Thanks to reduced weight I made a passable figure as a Tommy …


IWM Q108171
Members of the VAD providing Christmas entertainment for the patients in a hospital on the Western Front, 1917                                       IWM Q10871

31/12/17 & 2/1/18   HMB

My dearest Mother

Thanks awfully for putting money in the War Lottery for me: I gather that we haven’t had any luck as a family but never mind, it’s a bit more to help with the war.

As to “Mme de Marneffe” continuing her work here I think that is highly probable: but it depends on developments.

The Sutton film is here and I will make some prints of it as soon as we have any water to develop or rather fix the prints. We are in the grip of frost and snow with an icy biting wind: it thaws occasionally and promptly re-freezes and all the roads are like glass.

I am very glad to hear that Vear is better: I expect he will get quite all right in time.

Poor old W Brown. I can hear him now saying “ Was you ‘urt miss!”

Poor Mrs Sandall: I do hope Irene got through her op successfully and is going on well. I had a letter from her today. I had a letter from Colonel Sandall some time ago. He seems to like his new job very much.

I got the Caldecote Magazine and Calendar a few days ago: it is jolly to have news of all ones contemporaries. Several of my friends have got married and many of the married ones have increased the population like patriotic Englishwomen.

I will send you a photo of myself in a kilt presently. Thanks to reduced weight I made a passable figure as a Tommy and in fact broke several hearts pro term. We had a fancy dress party and dance in the mess on Thursday night and went in our kilts: it was tremendous fun.

The doctors came in to dinner with us on Christmas day and we had a great feast with much drink! We had a good turkey but I longed to be with you and see Father laying about him with a carving knife on the corpse of a noble bird!!

What has happened to my watch: I would never have sent it to old Leonard Hall if I’d known what an age he was going to keep it. Do ring him up and strafe him : I do want it so badly. I got the one from the stores nearly a month ago.

I went to midnight mass here on Christmas eve: got home about 1:15 did up some parcels and tumbled off to sleep about 1:45 and was routed out of bed by the night nurse at 5:45 and went to 6:45 early service at the Garrison Church. Then after breakfast I assisted Matron and worked till dinner time (12) In the afternoon the ward nurses had entertainments in their wards and teas and we others got ready for the evening and rehearsed the reels feverishly with a piper!

We had always done them with violin and piano before and it is streets more difficult with the pipes as the cadence is so much less marked. However the dance went off extremely well and was a howling success as were also the Swedes dances (folk dances in National costume) which were awfully fascinating .

The next day we did our dance again in the fracture ward where there were patients in extensions who couldn’t come to see the show on Christmas night and I sang to them.

On Thursday night the Swedes organised a subscription party in the mess: we all gave small sum and they did the catering. We have had several such parties this Winter and they are great fun. We all went in fancy dress and I wore my kilt again and we danced and played games and had a high old time.

Friday night I had an invitation to a Swedish Christmas party at their house in the village. Several of us went down and we had a very merry evening. I have got a new pal, not to takes Tim’s place of course, but it is jolly not to be so lonely. Her name is Isabel Beatty, and her father is a retired Naval man (Captain Michael Beatty RN) is he in Kelly? and a kind if relation to Sir David. They are Ulster Irish folk. Her Mother died about 2 years ago. She is a little older than I am but not in her ways and is a pretty dark girl with good colouring and shorter and slimmer than I. She is sharing my room with me now as there are some new people coming shortly. Unfortunately she has to go home at the end of her six months as she has one sister and they take it in turns to stay at home with their father who is old and not very strong.

We went to Manon on Sunday, not very well sung but the music is charming and the orchestra played it well.

Would you look out those coloured engravings of the Western Front which I brought home and send me the titles as there are some more I am having presented to me, but I don’t want to get the same ones twice. Also would you pack up my white sweater ready to send to any address I may send you later, and get me a new navy blue fleecy muffler as we went out in the ambulance the other day to fetch in a man from a place about 20 kilometres away who’d torn his hand in a circular saw and he had no sling s I made him one out of my scarf and somehow I didn’t fancy it again afterwards so I gave it to him for keeps.

I must dry up now.

Best Love to you all and a Happy New Year

your loving D


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Mrs T

Beyond the day job, and the garden, I love to delve into local and family history. While pursuing one project other snippets frequently distract me, resulting in the eclectic mix of tales from the past found here.

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