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My War Experiences in Two Continents By S. Macnaughtan Characters: 33413

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


ANTWERP

On September 20th, 1914, I left London for Antwerp. At the station I found I had forgotten my passport and Mary had to tear back for it. Great perturbation, but kept this dark from the rest of the staff, for they are all rather serious and I am head of the orderlies. We got under way at 4 a.m. next morning. All instantly began to be sick. I think I was the worst and alarmed everybody within hearing distance. One more voyage I hope-home-then dry land for me.

We arrived at Antwerp on the 22nd, twenty-four hours late. The British Consul sent carriages, etc., to meet us. Drove to the large Philharmonic Hall, which has been given us as a hospital. Immediately after breakfast we began to unpack beds, etc., and our enormous store of medical things; all feeling remarkably empty and queer, but put on heroic smiles and worked like mad. Some of the staff is housed in a convent and the rest in rooms over the Philharmonic Hall.

23 September.-Began to get things into order and to allot each person her task. Our unit consists of Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, its head; Doctors Rose Turner, F. Stoney, Watts, Morris, Hanson and Ramsey (all women); orderlies-me, Miss Randell (interpreter), Miss Perry, Dick, Stanley, Benjamin, Godfrey, Donnisthorpe, Cunliffe, and Mr. Glade. Everyone very zealous and inclined to do anybody's work except their own. Keen competition for everyone else's tools, brooms, dusters, etc. Great roaming about. All mean well.

25 September.-Forty wounded men were brought into our hospital yesterday. Fortunately we had everything ready, but it took a bit of doing. We are all dead tired, and not so keen as we were about doing other people's work.

The wounded are not very bad, and have been sent on here from another hospital. They are enchanted with their quarters, which indeed do look uncommonly nice. One hundred and thirty beds are ranged in rows, and we have a bright counterpane on each and clean sheets. The floor is scrubbed, and the bathrooms, store, office, kitchens, and receiving-rooms have been made out of nothing, and look splendid. I never saw a hospital spring up like magic in this way before. There is a wide verandah where the men play cards, and a garden to stump about in.

The gratitude of our patients is boundless, and they have presented Mrs. Stobart with a beautiful basket of growing flowers. I do not think Englishmen would have thought of such a thing. They say they never tasted such cooking as ours outside Paris, and they are rioting in good food, papers, nice beds, etc. Nearly all of them are able to get out a little, so it is quite cheery nursing them. There is a lot to do, and we all fly about in white caps. The keenest competition is for sweeping out the ward with a long-handled hair brush!

THE DEFENCES OF THE TOWN

I went into the town to-day. It is very like every other foreign town, with broad streets and tram-lines and shops and squares, but to-day I had an interesting drive. I took a car and went out to the second line of forts. The whole place was a mass of wire entanglements, mined at every point, and the fields were studded with strong wooden spikes. There were guns everywhere, and in one place a whole wood and a village had been laid level with the ground to prevent the enemy taking cover. We heard the sound of firing last night!

* * *

To Mrs. Keays-Young.

Rue de l'Harmonie 68, Antwerp,

25 September.

Dearest Babe,

It was delightful getting your letter. Our wounded are all French or Belgians, but there is a bureau of enquiry in the town where I will go to try to hear tidings of your poor friends.

We heard the guns firing last night, and fifty wounded were sent in during the afternoon. In one day 2,500 wounded reached Antwerp. I can write this sort of thing to-day as I know my letter will be all right. To show you that the fighting is pretty near, two doctors went for a short motor drive to-day and they found two wounded men. One was just dying, the other they brought back in the car, but he died also. In the town itself everything seems much as usual except for crowds of refugees. Do not believe people when they say German barbarity is exaggerated. It is hideously true.

We are fearfully busy, and it seems a queer side of war to cook and race around and make doctors as comfortable as possible. We have a capital staff, who are made up of zeal and muscle. I do not know how long it can last. We breakfast at 7.30, which means that most of the orderlies are up at 5.45 to prepare and do everything. The fare is very plain and terribly wholesome, but hardly anyone grumbles. I am trying to get girls to take two hours off duty in the day, but they won't do it.

Have you any friends who would send us a good big lot of nice jam? It is for the staff. If you could send some cases of it at once to Miss Stear, 39, St. James's Street, London, and put my name on it, and say it is for our hospital, she will bring it here herself with some other things. Some of your country friends might like to help in a definite little way like this.

Your loving

Sarah.

---- is going to England to-night and will take this.

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27 September.-Yesterday, when we were in the town, a German airship flew overhead and dropped bombs. A lot of guns fired at it, but it was too high up to hit. The incident caused some excitement in the streets.

ARRIVAL OF WOUNDED

Last night we heard that more wounded were coming in from the fighting-line near Ghent. We got sixty more beds ready, and sat up late, boiling water, sterilising instruments, preparing operating-tables and beds, etc., etc. As it got later all the lights in the huge ward were put out, and we went about with little torches amongst the sleeping men, putting things in order and moving on tip-toe in the dark. Later we heard that the wounded might not get in till Monday.

The work of this place goes on unceasingly. We all get on well, but I have not got the communal spirit, and the fact of being a unit of women is not the side of it that I find most interesting. The communal food is my despair. I can not eat it. All the same this is a fine experience, and I hope we'll come well out of it. There is boundless opportunity, and we are in luck to have a chance of doing our darndest.

28 September.-Last night I and two orderlies slept over at the hospital as more wounded were expected. At 11 p.m. word came that "les blessés" were at the gate. Men were on duty with stretchers, and we went out to the tram-way cars in which the wounded are brought from the station, twelve patients in each. The transit is as little painful as possible, and the stretchers are placed in iron brackets, and are simply unhooked when the men arrive. Each stretcher was brought in and laid on a bed in the ward, and the nurses and doctors undressed the men. We orderlies took their names, their "matricule" or regimental number, and the number of their bed. Then we gathered up their clothes and put corresponding numbers on labels attached to them-first turning out the pockets, which are filled with all manner of things, from tins of sardines to loaded revolvers. They are all very pockety, but have to be turned out before the clothes are sent to be baked.

We arranged everything, and then got Oxo for the men, many of whom had had nothing to eat for two days. They are a nice-looking lot of men and boys, with rather handsome faces and clear eyes. Their absolute exhaustion is the most pathetic thing about them. They fall asleep even when their wounds are being dressed. When all was made straight and comfortable for them, the nurses turned the lights low again, and stepped softly about the ward with their little torches.

A hundred beds all filled with men in pain give one plenty to think about, and it is during sleep that their attitudes of suffering strike one most. Some of them bury their heads in their pillows as shot partridges seek to bury theirs amongst autumn leaves. Others lie very stiff and straight, and all look very thin and haggard. I was struck by the contrast between the pillared concert-hall where they lie, with its platform of white paint and decorations, and the tragedy of suffering which now fills it.

At 2 a.m. more soldiers were brought in from the battlefield, all caked with dirt, and we began to work again. These last blinked oddly at the concert-hall and nurses and doctors, but I think they do not question anything much. They only want to go to sleep.

A VISIT FROM SOME DESERTERS

I suppose that women would always be tender-hearted towards deserters. Three of them arrived at the hospital to-day with some absurd story about having been told to report themselves. We got them supper and a hot bath and put them to bed. One can't regret it. I never saw men sleep as they did. All through the noise of the wounded being brought in, all through the turned-up lights and bustle they never even stirred, but a sergeant discovered them, and at 3 a.m. they were marched away again. We got them breakfast and hot tea, and at least they had had a few hours between clean sheets. These men seem to carry so much, and the roads are heavy.

At 5 o'clock I went to bed and slept till 8. Mrs. Stobart never rests. I think she must be made of some substance that the rest of us have not discovered. At 5 a.m. I discovered her curled up on a bench in her office, the doors wide open and the dawn breaking.

2 October.-Here is a short account of one whole day. Firing went on all night, sometimes it came so near that the vibration of it was rather startling. In the early morning we heard that the forts had been heavily fired on. One of them remained silent for a long time, and then the garrison lighted cart-loads of straw in order to deceive the Germans, who fell into the trap, thinking the fort was disabled and on fire, and rushed in to take it. They were met with a furious cannonade. But one of the other forts has fallen.

At 7 a.m. the men's bread had not arrived for their 6 o'clock breakfast, so I went into the town to get it. The difficulty was to convey home twenty-eight large loaves, so I went to the barracks and begged a motor-car from the Belgian officer and came back triumphant. The military cars simply rip through the streets, blowing their horns all the time. Antwerp was thronged with these cars, and each one contained soldiers. Sometimes one saw wounded in them lying on sacks stuffed with straw.

I came down to breakfast half-an-hour late (8 o'clock) and we had our usual fare-porridge, bread and margarine, and tea with tinned milk-amazingly nasty, but quite wholesome and filling at the price. We have reduced our housekeeping to ninepence per head per day. After breakfast I cleaned the two houses, as I do every morning, made nine beds, swept floors and dusted stairs, etc. When my rooms were done and jugs filled, our nice little cook gave me a cup of soup in the kitchen, as she generally does, and I went over to the hospital to help prepare the men's dinner, my task to-day being to open bottles and pour out beer for a hundred and twenty men; then, when the meat was served, to procure from the kitchen and serve out gravy. Our own dinner is at 12.30.

Afterwards I went across to the hospital again and arranged a few things with Mrs. Stobart. I began to correct the men's diagnosis sheets, but was called off to help with wounded arriving, and to label and sort their clothes. Just then the British Minister, Sir Francis Villiers, and the Surgeon-General, Sir Cecil Herslet, came in to see the hospital, and we proceeded to show them round, when the sound of firing began quite close to us and we rushed out into the garden.

A TAUBE OVERHEAD

From out the blue, clear autumn sky came a great grey dove flying serenely overhead. This was a German aeroplane of the class called the Taube (dove). These aeroplanes are quite beautiful in design, and fly with amazing rapidity. This one wafted over our hospital with all the grace of a living creature "calm in the consciousness of wings," and then, of course, we let fly at it. From all round us shells were sent up into the vast blue of the sky, and still the grey dove went on in its gentle-looking flight. Whoever was in it must have been a brave man! All round him shells were flying-one touch and he must have dropped. The smoke from the burst shells looked like little white clouds in the sky as the dove sailed away into the blue again and was seen no more.

We returned to our work in hospital. The men's supper is at six o'clock, and we began cutting up their bread-and-butter and cheese and filling their bowls of beer. When that was over and visitors were going, an order came for thirty patients to proceed to Ostend and make room for worse cases. We were sorry to say good-bye to them, especially to a nice fellow whom we call Alfred because he can speak English, and to Sunny Jim, who positively refused to leave.

Poor boys! With each batch of the wounded, disabled creatures who are carried in, one feels inclined to repeat in wonder, "Can one man be responsible for all this? Is it for one man's lunatic vanity that men are putting lumps of lead into each other's hearts and lungs, and boys are lying with their heads blown off, or with their insides beside them on the ground?" Yet there is a splendid freedom about being in the midst of death-a certain glory in it, which one can't explain.

A piece of shell fell through the roof of the hospital to-day-evidently a part of one that had been fired at the Taube. It fell close beside the bed of one of our wounded, and he went as white as a ghost. It must be pretty bad to be powerless and have shells falling around. The doctors tell me that nothing moves them so much as the terror of the men. Their nerves are simply shattered, and everything frightens them. Rather late a man was brought in from the forts, terribly wounded. He was the only survivor of twelve comrades who stood together, and a shell fell amongst them, killing all but this man.

At seven o'clock we moved all the furniture from Mrs. Stobart's office to the dispensary, where she will have more room, and the day's work was then over and night work began for some. The Germans have destroyed the reservoir and the water-supply has been cut off, so we have to go and fetch all the water in buckets from a well. After supper we go with our pails and carry it home. The shortage for washing, cleaning, etc., is rather inconvenient, and adds to the danger in a large hospital, and to the risk of typhoid.

ORDERS TO EVACUATE THE HOSPITAL

4 October.-Yesterday our work was hardly over when Mrs. Stobart sent a summons to all of us "heads" to come to her bureau. She had grave news for us. The British Consul had just been to say that all the English must leave Antwerp; two forts had fallen, and the Germans were hourly expected to begin shelling the town. We were told that all the wounded who could travel were to go to Ostend, and the worst cases were to be transferred to the Military Hospital.

I do not think it would be easy to describe the confusion that followed. All the men's clothes had to be found, and they had to be got into them, and woe betide if a little cap or old candle was missing! All wanted serving at once; all wanted food before starting. In the midst of the general mêlée I shall always remember one girl, silently, quickly, and ceaselessly slicing bread with a loaf pressed to her waist, and handing it across the counter to the men.

With one or two exceptions the staff all wanted to remain in Antwerp. I myself decided to abandon the unit and stay on here as an individual or go to Ostend with the men. Mrs. Stobart, being responsible, had to take the unit home. It was a case of leaving immediately; we packed what stores we could, but the beds and X-ray apparatus and all our material equipment would have to be left to the Germans. I think all felt as though they were running away, but it was a military order, and the Consul, the British Minister, and the King and Queen were leaving. We went to eat lunch together, and as we were doing so Mrs. Stobart brought the news that the Consul had come to say that reinforcements had come up, the situation changed for the better, and for the present we might remain. Anyone who wanted to leave might do so, but only four did.

We have since heard what happened. The British Minister cabled home to say that Antwerp was the key to the whole situation and must not fall, as once in here the Germans would be strongly entrenched, supplied with provisions, ammunition, and everything they want. A Cabinet Council was held at 3

a.m. in London, and reinforcements were ordered up. Winston Churchill is here with Marines. They say Colonel Kitchener is at the forts.

The firing sounds very near. Dr. Hector Munro and Miss St. Clair and Lady Dorothy Fielding came over to-day from Ghent, where all is quiet. They wanted me to return with them to take a rest, which was absurd, of course.

Some fearful cases were brought in to us to-day. My God, the horror of it! One has heard of men whom their mothers would not recognise. Some of the wounded to-day were amongst these. All the morning we did what we could for them. One man was riddled with bullets, and died very soon.

It is awful work. The great bell rings, and we say, "More wounded," and the men get stretchers. We go down the long, cold covered way to the gate and number the men for their different beds. The stretchers are stiff with blood, and the clothes have to be cut off the men. They cry out terribly, and their horror is so painful to witness. They are so young, and they have seen right into hell. The first dressings are removed by the doctors-sometimes there is only a lump of cotton-wool to fill up a hole-and the men lie there with their tragic eyes fixed upon one. All day a nurse has sat by a man who has been shot through the lungs. Each breath is painful; it does not bear writing about. The pity of it all just breaks one's heart. But I suppose we do not see nearly the worst of the wounded.

The lights are all off at eight o'clock now, and we do our work in the dark, while the orderlies hold little torches to enable the doctors to dress the wounds. There are not half enough nurses or doctors out here. In one hospital there are 400 beds and only two trained nurses.

ARRIVAL OF BRITISH TROOPS

Some of our own troops came through the town in London omnibuses to-day. It was quite a Moment, and we felt that all was well. We went to the gate and shook hands with them as they passed, and they made jokes and did us all good. We cheered and waved handkerchiefs.

5-6 October.-I think the last two days have been the most ghastly I ever remember. Every day seems to bring news of defeat. It is awful, and the Germans are quite close now. As I write the house shakes with the firing. Our troops are falling back, and the forts have fallen. Last night we took provisions and water to the cellars, and made plans to get the wounded taken there.

They say the town will be shelled to-morrow. All these last two days bleeding men have been brought in. To-day three of them died, and I suppose none of them was more than 23. We have to keep up all the time and show a good face, and meals are quite cheery. To-day, Tuesday, was our last chance of leaving, and only two went.

The guns boom by day as well as by night, and as each one is heard one thinks of more bleeding, shattered men. It is calm, nice autumn weather; the trees are yellow in the garden and the sky is blue, yet all the time one listens to the cries of men in pain. To-night I meant to go out for a little, but a nurse stopped me and asked me to sit by a dying man. Poor fellow, he was twenty-one, and looked like some brigand chief, and he smiled as he was dying. The horror of these two days will last always, and there are many more such days to come. Everyone is behaving well, and that is all I care about.

7 October.-It is a glorious morning: they will see well to kill each other to-day.

The guns go all day and all night. They are so close that the earth shakes with them. Last night in the infernal darkness we were turning wounded men away from the door. There was no room for them even on the floor. The Belgians scream terribly. Our own men suffer quite quietly. One of them died to-day.

Day and night a stream of vehicles passes the gate. It never ceases. Nearly all are motors, driven at a furious pace, and they sound horns all the time. These are met by a stream of carts and old-fashioned vehicles bringing in country people, who are flying to the coast. In Antwerp to-day it was "sauve qui peut"! Nearly all the men are going-Mr. --, who has helped us, and Mr. --, they are going to bicycle into Holland. A surgeon (Belgian) has fled from his hospital, leaving seven hundred beds, and there seem to be a great many deserters from the trenches.

THE SITUATION GETS WORSE

The news is still the same-"very bad"; sometimes I walk to the gate and ask returning soldiers how the battle goes, but the answer never varies. At lunch-time to-day firing ceased, and I heard it was because the German guns were coming up. We got orders to send away all the wounded who could possibly go, and we prepared beds in the cellars for those who cannot be moved. The military authorities beg us to remain as so many hospitals have been evacuated.

The wounded continue to come in. One sees one car in the endless stream moving slowly (most of them fly with their officers sitting upright, or with aeroplanes on long carriages), and one knows by the pace that more wounded are coming. Inside one sees the horrible six shelves behind the canvas curtain, and here and there a bound-up limb or head. One of our men had his leg taken off to-day, and is doing well. Nothing goes on much behind the scenes. The yells of the men are plainly heard, and to-day, as I sat beside the lung man who was taking so long to die, someone brought a sack to me, and said, "This is for the leg." All the orderlies are on duty in the hospital now. We can spare no one for rougher work. We can all bandage and wash patients. There are wounded everywhere, even on straw beds on the platform of the hall.

Darkness seems to fall early, and it is the darkness that is so baffling. At 5 p.m. we have to feed everyone while there is a little light, then the groping about begins, and everyone falls over things. There is a clatter of basins on the floor or an over-turned chair. Any sudden noise is rather trying at present because of the booming of the guns. At 7 last night they were much louder than before, with a sort of strange double sound, and we were told that these were our "Long Toms," so we hope that our Naval Brigade has come up.

We know very little of what is going on except when we run out and ask some returning English soldiers for news. Yesterday it was always the same reply "Very bad." One of the Marines told me that Winston Churchill was "up and down the road amongst the shells," and I was also told that he had given orders that Antwerp was not to be taken till the last man in it was dead.

The Marines are getting horribly knocked about. Yesterday Mrs. O'Gormon went out in her own motor-car and picked wounded out of the trenches. She said that no one knew why they were in the trenches or where they were to fire-they just lay there and were shot and then left.

HOW WE KEPT UP OUR COURAGE

I think I have seen too much pain lately. At Walworth one saw women every day in utter pain, and now one lives in an atmosphere of bandages and blood. I asked some of the orderlies to-day what it was that supported them most at a crisis of this sort. The answers varied, and were interesting. I myself am surprised to find that religion is not my best support. When I go into the little chapel to pray it is all too tender, the divine Mother and the Child and the holy atmosphere. I begin to feel rather sorry for myself, I don't know why; then I go and move beds and feel better; but I have found that just to behave like a well-bred woman is what keeps me up best. I had thought that the Flag or Religion would have been stronger incentives to me.

Our own soldiers seem to find self-respect their best asset. It is amazing to see the difference between them and the Belgians, who are terribly poor hands at bearing pain, and beg for morphia all the time. An officer to-day had to have a loose tooth out. He insisted on having cocaine, and then begged the doctor to be careful!

The firing now is furious-sometimes there are five or six explosions almost simultaneously. I suppose we shall read in the Times that "all is quiet," and in Le Matin that "pour le reste tout est calme."

The staff are doing well. They are generally too busy to be frightened, but one has to speak once or twice to them before they hear.

On Wednesday night, the 7th October, we heard that one more ship was going to England, and a last chance was given to us all to leave. Only two did so; the rest stayed on. Mrs. Stobart went out to see what was to be done. The -- Consul said that we were under his protection, and that if the Germans entered the town he would see that we were treated properly. We had a deliberately cheerful supper, and afterwards a man called Smits came in and told us that the Germans had been driven back fifteen kilometres. I myself did not believe this, but we went to bed, and even took off our clothes.

At midnight the first shell came over us with a shriek, and I went down and woke the orderlies and nurses and doctors. We dressed and went over to help move the wounded at the hospital. The shells began to scream overhead; it was a bright moonlight night, and we walked without haste-a small body of women-across the road to the hospital. Here we found the wounded all yelling like mad things, thinking they were going to be left behind. The lung man has died.

Nearly all the moving to the cellars had already been done-only three stretchers remained to be moved. One wounded English sergeant helped us. Otherwise everything was done by women. We laid the men on mattresses which we fetched from the hospital overhead, and then Mrs. Stobart's mild, quiet voice said, "Everything is to go on as usual. The night nurses and orderlies will take their places. Breakfast will be at the usual hour." She and the other ladies whose night it was to sleep at the convent then returned to sleep in the basement with a Sister.

THE BOMBARDMENT

We came in for some most severe shelling at first, either because we flew the Red Cross flag or because we were in the line of fire with a powder magazine which the Germans wished to destroy. We sat in the cellars with one night-light burning in each, and with seventy wounded men to take care of. Two of them were dying. There was only one line of bricks between us and the shells. One shell fell into the garden, making a hole six feet deep; the next crashed through a house on the opposite side of the road and set it on fire. The danger was two-fold, for we knew our hospital, which was a cardboard sort of thing, would ignite like matchwood, and if it fell we should not be able to get out of the cellars. Some people on our staff were much against our making use of a cellar at all for this reason. I myself felt it was the safest place, and as long as we stayed with the wounded they minded nothing. We sat there all night.

The English sergeant said that at daybreak the firing would probably cease, as the German guns stopped when daylight came in order to conceal the guns. We just waited for daybreak. When it came the firing grew worse. The sergeant said, "It is always worse just before they stop," but the firing did not stop. Two hundred guns were turned on Antwerp, and the shells came over at the rate of four a minute. They have a horrid screaming sound as they come. We heard each one coming and wondered if it would hit us, and then we heard the crashing somewhere else and knew another shell was coming.

The worst cases among the wounded lay on the floor, and these wanted constant attention. The others were in their great-coats, and stood about the cellar leaning on crutches and sticks. We wrapped blankets round the rheumatism cases and sat through the long night. Sometimes when we heard a crash near by we asked "Is that the convent?" but nothing else was said. All spoke cheerfully, and there was some laughter in the further cellar. One little red-haired nurse enjoyed the whole thing. I saw her carry three wounded men in succession on her back down to the cellar. I found myself wishing that for me a shot would come and finish the horrible night. Still we all chatted and smiled and made little jokes. Once during that long night in the cellar I heard one wounded man say to another as he rolled himself round on his mattress, "Que les anglais sont comme il faut."

At six o'clock the convent party came over and began to prepare breakfast. The least wounded of the men began to steal away, and we were left with between thirty and forty of them. The difficulty was to know how to get away and how to remove the wounded, two of whom were nearly dead. Miss Benjamin went and stood at the gate, while the shells still flew, and picked up an ambulance. In this we got away six men, including the two dying ones. Mrs. Stobart was walking about for three hours trying to find anything on wheels to remove us and the wounded. At last we got a motor ambulance, and packed in twenty men-that was all it would hold. We told them to go as far as the bridge and send it back for us. It never came. Nothing seemed to come.

The -- Vice-Consul had told us we were under his protection, and he would, as a neutral, march out to meet the Germans and give us protection. But when we enquired we heard he had bolted without telling us. The next to give us protection was the -- Field Hospital, who said they had a ship in the river and would not move without us. But they also left and said nothing.

We got dinner for the men, and then the strain began to be much worse. We had seven wounded and ourselves and not a thing in which to get out of Antwerp. I told Mrs. Stobart we must leave the wounded at the convent in charge of the Sisters, and this we did, telling them where to take them in the morning. The gay young nurses fetched them across on stretchers.

FLIGHT

About 5 o'clock the shelling became more violent, and three shells came with only an instant between each. Presently we heard Mrs. Stobart say, "Come at once," and we went out and found three English buses with English drivers at the door. They were carrying ammunition, and were the last vehicles to leave Antwerp. We got into them and lay on the top of the ammunition, and the girls began to light cigarettes! The noise of the buses prevented our hearing for a time the infernal sound of shells and our cannons' answering roar.

As we drove to the bridge many houses and sometimes a whole street was burning. No one seemed to care. No one was there to try and save anything. We drove through the empty streets and saw the burning houses, and great holes where shells had fallen, and then we got to the bridge and out of the line of fire.

We set out to walk towards Holland, but a Belgian officer got us some Red Cross ambulances, and into these we got, and were taken to a convent at St. Gilles, where we slept on the floor till 3 a.m. At 3 a message was brought, "Get up at once-things are worse." Everyone seemed to be leaving, and we got into the Red Cross ambulances and went to the station.

9 October.-We have been all day in the train in very hard third-class carriages with the R.M.L.I. The journey of fifty miles took from 5 o'clock in the morning, when we got away, till 12 o'clock at night, when we reached Ostend. The train hardly crawled. It was the longest I have ever seen. All Ostend was in darkness when we arrived-a German airship having been seen overhead. We always seem to be tumbling about in the dark. We went from one hotel to another trying to get accommodation, and at last (at the St. James's) they allowed us to lie on the floor of the restaurant. The only food they had for us was ten eggs for twenty-five hungry people and some brown bread, but they had champagne at the house, and I ordered it for everybody, and we made little speeches and tried to end on a good note.

10 October.-Mrs. Stobart took the unit back to England to-day. The wounded were found in a little house which the Red Cross had made over to them, and Dr. Ramsey, Sister Bailey, and the two nurses had much to say about their perilous journey. One man had died on the road, but the others all looked well. Their joy at seeing us was pathetic, and there was a great deal of handshaking over our meeting.

THE UNIT RETURNS TO ENGLAND

Miss Donnisthorpe and I got decent rooms at the Littoral Hotel, and brought our luggage there, and had baths, which we much needed. Dr. Hanson had got out of the train at Bruges to bandage a wounded man, and she was left behind, and is still lost. I suppose she has gone home. She is the doctor I like best, and she is one of the few whose nerves are not shattered. It was a sorry little party which Mrs. Stobart took back to England.

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