210 page book, supplied as a PDF document on CD-ROM.
I eagerly avail myself of the Author's invitation to write a foreword to her book, as it gives me an opportunity of expressing something of the admiration, of the wonder, of the intense brotherly sympathy and affection—almost adoration—which has from time to time overwhelmed me when witnessing the work of our women during the Great War.
They have been in situations where, five short years ago, no one would ever have thought of finding them. They have witnessed and taken active part in scenes nerve-racking and heart-rending beyond the power of description. Often it has been my duty to watch car-load after car-load of severely wounded being dumped into the reception marquees of a Casualty Clearing Station. There they would be placed in long rows awaiting their turn, and there, amid the groans of the wounded and the loud gaspings of the gassed, at the mere approach of a sister there would be a perceptible change and every conscious eye would brighten as with a ray of fresh hope. In the resuscitation and moribund marquees, nothing was more pathetic than to see "Sister," with her notebook, stooping over some dying lad, catching his last messages to his loved ones.
Women worked amid such scenes for long hours day after day, amid scenes as no mere man could long endure, and yet their nerves held out; it may be because they were inspired by the nature of their work. I have seen them, too, continue that work under intermittent shelling and bombing, repeated day after day and night after night, and it was the rarest thing to find one whose nerves gave way. I have seen others rescue wounded from falling houses, and drive their cars boldly into streets with bricks and debris flying.
I have also, alas! seen them grievously wounded; and on one occasion, killed, and found their comrades continuing their work in the actual presence of their dead.
The free homes of Britain little realise what our war women have been through, or what an undischarged debt is owing to them.
How few now realise to what a large extent they were responsible for the fighting spirit, for the morale, for the tenacity which won the war! The feeling, the knowledge that their women were at hand to succour and to tend them when they fell raised the fighting spirit of the men and made them brave and confident.
The above qualities are well exemplified by the conduct and bearing of our Authoress herself, who, when grievously injured, never lost her head or her consciousness, but through half an hour sat quietly on the road-side beside the wreck of her car and the mangled remains of her late companion. Rumour has it that she asked for and smoked a cigarette.
Such heroism in a young girl strongly appealed to the imagination of our French and Belgian Allies, and two rows of medals bedeck her khaki jacket.
Other natural qualities of our race, which largely helped to win the war, are brought out very vividly, although unconsciously, in this book, e.g. the spirit of cheerfulness; the power to forget danger and hardship; the faculty of seeing the humorous side of things; of making the best of things; the spirit of comradeship which sweetened life.
These qualities were nowhere more evident than among the F.A.N.Y. Their esprit-de-corps, their gaiety, their discipline, their smartness and devotion when duty called were infectious, almost an inspiration to those who witnessed them.
Throughout the war the "Fannys" were renowned for their resourcefulness. They were always ready to take on any and every job, from starting up a frozen car to nursing a bad typhoid case, and they rose to the occasion every time.
H.N. THOMPSON, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.,
Director of Medical Services, British Army of the Rhine .
Assistant Director Medical Services, 2nd Division, 1914; ditto 48th Division, 1915; Deputy-Director Medical Services, VI Corps, May 1915 to July 1917; Director Medical Services, First Army, July 1917 to April 1919.
I. IN CAMP BEFORE THE WAR
II. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
III. THE JOURNEY UP TO THE FRONT
IV. BEHIND THE TRENCHES
V. IN THE TRENCHES
VI. THE TYPHOID WARDS
VII. THE ZEPPELIN RAID
VIII. CONCERNING BATHS, "JOLIE-ANNETTE," "MARIE-MARGOT" AND ST. INGLEVERT
IX. TYPHOIDS AGAIN, AND PARIS IN 1915.
X. CONCERNING A CONCERT, CANTEEN WORK, HOUSEKEEPING, THE ENGLISH CONVOY, AND GOOD-BYE, LAMARCK.
XI. THE ENGLISH CONVOY
XII. THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE LORRY, "OLD BILL" AND "'ERB" AT AUDRICQ
XIII. CONVOY LIFE
XIV. CHRISTMAS, 1916
XV. CONVOY PETS, COMMANDEERING, AND THE "FANTASTIKS"
XVI. THE LAST RIDE
XVII. HOSPITALS: FRANCE AND ENGLAND
XVIII. ROEHAMPTON: "BOB" THE GREY, AND THE ARMISTICE
XIX. AFTER TWO YEARS
IN CAMP BEFORE THE WAR
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was founded in 1910 and now numbers roughly about four hundred voluntary members.
It was originally intended to supplement the R.A.M.C. in field work, stretcher bearing, ambulance driving, etc.—its duties being more or less embodied in the title.
An essential point was that each member should be able to ride bareback or otherwise, as much difficulty had been found in transporting nurses from one place to another on the veldt in the South African War. Men had often died through lack of attention, as the country was too rough to permit of anything but a saddle horse to pass.
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was on active service soon after War was declared and, though it is not universally known, they were the pioneers of all the women's corps subsequently working in France.
Before they had been out very long they were affectionately known as the F.A.N.Y.'s, to all and sundry, and in an incredibly short space of time had units working with the British, French, and Belgian Armies in the field.
It was in the Autumn of 1913 that, picking up the Mirror one day, I saw a snapshot of a girl astride on horseback leaping a fence in a khaki uniform and topee. Underneath was merely the line "Women Yeomanry in Camp," and nothing more. "That," said I, pointing out the photo to a friend, "is the sort of show I'd like to belong to: I'm sick of ambling round the Row on a Park hack. It would be a rag to go into camp with a lot of other girls. I'm going to write to the Mirror for particulars straight away."
I did so; but got no satisfaction at all, as the note accompanying the photo had been mislaid. However, they did inform me there was such a Corps in existence, but beyond that they could give me no particulars.
I spent weeks making enquiries on all sides. "Oh, yes, certainly there was a Girls' Yeomanry Corps." "Where can I join it?" I would ask breathlessly. "Ah, that I can't say," would be the invariable reply.
The more obstacles I met with only made me the more determined to persevere. I went out of my way to ask all sorts of possible and impossible people on the off-chance that they might know; but it was a long time before I could run it to earth. "Deeds not words" seemed to be their motto.
One night at a small dance my partner told me he had just joined the Surrey Yeomanry; that brought the subject up once more and I confided all my troubles to him. Joy of joys! He had actually seen some of the Corps riding in Hounslow Barracks. It was plain sailing from that moment, and I hastened to write to the Adjutant of the said Barracks to obtain full particulars.
Within a few days I received a reply and a week later met the C.O. of the F.A.N.Y.'s, for an interview.
To my delight I heard the Corps was shortly going into camp, and I was invited to go down for a week-end to see how I liked it before I officially became a member. When the day arrived my excitement, as I stepped into the train at Waterloo, knew no bounds. Here I was at last en route for the elusive Yeomanry Camp!
Arrived at Brookwood, I chartered an ancient fly and in about twenty minutes or so espied the camp in a field some distance from the road along which we were driving. "'Ard up for a job I should say!" said my cabby, nodding jocosely towards the khaki figures working busily in the...