CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/275
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her relatives
Date4 January 1919
Extent7 sheets + carbon copy
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, Valence, to her relatives, regarding sending cards as she could not write letters; catching cold at rehearsals for the Christmas fête; busy Christmas Day; list of the presents she gave; fruit for Captain Dobinson; distribution of other gifts; visit to Moret; ingredients for Christmas dinner; Mme. Soureillat's plans only carried out at the last minute, thus awkward; decorations in the salle de pansement; M. Siere played his horn; Mme. Soureillat has been a little lax in her attendance recently, and lazy about the rehearsals for the entertainment; Captain Dobinson's purchase of pyjamas to fit over his wire splint, and having to go by invalid carriage to fetch them; the preparations at the 201 were also left to the last minute; the concert there went slightly more smoothly; performance of Dr. Lavoiepierre's daughter; she is very confident; Dr. Boissat's departure is adding administrative details to the workload left by Mme. Soureillat on Amelia's shoulders; baths for ailments, including sitz bath for haemorrhoids; New Year's Day is more of a festival here than Christmas Day; Trossat's gift to her of a silver spoon and fork; Lançon has given her cut crystals; his dislocated shoulder is healing well; he has also worked a ruby for her; she wants to mount them as a pendant so that he can see what she has done with them; she has given Lançon and Trossat each her photograph; both she and Mme. Soureillat received bouquets from the officers, as did the patients; Captain Fonsagrive also gave her flowers; the men had wanted to give the nurses a more lasting gift, but could not decide what it should be; exchange of presents with the doctor; her presents for the officers; the officers there at present are 'a nice set'; Captain Fonsagrive is an officer in the colonial artillery - 'he makes a clear distinction between the "officiers de carrière" (of whom the majority were killed at the beginning of the war) and the "officiers de réserve", created since 1914 from amongst good soldiers, as soldiers, though men of poor education and no social standing. Capt. Dobinson has referred to the same state of matters in the English Army, the loss of officers killed at the beginning being made up from amongst non-commissioned officers, capable soldiers, but with no personal training to make them attractive companions in the officers' mess'; present of wine from the doctor to the men; she will also bake them cakes when her time is more free; her cold is much better; she has had difficulty in keeping her hands clean for nursing while holding her handkerchief all the time; the men have gradually been becoming more sympathetic to her and kindly when she has difficulties; Vayr has at last been evacuated after 7 months there; Taillefer has been a 'very bad element'; he is in Mme. Soureillat's confidence, and bullied his fellow patients; he has abused his privilege of late nights; he has also commandeered the salle de pansement for his own use, particularly at night; this has led to 'a lack of moral discipline'; it has damaged the annexe's reputation in the town; the officers have spread rumours of the private conversations between Mme. Soureillat and Taillefer; Dr. Jacquin has now ordered him to go to the Séminaire; the annexe has been threatened with closure because of Mme. Soureillat's system of favouritism; she has been 'seriously compromised' in the eyes of the officers; the situation has been misinterpreted; Amelia has been questioned about it at the bureau at the 201; anonymous letters have been received accusing Mme. Soureillat of various things; Amelia refuses to say much without Mme. Soureillat being present; she is told that in any case she would be kept on as Mme. Clerc and the Commandant have a high personal regard for her; M. Miéthon has now been instructed to bar the salle de pansement at night and to make a second roll call during the night, sleeping on the premises; this is disruptive but makes things easier for Amelia as the door is no longer her responsibility; Miéthon has himself been a problem as he has been given this authority but though a priest he is mobilised and only has the rank of corporal, so the senior non-commissioned officers and the officers will not take orders from him, and he has airs above the ordinary men; Mme. Soureillat is not speaking to Amelia; Taillefer and Jouvent are still returning for treatment and meals as if nothing has happened; 'she is a fool to be blinded by a pair of rascals'; she feels that the measures taken are 'wholly unjustifiable'. [Letter breaks off without signature]
Access StatusOpen
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