The Spectator

The Spectator at war: A probationer’s diary

From The Spectator, 31 October 1914:

THE following are extracts from the diary kept by a Red Cross probationer this autumn:

Tuesday—A rumour has gone about that we are to have wounded here one day this week. I wonder! Instead of dusting, I polished all the twenty electric-light switches all round the ward this morning, besides doing the taps. Far more amusing than dusting and much better exercise.

Wednesday—One of the patients—No. 8—ran quite a bad temperature to-day, and seemed in great pain. It was wretched to see him suffer; he seems unable to eat or sleep, and gets no rest from his pain. Such a wet day! For the first time we got soaked coming home. Our bicycle lamps threw a little circle of light which only served to show how fast it rained, and showed us our way so little that I twice nearly rode into the ditch. These uniform coats keep out the rain pretty well, but they don’t button far enough down for bicycling. Fortunately I possessed a safety-pin.

Thursday—Poor No. 8 is worse to-day and begging for his “injection.” Sister and I had the most painful half-hour with him that I think I have ever spent. His treatment caused him very acute pain, and somehow, poor wretch, it seemed to take twice as long as usual to-day. He never ceased to beg Sister to stop, to let him have a moment’s rest, to “have a little mercy.” By the time it was over he was utterly exhausted. It wrung one’s heart, and I fancy that it was all Sister could do to go on. It was dreadful to keep urging platitudes about its being “all for his good” to a creature in such agony.

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