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The First World War Letters from a Nurse

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Feb 2007 8:24    Onderwerp: The First World War Letters from a Nurse Reageer met quote

Hell upon Earthí
Nurseís letters describe horrors she saw during Great War
By DARRIN MCGRATH

The 31 letters that nurse Frances "Fanny" Cluett wrote during the First World War talk of the horror of war, rationing, homesickness and dying soldiers. The letters are riveting and I enjoyed reading the collection, edited by Bill Rompkey and Bert Riggs.

The book opens with an introduction from Rompkey, a Canadian senator and a former MP from Newfoundland and Labrador. Rompkey edited the collection of letters along with Memorial University archivist Bert Riggs. For Rompkey, the book is personal journey.

"My family is from Belleoram, my fatherís mother was a Cluett, and I knew Fanny Cluett. I read her letters in the archives and I wanted to somehow get them published," Rompkey says.

Fanny Cluett was born in tiny Belleoram on Newfoundlandís south coast in 1883. At the age of 33, she left her work as a school teacher to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment, an organization that helped military personnel during the First World War.

In 1916, Fanny sailed from New York to Liverpool through U-boat infested waters and was trained as a nurse. In November, she wrote her mother to say the crossing to England had taken nine days. From the time of her arrival in England until the end of the war, Fannyís letters talk of the strict rationing nurses endured to help the war effort: two candles were issued per week, three-quarters of a pound of sugar had to last a week, while a two-pound loaf of bread had to last two days.

Fannyís letters also talk of long 12-hour days and the many horrible wounds she saw. On Dec. 31, 1916, Fanny wrote her mother to say she had fainted while helping change dressings on the wounded. "I often have to turn my head and look out through the window," Fanny wrote.

In 1917, she was assigned to the 10th General Hospital in Rouen, France. Again she wrote of the horrors of war: "Oh mother! I shall never forget it as long as I live. ...You can read about war, and the wounded, but when you are brought face to face with it I tell you, it is heart rending."

Fanny also writes of caring for wounded prisoners-of-war and she hints at being a bit afraid of the Germans. In the photo section a German medal is shown, an Iron Cross, which was given to Fanny by a dying German soldier. In other references to the German wounded, Fanny suggests that the "enemy" is not really the Germans but the war itself. On Easter Sunday 1918, Fanny writes, "If this war doesnít end soon there wonít be a man living on the face of the earth. It is brutal; it is cold-blooded murder; it is hell upon earth."

Fanny hints at suffering from homesickness: "I am glad to know you are keeping well. I should have loved to be able to go bake-apple picking with you and Lil."

Rompkey says the letters are significant. "Over 200 women from Newfoundland served overseas in World War One. I donít know of another womanís account of the Great War."

Darrin McGrath is a freelance writer who lives in St. Johnís, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Your Daughter Fanny: The War

Letters of Frances Cluett

Edited by Bill Rompkey and Bert

Riggs

(Flanker Press, softcover, 172 pages, $14.95)

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Books/561250.html
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Geregistreerd op: 20-8-2006
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Apr 2008 9:30    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik heb (na behoorlijk veel moeite) een exemplaar van Cluetts War Letters ontvangen en daarna gelezen. Zeker de moeite waard.
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