Posted 17 May 2010 - 06:31 pm
And this is from the war diary - some details of the trips to the forward areas (and to Lourdes) arranged for nurses after the Armistice. It was certainly on one of these trips that the photos were taken.
Major Lord Greville came to the Office with reference to the three day trips which he was arranging for the benefit of Nurses and VAD members from both Calais and Boulogne Bases on three successive days, parties to consist of 14 members with a Conducting Officer in attendance, and I arranged that a senior Member of the Service should be in charge of each party. These trips were to begin on 20th instant, and the parties from Calais would finish the trip at Boulogne, and the Boulogne parties at Calais. The programme drawn up is as follows:-
1st day: Leave for Blendeques. Sleep at Blendeques. 2nd day: Arras, Vimy Ridge, Lens, La Bassee, Gezaincourt. Sleep at Gezaincourt. 3rd day: Somme Battlefield, Bapaume, Albert. Sleep at (Boulogne) or (Calais). The Principal Matrons of the Areas were issued with full instructions regarding these trips, and the names of the Members selected were also notified.
Pilgrimage to Lourdes: The Roman Catholic Chaplain from GHQ Colonel Rawlinson, rang up to say that he had made arrangements with the Etaples Padre for Nurses to proceed on an 8 days’ tour to Lourdes, leaving Etaples on 29th. I let him know that I knew nothing about it, and made an appointment to visit him at his Headquarters the next day after discussing the matter with the DGMS should it meet with his approval.
With Miss Wright VAD to GHQ where I saw Colonel Rawlinson, Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain, with reference to the Pilgrimage to Lourdes, and said that until something was settled officially on the subject no further arrangements should be made. He told me that Col. Wroughton, Adjutant General’s Office, had told him there would be no difficulty in the matter. Father Coyle, a Jesuit Priest at Etaples, would be in charge of the party, and arrangements had been made with the railway authorities for accommodation to be provided, and they would go direct from Etaples by train, via Paris. The fare would be 30 francs each way from Paris, and their expenses at Lourdes would be 8 francs a day.
From there I went on to GHQ and saw Colonel Price Jones who informed me that he had heard of the matter but had nothing on paper, and he advised me to put up the request with as little delay as possible.
From there to Etaples. Saw the DDMS Colonel Barefoot, who had not realised the necessity of this trip being on thoroughly official lines before any orders could be given. I also found that he was arranging privately for trips to the Forward Areas for Nurses in parties of 14 one day and 24 the next, without any definite instructions on the subject, and he undertook to delay the starting of these trips until proper instructions had been circulated by the Acting Principal Matron as had already been done at Boulogne.
The 3 day trips to Forward Areas from both Bases completed. Each day (22nd, 23rd, 24th) the Conducting Officer and the Sister in charge of the party called at the office to say that all had gone well and that the members had had a very interesting and instructive time. The Matron in charge of each party was writing to Major Lord Greville thanking him, and as well I wrote on behalf of everybody to thank him for arranging the trips, and for the great privilege each Member of the party realised had been given in having the opportunity of visiting the Front Areas under such pleasant and interesting conditions.
Miss Ridley, Principal Matron Canadians, accompanied by Miss Campbell and Miss Isaacs, Matrons CAMC, left for a tour of inspection in the Forward Areas, intending to visit all Canadian Units right up to Cologne, and returning via Brussels.