CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/269
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her relatives
Date17 November 1918
Extent5 sheets + carbon copy
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, Valence, to her relatives, regarding the Armistice; the previous rumour was probably because of the Americans entering Sedan; the telegram was received at the station and posted up at the Prefecture; celebrations interrupted by having to pack up Mlle. Combe's things for her father to collect; she and Mme. Soureillat were about to go out and see the celebrations again when a train of wounded was announced; Mme. Soureillat sent Amelia out anyway; procession of children, refugees, and people in costumes of Alsace and Lorraine; cafés serving champagne; Amelia had to be careful as her quiet happiness was taken by some as offensive in the face of general exuberance; she did not like the champagne she was obliged to drink in toast with the officers; though staff and patients 'lost their heads (according to our sober ideas)' more wounded arrived in furniture vans and had to be admitted; it annoyed her that on the day of victory the wounded were the most neglected; usually they are given coffee or a proper meal at the station, depending on the time of arrival, but on Monday they were not and arrived at the hospital starving, while the rest of the staff did not care and Amelia had great difficulty in finding food for them; she is very cross with Mme. Soureillat for neglecting her duty; Michel is on leave and his replacement is a 'noodle' and needs everything explained carefully; the nun went to bed early because she had to go to mass at five, and the infirmier was tired; one patient was depressed and bitter because, after four years unscathed, he lost his left arm and his right fingers and was wounded in the leg when American grenades exploded in their packing; the men are no longer confined to the hospital and Bottet came in drunk; the day was depressing for the effect it showed the war to have had on the population; Valence is part of the Midi and 'full of enthusiasm and sacrifice in 1914, dwindling to self-centred apathy in 1918'; 'the grip of a moral mainspring seems to be beyond their powers in everyday life'; normality returned on Tuesday except for a thanksgiving service in the cathedral on Thursday; the place was beautifully decorated and crowded; the music was excellent and the bishop preached very well; it was impressive, but the French do not carry the wonder of their services into everyday life and some of the officers were planning outside the cathedral to go to a café; everyone now wants to be free and away from military life, but she wonders what they will do with their freedom when they have it; remarkable case of fine surgery - his radio diagrams [x-rays] show a thigh bone fractured but held together by 'a plaque of aluminium running up the side and screwed into place by six screws, three on each side of the break'; there is only a long, neat scar, and the man walks with very little difficulty, no inconvenience and little tiring; another great evacuation is due to make way for wounded from the front; the temporary wooden field hospitals are to be cleared, possibly to form accommodation for workmen trying to repair 'the waste places'; the 201 and the annexe will close together and could close at any time, as they made no commitment to stay open for six months after the war; all Red Cross hospitals must stay open until the armistice becomes a definite peace; that takes them to 18 December, but with more wounded coming in it seems likely that the closing date for the two hospitals will be about 1 January; she has been very happy there and several call her the 'Petite Maman'; the hospital would have been glad to have her long ago if they had known that she was available; Mme. Soureillat is the only one who has worked right through the war there, out of 500 original volunteers; Amelia does not wish to return to Rome and thinks anyway that it might be difficult from the point of view of passports for some time, so she would like to stay in France; it might also be helpful for Uncle and Aunt making summer plans if she stayed on this side of the border; she might try to find out if massage was required by the American wounded at Vichy; it is difficult to move between regions still; she might well be able to move to one of the military hospitals in Valence where the severely wounded will probably have to stay for some time; Mme. Soureillat has no desire to return to the social boredom of civil life and wants 'to save herself from her friends', so they could be transferred together.
Access StatusOpen
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