This devotion of the nurses—how can one ever say enough of it! I recall the wrath of a medical officer in charge of a large hospital at Rouen. “Why don’t they give more Red Crosses to the working nurses? They don’t get half enough recognition. I have a nurse here who has been twelve months in the operating theatre. She ought to have a V.C.!—It’s worth it.”
And here is a dark-eyed young officer who had come from a distant colony to fight for England. I find him in an officer’s hospital, established not long after the war broke out, in a former Casino, where the huge baccarat-room has been turned into two large and splendid wards. He is courteously ready to talk about his wound, but much more ready to talk about his Sister.
“It’s simply wonderful what they do for us!” he says, all his face lighting up. “When I was worst there wasn’t an hour in the day or night my Sister wasn’t ready to try anything in the world to help me. But they’re all like that.”
Let me here gratefully recall, also, the hospitals organised by the Universities of Chicago and Harvard, entirely staffed by American Sisters and Doctors, each of them providing 34 doctors and 80 nurses, and dealing with 1,040 patients. Harvard has maintained a general hospital with the British Force in France since July, 1915. The first passages and uniforms were paid for by the British Government, but the University has itself paid all passages, and provided all uniforms since the start; and it is proposed, I am told, to carry on this generous help indefinitely.
Twenty thousand wounded!—while every day the ambulance trains come and go from the front, or to other bases—there to fill up one or other of the splendid hospital ships that take our brave fellows back to England, and home, and rest. And this city of hospitals, under its hard-pressed medical chief, with all its wealth of scientific invention, and painsaving device, and unremitting care, with its wonderful health and recovery statistics, has been the growth of just twelve months. The mind wavers between the two opposing images it suggests: war and its havoc on the one hand—the power of the human brain and the goodness of the human heart on the other.