The extreme gratitude of the patients was very touching. When they left for Convalescent homes, other Hospitals, or to return to the trenches, we received shoals of post cards and letters of thanks. When they came on leave they never failed to come back and look up the particular Miske who had tended them, and as often as not brought a souvenir of some sort from la bas.
One man to whom I had sent a parcel wrote me the following letter. I might add that in Hospital he knew no English at all and had taught himself in the trenches from a dictionary. This was his letter:
“My lady” (Madame), “The beautiful package is safely arrived. I thank you profoundly from all my heart. The shawl (muffler) is at my neck and the good socks are at my feet as I write. Like that one has well warmth.
“We go to make some cafe
also out of the package, this
evening in our house in the trenches, for which I thank you
again one thousand times.
“Receive, my lady, the most
distinguished sentiments on the
part of your devoted
“1st Batt. Infanterie,
“12th line Regiment.”
I remember my first joy-ride so well. “Uncle” took Porter and myself up to St. Inglevert with some stores for our small convalescent home, of which more anon.
Before proceeding further, I must here explain who “Uncle” was. He joined the Corps in 1914 in response to an advertisement from us in the Times for a driver and ambulance, and was accepted immediately. He was over military age, and had had his Mors car converted into an ambulance for work at the front, and went up to Headquarters one day to make final arrangements. There, to his intense surprise, he discovered that the “First Aid Nursing Yeomanry” was a woman’s, and not a man’s show as he had at first supposed.
He was so amused he laughed all the way down the Earls Court Road!
He bought his own petrol from the Belgian Parc d’Automobiles, and, when he was not driving wounded, took as many of the staff for joy-rides as he could.
The blow in the fresh air was appreciated by us perhaps more than he knew, especially after a hard morning in the typhoid wards.
The day in question was bright and fine and the air, when once we had left the town and passed the inevitable barriers, was clear and invigorating, like champagne. We soon arrived at St. Inglevert, which consisted of a little Church, an Estaminet, one or two cottages, the cure’s house, and a little farm with parish room attached. The latter was now used as a convalescent home for our typhoid patients until they were strong enough to take the long journey to the big camp in the South of France. The home was run by two of the F.A.N.Y.s for a fortnight at a time. It was no uncommon sight to see them on the roads taking the patients out “in crocodile” for their daily walk! Many were the curious glances cast from the occupants of passing cars at the two khaki-clad English girls, walking behind a string of sick-looking men in uniform. Probably they drove on feeling it was another of the unsolved mysteries of the war!