On the 11th of this month her Gracious Majesty Queen Mary visited us…

Queen Mary of Teck arriving at Belgian Hospital Rouen

THE OFFICIAL VISITS TO THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 (Q 2562) Arrival of Queen Mary of Teck at a Belgian hospital at Rouen, 11th July 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205078963

July 1917 HMB

My Dearest Mother

I don’t know what has been happening to my last letter to you for you evidently haven’t got it. It certainly hasn’t gone astray for the reasons you thought for I never said a word.

I may tell you now that on the 11th of this month her Gracious Majesty Queen Mary visited us. We knew towards the end of June that she was coming: imagine my disgust at not being able to tell you !!

Sir Arthur Sloggett and the base Commandant came here beforehand to make arrangements and so forth. Tim and I worked like slaves early and late to get the garden just so, in case she went round that way, though we knew it was just to be a very short visit and entirely to see the atelier and the treatment (physiotherapy) as it is something like her own hospital at Rosehampton.

Whent the day came we spent a hectic morning getting everything in the Electric Room into order for 11 O’Clock, we assembled a clean decently dressed and interesting set of patients. Then having put them all ready we scuttled across and assembled with the others outside the big gymnasium where there was a class of amputees who were to display their prowess. The Queen went to see the atelier first and then came straight to the gymnasium where we were drawn up as a guard of honour and Tim was to present a bouquet as she is the senior VAD (she and I are joint seniors as we came together but they chose her as she is the elder much to my relief, besides she has been presented and knows the pattern) Presently the sound of cars approaching thrilled us to the marrow-bones and we all stood at the stiffest of attentions…

A magnificent dark green Rolls Royce Landaulette open with the crown on the front and flying a white flag drew up and out stepped the Queen and to our surprise and delight the Prince of Wales as well. The Queen had some more people (Belgians) presented to her as she got up and then she walked towards the gym between our serried ranks, we curtseying as she passed and she smiling and bowing to us.

Then Tim stepped forward and presented her bouquet: she did it splendidly with an air befitting a descendant of ancient Welsh kings. The Queen accepted it most gratefully and spoke a few words to Tim and then Miss Loveday was presented and the Queen went into the Gym and we fled to our places we three back to the Electro as fast as we could to prepare for her visit there. All the men were in their places and we had about 35 patients for electricity and about the same number for radiant light and hot air treatments, the room looked pretty interesting. It was not a fake at all as we are as full as that at certain times in the day. We put the current on and then stood against the wall. I forgot to say that there were swarms of red hats and a lady in waiting.

We put on the current to all our patients so that her majesty would really see everything and a pair of our most interesting stereoscopic radiograph plates on the lantern. The Queen came all round the room and was very interested in the movements obtained by rhythmic interrupted current and smiled and nodded to us as she passed. The Prince, whose coming especially delighted Tim of course, asked questions of several of the men and seemed to find our department most entertaining. Then came a surprise. General Deltenre, our medical principal, beckoned to me as he passed me just behind the Queen and whispered “ Je vais vous presenter a la porte”, so Matron told me to scuttle on and I scuttled.

On the threshold of my workshop I,Dorothy Higgins, a humble VAD was presented to her Majesty as the senior nurse of the hospital. I was very nervous as you may guess, but made a respectable curtsy ( so Matron told me afterwards) and shook hands with the Queen. She asked me how long I had been here, and then said how beautifully fitted up our Electric Department was and then was whisked off by Sir Arthur Sloggett as they were late. I was thrilled to the marrow I can tell you.

Royalist to the core as we have always been you can have no idea how much more inspiring  and glorious it is to see one’s Queen when one is exiled in some other rotten place not one’s own land. I felt I should like to tell her how splendid and all that it was to see our own Queen and have the honour of her visit. I hope she read what was going on inside me because of course I only gave polite and subdued replies to her remarks, and if I had given tongue I should certainly have been in the Daily Mail like little Percy the munition girl’s child or something of the sort !! Which would have disgraced the family dreadfully !!! A half holiday was given in honour of her visit but I had to spend an hour of it helping the doctor (Stouffs) to give a treatment of radiotherapy to a poor old Frenchwoman who has cancer very badly…It was rather an ordeal as she was very bad poor old thing …it was a pretty hot afternoon so you can guess I was nearly asphyxiated by the time I had finished two irradiations done her dressing again and packed her off. She was so terrified at first poor old bird although we assured her that she would feel nothing (it is just the electric action of the rays of course) that she prayed fervently and incessantly for the first five minutes.

Next day Sister, Tim and I went biking to see a famous Norman Abbey Church about 12km from Rouen. It was close to the chateau which had been lent for Queen Mary and we saw her again in her car whizzing along and we cheered like village folk.

The Belgians were astonished and impressed at our personal loyalty. They said they’d always heard that the English were very loyal but they didn’t know we were so strong. One doctor who tried to assure me that the King drank was awfully astounded when I told him that for two pins I’d knock him down and pull his nose. He could hardly believe at first that I was furiously angry and said rather plaintively “Well I‘ve always been told to be careful what I say to the English about their Royalties, now I know” I told him it was damned bad form and that I should never think of going up to a Belgian and saying that the late King Leopold was a lousy immoral old dog, although I had been led to believe that his private life was somewhat irregular. He said he shouldn’t have been offended if I had and so I told him that he ought to be whereupon he begged my pardon for treading on my national corns and it shouldn’t occur again.

I wish you could let me see those two accounts in the D.T. I would take great care of them and return them as soon as done with. Also could you keep and look out to see if there were any accounts in any of the female weekly papers “Lady’s Pie”, Lady’s Field”  etc. as her primary object in coming to France was to see what the women of England were doing there as war work. I am fearfully busy just now, we have had a tremendous clear out of the hospital and lots of new men coming in.

Could you send me my grubby old blue drill skirt with kind of trouser pockets in it: I want it for gardening as it will wash so easily.

Best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy

No I don’t want any money thank you.

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The chateau is a façade flanked by round towers with painted pepper pot tops …

Château_de_Pont-Saint-Pierre24/6/1917  HMB

My Dearest Mother

I hope you have got the war loan certificate all right. I had Janette Taylor up here yesterday to say goodbye: she is going home on Saturday. She will get to open day, lucky girl. We had tea out in the garden which is looking jolly just now with anchusas, canterbury bells, rockets, sweet Williams, ( the pretty ones from home are doing well) english iris, foxgloves, pinks, lychnis and the delphiniums are just beginning.

Then in our annual borders we have cornflowers, annual gypsophila and phacelia with other things coming on and our earliest row of sweet peas is just coming out. Our roses are nice: I cut two pretty buds of Mme Jules Grosley a day or two ago, but the ramblers have been absolutely devoured ‘til the leaves are absolutely naked down to the ribs of the leaves: they are small green caterpillars who do this and try as one will they seem to multiply faster than one can catch them.

On Sunday Tim and I went for a long bike ride, we left at 1:30 and got back at 9:30. We went about 55 kilometres or about 35 to 36 miles. It was pleasant going. We went to a very pretty place called Pont St Pierre which is on the Andelle, a delightful trout stream a little bigger than the little Eau but not much. Of course Tim achieved a puncture which I mended with great swish thanks to the nice little box you sent me. We had tea and boiled eggs at the hotel and then went to see the chateau which is partly old and partly restored. It is surrounded by a moat on all sides and though inhabited was empty for the moment so the lodge keeper showed us round, a nice Frenchman ex-soldier with one arm. The front of the chateau is a façade flanked by round towers with painted pepper pot tops and pierced by a gateway which leads through into an old Cour d’Honneur now laid out as grass and flower beds. It had originally been a hollow square this old place but now the back has been lost by fire. The Andelle flows through the grounds on one side and a canal from its waters is on the other. There is a wonderful spring in the grounds: a tiny brook in a grotto and at the bottom of the water, which is about two feet deep and as clear as crystal, one sees the sand bubbling in over a dozen places and the water must literally pour out to judge from the overflow. There is another strip of ground with small springs in it which they have made into watercress beds. Then on the canal was an open air launderie (wash house) it was just a strip of cemented quay with a roof of thatch on uprights and the thatch was all grown over with iris germanica, a very common form of decoration out here.

We tore ourselves away from the chateau at last and rode on to our objective a ruined abbey of the 11th century. We crossed the Andelle and found it, a charming little ruin of the transition period with such a funny squatty old stone bridge over the river and all the abbey is surrounded by water meadows. Then we rode on to the little town of Fleury sur Andelle; the town is dull for all that it has such a pretty name and then we climbed hard for a mile and a half to get back from the valley of the Andelle on to the plateau where we live. We were on the Paris, Rouen Havre road and jolly bumpy and holey it is but edged with tall poplar trees either side. We rode to a village about 7km from the hospital and supped sumptuously off omelette aux fines herbes and strawberries and cream with delicious fizzy cider. Then we got home and slept like logs. My hay fever is very capricious and variable. One day I may go past hay and anything you like without turning a hair, another day I nearly sneeze my head off a propos of nothing in particular.

Last night we rode out into one of the many wooded valleys round about here. The whole place was purple with foxgloves and pink with orchids and lots of wild strawberries.


I must stop now

Best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy.

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It is so hot that after one’s work is done one pants like a dog with the heat…


1905 postcard Rouen

05/06/1917 HMB

My dearest Mother

I am writing in bed at 5 am because it is so hot that after one’s work is done one pants like a dog with the heat. Yesterday was a blazing day: the huts were more like greenhouses than anything else.

Tim came back from her leave on Thursday: she crossed on Wednesday night and arrived here Thursday morning.

She had had a splendid leave and enjoyed herself no end. Unfortunately the bicycle carrier and outfit missed her owing to the post taking so long so her people are going to send it on here.

I have bought myself a pump here but it is only a so so affair. You talk so glibly of buying things in France: as far as most things are concerned I’d much rather shop in Alford than Rouen: I shouldn’t be so cheated and the article would certainly be of better quality.

We have been busy in the garden since Tim came back: we have four flourishing rows of sweet peas in various stages of progress but I have never known the annual seeds germinate so badly nothing has done its best and many have not come up at all. The garden is looking very nice now:  the camssias are just over: they were very fine.

Our two formal beds in front of Matron’s door were a sight one had narcissi and forgetmenots in it and the other had Darwin tulips and forgetmenots. The bulbs had been presented by a late member of the staff. The Darwins were as fine and tall as one would see anywhere and the forgetmenots did well too. They really were a sight, set in a small strip of carefully mown and rolled turf which we call a lawn by courtesy.

How are the roses at home ? I hope they have recovered themselves. Of course it was awfully unfortunate having that spell of severe weather just after I had pruned them. Don’t let Fuller go poking about with them for all that of course he had got them into such a state that I had to make a bigger mess of them than I wanted to. However I hope they will be all the better for it. You must write and report progress. My own roses here are very malheureuses. The ramblers are all fairly all right but the dwarfs some of them have only just broken!! Some of them were so trodden down after the fire that I had to cut them down level with the ground, other were all but frozen to death !

Didn’t I acknowledge my reflector etc: came ages ago, I am so sorry.  Also many thanks for the stripes and the medal both of which arrived quite safely. The former caused great excitement among the doctors: the latter of course I never wear. It is not considered good form out here to go about plastered with things like that as Mrs Baron and Mrs Loy do!! By the by would you ask Mrs B if I can get my First Aid Proficiency Medal too as I have one certificate and two years hospital work ? I would naturally like to have it if I could.

Is there no possibility of getting the May Nash ? It is most sad: I have got June and find such an unbridgeable gap. Please would you go to Mr Naninby and order 6 of the No2 plate and 6 of No3. They are the two good ones. They are in great demand out here. Will you please wrench them from him as soon as you can and then send them out to me: I meant to have ordered them ages ago and have always forgot.

I hope Father has rescued my gun and rifle from the ignorant young man at the manor House.

I also hope that he hasn’t damaged the rifle trying to learn about its works.

I must dry up now or I shall be hideously late for brekker.

Best love to you all

Your loving D

PS I have just sent you home two odd looking jugs by Nick. I hope they will reach you all right.

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Mrs Pollard took me to see “Madame et son filleul” a French farce, extremely amusing with humour of a broad variety


Notre Dame Cathedral Paris 1916 – 1917

My dearest Father              20/05/1917 HMB

I’m afraid it is sometime since I wrote but I have been very busy in the garden and with arrears of work too. I will try to finish the story of my trip to Paris: I think I told you that I had a top-hole lunch with a friend and afterwards returned to a discussion on artificial legs and various orthopaedic apparatus. Then I went for a stroll and did some shopping and returned to the Astoria for dinner.

After dinner Mrs Pollard took me to see “Madame et son filleul” a French farce, extremely amusing with humour of a broad variety. We roared with laughter and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. On the Thursday morning I returned to the congress and heard some more. Dr McClure and Dr Stouffs had both been invited to lunch by Mrs Pollard so we repaired back to the Astoria, Dr Stouffs and Dr McClure followed. After lunch we saw round the hospital which is beautifully fitted up and then I went off to a Belgian staff place to have my conge paper stamped and [had] a nose around the shops afterwards. There I made a few purchases and then had tea with Mrs Pollard, bade her and the hospital a fond farewell and caught the 5 o’clock train back to Rouen where Time met me.

She is at present on leave: she went home last Monday. I would like Mother to get my cycle carrier detached and packed up and also our foot pump and have them sent to Tim at once as she will bring them back for me. Also I want a tyre repair outfit with them as it is absolutely necessary to have such an outfit with one if one goes far.

About the bike which you are so kindly giving me; £3.10.0 is about right. Thank you very much.

Please ask Mother if she would despatch the cycle things at once to:

Miss Anwyl. Lligwy, Machynlleth, Wales.

The garden is beginning to look lovely: I have a round bed of pink Darwin tulips underplanted with forgetmenot which are a sight. I have had another very pretty bed with yellow jonquils and forgetmenot: the jonquils are over now and some poeticus have come up in their place but they have not done so well. My sweet-peas are tall and healthy: we have four double rows in various stages of growth. The annuals are doing pretty well too. The camassias are beginning to come out and look delightful.

I must stop now.

My best love to the family.

Your loving Dorothy.

I think I did acknowledge your draft on the C.L. Thank you very much for it.

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It is a great thing to have one’s friend attached to a hospital whose quarters are in one of the swagger hotels of Paris!!  


Hotel Astoria Paris WW1© Charles Lansiaux / BHVP / Roger-Viollet


My dearest Mother

Please forgive my remissness in writing: I have been to Paris!

I dare say you may have seen in the papers that there has been a conference  (inter allie) on re-education and reestablishment of the disabled soldier. Well as we are largely concerned in the physical re-education we have been very busy. I think I told you there was going to be this affair when I was home. The médecinchef here had an official job of collecting reports on physiotherapy. Well I was just crazy to go [with]: the médecin-general, the médecinchef, Dr Stouffs and Dr Hendrix (artificial legs) and Miss Loveday and one of her medical gymnasts.

I asked Matron and she said yes if the médecinchef would let me, and if a new Belge we were expecting daily turned up. Well I asked Dr de Marneffe and he said yes, if Dr Stouffs would let me. Dr Stouffs said he’d be delighted if I could be replaced in the electricity (I have been working short ever since I came back, two nurses and an orderly instead of three nurses)  as I couldn’t leave Nick alone in the electro. However the Belge turned up and an awful specimen at that. But it released me for the congress. The médecinchef and co. had to go on Monday night as the show bullied off on Tuesday morning and didn’t finish till Saturday evening. I found that Wednesday and Thursday morning were to be the most interesting so Matron gave me leave and I immediately wrote off to Mrs Pollard to ask her if she could put me up. I had a wire the next day saying she’d be delighted. As Tim said there is nothing like falling on one’s feet: making the acquaintance of a woman in Paris and then wanting a pied-à-terre at Paris about a month afterwards. So on Tuesday night I set off by the evening express to Paris: as luck would have it I met a man I knew on the train; a Colonel Gascoigne in the Canadian forces and we travelled together and dined together on the train which was much more amusing. He saw me to the Astoria too which was pleasant for me. I was taken to Mrs Pollard’s suite by the night guard. On the 6th floor where all the chiefs of the staff live there are ripping little suites of rooms and Mrs Pollard has one. I had one too, a vestibule, sitting room, bedroom and bathroom and a big balcony overlooking the Champs Elysees with a glorious view of the SacréCœur and the  Butte de Montmartre. I had a tub and turned in at once. It is a great thing to have one’s friend attached to a hospital whose quarters are in one of the swagger hotels of Paris!!

Next morning I was at the congress betimes and met all the hospital people. The proceedings were at times instructive and always amusing. The French doctors quarrelled fearfully among themselves. There were lots of interesting photographs and exhibits of all kinds and orthopaedic apparatus. I spent all Wednesday there and Thursday morning. I went out to lunch with Colonel Gascoigne at  Latrues (?) on Wednesday: it is one of the palaces in Paris, I think ? Anyway I had a top-hole lunch there. I met Dr McClure at the congress: he is Captain Anwyl’s doctor and knew Mrs Pollard very well. Sir Berkeley Moynihan was also there and Dr Fortesque Fox (whirlpool baths) and Surgeon-general Russell and Sir A Griffith-Boscawen. There were some other people from England but I didn’t know who. Then there were Italians, Serbs, Portuguese, Romanians, French and Belgian. It was so funny to hear all the diferent Nationalities speaking French.

On the Wednesday night Mrs Pollard took me to the theatre: a very amusing and somewhat racy French farce – I went for a stroll by myself between tea and dinner and saw a little of life.

On Thursday Dr Stouffs and Dr McClure came to lunch at the Astoria and we saw all over the place afterwards.

I must dry up now: will finish my narration in a day or two.

The bike saddle has arrived: also Father’s money. Many thanks.

Best love

Your loving daughter Dorothy.

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The Spode ware sounds delightful, is it the green kind?


29/04/1917                                                              HMB

My dearest Mother

Many thanks for your long awaited letter which took 9 days to come !! It is a beastly shame: my second letter from Southampton doesn’t seem to have reached you, and as for my wire: it was despatched on Monday the 16th  at 8.45am!

We are awfully busy in the garden just now: we did not plant any new trees by the summer house they are too expensive and we shall just have to risk people annoying us by staring in! Sunday afternoon is a perfect pest: everyone in Rouen choses the road past our quarters for a walk especially as there are the fire ruins to stare at and comment on. The lamps got over safely and the provender although not in its first youth was delicious.

I also had a p.c. from Molly saying that R was my side of the water but he didn’t come this way. Poor Molly I am very sorry for her, but as she says she has been lucky. I hope Bunny will be better behaved: I dare say she will get broken in a bit now the baby is less on her –M’s- hands and she has more time to devote to the little imp.

The Spode ware sounds delightful, is it the green kind? We were much amused at the communication May had received about me. If it weren’t so funny it would be insulting. We have written to May urgently on the subject of staff and wire too. They have been awfully tiresome at headquarters but help is coming at last. We are four short (no five) at the moment. Tim is in the operation ward and unfortunately ( for me and for her as she doesn’t want to stay there) gaining golden opinions from the doctors there. Dr Stouffs is furious at her being taken away as he also thinks very highly of her but the Medecin-chef did it so he can’t complain. She will come back again to the electricity when the new nurses arrive. I have only got an orderly to replace her which is a very poor do. Fortunately I have very few patients at the moment (comparatively speaking)  I haven’t been so slack since we came up here. The hospital isn’t very full just now.

The weather is delightful here just now: we have had a bright sunny week and no rain, Tim and I have been slaving with the last of our seeds. Will you please get me some giant sunflower seeds – 1 pkt – and some more – 2or 3pkts – mignonette to plant for a succession. Our Darwin tulips and narcissi in round beds look awfully healthy and it is wonderful to see the results we have in our packing case frames. Our chief trouble is cats and dogs; there is a perfect plague of them. They take a short cut across our garden to the mess kitchen to scavenge and frequently inter some succulent morsel in our flower beds. We are going to have rabbit wire put up but things move very slowly in a military establishment.

I was much amused about Mrs Mucky B. Still I don’t suppose Nurse expected to find anything else. Please tell Nurse that her jam was absolutely delicious. Alas that it may only be spoken of in the past tense.

There isn’t much more to tell you. I have bought Miss Loveday’s bike. It is a bit expensive but it has a 5 speed gear and quite a good machine, would you should bag it. Please take the saddle and saddlebag off my bike and send it out here as hers is a brute: I should be worn to a thread if I rode far on it. Tim will try and get a bike when she is home: in the meanwhile she can borrow from the others. Also I am afraid I am stony broke. I had the paying for the bike (perhaps Father would give me it for my birthday) and I had my expenses while at Southampton, and the washerwoman’s bill to pay when I arrived here – so there you are!

I mus dry up now: my light is supprosed to go out in five minutes and I haven’t taken any of my clothes off yet!! You will send the seeds as soon as possible, also a packet of Shirley poppies please.


My best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy

Please would you send the May Nash’s magazine. How are the roses looking ? I’ve got my fountain pen back all right: I hope yours is better now.

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..the sausages and pork pies … were delicious in spite of being 10 days old!!

Dorothy Feb 1916 Rouen18/04/1917 HMB

My dearest Mother

Your wire to Tim arrived this afternoon: how it happened that my wire to you despatched from Havre at 8.45 Monday morning with my own hands has not reached you I am entirely unable to explain: it cannot have been stopped for military reasons as I simply stated that I had arrived and nothing more. Anyway I have sent off another in French this afternoon which I hope will reach its destination. Perhaps by now the original one has come through.

I arrived on Monday morning having crossed on Sunday night. It was rough but I was not ill merely rather uncomfortable. Mrs Pollard caught me up on Saturday evening and we crossed together. She did not travel on with me as the other VAD and I caught a slow train to Rouen. I got all my possessions safely here and they are delighted with the lamps we ate the sausages and pork pies and they were delicious in spite of being 10 days old!! I had a P>C> from M telling me that R was coming over.

The weather is very rotten here: it is still very cold and rains fearfully. My Brig. Gen. patient has left, what a pity.

I had to send the wire to May, I hope it has reached her safely. I have also written. They have just put us in two topping new baths and are going to arrangedais about hot water to be laid on sometime. Our daisies are out and look awfully pretty. I have absolutely no more news so I’ll dry up.


Best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy.

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It was so ripping seeing you all again…

Netley Abbey

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

SS Normania


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

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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.

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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.

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