In November 1916 Norman was preparing to return to the war in France and continue nursing French soldiers, the ‘blesses’ to whom she was so devoted. Before she left the U.S she planned to meet with Dr Richard Cabot in Boston and also take with her supplies for Christmas that the ladies of Atlanta had provided for the French Poilus.

East Lake


Dear Dr Cabot

Such a missive as yours of this evening makes me want to add to the wonder-shelf something about fairies in war-time.  O’h, the bright comfort this means to my blesses, and it is all the more precious that I shall owe them to you!

I am still hoping to see you in Boston before I sail on November eleventh, and perhaps you will tell me how I can find out this beneficent stranger and write him later how he helped bring Santa Claus into the Somme.

Yours in deep gratitude

Norman Derr

Oct 30-1916

Little ten-year-old Jean Gove of Concord to whom you sent my address, writes that she too wants to help with our Christmas!


November 1st 1916

Miss Norman Derr, sister of Dr John S Derr, of East Lake, who has been in Atlanta for a short rest following a long term of service in the French army hospitals, leaves Atlanta today on the noon train for Washington on her way back to France, and she will carry with her over 250 “comfort bags” made by Atlanta women for the soldiers of France.

 “I wish to express my gratitude to the Atlanta women for what they have done for the soldiers in making the ‘comfort bags'” said Miss Derr, ” They have been wonderfully kind to respond so readily to the appeal”.

 The bags are intended as Christmas presents for the soldiers and are to be delivered on Christmas morning.

 Mrs Alex W Smith, of 354 Peachtree Street, received a telegram recently requesting that she assist in obtaining 50,000 of the bags for Christmas presents for the wounded soldiers in the hospitals of France,and she, along with other Atlanta women, has responded to the appeal, as Miss Derr expresses it “wonderfully”.

 “Of course I dislike to leave friends here” said Miss Derr, “but I am very glad to go back.  There is such a great opportunity and it is a tremendous joy to think of trying to help the soldiers.”

The Atlanta Constitution, November 1,1916 –with permission of ProQuest Historical Newspapers Atlanta Constitution (1868 -1945)

A board de ‘Espagne’

15 Nov 1916

Dear Dr Cabot

Few disappointments have ever been so poignant to me as not being able to see you before turning my face once more towards the beloved task to which you have lent a so much greater meaning.  But there was no evading the hour, grave responsibilities had been placed upon me which I had to meet: and in the face of the great need, and my post waiting I could not ask for another extension of leave.

Last messages to be sent in connection with cases as the harbour faded prevented the note I had hoped to send you by the pilot, and now wild seas and shuddering engines makes writing very difficult, but I want you to know as I go back to the trench how the thought of you will help to hold up my heart and my hands, and how humbly grateful I am to God that you want to be my friend.  If you will let me it would be such a help to write to you sometimes, and to tell you some of the problems and the struggles and the joys of that little Ambulance on the hill.


Norman Derr