The Methodist Review – July 1916

Letters from an American girl at the French Battle Front

Dec 8th, 1915

Among the countless incidents I might tell you there is one I think you will find especially interesting. It is a leg – No.19, the oldest inhabitant. He was in the salle before I arrived, and the only one of the thirty three whom I had never dressed. It was not because he was more serious, because I had much graver cases, but the doctors in the Salle d’Operation were interested in his particular fracture – both tibia and peroneal – and he kept on going day by day. (Poor fellow, how many changes of comrades he has had!). Occasionally, when I had time, I went with him for his pansement – of course I always go for operations – but I never could see that he made any improvement, and one day they put him in plaster. From that day the calf began to swell until you would have thought he had elephantiasis, and a little over a week ago the surgeon told him he would have to amputate the following morning. I shall never forget the look in the poor fellow’s face – to suffer so long and for nothing!   Besides he is thirty-six, and at that age one’s nerve is less buoyant. I asked the surgeon if nothing could be done. He replied that it was retention of pus, and that would produce a general infection. Quite obviously it was a fearful leg, but the wound itself was bright red and perfectly healthy and foot and thigh absolutely normal. Remembering my face last winter, it seemed more like a nest of abscesses, which do often come when fragments of bone have not been removed.

Before I realized it I was asking for twenty-four hours’ grace to try a special treatment. It was granted. The treatment was simple enough. Hot lavages of eau iodee and huge hot envelopments of eau borignee every three hours. I used litres of eau borignee, to the despair of the pharmacien, and I know everyone thought I was “touched”, for I already had so much more than I could do and this was no mean supplement. At the end of the twenty-four hours when the surgeon made his rounds – “In fact, that is curious; that is no worse”, and he gave me another twenty-four hours more. By that time those dear little abscesses had begun to run. “That is doing well, Mlle. Continue.” The next- “Continue,” and the next – “My old man” – to the poor fellow – you are in luck. Mlle. has succeeded; you will keep your leg.”

I hardly dared believe it, but it has been confirmed by the Medecin-Chef, so it seems sure. Now another difficulty arises. You see it’s my leg! How to arrange we don’t quite know. We discuss the matter every day!

Of course, now I see why I had an abscess last winter, and that grievance against Fate in cancelled. But oh, imagine the blind leading the blind like that! Do you remember Tissot’s picture? It is awful enough, but I could change the setting and make it worse. Speaking of pictures, I believe I never thanked you for ‘Physics” (Puvis de Chavannes). It rejoices me daily. It symbolizes my situation exactly; hooded, blinded, clinging to the wire of Destiny, impelled by a cosmic force, and overhead the glistening hope of France Victorieuse of 1916.

You asked about young Americans and the rescue of the wounded. I cannot imagine anything grander or more needed, and if I were in a Formation Auxiliaire I should say, “Come,” and I should find places for them, too. But, alas! I’m not. I’m only a poor soldier. (“In military life one must never try to understand” – old adage.) It is easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye than for a foreigner to get into this sacred circus-ring of a French military system. How I ever managed to squeeze in under the flap of a tent is more than I know. Probably because I didn’t try very hard, but only seized my chance when it came. However, say to any aspirant, with my salute, that if he does not aspire to the blue, gray and crimson, there are plenty of lambs to snatch from the slaughter, and plenty of independent formations ready to receive him.

January 21st, 1916

My No 19 has long since left with his leg for a sunnier clime.







New York: 150 Fifth Avenue Cincinnati: 420 Plum Street, Boston Pittsburgh Detroit Chicago Kansas City San Francisco

 No copyright found- see below.

Volume: Vol. 98, Ser. 5, Vol. 32, Pt. 2

Subject: Theology; Methodist Church

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Phillips & Hunt

Language: English

Call number: 31833017365757

Digitizing sponsor: Internet Archive

Book contributor: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

Collection: allen_county; americana

Notes: No copyright page found. This is a digital copy of a photocopied book.

Full catalog record: MARCXML