QUEEN'S HOSPITAL STATIONED IN THE DESERT
Miss Mary McNaughton, who is with Queen's Stationary Hospital in Egypt, in a letter to her cousin, Mrs. Will Delany, written from Cecil House, Cairo, on August 19th, says:
We have been in Cairo just five days. We stayed four days in Alexandria on board ship. Cairo is about 100 miles south of Alexandria and all I can say about the place is hot and flies, also mosquitoes, fleas, scorpions and little red ants that bite like mad. At present we are workin9; in a British hospital located in Nazevich school house. We have accommodations for 500 patients. We live at the hotel which is a few blocks away and are taken back and forth in an ambulance. The hotel is a nice one, nothing very much, but then all right. Several officers and doctors also put up here. 'Shepherd' and the 'Continental' are the two swell ones and they are lovely in the evening. The dining rooms are all outside with such pretty lights.
Queen's Hospital is to be stationed at ABBASSIA about five miles out in the desert. It does not sound very nice in the heat, but the doctors say that the buildings (formerly barracks) are very large and airy. We expect to go any day now.
The European part of Cairo is just like a big English city, with street cars, wide, paved streets, large hotel, etc., but they say the native part has not changed in centuries. It is not safe to go here without an escort. We have not seen the pyramids yet. They are going to get up a party to go out by moonlight. I am dying to see them and the Sphynx.
The men fighting at Gallipoli have the hard end of the war. Conditions here are awful, and so many of the boys are sent down with bad dysentery and enteric fever. They are so thin and tanned, black as Indians. I am on a ward of 100 beds. It was formerly the dining room of the school. The beds are low wicker ones made by the natives. The place looks like the mischief most of the time. We have some awfully nice patients. One is a brother of a boy I nursed in France. He had not heard from him since April, so I was able to tell him he was all right.
I do not suppose we will ever get any mail.
I have not felt the heat as much as I expected and feel fine so far. They say the worst of the heat is over and the regular season starts in October and November. It is bad enough now for the nights are very hot, too, We all have mosquito netting on our beds, but they don't use screens on their doors or windows.
We have such different things to eat too, cooked cucumbers, ripe figs (They are delicious), ripe dates, etc. They give us curried chicken and rice so often. We have breakfast at 7:15, lunch at one, and dinner at eight. It is usually 9:30 before we finish dinner, and then it is nearly bed time. We all go into the drawing room and the English and Australian doctors sing and play for us until 10 then we retire.
Is it not a pity about the Royal Edward? That is the first transport we have lost. Both the Royal Edward and the Royal George left Alexandria for Gallipoli when we were there. I do wish the fighting here was over and we could go back to France. Tell everyone that this is H--- for the boys.
There is an English mail to-morrow so I want to get this off. I have bought a camera so I am going to take lots of snaps to take home with me. I am going for a drive in a 'gherri' or open carriage with two of the other nurses when it gets cool. It is just a shilling for half an hour, the only cheap thing here. I will write often and I hope you people do the same.
Yours as ever,