Up until a couple of years ago, I worked for the British Red Cross as a writer and editor. One of my favorite activities was talking to our archivist and finding interesting items that had been collected throughout the organization’s 145+ year history.
I thought you might like these letters, which our archivist pointed out to me just before I moved to the Netherlands. They’re letters from a Red Cross nurse who volunteered in Surrey during the First World War. Many wounded British soldiers were evacuated back to Britain to recover, and the author of these letters, Miss Dorothy M Robinson, nursed them back to health at Waverley Abbey Military Hospital.
You can read the original documents on Scribd, but I’ve also transcribed my favorite – the third in the series – below so it’s easier to read. I love it because she talks about so many things: how long she can make £2 last, what kinds of practical jokes the soldiers got up to, and what happens when a Zeppelin comes close. And, of course, the problem with servants. Her last line kills me every time I read it.
I originally wrote about these for the Red Cross because it was when season 2 of Downton Abbey was on TV in the UK, and Lady Sybil became a Red Cross nurse. So if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, here’s another upper-crust young woman doing her bit for the country.
And if you just like history, I hope you enjoy these letters.