War News from Old Girls – Summer 1915

Winifred Kenyon is now at an Urgency Cases Hospital, near the front, in France. She went out as cook, but has now started work as theatre probationer.

Margaret Tracey came to Nelson House at the beginning of this term to work at the Red Cross Hospital. She was night nurse.

Ruby Coventon was another night nurse, and they much enjoyed working together. Margaret was next at Longford Castle, and from there came to Roberts’ Ward in the Salisbury Infirmary, where she is working under our Miss Ashford’s sister.

Muriel Vicary is in Pembroke Ward.

May du Buisson in Radnor.

Kathleen Hulbert is also in Radnor.

Rosa Pepper is in Queensbury.

Miss Hyde’s sister, Edith was here for a month, so they made quite a party of friends.

Nancy Humphrys is coming on the 17th to join them.

Kathleen Pearce has been doing some haymaking while she stayed in Haslemere, and is now making enquiries about helping, on a farm.

Gwynnyth Hope is doing lots of Red Cross work, but they feel very far away in Australia.

Clarinda Allen writes: “Isabella and I are now working at a Red Cross Hospital (in Cambridge). At present I am only a charwoman and do scrubbing and odd jobs; but Isabella is a detachment cook; she is second in command.”

Kathleen Ensor tells us that she is spending four days a week at the Red Cross Hospital at Gloucester, where there is room for about sixty patients. Some are suffering from gas poisoning. One poor man-who was in hospital in France – was kept alive for weeks by oxygen, and has gone through terrible suffering, but is now making a good recovery. Her father has joined the city Training Corps and often goes on police duty at nights.

Dorothy Wright sends a most interesting letter from Klerksdorp, where she was staying with her sister Alice. She says: “Nearly all the girls I know are taking up nursing. I should like to, but am not strong enough. We collected over £500 in Heilbron, before the rebellion, for the different war funds, mostly by voluntary subscriptions. Besides that we sent two cases of clothing to England. Heilbron is not a big place, but compared to other places in the Free State it is very English, though the district is thoroughly Dutch. We are hoping the G.S.W. campaign will soon be over now. General Botha expects to reach Windhoek, the capital, soon. So far the Germans have not offered a very determined resistance, but it is rumored that they are taking to the mountains, and that will mean guerilla warfare.”

Dorothy Kent writes from Durban. She says: “My brother is in German S.W. Africa, and as soon as that is taken he is going to Europe. We heard on Wednesday that General Botha had entered the capital, Windhoek, so I suppose it will not be long before they are all home again. The general opinion is that the Germans will just carry on guerilla warfare so as to keep our troops there and prevent them going either to Europe or German East Africa. Public feeling has been very strong against the sinking of the Lusitania, and on Thursday night all the shops and offices were wrecked and burnt. The mob wanted to do the same the next night by the private houses, but the authorities called for special constables, and it was all stopped. It was a poor way of retaliating, as it does no good, and in many cases has thrown Englishmen out of work.”

Muriel Jowitt (Powell Jones) tells us that her husband is in the Dardanelles. She says: “He has been censoring some of the men’s letters home, and tells me that the spirit of them is quite wonderful, so full of simple faith and a sense of duty to their families and to their country.”

Kathleen Ashford tells us that their brother Jim has sailed for Egypt, and they have had a wire to tell of his safe arrival.

Amy Pothecary (Aylward) tells us of her eldest brother Dick, who has a commission in the R.E., 3rd Lahore Division, being in the dreadful battle of Neuve Chapelle, but coming through safely. Her youngest, brother Jack has been transferred into the same Regiment, only he is still in India, and is now Just outside Poona, “if he has not come over unknown to us” Her husband is still ill Flanders, and, as she writes, she is thinking of him doing another nine days’ spell in the trenches.

Molly Hodgson (Carpenter) says that her husband is at the Dardanelles, and her sister Winnie’s husband is right in the firing line at the front.

Louie Delacombe’s father, Colonel Delacombe, has gone to the Dardanelles. She says: “It came as a great surprise; on Saturday he got his orders, and was told to be ready in 24 hours, but it was lengthened out to a week. He has gone out as Intelligence Officer to Sir Ian Hamilton.”

Beatrice Litherland Nicholson (Jones) says: “What a difference this war has made to many of us Old Girls and to our homes! My husband is a captain in the 7th Cheshires for Home Defence Service only, and at present is guarding German prisoners at Queensferry Detention Camp.

Winifred Penn says: “Both my brothers Reg and Harold are engaged in active fighting in German S.W. Africa; they are suffering very much from the heat, dust and scarcity of water.

Constance Bailey (Ford) tells us how keenly her husband feels the disappointment of not being strong enough to fight; her brother-in-law is at the front now and her brother came over with the Canadians.

Winifred Henn tells us of a cousin who is a captain in the Staffs and at the front, and of other cousins in various Regiments waiting to go out.

Dorothy Fisher (Scott) tells us of the Red Cross Hospital at Whitchurch, and how wonderfully good and patient the men are.

Gwen Lupton (Holliday) says her husband has joined the Army Service Corps, and is stationed at Hungerford, where she is able to be with him.

Dorothy Hubbard (Johnson) is able to send better news of her husband, who was so seriously wounded some months ago.

Joyce Newman and Vera Coventon are both working as probationers in the Military Hospital at Dover.

Kathleen Douglas is still in the big hospital at Stoke-on-Trent.

Evelyn Perry says: “I have been meaning to write since I saw the School Roll of Honour to tell you that our only brother is, of course, fighting. He has been in France since March, and seems to have been right in the thick of it most of the time. He was in the Territorial Force when war broke out, and volunteered at once for active service. He is no fighter really, like so many of our men and boys, and I think I admire them most. He writes splendid letters, and always seems most cheerful.

Muriel and Frances Lewarne are together in one of the V.A.D. hospitals at Exeter. “We can take 220 patients, and they arrive in large convoys straight from the front. We are both working as nurses on the permanent staff, having signed on for a year. Frances has been made theatre nurse, and has to attend all the operations, and has always to wear rubber gloves. The ward she was in before had 43 beds in it. I came here a week before Frances, when we all had to do charring, as we were not quite ready for patients. I have never worked so hard in my life; much harder than in the Wilderness! We scrubbed, swept up clouds of dust, cleaned windows, and carried stores all day long. Then the wounded suddenly arrived! We had been working up to 4 p.m., and were then told to go back to our billets and rest, and come on again at 9.30 p.m. for night duty, and am still doing night duty, and shall be for another seven weeks, as it is for three months. I like night duty, as one learns more, I think, as one has greater responsibilities. Dorothy Sanders has been here, too, working in No. 1 Hospital, but she is away on leave.”

Ruth Squire tells us that her brother “Ted” has gone out to France as senior machine-gun officer of his brigade.

Jean Raven (Robertson), writing from Broadstairs, says: “It is such a relief that there is work for everyone to do-useful work, even if it is only cleaning the hospital bathroom taps! I have begun nursing now, and am doing one night and two days a week. The hospital is splendidly run by the wife of one of the other doctors, and all the work is voluntary, except for the grand old Scotch housekeeper, called Jean (I used to leap at first!) and a housemaid. Jean refers to herself and the latter as `the humble poor.’ My husband has 23 beds, one half of the hospital, and I am on his side. On Saturday he was operating, and kept us all on the go. I cannot quite manage to call him `Sir’ on these occasions; it sticks jest at the top of my throat! Most of the men are so good; not only don’t make a fuss, however much it hurts, but manage to joke through the worst part, and the few grousers get well teased. I heard one pretend to be a visitor the other day. He seized a patient’s hand, and said, amongst other things, ‘Well, and did it ‘urt yer when it ‘it yer?'”

Dorothy Lowe writes from the War Hospital, Clapton. She has such a string of cousins in the war, “almost like brothers to me, as we have been so much together,” and she asks that the old School will remember them at the daily war intercessions. The hospital she is at is a hut hospital, built on to a private house, and holds 100 men.

Auriel Parish is at home helping in her father’s school, as he cannot get a second assistant master. They have the son of Captain John Luce, of H.M.S. Glasgow, in the school, “a splendid little fellow, and so touchingly proud of his father.”

Rosamond and Nancy Wolley-Dod write from Alberta, Canada. Their only brother has got his commission in the 31st Battalion, and was expecting to be off to the front any day when they wrote in April.

Olivia Wyndham’s brother Richard is at the front with the 60th Rifles.

Nancy Walker’s father, Colonel Walker, is commanding the 4th Black Watch at the front.

Marion King is nursing in a Red Cross Hospital at Hove. Her brother was home on leave in the middle of June, and soon afterwards was obliged to return again to England to have an operation for appendicitis. He is now almost well again.

Catherine Capel is now nursing, at a Military Hospital at Aldershot. She still has good news of her brother, who was home on leave a few weeks ago.

Isabel Newson is helping at a canteen in the station at Havre. She has been staying at Rouen to be near her brother, who was in hospital there. He fell down a shell pit and tore his leg on barbed wire; he is now back at the Front.

Blackett is working as parlour maid at a Convalescent Home for wounded at Guildford.

Craig is working at a Hospital Supply Store, making slippers and all sorts of hospital necessaries.

Doris Pike is doing Red Cross work at the Military Hospital at Sutton Veny.

Joyce Guillemard tells us of very busy work parties at Rondebosch; the girls had collected money for wool and were knitting fast and furiously. The S.A. Engineers had been camping on the big Common near her home, and they had given them quite a number of concerts. She says, too, “We have had very interesting accounts and letters from men in S.W. Africa, and the other day I was sent some photographs of General Botha entering Windhoek.”

Garnons Williams tells us of her father, an uncle, a brother, and 16 cousins engaged in the war either with the Army abroad or in the Navy or serving at home, a record to be proud of.

Feeding the Wounded

Autumn Term 1914

In our desire to help our wounded soldiers, our thoughts, most naturally, turn to nursing; but there are many other ways in which their sufferings may be eased by those on the spot. The wounded have to undergo many hardships in their transit from the fighting line to the base; many hours must often elapse before they can be picked up; then comes the hasty dressing at the field hospital and their removal to the Red Cross train. This train has accommodation for five hundred wounded, and has to wait in a siding till that number is complete, the earlier arrivals thus having a long and weary wait before the train leaves. These trains are not allowed to travel more than two miles an hour, so that many, many hours are spent amidst much discomfort before the base is finally reached.

During the whole of this period the wounded men are entirely dependent on the kindness of the people at the various stations for any food or drink they may get. The effect of this lack of necessary nourishment on men already weak and exhausted, and frequently enduring the most terrible agony, can well be imagined. The kind-hearted French people do their best for them, but what can private individuals do when frequently thousands pass through in the day? The value of a hot and nourishing drink to these men on their painful journey cannot be overestimated, both from its point of view of saving life and alleviating suffering. The Red Cross, though admitting the necessity of some such organisation, are unable to undertake it. Whatever could be done in this direction would have to be organised privately, though with official recognition. Having seen all this, my cousin, Alice Workman (St. Margaret’s), and her sister, determined to undertake this most necessary work. Another cousin gave them a motor kitchen, so that they could travel quickly from place to place. Amongst friends they quickly collected several hundred pounds, and they were able to make arrangements whereby they could give the men hot soup, cocoa, milk, and bread and butter at the various stopping places. It costs about £6 to feed a train-load of 500 men, and the kitchen is now in full working order, travelling between Rouen and a few miles of the Front.

Isabel Newson, St. Margaret’s.