IN CAMP BEFORE THE WAR
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was founded in 1910 and now numbers roughly about four hundred voluntary members.
It was originally intended to supplement the R.A.M.C. in field work, stretcher bearing, ambulance driving, etc.—its duties being more or less embodied in the title.
An essential point was that each member should be able to ride bareback or otherwise, as much difficulty had been found in transporting nurses from one place to another on the veldt in the South African War. Men had often died through lack of attention, as the country was too rough to permit of anything but a saddle horse to pass.
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was on active service soon after War was declared and, though it is not universally known, they were the pioneers of all the women’s corps subsequently working in France.
Before they had been out very long they were affectionately known as the F.A.N.Y.’s, to all and sundry, and in an incredibly short space of time had units working with the British, French, and Belgian Armies in the field.
It was in the Autumn of 1913 that, picking up the Mirror one day, I saw a snapshot of a girl astride on horseback leaping a fence in a khaki uniform and topee. Underneath was merely the line “Women Yeomanry in Camp,” and nothing more. “That,” said I, pointing out the photo to a friend, “is the sort of show I’d like to belong to: I’m sick of ambling round the Row on a Park hack. It would be a rag to go into camp with a lot of other girls. I’m going to write to the Mirror for particulars straight away.”
I did so; but got no satisfaction at all, as the note accompanying the photo had been mislaid. However, they did inform me there was such a Corps in existence, but beyond that they could give me no particulars.
I spent weeks making enquiries on all sides. “Oh, yes, certainly there was a Girls’ Yeomanry Corps.” “Where can I join it?” I would ask breathlessly. “Ah, that I can’t say,” would be the invariable reply.
The more obstacles I met with only made me the more determined to persevere. I went out of my way to ask all sorts of possible and impossible people on the off-chance that they might know; but it was a long time before I could run it to earth. “Deeds not words” seemed to be their motto.
One night at a small dance my partner told me he had just joined the Surrey Yeomanry; that brought the subject up once more and I confided all my troubles to him. Joy of joys! He had actually seen some of the Corps riding in Hounslow Barracks. It was plain sailing from that moment, and I hastened to write to the Adjutant of the said Barracks to obtain full particulars.
Within a few days I received a reply and a week later met the C.O. of the F.A.N.Y.’s, for an interview.
To my delight I heard the Corps was shortly going into camp, and I was invited to go down for a week-end to see how I liked it before I officially became a member. When the day arrived my excitement, as I stepped into the train at Waterloo, knew no bounds. Here I was at last en route for the elusive Yeomanry Camp!