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VOLUNTARY WAR RELIEF

 

almost the elimination of individual personality, but mutilation and disease demand the most minutely individualistic treatment. The exigencies of military operations may demand the establishment of great hospitals harbouring a thousand men, but each man in each cot has his distinct and separate needs and claims. It was eminently appropriate that the department of the Red Cross which recognized and responded to these claims, should be organized and officered by women, with their natural aptitude for a labour which required endless sympathy, tact, and patience. Side by side with the administration of the stores by wholesale distribution to hospitals and depots grew up a bureau which sought to touch the individual sick or wounded Canadian—to enquire for him when reported missing, to minister to him when sick or in prison. A network of registered visitors was spread over Great Britain, always ready to visit the lonely and possibly homesick Canadian whom fate had flung into some hospital or home within their reach. Who can estimate the value of thousands of letters written by these visitors to assure or comfort the relatives and friends at home in Canada? What better proof of his country's gratitude could a sick man receive than the sight of the "comfort bag" hanging by his bed, the fruit and flowers, or cigarettes brought by his visitor, or his own "home" newspaper to wile away the long hours of convalescence! Trifles all: but trifles which sometimes turned the scale between despair and hope—between life and death.

The Society's expenditures, at the end of the third year of the war, on different forms of tobacco for distribution to invalided men, amounted to $6,250 per month—a sum which will give some idea of the magnitude of this work; while in one week, after heavy fighting, one of the various departments of the Bureau reported being in postal communication with nine thousand men. These figures suggest the vast amount of detailed personal effort required and given ungrudgingly to meet the


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