Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Scope and Content

28 September 1914. Written from the Hôpital Auxiliaire, Hôtel Claridge, Paris. Transcript:

Dearest Mother

Many thanks for your welcome letters. I am always very glad to have them. I am sorry that the children have left Aldeburgh and dear little Colin [Colin Anderson, her nephew] gone to boarding school (little when one thinks of him going out into the world alone). I hope he will get on alright. If you give me his address I will write to him.

We are very busy here and very pleased with our progress. We have actually about 60 cases in now and can take another 30 or 40 at a pinch. Yesterday we had 7 operations. The patients are getting on very well and they all seem to like the hospital. The domestic arrangements are improving and everything is getting into routine.

We had a visit yesterday from the Representative of the English Military Medical Authorities. I was operating so that I did not see him but Dr Cuthbert took him round and he was quite interested and pleased. In the officer's ward he stopped and said 'Well I'm damned! I never expected to see an English Military Hospital run by women'. At this the officers round the ward all popped up from their beds and assured him it was far the best run hospital they had ever been in. The official English Military Hospital is at Versailles and in the course of the next few days we must go there to report ourselves and to return the visit of the old Lt Colonel.

I had a very interesting day on Wednesday. I went by motor to Braisne, a small place close to Soissons, and only a few miles behind the fighting line. I went to see the medical officer there and to try and arrange for transport of the wounded from there back here. As it is 100 miles away and the roads are very rough and cut up by traffic this is not easy. I saw more of actual war than I ever expected to see - because we drove over the battlefield of Meaux and through villages in which there had been a lot of fighting. It was very interesting and very terrible. At Braisne our poor men are in bad conditions in a church with no provision for attending to them. The fighting is continuous and the wounded are brought back in field ambulances daily. I could not do any work there or wait as the gates of Paris are rigidly closed at 8 o'clock and passports and permits are of no avail after that hour.

Our troops, very many of whom I saw, looked extremely fit. In every village the soldiers, English and French crowded round our car and asked for news and gave me letters to post in Paris 'Madame est le poste' and she was. Goodbye dearest