Item 119 - Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/1/119

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Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

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  • 25 May 1915 (Creation)

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2 sheets

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(The British Hospital, Wimereux.)—Few cases stay in the hospital unless they are dying; operations continue all day and patients are passed on as quickly as possible. At the end of the day she was tired and demoralised. More patients have come in tonight, the gas cases being the most harrowing. Has received his letter. Discusses the composition of the new Cabinet and Montagu’s appointment (as Financial Secretary to the Treasury).

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Transcript

May 25th 1915

My darling I foresee that in a very short time I shall become a real war bore. Please, if I do, treat me as harshly as Raymond treated Katharine, its the only way to cure women with my complaint.

All yesterday was swelteringly hot, sun streaming in on all sides, tiny wards crammed with beds, and sterilizers and kettles bubbling ans steaming away. This is practically a clearing hospital, very few cases unless they are dying stay very long and through shortage of nurses and appliances one is able to do very little for them. Operations go on all day long, when we went to bed last night there were 16 men waiting to be done. They pour in at all moments are operated dressed and as soon as possible passed on to make room for fresh ones. Its really rather ghastly But you see it has a deteri[or]ating effect on one even in one day, God knows what I shall do after a month. I shall be too awful, Diana will never speak to me unless I’m very careful.

I was limp with heat and staggered into bed at about 9.30 last night. No sign of the Neumanns which was an improvement, tho’ I am bound to say they are both very kind and take trouble about one. The food is fouler than in the London Hospital. {1}

Today has been a fearful rush & I’ve only just finished at a quarter to 10, I started it well by getting up early and bathing before breakfast which was most delicious, and the only moment of the day when the heat hasnt been almost unbearable. In the afternoon even my love of blood was satisfied as I watch[ed] for about an hour a man have 4 different deep holes cut in him, till I turned green and to my intense shame was sent away. Tonight 60 new cases have come in, one or two gas ones. They are far the most harrowing to watch as they daily get worse, turn purple and blue and I suppose die quite soon. Its all very horrible.

I got your letter this evening, the first and only one I’ve had from anyone, but it was a very good beginning, I loved it. Please go on, I feel so isolated. I’ve just seen a paper with the new Cabinet in it, Pease I’m glad to see is out, but some of the others surprise and horrify me. McKenna & Simon! How will you like Reggie as your chief? I believe he’ll occasion you even more misery than George who at anyrate everyone knew was more than often wrong financially, but Reggie has a reputation which may be difficult to stand against. But I’m sure it will be all right. Dont be sad about it darling.

I’ve seen no one to day, tomorrow I hope to have some fun with Frances.

My hands are already quite dreadful, from acids & disinfectants, I shant dare see you for weeks after I come back, you will be so disgusted by me.

There is one real tragedy about this place & that is that it isnt possible to have a hot bath. Isnt that dreadfully squalid? I feel most ashamed of it, so you see the sea is ones only hope.

My darling I do mind my letters to you being so horrible. I want so to write you delicious ones so that you should go on thinking me a divine woman, and instead I produce these, which are calculated to make any sensitive man completely disillusioned. Dont tell me tho’ if you begin to think me ghastly, I’d rather find out by degrees, tho’ I shall mind dreadfully!

I may not write to you tomorrow, so dont curse me if I dont, I have very little time.

I wear my lovely pearls day and night and think a great deal of you.

I must go to bed.

Goodnight

Venetia

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Partly written in pencil (see below). Written at the British Hospital, Wimereux.

{1} The writing changes from pencil to ink here.

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