Well, we’ve arrived in France. All hell's breaking loose here as per usual, we’ve got casualties coming out of our eye sockets. You think Cairo is bad, wait until you get to France. I haven’t much time but I promise I shall send you a proper letter once we are settled and I have some time. For now, I wish you all the best.
Thank you for your albeit short letter. We are bogged down with Gallipoli casualties here, but we are managing to save more than we lose. For now. I am spending most of my time with the Orderlies at the dressing stations. I had to remove a bullet from a patient’s shoulder this morning. It was utterly terrifying but he seems to be on the mend which he wasn’t before. I hope you don’t get too bogged down in France, and I hope you succeed in what you’ve set out to do.
Best of luck.
Dear Sister Thompson,
It sounds like you’re having much more fun than I am. I have ended up working such long shifts I haven’t the energy to write to you. We lost a great many patients these past few days. The Germans have been merciless in their attacks and the British have suffered heavy losses.
How is the weather in Cairo? The sun shines here but it is always followed very quickly by rain. We are almost up to our knees in mud. I am managing to keep myself cheerful by dreaming of Cairo. Compared to here, Cairo is calm.
I hope you are well, and that you aren’t working too hard. I should hate to hear that you have fallen ill due to being overworked. I look forward to your next letter. They never fail to brighten my day.
Dear Major Leopold,
I am glad to hear that my letters are a source of enjoyment for you. The weather is changeable here, but rain is rare. I hope you stay well, that much mud can’t be good for anyone. It saddens me to hear of the losses, we are the same, but there are success stories hidden amongst the rubble.
I am yet to fall ill, unlike some of the other Sisters. Even Matron has come down with something. I can imagine it will be harder for you to stay well in your conditions. There are rumours of more nurses being sent to France, so I may sign up. We may not end up in the same Field Hospital, but at least we will be in the same country. Perhaps our letters may travel faster.
I look forward to your next letter.
I am glad to hear you are thinking of coming to France, although it is not pleasant in the slightest. All things considered, very few of us have gotten ill. The Orderlies on the other hand, well, it seems we get better food than they do. I take pity on them more often than not, I haven’t been eating as much as I should but I am willing to sacrifice it for them. Some of them are unbearably thin. There always seems to be blood on my hands these days, especially after a long shift. There was a big push the day before last, and I have only just finished my shift. There were many casualties, quite a few fatal. You will be getting some of the less serious cases, I’m sure. I hope you haven’t ended up on the VD ward too many times, that is never a pleasant experience.
I hope you are well, I should hate to hear that you are not. Keep well, and keep happy.
Unfortunately we did receive a lot of your casualties. Some didn’t survive the voyage. We saved as many as we could, but not all the boys made it.
You need to eat well, otherwise you will fall ill. Hearing that you have fallen ill would be horrible news. I have had a minor cold myself, but nothing too serious. A couple of cups of sugary tea and I was good to go again. Luckily I have only been on the VD ward once. I have been helping out as a surgical Sister and they need more for that.
I am coming to France soon. I will be so unbelievably happy to be in the same country as you. Hopefully I shall see you soon. I have missed your smile.
Keep healthy, keep happy, and keep going. I’ll be there before you know it.
Most sincerely yours,
It is wonderful news that you are coming to France, though I’m not sure you’ll like it all that much. It is also wonderful news that you are becoming an experienced surgical Sister. I could do with your help around here, some of the men and nurses here are utterly useless. I am sorry to hear about your cold, though it is good to hear you are on the mend.
The memory of your smile gets me up in the morning. The memory of your laugh gets me through my shifts. The memory of your beauty keeps me going. I have missed you terribly. I’m sure it won’t be long, and you’ll be here.
I am sorry it has been so long since my last letter. We have finally made it to France. You were right about the mud. We are around 100 miles from you, but I’m sure we’ll be heading your way. There seems to be a lot more going on where you are.
I would not get through the day without the thought of seeing you again. I fear I would have succumbed to something months ago. I haven’t much time now, I am about to go on shift. God only knows when it will finish.
I hope to see you soon.
My dearest Vera,
I am glad you have made it to France in one piece. Whether you leave France in one piece is a different matter entirely. I’m sure it won’t be long until you are here, there are rumours of another big push. I am almost certain some of our casualties will be sent to you, or you will come to us. We are in desperate need of Nurses. We are lucky that very few have fallen ill but they are coming and going with transports all the time. It is hard to get used to them because they come and go so quickly.
I miss you terribly. It sounds so silly but everything would be much brighter if you were here. I care about you deeply, and would hate to see anything happen to you. I hope to see you in the near future.
My dearest Xavier,
We are on the move soon. We are coming to you, from what I hear you are in desperate need of a few pairs of hands. As soon as I heard I volunteered. What I wouldn’t give to be with you now. I long to see your smile, though it hasn’t faded from my memory. I will be with you soon, I promise.
My dearest Vera,
I cannot tell you how excited I am to see you. I will save up my news for then. I hope your journey is fast and as painless as possible. I fear the situation here is worse than where you were. I cannot wait to see you, my darling.
Forever your darling,
My darling Xavier,
This is our last stopover before we reach you. I may have arrived by the time you receive this. I cannot wait to hear what has been happening, and I cannot wait to see you. I am expecting a warm welcome. See you soon, my darling.
Vera was incredibly nervous. She hadn’t seen Xavier in months, and she couldn’t wait to see him again. She was directed to his tent, saying she needed to talk to him about supplies. She walked up to it, and took a deep breath.
“Knock knock” She joked, peering inside. Xavier was sat at his makeshift desk, his back to Vera. He turned around in his seat, and broke into a wide smile as soon as he saw her. He ushered her in, and she sat on his camp bed. He poured her a cup of tea, and sat down beside her.
“I can’t believe you’re finally here” He almost whispered. Vera joined her hand with his.
“You were right, it’s incredibly muddy” Vera replied. She could tell that Xavier was nervous too. They sat there for a few moments, sipping their tea. It was Xavier who broke the relative silence between the pair.
“Vera, you know what’s happened, don’t you?” He said, placing both of their tin mugs on the ground. He took both of her hands in his. Vera looked at him, smiling slightly.
“I’ve fallen in love with you” He whispered. Vera squeezed his hands gently. She looked into his eyes for permission, and leant forward to kiss him gently. It was an almost-there kiss, a moment’s contact. It didn’t take long before Xavier leaned in and kissed her, much more passionately. He pulled her closer, and soon his hands were on her hips, her hands around the back of his head.
It was Vera who pulled away a few minutes.
“Darling, what if we’re caught?” She whispered, her legs tangled with his. He carefully untangled himself from her, and went to find something on his desk. A moment later, he sat back down next to Vera.
“Well, there’s only one thing for it” He said, smiling at her. Vera broke out into a smile too. She had missed his smile more than anything, and it made her unbelievably happy to see it again. Xavier handed her a small box.
“I had this sent over from England” Xavier whispered as she opened the box, to reveal a diamond ring. She gasped quietly.
“My darling Vera, I love you so terribly much. Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” He asked, getting down on one knee in front of her. A few tears began to roll down Vera’s cheeks as she nodded.
“Of course. I love you, my darling Xavier” She replied, leaning forward and kissing him. They sat quietly for a few minutes, taking in everything that had just happened.
“I’m going to have to tell Matron” Vera whispered.
“Will they make you stop nursing?” He asked. He had no idea about the protocol for married women.
“That’s the norm, but considering you’re a Major, I have no idea.” She replied. Extracting herself from her fiance’s embrace, Vera straightened her dress and made her way to the door of Xavier’s tent.
“I love you Xavier” She whispered, before turning and leaving. Xavier sat there for a few moments before he realised he was going to be late for his shift.
“Ah, Sister Thompson. What can I do for you?” Matron asked. Vera smiled and walked further into the Matron’s cabin.
“Matron, I am engaged to be married” Vera said quietly. She was nervous what reaction she would get from her new Matron.
“Congratulations Sister. You do realise you will be required to give up your position upon your marriage” Matron said. This confirmed Vera’s fears.
“Matron, would the rank of my husband have any affect on this?” Vera enquired. She was curious to see what the answer would be.
“Why? Who are you to be married to?” Matron asked. She was confused as to why a Nurse would ask such a question. Her future husband couldn’t be more than a Captain.
“Major Leopold, Matron” Vera replied. She could immediately tell that the Matron was quite taken aback.
“Major Leopold? Well, I’m sure we’ll find a way for you to stay here” Matron replied quickly.
“Thank you Matron, you don’t know how much that means to be” Vera grinned, before she left the hut to find her ward.
Major Xavier Leopold got a few funny looks when he walked into his Ward tent grinning from ear to ear.
“Letter from your sweetheart, Major?” One of the Orderlies joked.
“Even better. I just asked her to marry me. She’s one of the new Nurses” the Major replied. All of the Orderlies, as well as some of the Nurses started whooping and cheering before they were quickly told off.
“Which Nurse, sir?” A Private asked. Major Leopold smiled over at the Private from where he was stood, tending to a Patient.
“Sister Thompson, Private” he replied, tieing up a bandage carefully.
“Wow, she’s beautiful. Congratulations Sir”
“Thank you Private. Anyway, back to our work” Xavier announced, quickly changing the subject from his engagement.