23rd March 1919

Next morning, we were to visit a FANY unit which was commanded by a Miss Frazer…she had been severely wounded, getting a piece of shrapnel through her liver, and had several decorations. We found that the girls occupied a big farm house…the poor things were all having a slack Sunday morning in bed, and our early call was evidently anything but opportune. I ran into a charming lady in khaki pyjamas, half asleep, who looked very frightened at the sight of Daddy Blow in my wake, men-visitors not being allowed in FANY quarters.

After a long interval, Miss Frazer came in, and I felt most regretful that the girls should be dragged out of bed on their one free day to be photographed… She was to ride that morning with a French officer who was giving her a mount, and as the horses soon came round, we hastened to arrange a group, taking her standing by the cars in the garage, with some of her staff at work.

Miss Frazer

Miss Fraser’s unit of Field Ambulance Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), Compiegne. © IWM (Q 8084)

These girls lent us an ambulance for the day… We went out to see a very nice unit of the Comité Brittanique du Croix Rouge Francais, Service des Blessés et Refugiés, living in the Chateau de St. Anne at Pierrefond. They imported a great number of garments and household necessities for the refugees, letting them have things at very moderate prices. The dear old French cook was called in to pose as a Refugee customer, as was another charming little French girl, and I got a group of the workers at their work.

chateau st anne

Clothes and linen being issued to a French woman at a Dispensary of the French Red Cross Relief Unit at Chateau St Anne, Pierrefonds. © IWM (Q 8088)

After a long bumpy journey we got back to Compeigne, where to my great relief we were to have another night’s rest. There was a fair amount of damage to the town, and our own Hotel was knocked about and pitted with small holes. The memory of the glorious supply of hot water which drowns all other memories of that evening when I retired from public view for a few hours of real leisure, the like of which we had not known since we started our tour, remains like an oasis in a desert.

The continual “onwards and upwards” was getting a little much for any but the most robust…during that month we spent touring, in the course of which we saw practically the whole of French, British and Belgian fighting fronts, and met hundreds of men and women who had lived through the most thrilling experiences of the war and whose everyday tales were far more real and convincing than fiction, we practically lived through the period of the war. It was little wonder that we were sometimes humanly weary.


One thought on “23rd March 1919

  1. Pingback: 26th March 1919 | Olive Edis

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