My dear Miss Shand, Mrs Clare and Miss Mac-
It seems dreadful to think I have actually been here a whole week and just writing you now, but this is really the first opportunity and I am “grasping” it. But you can imagine how many things there are to see to in a new place, and considering I have already moved my abode once and had a most awful cold I am sure you will forgive me.
Well to go back to ancient history – my trip. You probably already know that we came round by Halifax, thus delaying our trip. Altogether we were sixteen days on board. At Halifax we were joined by three other boats. One was filled with Americans and the other two were our escorts. when we left Halifax we were right on the rough sea and had no time to get our sea legs so of course I fell by the wayside and was ill for two days. I delayed opening the “box” until after my “mal de mer” and I can assure you it was very much enjoyed. Such a huge box and it was lovely.
We had one very rough day. I really was rather nervous. It began some time in the night and when day light came every thing movable was steadily marching backwards and forwards with the swaying of the ship. I went into breakfast but the dining salon looked like a rough house. The plate rail was of no use at all. Dishes were leaping right over them and landing upside down on the floor and it was no use at all ordering tea or coffee as it upset the minute it was put down. By clinging to the wall I managed to get into the lounge and was really afraid to move until noon. People were being thrown about and hurt quite badly. The barber was sitting in his chair which was whirled round and he (the barber) was pitched out through his door and the full length of the corridor. No one was allowed on deck as the waves were sweeping right over it. One of the life boats was torn from its fastenings, a large air shaft blown down and part of the wireless swept away so you can imagine the severity of the storm. I am thankful to say it lasted one day only.
We landed in Liverpool in a very heavy fog and had to stay at the hotel for the night we came down to London Friday morning arriving about three oclock. The matron in chief said we might have the week end of which we were not sorry as the last few days and nights on board ship were very strenuous ones. As the moon was full we were in as much danger as in the day time and every unusual sound wakened me. I was very glad of Miss Mc Namara’s sugar in London where we encountered once more the tiny ration served in a paper cup. We managed to miss any air raids in London. Although just the night before there had been a big one.
I arrived at Basingstoke on Monday evening at six thirty and just as we arrived at the hospital the convoy call sounded and over three hundred patients were admitted, having just arrived from Egypt. Up to that time the hospital had not been busy so I must have been the Jonah. It was unusually cold on Tuesday and wednesday and the poor chaps felt the cold terribly as it was boiling hot when they left Egypt. They are all old country men so they have been having a great time getting letters and wires off to their people letting them know they are home.
A great many have been asking for Col Mc Vicar and very anxiously enquiring whether he is returning. I am afraid his ears burn many times with all the nice things said about him. Sgt Williams came in to see me and was asking about you all. He wanted to hear a lot about Harvey and Jim too. Miss Dickinson looks a hundred percent better than when I left her in Salonika. She was asking for you Mrs Clare.
Since coming back I have had two lessons on riding a wheel and was told I got on beautifully. If I am successful I shall buy one as it is the only way of getting about here. We are about two miles from the town, and it takes up a lot of time in walking
It seems just like a dream that I have been home and have seen you all.
Must close now as we have a muster parade at three oclock for sisters.
Tell Miss Coombs that Capt Sparks has gone to France.
Most sincerely yours.
Lena A. Davis.