I think there is a chance of our disbanding in April or May…

25th December 1918      HMB

My dearest Mother

Thank you very much for your Christmas letter and also for both your gifts.

I hear that some more of our letters have gone astray so you may not have had the hasty scrawl I sent you for Christmas. I hope you got the parcel though as I sent it to England by hand. The basket was for you of course. It is rather a pretty one I thought and made by a wounded French solider. The breeks are for M: I fear it is a dull present but hope she may like it. The terrine was a little armistice extravagance, very little. I hope it was good.

The other little things for nurse, Mrs CHH, Lib and Nanny, I knew you would distribute for me.

I have been quite busy to-day. I got up at 5:45 and went down to Early service at 6:45 in the garrison church. Then I came back and breakfasted and then spent the morning doing ADC to Matron distributing presents to the patients and orderlies. At 9 o’clock went and sang two choruses in the hospital capel at Mass. We have been rehearsing them for our entertainment to-night but the Aumonier (chaplain) wanted to have them at the mass as well. We are going to sing them tonight.

They are two choruses from a Christmas oratorio by Saint-Saens. The first is “Quare fremuerunt gentes” or our old friend “ Why do the heathen so furiously rage together“ etc: it certainly is a very good description when we all get going!

Some of the wards are most beautifully decorated: the men spent days of patient toil on them. At mid0day we had a huge Christmas dinner and then I and two others were fetched by ambulance and went off to play in a mixed hockey match at one of the camps. It was a thundering good game: we lost but only 3-1: our forwards couldn’t shoot straight! Too much Christmas fare perhaps!! Then we had tea in the officers mess and were driven back again. I have been fearfully busy lately especially with my best nurse on leave. We have simply heaps of patients now that the wounds are healing up.

Isabel Beatty sailed last Friday for India: rather rotten having to go so near Christmas.

Your account of the election thrilled me to the marrow bones: how I hated missing it, the first one I have ever missed since my cradle. I was surprised to hear of Father voting twice: I thought plural voting had been abolished: I’m awfully glad it hasn’t. Fraser writes to tell me that she has received your parcels for me. Your Christmas letter came very quickly: I got it on the 23rd. We don’t yet know when we shall leave here: probably end of Feb: or beginning of March.

The Colonel has asked for us to go to Brussels with the hospital and stay a short while to see them installed, so I think there is a chance of our disbanding in April or May.

I am fearfully keen to go up to Belgium: it will be such a unique and thrilling experience.

I think you worked simply splendidly for the election: for a person of your age it was simply marvellous.

I must dry up now: I’m going to write to M.

Best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy.

*******

5th December 1918                            HMB 
My dearest Father

Thank you very much for the money which arrived safely. We are busy with preparations for Christmas and shall be fearfully busy soon. As for coming home, I don’t know when that will be as, from all accounts, Belgium is far from being habitable at present and the hospital is supposed to be going to Brussels as soon as possible and the Medecin Principal  has invited me to accompany it which I should like to do, just to see the move safely accomplished and get the service running smoothly, and someone securely installed as my successor before I leave. Si I don’t expect to be home before April or May, but these are after all mere surmises and conjectures: things may turn out quite differently. Will you please ask mother to send my sugar to Miss Higgins c/o Miss Fraser, 14 Lansdowne Crescent, Cheltenham and put to await arrival on the parcel. Fraser is going on leave in a few days and will bring it back with her.

My fountain pen is empty so I must perforce use pencil.

Dr Stouffs has been away for 10 days on leave to Belgium to see his mother who is ill: there was a doctor nominally in charge of the shop but he only came in for about 20 minutes each morning and even then I had to examine the patients with him as he didn’t know how to test the nerves and muscles by electricity, so it was rather a heavy responsibility for me and I was jolly glad to see the Dr back. The journey is awful he says: it took him 33 hours to get from Brussels to Ghent in the train a distance of 100 kilometres only only!! Food in Brussels is scarce and very dear but in the country it is better.

We are becoming very full up in the electricity as the wounds heal and the men are able to come for treatment and they are sending batches of convalescent men down from other hospitals for electricity, X ray, etc.

I hope Archie will get in all right, it will be a damned shame if he doesn’t. Has M had any news of Robin? I do so wonder if she made and despatched that cake for me: if she did I fear it has been pinched, if she hasn’t get her to send it to the same address as the sugar.

Must stop now

Best love to you all

Your loving D

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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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