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First World War Ambulance Train Diaries

 
First World War Ambulance Train Diaries by CRUIKSHANK,  Doctor Ernest William Henderson  (1916)
Author: CRUIKSHANK, Doctor Ernest William Henderson
Title: First World War Ambulance Train Diaries
 
Year: 1916
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Western Front, France
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
 
Price: £2500
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

Vol II No 11 Ambulance Train, 11 May 1916, bound for Etaples, death of Kitchener 'LEt those who expect romance and chivalry, diabuse their minds, for today war i downright scientific slaughter. It is a sheer process of extermination of our enemies' (p9). Dealing with German prisoners and exchanges at Swiss border. Details cases: 'severe head injury of frontal region. R. Sinuses & R. Eye knocked to bits. Pus copious; oedema spreading rapidly...' p 12. Regular games of cricket behind lines 'betw. non expert players Darbyshire Stewart captaining... Our bowling was bad & fielding worse... Blighty took 3 wickets.' A few days later at Gezaincourt, 2nd July 'Never have faced such a sight. Hundreds of wounded men standing and lying on the damp grassy slope, just down from the very thickest of the fighting, covered in mud, blood, tied up with bandages...' Reflects on the mentality of the wounded man and reports testimony of injured - 'how the trenches were simply obliterated by terrific artillery fire and how astonishing it was even to find any resistance after such an awful dose of H.E. shells.' Occasional tabulated lists of the injured and how dealt with casualties from Battle of Somme 'Today I have seen 1st case of wound... infected w maggots... I have put on large dressing soaked in Methylaed Spirits.' (No illustrations)
Vol III, No 17 Ambulance Train, 2 September 1916; map of Albert near Thiepval, describes the drooping statue of the Virgin from the top of Albert church; Ordre de Transport tipped in at end of volume; coupel of photographs.
Vol IV. No 17 Ambulance Train, 23rd October, 1916, extensive ephemera including Lille-Arras rail tickets, 'German paper money received from a wounded'. Account 'Right on thro the whole night the heavies thundered, lighting up the sky and shaking the earth [near Albert] One can become accustomed to the dull thud and heavy rumble...' Most interesting a programme for a Christmas show 'A Dream of Christmas A Phantasys i 3 Scenes F & H.W. 1916' - entertainment given on board train i Coach X by F H Wright, 'Bradley surpassed himself as Basson was Mad.lle Jeane - daughter of mad-Germans. BAsson ws as usual in his natural voice extremely funny...' Enlistment papers laid in. Fine photograph of Cruikshank and colleagues in the ruins of Arras, September 1916.
Log V 8 April, 1917, leave. Distressed by the destruction of Arras: 'Ruins such as these are not be be described, there is nothing to estimate the sense of the passage of time, there is nothing that has withstood the ravages of time... Nothing, absolutely nothing but a heap of rubbish. The past, the present the hopes of the future all shattered and humbled down in one vast soulless heap of marble, stonem, bricks , wood and mud. Truly a city of the Dead.' 'Secret' mimeographed memo laid in relating to the danger from gas shells (April 1918)
Log VI 23rd May 1917, arrived home on leave before leaving for the front again a week later; notes events of Russian revolution from Times; manuscript map of outskirts of Ypres; 'This morning I had to inspect and dress woundd Germans of wh. philanthropic act I got rather tired when I saw one of our M.P. Sergtshad got hit in the neck by a piece of bursting shell.' Moves into dressing stations and 'Rail Wood wch wa one of our collecting posts was originally in the German line... it was a series of under gorund CAves we have enlarged it and have installed Electrick lights and made it capable of holding nearly 9000 men and that when it was abt 2000 yards behind our front line. Transport orders laid in.
Lov VII October 21st 1917; 11th Battalion R W Kent Reg.t Portrait laid down, probably Cruikshank; first mention of American doctors 'a hearty American D[octor] from Chicago... Dr David Horner is a first rate fellow... kind and full of life.' Joins British Exped Force in Italy, edge of Il Montelli which by comparison with 'Ypres Salient to wonder if there is a war on at all.' (pencil map - Falza di Piave'; detailed map of Nervesa; ephemera including rail tickets
Log VIII March 15 1918, text preceded by sequence of Middle East photographs - backt to France for the finalmonths of the war and Steenvorde
Log IX Tipped in at beginning of volume: 'Last Orders issued to the Batt.n for forecing the passage of the Scheldt or L'Escaut' signed by Lieutenant Colonel A W Tate, Nov. 7th, 18', two sheets. Experiences heavy shelling, Nov 2 'sampled a good deal of bombing by Fritz. To find oneself in the area illuminated by these powerful flares thrown by the Hun to enable him to see his target is not pelasant...' By 10th in Tieghem 'Everyone in expectations highest pitch', occasional church bells and mch debate about whether terms to be accepted; Schorisee on 11th November 'Official message issued by G.H.Q. 6.45 Am 11th Nove to expect that "hostilities will cease at 11 A.M.' That afternon 'on the Berchem pontoon bridge we passed a dead German there he lay a fitting and inexpressibly sad emblem of the madness of war.' Diary continues to describe devastation of Belgium and Germany, visits field of Waterloo, several tipped in photogaphs; orders tipped in deploying Cruickshank to Cologne to deal with British POWs; contained in a tracing paper wallet 'German X. Ray film photo of Heart.' Final photograph at No 19 Osborne Place, Aberdeen, August 1919. Most heavy ephemera content of any of the volumes.
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