'Fanny Goes to War'
by Pat Beauchamp
First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

an Englishwoman in the F. A. N. Y. Corps

by Major-General H. N. Thompson, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O

I eagerly avail myself of the Author's invitation to write a foreword to her book, as it gives me an opportunity of expressing something of the admiration, of the wonder, of the intense brotherly sympathy and affection—almost adoration—which has from time to time overwhelmed me when witnessing the work of our women during the Great War.

They have been in situations where, five short years ago, no one would ever have thought of finding them. They have witnessed and taken active part in scenes nerve- racking and heartrending beyond the power of description. Often it has been my duty to watch car-load after car-load of severely wounded being dumped into the reception marquees of a Casualty Clearing Station. There they would be placed in long rows awaiting their turn, and there, amid the groans of the wounded and the loud gaspings of the gassed, at the mere approach of a sister there would be a perceptible change and every conscious eye would brighten as with a ray of fresh hope. In the resuscitation and moribund marquees, nothing was more pathetic than to see "Sister," with her notebook, stooping over some dying lad, catching his last messages to his loved ones.

Women worked amid such scenes for long hours day after day, amid scenes as no mere man could long endure, and yet their nerves held out; it may be because they were inspired by the nature of their work. I have seen them, too, continue that work under intermittent shelling and bombing, repeated day after day and night after night, and it was the rarest thing to find one whose nerves gave way. I have seen others rescue wounded from falling houses, and drive their cars boldly into streets with bricks and debris flying.

I have also, alas! seen them grievously wounded; and on one occasion, killed, and found their comrades continuing their work in the actual presence of their dead.

The free homes of Britain little realise what our war women have been through, or what an undischarged debt is owing to them.

How few now realise to what a large extent they were responsible for the fighting spirit, for the morale, for the tenacity which won the war! The feeling, the knowledge that their women were at hand to succour and to tend them when they fell raised the fighting spirit of the men and made .them brave and confident.

The above qualities are well exemplified by the conduct and bearing of our Authoress herself, who, when grievously injured, never lost her head or her consciousness, but through half an hour sat quietly on the road-side beside the wreck of her car and the mangled remains of her late companion.

Rumour has it that she asked for and smoked a cigarette.

Such heroism in a young girl strongly appealed to the imagination of our French and Belgian Allies, and two rows of medals bedeck her khaki jacket.

Other natural qualities of our race, which largely helped to win the war, are brought out very vividly, although unconsciously, in this book, e.g. the spirit of cheerfulness; the power to forget danger and hardship; the faculty of seeing the humorous side of things; of making the best of things; the spirit of comradeship which sweetened life.

These qualities were nowhere more evident than among the F.A.N.Y. Their esprit-de- corps, their gaiety, their discipline, their smartness and devotion when duty called were infectious, almost an inspiration to those who witnessed them.

Throughout the war the "Fannys" were renowned for their resourcefulness. They were always ready to take on any and every job, from starting up a frozen car to nursing a bad typhoid case, and they rose to the occasion every time. H. N. THOMPSON, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O., Major-General.

Director of Medical Services, British Army of the Rhine

Assistant Director Medical Services, 2nd Division, 1914; ditto 48th Division, 1915; Deputy-Director Medical Services, VI Corps, May 1915 to July 1917; Director Medical Services, First Army, July 1917 to April 1919.


from a French magazine 'le Monde Illustré' - a section of British female ambulance drivers


Chapter I

In Camp Before the War

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was founded in 1909 and now numbers roughly about four hundred voluntary members.

It was originally intended to supplement the R.A.M.C. in field work, stretcher bearing, ambulance driving, etc.—its duties being more or less embodied in the title.

An essential point was that each member should be able to ride bareback or otherwise, as much difficulty had been found in transporting nurses from one place to another on the veldt in the South African War. Men had often horse to pass.

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was on active service soon after War was declared and, though it is not universally known, they were the pioneers of all the women's corps subsequently working in France.

Before they had been out very long they were affectionately known as the F.A.N.Y.'s, to all and sundry, and in an incredibly short space of time had units working with the British, French, and Belgian Armies in the field.

It was in the Autumn of 1913 that, picking up the Mirror one day, I saw a snapshot of a girl astride on horseback leaping a fence in a khaki uniform and topee. Underneath was merely the line "Women Yeomanry in Camp," and nothing more. "That," said I, pointing out the photo to a friend, "is the sort of show I'd like to belong to: I'm sick of ambling round the Row on a Park hack. It would be a rag to go into camp with a lot of other girls. I'm going to write to the Mirror for particulars straight away."

I did so; but got no satisfaction at all, as the note accompanying the photo had been mislaid. However, they did inform me there was such a Corps in existence, but beyond that they could give me no particulars.

I spent weeks making enquiries on all sides. "Oh, yes, certainly there was a Girls' Yeomanry Corps." "Where can I join it?" I would ask breathlessly. "Ah, that I can't say," would be the invariable reply.

The more obstacles I met with only made me the more determined to persevere. I went out of my way to ask all sorts of possible and impossible people on the off-chance that they might know; but it was a long time before I could run it to earth. ''Deeds not words" seemed to be their motto.

One night at a small dance my partner told me he had just joined the Surrey Yeomanry; that brought the subject up once more and I confided all my troubles to him. Joy of joys! He had actually seen some of the Corps riding in Hounslow Barracks. It was plain sailing from that moment, and I hastened to write to the Adjutant of the said Barracks to obtain full particulars.

Within a few days I received a reply and a week later met the CO. of the F.A.N.Y.'s, for an interview.'

To my delight I heard the Corps was shortly going into camp, and I was invited to go down for a week-end to see how I liked it before I officially became a member. When the day arrived my excitement, as I stepped into the train at Waterloo, knew no bounds. Here I was at last en route for the elusive Yeomanry Camp!

Arrived at Brookwood, I chartered an ancient fly and in about twenty minutes or so espied the camp in a field some distance from the road along which we were driving. "'Ard up for a job I should say!" said my cabby, nodding jocosely towards the khaki figures working busily in the distance. I ignored this sally as I dismissed him and set off across the fields with my suit case.

There was a large mess tent, a store tent, some half dozen or more bell tents, a smoky, but serviceable-looking, field kitchen, and at the end of the field were tethered the horses! As I drew nearer, I felt horribly shy and was glad I had selected my plainest suit and hat, as several pairs of eyes looked up from polishing bits and bridles to scan me from top to toe.

I was shown into the mess tent, where I was told to wait for the CO., and in the meantime made friends with "Castor," the Corps' bull-dog and mascot, who was lying in a clothes-basket with a bandaged paw as the result of an argument with a regimental pal at Bisley.

A sudden diversion was caused by a severe thunderstorm which literally broke right over the camp. I heard the order ring out "To the horse-lines!" and watched (through a convenient hole in the canvas) several "troopers" flying helter-skelter down the field.

To everyone's disappointment, however, those old skins never turned a hair; there was not even the suggestion of a stampede. I cautiously pushed my suit-case under the mess table in the hope of keeping it dry, for the rain was coming down in torrents, and in places poured through the canvas roof in small rivulets. (Even in peace-time comfort in the F.A.N.Y. Camp was at a minimum!)

They all trooped in presently, very wet and jolly, and Lieutenant Ashley Smith (McDougal) introduced me as a probable recruit. When the storm was over she kindly lent me an old uniform, and I was made to feel quite at home by being handed about thirty knives and asked to rub them in the earth to get them clean. The cooks loved new recruits!

Feeling just then was running very high over the Irish question. I learnt a contingent had been offered and accepted, in case of hostilities, and that the CO. had even been over to Belfast to arrange about stables and housing!

One enthusiast asked me breathlessly (it was Cole-Hamilton) "Which side are you on?" I'm afraid I knew nothing much about either and shamelessly countered it by asking, "Which are you?" "Ulster, of course," she replied. "I'm with you," said I, "it's all the same to me so long as I'm there for the show."

I thoroughly enjoyed that week-end and, of course, joined the Corps. In July of that year we had great fun in the long summer camp at Pirbright.

Work was varied, sometimes we rode out with the regiments stationed at Bisley on their field days and looked after any casualties. (We had a horse ambulance in those days which followed on these occasions and was regarded as rather a dud job.) Other days some were detailed for work at the camp hospital near by to help the R.A.M.C. men, others to exercise the horses, clean the officers' boots and belts, etc., and, added to these duties, was all the everyday work of the camp, the grooming and watering of the horses, etc. Each one groomed her own mount, but in some cases one was shared between two girls. "Grooming time is the only time when I appreciate having half a horse," one of these remarked cheerily to me. That hissing noise so beloved of grooms is extraordinarily hard to acquire—personally, I needed all the breath I had to cope at all!

The afternoons were spent doing stretcher drill: having lectures on First Aid and Nursing from a R.A.M.C. Sergeant-Major, and, when it was very hot, enjoying a splash in the tarpaulin-lined swimming bath the soldiers had kindly made for us. Rides usually took place in the evenings, and when bedtime came the weary troopers were only too ready to turn in! Our beds were on the floor and of the "biscuit" variety, being three square paillasse arrangements looking like giant reproductions of the now too well known army "tooth breakers." We had brown army blankets, and it was no uncommon thing to find black earth beetles and earwigs crawling among them! After months of active service these details appear small, but in the summer of 1914 they were real terrors. Before leaving the tents in the morning each "biscuit" had to be neatly piled on the other and all the blankets folded, and then we had to sally forth to learn the orders of the day, who was to be orderly to our two officers, who was to water the horses, etc., etc., and by the time it was eight a.m. we had already done a hard day's work.

One particular day stands out in my memory as being a specially strenuous one. The morning's work was over, and the afternoon was set aside for practising for the yearly sports. The rescue race was by far the most thrilling, its object being to save anyone from the enemy who had been left on the field without means of transport. There was a good deal of discussion as to who were to be the rescued and who the rescuers. Sergeant Wicks explained to all and sundry that her horse objected strongly to anyone sitting on its tail and that it always bucked on these occasions. No one seemed particularly anxious to be saved on that steed, and my heart sank as her eye alighted on me. Being a new member I felt it was probably a test, and when the inevitable question was asked I murmured faintly I'd be delighted. I made my way to the far end of the field with the others fervently hoping I shouldn't land on my head.

At a given command the rescuers galloped up, wheeled round, and, slipping the near foot from the stirrup, left it for the rescued to jump up by. I was soon up and sitting directly behind the saddle with one foot in the stirrup and a hand in Sergeant Wicks' belt. (Those of you who know how slight she is can imagine my feeling of security!) Off we set with every hope of reaching the post first, and I was just settling down to enjoy myself when going over a little dip in the field two terrific bucks landed us high in the air! Luckily I fell "soft," but as I picked myself up I couldn't help wondering whether in some cases falling into the enemy's hand might not be the lesser evil! I spent the next ten minutes catching the "Bronco!" After that, we retired to our mess for tea, on the old Union Jack, very ready for it after our efforts.

We had just turned in that night and drawn up the army blankets excessively scratchy they were too, when the bugle sounded for everyone to turn out. (This was rather a favourite stunt of the C.O.'s.) Luckily it was a bright moonlight night, and we learnt we were to make for a certain hill, beyond Bisley, carrying with us stretchers and a tent for an advanced dressing station. Subdued groans greeted this piece of news, but we were soon lined up in groups of four—two in front, two behind, and with two stretchers between the four. These were carried on our shoulders for a certain distance, and at the command "Change stretchers!" they were slipped down by our sides. This stunt had to be executed very neatly and with precision, and woe betide anyone who bungled it. It was ten o'clock when we reached Bisley Camp, and I remember to this day the surprised look on the sentry's face, in the moonlight, as we marched through. It was always a continual source of wonderment to them that girls should do anything so much like hard work for so-called amusement. That march seemed interminable—but singing and whistling as we went along helped us tremendously. Little did we think how this training would stand us in good stead during the long days on active service that followed. At last a halt was called, and luckily at this point there was a nice dry ditch into which we quickly flopped with our backs to the hedge and our feet on the road. It made an ideal armchair!

We resumed the march, and striking off the road came to a rough clearing where the tent was already being erected by an advance party. We were lined up and divided into groups, some as stretcher bearers, some as "wounded," some as nurses to help the "doctor," etc. The wounded were given slips of paper, on which their particular "wound" was described, and told to go off and make themselves scarce, till they were found and carried in (a coveted job). When they had selected nice-soft dry spots they lay down and had a quiet well-earned nap until the stretcher bearers discovered them. Occasionally they were hard to find, and a panting bearer would call out "I say, wounded, give a groan!" and they were located. First Aid bandages were applied to the "wound" and, if necessary, impromptu splints made from the trees near by. The patient was then placed on the stretcher and taken back to the "dressing station." "I'm slipping off the stretcher at this angle," she would occasionally complain. "Shut up," the panting stretcher bearers would reply, "you're unconscious!"

When all were brought in, places were changed, and the stretcher bearers became the wounded and vice versa. We got rather tired of this pastime about 12.30 but there was still another wounded to be brought in. She had chosen the bottom of a heathery slope and took some finding. It was the CO. She feigned delirium and threw her arms about in a wild manner. The poor bearers were feeling too exhausted to appreciate this piece of acting, and heather is extremely slippery stuff.

When we had struggled back with her the soi-disant doctor asked for the diagnosis. "Drunk and disorderly," replied one of them, stepping smartly forward and saluting! This somewhat broke up the proceedings, and lèse majesté was excused on the grounds that it was too dark to recognise it was the CO. The tent pegs were pulled up and the tent pulled down and we all thankfully tramped back to camp to sleep the sleep of the just till the reveille sounded to herald another day.


Chapter II

First Impressions

The last Chapter was devoted to the F.A.N.Y.'s in camp before the War, but from now onwards will be chronicled facts that befell them on active service.

When war broke out in August 1914 Lieutenant Ashley Smith lost no time in offering the Corps' services to the War Office. To our intense disappointment these were refused. However, F.A.N.Y.'s are not easily daunted. The Belgian Army, at that time, had no organised medical corps in the field, and informed us they would be extremely grateful if we would take over a Hospital for them. Lieutenant Smith left for Antwerp in September 1914, and had arranged to take a house there for a Hospital when the town fell; her flight to Ghent where she stayed to the last with a dying English officer, until the Germans arrived, and her subsequent escape to Holland have been told elsewhere. (A F.A.N.Y. in France—Nursing Adventures.) Suffice it to say we were delighted to see her safely back among us again in October; and on the last day of that month the first contingent of F.A.N.Y.'s left for active service, hardly any of them over twenty-one.

I was unfortunately not able to join them until January 1915; and never did time drag so slowly as in those intervening months. I spent the time in attending lectures and hospital, driving a car and generally picking up every bit of useful information I could. The day arrived at last and Coley and I were, with the exception of the Queen of the Belgians (travelling incognito) and her lady-in-waiting, the only women on board.

The Hospital we had given us was for Belgian Tommies, and called Lamarck, and had been a Convent school before the War. There were fifty beds for "blessés" and fifty for typhoid patients, which at that period no other Hospital in the place would take. It was an extremely virulent type of pneumonic typhoid. These cases were in a building apart from the main Hospital and across the yard. Dominating both buildings was the cathedral of Notre Dame, with its beautiful East window facing our yard.

The top floor of the main building was a priceless room and reserved for us. Curtained off at the far end were the beds of the chauffeurs who had to sleep on the premises while the rest were billeted in the town; the other end resolved itself into a big untidy, but oh so jolly, sitting room. Packing cases were made into seats and piles of extra blankets were covered and made into "tumpties," while round the stove stood the interminable clothes horses airing the shirts and sheets, etc., which Lieutenant Franklin brooded over with a watchful eye! It was in this room we all congregated at ten o'clock every morning for twenty precious minutes during which we had tea and biscuits, read our letters, swanked to other wards about the bad cases we had got in, and generally talked shop and gossiped. There was an advanced dressing station at Oostkerke where three of the girls worked in turn, and we also took turns to go up to the trenches on the Yser at night, with fresh clothes for the men and bandages and dressings for those who had been wounded.

At one time we were billeted in a fresh house every three nights which, as the reader may imagine in those "moving" times, had its disadvantages. After a time, as a great favour, an empty shop was allowed us as a permanency. It rejoiced in the name of "Le Bon Génie" and was at the corner of a street, the shop window extending along the two sides. It was this "shop window" we used as a dormitory, after pasting the lower panes with brown paper. When they first heard at home that we "slept in a shop window" they were mildly startled. We were so short of beds that the night nurses tumbled into ours as soon as they were vacated in the morning, so there was never much fear of suffering from a damp one.

Our patients were soldiers of the Belgian line and cavalry regiments and at first I was put in a blessé ward. I had originally gone out with the idea of being one of the chauffeurs; but we were so short of nurses that I willingly went into the wards instead, where we worked under trained sisters. The men were so jolly and patient and full of gratitude to the English "Miskes" (which was an affectionate diminutive of "Miss"). It was a sad day when we had to clear the beds to make ready for fresh cases. I remember going down to the Gare Maritime one day before the Hospital ship left for Cherbourg, where they were all taken. Never shall I forget the sight. In those days passenger ships had been hastily converted into Hospital ships and the accommodation was very different from that of to-day. All the cases from my ward were "stretchers" and indeed hardly fit to be moved. I went down the companion way, and what a scene met my eyes. The floor of the saloon was packed with stretchers all as close together as possible. It seemed terrible to believe that everyone of those men was seriously wounded. The stretchers were so close together it was impossible to try and move among them, so I stayed on the bottom rung of the ladder and threw the cigarettes to the different men who were well enough to smoke them. The discomfort they endured must have been terrible, for from a letter I subsequently received I learnt they were three days on the journey. In those days when the Germans were marching on Calais, it was up to the medical authorities to pass the wounded through as quickly as possible.

Often the men could only speak Flemish, but I did not find much difficulty in understanding it. If you speak German with a broad Cumberland accent I assure you, you can make yourself understood quite easily! It, was worth while trying anyway, and it did one's heart good to see how their faces lighted up.

There were some famous characters in the Hospital, one of them being Jefké, the orderly in Ward I, who at times could be tender as a woman, at others a veritable clown keeping the men in fits of laughter, then as suddenly lapsing into a profound melancholy and reading a horrible little greasy prayer book assuring us most solemnly that his one idea in life was to enter the Church. Though he stole jam right and left his heart was in the right place, for the object of his depredations was always some extra tasty dish for a specially bad blessé. He had the longest of eyelashes, and his expression when caught would be so comical it was impossible to be angry with him.

Another famous "impayable" was the coffin-cart man who came on occasions to drive the men to their last resting place. The Coffin cart was a melancholy looking vehicle resembling in appearance a dilapidated old crow, as much as anything, or a large bird of prey with its torn black canvas sides that flapped mournfully like huge wings in the wind as Pierre drove it along the streets. I could never repress a shiver when I saw it flapping along. The driver was far from being a sorry individual with his crisp black moustaches bien frisés and his merry eye. He explained to me in a burst of confidence that his métier in peace times was that of a trick cyclist on the Halls. What a contrast from his present job. He promised to borrow a bicycle on the morrow and give an exhibition for our benefit in the yard. He did so, and was certainly no mean performer. The only day I ever saw him really downcast was when he came to bid good-bye. "What, Pierre," said I, "you don't mean to say you are leaving us?" "Yes, Miske, for punishment—I will explain how it arrived. Look you, to give pleasure to my young lady I took her for a joy-ride, a very little one, on the coffin cart, and on returning behold we were caught, voilà, and now I go to the trenches!" I could not help laughing, he looked so downcast, and the idea of his best girl enjoying a ride in that lugubrious car struck me as being the funniest thing I had heard for some time. We were a never-failing source of wonderment to the French inhabitants of the town. Our manly Yeomanry uniform filled them with awe and admiration. I overheard a chemist saying to one of his clients as we were passing out of his shop, "Truly, until one hears their voices, one would say they were men."

"There's a compliment for us," said I, to Struttie. "I didn't know we had manly faces until this moment."

After some time when work was not at such a high pressure, two of us went out riding in turns on the sands with one of the Commandants. Belgian military saddles took some getting used to with the peak in front and the still higher one behind, not to mention the excessive slipperiness of the surface. His favourite pastime on the return ride was to play follow my leader up and down the sand dunes, and it was his great delight to go streaking up the very highest, with the sand crumbling and slipping behind him, and we perforce had to follow and lie almost flat on the horse's backs as we descended the "precipice" the other side. We felt English honour was at stake and with our hearts in our mouths (at least mine was!) followed at all costs.

If we were off duty in the evening we hurried back to the "shop window” buying eggs en route and anything else we fancied for supper; then we undressed hastily and thoroughly enjoyed our picnic meal instead of having it in the hospital kitchen, with the sanded floor and the medley of Belgian cooks in the background and the banging of saucepans as an accompaniment. Two of the girls kept their billet off the Grand Place as a permanency. It was in a funny old-fashioned house in a dark street known universally as "the dug-out" —Madame was fat and capable, with a large heart. The French people at first were rather at a loss to place the English "Mees" socially and one day two of us looked in to ask Madame's advice on how to cook something. She turned to us in astonishment. "How now, you know not how to cook a thing simple as that? Who then makes the 'cuisine' for you at home? Surely not Madame your mother when there are young girls such as you in the house?”

We gazed at her dumbly while she sniffed in disgust. "Such a thing is unheard of in my country," she continued wrathfully. "I wonder you have not shame at your age to confess such ignorance"— "What would she say," said my friend to me when she had gone, "if I told her we have two cooks at home?"

This house of Madame's was built in such a way that some of the bedrooms jutted out over the shops in the narrow little streets. Thompson and Struttie who had a room there were over a Café Chantant known as the "Bijou"—a high class place of entertainment! Sunday night was a gala performance and I was often asked to a "scrambled-egg" supper during which, with forks suspended in mid air, we listened breathlessly to the sounds of revelry beneath. Some of the performers had extremely good voices and we could almost, but not quite, hear the words (perhaps it was just as well). What ripping tunes they had! I can remember one especially when, during the chorus, all the audience beat time with their feet and joined in. We were evolving wild schemes of disguising ourselves as poilus and going in a body to witness the show, but unfortunately it was one of those things that is "not done" in the best circles!


Chapter III

The Journey Up to the Front

Soon my turn came to go up to the trenches. The day had at last arrived! We were not due to go actually into the trenches till after dark in case of drawing fire, but we set off early, as we had some distance to go and stores to deliver at dressing stations. Two of the trained nurses, Sister Lampen and Joynson, were of the party, and two F.A.N.Y.'s; the rest of the good old "Mors" ambulance was filled with sacks of shirts, mufflers, and socks, together with the indispensable first-aid chests and packets of extra dressings in case of need.

Our first visit was made to the Belgian Headquarters in the town for our laisser passers, without which we would not be allowed to pass the sentries at the barriers. We were also given the mots du jour or pass-words for the day, the latter of which came into operation only when we were in the zone of fire. I will describe what happened in detail, as it was a very fair sample of the average day up at the front. The road along which we travelled was, of course, lined with the ubiquitous poplar tree, placed at regular intervals as far as the eye could see. The country was flat to a degree, with cleverly hidden entrenchments at intervals, for this was the famous main road to Calais along which the Kaiser so ardently longed to march.

Barriers occurred frequently placed slantwise across the roads, where sentries stood with fixed bayonets, and through which no one could pass unless the laisser passer was produced. Some of those barriers were quite tricky affairs to drive through in a big ambulance, and reminded me of a gymkhana! It was quite usual in those days to be stopped by a soldier waiting on the road, who, with a gallant bow and salute, asked your permission to "mount behind" and have a lift to so and so. In fact, if you were on foot and wanted to get anywhere quickly it was always safe to rely on a military car or ambulance coming along, and then simply wave frantically and ask for a lift. Very much a case of share and share alike.

We passed many regiments riding along, and very gay they looked with their small cocked caps and tassels that dangled jauntily over one eye (this was before they got into khaki). The regiments were either French or Belgian, for no British were in that sector at this time. Soon we arrived at the picturesque entry into Dunkirk, with its drawbridge and mediaeval towers and grey city wall; here our passes were again examined, and there was a long queue of cars waiting to get through as we drew up. Once "across the Rubicon" we sped through the town and in time came to Furnes with its quaint old market place. Already the place was showing signs of wear and tear. Shell holes in some of the roofs and a good many broken panes, together with the general air of desertion, all combined to make us feel we were near the actual fighting line. We learnt that bombs had been dropped there only that morning. (This was early in 1915, and since then the place has been reduced to almost complete ruin.) We sped on, and could see one of the famous coastal forts on the horizon. So different from what one had always imagined a fort would look like. "A green hill far away," seems best to describe it, I think. It wasn't till one looked hard that one could see small dark splotches that indicated where the cannon were.

A Belgian whom we .were "lifting" ("lorry jumping" is now the correct term!) pointed out to us a huge factory, now in English hands, which had been owned before the war by a German. Under cover of the so-called "factory" he had built a secret gun emplacement for a large gun, to train on this same fort and demolish it when the occasion arose. At this point we saw the first English soldiers that day in motor boats on the canal, and what a smile of welcome they gave us!

Presently we came to lines of Belgian Motor transport drawn up at the sides of the road, car after car, waiting patiently to get on. Without exaggeration this line was a mile in length, and we simply had to crawl past, as there was barely room for a large ambulance on that narrow and excessively muddy road. The drivers were all in excellent spirits, and nodded and smiled as we passed—occasionally there was an officer's car sandwiched in between, and those within gravely saluted.

About this time a very cheery Belgian artilleryman who was exchanging to another regiment, came on board and kept us highly amused. Souvenirs were the aim and end of existence just then, and he promised us shell heads galore when he came down the line. On leaving the car, as a token of his extreme gratitude, he pressed his artillery cap into our hands saying he would have no further need of it in his new regiment, and would we accept it as a souvenir!

The roads in Belgium need some explaining for those who have not had the opportunity to see them. Firstly there is the pavé, and a very popular picture with us after that day was one which came out in the Sketch of a Tommy in a lorry asking a haughty French dragoon to "Alley off the bloomin' pavée—vite" Well, this famous pavé consists of cobbles about six inches square, and these extend across the road to about the width of a large cart— On either side there is mud—with a capital M, such as one doesn't often see—thick and clayey and of a peculiarly gluey substance, and in some places quite a foot deep. You can imagine the feeling at the back of your spine as you are squeezing past another car. If you aren't extremely careful plop go the side wheels off the "bloomin' pavée" into the mud beyond and it takes half the Belgian Army to help to heave you on to the "straight and narrow" path once more.

It was just about this time we heard our first really heavy firing and it gave us a queer thrill to hear the constant boom-boom of the guns like a continuous thunderstorm. We began to feel fearfully hungry, and stopped beside a high bank flanking a canal and not far from a small café. Bunny and I went to get some hot water. It was a tumble-down place enough, and as we pushed the door open (on which, by the way, was the notice in French, "During the bombardment one enters by the side door") we found the room full of men drinking coffee and smoking. I bashfully made my way towards one of the oldest women I have ever seen and asked her in a low voice for some hot water. As luck would have it she was deaf as a post, and the whole room listened in interested silence as with scarlet face I yelled out my demands in my best French. We returned triumphantly to the waiting ambulance and had a very jolly lunch to the now louder accompaniment of the guns. The passing soldiers took a great interest in us and called out whatever English words they knew, the most popular being "Good night"

We soon started on our way again, and at this point there was actually a bend in the road. Just before we came to it there was a whistling, sobbing sound in the air and then an explosion somewhere ahead of us. We all shrank instinctively, and I glanced sideways at my companion, hoping she hadn't noticed, to find that she was looking at me, and we both laughed without explaining.

As we turned the corner, the usual flat expanse of country greeted our eyes, and a solitary red tiled farmhouse on the right attracted our attention, in front of which was a group of soldiers. On drawing near we saw that this was the spot where the shell had landed and that there were casualties. We drew up and got down hastily, taking dressings with us. The sight that met my eyes is one I shall never forget, and, in fact, cannot describe. Four men had just been blown to pieces—I leave the details to your imagination, but it gave me a sudden shock to realize that a few minutes earlier those remains had been living men walking along the road laughing and talking.

The soldiers, French, standing looking on, seemed more or less dazed. While they assured us we could do nothing, the body of a fifth soldier who had been hit on the head by a piece of the same shell, and instantaneously killed, was being borne on a stretcher into the farm. It all seemed curiously unreal.

One of the men silently handed me a bit of the shell, which was still warm. It was just a chance that we had not stopped opposite that farm for lunch, as we assuredly would have done had it not been hidden beyond the bend in the road. The noise of firing was now very loud, and though the sun was shining brightly on the farm, the road we were destined to follow was sombre looking with a lowering sky overhead. Another shell came over and burst in front of us to the right. For an instant I felt in an awful funk, and my one idea was to flee from that sinister spot as fast as I could. We seemed to be going right for it; "looking for trouble," in fact, as the Tommies would say, and it gave one rather a funny sinking feeling in one's tummy! A shell might come whizzing along so easily just as the last one had done Someone at that moment said, "Let's go back," and with that all my fears vanished in a moment as if by magic. "Rather not, this is what we've come for," said a F.A.N.Y., "hurry up and get in, it's no use staying here," and soon we were whizzing along that road again and making straight for the steady boom- boom, and from then onwards a spirit of subdued excitement filled us all. Stray shells burst at intervals, and it seemed not unlikely they were potting at us from Dixmude.

We passed houses looking more and more dilapidated and the road got muddier and muddier. Finally we arrived at the village of Ramscapelle. It was like passing through a village of the dead—not a house left whole, few walls standing, and furniture lying about haphazard. We proceeded along the one main street of the village until we came to a house with green shutters which had been previously described to us as the Belgian headquarters. It was in a better state than the others, and a small flag indicated we had arrived at our destination.


Chapter IV

Behind The Trenches

We got out and leaped the mud from the pavé to the doorstep, and an orderly came forward and conducted us to a sitting room at the rear where Major R. welcomed us, and immediately ordered coffee. We were greatly impressed by the calm way in which he looked at things. He pointed with pride to a gaily coloured print from the one and only "Vie" (what would the dug-outs at the front have done without "La Vie" and Kirchner?), which covered a newly made shell hole in the wall. He also showed us places where shrapnel was embedded; and from the window we saw a huge hole in the back garden made by a "Black Maria" Beside it was a grave headed by a little rough wooden cross and surmounted by one of those gay tasselled caps we had seen early that morning, though it seemed more like last week, so much had happened since then. As it was only possible to go into the trenches at dusk we still had some time to spare, and after drinking everybody's health in some excellent bénédictine, Major R. suggested we should make a tour of inspection of the village. "The bombardment is over for the day," he added, "so you need have no fear.” I went out wondering at his certainty that the Boche would not bombard again that afternoon. It transpired later that they did so regularly at the same time every afternoon as part of the day's work! There did come a time, however, when they changed the programme, but that was later, on another visit.

We made for the church which had according to custom been shelled more than the houses. The large crucifix was lying with arms outstretched on a pile of wreckage, the body pitted with shrapnel. The curé accompanied us, and it was all the poor old man could do to keep from breaking down as he led us mournfully through that devastated cemetery. Some of the graves, even those with large slabs over them, had been shelled to such an extent that the stone coffins beneath could clearly be seen, half opened, with rotting grave-clothes, and in others even the skeletons had been disinterred. New graves, roughly fashioned like the one we had seen in the back garden at headquarters, were dotted all over the place. Somehow they were not so sinister as those old heavily slabbed ones disturbed after years of peace. The curé took me into the church, the walls of which were still standing, and begged me to take a photo of a special statue (this was before cameras were tabooed), which I did. I had to take a "time" as the light was so bad, and quite by luck it came out splendidly and I was able to send him a copy

It was all most depressing and I was jolly glad to get away from the place. On the way back we saw a battery of sept-cinqs (French seventy-fives) cleverly hidden by branches. They had just been moved up into these new positions. Of course the booming of the guns went on all the time and we were told Nieuport was having its daily "ration" We had several other places to go to to deliver Hospital stores; also two advanced dressing stations to visit, so we pushed off, promising Major R. to be back, at 6.30.

We had to go in the direction of Dixmude, then in German occupation, and the mud at this point was too awful for words, while at intervals there were huge shell holes full of water looking like small circular ponds. Luckily for us they were never right in the middle of the road, but always a little to one side or the other, and just left us enough pavé to squeeze past on, which was really very thoughtful of the Boche!

The country looked indescribably desolate; but funnily enough there were a lot of birds flying about, mostly in flocks. Two little partridges quietly strutted across the road and seemed quite unperturbed!

Further on we came across a dead horse, the first of many. It had been hit in the flank by a shell. It was a sad sight; the poor creature was just left lying by the side of the road, and I shall never forget it. The crows had already taken out its eyes. I must say that that sight affected me much more than the men I had seen earlier in the day. There was no one then to bury horses.

We came to the little poste de secours and the officer told us they had been heavily shelled that morning and he sent out an orderly to dig up some of the fuse-tops that had fallen in the field beyond. He gave us as souvenirs three lovely shell heads that had fused at the wrong time. Everything seemed strangely unreal, and I wondered at times if I was awake. He was delighted with the Hospital stores we had brought and showed us his small dressing station, from which all the wounded had been removed after the bombardment was over. We then went on to another at Caeskerke within sight of Dixmude, the ruins of which could plainly be seen. I found it hard to realize that this was really the much talked of "front" One half expected to see rows and rows of regiments instead of everything being hidden away. Except for the extreme desolation and continual sound of firing we might have been anywhere.

We were held up by a sentry further on, and he demanded the mot de jour. I leant out of the car (it always has to be whispered) and murmured "Gustave" in a low voice into his ear. "Non, Mademoiselle," he said sadly, "pas ça" “Does he mean it isn't his own Christian name?" I asked myself. Still it was the name we had been given at the État Major as the pass word. I repeated it again with the same result. "I assure you the Colonel himself at C------gave it to me," I added desperately.

He still shook his head, and then I remembered that some days they had names of people and others the names of places, and perhaps I had been given the wrong one. "Paris," I hazarded. He again shook his head, and I decided to be firm and in a voice of conviction said, "Allons, c'est 'Arras,' alors." He looked doubtful, and said, "Perhaps with the English it is that to-day" He was giving me a loophole and I responded with fervour, "Yes, yes, assuredly it is 'Arras' with the English," and he waved us past. I thought regretfully how easily a German spy might bluff the sentry in a similar manner.

Time being precious I salved my conscience about it as we drew up in Pervyse and decided to make tea. I saw a movement among the ruins and there, peeping round one of the walls, was a ragged hungry looking infant about eight years of age. We made towards him, but he fled, and picking our way over the ruins we actually found a family in residence in a miserable hovel behind the onetime Hôtel de Ville. There was an old couple, man and wife, and a flock of ragged children, the remnants of different families which had been wiped out. They only spoke Flemish and I brought out the few sentences I knew, whereupon the old dame seized my arm and poured out such a flow of words that I was quite at a loss to know what she meant. I did gather, however, that she had a niece of sixteen in the inner room, who spoke French, and that she would go and fetch her. The niece appeared at this moment and was dragged forward; all she would say, however, was "Tiens, tiens!" to whatever we asked her, so we came to the conclusion that was the limit to her knowledge of French, very non-committal and not frightfully encouraging. So with much bowing and smiling we departed on our way, after distributing the remainder of our buns among the group of wide-eyed hungry looking children who watched us off. The old man had stayed in his corner the whole time muttering to himself. His brain seemed to be affected, which was not much wonder considering what he had been through, poor old thing!

On our way back to Ramscapelle we had the bad luck to slip off the "bloomin' pavee" while passing an ammunition wagon; a thing I had been dreading all along. I got out on the foot board and stepped, in the panic of the moment, into the mud. I thought I was never going to "touch bottom" I did finally, and the mud was well above my knees. The passing soldiers were greatly amused and pulled me to shore, and then, stepping into the slough with a grand indifference, soon got the car up again. The evening was drawing in, and the land all round had been flooded. As the sun set, the most glorious lights appeared, casting purple shadows over the water . It seemed hard to believe we were so near the trenches, but there on the road were the men filing silently along on their way to enter them as soon as dusk fell. They had large packs of straw on their backs which we learnt was to ensure their having a dry place to sit in; and when I saw the trenches later on I was not surprised at the precaution.

Mysterious "Star-lights" presently made their appearance over the German trenches, gleamed for a moment, and then went out leaving the landscape very dark and drear. We hurried on back to Ramscapelle, sentries popping up at intervals to enquire our business. Floods stretched on either side of the road as far as the eye could see. We were obliged to crawl at a snail's pace as it grew darker. Of course no lights of any sort were allowed, and the lines of soldiers passing along silently to their posts in the trenches seemed unending; we were glad when we drew up once again at the Headquarters in Ramscapelle.

Major R. hastened out and told us that his own men who had been in the trenches for four days were just coming out for a rest, and he wished we could spare some of our woollies for them. We of course gladly assented, so he lined them up in the street littered with débris in front of the Headquarters. We each had a sack of things and started at different ends of the line, giving every man a pair of socks, a muffler or scarf, whichever he most wanted. In nearly every case it was socks; and how glad and grateful they were to get them! It struck me as rather funny when I noticed cards in the half-light affixed to the latter, texts (sometimes appropriate, but more often not) and verses of poetry. I thought of the kind hands that had knitted them in far away England and wondered if the knitters had ever imagined their things would be given out like this, to rows of mud-stained men standing amid shell-riddled houses on a dark and muddy road, their words of thanks half-drowned in the thunder of war.

Chapter V

In the Trenches

Major R., who is a great admirer of things English, suddenly gave the command to his men, and out of compliment to us "It's a long way to Tipararee" rang out. The pronunciation of the words was most odd and we listened in wonder; the Major's chest however positively swelled with pride, for he had taught them himself! We assured him, tactfully, the result was most successful.

We returned to the Headquarters and sorted out stores for the trenches. The Major at that moment received a telephone message to say a farm in the Nieuport direction was being attacked. We looked up from our work and saw the shells bursting like fireworks, the noise of course was deafening. We soon got accustomed to it and besides had too much to do to bother. When all was ready, we were given our instructions-we were to keep together till we had passed through the village when the doctor would be there to meet us and, with a guide, conduct us to the trenches; we were all to proceed twenty paces one after the other, no word was to be spoken, and if a Verey light showed up we were to drop down flat. I hoped fervently it might not be in a foot of mud!

Off we set, and I must say my heart was pounding pretty hard. It was rather nervy work once we were beyond the town, straining our eyes through the darkness to follow the figure ahead. Occasionally a sentry popped up from apparently nowhere. A whispered word and then on we went again. I really can't say how far we walked like this; it seemed positively miles. Suddenly a light flared in the sky, illuminating the surrounding country in an eerie glare. It didn't take me many minutes, needless to say, to drop flat! Luckily it was pavé, but I would have welcomed mud rather than be left standing silhouetted within sight of the German trenches on that shell-riddled road. Finally we saw a long black line running at right angles, and the guide in front motioned me to stop while he went on ahead.

I had time to look round and examine the place as well as I could and also to put down my bundle of woollies that had become extremely heavy. These trenches were built against a railway bank (the railway lines had long since been destroyed or torn up), and just beyond ran the famous Yser and the inundations which had helped to stem the German advance. I was touched on the shoulder at this point, and clambered down into the trench along a very slippery plank. The men looked very surprised to see us, and their little dug-outs were like large rabbit .hutches. I crawled into one on my hands and knees as the door was very low. The two occupants had a small brazier burning. Straw was on the floor-the straw we had previously seen on the men's backs-and you should have seen their faces brighten at the sight of a new pair of socks. We pushed on, as it was getting late. I shall never forget that trench-it was the second line- the first line consisting of "listening posts" somewhere in that watery waste beyond, where the men wore waders reaching well above their knees. We squelched along a narrow strip of plank with the trenches on one side and a sort of cesspool on the other-no wonder they got typhoid, and I prayed I mightn't slip.

We could walk upright further on without our heads showing, which was a comfort, as it is extremely tiring to walk for long in a stooping position. Through an observation hole in the parapet we looked right out across the inundations to where the famous "Ferme Violette," which had changed hands so often and was at present German, could plainly be seen. Dark objects were pointed out to us sticking up in the water which the sergeant cheerfully observed, holding his nose the meanwhile, were sales Boches! We hurried on to a bigger dug-out and helped the doctor with several blessés injured that afternoon, and later we helped to remove them back to the village and thence to a field hospital. Just then we began bombarding with the 75's. which we had seen earlier on. The row was deafening-first a terrific bang, then a swizzing through the air with a sound like a sob, and then a plop at the other end where it had exploded-somewhere. At first, as with all newcomers in the firing line, we ducked our heads as the shells went over, to a roar of delight from the men, but in time we gave that up. During this bombardment we went on distributing our woollies all along the line, and I thought my head would split at any moment, the noise was so great. I asked one of the officers, during a pause, why the Germans weren't replying, and he said we had just got the range of one of their positions by 'phone, and as these guns we were employing had just been brought up, the Boche would not waste any shells until they thought they had our range.

Presently we came to the officer's dug-out, and, would you believe it, he had small windows with lace curtains! They were the size of pocket handkerchiefs; still the fact remains, they were curtains. He showed us two bits of a shell that had burst above the day before and made the roof collapse, but since then the damage had been remedied by a stout beam. He was a merry little man with twinkling eyes and very proud of his little house.

Our things began to give out at this point and we were not at the end of the line by any means. It was heart breaking to hear one man say, "Une paire de chaussettes, Mees, je vous en prie; il y a trois mois depuis que j'en ai eu." ( A pair of socks, miss, I beseech you, it's three months since I had any). I gave him my scarf, which was all I had left, and could only turn sorrowfully away. He put it on immediately, cheerfully accepting the substitute.

We were forced to make our adieux at this point, as there was no reason for us to continue along the line. We promised to bring more things the next night and start at the point where we had left off. I thought regretfully it would be some days before my turn came round again.

The same care had to be observed on the return journey, and we could only speak in the softest of whispers. The bombardment had now died away as suddenly as it had begun. The men turned from their posts to whisper "Bon soir, bonne chance," or else "Dieu vous bénisse." The silence after that ear-splitting din was positively uncanny: it made one feel one wanted to shout or whistle, or do something wild; anything to break it. One almost wished the Germans would retaliate! That silent monster only such a little way from us seemed just waiting to spring. We crawled one by one out of the trenches on to the road, and began the perilous journey homewards with the blessés, knowing that at any moment the Germans might begin bombarding. As we were resting the Captain of the battery joined us, and in the semi-darkness I saw he was offering me a bunch of snowdrops! It certainly was an odd moment to receive a bouquet, but somehow at the time it did not seem to be particularly out of place, and I tucked them into the belt of my tunic and treasured them for days afterwards- snowdrops that had flowered regardless of war in the garden of some cottage long since destroyed.

Arrived once more at Headquarters we were pressed to a petit verre of some very hot and raw liqueur, but nevertheless very warming, and very good. I felt I agreed with the Irish coachman who at his first taste declared "The shtuff was made in Hiven but the Divil himself invinted the glasses! "We had got terribly cold in the trenches. After taking leave of our kind hosts we set off for the Hospital.

It was now about 1.30 a.m., and we were stopped no less than seventeen times on our way back. As it was my job to lean out and whisper into the sentry's "pearly," I got rather exasperated. By the time I'd passed the seventeenth "Gustave," I felt I'd risk even a bayonet to be allowed to snooze without interruption. The blesses were deposited in Hospital and the car, once rid of its wounded load, sped through the night back to Lamarck, and I wondered sleepily if my first visit to the trenches was a reality or only a dream.

Chapter VI

The Typhoid Wards

When I first came to Hospital I had been put as V.A.D. in Ward I, on the surgical side, and at ten o'clock had heard "shop" (which by the way was strictly debarred, but nevertheless formed the one and only topic of conversation), from nurses and sisters in the Typhoid Wards, but had never actually been there myself. As previously explained the three Typhoid Wards-rooms leading one out of the other on the ground floor-were in a separate building joined only by some outhouses to the main portion, thus forming three sides of the paved yard.

The east end of the Cathedral with its beautiful windows completed the square, and in the evenings it was very restful to hear the muffled sounds of the old organ floating up through the darkness.

Sister Wicks asked me one day to go through these wards with her. It must be remembered that at this early period there were no regular typhoid hospitals; and in fact ours was the only hospital in the place that would take them in, the others having refused. Our beds were therefore always full, and the typhoid staff was looked on as the hardest worked in the Hospital, and always tried to make us feel that they were the only ones who did any real work!

It was difficult to imagine these hollow-cheeked men with glittering eyes and claw-like hands were the men who had stemmed the German rush at Liege. Some were delirious, others merely plucking at the sheets with their wasted fingers, and everywhere the sisters and nurses were hurrying to and fro to alleviate their sufferings as much as possible. I shall always see the man in bed sixteen to this day. He was extremely fair, with blue eyes and a light beard. I started when I first saw him, he looked so like some of the pictures of Christ one sees; and there was an unearthly light in his eyes. He was delirious and seemed very ill. The sister told me he had come down with a splendid fighting record, and was one of the worst cases of pneumonic typhoid in the ward. My heart ached for him, and instinctively I shivered, for somehow he did not seem to belong to this world any longer. We passed on to Ward III, where I was presented to "Le Petit Sergent," a little bit of a man, so cheery and bright, who had made a marvellous recovery, but was not yet well enough to be moved. Everywhere was that peculiar smell which seems inseparable from typhoid wards in spite, or perhaps because of, the many disinfectants. We left by the door at the end of Salle III and once in the sunlight again, I heaved a sigh of relief; for frankly I thought the three typhoid Salles the most depressing places on earth. They were dark, haunting, and altogether horrible. "Well," said Sergeant Wicks cheerfully, "what do you think of the typhoid Wards? Splendid aren't they? You should have seen them at first." As I made no reply, she rattled gaily on, "Well, I hope you will find the work interesting when you come to us as a pro. to- morrow." I gasped. "Am I to leave the blessés, then?" was all I could feebly ask-"Why, yes, didn't they tell you?"-and she was off before I could say anything more.

When one goes to work in France one can't pick and choose, and the next morning saw me in the typhoid wards which soon I learnt to love, and which I found so interesting that I hardly left them from that time onwards, except for "trench duty."

I was in Salle I at first-the less serious cases-and life seemed one eternal rush of getting "feeds" for the different patients, "doing mouths," and making "Bengers" All the boiling and heating was done in one big stove in Salle II. Each time I passed No. 16 I tried not to look at him, but I always ended in doing so, and each time he seemed to be thinner and more ethereal looking. He literally went to skin and bone. He must have been such a splendid man, I longed for him to get better, but one morning when I passed, the bed was empty and a nurse was disinfecting the iron bedstead. For one moment I thought he had been moved. "Where-What?" I asked, disjointedly of the nurse. "Died in the night," she said briefly. "Don't look like that," and she went on with her work. No. 16 had somehow got on my mind, I suppose because it was the first bad typhoid case I had seen, and from the first I had taken such an interest in him. One gets accustomed to these things in time, but I never forgot that first shock. In the afternoons the men's temperatures rose alarmingly, and most of the time was spent in "blanket- bathing" which is about the most back-aching pastime there is; but how the patients loved to feel the cool sponges passing over their feverish limbs. They were so grateful and, though often too ill to speak, would smile their thanks, and one felt it was worth all the backaches in the world.

It was such a virulent type of typhoid. Although we had been inoculated, we were obliged to gargle several times during the day, and even then we always had more or less of a "typy" throat.

Our gallant sergeant, sister Wicks, who had organised and run the whole of the three Salles since November '14, suddenly developed para-typhoid, and with great difficulty was persuaded to go to bed. Fortunately she did not have it badly, and in her convalescent stage I was sent to look after her up at the "shop window." I was anxious to get her something really appetising for lunch, and presently heard one of the famous fish wives calling out in the street. I ran out and bargained with her, for of course she would have been vastly disappointed if I had given her the original price she asked. At last I returned triumphant with two nice looking little "Merlans," too small to cut their heads off, I decided. I had never coped with fish before, so after holding them for some time under the tap till they seemed clean enough, put them on to fry in butter. I duly took them in on a tray to Wicks, and I'm sure they looked very tasty. "Have you cleaned them?" she asked suspiciously. "Yes, of course I have," I replied. She examined them."May I ask what you did? " she said. "I held them under the tap," I told her, "there didn't seem anything more to be done," I added lamely.

How she laughed-I thought she was never going to stop-and I stood there patiently waiting to hear the joke. She explained at length and said, "No, take them away; you've made me feel ever so much better, but I'll have eggs instead, thank you." I went off grumbling, "How on earth was I to know anyway they kept their tummies behind their ears!" That fish story went all over the hospital. Nursing in the typhoids was relieved by turns up to the trenches behind Dixmude, which we looked forward to tremendously, but as they were practically-with slight variations in the matter of shelling and bombardments-a repetition of my first experience, there is no object in recounting them here.

The typhoid doctor-"Scrubby," by name; so called because of the inability of his chin to make up its mind if it would have a beard or not-was very amusing, without of course meaning to be. He liked to write the reports of the patients in the Sister's book himself, and was very proud of his English, and this is what occasionally appeared:

Patient No. 12. "If the man sleep, let him sleep."

Patient No. 13. "To have red win (wine) in the spoonful."

Patient No. 14. "If the man have a temper (i.e. temperature) reduce him with the sponges." And he was once heard to remark with reference to a flat tyre: "That tube is contrary to the swelling state!"

So far, I have made no mention of the men orderlies, who I must say were absolute bricks. There was Pierre, an alert little Bruxellois, who was in a bank before the war and kept his widowed mother. He was in constant fear as to her safety, for she had been left in their little house and had no time to escape. He was well-educated and most interesting, and oh, so gentle with the men. Then there was Louis, Ziské, and Charlké, a big hefty Walloon who had been the butcher on a White Star liner before the war, all excellent workers.

About this time I went on night duty and liked it very much. One was much freer for one thing, and the sisters immediately became more human (especially when they relied on the pros, to cook the midnight supper!), and further there were no remarks or reflections about the defects of the "untrained unit" who "imagined they knew everything after four months of war". With reference to cooking, I might here mention that since the fish episode Mrs. Betton and I were on more than speaking terms!)

There were several very bad cases in Salle II. One especially Sister feared would not pull through. I prayed he might live, but it was not to be. She was right-one night about 2 a.m. he became rapidly worse and perforation set in. The dreadful part was that he was so horribly conscious all the time. "Miske," he asked, "think you that I shall see my wife and five children again?" Before I could reply, he continued, "They were there là bas in the little house so happy when I left them in 1914-My God," and he became agitated. "If it were not permitted that I return? Do you think I am going to die, Miske?" "You must try and keep the patient from getting excited," said the calm voice of the Sister, who did not speak French. He died about an hour later. It was terrible."Why must they go through so much suffering?" I wondered miserably. If they are to die, why can't it happen at once?"

This was the first typhoid death I had actually witnessed. In the morning the sinister coffin cart flapped into the yard and bore him off to his last resting place. What, I wondered, happened to his wife and five children?

When I became more experienced I could tell if patients were going to recover or not; and how often in the latter case I prayed that it might be over quickly; but no, the fell disease had to take its course; and even the sisters said they had never seen such awful cases.

Chapter VII

The Zeppelin Raid

Once while on night duty I got up to go to a concert in the town at the theatre in aid of the Orphelins de la Guerre. I must say when the Frenchman makes up his mind to have a charity concern he does it properly, and with any luck it begins at 2.30 and goes on till about 9 or possibly 10 p.m.

This was the first we had attended and they subsequently became quite a feature of the place. It was held on a Sunday, and the entire population turned out colimenté and endimanché to a degree. The French and Belgian uniforms were extraordinarily smart, and the Belgian guides in their tasselled caps, cheery breeches, and hunting-green tunics added colour to the scene.

The Mayor of the town opened the performance with a long speech, the purport of which I forget, but it lasted one hour and ten minutes, and then the performance began. There were several intervals during which the entire audience left the salle and perambulated along the wide corridors round the building to greet their friends, and drink champagne out of large flat glasses, served at fabulous prices by fair ladies of the town clad in smart muslin dresses. The French Governor-General, covered with stars and orders, was there in state with his aides-de-camp, and the Belgian General ditto, and everyone shook hands and talked at once. Heasy and I stood and watched the scene fascinated. Tea seemed to be an unheard of beverage. Presently we espied an Englishman, very large and very tall, talking to a group of French people. I remark on the fact because in those days there were no English anywhere near us, and to see a staff car passing through the town was quite an event. We were, glad, as he was the only Englishman there, that our people had chosen the largest and tallest representative they could find. Presently he turned, and looked as surprised to see two khaki-clad English girls in solar topees (the pre-war F.A.N.Y. headgear), as I think we were to see him.

The intervals lasted for half an hour, and I came to the conclusion they were as much, if not more, part of the entertainment as the concert itself.

It was still going strong when we left at 7 p.m. to go on duty, and the faithful "Flossie" (our Ford) bore us swiftly back to hospital and typhoids.

On the night of March 18th, 1915, we had our second Zeppelin raid, when the Hospital had a narrow escape. (The first one occurred on 23rd February, wiping out an entire family near the "Shop-window.") I was still on night duty and, crossing over to Typhoids with some dressings, noticed how velvety the sky looked, with not a star to be seen. We always had two orderlies on at night, and at 12 o'clock one of them was supposed to go over to the kitchen and have his supper, and when he came back at 12.30 the other went. On this particular occasion they had both gone together. Sister had also gone over at 12 to supper, so I was left absolutely alone with the fifty patients

None of the men at that time were particularly bad, except No. 23, who was delirious and showed a marked inclination to try and get out of bed. I had just tucked him in safely for the twentieth time when at 12.30 I heard the throb of an engine. Aeroplanes were always flying about all day, so I did not think much of it. I half fancied it might be Sidney Pickles, the airman, who had been to the Hospital several times and was keen on stunt flying. This throbbing sounded much louder though than any aeroplane, and hastily lowering what lights we had, with a final tuck to No. 23, I ran to the door to ascertain if there was cause for alarm. The noise was terrific and sounded like no engine I had ever heard in my life. I gazed into the purple darkness and felt sure that I must see the thing, it seemed actually over my head. The expanse of sky to be seen from the yard was not very great, but suddenly in the space between the surgical side and the Cathedral I could just discern an inky shadow, whale-like in shape, with one small twinkling light like a wicked eye. The machine was travelling pretty fast and fairly low down, and by its bulk I knew it to be a Zeppelin. I tore back into the ward where most of the men were awake, and found myself saying, "Ce n'est rien, ce n'est qu'un Zeppelin" ("It's nothing-only a Zeppelin"), which on second thoughts I came to the conclusion was not as reassuring as I meant it to be. By this time the others were on their way back across the yard, and I turned to give 23 another tuck up.

Such a long time elapsed before any firing occurred; it seemed to me when I first looked out into the yard I must be the only person who had heard the Zepp. What were the sentinels doing, I wondered? The explanation I heard later from a French gunnery lieutenant. The man who had the key to the ammunitions for the anti-aircraft guns was not at his post, and was subsequently discovered in a drunken sleep-probably the work of German spies-at all events he was shot at dawn the following day. In such manner does France deal with her sons who fail her. As soon as the Zepp. had passed over, the firing burst forth in full vigour to die away presently. So far, apparently, no bombs had been dropped. I suggested to Pierre we should relight one or two lamps, as it was awkward stumbling about in complete darkness. "Non, non, Miske, he will return," he said with conviction.

Apparently, though, all seemed quiet; and Sister suggested that after all the excitement, I should make my way across the yard to get some supper. Pierre came with me, and at that moment a dull explosion occurred. It was a bomb. The Zeppelin was still there. The guns again blazed away, the row was terrific. Star shells were thrown up to try and locate the Zepp., and the sky was full of showering lights, blue, green, and pink. Four searchlights were playing, shrapnel was bursting, and a motor machine gun let off volleys from sheer excitement, the sharp tut-tut-tut adding to the general confusion. In the pauses the elusive Zepp. could be heard buzzing like some gigantic angry bee. I wouldn't have missed it for anything. It looked like a fireworks display, and the row was increasing each minute. Every Frenchman in the neighbourhood let off his rifle with gusto. Just then we heard an extraordinary rushing noise in the air, like steam being let off from a railway engine. A terrific bang ensued, and then a flare. It was an incendiary bomb and was just outside the Hospital radius. I was glad to be in the open, one felt it would be better to be killed outside than indoors. If the noise was bad before, it now became deafening. Pierre suggested the cave, a murky cellar by the gate, but it seemed safer to stay where we were, leaning in the shadow against the walls of Notre Dame. Very foolish, I grant you, but early in 1915 the dangers of falling shrapnel, etc., were not so well known.

These events happened in a few seconds. Suddenly Pierre pointed skywards. "He is there, up high," he cried excitedly. I looked, but a blinding light seemed to fill all space, the yard was lit up and I remember wondering if the people in the Zepp. would see us in our white overalls. The rushing sound was directly over our heads; there was a crash, the very walls against which we were leaning rocked, and to show what one's mind does at those moments, I remember thinking that when the Cathedral toppled over it would just fit nicely into the Hospital square. Instinctively I put my head down sheltering it as best I could with my arms, while bricks, mortar, and slates rained on, and all around, us. There was a heavy thud just in front of us, and when the dust had cleared away I saw it was a coping from the Cathedral, 2 feet by 4! Notre Dame had remained standing, but the bomb had completely smashed in the roof of the chapel, against the walls of which we were leaning! It was only due to their extreme thickness that we were saved, and also to the fact that we were under the protection of the wall. Had we been further out the coping would assuredly have landed on us or else we should have been hit by the shrapnel contained in the bombs, for the wall opposite was pitted with it. The dust was suffocating, and I heard Pierre saying, "Come away, Mademoiselle." Though it takes so long to describe, only a few minutes had elapsed since leaving to cross the yard. The beautiful East window of the Cathedral was shivered to atoms, and likewise every window in the Hospital. All our watches had stopped. Crashing over broken glass to the surgical side, we pantingly asked if everyone was safe. We met Porter coming down the stairs, a stream of blood flowing from a cut on her forehead. I hastily got some dressings for it. Luckily it was only a flesh wound, and not serious. Besides the night nurses at the Hospital, the chauffeurs and housekeeper slept in the far end of the big room at the top of the building. They had not been awakened (so accustomed were they to din and noise), until the crash of the bomb on the Cathedral, and it was by the glass being blown in on to their stretcher beds that Porter had been cut; otherwise no one else was hurt.

I plunged through the débris back to the typhoids, wondering how 23 had got on, or rather got out, and, would you believe it, his delirium had gone and he was sleeping quietly like a child! The only bit of good the Boche ever did I fancy, for the shock seemed to cure him and he got well from that moment.

The others were in an awful mess, and practically every man's bed was full of broken glass. You can imagine what it meant getting this out when the patients were suffering from typhoid, and had to be moved as little as possible! One boy in Salle V had a flower pot from the window-sill above fixed on his head! Beyond being slightly dazed, and of course covered with mould, he was none the worse; and those who were well enough enjoyed his discomfiture immensely. Going into Salle III where there were shouts of laughter (the convalescents were sent to that room) I saw a funny sight. One little man, who was particularly fussy and grumpy (and very unpopular with the other men in consequence), slept near the stove, which was an old-fashioned coal one with a pipe leading up to the ceiling. The concussion had shaken this to such an extent that accumulations of soot had come down and covered him from head to foot, and he was a black as a nigger! His expression of disgust was beyond description, and he was led through the other two wards on exhibition, where he was greeted with yells of delight. It was just as well, as it relieved the tension. It can't be pleasant to be ill in bed and covered with bits of broken glass and mortar, not to mention the uncertainty of whether the walls are going to fall in or not. "Ah," said the little Sergeant to me, "I have never had fear as I had last night." "One is better in the trenches than in your Hospital, Miske," chimed in another. "At least one can defend oneself."

One orderly-a new one whom I strongly suspected of being an embusqué-was unearthed in our rounds from under one of the beds, and came in for a lot of sarcasm, to the great joy of the patients who had all behaved splendidly. With the exception of Pierre and the porter on the surgical side, every man jack of them, including the Adjutant, had fled to the cave. A subsequent order came out soon after which amused us very much:-In the event of future air raids the infirmiers (orderlies) were to fly to the cave with the convalescents while the très malades were to be left to the care of the Mees anglaises!

It took us till exactly 7 a.m. to get those three wards in anything like order, working without stopping. "Uncle," who had dressed hurriedly and come up to the Hospital from his Hotel to see if he could be of any use, brought a very welcome bowl of Ivelcon about 2.30, which just made all the difference, as I had had nothing since 7 the night before. It's surprising how hungry Zeppelin raids make one!

An extract from the account which appeared in The Daily Chronicle the following morning was as follows:-

"One bomb fell on Notre Dame Cathedral piercing the vault of one of the Chapels on the right transept and wreaking irreparable damage to the beautiful old glass of its gothic windows. This same bomb, which must have been of considerable size, sent débris flying into the courtyard of the Lamarcq Hospital full of Belgian wounded being tended by English Nurses.

"Altogether these Yeomanry nurses behaved admirably, for all the menfolk with the exception of the doorkeeper" (and Pierre, please), "fled for refuge to the cellars, and the women were left. In the neighbourhood one hears nothing but praise of these courageous Englishwomen. Another bomb fell on a railway carriage in which a number of mechanics-refugees from Lille-were sleeping, as they had no homes of their own. The effect of the bomb on these unfortunate men was terrible. They were all more or less mutilated; and heads, hands, and feet were torn off. Then flames broke out on top of this carriage and in a moment the whole was one huge conflagration.

"As the Zeppelin drew off, its occupants had the sinister satisfaction of leaving behind them a great glare which reddened the sky for a full hour in contrast with the total blackness of the town."

Chris took out "Flossie," and was on the scene of this last disaster as soon as she could get into her clothes after being so roughly awakened by the splinters of glass.

When the day staff arrived from the "Shop-window," what a sight met their eyes! The poor old place looked as if it had had a night of it, and as we sat down to breakfast in the kitchen we shivered in the icy blasts that blew in gusts across the room, for of course the weather had made up its mind to be decidedly wintry just to improve matters. It took weeks to get those windows repaired, as there was a run on what glaziers the town possessed. The next night our plight in typhoids was not one to be envied-Army blankets had been stretched inadequately across the windows and the beds pulled out of the way of draughts as much as possible, but do what we could the place was like an icehouse; the snow filtered softly through the flapping blankets, and how we cursed the Hun! At 3 a.m. one of the patients had a relapse and died.

Chapter VIII

Concerning Baths, "Jolie Annette," "Marie-Margot" and "St. Inglevert"

After this event I was sent back for a time to the blessés graves on the surgical side on day duty. All who had been on duty that memorable night had had a pretty considerable shock. It was like leaving one world and stepping into another, so complete was the change from typhoids.

The faithful Jefké was still there stealing jam for the patients, spending a riotous Saturday night au cinéma, going to Mass next morning, and then presenting himself in the Ward again looking as if butter would not melt in his mouth!

A new assistant orderly was there as well. A pious looking individual in specs. He worked as if manual labour pained him, and was always studying out of a musty little book. He was desperately keen to learn English and spoke it on every possible occasion; was intensely stupid as an orderly and obstinate as a mule. He was trying in the extreme. One day he told me he was intended for higher things and would soon be a priest in the Church. Sister Lampen, who was so quick and thorough herself, found him particularly tiresome, and used to refer to him as her "cross" in life! One day she called him to account, and, in an exasperated voice said, "What are you supposed to be doing here, Louis, anyway? Are you an orderly or aren't you?" "Mees," he replied piously, rolling his eyes upwards, "lam learning to be a father!" I gave a shriek of delight and hastened up to tea in the top room with the news.

We were continually having what was known as alertes, that the Germans were advancing on the town. We had boxes ready in all the Wards with a list on the lid indicating what particular dressings, etc., went in each. None of the alertes, however, materialized. We heard later it was only due to a Company of the gallant Buffs throwing themselves into the breach that the road to Calais had been saved.

There were several exciting days spent up at our Dressing Station at Hoogstadt, and one day to our delight we heard that three of the F.A.N.Y.'s, who had been in the trenches during a particularly bad bombardment, were to be presented with the Order of Leopold II. A daily paper giving an account of this dressing station headed it, in their enthusiasm, "Ten days without a change of clothes. Brave Yeomanry Nurses!"

It was a coveted job to post the letters and then go down to the Quay to watch the packet come in from England. The letters, by the way, were posted in the guard's van of a stationary train where Belgian soldiers sorted and despatched them. I used to wonder vaguely if the train rushed off in the night delivering them.

There was a charm and fascination about meeting that incoming boat; the rattle of chains, the clang as the gangway was fixed, the strange cries of the French sailors, the clicking of the bayonets as the cordon formed round the fussy passport officer, and lastly the excitement of watching to see if there was a spy on board. The Walmer Castle and the Canterbury were the two little packets employed, and they have certainly seen life since the war began. Great was our excitement if we caught sight of Field Marshal French on his way to G.H.Q., or King Albert, his tall form stooping slightly under the cares of State, as he stepped into his waiting car to be whirled northwards to La Panne.

The big Englishman (accompanied by a little man disguised in very plain clothes as a private Detective) also scanned every passenger closely as he stepped on French soil, and we turned away disgustedly as each was able to furnish the necessary proof that he was on lawful business. "Come, Struttie, we must fly," and back we hurried over the bridge, past the lighthouse, across the Place d'Armes, up the Rue de la Rivière and so to Hospital once more.

When things became more settled, definite off times were arranged. Up to then sisters and nurses had worked practically all day and every day, so great was the rush. We experienced some difficulty in having baths, as there were none up at the "Shop." Dr. Cools from the Gare Centrale told us some had been fitted in a train down there, and permission was obtained for us to use them. But first we were obliged to present ourselves to the Commandant (for the Railway shed there had been turned into an Hôpital de Passage, where the men waited on stretchers till they were collected each morning by ambulances for the different Hospitals), and ask him to be kind enough to furnish a Bon pour un bain (a bath pass)! When I first went to the Bureau at the gare and saw this Commandant in his elegant tight-fitting navy blue uniform, with pointed grey beard and general air of importance, I felt that to ask him for a "bath ticket" was quite the last thing on earth! He saw my hesitation, and in the most natural manner in the world said with a bow, "Mademoiselle has probably come for un bon?" I assented gratefully, was handed the pass and fled. It requires some courage to face four officials in order to have a bath.

Arrived at the said train, one climbed up a step-ladder in to a truck divided into four partitions, and Ziské, a deaf old Flamand, carried buckets of boiling water from the engine and we added what cold we wanted ourselves. You will therefore see that when anyone asked you what you were doing in your free time that day and you said you were "going to have a bath," it was understood that it meant the whole afternoon would be taken up. At first we noticed the French people seemed a little stiff in their manner and rather on the defensive. We wondered for some time what could be the reason, and chatting one day with Madame at the dug-out I mentioned the fact to her.

"See you, Mademoiselle, it is like this," she explained, "you others, the English, had this town many years ago, and these unlettered ones, who read never the papers and know nothing, think you will take possession of the town once again." Needless to say in time this impression wore off and they became most friendly.

The Place d'Armes was a typical French marketplace and very picturesque. At one corner of the square stood the town hall with a turret and a very pretty Carillon called "Jolie Annette," since smashed by a shell. I asked an old shopkeeper why the Carillon should be called by that name and he told me that in 1600 a well-to-do commerçant of the town had built the turret and promised a Carillon only on the condition that it should be a line from a song sung by a fair lady called "Jolie Annette," performing at a music hall or Café Chantant in the town at that time. The inhabitants protested, but he refused to give the Carillon unless he could have his own way, which he ultimately did. Can't you imagine the outraged feelings of the good burghers? "Que voulez-vous, Mademoiselle," the old man continued, shrugging his shoulders, "Jolie Annette ne chante pas mal, hein?" and I agreed with him.

I thought it was rather a nice story, and I often wondered, when I heard that little song tinkling out, exactly what "Jolie Annette" really looked like, and I quite made up my mind on the subject. Of course she had long side curls, a slim waist, lots of ribbons, a very full skirt, white stockings, and a pair of little black shoes, and last but not least, a very bewitching smile. It is sad to think that a shell has silenced her after all these years, and I hope so much that someone will restore the Carillon so that she can sing her little song once again.

In one corner of the square was a house (now turned into a furniture shop) where one of the F.A.N.Y.'s great-grandmothers had stayed when fleeing with the Huguenots to England. They had finally set off across the Channel in rowing boats. Some sportsmen!

Market days on Saturdays were great events, and little booths filled up the whole place, and what bargains one could make! We bought all the available flowers to make the wards as bright as possible. In the afternoons when there was not much to do except cut dressings, I often sat quietly at my table and listened to the discussions which went on in the ward. The Belgian soldier loves an argument.

One day half in French, and half in Flemish, they were discussing what course they would pursue if they found a wounded German on the battlefield. "Tuez-le comme un lapin," cried one. "Faut les zigouiller tous," cried another (almost untranslatable slang, but meaning more or less "choke the lot").

"Ba, non, sauvez-le p'is qu'il est blessé," cried a third to which several agreed. This discussion waxed furious till finally I was called on to arbitrate. One boy was rapidly working himself into a fever over the question. He was out to kill any Boche under any conditions, and I don't blame him. This was his story:

In the little village where he came from, the Germans on entering had treated the inhabitants most brutally. He was with his old father and mother and young brother of eight-(It was August 1914 and his class had not yet been called up). Some Germans marched into the little cottage and shaking the old woman roughly by the arm demanded something to drink. His mother was very deaf and slow in her movements and took some time to understand. "Ha," cried one brute, "we will teach you to walk more quickly," and without more ado he ran his sword through her poor old body. The old man sprang forward, too late to save her, and met with the same fate. The little brother had been hastily hidden in an empty cistern as they came in. "Thus, Mademoiselle," the boy ended, "I have seen killed before my eyes my own father and mother; my little brother for all I know is also dead. I have yet to find out. I myself was taken prisoner, but luckily three days later managed to escape and join our army; do you therefore blame me, Miske, if I wish to kill as many of the swine as possible?" He sank back literally purple in the face with rage, and a murmur of sympathy went round the Ward. His wound was not a serious one, for which I was thankful, or he might have done some harm.

One evening I was wandering through the "Place d'Armes" when some violins in a music shop caught my eye. I went in and thus became acquainted with the family Tétar, consisting of an old father and his two daughters. They were exceedingly friendly and allowed me to try all the violins they had. At last I chose a little "Mirecourt" with a very nice tone, which I hired and subsequently bought.

In time Monsieur Tétar became very talkative, and even offered to play accompaniments for me. He had an organ in a large room above the shop cram full of old instruments, but in the end he seemed to think it might show a want of respect to Madame his late wife (now dead two years), so the accompanying never came off. For the same reason his daughter, who he said "in the times" had played the violin well, had never touched her instrument since the funeral.

There was one special song we heard very often rising up from the Café Chantant, in the room at the dug-out. When I went round there to have supper with them we listened to it entranced. It was a priceless tune, very catching and with lots of go; I can hear it now. I was determined to try and get a copy, and went to see Monsieur Tétar about it one day. I told him we did not know the name, but this was the tune and hummed it accordingly. A French Officer looking over some music in a corner became convulsed and hurriedly ducked his head into the pages, and I began to wonder if it was quite the thing to ask for.

Monsieur Tétar appeared to be somewhat scandalized, and exclaimed, "I know it, Mademoiselle, that song calls itself Marie-Margot la Cantinière, but it is, let me assure you, of a certainty not for the young girls!" No persuasion on my part could produce it, so our acquaintance with the fair Marie-Margot went no further than the tune.

The extreme gratitude of the patients was very touching. When they left for Convalescent homes, other Hospitals, or to return to the trenches, we received shoals of post cards and letters of thanks. When they came on leave they never failed to come back and look up the particular Miske who had tended them, and as often as not brought a souvenir of some sort from là bas.

One man to whom I had sent a parcel wrote me the following letter. I might add that in Hospital he knew no English at all and had taught himself in the trenches from a dictionary. This was his letter :

"My lady" (Madame), "The beautiful package is safely arrived. I thank you profoundly from all my heart. The shawl (muffler) is at my neck and the good socks are at my feet as I write. Like that one has well warmth.

"We go to make some café also out of the package, this evening in our house in the trenches, for which I thank you again one thousand times.

"Receive, my lady, the most distinguished sentiments on the part of your devoted

"JEAN PROMPLER, "1st Batt. Infanterie," "12th line Regiment."

I remember my first joy-ride so well. "Uncle" took Porter and myself up to St. Inglevert with some stores for our small convalescent home, of which more anon.

Before proceeding further, I must here explain who "Uncle" was. He joined the Corps in 1914 in response to an advertisement from us in the Times for a driver and ambulance, and was accepted immediately. He was over military age, and had had his Mors car converted into an ambulance for work at the front, and went up to Headquarters one day to make final arrangements. There, to his intense surprise, he discovered that the "First Aid Nursing Yeomanry" was a woman's, and not a man's show as he had at first supposed.

He was so amused he laughed all the way down the Earls Court Road!

He bought his own petrol from the Belgian Parc d'Automobiles, and, when he was not driving wounded, took as many of the staff for joy-rides as he could.

The blow in the fresh air was appreciated by us perhaps more than he knew, especially after a hard morning in the typhoid wards.

The day in question was bright and fine and the air, when once we had left the town and passed the inevitable barriers, was clear and invigorating, like champagne. We soon arrived at St. Inglevert, which consisted of a little Church, an Estaminet, one or two cottages, the cure's house, and a little farm with parish room attached. The latter was now used as a convalescent home for our typhoid patients until they were strong enough to take the long journey to the big camp in the South of France. The home was run by two of the F.A.N.Y.s for a fortnight at a time. It was no uncommon sight to see them on the roads taking the patients out "in crocodile" for their daily walk! Many were the curious glances cast from the occupants of passing cars at the two khaki-clad English girls, walking behind a string of sick-looking men in uniform. Probably they drove on feeling it was another of the unsolved mysteries of the war!

We found Bunny struggling with the stove in the tiny kitchen, where she soon coaxed the kettle to boil and gave us a cup of tea. Before our return journey to Hospital we were introduced to the Curé of St. Inglevert, who was half Irish and half French. He spoke English well and gave a great deal of assistance in running the home, besides being both witty and amusing.

We visited the men who were having tea in their " refectory " under Cicely's supervision, and once more returned to work at Lamarck.

Chapter IX

Typhoids Again, and Paris in 1915

I was on night duty once more in the typhoid wards with Sister Moring when we had our third bad Zeppelin raid, which was described in the papers as "the biggest attempted since the beginning of the war" It certainly was a wonderful sight.

The tocsin was rung in the Place d'Armes about 11.30 p.m. followed by heavy gunfire from our now more numerous defences. Almost simultaneously bomb explosions could be heard. We hastily wrapped up what patients were well enough to move, and the orderlies carried them to the "cave." Returning across the yard one of them called out that there were three Zeppelins this time, but though the searchlights were playing, we saw no sign of them, and presently the "all clear" was sounded.

We had just got the patients from the cave back into bed again when half an hour later a second alarm was heard. Our feelings on hearing this could only be described as "terse," a favourite F.A.N.Y. expression. If only the brutes would leave Hospitals alone instead of upsetting the patients like this.

The sky presented a wonderful spectacle. Half a dozen searchlights were playing, and shells were continually bursting in mid-air with a dull roar. On our way back from the cave where we had again deposited the patients, the searchlights suddenly focussed all three Zeppelins. There they were like huge silver cigars gleaming against the stars. They looked so splendid I couldn't help wishing I was up in one. It seemed impossible to connect death-dealing bombs with those floating silver shapes. Shrapnel burst all round them, and then the Zepps. seemed suddenly to become alive, and they answered with machine guns, and the patter of bullets and shrapnel could be heard all around. The Commander of one of the Zepps. apparently fearing his airship might be hit, must have given the order for all the bombs to be heaved overboard at once, for suddenly twenty- one fell simultaneously! You can imagine what a sight it was to see those golden balls of fire falling through the air from the silver airship. They fell in a field just outside the town near a little village called Les Barraques, the total bag being five cows!

In spite of the three Zeppelins the Huns only succeeded in killing a baby and an old lady. At last they were successfully driven off, and we settled down hoping our excitements were over for the night, but no, at 3.30 a.m. the tocsin again rang out a third alarm! This was getting beyond a joke. The air duel recommenced, bombs were dropped, but fortunately no serious casualties occurred. Luckily at that time none of the patients were in a serious condition, so we felt that for once the Hun had been fairly considerate. It was surprising to find the comparatively little damage the town had suffered. We had several others after this, but they are not worth recording here.

One patient we had at that time was a Dutchman who had joined the Belgian Army in 1914. He was a very droll fellow, and told me he was the clown at one of the Antwerp Theatres and kept the people amused while the scenes were being changed. I can quite believe this, for shouts of laughter could always be heard in his vicinity. He was very good at imitating animals, and I discovered later that among other accomplishments he was also a ventriloquist. Sister and I, when the necessary feeds had been given, used to sit in two deck chairs with a screen shading the light, near the stove in the middle ward, until the next were due. One night I heard a cat mewing. It seemed to be almost under my chair, I got up and looked everywhere. Yes, there it was again, but this time coming from under one of the men's beds. It was a piteous mew, and I was determined to find it. I spent a quarter of an hour on tiptoe looking everywhere. It was not till I heard a stifled chuckle from the bed next the Dutchman's that I suspected anything, and then, determined they should get no rise out of me, sat down quietly in my chair again. Though that cat mewed for the next ten minutes I never turned an eyelash!

I liked night duty very much, there was something exhilarating about it, probably because I was new to it, and probably also because I slept like a top in the daytime (when I didn't get up, breathe it quietly, to steal out for rides on the sands!). I liked the walk across the yard with the gaunt old Cathedral showing black against the purple sky, its poor East window now tied up with sacking.

One night about 1 a.m. I came in from supper in my flat soft felt slippers, and from sheer joy of living executed, quite noiselessly, a few steps for Sister's benefit down the middle of the Ward! It was a great temptation, and needless to say not appreciated by Sister as much as I had hoped. I heard subdued clapping from the clown's bed, and there was the wretch wide awake (he was not unlike Morton to look at), sitting up in bed and grinning with joy!

The next morning as I was going off duty he called me over to him. "He, Miske Kinike," he said, in his funny half Dutch, half Flemish, "if after the war you desire something to do I will arrange that you appear with me before the curtain goes up, at the Antwerp Theatre!" He made the offer in all seriousness, and realizing this, I replied I would certainly think the proposition over, and fled across to have breakfast and tell them my future had been arranged for most suitably.

The rolls, the long French kind, were brought each morning in "Flossie," by the day staff on their way up from the "shop" referred to in a F.A.N.Y. alphabet as "R's for the Roll- call”, a terrible fag, "Fetching six yards of bread, done up in a bag!"

The other meals were provided by the Belgians and supplemented to a great extent by us. I am quite convinced we often ate good old horse. One day, when prowling round the shops to get something fresh for the night staff's supper, I went into a butcher's. The good lady came forward to ask me what I wished. I told her; and she smiled agreeably, saying, "Impossible, Mademoiselle, since long time we have only horse here for sale!" I got out of that shop with speed.

The orderlies on night duty, on the surgical side, were a lazy lot and slept the whole night through, more often than not on the floor of the kitchen. One night the incomparable "Jefké," who was worse than most, was fast asleep in a dark spot near the big stove, when I went to get some hot water. He was practically invisible, so I narrowly missed stepping on his head, and, as it was, collapsed over him, breaking the tea-pot. Cicely, the ever witty, quickly parodied one of the "Ruthless Rhymes," and said:

"Pat who trod on Jefké's face
(He was fast asleep, so let her,)
Put the pieces back in place, Saying,
'Don't you think he looks much better'?"

(I can't vouch for the truth of the last line.)

One day when up at the front we attended part of a concert given by the Observation Balloon Section in a barn, candles stuck in bottles — the only illuminations; we were however obliged to leave early to go on to the trenches. Outside in the moonlight, which was almost as light as day, we found the men busy sharpening their bayonets.

Another day up at Bourbourg, where we had gone for a ride, on a precious afternoon off, we saw the first camouflaged field hospital run by Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, for the Belgians—the tents were weird and wonderful to behold, and certainly defied detection from a distance.

Heasy and I were walking down the Rue one afternoon, which was the Bond Street of this town, when the private detective aforementioned came up and asked to see our identification cards. These we were always supposed to carry about with us wherever we went. Besides the hospital stamp and several others, it contained a passport photo and signature. Of course we had left them in another pocket, and in spite of protestations on our part we were requested to proceed to the citadel or return to hospital to be identified. To our mortification we were followed at a few yards by the detective and a soldier! Never have I felt such an inclination to take to my heels. As luck would have it, tea was in progress in the top room, and they all came down en masse to see the two "spies." The only comfort we got, as they all talked and laughed at our expense, was to hear one of the detectives softly murmuring to himself, "Has anyone heard of the Suffragette movement here?"

We learnt later that Boche spies disguised in our uniform had been seen in the vicinity of the trenches. That the Boche took an interest in our Corps we knew, for, in pre-war days, we had continually received applications from German girls who wished to become members. Needless to say they were never accepted.

The first English troops began to filter into the town about this time, and important "red hats" with brassards bearing the device "L. of C." walked about the place as if indeed they had bought every stone.

Great were our surmises as to what "L. of C." actually stood for, one suggestion being "Lords of Creation," and another, "Lords of Calais"! It was comparatively disappointing to find out it only stood for "Lines of Communication."

English people have a strange manner of treating their compatriots when they meet in a foreign country. You would imagine that under the circumstances they would waive ceremony and greet one another in passing, but no, such is not the case. If they happen to pass in the same street they either look haughtily at each other, with apparently the utmost dislike, or else they gaze ahead with unseeing eyes.

We rather resented this "invasion," as we called it, and felt we could no longer flit freely across the Place d'Armes in caps and aprons as heretofore.

In June of 1915, my first leave, after six months' work, was due. Instead of going to England I went to friends in Paris. The journey was an adventure in itself and took fourteen hours, a distance that in peace time take four or five. We stopped at every station and very often in between. When this occurred, heads appeared at every window to find out the reason. "Qu'est ce qu'il y'a?" everyone cried at once. It was invariably either that a troop train was passing up the line and we must wait for it to go by, or else part of the engine had fallen off. In the case of the former, the train was looked for with breathless interest and handkerchiefs waved frantically, to be used later to wipe away a furtive tear for those brave poilus or "Tommees" who were going to fight for la belle France and might never return.

If it was the engine that collapsed, the passengers, with a resigned expression, returned to their seats, saying placidly: "C'est la guerre, que voulez-vous," and no one grumbled or made any other comment. With a grunt and a snort we moved on again, only to stop a little further up the line. I came to the conclusion that that rotten engine must be tied together with string. No one seemed to mind or worry. "He will arrive " they said optimistically, and talked of other things. At every station fascinating-looking infirmières from the French Red Cross, clad in white from top to toe, stepped into the carriage jingling little white tin boxes. "Messieurs, Mesdames, pour les blessés, s'il vous plaît,” they begged, and everyone fumbled without a murmur in their pockets. I began with 5 francs, but by the time I'd reached Paris I was giving ha' pennies.

At Amiens a dainty Parisienne stepped into the compartment. She was clad in a navy blue tailleur with a very smart pair of high navy blue kid boots and small navy blue silk hat. The other occupants of the carriage consisted of a well-to-do old gentleman in mufti, who, I decided, was a commerçant de vin, and two French officers, very spick and span, obviously going on leave. La petite dame bien mise as I christened her, sat in the opposite corner to me, and the following conversation took place. I give it in English to save translation :

After a little general conversation between the officers .and the old commerçant the latter suddenly burst out with:—"Ha, what I would like well to know is, do the Scotch soldiers wear the pantalons or do they not?" Everyone became instantly alert. I could see la petite dame bien mise was dying to say something. The two French officers addressed shrugged their shoulders expressive of ignorance in the matter. After further discussion, unable to contain herself any longer, la petite dame leant forward and addressing herself to the commerçant, said, "Monsieur, I assure you that they do not!"

The whole carriage "sat up and took notice," and the old commerçant, shaking his finger at her said:

"Madame, if you will permit me to ask, that is, if it is not indiscreet, how is it that you are in a position to know?"

The officers were enjoying themselves immensely. La petite dame hastened to explain. "Monsieur, it is that my window at Amiens she overlooks the ground where these Scotch ones play the football, and then a 'good little puff of wind and one sees, but of course," she concluded virtuously, "I have not regarded, Monsieur."

They all roared delightedly, and the old commerçant said something to the effect of not believing a word. "Be quiet, Monsieur, I pray of you," she entreated, "there is an English young girl in the corner and she will of a certainty be shocked." "Bah, non," replied the old commerçant, "the English never understand much of any language but their own" (I hid discreetly behind my paper).

As we neared Paris there was another stop before the train went over the temporary bridge that had been erected over the Oise. We could still see the other that had been blown up by the French in order to stem the German advance on Paris in August 1914. This shattered bridge brought it home to me how very near to Paris the Boche had been.

As I stepped out of the Gare du Nord all the people were looking skywards at two Taubes which had just dropped several bombs. Some welcome, I thought to myself!

Paris in War time at that period (June, 1915) wore rather the appearance of a deserted city. Every third shop had notices on the doors to the effect that the owners were absent at the war. Others were being run by the old fathers and mothers long since retired, who had come up from the country to "carry on." My friend told me that when she had returned to Paris in haste from the country, at the beginning of the war, there was not a taxi available, as they were all being used to rush the soldiers out to the battle of the Marne. Fancy taxiing to a battlefield!

The Parisians were very interested to see a girl dressed in khaki, and discussed each item of my uniform in the Métro quite loudly, evidently under the same impression as the old commerçant! My field boots took their fancy most. "Mon Dieu!" they would exclaim. "Look then, she wears the big boots like a man. It is chic that, hein?"

In one place, an old curiosity shop in the Quartier St. Germain, the woman was so thrilled to hear I was an infirmière she insisted on me keeping an old Roman lamp I was looking at as a souvenir, because her mother had been one in 1870. War has its compensations.

I also discovered a Monsieur Jollivet at Neuilly, a job-master who had a few horses left, among them a little English mare which I rode. We went in the Bois nearly every morning and sometimes along the race course at Longchamps, the latter very overgrown. "Ah, Mademoiselle," he would exclaim, "if it was only in the ordinary times, how different would all this look, and how Mademoiselle would amuse herself at the races!"

One day walking along near the "Observatoire" an old nun stopped me, and in broken English asked how the war was progressing. (The people in the shops did too, as if I had come straight from G.H.Q.!) She then went on to tell me that she was Scotch, but had never been home for thirty-five years! I could hardly believe it, as she talked English just as a Frenchwoman might. She knew nothing at all as to the true position of affairs, and asked me to come in to the Convent to tea one day, which I did.

They all clustered round me when I went, asking if I had met their relation so-and-so, who was fighting at the front. They were frightfully disappointed when I said "No, I had not."

I went to their little chapel afterwards, and later on, the Reverend Mother, who was so old she had to be supported on each side by two nuns, came to a window and gave me her blessing. My Scotch friend before I left pressed a little oxidized silver medal of the Virgin into my hand, which she assured me would keep me in safety. I treasured it after that as a sort of charm and always had it with me.

A few days later I was introduced to Warneford, V.C., the man who had brought down the first Zeppelin. He had just come to Paris to receive the Légion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre, and was being feted and spoilt by everybody. He promised towards the end of the week, when he had worked off some of his engagements, to take me up— strictly against all rules of course—for a short flight. I met him on the Monday, I think, and on the Wednesday he crashed while making a trial flight, and died after from his injuries, in hospital. It seemed impossible to believe when first I heard of it—he was so full of life and high spirits.

We went to Versailles one day. The loneliness and general air of desertion that overhang the place seemed more intensified by the war than ever. The grass had grown very long, the air was sultry and not a ripple stirred the calm surface of the lake. It seemed somehow very like the Palace of a Sleeping Beauty. I wondered if the ghost of Marie Antoinette ever revisited the Trianon or flitted up and down the wooden steps of the miniature farm where she had played at being a dairymaid?

As we wended our way back in the evening, the incessant croaking of the frogs in the big lake was the only sound that broke the stillness. There was something sinister about it as if they were croaking "We are the only creatures who now live in this beautiful place, and it is we, with our ugly voices and bodies, who have triumphed over the beautiful vain ladies who threw pebbles at us long ago from the terraces."—We turned away, and the croaking seemed to become more triumphant and echoed in our ears long after we had left the vicinity.

At night, in Paris, aeroplanes flew round and round the city on scout duty, switching on lights at intervals that made them look like travelling stars. They often woke one up, and the noise of the engines was so loud it seemed sometimes as if they must fly straight through one's window. I used to love to get up early and go down to "Les Halles," the French Covent Garden, and come back with literally armfuls of roses of all shades of delicate pink, white, and cream. Tante Rose (the only name I ever knew her by) was a widow, and the aunt of my friend. She was one of the vieille noblesse and had a charming house in Passy, and was as interesting to listen to as a book. She asked me one day if I would care to go with her to a Memorial Service at the Sacré-Cœur. Looking out of her windows we could see the church dominating Paris from the heights of Montmartre, the mosque-like appearance of its architecture gleaming white against the sky.

At that moment the dying rays of the sun lit up the golden cross surmounting it, and presently the whole building became a delicate rose pink and seemed almost to float above the city, all blue in the haze of the evening below. It was wonderful, and a picture I shall always carry in my mind. I replied I would love to go, and on the following day we toiled up the dazzling white steps. The service was, I think, the most impressive I have ever attended. Crowds flocked to it, all or nearly all in that uniform of deep-mourning incomparably chic, incomparably French, and gaining daily in popularity. Long before the service began the place was packed to suffocation. Tante Rose looked proudly round and whispered to me, "Ah, my little one, you see here those who have given their all for France." Indeed it seemed so on looking round at those white-faced women; and how I wished that some of the people in England, who had not been touched by the war, or who at that time (June, 1915) hardly realized there even was one, could have been present.

During another visit to Tante Rose's I heard the following story from an infirmière. A wounded German was brought to one of the French hospitals. In the bed adjoining lay a Zouave who had had his leg amputated. The Boche asked for a drink of hot water, the hottest obtainable. When the Nurse brought it to him he took the glass, and without a word threw the scalding contents in her face! The Zouave who had witnessed this brutal act, with a snarl of rage, leapt from his bed on to the German's and throttled him to death there and then. The other blessés sat up in bed and cheered. "It is thus," she continued calmly, "that our brave soldiers avenge us from these brutes." I looked at her as she sat there so dainty in her white uniform, quite undismayed by what had taken place. It was just another of those little incidents that go to show the spirit of the French nation.

Some American friends of mine took me over their hospital for French soldiers at Neuilly. It was most beautifully equipped from top to bottom, and I was especially interested in the dental department where they fitted men with false jaws, etc. Every comfort was provided, and some of the patients were lying out on balconies under large umbrellas smiling happily at all who passed. I sighed when I thought of the makeshifts we had là bas at Lamarck.

I also went to a sort of review held in the Bois of an Ambulance Volant (ambulance unit to accompany a Battalion), given and driven by Americans. They also had a field operating theatre. These drivers were all voluntary workers, and were Yale and Harvard men who had come over to see what the "show" was really like. Some of them later joined the French Army, and one the famous "Foreign Legion," and others went back to the U.S.A. to make shells.

It was very interesting to hear about the "Foreign Legion." In peace time most of the people who join it are either fleeing from justice, or they have no more interest in life and don't care what becomes of them. It is composed of dare-devils of all nationalities, and the discipline is of the severest. They are therefore among the most fearless fighters in the world, and always put in a tight place on the French front. There is one man at the enlisting depot who is a wonderful being, and can size up a new recruit at a glance. He is known as "Le Sphinx." You must give him your real name and reason for joining the Legion, and in exchange he gives you a number by which henceforth you are known. He knows the secrets of all the Legion, and they are never divulged to a living soul; he never forgets, nor do they ever pass his lips. One of the most cherished souvenirs I have is a plain brass button with the inscription "Légion Étrangère" printed round it in raised letters.

As early as June, 1915, the French were showing what relics they had brought back from the battlefields. No better place than the "Invalides," with Napoleon's tomb towering above, could have been chosen for their display. Part of the courtyard was taken up by captured guns, and in two separate corners a "Taube," and a German scout machine, with black crosses on their wings, were tethered like captured birds. There the widows, leading their little sons by the hand, came dry-eyed to show young France what their fathers had died in capturing for the glory of La Patrie.

"Dost thou know, Maman," I heard one mite saying, "I would like well to mount astride that cannon there," indicating a huge 7.4, but the woman only smiled the saddest smile I have ever seen, and drew him over to gaze at the silvery remains of the Zeppelin that had been brought down on the Marne.

The rooms leading off the corridors above were all rilled with souvenirs and helmets, and in another, the captured flags of some of the most famous Prussian Regiments were spread out in all their glory of gold and silver embroideries and tassels.

We went on to see Napoleon's tomb, which made an impression on me which I shall never forget. The sun was just in the right quarter. As we entered the building, the ante- room seemed purposely darkened to form the most complete contrast with the inner; where the sun streaming through the wonderful glass windows, shone with a steady shaft of blue light, almost ethereal in colouring, down into the tomb where the great Emperor slept.

Chapter X

Concerning a Concert, Canteen Work, Housekeeping, the English Convoy, and Good- Bye Lamarck

When I returned to the hospital the "English Invasion" of the town was an accomplished fact, and the Casino had been taken over as a hospital for our men. In the rush after Festubert, we were very proud to be called upon to assist for the time-being in transporting wounded, as the British Red Cross ambulances had more than they could cope with. This was the first officiai driving we did and was to lead to greater things.

The heat that summer was terrific, so five of us clubbed together and rented a Chalet on the beach, which was christened The Filbert. We bathed in our off time (when the jelly fish permitted, for, whenever it got extra warm, a whole plague of them infested the sea, and hot vinegar was the only cure for their stinging bites; of course we only found this out well on into the jelly-fish season!). We gave tea parties and supper parties there, weather and work permitting, and it proved the greatest boon to us after long hours in hospital. As we were never free to use it in the morning we lent it to some friends, and one day a fearful catastrophe happened. Fresh water was as hard to get as in a desert, and the only way to procure any was to bribe French urchins to carry it in large tin jugs from a spring near the Casino. These people, one of whom was the big Englishman, after running up from the sea used the water they saw in the jugs to wash the sand off (after all, quite a natural proceeding) and then, in all ignorance of their fearful crime, virtuously filled them up again, but from the sea!

That afternoon Lowson happened to be giving a rather swell and diplomatic tea party. Gaily she filled the kettle and set it on the stove and then made the tea. The Matron of the hospital took a sip and the Colonel ditto, and then they both put their cups down—(I was not present, but as my friends committed the crime, you may be sure I heard all about it, and feel as if I had been). Of course the generally numerous French urchins were nowhere in sight, and everyone went home from that salt-water tea party with a terrible thirst!

A Remount Camp was established at Fort Neuillay. It was an interesting fact that the last time the fort had been used was by English troops when that part of the coast was ours. One of the officers there possessed a beagle called "Flanders." She was one of the survivors of that famous pack taken over in 1914 that so staggered our allies. One glorious "half-day" off duty, riding across some fields we started a beautiful hare. Besides "Flanders " there was a terrier and a French dog of uncertain breed, and in two seconds the "pack" was in full cry after "puss," who gave us the run of our lives. Unfortunately the hunt did not end there, as some French farmers, not accustomed to the rare sight of half a couple and two mongrels hot after a hare scudding across their fields, lodged a complaint! When the owner of the beagle was called up by the Colonel for an explanation he explained himself in this wise.

"It was like this, Sir, the beagle got away after the hare, and we thought it best to follow up to bring her back. You see, Sir, don't you?"

"Yes, I do see," said the Colonel, with a twinkle. "Well, don't let it happen again, or she must be destroyed."

A Y.M.C.A. was also established, and Mr. Sitters, the organiser, begged us to get up a concert party and amuse the men. In those days Lena Ashwell's parties were quite unknown, and the men often had to rely on themselves for entertainment. Our free time was very precious, and we were often so tired it was a great undertaking to organise rehearsals, but this Sergt. Wicks did, and very soon we had quite a good show going.

One day Mr. Sitters obtained passes for us to go far up into the English lines, and for days beforehand rehearsals were held in the oddest places, Up to the last minute we were on duty in the wards, and all those who could gave a helping hand to get us off— seven in all, as more could not be spared. It was pouring with rain, but we did not mind. We had had such a rush to get ready and collect such properties as we needed that, as often happens on these occasions, we were all in the highest spirits and the show was bound to go well.

We sped along in the ambulance, Uncle driving, and picking up Mr. Sitters en route. Our only pauses were at the barriers of the town, and on we went again. We had been doing a good 35 and had slowed up to pass some vehicles going over a bridge, when the pin came out of the steering rod. If we had not slowed up I can't imagine there would have been much of the concert party left to perform!

We pulled up and began to look for it, hoping, as it had just happened, we might see it lying on the road. Luckily for us at that moment an English officer drove up and stopped to see if he could be of any help. He heard where we were bound for, and, as time was getting on, instantly suggested we should borrow his car and driver and he would wait until it came back. Mr. Sitters was only too delighted to accept the offer as it was getting so late.

He suggested that four of us should get into the officer's car and go ahead with him and begin the show, leaving the others to follow. We were a little dubious as our Lieutenant, Sister Lampen, and "Auntie" (the Matron) were over the brow of the hill searching for the missing pin! There seemed nothing else to be done, however, so in we all bundled. The officer was very sporting and wished us "good luck" as we sped off in his car.

Farther along, as we got nearer the front, all the sentries were English which seemed very strange to us. Passing through a village where a lot of our troops were billeted they gazed in wonder and amazement at the sight of English girls in that district.

One incident we thought specially funny—It may not seem particularly so now, but when you think that for months past we had only had dealings with French and Belgian soldiers, you will understand how it amused us. Outside an Estaminet was a horse and cart partly across the road, and just sufficiently blocking it. The driver called out to a Tommy lounging outside the Inn to pull it over a little. He gave a truly British grunt, and went to the horse's head. Nothing happened for some seconds, and we waited impatiently. Presently he reappeared.

"Tied oop," he said laconically, in a broad north country accent, and washed his hands of the matter. How we laughed. Of course a Frenchman would have made the most elaborate apologies and explanations—a long conversation would have ensued, and finally salutes and bows exchanged; before we could have got on. "Tied oop" became quite a saying after that.

A F.A.N.Y. eventually coped with the matter, and on we went again. At last we espied some tents in the distance and struck off down a rutty lane in their direction. Here we said "good-bye" to our driver wondering if the other car did not turn up, just how we should get home. We plunged through mud that came well over the tops of our boots and, scrambling along some slippery duck boarding, arrived at the recreation tent. No sign of the other car, so we were obliged to draft out a fresh programme in the meantime.

We took off our heavy coats while two batmen used the back of their clasp knives to scrape off the first layers of mud (hardly the most attractive footlight wear) from our boots. We heard the M.C. announcing that the "Concert party" had arrived, and through holes in the canvas we could see the tent was full to overflowing. Cheers greeted the announcement, and we shivered with fright. There were hundreds there, and they had been patiently waiting for hours, singing choruses to pass the time.

As we crawled through the canvas at the back of the stage they cheered us to the echo. The platform was about the size of a dining table, which rather cramped our style. We always began our shows with a topical song, each taking a verse in turn, and then all singing the chorus. Towards the end of our first song the Lieutenant and the others arrived. The guns boomed so loudly at times the words were quite drowned. The Programme consisted of Recitations, Songs at the Piano, Solo Songs, Choruses, Violin, etc.; and to my horror I found they counted on me to do charcoal drawings, described out of courtesy as "Lightning sketches! " (an art only developed and cultivated at the insistence of Sergt. Wicks, who had once discovered me doing some in the wards to amuse the men). There was nothing else for it, rolls of white paper were produced and pinned on a table placed on end, and off I started. I first drew them a typical Belgian officer with lots of Medals which brought forth the remark that he "must have been through the South African Campaign!" When I got to his boots, which I did with a good high light down the centre, someone called out "Don't forget the Cherry Blossom boot polish, Miss." "What price, Kiwi?" etc. When he was finished they yelled "Souvenir, souvenir," so I handed it over amid great applause, and felt full of courage! The Crown Prince went down very well and I was grateful to him for having such a long nose. "We don't want him as no souvenir," they called—"Wish we drew our pay as fast as you draw little Willie, Miss." The Kaiser of course had his share, and in his first stages, to their great joy, evidently resembled one of their officers! (There's nothing Tommy enjoys quite so much as that.)

After the "Nut" before the war (complete in Opera hat and monocle) and "now" in khaki, I could think of nothing more, and boldly, but with some trepidation, asked if any gentleman in the audience would care to be drawn. You can imagine the scene. A tent packed with Tommies, every available place taken up, and those who could not find seats sitting on the floor right up to the edge of the stage. Yells of delight greeted the invitation, and several made as if to come forward; finally, one unfortunate was heaved up from the struggling mass on to the stage. I always noticed after this that whenever I offered to draw anyone it was always a man with absolutely no particularly "salient" feature (I think that is the term) who presented himself. This individual could best be described as "sandy" in appearance, there was simply nothing about him to caricature, I thought in despair! The remarks from the audience, which had been amusing before, now fairly bristled with wit, mostly of a personal nature. My subject became hotter and hotter as I seized the charcoal pencil and set off. "Wot would Liza say?" called out one in a horrified voice. "Don't smile, mate, yer might 'urt yer fice," called another. "Take 'is temperature, Miss," they called, as the perspiration began to roll off him in positive rivulets, and "Don't forget 'is auburn 'air," they implored. As the poor unfortunate had just been shorn like a lamb, preparatory to going into the trenches, this was particularly cutting. The remark, however, gave me an inspiration and the audience yelled delightedly while I put a few black dots, very wide apart, to indicate the shortage. When finished we shook hands to show there was no ill feeling, and quite cheerfully, with the expression of a hero, he bore his portrait off amid cheers from the men. The show ended with a song, Sergeant Michael Cassidy, which was extremely popular at that time. For those who have not heard this classic, it might be as well to give one or two verses. We each had our own particular one, and then all sang the chorus.

"You've heard of Michael Cassidy, a strapping Irish bhoy,
Who up and joined the Irish guards as Kitchener's pride and joy;
When on the march you'll hear them shout,
'Who's going to win the war?'
And this is what the khaki lads all answered with a roar :


"Cassidy, Sergeant Michael Cassidy,
He's of Irish nationality,
He's a lad of wonderful audacity,
Sergeant Michael Cassidy (bang), V.C."

Last Verse

"Who was it met a dainty little Belgian refugee
And right behind the firing line, would take her on his knee?
Who was it, when she doubted him, got on his knees and swore
He'd love her for three years or the duration of the War?"

Chorus, etc.

This was encored loudly, and someone called out for Who's your lady friend? As there were not any within miles excepting ourselves, and certainly none in the audience, it was rather amusing.

We plunged through the mud again after it was all over and were taken to have coffee and sandwiches in the Mess. We were just in time to see some of the men and wish them Good Luck, as they were being lined up preparatory to going into the trenches. Poor souls, I felt glad we had been able to do something to cheer them a little; and the guns, which we had heard distinctly throughout the concert, now boomed away louder than ever.

We had a fairly long walk back from the Mess to where the Mors car had been left owing to the mud, and at last we set off along the dark and rutty road.

One facetious French sentry insisted on talking English and flashing his lantern into the back of the ambulance, saying, "But I will see the face of each Mees for fear of an espion." He did so, murmuring "jolie—pas mal—chic," etc.! He finally left us, saying :"I am an officer. Well, ladies, good-bye all!" We were convulsed, and off we slid once more into the darkness and rain, without any lights, reaching home about 12, after a very amusing evening.

Soon after this, we started our "Pleasant Sunday Evenings," as we called them, in the top room of the hospital, and there from 8 to 9.30 every Sunday gave coffee and held impromptu concerts. They were a tremendous success, and chiefly attended by the English. They were so popular we were often at a loss for seats. Of real furniture there was very little. It consisted mostly of packing cases covered with army blankets and enormous tumpties in the middle of the floor—these latter contained the reserve store of blankets for the hospital, and excellent "pouffs" they made.

Our reputation of being able to turn our hands to anything resulted in Mr. Sitters— rushing in during 10 o'clock tea one morning with the news that two English divisions were going south from Ypres in a few days' time, and the Y.M.C.A. had been asked by the Army to erect a temporary canteen at a certain railhead during the six days they would take to pass through. There were no lady helpers in those days, and he was at his wits' end to know where to find the staff. Could any of us be spared? None of us could, as we were understaffed already, but Lieutenant Franklin put it to us and said if we were willing to undertake the canteen, as well as our hospital work, which would mean an average of only five hours sleep in the twenty-four—she had no objection. There was no time to get fresh Y.M.C.A. workers from England with the delay of passports, etc., and of course we decided to take it on, only too pleased to have the chance to do something for our own men. A shed was soon erected, the front part being left open facing the railway lines, and counters were put up. The work, which went on night and day, was planned out in shifts, and we were driven up to the siding in Y.M.C.A. Fords or any of our own which could be spared. Trains came through every hour averaging about 900 men on board. There was just time in between the trains to wash the cups up and put out fresh buns and chocolates. When one was in, there was naturally no time to wash the cups up at all, and they were just used again as soon as they were empty. Canteen work with a vengeance! The whole of the Highland division passed through together with the 37th. They sat in cattle trucks mostly, the few carriages there were being reserved for the officers. It was amusing to notice that at first the men thought we were French, so unaccustomed were they then to seeing any English girls out there with the exception of army Sisters and V.A.D.S.

"Do chocolat, si voos play," they would ask, and were speechless with surprise when we replied sweetly: "Certainly, which kind will you have? "

I asked one Scotchman during a pause, when the train was in for a longer interval than usual, how he managed to make himself understood up the line. "Och fine," he said, "it's not verra deefficult to parley voo. I gang into one o' them Estaminays to ask for twa drinks, I say 'twa' and, would you believe it, they always hand out three—good natured I call that, but I hae to pay up all the same," he added!

Naturally the French people thought he said trois. This story subsequently appeared in print, I believe.

One regiment had a goat, and Billy was let out for a walk and had wandered rather far afield, when the train started to move on again. Luckily those trains never went very fast, but it was a funny sight to see two Tommies almost throttling the goat in their efforts to drag it along, pursued by several F.A.N.Y.s (to make the pace), and give it a final shove up into a truck! Towards the end of that week the entire staff became exceedingly short tempered. The loss of sleep combined with hospital work probably accounted for it; we even slept in the jolting cars on the way back. We were more than repaid though, by the smiles of the Tommies and the gratitude of the Y.M.C.A., who would have been unable to run the canteen at all but for our help.

It was at this period in our career we definitely became known as the "F.A.N.N.Y.s"— "F.A.N.Y.," spelt the passing Tommy—"FANNY," "I wonder what that stands for?"

"First anywhere," suggested one, which was not a bad effort, we thought!

The following is an extract from an account by Mr. Beach Thomas in a leading daily:

"Our Yeomanry nurses who, among other work, drive, clean, and manage their own ambulance cars, are dressed in khaki. Their skirts are short, their hats (some say their feet), are large! (this we thought hardly kind). They have done prodigies along the Belgian front. One of their latest activities has been to devise and work a peripatetic bath. By ingenious contrivances, tents, and ten collapsible baths, are packed into a motor car which circulates behind the lines. The water is heated by the engine in a cistern in the interior of the car and offers the luxury of a hot bath to several score men."

This was our famous motor bath called "James," and belonging to "Jimmy" Gamwell. She saw to the heating of the water and the putting up of the baths, with their canvas screens sloping from the roof of the ambulance and so forming at each side a bathroom annexe. A sergeant marshalled the soldiers in at one end and in about ten minutes' time they emerged clean, rosy, and smiling at the other! The article continued: "These women have run a considerable hospital and its ambulances entirely by themselves. The work has been voluntary. By doing their own household work, by feeding themselves at their own expense (except for a few supplementary-Belgian Army rations), by driving and cleaning their own cars, they have made such a success on the economical side that the money laboriously collected in England has all been spent on the direct service of the wounded, and not on establishment charges."

A Soup Kitchen brought out by Betty also belonged to our hospital equipment. It did excellent work down at the Gare Centrale, providing the wounded with hot soup on their arrival. Great was our excitement when it was commissioned by a battery up the line. Betty and Lewis set off in high spirits, and had the most thrilling escapes and adventures in the Ypres section that would alone fill a book. They were with the Battery in the early summer when the first gas attack swept over, and caught them at "Hell fire Corner" on the Ypres-Menin road. It was they who improvised temporary masks for the men from wads of cotton wool and lint soaked in carbolic. Luckily they were not near enough to be seriously gassed, but for months after they both felt the after effects. Even where we were, we noticed the funny sulphurous smell in the air which seemed to catch one with a tight sensation in the throat, and the taste of sulphur was also perceptible on one's lips. We were to have taken turns with the kitchen, but owing to this episode the authorities considered the work too dangerous, and after being complimented on their behaviour they returned to Lamarck.

We had a lot of daylight Taube raids, Zeppelins for the moment confining all their efforts to England. It was fascinating to watch the little round white balls, like baby clouds, where the shrapnel burst in its efforts to bring the marauders down.

Very few casualties resulted from these raids and we rather enjoyed them. One that fell on the Quay killed an old white horse; and a French sailor found the handle of the bomb among the shrapnel near by and presented it to me. It seemed odd to think that such a short while before it had been in the hands of a Boche.

Jan was a patient we had who had entirely lost his speech and memory. We could get nothing out of him but an expressive shrug of the shoulders and a smile. He was a good looking Belgian of about twenty-four; and it was my duty to take him out by the arm for a short walk each morning to try and reawaken his interest in life.

One day I saw the French Governor of the town coming along on horseback followed by his ordnance (groom). How could I make Jan salute, I wondered? I knew the General was very particular about such things, and to all appearance Jan was a normal looking individual. "Faut saluer le Général, Jan," I said, while he was still some distance away, but Jan only shrugged his shoulders as much as to say, "I might do it, but on the other hand I might not!" What was I to do? As we drew nearer I again implored Jan to salute. He shrugged his shoulders, so in desperation, just as we came abreast I put my arm behind him and seizing his, brought it up to the salute! The General, whom I knew, seemed fearfully amused as he returned it, and the next time we met he asked me if I was in the habit of going for a walk arm in arm with Belgian soldiers, who had to be made to salute in such a fashion?

One day we saw an aeroplane falling. At first it was hard to believe it was not doing some patent stunt. Instead of coming down plumb as one would imagine, it fell first this way and then that, like a piece of paper fluttering down from a window. As it got nearer the earth though where the currents of air were not so powerful, it plunged straight downwards. Crowds witnessed the descent, and ran to the spot where it had fallen.

Greatly to their surprise the pilot was unhurt and the machine hardly damaged at all. It had fallen just into the sea, and its wings were keeping it afloat. The pilot was brought ashore in a boat, and when the tide went down a cordon of guards was placed round the machine till it was removed.

Bridget, our former housekeeper at the hospital, went home to England in the autumn for a rest and I was asked to take on her job. I moved to the hospital and slept in the top room, behind our sitting-room, together with the chauffeurs and Lieutenant Franklin.

I had to see that breakfast was all right, and at 7.30 lay the table in the big kitchen, get the jam out of our store cupboard, make the tea, etc. Breakfast over, I had the top room to sweep and dust, the beds to make, the linen to put out to air, and when that was done it was time to get "10 o'clocks" ready. After that I sallied forth armed with a big basket, a fat purse and a long list, and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the market.

In the afternoons there were always stacks of hospital mending to do, and then tea to get ready. Sometimes as many as twelve people—French, Belgian, or English—used to drop in, and it was no easy task to keep that teapot going; however it was always done somehow. Luckily we had a gas-ring, as it would have been an impossibility to run up and down the sixty-nine steps to the kitchen every time we wanted more hot water.

At six the housekeeper had to prepare the evening meal for 7.30, and the Flemish cooks looked on with great amusement at my concoctions—a lot of it was tinned stuff, so the cooking required was of the simplest. They always cooked the potatoes for me out of the kindness of their hearts. The reason they did not do the whole thing was that they were really off duty at six, but one of them usually stayed behind and helped.

Work at that time began to slacken off considerably.—A large hut hospital for typhoids was built and the casualties diminished, partly because most of the Belgians had already been killed or wounded, and partly because the remaining few had not much fighting to do except hold the line behind the inundations. A faint murmur reached us that a comb-out was going to take place among the British Red Cross Ambulance drivers, and we wondered who would replace them if they were sent up the line.

The anniversary of the opening of Lamarck hospital took place on the 31st October, 1915, and we had a tremendous gathering, French, English, and Belgians, described in the local rag as "une réception intime, l'élite de tout ce que la ville renferme!" The French Governor-General of the town, accompanied by two aides-de-camp, came in state. All the guests visited the wards, and then adjourned for tea to the top room where the housekeeper had to perform miracles with the gas-ring. A speech of thanks was made to the Corps, and "Scrubby" (the typhoid doctor) got up and in quelques paroles émues added his tribute as well. It was a most successful show and we thought the French Governor would never depart, he seemed to enjoy himself so much!

Our next excitement was a big Allied concert given at the Theatre. Several performances had taken place there since the one I described, but this was the first time Belgians, French, and English had collaborated.

Betty, who had been at Tree's School, was asked to recite, and I was asked to play the violin. She also got up a one-act farce with Lieutenant Raby. It is extremely hard to be a housekeeper for a hospital and work up for a concert at the same time. The only place I could practise in was the storeroom and there, surrounded by tins of McVitie's biscuits and Crosse & Blackwells, jam, I resorted when I could snatch a few minutes!

At last the day of the concert arrived and we rattled up to the Theatre in "Flossie." A fairly big programme had been arranged, and the three Allies were well represented. There was an opera singer from Paris resplendent in a long red velvet dress, who interested me very much, she behaved in such an extraordinary way behind the scenes. Before she was due to go on, she walked up and down literally snorting like a war-horse, occasionally bursting into a short scale, and then beating her breast and saying, "Mon Dieu, que j'ai le trac," which, being interpreted, means, approximately, "My God, but I have got the wind up!" I sat in a corner with my violin and gazed at her in wonder. Everything went off very well, and we received many be-ribboned bouquets and baskets of flowers, which transformed the top room for days.

All lesser excitements were eclipsed when we heard further rumours that the English Red Cross might take us over to replace the men driving for them at that time.

MacDougal and Franklin, our two Lieutenants, were constantly attending conferences on the subject.

At last an official requisition came through for sixteen ambulance drivers to replace the men by January I, 1916. You can imagine our excitement at the prospect. The very first women to drive British wounded officially! It was an epoch in women's work in France and the forerunner of all the subsequent convoys.

Simultaneously an article appeared the 2nd December, 1915, headed "'Yeowomen,' a triumph of hospital organisation," which I may be pardoned for quoting:

"A complete unit with sixteen to twenty motor ambulances, organised, worked, and driven by women, will next month be added to the British Army.

"The women will drive their own cars and look after them in every way. One single male mechanic, and that is all, is to be attached to the whole unit. These ambulances may of course be summoned from their camp to hurry over any type of winter-worn road to the neighbourhood of the firing line.

"What strength, endurance, and pluck such work demands from women can easily be understood by anyone who has ever tried to swing a car in cold weather or repair it by the roadside.

"It is a very notable fact that for the first time under official recognition women have been allowed to share in what may be called a male department of warfare.

"The Nursing Yeomanry have just extracted this recognition from the War Office and deserve every compliment that can be paid them; and the success is worth some emphasis as one of a series of victories for women workers and organisations, at the top of which is, of course, the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

"The actual work of these Yeomen nurses, who rode horseback to the dressing stations when no other means of conveyance were available, has been in progress in France and Belgium almost since war was declared. Most of their work has been done in the face of every kind of discouragement, but they were never dismayed. Their khaki uniforms on more than one occasion in Ghent made German sentries jump."(Mrs. MacDougal arranging for F.A.N.Y. work with the Belgians in September, 1914).

"This feat of the 'Yeowomen'—who have struggled against a certain amount of ridicule in England since they started a horse ambulance and camp some six or seven years ago—is worth emphasis because it is only one instance, striking but by no means unique, of the complete triumph of women workers during the past few months!"

The next question was to decide who would go to the new English Convoy, and two or three left for England to become proficient in motor mechanics and driving.

I was naturally anxious after a year with the Allies, to work for the British, but as I could not be spared from housekeeping to go to England I was dubious as to whether I could pass the test or not. Though I had come out originally with the idea of being a chauffeur, I had only done odd work from time to time at Lamarck. "Uncle," however, was very hopeful and persuaded me to take the test in France before my leave was due. Accordingly, I went round to the English Mechanical Transport in the town for the exam., the same test as the men went through. I felt distinctly like the opera lady at the concert. It was a very greasy day and the road which we took was bordered on one side by a canal and on the other by a deep and muddy ditch. As we came to a cross road the A.S.C. Lieutenant who was testing me, said, "There you see the marks where the last man I tested skidded with his car." "Yes, rather, how jolly!" I replied in my agitation, wondering if my fate would be likewise. We passed the spot more by luck than good management, and then I reversed for some distance along that same road. At last I turned at the cross roads, and after some traffic driving, luckily without any mishap, drove back to hospital. I was questioned about mechanics on the way, and at the end tactfully explained I was just going on leave and meant to spend every second in a garage! I got out at the hospital gates feeling quite sure I had failed, but to my intense relief and joy he told me I had passed, and he would send up the marks to hospital later on. I jumped at least a foot off the pavement!

I went in and told the joyful news to Lieutenant Franklin, who was to be boss of the new Convoy, while Lieutenant MacDougal was to be head of the Belgian hospital, and of the unit down at the big Convalescent dépôt in the S. of France, at Camp de Ruchard, where Lady Baird and Sister Lovell superintended the hospital, and Chris and Thompson did the driving.

It was sad to bid good-bye to Lamarck and the Belgians, but as the English Convoy was to be in the same town it was not as if we should never see them again.

"Camille," in Ward I, whose back had been broken when the dug-out collapsed on him during a bombardment, hung on to my hand while the tears filled his eyes. He had been my special case when he first arrived, and his gratitude for anything we could do for him was touching.

The Adjutant Heddebaud, who was the official Belgian head of the hospital, wrote out with many flourishes a panegyric of sorts thanking me for what I had done, which I duly pasted in my War Album; and so I said Good-bye to Lamarck and the Belgians, and left for England, December, 1915.


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