Letter From Malta – Summer 1916

This letter from Miss Fairclough, was written in March, and gives her first impressions of the hospital at Malta, where she is in charge of the kitchen:

4, Strada Kirscia,
St. Julian’s Bay,
Sheina,
Malta.

Beneath a white green-lined parasol I look at the word March, which has just been written, and then gaze with admiration at the gorgeous blue sky peeping through the trees, and wonder if June ought not to have been put instead. It is perfectly glorious weather at present, and the sea lives up to its name of blue Mediterranean, and is so clear that one wants to bathe at once.
I am particularly enjoying to-day as it is my second day off since arriving in January, as work naturally occupies nearly all and every day. My first invalid kitchen was in a 12ft. square tent, beloved of all winds that blow, and was hardly ever still; but one day a very grand General indeed came to inspect, and as the fluttering canvas nearly knocked off his lovely gold-embroidered cap, and the tin draught-screen round the oil stove played muffled thunder as it waved to and fro, he raised his voice to remark, “You must have a wooden hut.” The wooden hut materialised into two rooms in a Married Quarters’ Block, near an operating theatre and a dentist-so the blend of ether, gas, and fried onions in that corner is considered very fine. The work itself is very much the same as kitchen work in a Red Cross Hospital at home, except that more Army routine has to be followed in the drawing of stores, clean towels, oil and coal. The patients catered for are not many in proportion to the numbers in the Hospital, but are quite enough to make the hours from 9 to 12 extremely busy, especially when four different kinds of diet must be arranged-such as when ten men may have beef fillets, mashed potatoes, and tomato sauce, and treacle sponge to follow; 14 others will have haricot beans and tomato sauce, with a milk jelly to follow, and perhaps three need chicken creams and milk or egg jelly.
The dinners are served at any time between 12 to 12.30; it depends upon the time the ward orderlies arrive, after which cold things for the next day are begun-the orderly going off for his dinner first, and later I depart for mine, after which we mutually tidy up and get away any time from 2.45 to 3.15 generally the latter now. There seems more work in a house than in a tent, although we have practically the same furniture, but it is now spread over a larger space.
Two more kitchens are to be opened in other hospitals, and it is very interesting going to see them and their different situations, as some hospitals are under canvas, others in beautiful old buildings, some in converted barracks and so on.
Malta is a curious rocky land, and historically most fascinating. I was remarking on the majesty of the old fortifications to a lady the other day, who told me they had been built originally by Turkish prisoners, who were kept ill underground chambers now used as granaries. I had wondered what these granaries were or could have been, because one walks over a large paved space with little square openings at regular intervals, on top of each of which is placed a large round stone like a mill stone with a number stamped on it, and these spaces are the roofs of the granaries, and the now covered squares were the only means of entrance of air and light, and the unfortunate prisoners were lowered into them nightly, and taken out to work during the day. [It gives one a shock to see a basket load of hay being drawn up by means of a chain and pulley, and to think it once could have been a human being.]
At one time I used to go to my work through passages made through the fortification walls, and across a drawbridge over a deep moat, and was surprised at the length of the passages and wished them shorter. They are now used as roads to take the goats out of the town into the country. It was quite amusing to emerge down some very, rough steps, into a large space where donkeys were always waiting to be harnessed to little flat no-sided carts, one of which invariably started to bray and set off the whole set.
The other day I went to call at a beautiful old fort, and was given tea out of doors on the rocks, overlooking one of the harbours, and sat on grass – a fact worth mentioning, as there is not a great deal here, though the wild flowers are lovely. We spent a very entertaining time watching the little launches, locally called Puffers, dash across from landing-stage to landing-stage, while being Saturday there were many charming little sailing boats scudding along, with here and there a big ship, all no the exquisite blue-green water.
At present I am sitting in a garden under orange trees, just beginning to bloom, under which are arum lilies also in bloom, while figs, apricots and almond trees take up the rest of the space. You would have loved the violets, and the flower sellers’ baskets now are the most exquisite still life flower groups one could find the natives have an extraordinarily happy talent in the grouping of colours in these, though not so successful in placing colours in a garden.
It is so lovely out here this afternoon, and when the bees hum I immediately picture the Hut and its surroundings. What makes it more Forestry than ever is the sound of a distant clucking hen.
If you think this letter worth putting in the Magazine please do, but it has had to be rather stiffly written on account of Censor rules, and also because I promised not to write for the Public Press before leaving home, and though the Magazine can hardly he called the Public Press, still it is as well not to transgress. I have written to Miss Douglas to give an account of my routine, and If there were any Items in it you thought suitable to add to the above I don’t suppose it would matter. How I wish I could say more: but it’s no use running the risk of having the whole letter destroyed.
The work is fascinating, not so much from the actual cooking point of view, but from the organisation point, and how to circumvent the appalling red tape, and as they have asked me to organise two more kitchens, and train the helpers to a certain extent, I feel that it has been worth while coming out here, and the experience is invaluable.
The present acting Red Cross Head is Mrs. Radcliffe, whose husband, Colonel Radcliff, is on the staff here, and they live at the Palace, and when I had to see her the other night she remarked on my shoulder badges, and asked whereabouts, in Wilts my Detachment Home was, so I said Salisbury, whereupon she remarked, “Oh, that’s where the Godolphin School is that Lord Methuen is always talking about: do you know it?”
The Palace is a beautiful building, and it was most interesting seeing at least some of it. I intend trying to see the State Rooms, which are open to the public, which contain some very interesting things.
With very kindest remembrances to all.
I remain,
Yours affectionately,
MARGARET FAIRCLOUGH

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School News – Summer Term 1915

SPRING TERM.

March 8th Mr. Marston, a blind clergyman, came to us and spoke about his work.

March 9th School Service taken by the Rev. H. Marston, who gave an address on Prayer.

March 11th Mr. Belloc’s Lecture. (See last issue.)

March 16th School Service taken by the Rev. A. G. Robertson, who spoke about “excuses.”

Governors’ Meeting.

March 24th School Service taken by Canon Sowter.

March 29th Mark Reading. This was one day earlier than the day fixed owing, to an outbreak of German measles.

Miss Douglas first read the results of the various competitions:

Cloak Room Picture, won by III; three marks lost.

Form Tidy Cup, won by Low. V., Sp. VB and II., who all lost no marks.

Finished Books, Top Up. VI., 78.81 per cent.

Red Girdles. Junior Girdles were given for the first time :¬

Senior: M. Thomas, O. Batchelor, J. Adams, D. Ashford, M. Chilton, P. Clarke, M. Ainslie, S. Lister, N. Richards, E. Hudson, K. Newson, P. Pinneger, V. Coles, and M. Wood.

Junior: M. Allan, M Leys, V. Arnold, G. Coles, M. Rose, M. Du Buisson, and M. Osmond.

La Crosse Pins: S. Yorke, B. Bridge, M. Holmes, H. Elworthy, FT. Elam, M. Godley, and D. Harvey-Jones. Those leaving were :

Special VI., E. Lock, prefect of Fawcett House.

Stanford, St. Margaret’s.

Lower V., M. Chalmers, Fawcett House.

Special VB., Violet Coles, Sarum House.

Lower IV., D. Chalmers, Fawcett House.

II, G. Smyth, Sarum House.

In saying ‘good-bye to those leaving, Miss Douglas said that she hoped that they would remember that the only way to be really happy was by serving others, and that they would stamp their lives with the word “service.” She also said that she hoped that those who were going home would continue there the things they had begun at school. Miss Douglas said she would not say much to the school, as she had had many talks during the term. She hoped all would listen to the lessons of which the holidays would be full-Confirmation for some, Good Friday and Easter, and the message of renewed hope which comes with spring.

March 31st The Confirmation Day. Owing to some of the candidates having had German measles, it was arranged that they should be confirmed separately at St. Mark’s Church by Bishop Joscelyne, at the same hour as the service held in the Cathedral. A few days before Finetta Bathurst was confirmed in Exeter Cathedral, as she had had to go home owing to whooping cough. The following is the full list of the girls who were confirmed this term: C. Mackworth, M. Ainslie, J. Dewe, J. Eason, I. Pears, J. Pears, H. de Behr, P. Blunt, G. Rigden, M. Osmond, M. Hardy, D. Turner, M. Constable, H. Livesey, M. Glynn, P. Clarke, M. Eppstein, P. Godwin, P. Seal, N. Northcroft, K. Sargeaunt, S. Wotton, M. Wood, M. Vines, P. Du Buisson, K. Newson, F. Bathurst.

SUMMER TERM.

April 25th School re-opened on St. George’s Day. The flag was flown, and we sang the hymn, “The Son of God goes forth to War,” and the collect for S. Michael and All Angels was read.

Miss Douglas then read the results of the Associated Board of the R.A.M. and R.C.M., Local Centre, April, 1915.

We were very glad to hear that Canon Sowter was to be a Governor of the School, and clapped heartily.

New Prefect. Fawcett House, M Stevens-Guille.

Miss Douglas read the written rules, and reminded us that there are besides many unwritten rules, which are very important. Their observance comes naturally to those who have the right spirit.

Miss Douglas then spoke a little about the life of St. George and what he stands for. He is the champion of Right fighting for the Cross and prevailing against the Dragon, the type of all that is base, cruel, and deceitful. St. George was taken to be the Patron Saint of England by Edward III., and therefore all English men and women are bound to fight with determination under his banner against all manner of evil.

In the Wiltshire Arts and Crafts Exhibition of April, 1915, B. Niven gained a 1st class certificate for drawing from the round, and R. Ainslie a 1st class certificate for pencil drawing from life. A sheet of brushwork by various girls was also granted a 1st class certificate. A Foljambe’s work was commended.

April 26th Our new Governor, Canon Sowter, brought the Archbishop of Armagh to speak to us. The Archbishop expressed his doubts at being able to talk to girls until he was told to speak as he would to boys. He then told us to remember that the honour of a school depends on its individual members, and he also spoke of the important place of friendship in life, and quoted a boy’s definition of a friend, “One who knows you well and likes you still.”

April 27th Miss Douglas and the Staff went to meet the Archbishop at the Training College, by the invitation of Canon and Mrs. Sowter and Miss Forth, the Principal.

April 28th In the evening the Rev. Denis Victor, of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, and the Principal of St. Michael’s College, Likoma, for training native students who become teachers, came and spoke to us about his work.

April 30th Miss Yuille Smith, who stayed some time at Fawcett House with her son Bobbie, gave us a delightful piano recital in the Hall.

May 1st Saturday. After supper we made bags for the soldiers in hospital to keep their possessions in.

May 6th Miss Douglas told us of Lord Methuen’s appeal for books, games, &c., for the new base hospital at Malta.

May 7th Mr. Belloc gave us a second lecture. The subject was, “The War and the Political Situation in Europe.” (See special notice).

May 8th We heard that Ruth Wordsworth and her brother, who were passengers on the Lusitania, which was torpedoed on Friday, May 7th, were saved. In the evening we had a second War Work Party.

May 13th Ascension Day Service St. Martin’s at 8 a.m., and short service in School in the morning and evening. It was too wet to have a picnic, but it was a very happy festival all the same. We stayed in our Houses and did what we liked till 5 o’clock, when there was dancing in the Hall till 6.30.

May 20th Annual Service at St. Saviour’s. We sent a special offertory of £3, but, owing to the war, no representatives.

May 24th Empire Day. We had a short service at 12.20, and Miss Helen Bagnall gave a short address. (See special notice).

May 28th Miss Douglas read a letter of thanks from Lady Smith-Dorrien for the 150 holland bags sent, and said that 100,000 more were needed.

June 9th Service of Song at 8 o’clock, to which the Members of the League of Honour came.

June 10th Miss Douglas told us that Lady Hulse had consented to become a Governor of the School. The good news was received by a great clap.

June 11th Half Term. Those who did not go away stayed at St. Margaret’s with Miss Lucy.

Head Mistresses Conference, held this year at Walthamstow. Miss Douglas stated that some farmers had accepted her offer to let the School help in their hay fields.

June 16th The girls began to help with the hay, and continued to do so for several days, working in shifts.

June 21st Clarinda Allen got 3rd Class in the Historical Tripos, Part II., and in Natural ‘Science, Part I., Ivy Phillips got 3rd Class.

June 27th On Sunday afternoon Mrs. Creighton (widow of the late Bishop of London) very kindly came and spoke to the School at 5 o’clock.

School News – Autumn Term 1914

November 19th.-The School went to the beautiful Service in the Cathedral in memory of Lord Roberts.

December 7th.-We had a Patriotic Concert, to which doctors, nurses and others doing Red Cross work were invited. A Belgian officer played two marches.

PROGRAMME

(a) National Anthems of Allies-French, Belgian, Russian and British

(b) March   ” Tommy’s Welcome ” The Orchestra –   Murray

(c) Songs – Litany – Shubert

Old Sacred Lullaby – Corner

Barcaroll – Goring Thomas

Sailor’s Song – Haydn

Special Class

  • Piano Solo
  • Coronation March – The Orchestra – Edward German

INTERVAL FOR TEA AND COFFEE

  • March – ” Fame and Glory” – The Orchestra – Malt
  • Songs – (a) ” Ye Mariners of England ” – Pierson

(b) “You’ll Get There” – Parry

Junior Class.

Songs – (a) “A Ballad of the Ranks” – Stanford

              (b)Britons Strike Home” – Purcell

Senior Class.

” High Germany” (Folk Song) Combined Choir – Baring Gould and Sharp

  • Air de Ballet – “Liselotte” – Leon Adam
  • Choruses –   (a) “Soldiers of the King” – Leslie Stuart
  • Tipperary”
  • Cadet March – The Orchestra – Sousa
  • Songs ——– (a) ” Motherland “Lionel Moncton

                                    (b) “Land of Hope and Glory” – Elgar

(c) ” Rule Britannia ” – Dr. Hine

December 19th – Governors’ Meeting. Lord Methuen presided and made a stirring speech. Miss Fawcett, who has been a Governor of the School for so many years, and always the kindest of friends, has resigned. Miss Douglas spoke of all she has been to the School and all that she and the School owe to her.

December 12th – Mrs. Lees kindly played her gramophone and we danced for 15 minutes before beginning our Mission Work.

December 17th – Mark Reading. Miss Douglas first gave the red girdles, which were won by N. Chalk, H. Livesey, M. Holmes, F. Burnett, M. Sinclair, M. Southwood, J. Hinxman, E. Kinder, S. Wotton,M. Howes and C. Mackworth. She next read the results of the various Form Competitions. The Cloak Room Picture was won by Special VB., who had lost no marks. Upper V., Special VA. and Upper IVs. all lost no form room marks. Upper VI. were top in finished books, with 81.25 per cent.

Miss Douglas reminded us of the important duty of keeping our ideas in due perspective and remembering that our School concerns are very small compared with the great international events going on. At the same time, we must not neglect our daily duty. Miss Douglas wished us all a very happy Christmas. She reminded us that the worldly note in Christmas doings would be hushed this year, but this should only make the real meaning of Christmas felt more strongly. We must get our share of Christmas joy and peace by helping in the great privilege of mitigating the sufferings of those in sorrow.

Those leaving were: Joyce Guillemard, Up. VI., Prefect of St. Margaret’s; Kathleen Pearce, Up. VI., Prefect of Nelson; Lynton Crabtree, Sp. VI., Prefect of Fawcett; Troath Swinburne, Sp. VI. and School House; Olivia Wyndham, Sp. VI, and New Forest; Ethel Wheeler, Sp. VI. and Nelson; Madge Rothera, Low. VI. and Fawcett’; Lena Burden, Sp. VA., Sarum; Margaret Housley, Low. V., Nelson.