Monday, 29 July 2013

"Fifty Amazing Stories of the Great War" - Esmee Sartorius, Nurse in WW1

Also mentioned in this lovely book which I purchased from the recycling shop at our local Re-cycling Centre last Monday (22nd July 2013), is Esmee Sartorius who wrote about women who nursed during the First World War.   Esmee recorded her experiences in "Everyman at War", published by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Esmee, along with many other women, volunteered to help as soon as war broke out in August 1914, joining the St. John's Ambulance.    By 14th August, Esmee was in Brussels.   She and her cousin were asked to report to the Grand Palace to start work but the Germans were very close to Brussels and so they were ordered to Antwerp.   Due to the seriousness of the situation, the nurses were given the option of returning to England.   Esmee and her cousin, however decided to stay in Brussels.

After a fruitless tram journey and search for some wounded soldiers reported to be just outside Brussels, the girls were ordered to proceed to Charleroi.   They had ten minutes to get ready before being whisked off in a Belgian Red Cross car to Charleroi, which they found in ruins and still burning.  They spent a sleepless night in the house of a kindly Belgian family who offered them shelter, the house shaking all night long from the explosion of artillery shells.

Next day the girls marched off to Marcinelle, five miles from Charleroi, where they met up with a British Matron and two other nurses.   They had plenty of work nursing wounded French soldiers under German guard.  

Esmee says "Life was one continual series of shocks;  strange noises made us think we were being shelled; the electric light going out one night made us vividly imagine we were going to be blown up.
Our patients were taken to concentration hospitals in Charleroi or to Germany, as soon as they were fit enough to be moved."

I shall definitely add Esmee to my "Inspirational Women" section of the Exhibition.

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