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My Beloved Poilus

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Aug 2008 7:46    Onderwerp: My Beloved Poilus Reageer met quote

My Beloved Poilus
Letters from Canadian Nurse Agnes Warner in World War I

These home letters from a Canadian girl, daughter of a retired general of the U.S. Army, giving her trained services, caring for the wounded in France at an Army Ambulance and succoring distress wherever she meets it, are published by her friends without her knowledge, simply and solely to raise money to aid her in her work which began on the 4th day of August, 1914. Every dollar received from the sale of the book, less bare cost of printing and express charges, goes to the fund.

BARNES & CO., LIMITED, PUBLISHERS.
ST. JOHN, N. B., 1917.



Engravings by
F. C. Wesley Co., St. John, N. B.

Preface.

When Florence Nightingale began her great work in the hospital wards at Scutari in 1854, she little realised how far-reaching would be the effect of her noble self-sacrificing efforts. Could she today visit the war-stricken countries of Europe she would be astonished at the great developments of the work of caring for the wounded soldiers which she inaugurated so long ago. Her fine example is being emulated today by hundreds of thousands of brave women who are devoting themselves to the wounded, the sick and the dying in countless hospital wards.

All too little is known of what these devoted nurses have done and are doing. Some day the whole story will be given to the world; and the hearts of all will be thrilled by stirring deeds of love and bravery. In the meantime it is pleasing and comforting to catch fleeting glimpses of a portion of the work as depicted in this sheaf of letters, now issued under the title of "My Beloved Poilus," written from the Front by a brave Canadian nurse.

Two outstanding features give special merit to these letters. They were not written for publication, but for an intimate circle of relatives and friends. And because of this they are not artificial, but are free and graceful, with homely touches here and there which add so much to their value. Amidst the incessant roar of mighty guns; surrounded by the wounded and the dying; shivering at times with cold, and wearied almost to the point of exhaustion, these letters were hurriedly penned. No time had she for finely-turned phrases. Neither were they necessary. The simple statements appeal more to the heart than most eloquent words.

These letters will bring great comfort to many who have loved ones at the Front. They will tell them something of the careful sympathetic treatment the wounded receive. The glimpses given here and there, of the efforts made by surgeons and nurses alike to administer relief, and as far as possible to assuage the suffering of the wounded, should prove most comforting. What efforts are made to cheer the patients, and !to brighten their lot, and what personal interest is taken in their welfare, are incidentally revealed in these letters. For instance, "The men had a wonderful Christmas Day (1916). They were like a happy lot of children. We decorated the ward with flags, holly and mistletoe, and paper flowers that the men made, and a tree in each ward."

How these letters bring home to us the terrible tragedy that is going on far across the ocean. And yet mingled with the feeling of sadness is the spirit of inspiration which comes from the thought of those brave men who are offering themselves to maintain the right, and the devoted women who are ministering to their needs. Our heads bow with reverence, and our hearts thrill with pride, when we think of them. But we must do more than think and feel; we must do our part in supporting them and upholding their hands. They have given their all. They can do no more, and dare we do less?[photograph: Canadian nurse Agnes Warner]

St. John, N. B.,
February 19th, 1917

REV. H. A. CODY.

Introduction


THE writer of these letters, a graduate of McGill College, and the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, left New York in the Spring of 1914 with a patient, for the Continent, finally locating at Divonne-Les-Bains, France, near the Swiss border, where they were on August 1st, when war broke out. She immediately began giving her assistance in "Red Cross" work, continuing same until the latter part of November, when she returned with her patient to New York---made a hurried visit to her home in St. John and after Christmas returned to again take up the work which these letters describe.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Aug 2008 7:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

"My Beloved Poilus"

DIVONNE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE,
August 2, 1914.

DEAR MOTHER:

The awful war we have all been dreading is upon us---France is Mobilizing. At five o'clock yesterday morning the tocsin sounded from the Marie (village hall) and men, women, and children, all flocked to hear the proclamation which the Mayor of the village read. It called upon all of military age---between twenty years and fifty years---to march at once, and inside of twenty-four hours five hundred men had gone, they knew not where. The bravery of these villagers---men and women---is remarkable, and not to be forgotten. No murmuring, no complaining,---just, "Ma Patrie," tying up the little bundle---so little--- and going; none left but old men, women and children.

We have started teaching the women and girls to make bandages, sponges, etc., for the hospital which will be needed here.

[photograph: Canadian nurse Agnes Warner]DIVONNE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE,
August 23. 1914.

Your letter came yesterday---twenty days on the way---but I was fortunate to get it at all; so many of these poor people, whose nearest and dearest have gone to fight for their country, have had no word from them since they marched away, and they do not know where they are.

From this little village 500 men left the first day of mobilization; there is not a family who has not some one gone, and from some both fathers and sons have gone, as the age limit is from twenty to fifty years.

Fig. 1: Ambulance Volant, France

I am filled with admiration and respect for these people. The courage of both the men and women is remarkable. There is no hesitation, and no grumbling, and everyone tries to do whatever he or she can to help the cause. '

I do not know if I told you, in my last letter, of the poor lady who walked all night through the dark and storm to see her son who was leaving the next morning. All the horses and motors had been taken by the Government for the army, so she started at eleven o'clock at night, all by her self, and got here about five in the morning---her son left at seven, so she had two hours with him. While there are such mothers in France she cannot fall. There are many such stories I might tell you, but I have not the time.

The " Red Cross " has started a branch hospital here, and I have been helping them to get it in order. It is just about ready now, and we may get soldiers any day.

I have classes every morning and find many of the women very quick to learn the rudiments of nursing. Every one in the place is making supplies and our sitting room is a sort of depot where they come for work.

If my patient is as well in October as she is now I am going to stay and give my services to the "Red Cross." If I have to go home with her I will come back---I would be a coward and deserter if I did not do all I could for these poor brave people.

October 25, 1914.

Another Sunday---but this is cold and rainy---the days slip by so quickly I cannot keep track of them. We have only two soldiers left at the hospital--- they tell us every day that others are coming. The country all about is perfectly beautiful with the autumn coloring.

We do not see any of the horrors of the war here. If it were not for the tales that come to us from outside, and for the poor broken men who come back, we would not know it was going on. There are very enthusiastic accounts of the Canadians in all the English papers.

PARIS,
about February 15, 1915.

Back safely in Paris after taking my patient to New York and a short visit home, which now seems like a dream.

I have been spending a lot of time at the American Ambulance this week, but have not gone out to stay as yet, as I still have to see some other small hospitals and had to go to the Clearing House to make arrangements for sending supplies, which I brought from home and New York, to different places.

I have seen quite a number of operations, and as X-ray pictures are taken of all the cases there is no time wasted in hunting for a bullet; they get the bullet out in about two minutes. They are using Dr. Criles' anśsthetic---nitrous oxide gas and oxygen---it has no bad effects whatever. The patients come out of it at once as soon as the mask is taken off, and there is no nausea or illness at all; and most of them go off laughing, for they cannot believe that it is all over, ---they feel so well; but oh, mother, it is awful to see the sad things that have happened. In some cases there are only pieces of men left. One young chap, twenty-one years old, has lost both legs. At first he did not want to live, but now he is beginning to take an interest in things and is being fitted for wooden legs.

The dental department have done wonderful work. They build up the frame work of the face and jaws and then the surgeons finish the work by making new noses and lips and eyelids.

I thought I had seen a good many wonderful things, but I did not believe it possible to make any thing human out of some of the pieces of faces that were left, and in some of the cases they even get rid of the scars. Photos are taken when they first come in, and then in the various stages of recovery. One of the worst cases I saw the last day I was out. He has to have one more operation to fill in a small hole in one side of his nose and then he will be all right.

Last Sunday one of the men in Miss B 's ward was given the medal for distinguished service. He had saved his officer's life---went right out before the guns and carried him in on his back. He was struck himself just before he got to his own lines and one leg almost torn off. When they brought him to the American Ambulance, all the doctors, except Dr. B , said his leg would have to come off at once---he refused to do it and saved the leg for the man. It will be stiff, of course, as the knee joint is gone entirely; but will be better than a wooden leg, and the poor man is so pleased.

I must tell you about the wonderful dog that is at the American Ambulance; perhaps you have read about him in some of the papers. His master came from Algeria, and of course did not expect to take his dog with him, but when the ship left the wharf the dog jumped into the sea and swam after it, so they put off a boat and hauled him on board, and he has been with his master all through the war. He was in the trenches with him, and one day a German shell burst in the trench and killed all of his companions and buried this man in the mud and dirt as well as injuring him terribly. Strange to say the dog was not hurt at all, and the first thing the man remembered was the dog digging the mud off his face. As soon as he realized his master was alive he ran off for help, and when they were brought into the Ambulance together there were not many dry eyes about. After he was sure his master was being taken care of he consented to go and be fed, and now he is having the time of his life. He is the most important person in the place. He has a beautiful new collar and medal, lives in the diet kitchen, and is taken out to walk by the nurses, and best of all is allowed to see his master every day. I will send a photo of him to you. His master has lost one leg, the other is terribly crushed, and one hand also, but Doctor B---- thinks he can save them.
I think I shall go back to Divonne-Les-Bains---they are urging me so strongly and there seems to be more need there.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Aug 2008 7:49    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

February 19, 1915.

Back again in Divonne-Les-Bains. It seems as if I had never been away---I have fallen into the old work so easily. I left Paris Sunday night about eight o'clock and arrived here at two the next day, and had a warm welcome from everybody. One poor man died of tetanus before I got back. I have nine on my floor. I have thirteen patients, nine in bed all the time, and the others up part of the day. One of the women of the village helps me in the morning, two others help with the cleaning up and serving meals; everything has to be carried up three flights of stairs, so you can imagine the work.

I have a very comfortable room at the hotel, go to the Ambulance at seven in the morning and generally get back at nine or half past. I do not know how long I shall be here---until this lot get well or more come.

One of the patients is a chef, and was acting as cook for the regiment when a shell landed in his soup pot; he was not wounded, but his heart was knocked out of place by the shock and his back was twisted when he fell.

February 28, 1915.

The poor man who was so very ill died on the morning of the twenty-third after three weeks of intense suffering---I stayed that night with him. The others are all out of danger with the exception of two who cannot get well --- one is paralyzed and the other has tuberculosis.

I went to the village for the first time yesterday and was quite touched by the welcome I received at every little shop and house. The people seemed genuinely glad to have me back. They cannot seem to get over the fact that I have crossed the ocean twice and come back to them. To them the ocean is a thing of terror, especially since the war broke out. Doctor R has a great many sick people in the country about here to take care of in addition to the soldiers. In one house they had nothing to eat but potatoes, but he is a good deal like our dear old doctor, and feeds and clothes and takes care of them himself.

Lees verder:
http://www.vlib.us/medical/canadian/cnurse.htm
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