CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/327
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her relatives
Date19 November 1919
Extent4 sheets + carbon copy
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, Hotel Dieu, St. Quentin, Aisne, France, to her relatives, regarding journey from Paris with Mlle. Chiry, through the war zone, with description, woman travelling with them comes from the area but cannot go back, without a home and without the sons she lost in the war, also travelling with a zouave going to join French troops in Belgium, with description of his uniform, train close to time but station not in a good state, much of the town is in ruins though there are some shops for necessities, Amelia does not know where the 30,000 inhabitants can live, the Hotel Dieu is the local name for the hospital, which is huge and confusing, it is of brick, and was bombarded and is very neglected, plaster is still falling off the walls, there was some order when it was a military hospital but now this has diminished, it is reminiscent of Santa Croce, they were not expected but were welcomed anyway, they are needed as night nurses, but Mlle. Chiry worked at the front and can speak her mind, and said that they would not do all of it but would take turns with the other A.D.F. nurses, as that would mean doing all the wards and possibly spreading infection, the other A.D.F. nurses are all over 60 and will not do night nursing, so an argument ensues, description of her room, which is dirty with broken furniture, most of the glass is missing from the windows, and is replaced by tarred sheeting or oiled paper, she is wearing her uniform over her civilian clothes for warmth, Karl and Willy are odd job men and chambermaids, they are German prisoners of war and eager to help, they also work in the town on repairing buildings, Germans and Russians are ward orderlies and dressers, her knowledge of German gets her special service, Karl controls the food and makes sure that no one exceeds their ration, Willy is of a proud Berlin family and though pleasant he is galled at being a servant, description of refectory, unreliable electricity, most staff have lamps but the newcomers have candles with no candlesticks, the roof is being repaired but now the snow is melting through it and there are buckets everywhere to catch the drips, one nurse resorted to sleeping under an umbrella, fortunately people are generally good-humoured, but she and Mlle. Chiry are taking their time and may still leave if things do not improve, the food is good and abundant, but the water is forbidden, there is condensed milk instead of ordinary milk.
Access StatusOpen
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