25th March 1919

I rose very early…the smell of fried bacon was very comforting and we consoled ourselves with breakfast before embarking on a big morning of photography.

At the first canteen I tackled, my camera had a complete upset, which resulted in a smashed focusing screen – the one accident I had not foreseen and prepared for. I worked with a gaping hole, taking the largest piece of broken glass and running it round the screen as near as I could guess to the connect level, and stopping down to cover risks. At No: 2 C.C.S. I got the radiographer to squeegee an oiled piece of tissue paper onto an X ray plate and screwed it into place, and on this quite satisfactory substitute I finished my tour.

On a plate camera like Edis’, the focusing screen was a piece of ground glass at the back of the camera on which the photographer could “preview” their shot before uncovering the plate and making the exposure. Stopping down means that she reduced the size of the aperture, allowing less light into the lens, to reduce the risk of over-exposing the plate in the absense of a proper preview of the shot. I love her ingenious replacement! She mentions that she had heard of another photographer went one step further in the same situation and coated a piece of glass with condensed milk…

We had managed up to this time to avoid Influenza wards, but I was here plunged into one before I knew, and took a plate of the patients.

Cambrai

The Tiled Ward at No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station, Cambrai © IWM (Q 8090)

[at Lille] Miss Conway and I made a sortie to get some tea, but we found the cakes which aimed at being decorative were not only outrageous prices but were anything but nice to eat.  The Mlle in our patisserie told us that milk had not been  heard of in Lille for years – the Germans had taken all the cows. She put a large supply of saccharine in the teapot when making the tea, which did improve the brew, but there was no sugar in any of the pretty cakes.

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