Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: May 12th 1916
Miss Shand
Lena A. Davis

No 4 Canadian General Hospital.
Salonika Greece. 
May 12.

Dear Miss Shand-

            Your letter of April 2nd received and was as ever most welcome. You seem to have had a very busy winter and I hope the summer may prove to be a rest for you all. Yes my sister told me all about the tea and pronounced it a decided success. She told me how you were all dressed and how the rooms were arranged and I could see it all (in my mind’s eye). She also told me about the dance and she also enjoyed it very much. Yes I did receive the dance invitation and by now you will have received the letter which mentions it. I was very glad to have it and to see all the different names. Had Miss Whalen been betting with Dr. Clare? I am sure Miss O’Donnell would be very glad of coming as she was so anxious to come overseas. I was so sorry to hear of Dr. Bruce Smith having passed away. How Mrs. Smith will miss him. Well I am sure you must have read that we have been doing good work out here in bringing down a large Zeppelin. I was fortunate enough to be an eye witness so will give you my version of it. On Thursday night some way I felt uneasy and at 2 a.m. I got up and looked out but saw only a starlight sky. I got down my sweater and laid it along with my kimono at the foot of my bed and tried to go to sleep again. As I was just beginning to dose off the performance began in the usual way. Almost before I was out of bed I heard a man’s voice outside shouting “To the dugout” As I ran across from my tent the sky seemed to me to be one blazing mass caused by search lights star shells and shells from the anti-aircraft guns,

Each dugout was in charge of a medical officer and one could hear “Dugout no I here” “This way for dugout no II” etc. As I belonged to no II dugout I tumbled in nearly on my head followed by others who like myself showed a decided lack of interest in dress detail. The confusion lasted for a little while then finally things seem to become quiet. We all came out and went back to bed but did not take off our coats. While we were still talking several bombs exploded following one another in rapid succession. Once more we paraded to our dug outs. Just as we arrived at the entrance two large sheets of flame shot up into the sky. It was the old villain going up in smoke. It would never again bother us. When they saw they had been wounded so badly that they could not stay up they had thrown all their bombs over board at once in order to save their own lives when the machine finally struck the earth. Hence the sound of the number of explosions all at once. This Zep was as long as an ocean liner and cost one million dollars. On the afternoon of that same day Capt. Sparks (Miss Coombs’ friend), was taking four of us down to a battle ship for tea as per previous invitation by the ship’s officers. We had a little time to spare before going aboard the ship so spent it in visiting the White Tower. This structure is about as high as Brock’s Monument and about fifty feet in diameter. It is perfectly round. It was built in 1400 and was used for many years as a combination of prison and fortress by the Turks. It is used for other purposes now of course. We climbed to the top where we saw many interesting things. From here we could see the poor old Zep lying out in the swamp a mass of ruins. We went from here to the dock and found a motor boat from the battle ship waiting for us. We saw the the big ship pretty thoroughly I think and I only wish I could remember all I learned about it. I saw a torpedo which was sixteen feet long and which could go for five miles propeled by its own little engine. The kind we saw costs one thousand seven hundred dollars. There were guns of all shapes and sizes.  There were two which held an interest for me. One gun which had hit the Zep the night before was one of course and the other was a huge one which required five men to shoot it off. The shell which is fired from this gun weighs eight hundred pounds and costs one hundred and twenty five dollars. What a lot of money must go up in smoke. We saw many traces of naval engagements on this old ship. It was patched in many places.  The officers were proud of the scars too.  During tea we were entertained with stories of the Zep which many of the ships officers had visited at day light that same morning. It had fallen in a swamp and was most difficult to reach. They had to wade for over a mile in slim and mud, in some places up to their waists. They brought home some pieces of the ruins which they were kind enough to share with us. I got a little piece of the outside covering of the balloon part, and a piece of the frame work which is entirely of Alluminium. I sent Dr. Forster a piece of the covering so you will see that. One rather amusing souvenir which they had was a German post card picturing London in a Zeppelin raid. Of course it was not a photograph but was a much exaggerated drawing. It showed Trafalgar Square. Horses were standing on their hind legs, people jumping off buses, climbing the monument, and doing all kinds of foolish things. It approved all the more ridiculous having been found in the ruins of the Zeppelin. We arrived home at 7 p.m. only to find dreadful news awaiting us.  Captain Yellowlees and another officer had started out on horse back to see the ruins of the “Zep” and finding they must cross a river attempted to ford it, not knowing its depth. The result was that Captain Yellowlees lost his life. A thorough search is still being kept up, but no trace of the body has yet been found. He was a Toronto boy having graduated a very few years ago. I believe he is an only son. So after all the Zeppelin affected us in a way we were not looking for.

The heat here now is trouble also the flies and mosquitoes. We all have a mosquito net hanging from the top of our tent, covering our beds. The roses are in full bloom now and are just as beautiful and even more plentiful than they were in France last year. They are beauties too. Great big double ones like you pay two and three dollars a dozen for in a hot house at home. There is a large rose garden quite near us where quantities of roses are raised and sold to make attar of roses perfume. We make frequent trips there and pick as many as we wish for a very small sum. Of course we don’t cheat them and they think they are paid very well. In going over the last time we killed a huge snake. They are much too plentiful here to suit me. Mr. Williams is now full corporal and Mr. Marsh is Sergt. I have no promotion to report for myself. I would love to see you all just now. Love to Mrs Clare, Miss Coombs, Miss Mac and yourself.

Lena A. Davis.

I did almost faint when I read a certain part of your letter.

Original Scans

Original Scans