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304   DAYS OF PREPARATION

The astonished officers saw about them hand-carved olive-wood and mahogany furniture, tables spread "with fine linen, sparkling cut glass, crested silver, and Limoges china." The doors had heavy silk hangings, while on the floors were Turkish and Persian rugs. Each room had an open fireplace and on their entering they were welcomed by a roaring blaze in a large room off the rotunda. Bath rooms are not common in France, but this institution had been fitted up by Englishmen and had thirty-four in all. To add to the unreality of their situation they discovered that the wine-cellar had an abundance of choice wines of every vintage. After the mud and rain, the cramped, uncomfortable quarters of Salisbury Plain, Le Touquet Golf Hotel, which was to be the home of the unit till October 1st, 1915, seemed a veritable paradise.

But much of the luxurious trappings of the hotel had to disappear. Carpets and rugs and silk hangings were germ-catchers and had no place in a hospital, and the next two or three days were spent in taking them down, removing pictures and statuary, scrubbing floors and walls, and making the whole building thoroughly sanitary. The work was hardly completed when news came that the unit was to receive 300 patients. Then began their labours, which reached a climax at the time of the Second Battle of Ypres, when hundreds of Canadian wounded were rushed to La Touquet to be cared for by the doctors and nursing sisters of the Canadian hospital. Of their activities at this period, The Times History of The War says: "The work performed by Colonel Shillington and his associates from Canada represented an act of great self-sacrifice on their part; but the service was rendered in a devoted and unselfish spirit which discounted material loss."


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