22nd March 1919

On Saturday 22nd we made for Chalons, where a Maternité run by Les Amis had done excellent work… Miss Pye had started this and devoted herself heart and soul to the work, and it was shortly to be turned over to the French to run, with a staff of nurses trained by herself.

Nearly 1000 babies had been born there, a recent pair of twins doing their best to mount up the figures. I photographed the original first ward, the twins sleeping blissfully throughout the exposure, whilst other infants howled and waved their little fists.

maternity

A ward of the Maternity Hospital. © IWM (Q 8082)

Miss Pye came in later, a most sweet and striking personality, with dark eyes and hair and a very worn face. She was really ill, and had carried through this fine piece of work under the most uncomfortable and difficult conditions.

Our next town was Rheims, to which I looked forward with peculiar interest. Nothing that we had previously seen could touch the scene of destruction it presented… In the whole of that great city on five houses remained intact.

I firmly refused tea, and Mr. Blow whirled me off in the car to the opposite end of the town, nominally to get letters at the Poste Restante and to find the lost Miss Conway, really because he was determined that I should get a plate of St. Rémy… I got an extremely expeditious plate of the beautiful side door…and had a look at the ruins; and we then once more risked other people’s lives and limbs in a dash back at top speed, picking up Miss Conway and the letters… We had a long jouney before us; but to be in Rheims and get no plates was more than could be expected of any human photographer.

large_cr09192

Saint-Remi, Rheims, ©Cromer Museum CRRMU : 2008.14.272

 

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