24th October 1918 Thursday

The Objectional Little Worm and Annoying Woodlice

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“On Tuesday 24th October I left Bakharitza by train at 9.30 a.m., and travelled quite comfortable in a 2nd Class carriage with a man Phillips, one of the Relief Food Commissioners, who was very interesting. Reached Obozerskaya about 3 p.m. which is considered good going for this line! The country we passed through was bleak and uninteresting – nothing but swamps and forests. I reported to the O.C. at H.Q., who turned out to be Col. Gavin, late of D. Force, my old boss. He was delighted to see me. I had a job finding a billet for the night, but eventually put up in an old truck used as part of the ambulance train. Most of the troops up here live in railway trucks. What a life! I met Capt. Black, our surgeon up here – a thin, hatchet-faced individual, an atheist and a pro-German. Later on I found out that he was the cause of all the trouble that had been going on up here, and that he was a most objectionable little worm. I also met Capt. Rosenfeldt, an American doctor, who is in charge of the hospital in the station house here. Rosenfeldt is an Austrian, and looks it, and he and Black turned out to be very friendly. Many a time they annoyed me with their Pro-Hunnish talk.

The hospital here consisted of two wards, and I never saw such a dirty place in all my life before. It was staffed by American orderlies, as well as two Russian nurses – awful looking hags. I noticed later that Black was paying a lot of attention to one of them, and used to have her into his operating car to tea! There was also a Russian doctor attached to the hospital. He did not do any work, however, but played a lot of draughts and chess with Black. At midnight I was present at an operation for acute appendicitis which Black did in his operating car. I gave the anaesthetic, and all went well. The operating car was a railway carriage converted into an operating theatre and was a beautiful little place. Black and his orderly had bunks in the same carriage, and another carriage served as a ward. I found it very cold in my new abode – the railway carriage – and wood lice annoyed me all night.”

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