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


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.


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.

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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

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We have got leave until 11, a great event!


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I hope you enjoyed the Tothill shoot, I itched to be there………….

dorothyhigginsfor-web-27/12/1916              HMB

My dearest Father

I sent you and Mother a very hurried scrappy letter for Christmas, but this is a better effort, now I have a little breathing space. Thank you ever so much for your lovely and most magnificent Christmas present. I shall send most of it back to be put into War Loan Stock.

I hope “he” enjoyed his Christmas with Lib. I was intensely amused to hear that he was to be shown off to the neighbours!! I hope he was good and didn’t stalk Lib and Teddy’s chickens.

It was very sad that the turkey missed fire. Miss Moberg turned up without it, she was very sad at not having received it, but these things will happen especially in wartime. Luckily a benevolent Govt provided us with one. We have just got a new lieut. Who manages our mess and he has a very high opinion of the nurses and does us awfully well. He is an excellent manager and we are much more comfortable in his hands than with the old one who didn’t like us much and thought anything would do. However he’s gone and the new and agreeable one reigns in is stead and gave us a turkey for Christmas day.

What I am awfully sorry about is your being landed with the beggar. I hope he won’t be an awful nuisance to you. Miss M says she left orders that he was to be sent to you. I hope you enjoyed the Tothill shoot. I itched to be there: I do so long for my country pursuits.

I hope Granny is better: it was bad luck her having a cold at Christmas time.

On re-reading your last letter from the club I gather that the turkey is lost but I’m afraid I can’t read every word!! Do let me know if it does not turn up and I will ask Miss Moberg to write for news of it. Of course it wasn’t your fault: I’m only sorry to have given you so much trouble for nothing. We had a very busy day on Christmas day: several of us were awfully busy getting things ready for our plays last night and preparing for the men’s Christmas party.

I must stop now as I want to write to Mother too.

With very many thanks and best love

From your loving daughter Dorothy

P.S. Please will you deduct £1.0.3. from my allowance and send it to Bessie: she did some Christmas shopping for me.

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We are full of preparations for Christmas. We shall try to make things as jolly as possible for the men……

D Higgins 1915 IWM12/12/1916

My dearest Father

I think it is time I wrote to you. How are you getting on, have you had any shooting lately? I suppose Walter will shoot Tothill once or twice.

Can you raise a big turkey for Christmas? I have promised to be responsible for one for Christmas. There are about 24 of us so it will have to be a hefty fellow. It must go to this address:

Miss Moberg, 45 Princes Square, Hyde Park, London W. She is leaving London on the 19th I have written and told her that it is coming. Will it be a bird of Mrs Lowe’s raising ?

I hope that this is not an awful nuisance for you and that you’ll be able to get it off on time, if not there will be 24 very hungry and disappointed people on Christmas day. This is only a scribble to catch the post. Will write a proper letter later.

Best Love                   From your loving Dorothy.


My dearest Mother

Thank you very much indeed for the books, jujutes, hooks warrant and badge. I’m afraid I have been a nuisance and an expensive nuisance too just lately. It was the fat book I wanted but you were quite right; I had made a muddle. I’ll send back the warrant next time I go down to Rouen. I don’t want the money out here: it had better accumulate at home.


This letter will never get finished: Tim has been in bed for three days with influenza and is very sorry for herself. I am looking after her when I am not on duty which keeps me awfully busy. She feels fearfully sea-sick all the time poor girl which is so awfully rotten for her. There seems to be a lot to do, straightening her bed, making tea and such like, filling bottles and washing her absolutely fills up my spare moments. It is awfully bad luck as she has just been moved to the electricity department about a week ago and was enjoying life tremendously. I am going to get Matron to write a certificate of 12 months work and shall send it to Mr Walker: Mrs Baron ought to see to it but I shall send it direct to him as she is so slack. As for my Christmas present: I think a fiver is too much: I want to get an oil stove for our room which will cost about a £1. There is quite a nice brand of stove one can get out here. Also I am getting some new curtains for our room so may I have £2 out here please and if you really want to give me any more keep the rest and pay Father a little more of my War Loan: I still owe him about £6 I think.

I hope your cough and cold are quite cured now.

I wonder if Elsie will come home next year. Of course the Mediterranean seems to get worse rather than better.

I think it would be awfully nice for you to spend Christmas in London: I’m sure you must need a change and it would be nice for Father to be within hail of his only remaining sister too.

Will you send me a Stores weekly provision list some time, I’m rather keen to compare English and French prices. I do so hope Vear’s knee is not being allowed to go stiff. Father wrote and said of course the wound must heal before they can do anything. I’m sorry to sound superior but that is just what they mustn’t do: it must be massaged and worked and given all necessary treatment as soon as possible: many of our men are treated with open wounds: in fact no one stops treatment for a wound unless he is in excessive pain or very recently operated on, or having some special drug which requires to be left on the wound for several days.

The screws were much too small. Was my drawing bad? The diameter of the opening should be about that of a florin. A dozen will be plenty but there is no particular quantity. Thank you very much for the Clay’s fertiliser, Miss Loveday has bought it. I hope May’s case will come: the last one she sent has never turned up.

Matron has recently been home on leave and we may still have our papers seen to by Mr Beard at Southampton so that is all right.

I was awfully amused at your account of the Missioner and his appeals!!

The new Govt. makes one reflect a good deal. Anyway I think it is full of new blood and ginger: let us hope it will justify its existence. The new French push is splendid everyone here is awfully bucked about it. We want something to cheer us up anyhow. I hope Father’s throat and cough are better. We are full of preparations for Christmas. We shall try to make things as jolly as possible for the men. It is not so easy to plan for 1000 odd as for 210 as it was last year.

We are doing a little show of our own on Boxing Day. Tim and I and other nurses are doing two little plays in our mess for the others and the doctors. One of them is “Between the Soup and the Savoury” that hardy perennial. I am again doing the cook’s part.

The weather is absolutely beastly, to-day is thick raw fog, bitingly cold and most of the other days in the week it has rained.

There is now news much to tell you. Tell Father that I think the turkey is quite enough Christmas present for me.

I shall dry up now as I must go and look after my invalid.

I shall write again before Christmas.

Best love to you both

From your loving Dorothy.

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Would you buy a shilling tin of Clay’s Fertiliser for plants ……….


My dearest Mother

I am up to the eyes in work: material to prepare for reports and end of the month etc. is the very devil.

The weather is horrible: it doesn’t freeze but it is bitterly cold and raw and bites into the marrow of ones bones. Fortunately we have a big stove in the mess and some little ones in our sleeping hut but in spite of them we scuttle quickly into our beds at night and throw on our garments in the morning very hastily. Going to make your bed and tidy your room after breakfast is the limit. However I’m very fit and full of beans and not really minding at all. The garden is feeling very miserable: things have a tendency to damp off in this beastly cold weather!

You have never told me how bad Vear’s knee is, or how he is getting on. I cannot think what happened to my letters: I wrote as soon as I got to France and another letter a few days afterwards: it is awfully sickening, but though I have had all your letters, one every Sunday from you both and sundry mid-week letters from Father they take any kind of time from 4 to 8 days to come. Of course the posts have been very irregular as have the channel crossings so I expect that is partly it, but I don’t know why letters should get lost all the same. Perhaps they went into the Censor’s letter basket!!

However I got Father’s money it is ample: thank him very much indeed please, surely I acknowledged the hat-pin and gloves: perhaps in one of the missing letters. Thank you very much indeed for sending them after me – The Strand too is a great joy! We simply devour papers and magazines and books when we have a few moments.

I have been very gay lately: I went down to dinner with Miss Hunter (the canteen girl who was on the boat) perhaps I told you this. Then Tim and I went down to play bridge at her digs we got late leave from Sister (Matron being home on leave!!) and I didn’t break off till 10.30 and walked up the hill through driving snow to Bonsecours getting in at 11.30, to the tick which was the time to which we’d been given leave: we were so warm and glowing after a sharp walk up hill so that was rather a jolly evening. Then we stood her a dinner in town and since that Tim had a friend coming through and we had tea with him one day and dinner another.

Then we’ve been one or twice in herds to the cinema just to cheer ourselves on a beastly wet day of which there are more than enough.

Roy is as well as it is because he was a poor miserable boy never likely to be fit for anything. Where is Guy now?

Poor Tom Alder: I’m afraid Jane will be awfully cut up when the end comes, and Madge too.

I must say I noticed that Molly had changed a good deal to the observing eye. Not outwardly, because she looked well and fit, and the three years different existence does not seem to have tried her as much as I had expected; as I feared she was altered in character; her artistic and literary traits seem very much to have been knocked out of her; it was only to be expected but it is a pity all the same as it was a great part of her charm.

I’m glad she wrote you as she did after she left.

“Bossy” ought to be strung up to Haman’s gallows. Why hasn’t he been called up by the way?


Your letter of the 26th just arrived. I’m glad the N.W. is in such a satisfactory state. I didn’t know the Saltbys were satellites of Dr B. what fools they must be. I like the photos: the Sandalls are out of focus which is a pity. The two on the doorstep are quite good and the one in the nursery is not so bad but Peter would wriggle. Please send duplicates to Molly, I expect she would like to see them but don’t send her the films or I shall never see them again. It would be nice for her to see the Scotts again. I wish Tommy’s leave and mine had coincided we are most unlucky about that. I was so anxious to see him.

I was very amused about Ward !! He is a cracked old pot.

I am glad the hockey club is still keeping its head above water.

How is the hospital going at home? Do remind Mrs Baron every time you see her about my County badge. She is so slack about it! The weather is better to-day, sunny and no fog, but a sharp frost. You might look in my book shelves and find a book on Mendelism (not the thin one by BC Punnett but a smaller thicker one) and send it out to me. I’m very sleepy so shan’t write much more. Would you buy a shilling tin of Clay’s Fertiliser for plants and send it to Miss Loveday, 22 Chemston Gardens, Kensington W. mark it “For Miss Higgins” and then she, I know, is to bring it out to me.

We have had a nurse ill with Pneumonia: she was an oldish woman, not a lady, and half trained, but she was a nice old thing and we shall be sorry to lose her as she will have to go home. It is too dangerous to run a second risk.

I really must dry up now

With best love to you both and many thanks to Father for his more than ample relief.

Your loving Dorothy

Please send 2lbs of blackcurrant jujutes from Geo. Green and let me know the price per oz. as I am going to let some other people have some too. I also want some brass screw in hooks.

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