Rushbrooke Auxiliary Hospital,
Bury St Edmunds,
16th June 1942.
Dear Miss Tomkinson,
Well! Here I am in my new place & how I miss you all. As I had expected it is not a patch on Tusmore, in any way. I really was amused, when Lady Bransom (?) was showing me the wards, the way every patient stood up, when she entered the ward & if she addressed a patient he always said “Yes Madam” or “No Madam” & no answering like Carstairs(?)! It strikes me as being very, very military in every respect & too much red tape with the patients.
I was surprised at their excellent behaviour & it was too much for me & I felt like asking them to be natural & say what they wanted. I miss all the little chats with the men & was so pleased when a few new patients arrived to-day & were not so tame as the others.
I expect Miss Bell will tell you all about the place, but for goodness sake to not tell her what I have said, as she seems to be very friendly with some of the VADs & I would not like it to come back.
I have not been outside yet as it has been raining so much, but there are no grounds at all and where there are a few flowers nobody is allowed to pick a single one. I believe that the old gardens were dug up and new ones were going to be made & then war broke out & nothing was done.
I keep talking about Tusmore & the lovely grounds there & how the patients & staff were allowed to pick anything, so Lady Branson (?) said how they wished that they had owners like Lord and Lady Bicester here.
Next on the list is Matron, who is very nice to talk to about patients, but I should think is most dull & uninteresting. Meals are most boring as the conversation is very poor & everybody does not want to talk. There are two sisters on day duty, one is away at the moment, & a night sister whom I have not yet met, but hear that she is as old as the day sisters & as Miss … would say “their total ages come to three hundred years”. I sit beside the day sister at meals & she never utters a word except ask me if I would like something or ask matron if she may have some more pudding etc.
Well, I suppose all these rules are down in the book of words, but give me happiness first. Nobody seems to bother with the men apart from the medical or surgical point of view & they have no outdoor games at all.
There is an awfully nice s.gt. major who takes the men for P.T. & has various classes for knees, legs shoulders, elbows etc., so that leaves me with no classes & few exercises. The Massage Department has some very nice apparatus and we seem to do quite a little electrical treatment & the work is interesting. I must tell you about the s.gt major’s work. He is responsible for the kit, as the corporal is, and says about 150 men, takes P.T. here and also takes some men, who are stationed in the grounds. (I think there are about 100). He divides the men into their various classes according to what is the matter with them, so he has several classes a day, so he has a good amount of work to do hasn’t he? He was telling me that he has to be strict with the discipline of the men, as it is expected by everybody, that is the Commandant, the Registrar etc. The Commandant expects to be saluted & all rules obeyed & the Registrar is terribly strict.
Quite a number of the men I treated to-day, have come from Kempston (I am not sure if I have spelt that correctly, but it is the home in Bedford, where Martini was) & they said how nice it was, so they must not have been in free & easy convalescent homes, as Martini hated it.
We had an E.N.S.A. to-night & I saw the lady with the green scarf around her head, who came to Tusmore quite recently. I believe she is the Manager and asked you if she could do some work in the office, while the show was on? Afterwards we were having supper and I told her that I saw her at Tusmore, but with different artists, & she said that this crowd are going there next Tuesday. It was an awfully good show & of course having a large crowd of men, who seemed most responsive, made it all the better.
Well, now, I feel that I have written rather a miserable letter, but then I do not feel nearly as happy here, as I was at Tusmore, so I cannot write a terribly cheerful one, can I?
How is Miss Bell getting on? It was very nice being able to meet her & I am sure that you will like her & I know that she will love you all & Tusmore. Let me know if she wants to leave & I shall be back like a cannon ball! My mother-in-law was very pleased to have me down here again, but from what I can gather it is not going to be an easy task getting to Colchester for week-ends.
One of the VADs here knows Nurse Rowley & was at some home in Essex with her. Her name is Charles. Also the secretary told me that she went to Tusmore last Saturday to see over the place. Tell Nurse Rowley that I shall be looking forward to hearing her voice on the phone & hope that it will not be too long until I hear her.
I do hope that Mrs. Duncan(?) is not eating so much & especially not eating that poor patient’s food, whom she is supposed to be feeding as his wrists are in plaster!!
Please remember me to everybody & thanks again for all your kindness & the lovely time I had with you at Tusmore.
Evelyn Dolvee (?)
P.S. There is no need now to ask how Miss Pope is getting on with Terrence (?) as she has him all to herself!!