Sister is in England on sick leave that left me in command of the nursing staff…

Four medical staff, caped and gowned in white, preparing a patient in the operating theatre at Wimereux. © IWM (Q 8008)

Nov. 1918 Envelope addressed to Fred Higgins (Dorothy’s father) …. First page of letter missing ….

…. She is a terrible person, and we are praying for her six months to be up that she may go. The photo is a very flattering one and makes her look younger by a good deal than she is.

She is nevertheless very handsome and of a commanding presence, 5ft 10” and broad to match. But she is very dirty and has the manners of a cook. O could never describe her to you on paper!

Last Wednesday I had a great adventure. It was a half-holiday and I had been off all the afternoon, I went on duty at 6, in the chief surgical ward. It was quite slack as to work and I was trotting along famously when in plunged the medicin de garde with a man on a stretcher from the town who had a strangulated hernia. He was in terrible pain and would probably have to be operated on at once. I was told to put him to bed and give him a hypodermic of morphine, which I did, but they wouldn’t let me prepare him for the op. Then the house-surgeon came along and examined him wanted the op as soon as possible. Would I go and see if the two nurses (the Belgians are in the theatre) of the salle d’operations were in, if not would I ask Matron to designate someone to come. Well I flew over and the two theatre nurses were out and Matron had gone out in the village and wouldn’t be back for half an hour! Well as Sister is in England on sick leave that left me in command of the nursing staff as senior pro!! So I collected someone to do my work in the ward and with the aid of the house surgeon who came to choose his instruments, and being a decent old bird made himself very useful, as well as a theatre orderly we got things ready and then Matron and one of the theatre nurses cropped up. Matron shaved the bloke and then they operated at once. They were just able to save the intestine: another hour or so and they would have had to cut a piece out and stitch up the ends, and that’s a devils game. We didn’t get him settled down and cleared up in the theatre till nearly ten and so the operator, the anaesthetist, the theatre nurse and I had a belated supper with drinks in the doctor’s mess. It was quite an adventure for me!!

Before I forget SM means Service Militaire, one can also put CM (correspondence militaire) of FM (franchise militaire) The letters are rarely if ever censored as they are stamped with the hospital cachet and are supposed to be alright. I always feel however that it makes it necessary to be all the more careful although I often long to tell you things.

I went to see Mr Trower’s nephew and wrote to him that same night and had a very nice letter from uncle C. I saw a Staniland girl who is VAD at No2, not to speak to though. She is one of the Spilsby ones ( Charles daughter?) Dorothy Mass would know which. They live somewhere out East Kirkby way I think. There are two sisters and a boy or two: I always used to see them at the Spilsby Tournament. There is one plain girl with a very sallow complexion. He name might be Violet but I’m not sure. Isabel came off night duty on Saturday and we went to Caudebec together for Sunday. It was a heavenly day and everything was looking lovely. Yesterday was raw and cold again and to-day is very wet, but we have had some glorious weather.

Do ask M if she has a moment to design me a pattern with bandage roses for a chemise top as the nuns would do it awfully nicely for me if I had a good design. They should have trails of leaves too.

I have no more news

Best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy

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Mrs T

Beyond the day job, the housework and the garden I love to delve into local and family history. I also love to get involved in local projects. Recent research for Alford Manor House has combined the two and led to obsession.

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