Series 01: Anne Donnell circular letters, 25 May 1915 - 8 July 1918 - Page 249

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[Page 249]

way back we stop for a few minutes at our cemetery, and although the Padre said the C.S.S. had been therefore 6 months previous to this affair, there were only 35 graves where now within a fortnight lay 700 more previous lives beside them.

I confess that that little relaxation made me tire and as soon as I am off duty make a "beeline for bed, but ne'er a wink of sleep for Fritz's big guns soon get busy and the shells come screaming over us each one seeming to get nearer and nearer until at 1.30a.m. we listen intently and hear the order given to Matron that we must all get up and go down to the dugout and be prepared to walk for five miles to Bus and possibly we might have to evacuate the Hospital. We daren't show a light and how my mater put her things on so quickly and be prepared to meet daylight perhaps in Amiens or Abbeville I don't know. Was it the shells or was I thiickheaded, but I couldn't seem to get ready. First of all I put on my dressing gown and big coat and gum boots and with a rug and eiderdown thought I was ready. Then Sister leaves me with "but Sister you must have a dress and you can't "walk in gum boots." It's very tiresome. Yes, I must have a dress, my purse, a few handkerchiefs, a comb and hairpins (and I hate leaving to fate all the precious things I have gathered together). I am frightfull6y slow but am soon aroused with Matron's voice at the tent flap impatiently calling "Sister, Sister, do hurry you are very slow aren't you? The others are all down there." She is really a dear and I love her, but I was so indignant for the night was bitingly cold, the dugout muddy and damp, and as I thought offered no protection for it is only an open cutting in a bank and faced the Germans, and if a shell did come in our midst it would get the whole 40 of us, whereas if we could have remained in our beds and the night staff on duty, it would only be a matter of a few.

However, an order was an order. We all crouched close together in the dark, a good deal of grumbling patients, others hummed or sang (between the crashing shells) "Keep the Home fires Burning." Of course we laughed and joked too and saw the funny side as I think all girls do and it helps to balance things. The M.C. the Sergeant – brings along hot tea and coffee and it is weird pouring it out and handing it around in the dark. After 3 hours the shelling gradually ceases and at 4.30 we

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