LETTERS FROM MEN AT THE FRONT
Mrs. Irwin has very kindly permitted us to use extracts from a letter from Dr. Irwin who is now with the British Expeditionary Force in France as follows: 19th Field Ambulance, B.E. Force, France, Dec. 3rd, 1915.
Dear - - -
I have not heard from you for ten days but that may be due to the slow communication between here and No. 16 General Hospital. I received three parcels of papers since I left there but they were sent to the Division rather than the ambulance which means they have not received my letter.
I moved four times within a week after leaving the hospital, the last one being to the advanced dressing station of the ambulance and now am able to realize that there is something doing. We are stationed a few miles in front of the ambulance headquarters which is in a fair sized town, in a combined military and civil hospital. I believe the accommodation there is good in the way of operating theatre, etc., but we arrived there at night and left in the a.m., and were too busy settling for the night and getting packed up in the morning to investigate the conditions there. There are three first aid posts where the medical officer to each of the three regiments look after their sick and wounded. The stretcher bearers carry the men back there from the trenches. We also have stretcher bearers at each of the three places, who in turn carry them back to us. We have a comfortable place here for the patients whom we keep here for a few hours until it is convenient to send them down. We keep two motor ambulances with us for conveying them down and also to bring back our rations and other supplies. We have fairly comfortable quarters here, and far enough back of the line for safety. There are at present just two of us medical officers here, but are going to share our quarters with a R.C. priest or 'Padre' as they are called here. My pal says he is a first class chap, he lived with him before.
We had the A.D.M.S. of this district out to see us yesterday and he thought we had a comfortable place. He got stuck in the mud but we pulled him out with ours. We are getting our place fixed up. Etc, etc.
We saw a fine sight yesterday when twenty-one of our aeroplanes (I only counted eighteen) flew over the German lines to direct the gun fire and they were fired on by the Huns. We could see the shrapnel burst all around there but think they all returned safely. One of their planes flew over our lines but it was soon dispersed by our shrapnel and cleared away for safety. The sky in the neighbourhood was full of little spots of smoke-like clouds where the shrapnel burst. The bombardment sometimes makes our ears ring and the windows rattle but it does not keep me awake at nights as a rule it is not so bad then anyway, but was pretty lively one night.
Don't worry about my being here. I am enjoying it immensely. A few days ago I weighed 191 pounds. The record of the 19th field ambulance shows that we are much safer here than in London.
Yours with Love.