinking, broad-visioned English publicist.... His
function is to turn upon his subject the searching light of truth,
directed by a keen and active mind.”--_The Independent._

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York

       *       *       *       *       *


The War and the Future


Author of “Gallipoli,” “The Old Front Line,” etc. _$1.25_

This volume contains the two lectures which Mr. Masefield delivered in
this country in 1918. Their subject matter has been widely discussed,
relating as they do to the war and its successful prosecution and the
future of war, and there will doubtless be many who will welcome the
opportunity of possessing them in permanent form.

The Old Front Line




“What Mr. Masefield did in print for the Gallipoli campaign he now does
for the campaign in France. The new work measures up to the standard set
by its companion both in vital interest and in literary
quality.”--_Philadelphia North American._



_Illustrated, $1.35_

“A splendid tale of bravery splendidly told ... a miniature epic.”--_N.
Y. Post._

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York


[1] Miss Stimson was then superintendent of nurses and head of the
training school for nurses at Barnes Hospital, Washington University,
St. Louis.

[2] Her younger brother, a doctor.

[3] Miss Stimson had organized her nurses, for convenience of
direction, into squads of eight for the journey, each with its leader.

[4] Director of the Unit.

[5] Hospital down on the opposite side of the race course. It was a

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