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Through the kindness of Mrs Woollcombe we are enabled to lay before our readers the following most interesting extracts from a letter received from Mias Woollcombe, who is seeing service as head nurse m an ambulance train m South Africa : —

November 23rd.— I am m No. 2 train. We started yesterday from Wynberg at 2 p.m., and expect to be at De Aar at 4 this afterpoon, over 500 miles ; we shall most likely load up with sick and wounded at once and go back to the hospital, then go up country again m a few days for more. Tha line is guarded all' the way. Yesterday we passed through 1 such lovely scenery — vineyards, such lovely scrub, with heaths, and beautiful flowers, then past ostrich farms, and grand hills, and then right up into the mountains. These trains are a new experiment ; they have not been used before. Next to the engine are two carriages and a lavatory, where Sister Babb and I live. We each have a carriage to ourselves ; we keep our baggage on one seat, sit on the other m the daytime and sleep on it at night. Then comes the carnage used as a dining-room. There are two doctors, Captain Fleming (the doctor m charge of the train) and a young Dr Waters, his assistant; their dens come next; then a queer little kitchen with stove and all complete. Then come the carriages with beds each side for the patients, one over the other like board ship ; we can take m9O patients. There are several orderlies who help us to look after them, and wait on us ; and two men cooks. The food is very peculiar, such odd bread, tinned beef , [tinned milk generally, and everything with a thick layer of yellow'sand on it — of course we are on Government rations like the soldiers.

24th— When we arrived atDe Aar yesterday we were told there had been an engagement further up the line, at Belmont, and that we were to go up and bring the wounded down. So here we are having breakfast on the battlefield, which yesterday was m the handß of the Boers; the station is riddled with shot, and we were nearly m time to see the firing.

25th, 4 a.m.— We had such a day yesterday ; about 10 o'clock we began to load ap with those who were least hurt, and worked all day till 6 p.m.. when we were on our way from Orange River where we had left them all m a field hospital. We then had dinner which we wanted badly, for we had not been fed Bince breakfast at 9 o'clock. In an hoar we were back at Belmont again, and began taking m the bad cases, and some are very bad, one officer is dying, shot m the head. Instead of taking m 90, as we ought, we had to take 130, and put the men on mattresses on the floor —about 17 of them are officers. Now we are on our nay down to the hospital at

Wynberg ; then we shall runh up again, for they are fighting this morning about 5 miles from whore we were yesterday. We brought a lot of wounded Boers down to Orange River yesterday, and our soldiers were so good to them, treating them as kindly as our own mer. They were much surprised at the kind treatment they got, and many say they were sorry they had ever begun to fight the English. We have been so busy all the morning. Sister Babb and I each went round with basins of water, and washed the men's faces and hands, and they were so grateful, poor things, though we had to use the same water till it was .black. The water is scarce, as we have to carry it all with ua, and they had not been washed for three days. The dust here is awful, and such wind ; and we are going so fast that the train rocks dreadfully, and makes it more difficult to walk about and work than on board shiD.

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Bibliographic details

NURSING IN A HOSPITAL TRAIN., Timaru Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 3153, 6 January 1900

Word Count

NURSING IN A HOSPITAL TRAIN. Timaru Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 3153, 6 January 1900

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