Lilian Robinson's Diary: September 1914 (Page 2)

September 7th - 14th, 1914 (No. 2 General Hospital)

Diary Entries

September 7th: Many happy returns to Cy & dear Ivan. I wonder if they think of me ever, as I remember them. We all had déjeuner at 8am, tea & rolls, or rather bread. It isn’t nice bread here but I shld think v. wholesome, a sort of sour rye kind. I slept fairly well, not fault of bed wh. tho’ shared will miss. Lyons was most comfie. After b’fast we went out & explored the shops. They were quite nice & so quaint, so many like booths at a fair, evidently new up for the visitors’ season. I bought some v. pretty little boxes typical of Breton work, & also took my watch to be mended wh. cost me 3 fr. 50. Then we had a v. nice lunch with strawberries! at 12 o’c, & at dinner tonight again with other fruit we had strawberries. They don’t taste quite so nice as our Eng. June ones. This afternoon Hopton, Lyons, Holbech & I took our tea out to the pine woods, wh. are all around us here, & just slept under the pines until about 4 o’c when we all went & bathed in the sea. It was glorious, my 1st dip in France. Just got back in time for 6 o’c dinner, then had a short walk on the plage & bed. A most glorious storm out at sea started tonight, forked & sheet lightning. The whole sea was lit up. It came near & then reached us. Quite suddenly all the electric lights went out. It was so sudden we hardly realised what had happened. I stayed a long time outside on the balcony watching the storm. The blue, mauve & gold lights were perfect. I took a snapshot of the 72 patients sitting under the pines this afternoon. Apparently the officers are being nursed in the hotel here, & the privates at the Casino close to us. The pts wear such pretty pale blue coats, & white linen trousers. We have heard no war news whatever, in fact no news of any kind as to what is to happen to us. 2 Q.As. are helping in this hotel to nurse the sick Fr. officers. I wish they wd let some more of us help.

September 8th: We had communion service at 7.30am. The Eng. Chaplain came over & we used the hotel conservatory. About 30 at it. It is there each mng. Explored this mng over ferry into another little Breton town, & bought 2 pencils & some sweets! This afternoon I & Holbech walked over the sands to Pornichet (about 3 miles) & saw Cole, Hale, Slaney, Smith & many others. Had tea with Cole & got back at 6. Heard we were to pack to take only kit bags with us, & leave trunks behind & be ready any moment to go. I do hope it means work again soon. I wonder where!

September 9th: Had to get up in the night & shut up the windows. Rain simply pouring in. The floor was wet right up to our bed. Lyons & I got towels & mopped up the floor & returned to bed about 4am! Very stormy & windy this mng. Afraid the Pornichet folk won’t come over. It looks as if it might clear tho’. Smith came over this afternoon & had tea with us. She is No 12. Heard this evng there had been an Eng. victory, but no particulars. We seem to get no war news here. Also heard there was a likelihood of our being sent back to Havre. I heard Col. Holt was already there. I hope we don’t go back. I shld have no heart to start again there but I shld welcome anywhere that meant work. I sat down on Hopton’s trunk that she had painted last night, & got up with “No 2 Gen. Hosp.” in brilliant red letters on the back of my best grey skirt. I was in despair, but I had my skirt off in the twinkling of an eye, & scrubbed it with soap & water. I got it practically all out. I think a little turpentine will finish the matter. It only looks a bit crumpled now. Hopton’s heartless remark, “Well, if your luggage gets lost, you won’t now at any rate”!

September 10th: Nothing of interest to chronicle today. Went out this mng with Flowers & bought more biscuits. They are dearer here, also sweets, than in Eng. We are told to keep close at hand again as may go off ? any time. I hear this hotel (Royal) is only 12 & 15 francs ordinarily. I bought some cotton & hooks & am learning to crotchet! We heard our letters had gone to Nantes today. How I long for them. Sent a p.c. home today, also to Van. Went to early service this a.m.

September 11th: Bathed in mng. Sea v. rough, impossible to swim. I was twice knocked over by the waves. Sent 6th letter home. It came on to rain, simply poured, & we 4 arrived home like drowned rats! We washed our hair in the afternoon & spent the rest of the time repairing the damage the rain had done. Miss R. told us after dinner, that she as next senior was transf. to Pornichet, & S. Tunly in charge of No 2 for present. She told us No 7 was going tomorrow to Le Mans & 8 had gone to Versailles. She said she thought we shld be broken up, or might go to Havre or Paris. How I wish it might be the latter. In the evng. “our six” fore-gathered & told ghost stories etc. Hoppie’s repertoire is too amusing.

September 12th: “Hoppie”, “Pim” & I walked this afternoon to a little Bretagne village about 3 miles away. We went across the salt marshes. The pathways were far worse than Hampton Court maze, a labyrinth of them running round & intersecting each other over the dykes, but we got the other side at last. The blackberries are simply wonderful here. I’ve never seen them grow in such profusion. We eat lots of them. We went over the church, quite a nice one, v. gay inside with gilt & paper flowers & garish ornamentation. Two old peasant women praying in it. I was most struck with the exquisitely human face of the natives of our Lord. I went to the early service this mng. No news for us. Just having a bath tonight 5.30am when Davis brought up letters for us. I wrapped a bath towel round me, I couldn’t wait for more attire! & got my letters, one fr. Grimes, Mr Phillips, Van. 9 & 18th letters fr. home, also Mirror (3rd). Mercy & Truth, & bathing dress etc. We all fell upon the pepp. creams & devoured them (a good many eaten evidently en route!) 8th letter missing so far. Such excitement here at arrival of mail. We have all pooled our papers for public benefit. Col. Holt said when over this afternoon, if our equipment hadn’t gone to Eng. we had been chosen to go to Versailles! Think what we’ve missed. It’s too rotten.

September 13th: Went to early service at 7am, bathed after b’fast, & just got back by skin of my teeth for 10am service. Had a most beautiful & helpful address fr. Father Benton. Wrote 7th letter home & 2nd letter to Van & p.cs. to Grimes & Mr Phillips. Orders come tonight for us to hold ourselves in readiness to start any moment to go back to Havre! I’m too sick to say more. And by train too. I’ve packed & we four had perhaps the last tea-drinking, nearly 12 o’c. I had better go to bed. I went to service again after dinner tonight, but the other Chaplain, a conceited fool!

September 14th: Received 8th letter fr. home & 4th Mirror. Still waiting for orders. Walked along plage this mng & bought our rolls for tea. Heard tonight we are to stand by for 24hrs.

Nurses in the Diary

Information from the Army Lists 1914 & 1917, and The National Archives WO 399

  • Hopton - Miss Maud HOPTON (Staff Nurse QAIMNSR)
  • Lyons - not identified yet
  • Holbech - Miss Gertrude HOLBECH (Staff Nurse QAIMNSR)
  • Cole - not identified yet
  • Hale - Miss Margaret HALE (Staff Nurse QAIMNS)
  • Slaney - Miss Claribel SLANEY (Staff Nurse QAIMNS)
  • Smith - not identified yet
  • Miss R. - Miss Hannah Watson REID RRC (Matron QAIMNS)
  • S. Tunly - Miss Mabel Mary TUNLEY (Sister QAIMNS)