New Year’s Eve, 1914 (Thursday)



Western Front: An anonymous British nursing sister makes the best of new year in a war zone:

Thursday, December 31st, New Year’s Eve. – Still at Sotteville, and clemmed with cold. There was no paraffin on the train this morning, so we couldn’t even have the passage lamps lit.

This afternoon I went with Major – and the French Major and the little fat French Caporal (who is the same class as the French major – or better) into Rouen, and they trotted us round sight-seeing. The little Caporal showed us all the points of the cathedrals, and the twelfth century stone pictures on the north porch and on the towers, and also the church of St Maclou with the wonderful “Ossuare” cloisters, now a college for Jeunes Filles. We had tea in town and trammed back. This evening, New Year’s Eve, the French Staff had decorated the restaurant with Chinese lanterns, and we had a festive New Year’s Eve dinner, with chicken, and Xmas pudding on fire, and Sauterne and Champagne and crackers. The putting-on of caps amused everyone infinement, and we had more speeches and toasts. I forgot to tell that the French Major’s home is broken by the Germans, and he doesn’t know where his wife and three children are. On Xmas night, during toasts, he suddenly got up and said in a broken voice, “A mes petits enfants et ma femme”.

[from the (anonymous) “Diary of a nursing sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915“]

and so begins 1915…


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