We returned next morning to the WAAC camp at Etaples and I took a plate of the Staff with Miss Shepherd in their office and also of the chapel in the YWCA Hut, the first we had seen.
In passing Beaumaris we stopped to pay a call on O.C. Photographs, the head of the whole business in France and Flanders, a Col. Lee. I felt immensely interested to meet him. He at once told me that it was he qwho had stopped my permit going through for three months, firstly because of the great congestion at the time the Armistice was signed, then because of the fearful lack of cars. He did not think that we should be able to get about if we did come. He was a little inclined to challenge the need of my coming, and showed us volumes of 5 by 4 photos, many taken in the women’s camps, by the official photographers. However, I explained that the Imperial War Museum thought that a woman photographer, living among the girls in their camps, was likely to achieve more intimate pictures, more descriptive of their every day lives, than a man press photographer.
When I said that I understood that he had a good many men at work on the front he at once corrected me and said that though they were supposed to have six men belonging to the ministry of information, they never actually had more than four. It appeared that I was actually the fifth official photographer. I felt very pleased that a woman should get that chance.
We next went on to a Nurses’ Home, the annexe of No: 2 Stationary Hospital, Abbeville. Major Galloway was there, a kindly, elderly man who they said had been an absolute father to all the Nursing Sisters, especially in the raid times.
As I needed by this time to change some plates, he took me in an old and very historic ambulance, popularly known as “the bus” up to the No: 2 Hospital. I found a rather simple and primitive X ray room, and was glad to have use of the dark room to change ten plates, for I was having a big day. Col. Meadows, the C.O., came to see me, a very good looking man, just turning grey… I took a quick snap of him and Major Galloway on “the bus” and hurried back to join our car.
(I think the Colonel Meadows referred to here is Sydney Manvers Woolner Meadows, based on this Who’s Who record from 1935. I haven’t found much about Major Galloway.)
We next went on to 8th Ordnance Depot, where French labour was superintended by WAACs. There was a big clothing store. I did a charming group of little French children and an old woman doing something with rope, and another of some lovely French girls mending tents which hung from the roofs, quite the prettiest scene of the kind I had had a chance of.
This was our first really and entirely fine day, most mild and spring-like. We saw the first almond blossom here, and daffodils were already out. Here I did my a group – my last for the day – 22 photos in all – and was glad of my tea.
This was a bumper day for photos, many of which are described in full in the journal. There are far too many to share here, so here’s a link to all the photos taken at Abbeville in the IWM collection.