INTIMATE LETTERS FROM FRANCE
AND
EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY
OF

ELIZABETH ASHE
1917-1919

Revised and Enlarged
With Armistice Day Frontispiece in Halftone

 

"Vivre libre ou mourir"

BRUCE BROUGH PRESS
San Francisco

1931

La Joie de Paris a l'Annonce de l'Armistice:
"Le Jour de Gloire est Arrivé!"

La nouvelle se répandit comme la foudre: ''l'Allemagne avait capitulé!'' Tandis que le canon tonnait et que les cloches sonnaient à toute volée, la Marseillaise partout retentit. En un élan fraternel, hommes, femmes, soldats, qui tout à l'heure ne se connaissaient pas, se prennent bras dessus, bras dessous et, en chantant, courent sur les boulevards. "C'est la fin.., l'Allemagne est vaincue.., Vive la France !''

The news spread like wildfire, "Germany has capitulated," while cannon thundered, bells clanged and the Marsellaise resounded everywhere, In a fervor of brotherhood, men, women and soldiers, who a moment before were strangers, linked arms and running on the boulevards sang, ''It is the end, Germany is vanquished, Vive la France!"

 

INTRODUCTION

These letters, written without thought of publication, are now printed in the belief that the reader may find in them a source of inspiration and comfort.

The writer has served for years in ways which have peculiarly fitted her for her present duties. As the founder of the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Association in San Francisco and the Bothin Convalescent Home for women and children in Marin County, California, she has successfully met many of the same problems of organization for the relief of suffering which now confront the Children's Bureau of the American Red Cross in France. Thus from her knowledge of the sick and neglected at her own door she has been enabled to deal wisely and generously with those whom she now serves.

From the beginning of the war her desire for active service in France has been great, and as early as October, 1914, she offered her services to the New York representatives of the American Red Cross but was not then needed for overseas duty.

When America entered the war she again volunteered for active service with the National Red Cross Nursing Service, but being past the prescribed age limit was not accepted. Finally, however, having passed all tests, she signed for duty with Base Hospital 30 formed at the University of California Hospital, San Francisco and was awaiting her orders in June, 1917, when Dr. William Palmer Lucas returned from Washington where he had been called to form the first pediatric unit to be sent to France. The great need of the work is described in the extract from the American Red Cross Bulletin printed on the following page.

Dr. Lucas realized the vital importance of the nursing service to the success of the undertaking, and knowing her ability and experience, urged upon Miss Ashe her acceptance of the task of organization. Her prompt response to his demand and their combined efforts, made possible her necessary transfer from the Base Hospital Service.

The terse, vivid sentences of the letters picture as more studied phrases might fail to do, the scenes of suffering and the opportunities for service as they present themselves to the writer. Written under the stress of work and to those closest in her confidence, they bear the imprint of her character.

No editing of the extracts has been possible. To have attempted this would have been to mar the essence of their strength; that strength which comes from the simplicity of a great purpose deepened and ennobled by the vision of the unconquerable soul of France.

A. G.

 

EXTRACT FROM AMERICAN RED CROSS BULLETIN

A group of specialists in infant welfare has been sent to France by the American Red Cross. At its head is Dr. William P. Lucas, professor of pediatrics in the University of California, and the originator of the "Save a Belgian Baby" movement.

Before the war the birth rate and death rate in France were so nearly equal that publicists voiced their concern over the future of the national life. Last year, however, with the death rate probably over 20 per 1,000, not counting deaths of men in military service, the birth rate was officially estimated at only 8 per 1,000. In New York State the birth rate is 23 or 24 per 1,000, the death rate about 14 per 1,000.

The total deaths in France in 1916 were about 1,100,000. Births numbered only 312,000. The net loss in population was 788,000, or nearly 2% of the whole. In Paris, where 48,917 babies were born in the year ending August 1, 1914, only 26,179 were born in the second year of the war, ending August 1, 1916.

"There is a crying need for effective work among children," cables Major Grayson M. P. Murphy, head of the American Red Cross Commission now in France. He reports that there is a great need for doctors and nurses for work with mothers and children, and the Infant Welfare Unit will be prepared to give such immediate relief as it can.

With Dr. Lucas in the Unit, which was financed by Mrs. William Lowell Putnam of Boston, are Dr. J. Morris Slemons, of the Yale Medical School, one of the best known of obstetricians; Dr. Julius Parker Sedgwick, physiological chemist, professor at the University of Minnesota; Dr. John C. Baldwin, specialist in diseases of children; Dr. Clam F. Geiston, Dr. Lucas's assistant at the University of California; Dr. N. O. Pearce, another specialist, and the following experts in sociology and child welfare work; Mrs. J. Morris Slemons, Mrs. William P. Lucas, Miss Elizabeth Ashe, and Miss Rosamund Gilder, daughter of the poet.

These specialists will survey the situation and study the work already being done by the French, and will practice without receiving compensation from patients. The task before the Red Cross, which will be carried out by this and succeeding units, is not only to co-operate with French specialists, but also to carry on a general educational campaign among French mothers in the interest of better prenatal hygiene and scientific feeding and care of the babies. Special efforts will be made to protect children from tubercular infection which is particularly threatening France today as a result of trench warfare.


Letters