Old Girls’ News – Christmas 1916

U. Barrow is living at home, and working half time as a V.A.D. nurse at the Cooden Camp Hospital, about two miles from Bexhill.

Ella Burden writes from No. 1, B.R.C. Hospital, A.P.O. 811, B.E.F., France: “I thought I would like to send you a line to tell you how very happy I am out here, and thoroughly enjoying my work. I am very fortunate in being in such a lovely hospital, and in such a nice little sea-side town, in the midst of pine-woods. We are now very busy, but so far I have been able to stand it quite all right. It is quite likely I may meet some old Godolphin girl out here, though I have not been lucky enough to do so yet. The nurses all live in a big hotel close by, and also any relations whose people are on the danger list. The hotel life reminds me of school, everyone is very kind and we are able to spend our off-duty time together.”

Doreen Caton is collecting for the War Savings Association at Beckenham in two long roads, and likes the work. She is also teaching at the House of Compassion, where all the teaching is voluntary,

Violet Christie passed the examination for the Sanitary Inspector’s Certificate in January, and the examination for the Public Health Diploma in May, and has been elected an Associate of the Royal Sanitary Institute. She has been working under the Lady Almoner at the Brompton Hospital. She journeys about all London and the suburbs and finds her work very interesting.

Constance Keane writes: “I have been working on the land from 6.30 a.m. till 7.30 p.m, every day. The work has been really rather interesting, since I was the only woman there, and the only person of a non-labouring class, so I got a good insight into farm life. Feeding fowls, pigs, and calves, milking cows, tending sheep, cleaning stables, driving and harnessing horses, threshing and harvesting, fell to my lot, so I now feel quite an expert at farming ! It was very strenuous work, and as a result I am very strong and muscular.”

Dorothy Kent tells us of her brother’s wonderful experiences in the battle of Bernafay Wood, and also in the battle in Delville Wood. She writes from Durban and says:- “A fortnight ago we had such interesting letters from my brother. He gave us very full descriptions of both fights. He really had the most marvelous escapes. In Bernafay Wood they had a very bad time, and were without food or water for several hours. When the rations came up a high explosive set them on fire, and so they got nothing. A shell fell just on the parapet of their trench but fortunately didn’t explode. In Delville Wood a shell shot away the bottom of my brother’s pocket book and split his tunic across the chest. Another shot off his gas-helmet, and finally at 8 o’clock in the evening a huge shell burst beside him and blew him several yards. It quite stunned him, and he lost control of his limbs, so he was sent to Rouen Hospital. He is still there, but I don’t think it will be long before he is back with the Regiment. Every single friend we knew in the Regiment has either been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The South Africans have done splendidly, but they have suffered very heavily.”

Lilian. King has got a very interesting job at the War Hospital Supply Depot in Hove : clerical work connected with the Prisoners of War Relief Fund. They are sending cases and parcels of invalid comforts to 124 Prison Camps in Germany. Turkey, and Bulgaria, as well as to numbers of individual men. She says the majority of the parcels are acknowledged by the men, which is satisfactory. “The letters are intensely interesting; we had one from Wittenburg the other day, enclosing photographs of the monument erected to the British and French who died there, and the grave-yard with all the little wooden crosses. The photos are so clear that one can read all the names on the monument. Last week we had the first letters from Bulgaria-from Philippopolis and Sofia they seem to be quite happy there. Some of the letters from Germany are cruelly censored. One man wrote: ‘We should be very grateful for–‘ and the rest was crossed out. Another said: `I regret to tell you that since you last wrote orders have been issued that-‘ and then all was scratched out.”

Dorothy Lowe is working at the War Hospital at Clopton, near Stratford-on-Avon. She tells us that her brother has come home from Australia to enlist, and has joined the London Electrical Engineers.

Margaret Fawcett says:- “I am at present in Russia, working under the Scottish Women’s Hospital, and altogether having quite a good time. The unit is divided into two parts, the hospital staff and the motor transport. Edith Faithful is in the latter. It was so nice to find that she was coming out with us when I met her in Liverpool before we started. I am in the hospital part, and my duties are many and varied, chiefly to do with the mess. I had no idea that Natasha lived at Odessa, so was pleasantly surprised when she came to the Sanatorium the first morning we were there with several other English girls to take us about. They were perfectly splendid. I’m sure it must be a very tiring job to interpret for several eager people who want to know everything, but they never seemed to get tired. Altogether we spent the most enjoyable four days of our journey at Odessa. Natasha was very keen to come with us, but of course she can’t leave her father and mother. Mrs. Harris was extremely kind, she said that if any of us get ill we are to go back to Odessa, and she will take care of us. At present we are under canvas in a very nice little camp, but have no patients in the hospital. We only arrived from our base hospital on the 11th, and the 1st Serbian Army Corps, to which we are attached, has gone into reserve, so that for the present we shall have nothing to do unless we nurse Russians. We had one fearful night at the base. About 89 wounded arrived before we were properly ready. There were one or two bad cases, and three or four died, but the majority were only slight cases and were evacuated within three or four days. Our little hospital, with its staff of 12, has left the base to be nearer the Front, and now that we are here the Serbs are not fighting, so we do not know at present what we shall be doing. The weather is excellent, and camping out is most enjoyable.”

E. Villars writes: “I have changed my address and mode of life since you heard from me last. I am a general farm labourer on this farm, and have been here for nearly a month, after training for a month at the Seale Hayne College, Newton Abbot. I work from 6 to 6, milking about six cows and doing various odd jobs, such as apple picking, mangold loading, cleaning stalls, and just occasionally driving cattle about. I like it very much, though there are minor drawbacks. I had a very good time at Newton Abbot. The College is new, and is not properly fitted up-only the servants’ quarters are opened to take 14 girls. We had very good instruction and got quite into the way of farm work there. Mr. Crumpler, my present employer, wrote to the Principal to ask for a girl, and I applied as I have some friends living about eight miles from here.”

Miss Newbold has been in France just a month and has signed on for another six months. She helps in a hut with one other nurse, as the whole of the hospital is under canvas.

Kathleen Newbold is nursing in one of the V.A.D. hospitals at Tunbridge Wells, and Dulcie Chancey is in the same hospital.

Marjorie Newbold helps a good deal in the different Canteens in the town. One of their gallant brothers has been killed, and their four other brothers are all fighting.

Iolanthe Wilson has just passed her test successfully in the Admiralty (Intelligence Department).

Muriel Dibben, in writing to us in the summer from South Australia, tells us that one of her brothers was one of the ten men picked out of his Regiment to stay to the end in Gallipoli. She says: “He never thought he would get out alive; it was marvelous how they managed to bluff the Turks.” Her other brother also enlisted.