Christmas and The Great War – Christmas 1915

Once more Christmas is at hand with its intermingling of homely and sacred thoughts, feelings and memories. To many who read the School Magazine Christmas Day will have outwardly the same setting as usual in the old home, though indeed in many cases the very light of the home may seem to be wanting. To others of us the old homely Christmas is a memory that is a great and lasting possession. Many pictures come into my own mind which will be equally recognised by others. These are some of them: An old village church, wreathed with everygreens, sprinkled with holly berries, and lighted only by candles : a glowing nursery fire behind its high fender, the central spot in a room where one lamp is burning, lighting up the many coloured pictures on the walls, with twigs of yew, ivy, and holly stuck into them: young faces, eager and mysterious, telling of the preparation of Christmas gifts, and happy in the anticipation of the fat stocking that will be felt presently in the dark: a frosty sky with its stars reminding everybody of the shepherds watching their flocks under the sky: and besides all these, and many more there is always the picture of the Group in the stable, on which Christian art has lavished herself with a heart full of love and reverence. Sounds; too, make themselves heard : the carols, the happy greetings, and the ceaseless rise and fall of the persistent motive, “Peace and goodwill-goodwill and peace!” But now, for a second time, the thunder from the great amphitheatre of war rolls round and round, and threatens to stifle the music which tells of peace and goodwill. There are two thoughts, which, I think, may do something to help us hold firm to our faith that there will be no mockery in repeating the old Christmas message at this time. In the first place we shall do well to remember that Christ made peace and goodwill possible, as never before, to men, and if His Law of Truth and Love had been obeyed by those who call themselves His followers, there certainly would not have been this awful strife, and, for our comfort, wherever His standard of Truth and Love is upheld, progress is being made towards the fulfilment of His Word.

The second thought that may help some of us is that, besides the pictures of our Lord as the Good Shepherd, the Compassionate Friend of those who mourn, the Figure with the child in His arms, while others press around Him to receive His touch of blessing, besides, I say, the peaceful homely pictures of our Lord, of which the Gospel is full, there is yet another picture of Him as the Warrior on the white horse, Whose Name is Faithful and True, Who goes forth with absolute certainty, conquering and to conquer, in spite of the terrible force of the enemy, which is described as being like blood even up to the horse’s bridle.

So let us, more than ever before, pay our homage to the Little Child, acknowledging that with Him is always the possibility of peace and goodwill, and let us march confidently on under the banner of Him Who is in very reality Faithful and True.


The School and the War – Christmas 1915

This term seems to have gone by so quickly, and perhaps it seems as if not much had been accomplished, and of course, the prevailing thought always at this time is: “How little we can do to help our country!” But if we resolve to persevere in trying to do our best we shall., in fact, gradually do a better best than in the early days of the war; for hands and hearts will get more capable of doing service the more practice they get. We have had our School Intercessions as before, and the list of names sent in to be prayed for grows ever longer. We have had our Saturday work-party, and since the end of July 500 sand bags have been made, and nearly 1000 little bags for the small possessions of the men. The evenings for working for the Belgians have gone on steadily, and the carpenters are beginning to learn to stand a little on their own feet, so that we have hopes of their being really very useful another day. and a large good cupboard and two tables and 12 trays have actually been made.

Miss Powell’s toy industry for providing Christmas presents for poor children in Salisbury and South London has been carried on briskly; the milking lessons are going on day by day, and I hope, will be continued after the Christmas holidays, and Miss Prosser’s exhibition of work done in the studio and in the craft school, will, I hope, bring in a nice gift for the Red Cross or other war fund. And I have not mentioned that a certain number of socks and mufflers have been made.


Relations and Friends on Active Service – Christmas 1915

Fourth list of relations and friends who are or have been, on Active Service, mentioned in the Intercession at the School.


Harry Caulfield Tom Elworthy
Morice Corbet Singleton John Keble
Neville Rowbotham Arthur Bridge
Edward Kenyon Lionel Felton
William Cowan Christopher Mackworth
Richard Hall Beresford Hill
Lance Newham Harry Fawcett
Arthur Crookenden Arthur Fawcett
Jack Du Buisson Charles Prosser-Gibson
Richard Garnons Williams Major Drew
John Thicknesse Captain Taylor
Halford Thompson Jack Liddell
Roze des Ordous Algy Metcalfe
Maurice Lacan Anthony Bell
Lionel Chapman Mark Bell
Greffrey Tregelles Maurice Thursby
Jack Tregelles William Morris
Harry Wynne Cecil Graves
Ambrose Short Frederick Brown
Kenneth Douglas Robert Treadwell
Herbert Douglas James Ashford
Frank How Percival Osmond
Robert How Lewin Taverner
Percy Veal Alastair Ransford
Norman Caton William Ransford
Jim Cunningham George Small
Eustace Maude Jack Barrclough
Allan Maude Raymond Thicknesse
Ronald Maude Horace Taylor
Cyril Crossley Guy Wickham
Charles Judd Roger Bellingham
Hubert Dyson Edward Melby
Charles Lawrance Jack Awdry
Robert Maunsell Bryan Osmond


Ronald Kempe Jack Marsden-Smealey
Manners Chapman Graham Crossley
Burn Bucham Brown. Humphrey Sandwith
Charles Christie Christopher Maude
Walter Sitwell James Maude
Buchan Liddell Victor Weekes


Henry Clarke Jack Stephens
Crawford Matthews Paul Sturge


Roll of Honour – Christmas 1915

Douglas Robb, Major Hugh Forster, King’s Own Scottish Borderers. John Harold Clark, Lawrence Jowett, Acland Douglas Thomson.

N.B. Olga Thompson, nee Baillee Grohman (Fawcett House, 1904-1906), writes to ask us to let her friends know through the School Magazine, as she is unable to write to many of them, that her husband fell fighting bravely across the border of German East Africa. He was Wounded in his right arm, refused to retire, and went on fighting with his left arm only until he fell with a bullet through his head, on March 9th, 1915.

Old Girls News – Christmas 1915

Dorothy Sydenham is working in the 4th Southern General Hospital, Devonport. She is in a special ward now, and has ear, nose and throat cases. Katharine was working in Taunton until the Red Cross Hospital closed.

Nancy Humphreys worked for a month in the Salisbury Infirmary, and Muriel Vicary had three months there. Margaret Tracey has been there, and Kathleen Hulbert and Kittie Prothero for even longer.

Norah Montgomery has been doing Registration work, 200 houses, with an average of 5 papers a house; it was a big job, but most interesting.

Emma Burt goes every day from 10 to 5 o’clock to a hospital for Australian soldiers. She looks after the laundry and sewing. She does the carving, and sees after the teas and all odd jobs.

Amphyllis Middlemore is organising secretary under the Staffordshire County Council for their thrift scheme throughout the county, which includes local instruction in cooking and economical house-keeping, and in mother craft, and also a system of labour exchange, chiefly for agricultural work, I think. It entails much writing and going about visiting, in the various districts, and arranging meetings and committees.

Kathleen Pearce hopes to get into a hospital, only her age is against her. Until then she is working at the convalescent home, where she says it does one good to see how cheery and brave the men are-even those who have lost limbs; the other day two on crutches raced each other, and you would have thought it was the greatest fun in the world Kathleen also writes to a lonely man in her brother’s platoon, who says “he feels quite different now he knows someone takes an interest in him.”

Grace Cobbold is working at the War Relief Office, and at a canteen.

Estella McKean, is Secretary for the Red Cross Hospital.

Bice Moggridge is working at the Winchester Red Cross Hospital, in the kitchen, and when she is 21 she hopes to work in the wards. She is still going to have lessons on the Cathedral organ in her “off” times.

Cicely Janson has gone to work in a hospital in Malta.

Ruth Strange says we are kept very busy at our hospital, nearly always full and some very bad cases. We get quite a number of operations, and the men are simply wonderful, so plucky, it is a pleasure to nurse them.

Dorothy Chippendall has been working at the V.A.D. hospital at Kirkby Lonsdale, until it closed she helped in the office and with the linen; after a little holiday she wants more work.

Ruth’s doctor husband has just got a commission. Ruth has four boys, Harold, Alec, Michael, and Patrick.

Munitions work at Erith 1915 – Christmas 1915

Most people, I expect, have heard of the plan to train voluntary munitions workers to replace the regular factory girls at week-ends. The first batch of women were trained at Vickers’ Works at Erith in July (1915), and ever since a fresh party has taken their place every three weeks. I arrived at Erith on November 1st in torrents of rain, and with about thirty other women tramped up to the Hostel, a large Early Victorian house away from the squalid streets in open country overlooking the Thames. After settling into our rooms and lunching we put on our dark blue overalls, tied our heads in handkerchiefs, and with long coats to cover us up and baskets on our arms, containing mugs, spoons, coca, &c., started for the works about 20 minutes distant. There are names were registered at the Head Office, and having plunged through inches of mud, across rails and bridges, we arrived at the workshop, a large one-storied building with windows on either side, and “streets” of lathes running its entire length, and below a glazed roof a maze of iron girders and cogwheels, on which the bands revolved. I was set to “rough turning” 4.5 shrapnel shells, generally used for Naval guns; these weigh between 28 and 30lbs. when you first handle them, and 25lbs. when turned. Lifting them from the floor and jacking up the lathe was hard work at first, and I was thankful when the 5 o’clock gong sounded, and we were able to go to the Y.W.C.A. Hut for tea. The canteen is excellent and much appreciated, and I never before felt so lovingly towards a Windsor chair, for at other times there is hardly a moment to sit down. Having put on a new shell, started the machinery and jacked up the lathe, you fish out the shell just finished from the mass of steel filings under your machine, gauge it, chalk your number on it, and put it ready to be “viewed”, passed and carted away. By then you probably find your lathe is getting slack and beginning to squeak horribly, and wants jacking up again, or the shell on it must be tested with a ring, new shells greased and the filings cleaned off the machine; these filings curl off in the most beautiful incandescent blue and green colours, but they have a horrid way of jumping into your gloves or on to your face and burning you. By six we were back at work, having “clocked”, i.e., found our name card in a rack, put it in a slot under the clock, and punched the time on it and replaced it in another rack. This has to be done when you arrive at work as well. On leaving, a card is handed in showing the amount of work you have done. At 9 we had a rest of 7 minutes, just time to snatch a little food at the canteen and at 10.30 out 8 hours came to and end, and we were free to go back to supper and our beds. During the first week we had three Zeppelin scares, the factory was suddenly plunged in darkness, and all the machinery stopped. The dead silence made a curious contrast to the hideous din of metal on metal, the explosions and squeals from slackening gear. We were told to stay by our machines; the girl next to me managed to get outside, and that certainly is one’s instinct, though there are sentries at the doors to prevent it. I soon had two lathes to manage, which made things much more interesting. Each shell takes about 20 minutes to turn, and it is most exciting to see how many you can finish during the shift. Often much time is wasted by the breaking of the knife, or there is a shortage of shells.

After a week on the afternoon shift we worked from 10.30pm till 6.30 on the night shift. It was lovely on some mornings to leave the works in the grey dawn and see the sun rise. Lighting up the shipping on the Thames, and making even Erith slums beautiful, but it was always a great effort to leave the warm drawing room at what should have been bedtime, and I never got over the almost over-powering sleepiness that came over me between 3 and 4 am especially, or enjoyed my days spent in bed. The third week we worked from 6.30 to 2.30, getting up at 5, and having breakfast at 5.30.

The factory girls were most pleasant to us, but I do not think they really like our being their. For one thing, the volunteers have put up the standard of work, and though many of the regular hands are most conscientious, some seem very slack, and took every change of a rest. The output from our shop is about 30,000 shells a week. I should say there must be about 1000 machines of various sorts in the shop, and quite half the workers are women; before no women have worked on the lathes. Numbers of the mechanics are Belgians, but we are were always glad to get an English fitter, as they were far more friendly and helpful. The dirt is simply appalling; in spite of overalls and two pairs of thick gloves you soon become covered in grease and steel dust. Women are paid 2s a day for day work and 3s for the night shift, and a little extra for Sunday work. There is also a War Bonus on extra shells turned; with this bonus added I made £1 2s. 10½d. one week and £1 3s 6½d. the next.

Many of our party were obliged to give up, finding the work too much for them, but in spite of many small discomforts I am very glad to have had the experience of life as a factory hand.


War Work at the UGS Settlement – Christmas 1915

I wonder how many of the Old Girls have realised what a lot of extra work we have had to do at the Settlement since the outbreak of War. Our ordinary work has had to go on in the same way, and on the top of this we have had two new branches of work, and have just started a third.

We had been working the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society from the Settlement for a year or two before War broke out, but, of course, the work entailed in peace time was very little compared to the work it entails now. Discharged soldiers core up for help till they can get work, and thanks to the co-operation of the Manager of the local Labour Exchange we have had no difficulty in finding these men work. Others want help pending discharge; others who have come out of Hospital want help to get their pay through, and so on. Of course, many of them are frauds, and go from one place to another with pitiful stories of all they have been through, &c. One man has been up here under two different names, and was much upset when he was recognised. Another man who had been discharged some months before and had been helped by us then came up again for help, as he had slipped on the train lines and injured his arm. We refused help, but nothing daunted he went on to his late employer and stupidly said he had been helped here. The employer wrote to us to ask if the case was a genuine one, and he told us that this man had said he could not work, as he was attending the Hospital for a wound in the arm! There are, I am afraid, many such cases, and unless the funds are properly administered there will be many more of them. Fortunately they are not by any means all frauds. We have lately had one very interesting case. A young man who had been wounded early in the War was taken prisoner by the Germans, and last month was returned to England as hopelessly wounded, after having been in a German Hospital for over a year. He is paralyzed from the waist downwards; and has been tied to his bed. His sister wrote to us to ask us if we could help to get him an invalid chair, and through the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society this has been procured. The man is now able to push himself about, and we hope to be able to arrange for someone to teach him carving or carpentry, so as to help to fill up what must be a very weary day for him. We have already had 252 applications during this past year, and, of course, the work will increase enormously as the War goes on.

When War broke out Miss Hodge was asked if she would work the Camberwell and Peckham Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association from the Settlement. She consented to do this, and we all waited patiently to be told what it would mean. On the Monday after the declaration of War we were doing our usual work, when suddenly the small garden in front of No. 17 was besieged by a mob of women i They were all Reservists’ wives, who had expected their separation allowances a week after their husbands had been called up, and on failing to get it had gone in a body to the Town Hall. The Town Hall authorities, with great alacrity, drove them down the road to the Settlement, and left us to cope with it all. Those were awful weeks! We spent morning after morning taking down particulars as hard as we could, and afternoon after afternoon rushing round with money to relieve the women. Some of the women were seven or eight weeks before their money came through, and all that time we had to keep them going. We were often interviewing the women up to 3 and 4 in the afternoon, and we frequently had our lunch at 3 or 3.30. Then there were the visitors to be dealt with. They had to be advised as to how much the women should be given and what questions to ask and what to look out for. In the evenings there were letters to write, so as to help the harassed people who had been writing steadily since 9 a.m., and visits to be gone through. Also every afternoon one would see groups of people all over the garden wading through case after case, deciding what was to be done on this one or not done on the other one. This feverish rush has, of course, died down now, but we still have a great deal to get through every day. We have at the present time 7687 cases on our books. We were very well supported by helpers at the beginning, when everything was somewhat of a novelty, but now it is more difficult to get helpers. People think this is much too humdrum as compared with driving ambulances, &c., &c.!

The newest branch of work which is really an outcome of the War is the School for Mothers. A new building has been erected at the end of No. 19 garden, and the cost of this has been defrayed by some money given to Miss Hodge for any special purpose. The School is already a most flourishing concern, and we hope by means of this School to make some, at any rate, of the future generation more healthy and useful members of the community. The next generation is a very important one, particularly so at the present moment, and it was felt that the Settlement could not do a more useful piece of work in this district than start one of these Schools; appeals for which so often appear in our daily papers.

But please do not think that we have allowed our other work to suffer. The I.C.A.A. Care Committees and Clubs still go on, and their work is now even more important than ever, for here again we are working amongst the next generation. We want more residents and more workers to help us. The strain on the Settlement has been very great for this past year, and now we are faced with a possible lack of funds and a falling off of workers. Surely it is up to us Old Girls to see that this does not happen. Workers and money have already begun to fall off, and unless we put our backs into it we may have to face the problem as to whether the Settlement can go on as it has been going.


Munitions at Acton 1915 – Christmas 1915

We always say that we are “making munitions”, but that is wholly inaccurate. At Park Royal we make nothing. We inspect cartridges and reject all that are bad. The good ones we put into slips and bandoliers ready for the Front. It is not at all hard work, but rather dull, though it is very important. It is almost entirely mechanical work. The hours are long, as we work overtime. We start work at seven, and come off at six, with a ten minutes break at half-past nine and an hour for luncheon. The same hours apply to the night work. We work alternately on night and on day shift for a fortnight on each.

I think we all hate night work. It is much more tiring than working by day, though we most of us sleep soundly all day. What we hate most about it is getting up at five in the afternoon and having supper; breakfast before going to bed is not nearly so bad.

I think there are about 3000 women working at Park Royal, and the workshop isn’t nearly half full yet. The women and girls are very nice, and work like niggers. They sing while they work; always the same songs. “The little Grey Home in the West” is a great favourite. Some of us who were working at a table together started “Three Blind Mice”, and it has since become quite fashionable.

There are about forty others like myself, who are either overlookers or being trained for the post. We live all together in a Hostel about twenty minutes’ walk from Park Royal. It is really quite comfortable there, apart from a few minor inconveniences. Of course the worst is getting up at 5 am and waiting about in dim and chilly passages for a bath, which is invariably cold!

Oh! It’s a funny life!


The Arsenal Canteen – Christmas 1915

Early last June, Lady Laurence obtained permission to start a branch of her canteen for munition makers in the big Arsenal at Woolwich, as she had done in many of the other large munition works. The object was to supply the men with tea and cake in the afternoons, and also in the early hours of the morning, as there are men at work all night. The great difference between a military canteen and this one is, that we go to the men, not the men to us, to buy the food. In my innocence, when I thought of the Arsenal at all, I imagined it as a vast factory, and did not realise that it was more like a town, with roads and railways running through it. Naturally a man could not walk a mile to buy a piece of cake! Perhaps the easiest way to describe the work is to take a typical afternoon in August: it is on a rather different footing at the present time.

Shortly after two o’clock the helpers begin to arrive, having satisfied the police at the gate as to their identity-tickets, and report themselves at the kitchen (or depot as it is officially called), to the lady in charge for the day, who allots the various duties. In the kitchen itself are cake cutters (they generally slice up four and a half hundredweight of cake), washers-up, and, most heroic of all, tea-makers. Theirs is not an enviable lot, especially in summer, for the heat from the gas rings and the heavy urns to be handled, make it resemble a stoke-hole. Still, they keep remarkably cheerful, even when milk runs out, or someone lets the water from the copper (commonly known as Gertrude), gently flow over their floor. The rest of us are employed in the open, two or three on each “trolley” as it is called, the same being in private life nothing more or less than the hand milkcart with which everyone is familiar in the streets. Volumes could be written on the little ways of these vehicles; how some have a bias to left, some to right, &c. &c.! However, to work!

Our first duty is to find from the trolley officer to which number we have been allotted, receive from her the slip of paper on which is written our destination and time of starting, and then start loading up. As a. road runs between the kitchen and the open space on which the trolleys stand, everything has to be carried across to them, so that this process takes some time. Tin mugs, and so many dozen mineral water bottles go first, the amount carried varying according to the “shop” which is the trolley’s destination. In rotation, each number fetches its tea, tipping the contents of the urns into the big churn, which sometimes carries as much as twenty gallons. The cake is cut into generous slices, “plain, plum or seedie,” and packed into various sized wooden boxes, which are stacked on top of the kuola, ginger beer and their brethren are put behind the churn. There is often a good deal of time to wait while all this is going on, and in spare moments we sit round on empty mineral boxes, knit and discuss the affairs of the Empire.

Each trolley is timed to arrive at four o’clock, so as that time draws near, one by one they set off, according to the distance they have to go.

If it is our fate to go to one of the factories where boys are employed, the first ten minutes will give one a very good idea of what a football scrum must be like, at any rate to an outsider. The trolley and workers disappear, and all that is to be seen is a closely packed group of hungry humanity. The greatest difficulty of the person who is doling out cake is to discriminate as to who has appealed longest for cake, and who has elbowed his way in by mere force. “Two plain, please miss,” “four currant and a still lemonade,” “one seedie” (and tenders you half-a-crown). The tea-server has almost as strenuous a time, for her part entails stooping, and ever y one wants his mug filled at once. If the truth be told, though, give a “trolley-lady” her choice, and her selection will always be such a beat as this, for there is immense satisfaction in feeling that one has done some real work, and sold out. About 4.30 all the mugs and empty bottles have been collected, and back we trundle to the depot to reload for our next round. I have not mentioned the railway lines and trains which, to me, are the characteristic features of the Arsenal, but they are everywhere. No longer do I feel the same awe for an engine, familiarity does not in this case breed contempt, but a kindly forbearance for their snortings and hootings. “Mind yer back, miss!” comes a shout from behind, and Carnarvon, or Mary, or some such personage puffs on his way with perhaps a truck or two behind. I have even known the day when a goods train was across our path, and uncoupled to let us go on!

The second round is very much the same as the first, but the sale is not so great in most places, and soon after six most of the trolleys are back. Then comes the cleaning, and no shirking of it is allowed, though people’s ideas on the subject are apt to vary. The big churn has to be lifted out and thoroughly rinsed with hot water, and all the brasswork to be polished. Happy the person whose trolley is painted all over!

As may be gathered, the work was apt to be a little damp on a wet day, and for part of the summer, the Arsenal seemed to make a speciality of thunderstorms. However, when one goes prepared, no harm is done, and very often the men try and find us a dry corner.

This is what took place up till September, when the Government cut down our selling time to half an hour, 5.30 to 6, and our coffee-stalls were built in various parts of the Arsenal. At present there is one area in which there is no stall, so the trolleys still go, but in all probability they will be built by Christmas. In a way, a good many of us will be sorry, for though the work was hard and tiring, one felt that a good deal had been done, and that like the workmen we were working at full pressure. Still, there is evidently a need for the canteen, and incidentally, more workers, especially for the night shift. I have never been able to go myself, but I believe the work is just the same, except that a motor goes to some of the far away parts. There is certainly no monotony about it, and one can get a good deal of amusement from it, and there is never any discourtesy, even when supplies run out, which I think is a pretty good tribute to fifty thousand workmen.


At the Indian Hospital Alexandria 1915 – Christmas 1915

It was the beginning of March when I first arrived at the Hospital in Alexandria. There was then no mention of the Dardanelles Expedition, and the Hospital was occupied entirely by Indian sick and wounded, chiefly from France. It was the most lovely place, built right down to the sea, and had formerly been a huge hotel. The big “Winter Garden” made our largest ward, taking about 300 beds. The Hospital was equipped for 500 beds, but soon after I arrived it grew to 700, and before I left we had, when very badly rushed, put in 1100 or 1200 men! The staff consisted of English Doctors, eight English Sisters, and a lot of Indian orderlies and followers. The whole Hospital was originally meant for Indians only.

Quite suddenly at the end of April we were given a few hours notice to prepare for a big rush of Australian wounded from the Dardanelles. They were to be the men from the original and now world-famous landing on April 25th (1915). All wounded were to be brought straight back to Alexandria, there being no hospitals on the islands round the Dardanelles as there now are. The worst cases remained at Alexandria, while slighter ones went to Cairo, and still slighter ones to Malta and home.

Arrangements at first went anything but smoothly. Nobody seemed to have the slightest idea of what an enormous and overwhelming rush of wounded there would be. Ours was the only hospital (except the permanent Alexandria Civil one) really ready; schools and colleges were being hastily turned into hospitals when the first rush came in. Before we knew where we were 22,000 wounded were lying in ships of every description at the docks. The authorities were at their wits end where to put them.

Of our little staff several Sisters were taken to go to Red Cross trains to Cairo, so it was a very tiny nursing staff indeed left to grapple with the incoming rush of men. You can’t imagine what a rush it had meant getting ready and changing the place from an Indian to an English hospital! Everything had to be so different, especially the food and feeding arrangements, and the Indians had to be tucked away somewhere. But when the Australians arrived the work really began. They poured in, stretcher after stretcher, just as they had left the peninsular, with their blood-stained, dusty uniforms. The first lot told me they had been several days on the boat (a transport ship, not a proper hospital one). They had been packed like herrings coming over, with no nurses, hardly any orderlies, and only a few terribly over-worked doctors.

The only food to be got was Irish stew, which most of the bad cases had been unable of course to eat. Even the worst cases had had no milk. It was not to be wondered at that many had died on the way and that very many more died as soon as they reached the hospitals. We worked from 3pm, when they started to arrive, till 3am, next morning, getting them to bed, cutting off their uniforms, washing and feeding them, and dressing their wounds. The surgeons and theatre sisters never went to bed at all, as they were working hard all night. It was a continual stream of stretchers going up to the theatre door. At night there was one sister to about 300 cases; we couldn’t spare more, and such cases! In my section of 100 beds only two men could get up, and they worked like slaves, day and night, helping the others. If one had not been so over-worked one might have seen the funny side in our cosmopolitan collection of helpers. As it was we wrestled, with anything but amusement, with our Arab cooks and waiters (they were too hopeless, giving the worst cases most impossible things to eat), our Greek Boy Scouts, who helped in the wards, our Indian orderlies, and our Russian Jew cleaners! None of them talked English. In the end some of the Australian Light Horse came and offered themselves as orderlies. They worked in shifts, often 24 hours on end, and were simply magnificent. Such great strapping, six foot men they were; most of them from wild station life, and none of them had ever seen the inside of a hospital before. I said to one, “I don’t think it’s a bit good for you seeing all this, just before you are off to the peninsular yourselves,” and he said, “Ah, but Sister, seeing all this will make the boys fight like a thousand devils.” And it did.

For many days we worked from till late at night with distinctly sketchy and rushed meals, and for at least six weeks no one ever saw the front door. But it was a joy to work for such men. They were marvellous, so plucky and so cheerful, and just pining to get back. But it made one’s heart ache to walk down the long rows of tightly packed beds and see all these fine men literally “broke” in the wars.

It was the same at all the hospitals; doctors and nurses working day and night, the in-coming wounded meeting the out-going ones on the stairs and going into their still warm beds. Men packed into every corner – on beds, in between beds, in corridor passages, tents, and in kitchens. But gradually out of the chaos a great order grew; more nurses came from home, more hospital ships, more hospitals and now Egyptian medical arrangements can hold their own with any in the world.