It was so ripping seeing you all again…

Netley Abbey

Netley Abbey Nave 1909 : http://www.hampshire-history.com

SS Normania

11/04/1917

My Dearest Mother

Here I am stuck again: it is a rotten business. We didn’t go last night and I shall be very astonished if we go tonight: it is simply too sickening. It spoils everything to be kept hanging about like this. The weather is very rough and the rumours fly thick and fast. I have the other VAD from No. 2 as a stable companion. We got ourselves put together as it is more cheerful to be with a person one knows. I simply hate being stuck like this: now my leave is over I want to get back to my work and simply can’t bear loafing around here. This morning we walked out to Netley and gazed on the hospital from a respectful distance: we also inspected the ruins of Netley Abbey which are extensive and very fine.

This afternoon we went to the pictures, I am deadly bored.

I enjoyed my leave so much and it was so ripping seeing you all again. You were so good to me and so generous, it isn’t just the money you spent for me it is the way it was done and I do thank you awfully now though for the life of me I couldn’t have done it yesterday when I said goodbye to you.

The weather is foul rain and hail and snow and wind all the time.

The Red Cross people at 83 Pall Mall are indeed failing. They have lost my receipt for my carnet. I ought to have noticed that it was not there but had such a sheaf that I didn’t miss it till I was looking over my papers in the train. It was jolly careless of them all the same as the papers were all clipped together.

My Belgian leave paper will be overdue with this rotten hold up. I think I shall be able to get my carnet out of the Havre people all right as I know its number.

I must dry up now: I am too gloomy to write anymore: my travellings are indeed ill fated.

Best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Suddenly up came the British Army fire brigade…..

Dorothy Feb 1916 Rouen7/3/1917

My Dearest Mother

I should have written on Sunday but I was on duty all day and the rest I had some important work to do arranging our new tool-house and potting shed, and looking over our seed–boxes and stores of sand and leaf mould ready for our consignment of seeds. The authorities had given me a tiny room about 6 ½ feet by 7 1/2 feet for my potting shed at one end of the scehoir (sechoir is the drying house where washing is dried and is always very warm)  We had got the carpenter to put us up some shelves made from old packing cases and we were awfully bucked with it.

Monday afternoon I was just tidying up in the electricity room and glanced out of the window and saw columns of smoke pouring up I went outside to see it and flew back telling Tim and Nick that there was a fire close to our hut. So we all tore over and found the Sechoir and the Magasin with the Swedes quarters (medical gymnasts and masseuses) blazing. We had orders to clear our hut completely and the doctors and soldiers set to work to help us. In about 10 or 15 minutes all of our clothes, books, china, camp beds, packing cases, tables, chairs and everything were buzzed out of the windows or carried to a safer space farther into the hospital.

We never expected to see half our things again. Then the roof of the garden house (thatched) caught fire just about ten feet from our hut and we thought that all was up. They were certain our hut would turn next, suddenly up came the British Army fire brigade (a ripping motor fire engine belonging to the base) and it got here before the village fire brigade or the Rouen fire brigade!!!

They certainly saved us and thanks to them our hut was saved though it was jolly well scorched at the far end.

There were two of my patients who worked like angels for me. The job was afterwards to go round and pick up one’s things from the strips of ground where everything had been placed higgledy piggledy. I got these two boys to collect all our things and put them in the electricity room. It was a long way, but I could lock them up and there wasn’t any danger of anyone stealing anything, and I think it is due to that that we have recovered all our things, at least not all, but a great many. Of course we were told to make claims to the Belgian Givt for our losses which I have done accordingly – What no amount of restitution can set right is the loss ofour garden; I say loss for it is nearly dead. There must have been a hundred people trampling on the four beds. One between the mess hall and our hut was full of daffys just beginning to peep and it has been literally ploughed up. I suppose we shall get it right in time but following on the record of frost and bitter cold – which have already frozen and killed many of our treasures it is a bitter blow and has grieved Tim and I more than anything. The sight of it is simply heart breaking.

By the by, before I forget it, by all means send me your Times, I am always a week or so behind hand, so if you sent them once a week it would do beautifully. I am sorry to say that my nice friend Miss Hunter is going this week perhaps for good. You remember she was one of my fellow prisoners on the boat.

I am afraid I shall not be able to take leave till the beginning of April as there is no one to replace me. I simply can’t leave Tim and Nick in the electrotherapy alone: there is more work than we three can properly manage already and now we are just starting radiotherapy, which is most complicated and delicate work.   I am sending this specially as our posts to and from England are held up!!! Shhh !!!

Best love your loving Dorothy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now don’t begin to worry about U boats….

Dorothy Feb 1916 Rouen26/2/1917

I hurried Father’s letter off in order that you should have some news of me, and in the meanwhile received your thrilling letter of the 18th. I do hope your news was true. I still contend that we are no worse off since the final Hun declaration of submarine frightfulness: I could tell you one or two stories, but it would mean my letter being severely censored or perhaps destroyed so I musn’t. However I hope I shall be able to tell you these stories myself sometime before many moons have passed.

I have been terrifically busy this last week: lots of new men with the inevitable examining and radiographing many of them. Yesterday was our Sunday off. We (Tim and I) stayed in bed to brekker and made chocolate and fried eggs on our Tommy’s cookers. Then we did lots of little things till lunch time and after lunch we walked off to a wood we wotted of [old English means we knew of] and dug up primrose roots and brought them home and planted them in the garden.

I was hugely tickled about Michael’s language, I told the story to Tim and she says he takes after his Godmother!!

By the by you will probably have a bill for seeds from Ryder and another from Pennell. I will refund you the money: I have it here in subscriptions from the staff, but thought it would be easier to pay you a lump sum as I don’t know what the postage exps will be or anything. If you will settle their accounts at once when they come in I shall get the seeds quicker that way.

By the by, what happened to Betty Botham’s arm, anything? I suppose not.

The purple stuff arrived on Saturday having been despatched on Jan 10th. I hope it has been long enough!!  Tim is now busy cutting it up into lengths and tacking it together

I must dry up now

With best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy

PS. Expect me home on leave in about a fortnight to three weeks time: I have just asked and got permission to take from about March 12th – 27th or something of the sort.
Now don’t begin to worry about U boats….: everyone is taking leave as usual and if I don’t snatch my chance now heaven knows when I shall get any leave. I’m looking forward to it no end and I shall prune all the roses and spend your birthday with you which will be ripping.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lord preserve me from female doctors: I wouldn’t ever go near one…….

IMG_20150426_000221/2/1917

My Dearest Mother

Has everyone else had spotted fever? What asses Mrs B &L are to be sure.

I hope your cold and chill have quite gone now: you have been rather a poor thing haven’t you. I think John and Elsie are very wise not to come home this year though it is hard for them and us. If the Indian jams bore you dreadfully; we will have them with pleasure!! But don’t send them out just now.

I don’t know if I said much about Beatrice and her woes last time I wrote. What has she got? Muscular arthritis does not and cannot exist!! You might as well say varicose arthritis!! They have either got hold of the wrong end of the stick (not the first time either) or else the Doctor woman has been pulling their legs. Lord preserve me from female doctors: I wouldn’t ever go near one if I could help it.

I don’t know if I thanked you heartily for making up my War Loan to a round sum: I shall refund it to you out of my savings.

I hope that brute Archie B will be sent somewhere very nasty and get something very nasty!!

May’s cigarettes have just arrived, I will write to them at once – I think it will be far the best thing to have the interest on my War Loan paid direct into the Savings Bank. When those beastly bits of brown paper come out here they are always a nightmare to me till I have got them safely signed and posted back again.

I will write to Mrs Baron myself about Matron’s letter. Do you know if Matron said anything about my character or if she merely wrote and signed a statement that I’d done 13 months work? Do ask Mrs B. I was most amused about the Riddall girls: it certainly does serve them right.

I suppose Audrey B is simply raking in the dibs.

I had a long letter from M telling me about her diffs with coal etc.

26/2/1917

I hurried Father’s letter off in order that you should have some news of me, and in the meanwhile received your thrilling letter of the 18th. I do hope your news was true. I still contend that we are no worse off since the final Hun declaration of submarine frightfulness: I could tell you one or two stories, but it would mean my letter being severely censored or perhaps destroyed so I musn’t. However I hope I shall be able to tell you these stories myself sometime before many moons have passed.

I have been terrifically busy this last week: lots of new men with the inevitable examining and radiographing many of them. Yesterday was our Sunday off. We (Tim and I) stayed in bed to brekker and made chocolate and fried eggs on our Tommy’s cookers. Then we did lots of little things till lunch time and after lunch we walked off to a wood we wotted of [old English means we knew of] and dug up primrose roots and brought them home and planted them in the garden.

I was hugely tickled about Michael’s language, I told the story to Tim and she says he takes after his Godmother!!

By the by you will probably have a bill for seeds from Ryder and another from Pennell. I will refund you the money: I have it here in subscriptions from the staff, but thought it would be easier to pay you a lump sum as I don’t know what the postage exps will be or anything. If you will settle their accounts at once when they come in I shall get the seeds quicker that way.

Tim’s brother is ill again with his insides: it is sickening for him poor man as he has only just recovered from two fractured clavicles!!  By the by, what happened to Betty Botham’s arm, anything? I suppose not.

The purple stuff arrived on Saturday having been despatched on Jan 10th. I hope it has been long enough!!  Tim is now busy cutting it up into lengths and tacking it together

I must dry up now

With best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy

PS Expect me home on leave in about a fortnight to three weeks time: I have just asked and got permission to take from about March 12th – 27th or something of the sort. Now don’t begin to worry about U boats: everyone is taking leave as usual and if I don’t snatch my chance now heaven knows when I shall get any leave. I’m looking forward to it no end and shall prune all the roses and spend your birthday with you which will be ripping.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Did they have much skating on the brickpits ?

Dorothy Feb 1916 Rouen21/2/1917

My Dearest Father

I don’t know when this will reach you as one of our girls has been at Havre for over four days waiting to go home on leave. However here goes. The cold has quite gone but it is horribly foggy and raw: a nasty damp feeling which eats into one’s bones and personally I feel it much more unpleasantly than the dry frosty cold. I hope your leg is quite all right now: you will have to have a little electrical treatment with me!! Fancy poor old Siddy breaking his arm! I do hope he is having plenty of massage and medical gymnastics they are so essential. He ought to have started a few days after the fracture.

I suppose all the War Loan business is concluded now: it is a blessing they will let one condense all one’s scraps: it is much more sensible. Captain Shaw must have had a nice long leave: how lucky for him to have skating. Did they have much skating on the brickpits: there is a lot of flooded land round here and there has been nearly 3 weeks skating, but of course it is all finished now and is very muddy indeed.

To-day I have been fearfully busy there were thirty new men came in and Dr Stouffs examined them all and kept calling me to undo and do up dressings and so forth and so on. Then we took ten x-ray plates one after another: I never left the room between 11 and 12.15 and it was one wild rush. It is no end of a job: dressings to undo, limbs to fix in the proper position, focus the apparatus, fix the plate, write the men’s names down tell the doctor that I’m ready for him and then he comes to see if my preliminary arrangements are correct and the we take the photo. He regulates the tube and I work the switches and regulate the current and time the exposure. We have a lot of new apparatus coming and we are going to do Radiotherapy or treatment by X-rays.

Last week we dined with Miss Hunter, we got special late leave and had some bridge afterwards. It was great fun and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We had to walk up as the trams stop running pretty early.

Have you been very short for sugar? Everyone in France is on tickets, we are very severely rationed here but have enough really.

I must dry up now as I am going to write a few lines to Mother.

Best Love

Your loving Dorothy

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have got leave until 11, a great event!

IMG_20150426_0002

12.2.1917                                                                               HM Bonsecours

My dearest Mother

How is life? It is a little less cold here or I am acclimatised. My chaps and chilblains are almost gone and dont trouble me anymore. I hope you have got all those papers by now. I sent them off a few days ago by registered post. The wire about the glasses was in reply to a letter from M. saying that Robin wanted a pair of glasses and couldn’t get hold of them and they are almost un-buyable now, and would I lend him mine: she was very good and said of course I must say no if I didn’t wish to let them go. I have always felt rather a scrub for hugging them up so I sent them rather wired you to send them. I suppose he is still in England.

Did I tell you I have a most amusing patient Brigadier General Umfreville (English despite his name), he is Inspector General of the Military Prisons with the B.E.F. or some such title. He is a most amusing man and comes to me 3 times a week. You will no doubt say , “why does he go to a Belgian hospital”. Well because there are no physiotherapy hospitals in France and he would have otherwise to go home to England and lose his job!! For the same reason I have a Colonel Barton-Smith, also on the staff here sergt-major Parkin. They get to know some Belgian officer who introduces them to the Medecin-chef here, who is delighted to have them as it brings kudos to his hospital.

The latest German frightfulness seems to be a rather empty affair, personally I don’t think it will make much difference. The Seine is almost completely frozen over in some places and the narrower channels between the islands and the mainland are quite blocked with the broken ice. The tugs charge the ice and break it up as well as they can.

To-morrow night Tim and I are having an early dinner with Miss Hunter and are going to play bridge afterwards. We have got leave until 11, a great event! We went to tea with her at the canteen last week which was quite amusing. Last Sunday afternoon we went to the Opera, Cavalleria Rusticana and L Femme. They were quite good on the whole we enjoyed ourselves very much.

Would you please ask Father if he could send me a little money, I am nearing the rocks save for my dress allowance.

I must dry up now

Your loving Dorothy

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Even the flowers in our vases freeze solid……..

D Higgins 1915 IWMMy Dearest Mother                                                            24.1.17

All we can think or talk about is the cold. We have 8 degrees of frost in our barracks (of course Tim and I are warm and cosy thanks to the stove we bought with your Christmas present) and everything is frozen as hard as board. Even the flowers in our vases freeze solid. Little currents of ice cold air seem to pour through the cracks in the boards and the only really hot place is bed!! We are on a very strict ration of coal too as it is almost impossible to get hold of in France. The frost and cold have increased steadily during the last ten days and we have allsorts of frozen water-taps and things. All the rheostats for the electrical treatment are liquid and we spent ages this morning thawing them before we could start work, and the damptowels too which were just like blocks of wood.

Personally I am not suffering much from the cold except for the beastly chillblains on my feet and chapped hands. The former don’t break, thank the lord, but I have cracks all over my hands, it is the inevitable dabbling in salt water and Iodide of Potassium solution all day. I’m bound to use them in my work. However I’m full of beans and my tail is well up, thank heaven. I gather from Father that he is going to convert my war loan stock into 5% stock. I am going to send you £12 home to add to it. I suppose I can realise all these odd sums I have in war certificates and make another £50 cant I. I don’t know how much I have in odd sums but t must be a fair amount. If I can’t well I can’t, but it seems to me it would be practical to do that and have it all concentrated. However you can tell me next time you write.

I have signed the green paper and I am enclosing it in this letter. Father says something about his shin being better thanks to your careful dressing: a detailed scrutiny of his previous letters fails to extract and mention of damage to the said tibia: what has he been doing? Bumping into something on a dark night I expect!!

There are lots of things I would like to tell you about but they would probably lead to the destruction of the letter so I wont.

 

Thanks awfully for the stores list: it is interesting to compare prices. What do you think people are paying for coal here in Rouen Frs 180 (between £6 & £7) for a French ton which is not quite as much as an English ton. And it is very difficult to get even at that price!

I do hope you are better. I will write again soon.

With very best love to you both.

Your loving Dorothy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh how cold it is. We have snow and frost and rain and sleet by turns……

 

IMG_20150426_000217/01/1917                                                                                         HMB

My Dearest Mother

Oh how cold it is. We have snow and frost and rain and sleet by turns and damp fog squeezed in between. I hope Heals have sent our stuff off: we are dying to have it.

We have got our stove (paraffin) now we call it “stuffy” as it stinks somewhat. However it warms our little dog kennel nicely. I don’t suffer from the cold except for chilblains, but those are very tiresome: my left foot is absolutely blobby with the beastly things and, as you know, I never have chilblains at home. However electrical treatment is excellent for them and so I am now giving   myself a dose of electricity every day.

Tim has been seedy off and on: the flu has played Hades with her liver and it is taking a long time and very careful diet to get her right. My leave is due in a few weeks, but I shall apply for it a bit later and try to get leave for the end of March or the beginning of April. It will be decent weather then and I shall be able to go about a bit and prune the roses!!

We are forcing bulbs with fair success in the sechoir. The sechoir be it known is a big hut full of stoves and drying linen. In it under the windows I have a shelf which the hospital carpenter put up for me. It is about a yard wide and three or four yards long. So it is almost like a greenhouse and we find it awfully useful.

I hope M and the child haven’t been falling about any more. Poor thing she seems to be having a rotten time just now with her movings.

I was intensely tickled at your description of Vear. And he used to be such a cautious person about his health too!!

Do what you like with my investments: I have got £10 to send you home: £5 from your and Father Christmas money and Uncle Charlie’s cheque. I gather from Father that he is going to transfer my bigger stuff into the new loan. Can’t some of the smaller investments go too? or is that not feasible?

I went up to No2 on Saturday, the day I got Father’s communication to call on Colonel Grant-Thorold (Harry I suppose) and found he had left for England on Thursday: so I expect he is going on well.

I must stop now or this will miss the post.

Best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The weather is absolutely poisonous……

D Higgins 1915 IWM09/01/1917                   HMB

My Dearest Mother

Thank you very much for your letters, papers and the sweet little calendar. I should have written before but that Tim has been seedy again. The flu has left her with a bad liver and she is awfully easily tired and gets giddy and sick so often and has to diet carefully. It is rotten for her poor girl.

The weather is absolutely poisonous it pours all day, either rain or snow and is beastly cold too. We have got Matron’s permission to have an oil stove in our room and we shall go and choose it tomorrow if Tim is well enough. I had a letter from Uncle Charlie with a cheque for £5 in it: wasn’t it kind of him. I shall send it back with £6 of your and Father’s money and you’d better get it put into War Stock of some kind if you will please – isn’t there a new loan coming out?

I had a ripping book from Nurse which caused us intense amusement. I gather Ford Sandall is at home: I had a Christmas card from him which came from Sutton.

I must end this brief epistle as it is post-time.

More soon

Best love to you both

From your loving Dorothy

I got the Indian Photo all right.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Best love and the best of luck for 1917 to you both…….

D Higgins 1915 IWM27/12/1916      HMB

My dearest Mother

I have already written to thank you for your Christmas present but this is a kind of general letter to wish you both a happier New Year.

I had a card from Ford Sandall at Sutton-on-Sea so I expect he is going on all right.

There seem to have been many deaths at Alford for which our brilliant medico seems to be much responsible. I wonder he has not been ruled out of the profession or “called up”!!

Did you have your day with M? Father tells me she is to move to Seaforth. Thank you very much for the Psalm It was quite witty. I have been so busy and I haven’t known where to look. Tim was quite ill with flu till 2 days before Christmas. It took the form of a chill on the liver and for five days she had practically nothing but hot barley water.When she got over the sickness she had to be dieted very carefully for a day or two.

I was preparing the men’s Christmas party and our own party on Boxing night and doing Tim’s work and my own work and I was nearly dead. However she made a rapid recovery and was able to make a lot of our scenery.

Granny seems to have had a nasty cold poor old thing. Is she all right now? Your Christmas letter arrived duly on Christmas morning. I longed to be with you, Christmas seems so strange out here always. Of course Granny is not to give me a present I quite understand.

This will have to be finished now it is post time. I will write again soon and tell you about our Boxing night plays.

Best love and the best of luck for 1917 to you both.

Your very loving Dorothy.

I haven’t forgotten or lost the warrant: I’ll try and get it off this afternoon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment