Please excuse the blot. [written sideways in the margins]
No 4 Canadian General Hospital.
Feb 25th 1916
Dear Miss Shand & Miss MacNamara-
The mail man was very good to me to-day and brought a letter from each of you. I was so sorry to know that you all had such a gripy time but glad to know you have recovered. You must have been very busy in getting so much ready for the new hospital. I am very pleased indeed to know that four of our nurses are coming with it. Miss Peterkin (Dr McKay’s friend) to-day gave me a clipping from a Toronto Paper giving a list of doctors and nurses chosen for the new hospital. I saw the names of our girls also Dr Williams, Dr Vecter Graham, Dr Ryan and Dr Fisher names. I am glad to know Dr Williams is in a safer place. He may change his mind about seeing Toronto again. When I saw him in London last May he said he would never see Toronto again. The last letter I received from Emma she said she and my cousins were ready to go down to Queen Street to view the work you have done for the new hospital. It is very thoughtful for you to call them up and ask them to see the work. They enjoy seeing it very much. I think I mentioned in previous letters to other people how much I enjoyed Nellie McClung’s book. Others are enjoying it equally as much. She is a most wholesome writer. I think you had a pretty big proposition on hand to look after sixteen sisters. That large room on the third floor has surely been put to a variety of uses. You had never mentioned Dr Adams as being on the staff at Queen St, but presume that he is. No I did not meet Miss Adams in Malta. Two weeks did not give us very long to look around very much. However we have two Miss Adams who belong to our unit. One is Kate and one is Mary. It was very sweet of Madame Bivert to remember me in her little greeting card. A great many of the Greeks here speak French but not English so I have a chance sometimes to air my French. At present I have a Frenchman for a patient. He does not know one word of English so I practice on him. We get only an odd Frenchman, all our patients being English, Irish or Scotch. Our little stowaway has again decided to roam. About six weeks ago he dissappeared from our camp and has not been heard of since. Was pleased to hear that Miss Belland was such a willing worker. I wish the reform would extend to Miss Biscoe. What a time you have had with the measles. Mrs Forster in her last letter told me of Harvey and Jim having them but Margaret had evidently not broken out then. Was sorry to hear about poor old Angel Queen also about Carrie. Please tell the Angel for me I hope she will soon be able to be around again. I remember Mrs Forsythe and Mis Mahan, but can’t recall Mrs Duncan. I shall try Miss Mac Namara to be home by next christmas as if only to have a cup of tea from your new teapot.
We are not very busy now, owing to the fact that we are getting ready to move again so have not been admitting patients for some little time. The different places we are rumored to be going to are – France, Bagdad, England, Symerna, Alexandria and Cairo. However I think that we are moving only to the other side of the town. Some of the more sober minded of our officers say that is where we are going and I think that is where we will end up. Yes, our experiences the first few weeks here might have been pleasanter but conditions are much better now and every body is happy. The water supply was very limited. Every drop of water for every purpose for several hundred people had to be hauled in donkey carts for nearly three miles. Then when we did get it, it was a golden brown and had to be strained and boiled. For two weeks we had no bread - army biscuits being used instead. I wonder if you know what an army biscuit is like? The next time you pass a feed store go in and buy a dog biscuit and eat it and think how you would like to do it for two weeks. But I must tell you no more of these things as they are ancient history now and we have had bread and a good supply of water for sometime now. Does it not seem strange to look upon bread and water as luxuries? In those days one basin of water did eight men. Lucky first man! One night I had the option of washing or putting the water in my hot water bottle. As it was a cold night I comprimised and filled my bottle and used the same water for washing in the morning. But we are thriving on the life here. It is no more than three months since we came here and I have not been off-duty one hour for illness. We were very sorry to bid good-bye to five of our sisters the other day. Four are going back on account of long continued sickness and the other one is being recalled by the War Office. She does not know why. I gave a message for you people to Miss Jean Alport if she happened to get in touch with you at all. Her home is in Orillia but she will likely be stopping in Toronto on her way through. I am developing into a great walker. Last Saturday I attended a picnic which was held on one of our numerous mountains. It is six miles distant and we walked. I enjoyed the day immensely. We “camped” for dinner at the foot of the mountain, boiling our kettle over a fire made from sticks lying about. I was simply ashamed of the amount of food I consumed that day. The week before that the nursing sisters and officers of this camp were invited to spend the evening at a neighboring British camp– not a Hospital. There were four tents used for the occasion. The evening was spent in music and games and was a decided success in spite of the fact that there were no women belonging to the camp to prepare for it. It was a cold windy night and I thought we would perish before we reached home. My hat blew off and led Major McVicar a merry dance until he finally rescued it in a mud puddle.
Perhaps Mrs. Forster has told you of the night scare we had The Zeppelin came quite low over us. Fortunately she did not think us worth a bomb and droped them all on Salonika. They sounded very near too I can assure you.
Since that time we have had the extreme pleasure of seeing the brutes driven back from making day attacks upon two or three occasions. Yesterday morning was the last attempt. We had just got nicely asleep (I am on night duty), when we heard the firing begin. We got up and went outside to see what was going on. Of course the aircraft was some little distance from us but it could be quite easily seen. It raced back for its life but was brought down, after it got beyond our vision however. Lady Eaton’s -delayed christmas gift to the sisters has just arrived. There were three for each one – a fountain pen, a pad and a bottle of fountain pen ink. Major King Smith’s wife also sent each one of us a filled christmas stocking containing many useful articles.
Must close now with much love to you both and Mrs Clare.
Lena A. Davis.
Miss Shand, you had 26 Strand instead of 86 Strand on my letter. I tell you this as I do not wish to run the risk of losing any of your precious letters.