Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mildred Aldrich

I first became aware of Mildred Aldrich through looking at Matt Jacobsen's wonderful website

Now, I am 'haunted' by Mildred Aldrich's "Hilltop on the Marne" - it spans about two months from July to September 1914 and is in the form of extracts from letters written to a friend in America.  It is, to my mind, extremely well written and makes you want to find out what happened next.

Mildred, an American writer, had lived in Paris for sixteen years before deciding she needed to find somewhere quiet to spend her retirement years.   It took her just over a year of searching to find the cottage overlooking the River Marne.  After a little restoration work, she moved in in July 1914.

Her story is amazing - you can find it on the Internet, entitled "Hilltop on the Marne".  Mildred travelled to Paris and back twice during those early days of WW1 and, in spite of earnest requests from departing neighbours that she should accompany them, she refused to leave her home.

Mildfred describes being relieved that she stayed put when she hears reports of how the refugees were stuck on the roads.   She also describes the arrival of various groups of soldiers - two lots of British and one of French - and her efforts to help them with refreshments. When the French arrive, some are billeted in her house.

I should love to know what happened to the Uhlans rumoured to be camped out in a wood near the River, or to Captain S- of The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 13th Infantry Brigade, 15th Division of the British Expeditionary Force, one of the first soldiers Mildred comes into contact with.

Photo:  German Uhlans - courtesy of WW1 Buffs Facebook Page.