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Military: The Cellar House of Pervyse - Chapter 6 - Gipsy and the Major

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle

'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'

A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front



Chapter VI - Gipsy and the Major

BY this time the resources of food at the hospital had run out—even porridge was not available—but fortunately one small butcher's shop in the town was discovered open, and at the back was a kind of little café where the workers could get something to eat. Through the streets of Fumes they went night by night in the pitch darkness, occasionally brightened by an odd gleam that seemed to come from nowhere until you were right on the top of it and looked down into a cellar opening off the pavement, where some of the few inhabitants who had not fled were crouching together talking in awestruck tones by the gleam of a candle or a few sticks. All lights were strictly suppressed of course, and at first, when there was still a certain amount of meat in the butcher's shop,...

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Military: The Cellar House of Pervyse - Chapter 5 - On The Road

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle

'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'

A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front



Chapter V - On The Road

There was no question about the amount of work waiting to be done at Furnes. Calls from Dixmude, where hot fighting was going on, were incessant, and the ambulances were kept hard at it. Dixmude is about eight miles south-east of Furnes as the crow flies, but much more by road; and the way along the scattered and smashed pavé was rolled out many times in a day by the coming and going of the motors. Chauffeurs were difficult to get, and there were many cars requiring drivers now; so early next morning Gipsy had hardly had time to get on her clothes before there was a shout, and she ran down to find Gilbert waiting outside with the heavy 40 h.p. Napier. There was no one else to take it, and he ordered her to do so. Put upon her mettle, she obeyed at once, but as she climbed into the seat...

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Military: The Cellar House of Pervyse - Chapter 4 - The Retreat

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle

'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'


A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front




Chapter IV - The Retreat

But Ghent did not long remain a refuge; well before the middle of the month earnest warnings to evacuate it were given. The way in which the final summons came was dramatic. Mairi was in bed, sleeping with her usual heart-whole earnestness, when she was awakened suddenly, and saw standing by her one of the doctors attached to the ambulance, telling her the Germans were upon them and they must fly. Then followed a scramble. The first thing was to save the wounded soldiers, who must not be left to fall into the hands of the foe. Alas! the order had come through the day before that all the kits belonging to these men were to be sent to Ostend as a measure of precaution. One of those "decisions in blinkers" which cause such infinite suffering. The patients were mostly in thin cotton...

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Military: The Cellar House of Pervyse - Chapter 3 - The Field of Mercy

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle

'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'


A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front




Chapter III - The Field Of Mercy

In the midst of this whirlpool of madness and misery Melle was inhabited. There were old men and women and children whose homes were in those shot-torn houses, and they had cowered there while the shells hurtled overhead and the piercing bullets flew like arrows. After this fearful day there were a larger number of wounded civilians than usual. The nuns at the convent had their hands quite full. The dull dreamy current of their lives had dashed into a vortex, and in it they had had to stretch out hands of help and pity to those who were drowning beside them. As Gipsy came into the convent next morning, she was overwhelmed with pity at the spectacle of the wounded people there. Somehow it is so much worse to see civilians wounded than soldiers; soldiers, at all events,...

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Military: The Cellar Hose of Pervyse - Chapter 2 - In the Thick of Battle

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle

'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'

A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front


Chapter II - In the Thick of a Battle

By September 29, three days after they had arrived in Ghent, Gipsy's vital energy had got too much for her, and she had to do something or explode; so she found a job in driving the car of the Belgian Colonel, whose own chauffeur had disappeared. She fell into this niche, which fitted her to a nicety, in the simplest and most feminine way possible, because she walked up to look at the Belgian trenches outside the town, and found the Colonel minus a coat button. Of course she sewed it on, and followed up the obvious opening by offering to fill the place as chauffeur. Though the Belgian Army was not nearly so much swathed about with red tape as some of the older countries, yet it was rather an innovation that the Colonel should accept a woman as chauffeur in war-time,...

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Military: The Cellar House at Pervyse - Chapter 1 - The Start

Written by RSS Poster Out of battle
'The Cellar-House of Pervyse'

A Tale of Uncommon Things from The Journals and Letters of the Baroness t'Serclaes and Mairi Chisholm

A Story of Two British Volunteer Nurses on the Yser Front



Chapter I - The Start

I shall never forget them as I saw them first, a little oddly mixed group. They might have been a party of Cook's tourists going for a week-end across the Channel as they stood there in Victoria Station; but it was more than a week-end trip they had to face. At first I thought that some of them were merely seeing the others off, especially the lady with cherries in her hat. In fact, there were only two who looked real sportswomen, and they were Mrs. Knocker and Mairi Chisholm. They were dressed in big khaki overcoats, but as these were flung open one could see the high boots and tunics underneath, and there was no manner of doubt that they were wearing knickerbocker khaki suits in London! The others were slightly scandalized—one could see it in their furtive glances, and the way they...

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Military: ‘new museum are(nt) rubbish’

Written by RSS Poster Daly History Blog
It’s been really interesting, over the past few years, visiting newly redeveloped museums. And even more interesting reading the various reviews. Lets face it, we all like a good moan. And even more, we like to try and knock down … Continue reading


Military: What is Military History Now?

Written by RSS Poster Daly History Blog
I’ve been watching some of the debates centred on military history with great interest. The Centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres (or is it Paschendaele?!) and the release of the film Dunkirk have inspired much navel-gazing and hand-wringing from … Continue reading


Military: HNoMS Helge Ingstad

Written by RSS Poster Daly History Blog
HNoMS Helge Ingstad, a Norwegian Navy Otto Svedrup class Frigate entering Portsmouth last week escorting the USS George HW Bush.Filed under: Uncategorized


Military: USS Phillipine Sea

Written by RSS Poster Daly History Blog
USS Phillipine Sea, a Ticonderoga class cruiser of the US Navy, called in at Portsmouth last weekend escorting the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush. It’s on it’s way home after a week-long exercise. Time for a paint … Continue reading



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