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VOLUNTARY WAR RELIEF   215

by directing the enquirer to the right fountain of know-ledge.

One of the hardest tasks was to dispose of offers of personal service. The declaration of war called to the colours thousands of brave and adventurous young men who found in the ranks of the navy and army a career through which they could express their patriotic enthusiasm. Their sisters, not less adventurous and equally patriotic, hastened also to place themselves at the disposal of their country; and the Red Cross seemed to very many the most likely channel of service.

It speedily became apparent that war opened few doors for the untrained worker. A pathetic ignorance of the standards of modern military hospital work was revealed by the countless letters in which a complete lack of nursing experience was the chief qualification of the would-be nurse, who generally aspired to go direct to the trenches. To direct such enquiries to the St. John Ambulance for training in First Aid and Home Nursing was an easy matter, but to the high-spirited girl the mere attendance at lectures seemed only a degree less dull than knitting socks or sewing shirts. Yet to some of those who followed the advice thus given, there dawned a glorious day when they donned the grey uniform of the St. John Brigade and sailed away to lend a hand to hard-worked Nursing Sisters overseas.

If tragedy lurked behind many such offers, there were few days when comedy did not peep out of the mail-bag. "Dear Sir:—How many stitches do you put in a colra belt?" was the query addressed to the President of the Society, who had never put a stitch in anything but a wound and needed feminine assistance in recognizing the identity of a cholera-belt, shrouded in such unfamiliar garb.

An insatiable thirst for statistics of all sorts had also to be satisfied as far as possible; though when asked to give the number of pyjamas worn by the Allied Armies the end to be attained seemed scarcely worth the effort


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