National Geographic : 1917 Jul
LETTERS FROM THE ITALIAN FRONT and sailors and some American sailors! You can't think what a sensation that gives me. A woman working there spoke as though they expected a number of Americans soon. I am sending you some post-cards. The Capitol Museum is closed, but Ma nolo had it opened one Sunday morning and brought some of his pupils to see the statues. These pupils look quite happy and normal in the photo; as a matter of fact, they are all minus legs and one has lost a hand besides. They are learning to draw and carve, and Manolo means to lead them in practical directions, so that they can use their talents indus trially and earn a good living. Some are highly gifted. Mother and I have been spending the afternoon at the new club for English and American soldiers and sailors, and talking and chatting with some fine Irish and English sailors today. This is the anniversary of Italy's dec laration of war. I will write later and tell you of the procession we are going to see in a moment. It is nice that this great national fete day should be prac tically on my birthday, the 24 th; but I think the first shot was fired on the 25th. Seventy-five shipwrecked Englishmen, many officers among them, are expected any day now in Rome. Mother and I are going to help receive them. We do not know whether they have just been shipwrecked or whether some days ago. NURSES UNDER IIREI I shall be relieved when Dians arrives safely in Italy. The inclosed letter may interest you; it came tonight from Sita. She has nursed a good deal in Milan since the war, and last Christmas was at the front, among some of the very worst cases; some she could not talk or tell me about, they were so terrible. The worst case she spoke of was under a tent, so shot to pieces he could not be moved at all. She had just to sit beside this heap of human shreds and do what she could to help and comfort him during those last terrible moments.. I hope she will keep up her strength, so as to stay on now, for she is doing very good work, I imagine, and the hospitals with women have so many details attended to that are neg lected in those which have only men on the staff. Contessina di R. left her hospital, where comparatively little was going on, and went to Gorizia for this advance. During the worst part of the fighting she worked three days and three nights with out changing her clothes. Her hospital was struck, and she moved the wounded to cellars which were fire-proof, as the building had been a bank. She slept, after the rush the first night, in an old castle. This also was struck by the Aus trians in the night, and the unoccupied wing was demolished. A splendid, brave girl; no nerves! She said the noise of the bombardment was deafening. The Alpini on the Dolomites mostly live in the valleys below and their wives mend their socks. A little wool saved many men's lives the other day. It was reported to camp hospital in X, 4,800 feet high, that some wounded had been caught in a snowstorm at an Alpine pass. The road was blocked, the temperature many degrees below zero. We phoned through the mountains for the Alpini, and promised to rig every man in new socks, scarfs, and woolens who would bring back a wounded soldier. The men disappeared and nothing was heard of them for eight hours, when, one by one, they returned, each carrying a wounded man on his back, so that not one was left behind. Don't you think that was a price less bundle of wool? Such feats happen daily. Nobody here knows what those men are enduring, and the spirit that keeps them up we can never repay. Our Surgical Dressing Committee has been splendidly organized now by the Contessa di Robilant. We are in one of the most beautiful old palaces of Rome, one in which the German Emperor was once entertained, and expressed great envy of the ball-room, saying that he could never return the hospitality in any room in Berlin that could compare to this!