CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/246
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her relatives
Date16 June 1918
Extent6 sheets + carbon copy
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, Chambéry, to her relatives, regarding church; rain after drought; the pastor's family have gone to Aix so she will probably not see the daughter, who has been ill for some time; easy journey from Rome to Chambéry; sharing the compartment with one Frenchwoman, who chattered; the reduced numbers travelling must mean there are stricter rules at the Consulates; diversion at Sarzana because of a breakdown nearer to Genoa; detailed security checks at Modane, including, in some cases, undressing; some passengers lost patience; she was escorted through by Lieutenant Lelong, deputy to Captain Flageul to whom she had Colonel Randon's letter of introduction; French trains more crowded; the French chatterer was entertaining and had many observations to make about her years in Rome; she wants her son to turn out 'a Frenchman capable of taking part in the rebuilding of France after the war'; return to last year's lodgings; problems with her teeth already; Monsieur Audry, an American dentist trained at Philadelphia and Paris, will see to them in Chambéry; price rises in the town are blamed on 'exploitation by so-called Spaniards. The Swiss are more likely the real destination, if not the agents, who go round the farms at 4a.m. and buy up so much produce that local people get only the leavings and at much higher rates'; prices are still lower than in Rome; the Chambéry regiment and Abbé Julien are at Trastevere Station; 'the Monte Tomba exploit in Dec. was largely the result of a challenge', of which she gives an account; the Italians and the French forces are not getting on at all well, and the situation is aggravated by the Italians' constant begging; Italian patients at the 103 have spoiled the spirit of the place; there have been American and British patients, injured in an accident at Modane; the nuns are able to converse with Arab patients because they have been a long time in Syria; 'harm has been done to international sentiment by sending 40,000 of the Nov. incident to this country. They work behind the lines, it is true, but a diplomatic error has been committed which it would take the finest fighting to undo'; she has had a warm reception at the 103; the preparations for a room for her on the premises had been made as soon as suggested; Corgnet is still alive though very weak; he sometimes does beadwork; there is no hope for him but 'he has lingered two years, the result of a pure mind and body'; Laurent is still there, with frostbite holes in his feet and legs; La France has had pleurisy, appendicitis and a hernia since she left; the Vernaz sisters had him at their country home to strengthen him for his operation, but he is still weak; there is a sadder air about the hospital; the medically ill are not as cheerful as men who are wounded; one injured with gas burns is growing new skin; others affected by gas have badly burned bronchial tubes; 'Why is the day of miracles over?'; they do not complain, but talk of holding on until 'the full weight of the Americans can help us to beat the Boches'; the nurses are under much more strain now; Mlle. Vernaz considers Grenoble Amelia's best option; Mlle. Cavaillon has recommended a pension to her; the Abbé had mentioned the Jules Ferry Hospital in Chambéry but Mlle. Vernaz did not approve of the atmosphere there; Amelia's approval of two English soldiers, Jordan and Peel, who have been patients at the 103 and have been cheery and helpful; she has visited her aviator patient, now helping at his mother's shop; he is a little short in one leg but is walking, astonishing as he had two pelvis fractures and a dislocated thigh; he may return to flying in February; visit to Dr. Michaud, who regrets the change to medical cases from the wounded; he is only treating stomachs, pleurisy and gas-poisoning; he wants her back at the 103 though there is currently no work for her, and is very complimentary about her work and character; she could also go and work in Aix, where, he says, 'they think they know everything and know nothing'; he will recommend her to his friend Dr. Bische in Grenoble, the director of the Secours aux Blessés; he has also given her advice on finding hospital accommodation; Colonel Randon has advised her to contact the Médécin-chef de la Place but Dr. Michaud's personal recommendation will be more helpful; meeting with Mlle. Pautex who is hoping to pass her Baccalaureat soon and then study medicine; visit from the Abbé, whose knee is much better now; he explains that he recommended her to the Jules Ferry Hospital in the hope that she could soon be referred back to the 103; he is currently overseeing 700 to 800 patients in various hospitals and is very interested in their characters; he has on average a funeral every second day, with a great deal of related work; the mothers now are usually the only mourners because the public are too used to funerals; at the first Italian funeral there about 300 turned out, including representatives from the town and the university, but now the Italian funerals are just as commonplace as the others; the Italians are now offended; the Hungarians are friendly; the Abbé has a phrase book for 16 languages and manages with it quite well; the Americans and English arrived in the town in proper military order and were welcomed accordingly with respect, but the Italians entered 'like a flock of sheep', were treated accordingly, and are also offended because of that; they have not shown that they deserve anything more; description of the building taken by the Americans for their Y.M.C.A., though it is empty now because there are no Americans on leave; Mme. Pelaz has a military dentist in her apartment, so she has a good income; Amelia has been sleeping well; she played the organ at church as the organist was on a late train; the congregation was worth playing for as they carried the music; she thinks that although she was not perfect the congregation probably did not notice; the pastor is foolish and jaundice-yellow; he cycled from Aix for the service and overtired himself; he is more affected by the sufferings of war than by the opportunity it gives for service; his preaching is not good for the soldiers in the congregation; Dr. Michaud has heard of her organ interests and hopes she will find time to play in Grenoble; Dr. Jacod is at Grenoble as a throat specialist and may be able to add to her testimonies if required; 'the retreat which did such harm is attributed to treachery. Batallions which knew every inch of the ground were exchanged at the last moment'; she does not have to have papers prepared in advance for Grenoble. [Letter breaks off without signature]
Access StatusOpen
Add to My Items