These are eventful times and as I know what a keen interest you take in all that concerns us I will try to write something every day and trust to chance of it ever getting to you. It feels more like a year than a few weeks since I bid you goodbye at Ismailia Station when you left on your way to England.
I left Alexandria for Smyrna on Wednesday, 27 October, 1914, on board the Khedevial [Egyptian] boat “Sadieh” and had a glorious voyage. The day the steamer left Alexandria the news of the WAR was good and the near Eastern question seemed at a standstill.
So Jack was quite easy in his mind about the family and was glad to let me go. There was a rumour that Enver Bey had been disposed of and that was looked upon as a good sign for peace with Turkey. Many of the English families who had left Smyrna at the time of the scare when you were there returned, so it seemed quite a natural and safe thing for me to get back home.
It was early on Saturday morning that the “Sadieh” steamed into the gulf of Smyrna. We had some delay in getting by the castle and through the mine zone. There were two small Turkish gun-boats anchored just outside the Castle and they sent out a launch to guide the “Sadieh” safely through into the harbour. We anchored close up to the quay and you may guess how glad I was to see dear Uncle Rowley and Alithea waiting for me, all amongst the same old Turks, camels, donkeys, and the oriental crowd we all love.
We got off the steamer and through the customs after nine o’clock, so we could not catch the early train to Boudjah, so after leaving my luggage to be taken to the station, Alithea and I decided to go and do some shopping and also to go and engage the men who were to colour wash our Nursing Home. I intended to start early on Monday morning as I did not see the use of wasting any more time in getting into the house now that we were paying rent.
Alithea had only returned the day before from her trip to Bouldour and Sparta [Burdur and Isparta are towns in the high hinterland of S.W. Turkey], where she had gone some ten days before to attend to the people who were injured during the earthquake there. It was her first appearance in Smyrna, so she was welcomed as a heroine, and numbers of people stopped to ask questions and she was greeted everywhere with love and praise. We at last got our work done and arrived at the Point Station just in time to catch the midday train. I had a glimpse of our future “Nursing Home” in the station square and it looked so nice I was burning with impatience to be in it. On the platform before the train started we met all the usual friends going back to Boudjah after their morning’s business. Wasn’t I glad to see them all! Our dear Smyrna people. Such hand shakings and greetings with everyone. And I had so much to tell!! I was the bearer of the latest political news! You know what that means! But the triumph was at Boudjah at the “Daily Mail” corner, do you remember? There your mother was standing with the Perkins Girls as we came up a large party. We, the Blacklers, Mr. Bird, Russel, etc.
How we talked and how excited we all were you can just imagine, I gave all the news I had brought and some papers I had smuggled. Everyone was happy and inclined to think that the political questions as far as Turkey was concerned would settle and peace was in store for us. The first three days of the week we were very busy in cleaning and settling the Nursing Home and putting it in order. We used to come down from Boudja by the 8.25 train and return in the evening. As I have a pass I used to return for my lunch at home and carry the town news to mother and Lilla; after lunch I came back and went on with the work. You can picture us washing windows and paints, polishing furniture, laying down linoleum. Jackie Lewis was most helpful. We intended to do things very well and quietly. We had two men to colour wash the rooms and hall. But on Wednesday afternoon we heard that the Port was closed! What could it mean? No one seemed to know but all feared it meant war....!! If war - what should we do? What about our Nursing Home? Of course everyone thinks of No. 1.
We got home that evening in a great state of excitement. After Supper, Edmund was at our house and we were all repeating every bit of news we had, when there was a loud knock at our door. It was the Kavas of the English Consulate telling the English Subjects that the relations between Turkey and Russia were broken off! Edmund was with us, but fortunately Mother had gone to bed, so she was safe for a good night - that was comfort. After a few minutes Edmund got up and went to the Pengelleys wondering what we had better do with ourselves.
You know, we were in the midst of getting up the Nursing [maternity] Home! Half our things were there and we had workmen there. Supposing all the English were turned out of Smyrna? What was the good of our going on with our preparations of the Home?
Then the question of money come up. Were we justified in spending a farthing of the ready money we had, when we did not know if we would be able to get any more. We talked till long passed mid-night with the result that we came to the conclusion that it would be our best plan to get the Home ready as quickly as possible and with as small expense as we could and remove Mother and all the family there. It would be a safer house than Boudja one in case of riots, as it has a strong iron door and the lower windows are well barred. Our next move would be to pack off Jack, Lewis and Dorothy. Then we would be only a few women folk and could manage to look after ourselves and spend little. Of course we have Bill, but he is all right and can keep indoors. So it was settled that we should stick to our work and get the house in town ready quickly and take our old Mother there, as it was out of the question her being bundled about as a refugee in this cold and damp.
Next morning we went to town as usual by the 8 o’clock train. Everyone was bursting with excitement. At mid-day the news was confirmed and our consul Heathcote Smith was given his passport and the Flag Staff from the Consulate was taken down! So now the long dreaded war is upon us and what will become of us? Who knows, one can’t help feeling a sort of unknown dread at the very bottom of ones heart, for of course the Turks are Turks, and it will not be the first time that Christians have suffered at their hands. At mid-day the excitement was very great in the train. The two small Turkish gunboats I had seen outside the castle when I was arriving from Egypt were sunk by the British. And the port of Smyrna was firmly closed. Two English merchant steamers were made prisoners and their crew of 70 men taken to the Konak [Government House].
What a sensation for us all? How everyone talked! One moment people decided to make a bolt of it, the next they pitied their homes and their things and decided to stay. In the evening Holton [Francis Holton, assistant railway manager] sent word to all the employees of the railway to say that a steamer would be ready the next day at 6 in the evening at Vourla to take all who wished to leave and they had got a permit of safe escort from the Vali [regional governor].
The weather was cold and wet but most of the families decided to face it and go, so there was hurried packing all that afternoon as the carriages were to start at about 10 o’clock the next morning.
Alithea and I went in by 8 o’clock train in the morning and there, on the platform, were gathered together most of the families of Boudja with all their belongings, their babies and nurses and all the hundred and one small things that make up a home. There was a rumour that that would be the last train from Boudja: It was packed. Everyone was so astonished at our coolness, going on with our work of getting the Nursing Home ready. I must say it seems a bit foolish but what can we do. We can’t go away, so we will have to make the best of it.
We bid goodbye to our friends at Smyrna Station and felt a little sinking in our hearts. But we put a brave front and set to work. What a blessed thing work is, soon we were absorbed in setting up beds, polishing furniture and floors and admiring our handy work. A lot of that was done! Especially my work of art in putting the border of the green linoleum round the fireplace. I had no idea it would be so difficult, but I did it! From the front windows of the house we could see the preparations of the flight of the railway people. Such carriages, 17 of them, with the most extraordinary horses in harness. Large honey ones, with skinny small ones - brown with white! And ancient funeral steeds. Where they picked them up I don’t know, they must be the remains of what the Turks have left. We wondered how they would ever reach Vourla in all that rain and bad roads. At last by eleven o’clock they all drove away. We wondered what would become of the railway, and if there would be trains for us to go back!
At midday there was a stir in the station square and we went to the windows and what do we see? All the English back again! There they were, with all their packages, children, babies, prams etc. Too pathetic for words. I ran out to ask what it meant and was told that the permit for the British to leave was stopped! Only Heathcote Smith and the Russian Consul and some of the Consulate Staff were allowed to proceed on their way. The rest had to return. It was too pathetic to see them in the train with set tragic faces. Sarah Gout and Henry were desperate. We were so glad we were not in the same position for of course it cost a lot of money and to return back at mid-day to an empty or packed-up home, with the servants gone and no dinner and a lot of tired little children was no joke. We felt awfully sorry for them and did all we could to help in the way of food and rest for the weary. All this made us decide to hurry on our preparations at the Home and to get Mother safely in town as we could not tell when the railway would stop running trains.
We hired some carts to carry Mother’s bed and room furniture. She won’t be parted from her bed or any of her pet things. The carts charge just double what they did when we took our clinic things down, but what was to be done? We also took a few rugs and carpets from that house and Bill’s bedroom things. We hurried and hurried till by Saturday we were in. We fully realized how absolutely impossible it will be our ever taking Mother away. It caused her so much excitement just to move this distance: her hands trembled and shook and her face flushed. Poor darling, we must look after her very well this winter. We are making her very comfortable and hope she will settle down here. So far she says she will like it - and how we hope she will!
The Williamson Nursing / Maternity Home - the location today8th:
Our first day in our own “Nursing Home” and how different it all is to what we expected! Mother slept beautifully all night and is charmed with everything. Of course we are not a bit settled yet, but now we are all in, we will soon get right.
But I must hurry to report what event has taken place! Our old Boudja house is taken by the Turks! By the first train in the morning a messenger came from Rowley to say some of us must go over and take or put by some of our things as the Turks would take possession by mid-day. Lilla and I went, but what could we do in such a hurry. We gathered all cushions and small things as we could into the store room which we locked. There were several officers there and they would not let us put by too many things, they wanted the house furnished. We made a list and they tell us that we will have everything back, nothing will be spoilt. They seem quite high class men and speak French, so we hope for the best. It is well we have this “Home” for we are told that our house was one of the marked ones to be taken. Moraitinis and the Russels, the house next to ours, Mrs Betsey Brussik’s new little house, Heathcote, Reese’s two houses, in fact nearly all the houses in Boudja are taken. We would have thought such a thing possible.
More houses taken. I went to Boudja to see if I could get hold of an arm-chair for Lilla and one or two things. Jackie came with me, but we could not get much, there is our old home full of Turkish officers and soldiers. Our Mother’s corner occupied by a fat Turk. The carriage used by soldiers, the poor old horse had gone two days before we left. They have a nasty bony brown horse that kicked the trap to bits the first time they drove out.
Some of the English have managed to go away and we are going to try to get Jackie and Dorothy off as soon as possible. It is wisest to get all the men folk away. Yesterday when Jackie and I were in Boudja we found the place so different, there were soldiers everywhere, all the occupied houses had horrid red and white flags hanging over the doors. There was a brass military band playing in Tommy Reese’s garden. The Commander-in-Chief Perteff Pasha is resident there. You would hardly recognise dull old Boudja. How much has happened in so short a time.
To-day is Mother’s birthday - and here are we quite settled in the Nursing Home. Mother has a room downstairs leading out of the Sitting-room, which is Lilla’s room for the present. We have made them both very comfortable and Mother vows she will never leave. To-day she says has been a day flowing with milk and honey. She has had crowds of visitors, boxes of sweets and chocolates and to crown all a big basket of good things and a letter written in French from Nellie. Such a funny letter. That is the only language the Turks will allow. Dorothy wrote back a reply, we all had a try with it. The result was a very curious epistle. Becky [nick-name for Rebecca, one of Alithea’s elder sisters] writes to her children in that language, interlarded with Frago hiotieu. Such letters.
We are all put under Martial Law. People must all be in by 9 p.m. After six if anyone is let out they must carry a lantern. Goodness knows why. The streets look quite pretty, people carry Japanese red and coloured paper lanterns. Thousands have been sold, so some-one is making money. The Turks so far, have been very good to us and keep the town very quiet.
The last two days we hear that the news from the European War is very good for the Allies and the Turks have given leave to a few of the English to go if they want. So far the Gordon family are the only ones to take advantage, the journey to Vourla is so uncomfortable and when one arrives there, one is never sure that the steamer advertised will be there or if it will leave when it is expected to do so, and if one has to spend a night at Vourla it is awful for there are only a few broken down huts there without any sleeping accommodation and very dirty and many livestock. So in spite of the fear people have of remaining they try to avoid going also if they do leave their houses are at once taken by the Turks.
Our Nursing Home now is almost quite in order and we are very proud of it. The first floor of this house is devoted to it. There are 10 beds ready for patients, and the rooms are bright and nice. The “Forget-me-not” beds look very well. We have booked 8 patients, so soon we hope to have work. Our own rooms are up above and Lilla and Mother on the ground floor. Jackie and Bill have rooms in the garden house.
Our dining room and hall are very smart. We have also bought a very good red Turkey carpet for the stair-case and we have some of the South African skins and swords and knives that you and Jackie brought, so all together our Home does look nice. I wish you could see it, we are all so happy. Mother declares that she will never leave us.
Poor Mrs. Gordon had to come back. She got as far as Vourla and there she was told that no ships would be allowed to come or go. Now she has no home for they rented their house. It is dreadful for them, they do not know what to do. We have taken their luggage and stored it, for they hope to leave in a day or two. Things are looking more serious and many of the families are trying to leave. Their is a rumour that the English might be taken as prisoners of war and put into a concentration camp. No one likes to think of that. A Turkish Camp! We are going to try and get Jackie and Dorothy away as soon as possible.
We have arranged that Jackie and Dorothy and the two Pengelley girls Jessie and Annie should leave to-day with the Gordons and girls. They got quite ready but at the last moment were told that the steamer would not leave to-day. Such a sell, all their things packed and the carriages ordered and the Gordons and girls down from Boudja. The Turks too have began to stop people coming down from Boudja and they won’t let one bring even a small handbag. I was stopped and my bag taken from me. I was so cross, for of course there is no sense in doing that. I got my bag in the end and a permit to travel on the line. All these things make one feel that we are absolutely in the Turks’ power.
We had a private dedication Service here this morning, for our “Nursing Home”. Mr. Brett held it. His prayers were beautiful and we do hope a real blessing will rest upon our work. It is nice that the Williamson family should have the first home as they were the first Smyrna English to train as Hospital Nurses.
We hear that the Boudja English men had to go and pay a visit of respect to Perteff Pasha. In Tommy Reese’s house. Oh! The spirit of Zoe, if she could only see her pet house and lovely things in the hands of the Turks.
Jackie, Dorothy, the Pengelley girls and Gordons got off to-day, we were so glad to have them safely out of the place. One gets nervous a bit some time, especially if one lies awake at night. The weather is wet and cold, and your Mother was very sad at parting with her son and daughter. As to poor Becky, she was in the depths of woe. I have rarely seen her more miserable. However, she spent the day with us and we did our best to cheer her up. After lunch Rowley brought us letters. The first we have since I left Egypt. They were of a stale date, 27th October. There was one from you from Gib., and two from Jim Anderson, also one from Charlie. Dear old Jim is very anxious about us all and he offers to take us in. Jackie and Dorothy will go to him first and they will explain how impossible it is for us to take Mother away.
We heard that the officers in our Boudja house gave each other a big dinner. They had two large tables spread and flowers and the band playing. A few weeks ago we could not have believed that such goings on would happen in our quiet old house. Mrs. Barfield came to call on us to-day. She is so perfectly furious with the Germans. The Turks have practically taken over the railway, but they won’t let Barfield [Herbert Barfield, general manager] go. He has to work for the enemy. Not a very easy post to fulfil. We get no political news whatever, except Reform [the local French language newspaper, la Reform?] lies.
Our brothers have been telegraphing Jim for news of us all, Jim was able to give all our news as he had seen our Consul Mr. Heathcote Smith, who had arrived in Athens that day. The Brothers wish us to leave, but Mother won’t budge, so it is no use even telling her that her sons want her. We are living in peace and she is very happy and well, so we must just trust that all will be well and be happy.
A lovely Sunday morning everything quiet and peaceful. No news from the travellers to Vourla, so we don’t know if their steamer left yesterday. All day long soldiers and carts and strings of camels go by our house, there is a great movement among the troops. No end of extra trains at night. The railway staff is still kept on. Barfield hates working for the Turks.
A letter came from Jessie to her father to-day saying they hoped to leave this evening. Poor things, two days in that horrid place Vourla. Fancy Mother in such a position. You see how impossible it is for her to go. The rain has been pouring all day and night and it is also very cold. We have lighted a fire in the sitting room and have a Tandouri [a domestic stove-heater, where an overlying blanket allows lower body to receive the full warmth from the hot coals]. The fire places draw well and we have such jolly fires. Lots and lots of visitors come to us. All Mother’s Bournabat friends have been to see her. She is very happy here and not dull. The travellers left yesterday evening. I am glad to say. Such a relief to have them off our minds. News is quiet and all goes on as usual. The lanterns have been given up, and people were allowed to write letters in English. Only they have been sent open. Doris and Ruth meant to go to Aidin tomorrow, Ruth needed a bit of a holiday and there is very little work at the hospital.
News from town not so good to-day. The Ottoman Railway has been quite taken over by the Turks and they are busy sending all the spare rolling stock up country. Mr. Elliot has been requested to take to pieces all the machines and send them up country. As a good many of the machines are worked by gas he told the Turks that it was no use sending those up, but they will not listen. Everything must be sent up and very quickly too. So all on the railways are most busy packing, we see them rushing in and out here and there. It makes us so curious to know what is going on.
We hear nothing whatever of the outer world. No letter, no newspapers, no nothing.
No one is allowed to go out of the country or even travel to the interior without a special permit, and we are so afraid the trains will stop running. We now wish Ruth had not gone to Nazli [market town of Nazilli, about 150 km SE of Smyrna]. She may get shut up there. I wish all the family from Aidin [Aydın] were here, one can’t help feeling anxious about them. All is gloom in town and long anxious faces are seen. I went and called on Mrs. Barfield yesterday evening and she was so furious at the way Mr. Barfield is treated and made to work like a nigger for the enemy. It is a topsy turvy world. The crews of the two English merchants ships have been sent as prisoners of war to Magnesia [Manisa]. People wonder if the rest of the English here will share the same fate. Everyone is trying to get a permit to go.
Our first Baby [of the Nursing Home, Gladys Williamson, the author of this diary did not marry or have children] was born on Monday the 16th. A fine boy, first-class patient, all well and we hope it is a good sign.
Our gloom was a bit dispelled by dear old Caleb. We had been to the American Consulate, and the consul has reassured him as to the people’s safety. The worst that could happen will be a concentration camp for all the men of a fighting age. But no one likes the idea of a Turkish concentration camp. Mr. Brett went up to Magnesia to visit the English men there and he said they were all right, and kindly treated, but, of course, no beds or any comforts whatever. This would not suit the petted darlings of Bournabat and Boudja - would it?
We saw Rawley this afternoon and he told us that the ladies of Boudja have been given yards and yards of Cabot and other rough stuff to sew for the soldiers and they have been ordered to sew the things quickly and send them to the Konak washed and ironed. “Pon my word”, mother says, what next? To-day Becky was standing the whole day cutting out. It would be wiser we believe that they should go to Athens if possible. Who knows what they may not be ordered to do next. In the midst of our gloom yesterday, a cart drives up to our door with our new sitting room sofas and chairs from the “Anglo Eastern”. The irony of fate. We took them in and sat on them with such gloomy faces that at last it struck me as comical that we all laughed. And dear old Mother declared that they were so comfortable she would never, never leave this home. She says that one good thing about this war, was this good home and comforts. The darling, she always puts new life into us.
Mr. and Mrs. [Edward] Barff came and paid her a visit and they were charmed with the house and think it was a very wise step that we have taken to bring our old Mother to town. Boudja is awful. They have had their small house taken and were ordered to provide furniture and beds. Nearly all his goods and grain [he was a merchant in this commodity] has been taken from him - such is life!! I don’t think Barff loves the Turks quite as much as he did.
We hear that the Aidin [Mac Andrews, Forbes & company liquorice processing] factory is going to be shut up and the staff brought down to Smyrna. We long to have Ruth and the Alfred Pengelleys here. A few people get permits to leave. Dr. Chasseaud we hear has one. He wants to join his wife and children. We hear she is ill with anxiety. They returned as far as Malta early in November and there they heard that the war had broken out with Turkey and they were advised to return back to England. You can imagine how anxious poor Doctor has been about them.
To-day I have a wonderful bit of news for you. Mr. Bird has made a bolt of it. Can you believe it? He that was going to stand by us all and be one of the last to leave. He kept so quiet about it, did not tell anyone that he was trying to get a permit. He slept in town and left at dawn before anyone could see him. I hope he will have to remain in Vourla for at least 3 days. He deserves it. And also that the Turks should at once occupy his house. We also have heard that the Tennessee, an American Man-o-War, was fired on from the Fort at the entrance to the harbour. This has excited the Americans here very much. All the masters and Mr. MacLachlan [president of the International College] were in town to-day. I met them in Frank Street. They were wearing a red Fez on their heads and were going to the Mosque to hear the declaration of the “Holy War”. We have come to that, and yet somehow I am not a bit afraid. I also met Mr. Richard Whittall [Richard Watson Whittall, 1847-1920, of Bournabat and C. Whittall & Co., son of James Whittall, grandson of Charlton Whittall, the first in Smyrna - Whittall family tree book] and he told me that there was no fear, but one does not know what to believe.
Aunt Becky [Rebecca née Williamson] and Rowley [her husband from the Lewis family] spent the day with us. Rowley has a secret joy that Bird has gone. He used to bother him so with his fears. Lately he could do no work at all he was so nervous. The Calverts came from Nazli tried to come down but they were not allowed. Dr. Chasseaud left this morning. The hospital is carried on still but only with a few patients. They have no money but are afraid to shut, as it then might be taken.
We were very busy yesterday. More babies born. Boys again, two mothers. The weather is very wet and cold and the streets are very dirty. As to Boudja, I was there on Saturday and it is a horrid dirty place.
The Aidin Pengelleys arrived on Sunday with Ruth. We were so glad to see them. Ruth says, It was a sight to see the departure of Nellie. So many poor people came and blessed her and wept at her leaving, and she gave away so many things to them. Eric de Jongh [only son of Oscar and Cleofe de Jongh, who were both to die by the vanguard of the Turkish army entering Boudja in 1922. Eric, born ~1890, was a trader in Smyrna, emigrating to Canada in 1927, and was one of the great-grandsons of the first De Jongh of Smyrna, John, arrived 1812] will remain in their house and look after things. People get permits to leave by degrees. The Vali does not want a rush. Little by little we hear that people have gone. Soon the Pengelleys will go too. They hanker after their children and there is no reason why they should remain here if their business is closed. We shall be left all alone. So far order has been kept and everything is quiet and things are not too dear.
I wish you could see the commissariat carts that are continually passing by our windows. Some are just the same build that [prophet] Abraham must have had. Solid wheels and mat sides to them and drawn by bullocks. Others just boards on wheels drawn by broken down old horses. There are also strings and strings of solemn camels, and now and then a motor lorry or a smart motor with officers in. It is a constant interest to look out of our windows, and Mother passes her time looking out. In Boudja the Greek school has been turned into a red crescent hospital. Dr. Manicopoulo is made the head and Mrs. Manicopoulo with a committee of ladies are working hard getting the sheets and things ready. The beds have all been taken from different peoples’ houses. Money has been collected and workmen made to give their labour gratis. The result is quite a decent place. But the poor Turks did not know how to do anything and their ideas of sanitation, are prehistoric. They were quite surprised when the ladies said the school must be whitewashed and cleaned first of all. They are like children and one cannot help loving them.
To-day we had a large family gathering. All day long members of the family kept dropping in. Ten of us sat down to lunch, and fifteen to tea. We also have some patients. There is a constant movement in this house. No one could feel dull here. Late in the evening Mr. Partridge came in. He does not know what to do about leaving. He can’t bear to be left alone without the Pengelleys and yet he clings to his house and things. He is torn between the two evils. After he left us he was going to Paradise to see Caleb and ask him to go and live in his house. He says he is willing to pay Caleb well. Fancy Partridge coming to that pass as to want the Lawrence children rampaging in his precious home. Anything to keep the Turks out of his house. The wits of our community have written verses on the funk [state of fear] of certain British. Also a small monthly paper has been published.
This is a verse which is appropriate to Mr. Partridge.
“The Householders Dirge”.
“I to Athens would depart
But my house is on my heart
If I take my brood out west,
Then the Turks will take my nest.
By the carpets I have sold:
By the friends who know I’m bold,
Can a man leave things like these?
Wealth amassed by slow degrees?
And yet my life I love thee.
Zooë mus sas agapo,
Zooë mus sas agapo [Greek: life that I love].”
(with apologies to Lord Byron)
And so we pass our time. There is no business, all the offices are shut.
The Ottoman railway is still going on, but the Company never knows from day to day what will come next in the way of happenings. Barfield is very angry and they are still kept here and they are doing their best to get permits to leave.
To-day we cashed our first earnings from the “Home”, 33 Medjids [Mejidiye: currency of the Ottomans at the time], such a bulky lot. I brought them down to Mother and put them in her lap. She was as delighted as a child. She felt that we were going to get so rich! She put the dollars in a large envelope and showed them to whoever came in.
To-day we had a letter from Henry from Egypt. They are all so anxious about us and urge us all to leave. Jackie and Dorothy will by now have told them we are safe, and also explained how impossible it is for us to leave with old mother. There was also a letter from you. The first from England. How glad we were to have news of you at last. It was clever of you to address it on to Athens. Jim Anderson sent it on. It is lovely to know that the dear Baby is so well and growing. We long for news of the Masseys and Barkers. One does not realise how much one really loves ones own people until one is actually cut off from them. We long and long for news. What would we not give for a batch of letters or a bundle of papers. The American flag now flies over the British hospital. Dr Chasseaud is gone and a Greek Dr. is in his place. Miss Coates is also away, so there are only a few of the old staff there. Mrs. Tibaldi has no end of bothers. I am glad I am there no more, and Alithea and I can’t be thankful enough that we started this Home. We are doing very well considering the difficult times. Forbes’ house has not been taken but all his motors and horses and carts have.
To-day is the saddest day. We have bid goodbye to all the Pengellies. It sounds rather terrible that they should have gone and left us all behind. But it is not really, for women alone are quite safe and we have a good house. Also by going Rowley has been able to arrange about our getting our monthly allowance, which has been so difficult to get from Egypt. He has arranged that we should get the money from the Forbes and he draws that same amount in Egypt from the brother. The bidding goodbye to dear old mother was rather pathetic and we all felt the parting very much. One can’t help feeling a vague dread and wondering how and when we shall meet again. They all went off from this house. So many came to bid them goodbye. Gracie and Herbert, Arthur Lafontaine, Caleb and the Peacocks. Such a number. Just as they were getting into the waiting carriages and all the luggage was put in, old Alfred gets his hat from the peg and tries to put it on only to find that it was not his hat, and of course his was a new one. We discovered a husband of one of the patients must have gone off with it and left his old greasy one behind. Well Alfred would have nothing to do with the old greasy one, so his bag had to be hauled down from the carriage and his travelling cap taken out for him to wear. No end of chaff went on all the time and we were so glad for that diverted our thoughts so that they went off with a laugh and Mother recovered from the parting. I hate goodbyes, don’t you?
The husband brought Alfred’s hat with many apologies yesterday evening. To-day the news is thrilling. The railway station is filled with soldiers and a train load of the English employees have been taken to Magnesia as prisoners of war. Young Cook, Ritchie, McRae, Warren, Walker etc. Barfield managed to remain in his house, but soldiers are stationed at the doors at the doors so he can’t get out. Old Holton also remained at home and he is kept in by soldiers. All the rest are made to work no end, and no one is allowed to shirk work. You can imagine the feelings of the wives of those who have been taken up to Magnesia. Daisy Cook is tragic indeed. There is a report that the English men of a fighting age will all be taken up country to a concentration camp. Aren’t we glad our men left. I think we are most fortunate having got them off. They got leave as American employees of the Forbes Co. The Forbes Office is practically shut, only Mr. Green is there and Mr. Hanson.
We had a stirring service to-day. The few remaining English all being present. Mr. Brett will not leave us, and he promises to go every Friday to Magnesia and visit the prisoners. He begged for clothes for the sailors and any comforts we could all spare, as they are very simply provided. Simplicity in everything, coats were very much needed as it is cold there now and the sailors have not got their baggage.
Most of the English that can, have gone by now and we have settled down to a humble life and work. Have 8 cases on the books.
December, 1914, 5th:
Mrs. Birge has had her baby you will be glad to hear and all is well. A fine boy, she has the best room and pays well. There is also a nurse for the baby and the husband spent a few days so we make some money this time.
All the Railway employees from Magnesia have returned and are being given permits to leave the country. Barfields and Holton have also been released and are leaving as soon as they can get a permit. The Turks torment the people who wish to leave. One day they are told they can leave, the next the leave is stopped. It is sometimes too aggravating. The Bournabat people are not attempting to leave. They can’t part with their homes or things. Mr. Partridge is torn between his house and his life. But I believe he will stick it out. The Pengelleys have put a Scotchman and his wife into their house and perhaps it will not be taken.
The Pengelley house in Boudja has been taken by a Bey [official] and his family. They would not allow us to put any of the furniture nor mattresses. I hope they will look after things though one can’t expect much from Turks. I went and took away Jessie’s canaries. I am so glad to have them. They swing so sweetly.
January, 1915, 1st:
Christmas has come and gone. We had a very quiet time, as you can imagine Mr. Brett managed to get a good many plum puddings for the prisoners at Magnesia, and he took them also some presents. Poor things, they are to be pitied right away from their own people. Everyone had something. No one was forgotten. It has been such a beautiful day that after church I took Mother and Lilla for a drive. Mother was longing for a sight of the sea. It was beautifully calm and a lovely blue. In the bay were anchored the prisoners-of-war ships. Three English and two Dutch, and the others Turkish. They can’t go out and they look pathetic lying there, but it adds to the beauty of the bay.
One could hardly believe that this country is at war; everything looks so peaceful. Being New Year’s day the quay was gay with holiday people and the garden near the Konak was bright with flowers. It is a lovely climate and country. We long to see it well governed and in good hands. All the people here have great hopes now that the English will come. I hope so too, but there is no knowing what the Powers will do.
Up to now, seven boys have been born in this Home and so far we have cashed £46. Not bad considering what year this has been. I did not believe we would do anything. Most business houses are shut, there is not enough work.
To-day we had letters from Athens and Italy. News at least of Arthur Hitchens. He is well and safe, but still in Jerusalem. Since October we had not received any news from him. He was hoping to leave, if he could get permission. But the Authorities are the same there as here, and it is difficult to get a permit to quit. Rowley Pengelley was alone in Athens. The girls left with Nellie and Alfred for Egypt. We hear rumours that the Dardanelles is being bombarded, but we can’t believe it yet.
There is nothing to write about now. We lead a very humdrum life. One week is like another. We might just as well be in a besieged city, for ought we hear of the outer world. Friends come to tea and there are football matches and walks. The Sydney LaFontaines are leaving this week; they have bad news of Edie [?Edith, their eldest daughter, born 1884, died 1922 unmarried - Whittall family tree book, page 62] their daughter. She was in Dresden [probably for piano education] when the War broke out. At last she managed to get to England and now we hear she is ill, so the father and mother had a special permit to go to her. The Vali is kindness itself to people and he manages to endear himself by acts like these.
The town is still quiet and we have no news. The Bey who is occupying Becky’s house, sent word that he must have the keys as he wants all the table things etc. We have to give them. We are in their hands.
The B.S. [British Seaman’s] has not been taken yet. The French has and also all the schools have been taken except the American. All the Nuns and Freres have been sent away and their places taken. There is a good deal of Genteel poverty. Clerks who keep families on their pay now have nothing. Do you remember Mr. Mavrogenni? His family and sisters are almost starving, they are on the charity relief, poor things. People do their best, and the young people get up plays etc., and gather money to get bread. You see every able bodied man is taken to serve, and the women and children are left to starve. How long will this last. They all long for the English. They even say let us be killed but let the English come for our children’s sake. What faith they have in the English. Let us hope they will not fail them.
These two days have been black. Our darling Mother has been near death’s door. She caught a bad cold and we nearly lost her. It seemed so hard for her to go when all her children are away. To-day she is a little better and we must hope to pull her through, we cannot let her go just yet. She must live to see the English come. She is so interested in all the events.
We have had a week of fighting for Mother’s life. Poor darling, she has had a time of it. At one time we almost gave up hope of her pulling through, but now thank God she seems to have taken a turn for the better. Thank God for this nice house and warm rooms, we have a fire in her room night and day. To-day she was telling us she feels like a millionaire. She has everything she can possibly want and is so comfortable. We have had no cases in, so Alithea and I were able to devote all our time with the darling Mother and now we really do think she will be quite her old self soon.
To-day we had letters, such a treat. We paid the man who brought them 5 francs. Some people say they would give a pound for a fresh English paper. We have no news of the outer world. No end of tales go about and the “Reforme” publishes heaps of lies. An old Turk told Mr. Hadkinson to-day that many Turks long for the English to come they are sick of their own government.
So many days have passed and I have not written. Our dear old Mother was ill again and now she has to keep from eating sweets which is a very heavy trial for her, tho’ she is very brave. She really has a strong character and her faith is helping her. It is splendid to see what the good old fashioned faith does for people. And a long Christian life tells in the end for it makes it possible for her to bear her sufferings and be cheerful, even tho’ she feels things more than ordinary people. The last two days she has sat up in her old corner and put on her cap, and her friends have come to see her and are so glad to see her looking well and able to chat and take an interest in what is taking place. She is so much loved by all. Dr. Manicopoulo has been a perfect dear. He has come so many times to see her and every time he puts new life into her. The weather too, has at last got fine. We have had 6 weeks of rain.
Still the weather is fine and we go for walks. Mrs. Ashe has had a fine baby boy [The contributor, Francis Patrick Ashe]. We got letters from Egypt with a bit of news about the engagement between the British and Turks. How interesting of the fight. The “Reforme” says that the English were horribly beaten and that they ran away before the Turks. The gun-boats fired so badly that they only hit their own troops and caused a panic. And Miss Margaret believes all this. She is fed up with German lies. It makes me too cross to talk to her any more.
Eleven days have gone by in quiet humdrum life. Lovely weather, spring flowers, and busy work. I had a good private case in Bournabat, but I shall not be paid till after the war. I am getting some of Dr. Chasseaud’s cases. The first girl was born in this home yesterday. Of course it happened to a couple who longed for a boy. They have two girls already and this makes the third. But such is life. We again hear that the Dardanelles is bombarded, but we do not believe it. General Von der Goltz [info] came and inspected the army here and gave instructions as how to defend this town in case of invasion. He stayed one night at the Reeses with Perteff Pasha.
Caleb [Lawrence] is very excited about the bombarding of the Dardanelles, and this time we are beginning to believe it is true and they are doing so, for the “Reforme” gives a graphic description of the violence of the bombarding, and only one camel and man slightly injured. The forts have not been touched. Truly the English have not lost their cunning. We do get so cross at these remarks. But let us see who will conquer in the end.
We had letters from Egypt. We are the only ones who get letters and when they hear that we have some our friends all come round to hear the news. Becky gave us a good account of the fight with the Turks near the canal at Ismailia. How we enjoyed reading about it.
Gracie came on purpose to hear the news and she spent the day here. Nothing goes on here and in Bournabat they are almost dying of Boredom. They write poems and skits and have plays for the sake of getting a little money for the poor. I took your mother [should be Leila Lewis née Williamson] to the theatre to see one of these plays and you don’t know how bored she was. She vowed never to be beguiled into such folly again. Neneka [probably Alithea’s mother, Elizabeth Williamson, née Barker, nick-name probably derived from Greek for grandmother, ‘nene’] laughed at her when she returned and told her how comfortable she had been. So warm and snug, whilst your mother’s feet were like ice.
Last night our night bell rang and we thought it was a case. It turned out to be Mercy Charlton on her return from Vourla. Her carriage had broken down and she only reached Smyrna near mid-night, so she ran to us for refuge. Our Home has been most useful for all the people who have had to come or go this year. We had all the Cooks one night, and the Gordons, and Doris Pengelley etc. Mercy told us that it is really true that the Dardanelles is bombarded. What excitement for all here.
A bright and beautiful day for poor Mrs. Manicopoulo’s funeral. The whole village followed and she was buried in St. John’s church on the hill. It was one of the biggest funerals that Boudja had seen. She was so much loved by every one. In the evening there were rumours that the English had gone through the Dardanelles, but we can’t believe it yet. They say too that General Webber, has been killed in a battle at Panderma [Bandırma on the south coast of the sea of Marmara].
It has come at last Tottie [nick name given to the obvious recipient of this diary/letter, the 5th child of Leila Lewis née Williamson (Alithea’s eldest sister), Mary Dorothea Lewis, born 1879]. The bombardment at Smyrna Fort. Oh! I feel as if I could burst with excitement. At 2 p.m. we heard the first shot, and then another and another. Alithea and Lilla had just started for Cordellio [Karşıyaka on the opposite side of the bay of Smyrna] and as I had Mrs. Birge, we decided to go on the quay and watch. Such excitement. All the men of Smyrna were on the quay, but very few women. We went on to the terrace of the Sporting Club and there watched. Shell after shell. How I longed for you. Do you remember that night of the Bayram [Turkish religious holiday, when a blank is fired from a cannon to mark the start or end of a fast] when you woke me up? The sound is quite different. One almost hears the noise of the shell going through the air. The bombardment continued till a little after three. And then it stopped and we all gradually got to our homes. How we talked and how excited we all were. But the town is remarkably quiet. The men from Paradise [~1 km from Boudjah] all came down. They say that the thunder of the guns is dreadful there, much worse than in town. In Boudja all the women were screaming with fright. I will try and write more tomorrow.
March 6th, 11.30 a.m.:
At 8 o’clock this morning there was again a most thunderous bombarding. It seemed as it four or five shells were fired at once. The whole house shook and all the windows rattled. Poor Mother could not take it in that it was a bombardment. Alithea and I tore off to the quay. And again everyone was watching. It really is quite a show and we feel quite safe. The reply from the hills was really quite surprising. After two hours heavy firing, it stopped and the ships seem to have gone. The Turks say that they have frightened the ships away. Such a quiet Smyrna and such a calm sea. Can it be possible, that the ships have gone? The bombardment this time was terrible.
6th March, 7 p.m.:
At about 2.20, the bombardment started again. There were only two ships in sight then. The reply from the Turks was very vigorous and after 40 minutes the ships steamed away. What can it mean? After the ships left all the English and Frenchmen were quietly arrested and taken as prisoners. Those in Smyrna and Cordelio to the Konak and those in Bournabat to the Club. Also in Boudja. Everyone has gone, old men as well. Mr. Barff, old Richard Whittall [Richard Watson Whittall, 1847-1920, of Bournabat and C. Whittall & Co., son of James Whittall, grandson of Charlton Whittall, the first in Smyrna - Whittall family tree book] and Giraud, also old Thorburn from next door and Mr. Cros, in fact all. Only Bill has not been asked for as yet. I expect the British will find it hard to take Smyrna. There was too much time given to them to prepare and the Germans have been teaching them their tricks. Let us hope that the battle won’t be too awful.
7th, 1.30 p.m.:
We are anxiously waiting for eight o’clock, to see if the Bombardment will start again, and what will happen to-day. Mother had a lovely night and feels so well this morning it is Sunday, but no service as the clergyman were taken as well as the Doctors.
7th, 2.30 p.m.:
From eleven to twelve the guns began again, but the sound was far off and we could not see anything from the quay. We hear that soldiers landed at Vourla, but as yet no sign. The town is very quiet and all seems as usual.
Poor old Bill was marked off this morning. They have not left one Englishman or Frenchman. They are all lodged in two hotels and are comfortable, but who knows how long it will last. One of our nurses is the daughter of a driver on the railway and she tells that all the engines are under steam and ready to start for the interior. They have packed up all the books etc. Her father gets orders one time to be off and then he is stopped and they wait a little longer. I don’t believe they know what to do themselves. The Turkish women have been leaving for up country by the hundreds.
7th, 3.00 p.m.:
There goes the bombarding again. It is curious to watch the travelling crowds from our windows. Such a medley of bundles and rags. What a good thing Mother is an old woman instead of a man, or she would have to go. Old Lawson was taken. Poor ancient chap. Bombarding has gone on up to midnight, but no ships have come in, we do not know what is going on. Possibly they are landing troops.
This morning we have heard from our driver that five train loads of Turkish troops have gone up country, and to-day all the medical staff and appliances belonging to the railway are being taken up to Aidin.
The English prisoners are still where they were, but at any moment they may be sent up country. Poor old Mr. Barff we hear burst into tears when he was taken from his Julie. He has aged so much, I do hope they will leave the very old to return home. Ruth has tried her best to get Bill off. She even went to a Turkish official in his home. They promise to do their best to let him off, but I don’t believe them. I should think the Whittalls are pretty sick at having pinned their faith on the Vali. After all, what can one man do? He has to obey his orders, but he is a clever man and he has managed so far to make things comfortable for the English and he may be able to be of use now in this crisis. It was very weird, lying in bed and hearing the guns going, I did not sleep much, I can tell you. Bombarding has been going on practically all day, but the evening has come and no landing as far as we can see. Everything calm and quiet. The Turks very calm and smiling, “Zarar Yok” [no damage] they say. “What can the English do? We have bigger guns. When they are tired they will go.” Poor old Mother is beginning to wonder if they are right. We have no doubts of course, but it is a harder nut to crack and all the more glory when it is done.
All the English prisoners over 60 years have been allowed to return to their houses, but to keep more or less in their houses.
9th, 9 a.m.:
The guns were going almost all night, but we have no news as yet. Alithea and I are going to see Bill. He is in a 3rd class hotel, we are taking him some things. There is no more bombarding and we feel quite tame without it.
We went and found poor old Bill in such a hotel.
It was behind the Konak. All the horrid little hotels round the Konak are filled with English. From every window crowds of well-known faces looked out. It was one of the last places that we found Bill. He was with a lot of friends and said he was well and the beds were clean, being a practically new place. Unfortunately the drains were up and you can imagine the odour therefrom. The only windows they had to look out from overlooked this beautiful mess. We felt very down-hearted and I felt a sort of insulted feeling that the English should be exposed to such an insulting condition. We came home hot with indignation. On the quay people were all straining their eyes to see if anything was going on at the entrance of the harbour. The Turks had dragged out two old steamers and sunk them. As if that was anything. However the English ships stood by and looked on. In the afternoon we heard that the Admiral sent for the Vali and Perteff Pasha and Horton the American consul as he had something very important to communicate. We were all left in a fever of expectation. And all this while there was a steady flight of the Turks with all their bundles and pots of plants. Whatever happens they carry their flower pots with them. They are like children. At 2 o’clock Gracie and Francis LaFontaine came. They ventured out without their husbands knowing. Gracie gave us such amusing accounts of the capture of the English at Bournabat and the Solemn way they were marched off to the Club. Before their lunches. All the petted darlings. Then the plates of food sent from all the homes and anxious wives and servants coming and going. The square was like a carnival of women and children and servants. In the evening they were all taken to the Herbert Whittall’s [Herbert James Whittall, 1884-1933, of C. Whittall & Co., son of Herbert Octavius Whittall of Bournabat, Smyrna, and Louisa Maltass - WFT p. 59] house and there all the wives had made up beds for their men folk in the ball-room and halls and rooms. They had everything ready by ten and then the men were marched in by the police and the place strictly guarded. There was one very pathetic scene when an old Bey, a friend of Mr. Richard Whittall’s came to the gate and clasped old Richard by the neck and wept on his shoulder and begged for forgiveness at this great insult. One can’t help feeling sorry for the Turks and loving them in spite of their many faults. The Vali has done his very best for everyone’s comfort and most of the English had absolute faith in him. Up to bed time the delegates that went to the Admiral did not return so we had to go to spend the night knowing nothing.
At ten thirty p.m., there was a ring and we all thought it was Bill and we ran out to meet him, but it was only an unexpected patient, and a baby was born a little after midnight. The rest of the night was quiet.
The prisoners were let out at 8 this morning. Such joy in all the homes. Bill came in feeling a regular hero, and he actually kept up a conversation lasting at least 5 minutes. I believed he enjoyed himself. People were so good to him.
No end of alarming rumours were about, but we hope they are not true. I went to the consulate and asked, but they could not tell me much except that there is an Armistice till eleven tomorrow. In the meanwhile everyone that can go is going up country or to Boudja or anywhere out of town and out of reach of the Guns. We will stay here, we cannot leave. We have two labour cases and one Armenian paralysed lady to look after, besides our old Mother, so we must just trust ourselves into God’s hands. We heard yesterday of the sudden death of Achillea Economides, you will be also very sorry to hear it. The coming of the English excited him so much, he has suffered so much at the hands of the Turks that the joy of the Guns seems to have been too much for him, and he was seized with a heart attack and died suddenly, poor, poor man. I am so sorry for him and for his family.
Nothing new as yet, only a city that is fleeing to the mountains. From our windows overlooking the station square, we can see the Turkish families bundling away. It is bundling, for the carts are loaded with bundles and carpets. One very picturesque old man with a green turban and his wife well veiled by his side drove up in a pre-historic cart, they are all so quaint. I long for an artist’s talent to paint some of the pictures one sees.
11th, 9 a.m.:
A quiet night has passed. To-day at eleven we are to have the final answer from the admiral. What will it be I wonder?
We have four Armenian patients already and who knows how many more will come. It seems impossible for us to settle anything. I have walked miles and miles these days going out on the quay to watch for the ships, we could see beautifully the bombardment of the fort. We have a very nervous out-patient, a Mme. Guiffrey. She has engaged Ruth as a Nurse and me as Midwife and Dr. Gillebian. Her house is on the quay and she expects on the 16th. She is off her head with fright. Yesterday she engaged three rooms at the B.S. [British Seaman’s] Hospital, and is paying for them from now. To-day we hear she is going to fly to the Aliotis in Boudja. What she will end by doing no one can be sure.
All day we have been in perfect turmoil. The station square packed with carts, camels and people. Several people came here and engaged to come and sleep the night in case of bombardment. Most alarming rumours got about and we had several urgent letters to fly to friends both in Bournabat and Boudja. But we had quite decided from long ago that we would stay so we do not wish to change our minds. The reasons for our staying are still the same. We have taken two old ladies, one paralysed and the other suffering from weakness and age. They will stay with us till quieter times. About mid-day the excitement in the town was very great. Some said at 4 o’clock the guns would start, but about 2.30 one of the station officials came to us and told us that they had a telephone message to say that there would be no bombardment. That things were settled. We are not yet told how, or what form of settlement has taken place. All the poor creatures with their bundles and loads of things that had not yet managed to leave by train were turned back. Poor things, they are driven about like sheep and they never say a word. I think they are wonderful. I long for a just government to take them up and deal justly with them. I went down town about 5 in the afternoon and the whole place was deserted. All the shops shut and only a few hurrying newspaper boys. We feel flat. But not yet sure what may happen.
12th: 11 a.m.
A glorious morning. Alithea and I have been up nearly all night with a difficult case.
It has not yet come off. All is deadly quiet, not a sign of anything unusual. We are waiting.
Practically no news has come and everything is going on as usual. The poor Greek-Turkish subjects are driven about and taken up to “Serve” up to the age of 45. Some few of them when they heard the guns ran away to their homes from the road making. Our Panayotes brothers -- amongst them -- and the Turks got so angry that all they caught hiding they hand-cuffed and took up country. You can imagine the wailing amongst all the village women. Poor Panayota is forking out all her wages £20 to get her brother off. If the English had only come last Monday this would not have happened. It is now 12 days since the first bombardment and yet nothing has been done. I have no doubt there is very good reasons for all this, but is trying waiting and knowing nothing.
Last night thousands of troops went past our house for more than an hour they were tramping past. You have no idea how curious we feel.
17th: 4 p.m.
Another lovely day. What will it bring forth. Nothing has happened. The English are not allowed to leave Bournabat without a special permit. Business is absolutely at a standstill and the poor “Rayas” [Christians who unlike Levantines under Ottoman jurisdiction] are more than ever persecuted and money squeezed out of them. They are also beginning to lose faith in the English, which is a great pity. They were so happy when the bombardment first started and now it is nearly a fortnight and things are just as they were before. The Turks sunk 3 English merchant ships at the mouth of the harbour and also many lighters filled with stones. They evidently mean to make a stand for it. There was a blood curdling article in the “Reforme”, signed by the Vali. It called upon all Muslemen [Moslems] to shed their last drop of blood to save their country, and saying that the streets of Smyrna will run with blood and the enemy would land over the bodies of their own dead, and still somehow our faith in old England is so great that we don’t fear. Really not a bit of fear is in any of us in this house and I do not think there are any except some very nervous ones who are afraid.
I am almost tired of writing daily for nothing happens so I shall stop till something worth writing about does happen.
4th April, 1915.
Easter Sunday. For 17 days we have had nothing worth relating. The weather has been glorious and spring has set in. All are well and calm. Many rumours go about, some most amusing and wonderful lies are published in the “Reforme”, even a letter in English from Rear Admiral Pears, which we do not believe he ever wrote. The Americans at Paradise are writing clever and amusing skits on all that is going on. Mr. Harlow is a very clever writer. Some day he may publish a book and you will get a copy. This morning at 8 o’clock, an aeroplane came over town. We all had a good view of it as it came close down. The Turks fired at it from the batteries on Mount Pagus and drove it away. There will be again wonderful tales in the “Reforme”. We are lowered to the dust. They chased away the British and French fleets and now every aeroplane that dares to approach is driven away by a few shots. This is really a wonderful demonstration for the ignorant Turks. They quite believe that we are funked [confused] and for the present it is rather disagreeable for us living here amongst their jeering. But our turn will come, I have no doubt. We had letters yesterday from Athens, and are very disappointed as Rowley says he expects we shall have to wait some time yet before things are finished and he also asks us to send his summer clothes. Partridge was horrified when he heard that. Also he was very miserable as he can’t leave. The port of Vourla is shut and no one can go or come. Perhaps now things will happen. Foodstuffs are dearer every day, and we are making a very little. I have several good Private cases, but they won’t be able to pay me till after the war. However, we are miles better off than most people. At a quarter past one this afternoon the aeroplane came round again and the valiant Turks fired at it and quickly drove it away in a few minutes. The shots certainly very nearly reached it this time. I can see so well from my window. Why aren’t you here now dear Tottie. What excitement we have. It appears the Aeroplane threw one bomb on a small gun boat. Ruth saw it from Guiffrey’s balcony. It did not hit the boat. It is a lovely sight to see the huge Aeroplane flying round and round and being shot at. The shells burst in the sky when they don’t hit, and look like little white doves or puffs of clouds against the blue. I am so glad to have seen this sight. As soon as we hear the whirl of the plane we all rush to the roof, and you should see what a sight it looks from my window. Every roof crowded.
To-day we expected a bombardment, but the weather was so wet and misty that nothing happened. It simply poured all day long. The Turks are quite ready. They have put new guns in all the forts and batteries, and have splendid big guns on Mount Pagus. We have had such eye openers of late years. I wonder if all the Turks will be almost unconquerable and our poor soldiers and sailors get it hot. Whatever shall we do? But of course this is unthinkable. The “Reforme” says after 30 days insistent bombardment of the Dardanelles, the forts are as good as ever and the straits are quite secure from any ships passing through. Can this be quite false. It must be. We will not believe it at any rate.
Yesterday I went with a party of English to see a big review of Turkish Troops at the Paradise race course. We were invited by Perteff Pasha, the general in command. He is a sturdy little man of the same build as Lord Roberts. He also rides a grey charger which makes him still more like our Roberts. The whole Turkish staff of officers treated us beautifully; gave us tea and ices, etc., but no drinks (spirits I mean) were to be seen. Is it not much better? They are all a very nice set here and quite fond of the English. Of course there were many German officers there, for each regiment has one or two, but they were not much in favour and we all noticed a knot of them on one side who looked out of it and gave us scowling looks. I do not suppose they liked the way the English were treated. The troops were fine and they had a good show of cavalry and artillery and large field guns on gun carriages. Really things are queer in this war, for here are we in the enemy’s country, knowing that our soldiers are probably now fighting tooth and nail to get through the Dardanelles and probably killing thousands of Turks and the very same Turks are quite sweet to us all here. I saw a lovely black horse and went up to it and patted it and the Trooper who was holding it, smiled at me and in broken Greek told me it lives in our own stable in Boudja. He recognised me having seen me going there once or twice. To-day we have wonderful news in the “Reforme”, it says that the English tried to land in four or five places at the Dardanelles, but they were beaten and driven back and their ships sunk and the soldiers driven into the sea and drowned. Just now I have heard a “delali” calling out to the people not to be frightened when they hear firing for the Turks are going to fire a “feu de joi” to celebrate the great victory they have won over the English. Poor old mother believes it is true. As to poor Partridge this is the last straw he is nearly dead with funk. He came here looking white and shaky. The idea of his believing such a huge lie. Very likely the English are through the Dardanelles and occupy Gallipoli. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Sultan’s accession and there was an attempt to illuminate the town. Such a sorry affair. The gas had no pressure, so the lights only flickered and went out giving a horrid smell of escaping gas. There was no one about and not even a tinkle of a mandolin in any of the cafes. So different from the gay crowd of other years. Really one can see a big difference in the town now and people do keep to their homes and are in a funk. At yesterday’s review there were no Greeks whatever only English, Germans and Italians. No French and no other nations. Everyone was asked to buy a small Turkish flag and stick it in one’s button hole. The money from the sale of flags is to go for the Red Crescent. They expected to make £5,000 out of the poverty stricken Smyrna crowds. They must have made it, for everyone did wear a flag. And somehow we felt we ought to, for they have treated us all awfully well and we must be grateful.
I spent two days in Boudja, there were grand doings there. The whole front of Tommy Reese’s house was illuminated and the Konak [police station], etc., to celebrate the big victory the Turks have had over the English at the Dardanelles. It seems they drove the landing forces into the sea, killed thousands and numbers of ships were destroyed. In fact to hear what they have to say one would imagine that the English were absolutely beaten and the whole fleet done for. We can get no news whatever, but we are quite sure all these tales are lies in all probability it is the Turks who have had a thundering thrashing. The officers gave a dinner in one of the houses they have taken and there was the band playing and all were very gay so they evidently believe they have had a victory. Poor lunatics. We went and brought some of our pictures here from our home in Boudja. Oh dear! How sad it is to see the ruin of our old home. The garden dry and the lambs feeding in it. The smell is awful from certain places. The kitchen well, it can’t be recognised as the same we had. In your mother’s room they have put three of our beds and three sitting room chairs and one or two pieces more furniture extra so that there is hardly room to move, and all is so untidy and unswept. We have quite made up our minds that we can never have the same home again. It requires pulling down.
The last two days wonderful news has been circulated amongst the people, but we do not know which is true and which is not. There is a rumour that the Vali, Perteff Pasha, and Kara Biberi Bey, went yesterday and had an interview with the Admiral who is at Vourla, but it may not be true. We long and long for real news. Can’t you imagine us? At Boudja a good many of the occupied houses are being vacated. Amongst them Mr. Holton’s. Francis [Holton, the head of the family] came and told us that this morning. There is a funny story for you. There were three performances at the cinema in Boudja for the benefit of the Society for providing bread to the poor. Ida Peacock and Mr. Green acted as well as many of the different “Stars” of the village. The first two performances were crowded and were a splendid success. Even Perteff Pasha was there. The third was for the Turkish women and in the middle of the performance, the Police came in and turned out any men who had got in, gave them huge slaps. Amongst the men who were slapped were several of the men performers. Our Nico, one of them who was playing the violin. But the fun came in, when the women got wind of it, they started up and demanded that the men should be brought back. They had paid their money and were not going to be done out of the performance. There would have been a free fight had the Police had insisted on the men being kept out. But wisely they gave in, and chief of the Police had to stand on the platform and publicly apologise to the performers. It was touch and go that Mr. Green did not get a slap too. Are they not queer people. They behave like children. But one can see that the women are beginning to stand up for themselves at last. I hope now soon to be able to tell you that the English are here. The Turkish papers had such a lot of lies and some of the better educated people were at last very indignant at being made such fools of that they went and stoned the printing offices of the papers.
Mother walked to church this morning. She is quite her old self once more and we have forgotten the bad time we went through. We have made your mother very comfortable in a room in the garden house, being summer it is very pleasant there and she is so happy.
Still we are waiting and hearing ourselves slanged. The poor Turks are fed up with lies. To-day I bought one of their illustrated papers which I will send you. It depicts the Turks with huge guns on the shores of the Dardanelles smashing up all the British ships, which are pictured as very small and weak. Then there is another picture with a Turk standing on the shore and watching with a laughing face the sinking of the “Elizabeth” and a German is standing behind him and saying “well done old chap”. We get no news at all and are simply longing for some. All our men friends have a strained look. This is an anxious time for them. I am now attending a private case at Cordellio and it is quite a treat having a little sea trip every day. From there I also saw an aeroplane also bombarding the Flash lights. I see a good many Turks on the ferry boats and they are all very polite, but they look happy for they believe in their own victories.
On these waiting days, without any news. It is enough to make one crazy. I have several illustrated Turkish papers, which must go with this diary. Our faith in England is not a bit shaken although it is two and a half months since our the first Bombardment here. Then we thought it was a case of a few days. But here we are just the same as before. How I hope our dear Sailors and Soldiers are not suffering too much. What a hard hard passage they have at the Dardanelles. Will they ever be able to push through? One fears it may be impossible.
To-day we have heard that Italy has joined the Entente.
Now we are kept stricter than ever. Not a ship is allowed to approach even Vourla. We have a hope that Turkey will not declare war on Italy, who knows that may be. We hear that the Edwin Whittall’s [(Frederick) Edwin Whittall of Moda, 1864-1948, eldest son of Sir (James) William Whittall of Moda and Edith Anna nee Barker] house beautiful house in Moda in Constantinople has been turned into a hospital. They had such lovely floors and paintings and marble pillars, it was the show house of the place. Here gradually they take everything people possess. No one has a private carriage or horse, or spare bed or anything that can possibly be commandeered. There are only 39 old horses to run the trams. We get a very slow tram every quarter of an hour. It is much the wisest thing to walk. Railway tickets have been raised to twice as much as before. They tell us that there will be no trains soon. In spite of these difficulties, it is wonderful how the town is keeping up and even the cinemas are going still. Drugs [medicines] are 4 times the price they were and in some cases drugs cannot be had at all. Three or four officers went and inspected our church in Boudja to see if arms were hidden there.
There is news to-day from Constantinople that Enver [Pasha, in command of forces around Constantinople at the time] has ordered the Vali to take as prisoners all English and French men, women and children. It is quite true that the order has come, but our Vali is trying to arrange matters. You know he is a friend of the English and hates the Germans and as long as he feels that the Germans are not victorious he befriends the English and French so we hope that he will not carry out the orders he has got. The American Consul has been to the Konak all this morning and he told Caleb at mid-day that he hopes things will be arranged, but they are not sure of success as yet. We suspect that the British have had a big victory at the Dardanelles, that is why this order has come. We must remember and see what happened on this date when we do get papers some day. It is well to keep some sort of diary during these historic times. Mr. Brussik has been called back from Saraquoie [Sarayköy, east of Nazilli] by the firm as they did not think it safe for him to be out there. We still have Mrs. Brussik here, she is much better since she has had good treatment. Our next maternity case will be the Austrian Consul’s wife, Mme. Kadinski. She is a charming woman and we like her so much in spite of her being one of the enemy. But one does not feel the same with the Austrians as one does with the Germans, does one? We had a P.C. from Rowlie and a note from Charlie that the Alfred Pengelleys were returning to Athens. And we hope that it is the first step to their return here. What rejoicing when that glorious time does come. And when we can get all our letters and Papers.
May has gone and we are still flourishing. It is wonderful how one makes up ones mind to everything. On the whole our nursing home has paid its way even in these hard times with everything two thirds dearer. Of course having the family living with us has helped, and I have been fortunate with outside cases on account of Dr. Chasseaud being away. I hear he is working hard at the Greenwich Hospital.
It has arranged with the Turkish Government that no respectable British or French subjects are to be taken up as prisoners, but a good many Maltese and Cypriots are being taken, poor devils. Also the Rayahs are being more than ever tormented. One poor couple have had a terrible time. The husband was a man of sixty but for some reason or other his birth certificate was dated wrongly and he was made out to be twenty years younger so he was taken up to Sparta [Isparta] to work on the roads. He had paid once £40 to be exempt from Service, but as times were very bad he had no money to buy himself off a second time. The result was all this hardship in his old age. Whilst up in Sparta he fell ill and wrote to his wife to sell their little house and get the money to buy him off. She did, that poor soul, and had to give her house almost for nothing as who buys houses now. She took the money and paid for her husband, but by the time he could be brought down from Sparta he died. And the authorities will not give her back the money she paid for him, so she is penniless. This is one of hundreds of such stories. To-day we had a letter from Ethel, copied by Rowlie, but not a line from him, in fact it is three weeks or more since the last P.C. from Athens. Some people say that the Turks are going to give in and ask for peace, others say the English have landed at Scala Nouva [Kuşadası]. We don’t believe either.
We are all very unhappy. Things seem to be going wrong. The Germans have got some submarines through or manufactured them in Constantinople, and they have been smashing up our beautiful ships and drowning our beautiful men by the hundreds. What a real hatred comes into one’s heart for the Germans. It has been growing and growing till one feels it so great and real that one dares hardly go to church, with such a hate in one. I suppose we ought to look upon it as hating the Devil. For really their methods are devilish. We are now going to be absolutely blocked up here. The British have given notice that all ships must keep in their own ports for they are going to smash every moving thing they see, and quite right too, for they have been so deceived by these Greeks who have been bringing into this country all sorts of contraband goods, and lying to the British like anything. They are such skunks tho’ they are supposed to favour the English still they can’t help cheating them at every turn. They deserve to be well kept under and not given the slightest advantage when the war is over. They are a hateful race and I can sympathise with the Turks wishing to be rid of them all.
There is a wave of disquietude in the town all the last few days. Orders were again sent to the Vali to arrest all the English and French. A good many Maltese and some British were taken up, but they say that the Vali will have to take all as his orders are very urgent. Some people think that the Turks must have had a beating at the Dardanelles, but we are not sure if this is true. We had a P.C. from Rowley yesterday and he tells us that he and Rex have rented a furnished house in Syra [info] by the sea. He expects his family from Egypt to go there. This has made us down-hearted as we can see from that, they have no hopes of returning here this summer. I will not write till I know for certain about the English; we are so unhappy, all of us.
They are taking up the English and French, but the Vali is doing it as slowly as possible so as to gain time. He is really a friend of the English and hates the Germans. That horrid German Consul sends word to Constantinople all about everything that goes on here, and we know we have to thank him for all the arrests of the English. He is so mad with the Vali and Perteff Pasha for being friendly with the English. We keep Bill indoors, so far they have only taken people who are found in the streets, so everyone keeps at home. This is a life.
We hear that the English have done splendidly at the Dardanelles and soon we hope to have them here. We are getting short of certain things in the town, but we are provided for another two months with sugar, coffee and tea. Bread has risen, but there is enough. Lemons - there are none, neither oranges, but we have plenty of cheap fruit and vegetables and meat is cheaper and better than it has ever been, with butter it is the same.
Last night we had an important case in. The Austrian Consul’s wife Mme. Radinski. One of the enemy. Such a feather in our cap, and a huge advertisement, for she is one of the best-known ladies here. She is young and very good looking and of noble birth, therefore, made a great deal of, here in society. It is her first baby. We had a huge party of Germans and Austrians waiting for news when the event was taking place. At eleven p.m., we announced the birth of a daughter. I did everything for her myself. No doctor was needed and I am so thankful that all is safely over. She is very sweet and beautiful and so brave. Blood does tell after all. Her husband, too, is very nice and pleasant to deal with. I am so glad they came to us, it shows they can trust the English. It is funny to have to receive Germans for a lot of them come to inquire. All day long to-day Kavashes [door-men] have been coming and going bringing beautiful bunch of flowers. Mother is delighted with all this commotion. She is so interested in everything that goes on around her. She will never stand humdrum Boudja again. Ida Peacock came this evening and she told me that the whole town is talking of our Clinique. I am glad for now there is no more need to fear about our being a success or not. For when things get a normal price we shall do well.
Our Mme. Radinski is doing well and the baby growing so now I am happy it is the 6th day to-day. We still keep on getting flowers for her, to Alithea’s great joy. Yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock an aeroplane visited us again. Such a commotion in the place, everyone on their roofs. Of course the Turks fired at and chased it away. It looked so bright and majestic as it flew round and round without paying the least attention to the shells that were bursting all round it. How I wish that they could have dropped a newspaper into our garden. They might have done it. We are longing and longing for news that can be believed. Everyone believes now that the English are almost through the Dardanelles and that soon things will happen here too. We are getting worked up into a pitch of excitement. The blockade of the Port by the English is most strict, not a scrap of news or anything can possibly get through. We had a stale P.C. from Rowley which must have been here before the blockade. They are well and all the family have returned to Athens from Egypt, so now we hope they will soon come home.
Ahmet Cemal Pasha, seen here in the centre with a beard, was one of the founders of the Young Turk Movement, and a military man who fought in WWI, was one of the conspirators in the Armenian clearances and was consequently assassinated by an Armenian hit-team in Tbilisi in 1922. Photo is dated 1915, location and other individuals not identified.
The Turkish officials such as Perteff Pasha [Commander of the 4th Corps based in Smyrna], the Vali [Rahmi Bey] and Karra Biber Bey [Charles Karabiber Bey, the Greek assistant of Rahmi Bey representing the city’s Greek community and advisor on foreign affairs] and Djemal Bey sent large bunches of flowers to Mme. Radinski, so now they all know of our Clinique, and we hope they will not bother us about a licence. Do you remember the petition we had drawn up, that was never sent?
This day is our day, we are shut in. Guards outside our door from six this morning. No milk, no bread, no meat. We had no idea it was to be to-day, so we did not put in a supply, had to do without meat and milk, but managed to get two loaves of bread. We had no service in church either as everyone is shut indoors. How much we all are in their power. They can do what they like with us. Not a knife or a gun will be had by any civilian. For many things it is for the best, we shall be just like sheep. And made to do just what we are ordered. Our guard demanded a chair to sit on outside our door, and matches for his cigarette, also water to drink. The square before the station is quite deserted and all passengers that came by train are sent back. At 8.15 this morning an aeroplane came over the town and threw several bombs. One struck the station just outside our house. Such a fearful crash. Vigorous rifle firing went on all around us. Our patients got very frightened and went running about the house with their babies in their arms. This only lasted a few minutes but it caused no end of a panic. I saw the dust and debris from the station go right up in the sky. All the guards fired their rifles, and we were right in the middle of the fray. Mother was just having her bath, and she was on the point of running out naked. Fortunately she did not. The shock to us might have had disastrous effects. Now it is 2.30 p.m. and still we are close prisoners. But as yet no one has come to search our house. Will write more later.
It has been a horrid day and we are all very unhappy and have headaches, for one thing we have been close prisoners and see nothing but soldiers. Have had scrap meals, and been on tender-hooks about being searched. The soldiers came in about 2.30, took our names, saw our passports and then left two, one police and a soldier fully armed inside the house, the rest went away. The soldier and policeman went to all the rooms with system and opened all cupboards and chests etc. They were very polite and did everything very nicely. Now comes the sad part of my story, which made us all so unhappy. We were in the hall and the policeman was making his final notes and allowing us to keep the old swords and battle axes you brought from Africa, when the door bell rang and our old Stassia the washerwoman came. Tomorrow we have a wash, she had been working all the week at the British Hospital, so she came straight from there, as she was passing into the house with her bundle under her arm. The Policeman stopped her and asked her who she was and where she came from, we told him, and he said: “let her undo the bundle, I must see what she has in it”. Such a shock for poor Stassia, for the wretched woman had in her bundle, stolen soap, soda, one candle and a towel, from the B.S.H. [British Seaman’s hospital] from Mrs. Tibaldi. And we had recommended her as most honest. Oh! how I hate such things, why can’t people be true and honest. Everything we recommended to Mrs. Tibaldi turns out wrong. I wish to goodness we had never sent the woman. The wretched woman was in terror. The police wished to take her to the Karakol, but we begged him to let her be and he did, after giving her a great scolding. Now you see why we are all so unhappy. It has been a horrid blazing hot Sunday. At about 6 in the evening the soldiers left our quarter and we were allowed free to come and go. Mrs. Patridge and I went for a walk on the quay and it was a lovely evening, so our spirits rose and all seemed bright again. Charlie Wilkin called at our house also Lawrence. They told us that altogether the aeroplane had thrown 4 bombs. One at Bayrakly, one on a factory at Daragatch, another fell on some sheds in the same place, and the last in the station yard. A good deal of damage was done by each bomb. But what is the good of all this. Won’t it end by making the Turks furious. And we are entirely at their mercy. However, what are we that we should judge. We know nothing whatever of what is going on. All our babies have gone to-day and we are quite empty. Giving the place a good clean. I am afraid that no one will dare to come to us now that bombs are thrown so near. I must say that when I next see an aeroplane I shall be very frightened, and we must go into our cellar, that will be the safest place, tho the bomb in the station yard went five metres deep into the ground, they tried to blow up the gas works, but did not reach it this time.
On Monday we had another baby boy born. So after all, patients are not frightened to come. We now hear rumours that it will be five more months before the English can get through the Dardanelles. There are others who say that it is absolutely impossible that any fleet can get through. The Turks certainly seem quite confident that no one will get through. We hear a vague rumour that the English are going to cut a canal at the narrowest part of the peninsula at Galipoly. Can that be possible. What a work. How much money life and trouble this blessed war has caused.
Another Sunday without a Service, this is the third time. The first was when all the English men were prisoners. The second when a Kordon was put round that part of the town the Church is in, and now again a second Kordon is put again. All this week we have had a feeling of unrest and bits of disquieting news has been whispered about. On Friday a lot of the American ladies and Caleb [Lawrence] came to us very excited as their consul sent them word that an American Man-o’War would be here in a few days ready to take any American subjects that wished to leave the country. Of course most of them wish to send their families, but the men wish to see it out. At first Caleb decided he would send Nellie and her boys, but after sleeping over the idea, they decided to remain together as they have been assured that there is no fear. Turkey is not going to do anything to bring America on the top of her. All these things serve to keep up the spirit of unrest amongst us all and we have a vague feeling that things are going to happen soon. We have a good chance of getting our house painted and done up by a man who wishes to hide, so we are having it done at very little expense. The paints look so nice and bright. How I hope one day you will come and see our place, it will be lovely to show you everything. We still go on having many cases. The isolation block of the B.S.H. is occupied by the Turks. The main building is still left to the English.
One year has gone by since the war with Germany was declared in England. Few then thought it would last so long, though the Heads in England said it would be a long and hard struggle. The Italian Consul is leaving to-day, so now they, too, are mixed up with Turkey. No one but the Consul is allowed to leave though. And he has to go in an open boat out to Long Island to be taken up by one of our ships. To think that our English are so near and yet so far. We have very little petroleum left in the town. No English coal, and hardly any gas. Can you imagine what that means. It means sitting in the dark of an evening for most people. The few who bought an extra tin of petroleum have a little light, we have three precious tins, and light one lamp for our supper, but we quickly put it out when that is done. Lilla went to have supper at the B.S.H. and they had two miserable native candles on the table. They who used to have such brilliant lights. Ice will soon be a thing of the past and that is rather awful for the sick. The weather is very hot at this time of the year. The macaroni factory cannot work without coal, so that stable food of Smyrna has gone. We eat home made Feethé, now. If it were not for oil and vegetables we would be in a fine way. The British Hospital is to be occupied to-day. We hope Ruth and Mrs. Tibaldi will be left in peace in their home, tho’ I am afraid they will have to give most of their rooms to the sailors who are there now. Our home has been beautifully painted and it looks like new. It was done by the man we are hiding.
We have a rumour that the allies have landed on the coast beyond Vourla. Actually the local papers print that news. But of course as they do so we don’t believe it. Yesterday the town was decked with flags and at night there were feeble illuminations. For a Victory in Russia. But as no one believes in these victories there is no joy or enthusiasm and the whole show is a farce. They say Warsaw has fallen. We have not one patient in just now, but as painting was in full swing we were rather glad of the freedom. We had letters to us from Athens. They say they hope to return in October, how we long for them. Mother keeps very well spite of the heat. She enjoys the figs and grapes. Thank God she has got over the diabetes and can indulge in these fruits. Miss Bella Walters [should be Wolters, one of the 3 daughters of the German minister, John Theodore, all buried there - view listing] died on the 31st and was buried on Sunday afternoon by the side of her father and mother in our little churchyard in Boudjah. She has been ill for over a year and was glad to die and be at rest without pain. MacVittie [first name Francis - full story by late son, George] and Emily were very good to her, had her with them for the last six months.
This week we received two of your letters, how glad we were you can just imagine, but it is sad to hear of the dear baby having measles and being so ill. I feel so sorry for you all alone struggling with your delicate child. We had the pleasure of giving Francis Holton the news about his brother. Somehow we seem to be the only lucky ones about letters. Old Mr. Richard Routh died on Sunday. The Sunday before he was at Miss Bella’s funeral. He died of blood poisoning, poor man. We had a visit to-day from Dr. Manicopoulo. The first since his wife’s death. He does not get over his grief and it seems to be softening his brain. He can never for two minutes talk of anything but her. And somehow all she went through is always before him. It is an awful thing to lose someone that one dearly loves, after an operation. There are so many regrets, poor, poor Doctor.
A fine cool morning. We are having Nellie Lawrence and one of her boys staying with us. All is quiet here. All the week things have been going on as usual. Mr. Kuppa, the Advocate British Subject tried to run the gauntlet and get away, but the boat was detected whilst he and his party were in the reach of the soldiers who fired on them, one of the men was killed and another wounded. Now Kuppa is in prison and very unhappy for they say he will be shot. Edmund Giraud too, is still in prison. To-day we have news that Italy has declared war with Turkey. We wonder what will happen this coming week. I have just bought from a sale a very good set of bedroom furniture for my own room. I had a make-shift lot all these months as I gave mine to Lilla, but virtue has a reward, for now I have a really beautiful set, with long glass to the wardrobe and a very pretty dressing table and washstand combined. English make, quite new. I do hope no bomb will be flung into it. Just fancy what a sell that would be. We have had no letters this week from anyone. Our only recreation is reading American newspapers a month old, with very pro-German tendencies and after reading them we feel that the English are absolutely worthless and will be soon horribly beaten. Mother gets so unhappy and her face of gloom is a study. How I wish we could have a good read of the Times or “Morning Post”, and see what is really true. Three months have passed since that morning in May when Mr. Horton told me we would “stew in our own juice for the next six months”.
This morning at 6 o’clock an aeroplane again visited us, at the first gun firing I shot out of bed and ran to my window. There it was flying around in the blue sky. The Turks fired at it vigorously and drove it away. At least we have this excitement every now and then. No letters and no news whatever for the last fortnight, we seem more shut in than ever. Even patients have stopped coming these days, so we are getting quite lazy. Alithea has been sleeping in Boudja the last two nights as we have a private case there. She sleeps at the Partridges. The trains are so slow and uncertain one spends nearly an hour coming down. There are many troops going up country. How uncomfortable everything is during war time.
A funny scene took place yesterday afternoon in our square. The new General Manager of the O.R.C. [Ottoman Railway Company], Mr. Barfield’s successor, was just stepping out of the tram, when a man that looked like an ex-employee of the Railway, stopped him and began asking for work. The G.M. refused to hear him, so the man took out a leather belt and began to beat the G.M. who took to his heels chased by the man who beat and kicked and scratched him all the way to the G.M.’s house. The door was shut, there the G.M. squealed like a pig being exficiated. Needless to tell you that the G.M. is a German Jew. He got so mauled about that we sent our nurses and Alithea to render first aid. It was a most amusing scene for we were all rather glad he got it. He is such a funk, fancy running and screaming instead of standing like a man and hitting back like Mr. Morgan of American fame.
I sleep in Boudja these nights, as I have a case coming on. The country is lovely and Dora’s house where I sleep is so beautiful and cool, one has every luxury there. The village is more packed than ever with Turks and now there seems to be very great activity going on. At night it is so interesting to watch the signals from the hills over Smyrna and Cordellio. The whole place is so surrounded by defences. Perteff, the General in Command lives in Mr. Rees’ big house and the tower is most useful for the signalling. We had letters from Egypt and Jack has written to tell us to take mother to the country. He evidently knows something of what is before Smyrna and wished to have us all safe. We are sending Mother and Lilla and a servant to Bournabat. But A. [Alithea] and I. must stick to our Clinique. We will take as much care as we can of ourselves and run to the country if there is there is need or dash to the B.S.H., but so far all is peace and one can’t imagine what may be before us, and after all we must take our risks in these times. We have no children or anyone depending on us so we must be at our posts and ready to be of use to anyone who may get hurt.
Mother and Lilla went off yesterday in a yellow wheeled carriage, with Panayota and one or two articles that Mother won’t part with. How lonely and silly we feel without them. An empty stupid home. All is quiet so far, but we have very disquieting news and if we were to listen to some of the old pessimists you can imagine how we would feel. The Germans are having it all their way, and we will never get through the Dardanelles, never. I had such a dose of him this morning returning from Boudjah, I was alone in the compartment with him (Mr. Barff) and I let him say his say out. Well all I feel is that if I believed what he believes I would throw myself in the well and end up everything.
On Sept. 1 it was the Sultan’s birthday. There were grand illuminations (with little oil lamps), in Boudjah and in front of Becky’s old house they lit 5 marshallathes [Maşallah - religious banner] and had Daoulia [from Turkish drums - davuls] and the soldiers danced. They had a little barrel in the midst and we wondered what the drink could be, so we sent someone to try it. It was iced water. They had sweetmeats served to all and to some of the ladies ices. The Perkin girls and Ida Peacock and Louisa Langdon went to a sort of more European entertainment in Tommy Rees’s garden where the military band was playing. It all looked very gay, but it was not real, no one seemed to laugh. It was solemn and Turkishy. You know what I mean. Alithea is going to Bournabat to see mother and have lunch with her.
Mother is so happy in Bournabat. She says she will never return. Just like her, a regular turn-coat. However we know quite well that she will be delighted to come to her own home one of these days. She is made so much of by all her old friends and Herbert and Gracie love her so much she likes being with them. I went and saw her on Monday, and she was so pleased to see me.
Last year at this time I was in Ismaillia [Egypt]. How different things are to what we thought they would be then. It is Sunday and a perfect day. If there is no fighting at the Dardanelles the English and Australians will enjoy this weather. I do hope Arthur is well and that not so many English have been killed as our papers here say. But even all-owing for a great exaggeration, still there will be a fearful loss of life. We are kept in perfect ignorance of what is going on and we have not had any more letters from Syra. It is now a fortnight since the last. How we long to hear something of the outside world. In this Home all goes on very smoothly two or three babies born every week. Expenses are getting greater and greater as prices of food go up, but so far thank God we can meet all our wants, and have no debts. We are obliged to take people at a very reduced rate for no-one has any money.
All the good news we heard was evidently false for here we are still exactly as we were before. Enver has returned to Constantinople, and our Vali has come back here and all goes on as usual. The B.S.H. is quite taken, only Mrs. Tibaldi is allowed to remain in her own apartments. I am afraid we must make up our minds to go through another winter, and what will the poor people do. God knows. Coal is very expensive. There is no English coal of course, gas will soon finish and what there is is an enormous price. Edmund is not well and has come to stay here for a change. He has grown awfully thin, and we are afraid there is something seriously wrong with him. There is no more tea in town. The last was sold at £1 the oke [okka = Ottoman weight measure ~1.2 kg and in today’s money, ~£43.]. And poor stuff at that. How we miss it. Coffee too is a composition of barley and beans.
Edmund has gone back to his home, he is still very ill and has taken to his bed. What will become of those two poor girls, God only knows. We expect Mother and Lilla back home today. Everyone assures us that Smyrna is quite safe. They will not fight here as it will extend the frontier too much. We had letters from Athens and Egypt, and we know all are well. They tell me that they have sent me on a letter from Louisa but I have not received it. They must have found out it was from England and the censor did not pass it.
This past week a great many troops have left Smyrna. Even our beloved Perteff Pasha has taken his staff and gone. Boudjah is being emptied out and we are to have our houses back again on Monday. Just 10 months they have been in the hands of the soldiers. Mother and Lilla have come home. Everyone tells us that Smyrna will not be touched and that we are quite safe. We have hopes that before the end of the year things will be settled in these parts. Let us hope so for the sake of the starving poor. Everything is awfully dear dear, and there are hardly any matches in the town. I noticed to-day that all the black and white flags from the churches, schools and hospitals have been taken down, so they evidently do not expect any more aeroplanes.
Yesterday morning an aeroplane came over again and it was promptly shot at, and it was hit and came down. We heard awful tales in town, but somehow they did not sound true. Even poor Mr. Brett ran out and tried to find out if the poor chaps were in need of spiritual help. Now it has turned out that it was a German aeroplane and it was slightly hit on the steering wheel and was obliged to come down, it descended at the top of Goztepe on a foot-ball ground there. You can imagine how small Turks feel about this mistake. We are delighted that it was not an English plane.
We had three field days at our Boudjah home trying to rescue some of our things. The soldiers have all gone from there, but what ruins they have left behind them, words can’t describe the filth of our house. The smell as one entered the gate was enough to kill one. The room that you had when you were there, was used as a store room and a horrid back-slum bacalico [grocery shop, from Turkish bakkal], is clean and sweet in comparison. Certain places could not be entered, they were in such a state of filth.
We are still cleaning the remains of our furniture from our old home in Boudjah. Such dilapidated broken down things they look only fit to be burnt, but somehow one clings to them, and in time they will be made quite respectable again. Yesterday Mother went to Boudjah. The first visit she pays there since she left months ago. Mr. Barff invited her to tea and sent his carriage to meet her. She enjoyed herself very much but got too tired and vowed that she will never go from her home again.
Several days have passed and all is quiet. No more excitements with aeroplanes, neither German or others. The German one is still here and sometimes it goes off for a cruise of inspection.
It is well we have got hold of most of our things from our house in Boudjah for another regiment has gone and established itself there and taken possession of all the houses, and the village again is full of soldiers. This time a much rougher lot, they have come from fighting at the Dardanelles and some are just recovering from their wounds. It is wonderful how patient they are and how good to us, when one comes to realize that their own wounds have been inflicted by the English and still they treat us well and are quite grateful for a few old sticks of furniture that Lilla gave them. Living is very expensive now and we have to live very plainly. Many of the things we thought necessary to our existence we find that we can do without, and are really none the worse. Of course certain things it is uncomfortable to do without. It is months since we have tasted tea. I had a splendid jar of jam from Marion Gout. She had made a lot expecting to take it with her to Cairo. Now she was glad to sell it to me for three pounds. It seems a lot of money to give for 25 okes of jam, but it is cheap at the price now. Mr. Brett has had his papers back again but he is more cautious now in the Prayers for our enemies. Three times he has been in goal. Worse than a Suffragette.
Today is exactly one year since I left Cairo for Smyrna. How differently everything has happened to what we expected. Our Nursing Home is quite established, and it seems likely to be a success, for we have made our living and put a few pounds by for the rent in spite of being war time and the port closed.
Things are now getting very expensive and I do not know how we shall come through. For a packet of 100 boxes of safety matches we paid one pound Sterling. Usual price three octaraki or one shilling. Matches we must have in work like ours. Tea of a very poor quality is also one pound the oke, and there is very little left of it. We hope bread will not get too dear. That is almost double to what it was, but if there is enough it will not raise much more. Some say that it will get very dear soon so we are getting some sacks of flour. If it gets very dear the people will die in the streets for they have no more money and no means of earning any.
The last three days we have had exciting times for we have managed to get Ruth off. She has been most energetic in getting her permit and managing all her papers etc. It has been her aim and object since the B.S.H. closed that she should get away and work amongst the English soldiers. About 80 people left with her. Most of them women and children. She has gone with Mrs. Rice. They leave from Vourla in a sailing boat this morning, and go to Mitylini [the Greek island of Lesbos] where Ruth hopes to get work at once. Mrs Rice goes to America with her daughter.
These days have been quiet and dull. The weather is glorious and we all exist without news. We have had a good number of patients and are doing good business, but as the price of living is so enormously high, we are not making any money. We are looking at Greece now and wondering what she will do. Bulgaria has joined Germany and Turkey which is an unlooked for event. We have heard that Ruth reached Mitylini in safety, we long for more news of her. A lady has arrived from Athens, through Salonica then Constantinople, she says she travelled very comfortably. It does not look as if the Turks were being done. The girls at Boudja are very busy at the hospital nursing the wounded soldiers brought from the Dardanelles. Some have trophies taken from the bodies of English Tommies. How hateful. One has a knapsack with East Surrey Reg. on it. He is proud of it, and boasted to Evelyn that he killed the owner. Poor old Edmund Perkins is still very ill, he cannot get out of bed now he is so weak. The fever still continues every evening. Somehow nothing does him any good. The two girls are devoted to him and are very brave over their troubles. Money is very scarce and none can come from his boys.
Mother’s birthday once more. We have had Gracie and Herbert Whittalls [Herbert James Whittall, 1884-1933, of C. Whittall & Co., son of Herbert Octavius Whittall of Bournabat, Smyrna, and Louisa Maltass; Gracie is H.J. Whittall’s wife, née Pengelley, b. 1885 - WFT p. 59] to lunch and killed one of our turkeys. All went of well and we were as happy as our circumstances admit. In the afternoon many visitors came to see Mother and bid her many happy returns of the day. She is such a darling and so well. Walks to Church every Sunday and Wednesday, and enjoys the service which does not tire her at all.
Poor Edmund Perkins is not well at all, in fact it looks as if he will not recover this illness of his. Alithea spent the day with him and we have got a male attendant for the nights as the girls cannot do everything for him. We have heard that Lord Kitchener has come to these parts, I hope he will be satisfied at is being done and that things will hum now. We had letters from Egypt and also cards from Athens. In one Rowlie says that Dorothy is engaged to a certain James Latimer. We are all delighted as you can imagine, but we long for more news. It is hard only to have just the bear fact. All her girl friends here are delighted.
I had a long morning with Charlie Wilkin. He came and found me at the Tandour where I meant to enjoy peace, but alas it all vanished when he came. He laid down the law about politics, till I am reduced to an imbecile. Poor Edmund is passing away. The two girls are having such a trial.
We had a letter from you yesterday in which you bid us good-bye. What a pity not to see you again. So many things are so different from what we thought. You would find Smyrna quite changed. There is not a sign board or even a single letter on any shop or office. All written in Turkish: All the Italian and French and English institutions are occupied by Turks and the Turkish flag flies over them. (*Even the names of the streets are wiped out and rewritten in Turkish). Tommy Rees house in Boudja has been turned into a girls’ school. All the furniture is sold and done away with, the Turks have quite taken the upper hand. Yesterday there was a feast in the big new Italian School, a band was playing inside, and hundreds of Turkish women were going in and out. The B.S.H. is full of Turks, but fortunately Mrs. Tibaldi is so far left in peace. Yesterday again the Police came and took all our names down. I wonder what that is for. We are reduced to very simple fare. Hardly any European things have remained. I wonder if you can realize what that means. We did not. But we are learning now. Edmund Perkins is lingering. He may even get better. We never thought he would live more than a day or two. He is a great trial, now he is helpless. Poor, poor, girls, what they must suffer.
There have been some small bread riots these days. Not enough bread is baked and the ovens are besieged by crowds of poor people demanding loaves. Everyone has bought flour and laid in a stock, but that wont help if the poor are hungry, will it? I went to the B.S.H. this morning and found everything locked and barred at the Home. Mrs. Tibaldi peeps behind the shutters before she opens to anyone as she is afraid they will seize her furniture as she won’t pay her income duty. It is 3½ pounds they want from her and she flatly refuses to give it. I expect they won’t be able to make her pay. I have never known anyone to make Aunt Agnes do what she does not want. She is ready to fight all the officials. She ought to have been in Brussels when the Germans marched in.
Poor old Edmund is getting weaker and weaker, but he holds on to life yet. What a terrible tyranny a long drawn out death bed is and how awful for those two poor daughters to watch it all and not be able to relieve the poor man. They give him morphia, and he is all the time wanting more and more. His garden is so nice and the rose trees have grown so, but he will not be able to enjoy them. Alithea is with them today; we take it alternately to go and help. We have a good deal of work, now so many patients come to us. They find it cheaper than having the confinement at home. We have such reports about politics. They say that Perteff and all his army corps have been annihilated at the Dardanelles. Several Drs [Doctors] from here are reported killed, among them Dr. Spartalli. But we don’t believe this.
Here is December once more. We none of us thought that we should be in the same state of siege still. Poor old Edmund died yesterday noon and today is the day of his funeral. Just three years since his wife’s death. It is fortunately a lovely day and not too cold like yesterday. We have started fires and oh what an expense coal is. We can’t get English coal of coke, so have to warm up with charcoal. All the lovely pounds we earn go instantly for such prosy things. Coals, wood soap and food, and the latter of the puniest. No sweets whatever and only home grown stuff. However we don’t complain and are only too thankful for our many and very great mercies. We had a letter from Nellie Pengelley only 12 days old. They were in the thick of the Greek struggle so she was very gloomy, but thank God that is over now, and we hope things will gradually smooth out. Ethel and Evelyn will come to us as soon as they can so as not to have the expense of an extra home. Good old Clinique. It was a good day we got this house and started. It has been the salvation of the family. Provided Ruth with the necessary money to get off and now will provide shelter for the two Perkins girls till the port is open and they can communicate with their brothers. We long for news of your safe arrival in Africa. One hates to think of anyone on the sea at these times. How sweet the dear laddie looks in his photograph, and so does dear Margaret.
A lovely Sunday, perfect blue sky and warm sun. One can hardly believe that a great war is going on quite close to us. We hear distant guns almost daily and it is reported that some places on the coast have been bombarded. But we don’t see anything as yet. Only that the hospitals are getting packed with wounded. The B.S.M. is ready to receive several hundreds. After this war the old Hospital will never be the same. Our Nursing home is doing well considering how awfully high the prices are. If we can meet our daily expenses I shall be thankful and so far we have done so.
We are daily expecting Mary Whittall [Lydia Mary Whittall (1888-1978), née La Fontaine, daughter of Sydney James William La Fontaine and Edith Amelia Whittall, wife of (m. 1914) James Frederick La Fontaine Whittall of Moda, Constantinople] to come here for her first baby. I have also Mrs. Arthur La Fontaine [Frances Sherwood née Cooke, 1878-1970, m. 1907, wife of Arthur Edward La Fontaine 1883-1976, who is the son of Edith Amelia Whittall, b.1860 in Smyrna, d. 1947 and Sydney James William La Fontaine, who in turn is the son of Edward La Fontaine and Lydia Maltass - WFT p. 62] this week, and two other private cases which will bring grist to our mill. I wonder if Christmas will come and go and we will still be in the same condition as we are now. We have not much hope of a change, though there are rumours that the Allies have landed on the coast. We had a letter from Becky and one from Louisa. The first since a year ago. We know that you had reached Durban and long for more news.
We have had a very busy week but yesterday was the climax. 4 babies within 24 hours. I had one in Bournabat and three in the Home. Altogether there were seven in the Home at the same time. We ought to be making money but as things are so fearfully high we can only just make ends meet. Tomorrow we hope to bring the Perkins here, their rooms are quite ready, but they were waiting for Mr. Green to return from Athens as they could not leave Mrs. Green alone. Mr. Green brought us good news of all our people, and six packets of tea. Such joy. We nearly hugged him for it, but he cannot give us any political news whatever. These days we are on tender hooks as we hear that the English are going to abandon the Dardanelles as impassable. There are people here who believe the very worst is going to happen and that the Germans are going to over run Asia Minor.
Christmas day once more. I wonder if the Port will still be shut next year. I suppose it is within the bounds of possibility. Such unexpected things have happened with this war. As a Xmas treat the Reforme published a wild tale of the English being driven away from the Dardanelles at the point of bayonet, and all their stores and tents and guns taken from them. The town at the Konak [city centre] is decked with flags, but the people are not happy. You will not be surprised to learn that there are one or two English men who believe these tales. I think someday we will tar and feather them, how wild it makes one. We have no doubt as to what our people are doing. Probably they have done all they want at the Dardanelles for the present and when it is time to get to Constantinople they will get there. Our service in church was very quiet and mostly composed of prayers for our army and navy and for peace. We had no decorations. People are very poor now, but most of us have enough to eat and each consulate, for the relief of all English, French, Russian and Italian subjects. The work is so large that they employ about 15 English and American men to administer the Fund, and they have to work really hard to get the work done. Caleb is one of the workers and he says the Fund is splendidly managed and they reach every one. So as long as there is bread to be had no one will starve, but there are rumours that flour is running short, and if so what an awful thing will happen. We pay 12 medjs [medjidiye = Ottoman currency unit] the loaf now, just double the price it used to be. Our weather still continues fine and not too cold.
The Perkins girls are now settled with us, they have a bedroom and a sitting room in the small house at the back, Lilla has a room there too and Bill the end of room. So that place is now packed up with people. How differently we had imagined our nursing home. But what a blessing it has been to us and to the whole family remaining in Smyrna. A combined household is so much cheaper to run, than separate establishments. I went to Cordellio to see Adelee yesterday afternoon and there I found that Frank Whittall [Charlton Francis Whittall (1864-1942), youngest of the children of James Whittall of the Big House, Bournabat C. Whittall & Co Smyrna, coin collector and of Magdalen Blanche Giraud, married twice, 1st Ethel Maud Barker, 2nd Anna Van Lennep] had been there and made them all miserable by telling them that the English had reverses all round. He is one who believes that the Germans are Devils and will never be conquered by anyone. Such rubbish. But he also thinks that soon we shall have nothing to eat. That may come of course. We have put in provisions and some flour, but we can’t buy much, they won’t allow people to buy more than a sack at a time, and they have given out that, those who have more will have the extra requisitioned. So one is afraid to buy. Soon things will be settled and that the town can hold out a bit longer. Rosalind MacLachlan is engaged to marry Mr. Reed.
Dear Becky’s birthday. How I wish they were all here with us. New Year’s day passed very quietly. Lovely weather and beautiful country. We had a birth at eleven in the morning and today probably another at the same time. In December we cashed 73 pounds. Not bad and we ought to put a little money, but unfortunately it all goes in food. Things are fearfully dear. Sugar is two medjs the oke! Patience -- for sugar is not absolutely necessary -- but bread! and coals, and such things! What would we have done if we had not our clinic. On Thursday an aeroplane came and paid us a visit but did not throw bombs, I am glad to say. We hear that the Allies are doing well -- though the Turks still record marvellous victories! I was at Nellie’s yesterday afternoon and sat and read some of the American newspapers that are hidden there. It was a treat, but how awful and what loss of life! It makes one dreadfully miserable. How I wish peace would come again once more. We have at last had a letter from Ruth and she tells us she has found work. We also had a P.C. [postcard] and letters on Xmas day from Rowley and Beckie; also Annie wrote to the girls.
Today is Greek Xmas. We started the day with a fearful black bread just like sticky mud. For which we paid 12 mots the loaf. I kneaded bread from our flour I hope it will turn out good. My first attempt. I will just give a list of the things we have learnt to do without or use very sparingly.
No coffee. A drink made from robeethen which we call coffee. Tea very little and precious. Rowley sent six small packets. Rice none. Sugar none, only a little for mother it is two and one half medjs the oke. Matches very few. Soap very little left. Soon will have no clean linen. Lights dismal oil lamps. Candles none. Threads etc. hardly any left. Stuffs very few. But bread is the real trouble. Every now and then the ovens close and no bread is baked.
A woman fainted from hunger on our own doorstep. This may be the beginning of horrors. Meat there is plenty and we hope vegetables will continue. Every mortal thing is two, three and four times its original price. We yearn for sweets, and thank goodness we have some figs. The news in the Reforme is food for the Italians and also they acknowledge that the English were driven away from the Dardanelles. There are still some troops there and a great deal of bombarding going on.
My bread was good. The weather is beautiful and we have good health. What more can we wish. Peace, Peace, for all the world. Sometimes we get hold of an old American newspaper and are made most miserable on account of the fearful loss of life. Here in the home we try our very utmost to save every life however shaky and on the battlefield young lives strong and just finished with their education and so much depending on them, are thrown away by the thousand. It is a wicked, wicked, war. Gracie came and spent the day here yesterday. She is so sweet and her boys are darlings. Poor Nellie has had a fright over her Arthur. He hurt his leg badly and they thought it was broken, but thank God it was not, but it is a most painful rupture of the muscles. We have enough coke for our fires which is a good comfort as our dear old Mother must be kept warm, whatever happens to others.
We hear that Francis Barker is making money at Mityline. Also that Rees is making a large fortune. His house in Boudjah has been turned into a girls school. The small house [gatehouse?] into a konak [police station?]. And the other two houses, Gordons small and Willie Rees’es into hospitals. It is Turkey for the Turks now, and grab who will. The railway is getting so dilapidated. If only Barfield could see it. They have had a very bad accident up the line. And they have nearly burnt all the boilers. They use lignite coal and it smells so awful. The guards and now most of the employees are young Turks. Gradually all the old hands have been turned away. Mrs. Tibaldi is great fun the way she goes for the Turks, tells them such plain truths. They leave her alone in the B.S.H. home and at least she has that comfortable house. The have not put any soldiers in the main building as yet, but they say they will put in wounded officers. They asked for the nurses and Mrs. Tibaldi told them that she did not know anything about nursing, and that the nurses had gone to nurse our own soldiers, and that if she tried to nurse she would probably poison or kill anyone she attempted to nurse.
We get occasional letters from our relatives, and it is such a joy when we do hear. The Perkins girls have quite settled down with us, they have made their rooms very snug and comfortable and are gradually fitting into our lives. We have had several private patients, among them Mary Whittall, she had a little boy [(Lydia) Mary nee La Fontaine, wife of James Frederick La Fontaine Whittall of Moda, her first baby, Roland James La Fontaine Whittall, future father of Betty Ann McKernan], and is so happy. We have still a good many of our books and we are doing well, in time when things settle down we will make money. Mr. Partridge and his family are well and not quite starved yet.
Since writing last we have passed all the holidays and now have settled down to another spell of waiting. The Greeks, poor souls had none of their cakes and peetes; in fact, one is made miserable when one goes down town by the lack of any joy or joke and a stray loaf of bread at once attracts one’s attention and one exclaims, Oh, there is a nice loaf. How we will appreciate bread when we do get it again. Do you remember that woman in the vineyard we watched baking her bread. When you were last in Boudjah. I often think of those nice loaves now. We have some flour and we could make some lovely bread, but we have to adulterate it to make it last. We must have at least 3 months of bread or else what will become of us later on. As long as we can try to buy bread, poor Bill has to go and fight outside the ovens, but he is not much good at that. Potatoes now are very scarce and awfully dear, in fact little by little we can see famine creeping upon us.
We hear that the English have retired from the Dardanelles and have now occupied all the islands and that they are in great force at Salonica. We also hear that the Russians are marching to meet the English at Baghdad and that a large force of English are going to cross from Egypt to Syria. On the other hand, we hear from the Austrians that the Germans are practically in Constantinople, that the Allies are defeated at every turn and that they will soon march on to Egypt. One day our spirits are in the lower depths and the next in the highest.
We cannot get any more news from Athens. The Reforme says that Greece is blockaded by the Allies, but who knows if all these tales are true. Today we hear that the allied fleets are all at Chesmè [Çeşme - anchorage near Smyrna], but we have heard that before many times. One thing is certain, and no bumbut [?]. Our food stuff is getting short, and there is hardly any gold and very little silver in the country. We have paper but no small change, and we lose so much in changing a note.
I would relate so many funny tales, but it seems heartless when so much misery and pain is being caused with this hateful war. There are so many Turkish officers here and some are educated and others are not. Mrs. Tibaldi is always giving them bits of her mind. There are about 80 patients in the B.S. Hospital. Mostly officers. So far they keep the place very clean. They have put our old attendant, Georghi, as head and he has been given 6 men under him and has been told to keep the place as clean as when the English had it. Poor old B.S.H., it will never be what it was any more. I do not suppose anything will be the same again. Things will be very different when this great war is over.
We are still waiting, it may not be long now.
Another month has gone and we are still in the same state, only that things are dearer and getting less and less. We had quite an exciting time last week for there was bombarding at Scala Nova [Kuşadası], but it was only a small affair to punish some foolish soldiers who fired on an English gun-boat with their rifles.
News is disquieting all round and the Turks expect some sort of attack here. Many soldiers arrive every day, and part of the 4th army corps under Perteff Pasha has already arrived. The rest will come during the week. Boudjah is again occupied, and Becky’s house will be retaken. Perteff will live in the Forbes house as the Rees’es that he lived before has been made into a school for girls. You would not know Boudjah. The W. Rees and Gordon house are hospitals. Every house that is possible has been taken. Poor old Partridge will again be having fits of funk. We see very little of any of them these days as they can’t afford train fares, so keep at home. We have begun the year very well with a number of good cases. Long may it continue. Cash is very necessary with famine prices. The Greens and many young people are giving an entertainment at the theatre for the benefit of the poor. It promises to be a very great success. Ida Peacock will dance and others sing and there is going to be a play as well.
Yesterday an Aeroplane came overhead, and we also heard bombarding. All the little villages on the hillsides are being ruined, and nothing gets done. At Scala Nova they shot one or two soldiers, and three or four children. One can’t help feeling a bit dull and unhappy about our government. Today at 9 this morning two Aeroplanes came over and threw Turkish newspapers and some handbills. I wish they would not do that. It does no good and only makes the English ridiculous. Can’t they remember what they did at the Dardanelles. They made so sure that they were going to Constantinople in three weeks, but here they are still. They then threw hand bills telling the people to give in. How can the people give in. They know quite well they have a rotten government and that they are being robbed and tormented, but what can they do. They have no arms and are quite downtrodden. We must see what these papers say and then we may understand. We have a rather sick patient and are a bit upset. She got out of a sick bed and came to be confined here, the result is she is very ill, and has fever. Such a shock for us, but we must pray and trust she will get well soon. We are surrounded by grumbling Americans who jeer and call the English fools and idiots. I am very unhappy.
Bombarding has started, Oh, how excited I am getting. Such heavy guns. It is eleven months since the last.
No more bombarding today. We are so disappointed yesterday it went on for four hours. The ships were very far off, at least eighteen miles away. They were firing at a mountain battery [view a period war map from the Graphic, March 1915 - Alfred van der Zee communique at the time to the Danish Ambassador]. Such excitement in Boudjah. The Tepe [hill] was black with people looking out. From there they could see the ships firing very well. Perhaps at two this afternoon they may begin again. Some people think that they are holding a parley [conference] with the authorities, but we are told nothing but untruths.
Towards sunset about 4 o’clock, heavy bombarding started, and went on till dark. Great clouds of dust rose wherever the shells fell.
Some numbers of wounded were brought into the town today. At the hospital in Boudjah they prepared many beds, but only the sick were sent there, taken from the hospitals in town so as to make room for the wounded. Now these poor fellows suffer and what a useless number of lives are lost. Evelyn tells us pitiful tales of the poor chaps being dragged up to Boudjah in a dying condition, and expiring a few hours after they get there. The poor Turk is a perfect martyr and it is only his faith and confidence in eternal happiness after death that makes him so absolutely brave, or it may be that life is so wretched for him that he is glad to get out of it.
It is strange to live in a place where the enemy bombarding is looked upon with such joy and happiness. We would feel miserable if this afternoon no guns were heard. It seems the evening light is very favourable to the ships as they can see the shore very distinctly, whilst the light is bad for those on the shore to see them. Every evening crowds gather on the quay and watch. It is the Couvardalikie [a Smyrniot Levantine term, probably derived from the Greek word, ‘hovardalikia’ (Turkish: hovardalık) meaning to party] of the age.
Last night we went to see the amateur theatricals that have been got up by the Americans, English and French, for the benefit of the poor, under the active patronage of the Vali and all the big Turkish Whigs. Only in Smyrna could such things take place. The Enemy entertain, for the sake of the poor and needy in their town. The Turks were in the theatre in considerable numbers, looking so solemn, for of course they can’t possibly understand much. There was Perteff and all his staff officers, Dejmall and his, the Vali and all the civilian Beys etc. all interested and being entertained by Englishmen who last year were in prison. Truly it is a strange country. I believe they made £ 300 for the poor. Such a blessing.
These two days have been simply perfect. Our weather now is really glorious, nearly a month of perfection. We can sit with the windows open, and enjoy the balmy air. Now and then we get very excited by aeroplanes. There is a rush to the upstairs windows. In the evening there is always the bombarding, and the lovely sunset. The sea like glass and the hills such a dark blue. We now see the war through rose coloured spectacles. What will it be later; that is the question? Of course we have to pay no end for our bread and beans. Yesterday I bought two small sacks of maize meal, and barley meal, for four and a half pounds. This is to mix with our flour. We have to spend at least six pounds [~£250 in today’s money] a month in horrid stodgy bread. I can’t tell you what we have come down to in the way of meals, and the money that goes, at least we spend £ 80 a month [~£3,450 in today’s money], and it all goes in the plainest food. No sugar or sweets of any sort, but as long as we can get bombarding and occasional aeroplanes we don’t mind, and are full of hopes for a happy release. Sure all these beautiful guns must do some good. They seem to smash up the whole hillside. The other night we had two enormous shocks, quite terrifying. More newspapers were thrown in Boudjah this time.
The days are passing and still nothing happens. A little bombarding takes place every day sometimes in the morning early or about sunset, but nothing definite. Unless we hear the guns we feel very dull. Such different longings we have now-a-days. Our sole conversation now is food, and the cost of things, and what such family invents in the way of making bread. Bean and flour, or maize and flour or barley meal and flour, of flour and bran etc. How deadly important bread is. No one can buy any flour at the ovens, and that is most difficult to get. There are fights every day outside the oven doors. It is sickening when one has such a large household as we have. Alithea and I long to forget this sickening question of food and what we give people to eat. There was a prisoner of war here, a Lieut. Fitzgerald and the authorities have arranged an exchange for him. On Sunday he was declared free so the Vali gave him a grand dinner at the club and afterwards he was taken to tea at the Cartalies. He was so pleased with the way he was treated, really no where but in Smyrna do such things happen. The Vali is so pro-English that he is full of attentions to them and can’t do enough for them to show his feelings and friendliness. Today Karabiber took Fitzgerald in a motor launch out to the English warships and handed him over. We had a P.C. from Athens. They are in the throes of the Blockade there and Bird is so frightened. I suppose he feels out of the frying pan into the fire.
All this week there has been constant bombarding, but according to the Reforme no damage whatever has been done. Why do the English waste time and money at that rate?
The Turks are more and more friendly towards us and yesterday a Turkish lady who was sailing here said she wished she could kill all the Germans, that they were at the bottom of all their troubles. I believe they are really realizing this now that it is too late. We have got to know quite a nice family of Turks and we get long visitations from them. The father speaks English very well and so do his three children, but mothers and grannies don’t, and as the whole family come when they visit, it is a bit of a trial. What the poor Turkish soldier is suffering. No words can describe it. They are taken out of their sick beds from the hospitals to make room for the new wounded and sent up country in trains they call Death Trains, for nearly all die on the way. Oh, when will these poor people be released from all their misery. The Vali and all the Government officers are having at this time no end of dinners, and spree. I am ashamed to say together with some of the English and French people. So heartless and cruel it is. The poor soldiers get nothing, not even cigarettes. They starve and are allowed to die by the hundred, and the wretched officials spree and drink all night. Horrid!
Last night we heard a man-of-war is firing on the railway bridge between Azizieh and Ephesus, but has done no damage. Today we may hear that no train can go up.
No news as yet of the bridge. The Reforme says that the Germans have gained a great victory and taken the forts at Verdun. We are all very depressed especially as the ships seem to be doing nothing but potting about at the same old houses at Scala Nova. What an awful time of waiting we are having.
Mrs. Pietersee was buried today. She has died exactly a year after her friend Mrs. Manicopoulo. She and I went to the latter’s funeral together a year ago, and she alas had an operation and died after it. It is well we cannot see ahead.
Meat today has gone up to 4 octarakia. The only thing we had that was not awfully dear. We are all beginning to be very thoughtful, and feel that things are really getting serious. Such a lovely day. Everyone is out sunning themselves.
The last 3 days only one or two guns have been fired. The bridge has not been touched and only some batteries were destroyed. All is quiet in the town. The weather is beautiful and if it were not that so many people are hungry we would hardly know that there is a war going on all around us. The soldiers and carts are constantly passing by our street and one can see military movement all round nothing more.
Yesterday we got very excited, three aeroplanes came overhead, and they went round and round and over Boudjah, Bournabat, and Paradise. They threw many papers, but no bombs, thank goodness. In the afternoon they came again. So now we feel that things are coming to us and perhaps the day is not so very far off when a settlement will take place. The papers tell the Turks the truth. They are written by a Turk, who is against the present Turkish Government, and he urges the people to give themselves up. I hope they will take his advice. But I am afraid they won’t as the Germans have flattered and filled them up with conceit over themselves and their strength and the Turk is really a very --- [edited out to avoid offence] creature. We had two Turkish doctors here the other day and they spoke French well and they started talking politics and we were almost awed at the display of ignorance over the strength of England and her lack of troops. That retreat from the Dardanelles has been used by the Germans as a sure proof of what they have been telling them all along that England only “Bluffs” and has no real strength. So that I am afraid they will not give in until they are almost all killed. Poor Mother’s face was a picture of despair when the Turks were explaining to her how impossible it was for the English to conquer and that they will have to give in.
These days we have been very sad for we have heard of the death of our dear Dr. Elefteriadis. He was sent up to Balikhisar to work among the wounded there. He hated going and leaving his family. He is such a home bird and adores his wife and family. He told me before he left that he could not bear leaving them behind. We can’t make out what he died of, it was a sudden death for he dropped in the street. Poor man and he did take such an interest in the war, and longed so for the English to come so that he might bring his son home, for he was exiled as he is of age to serve in the army and as they are Turkish subjects he would have to serve. Poor dear Elef. He promised me that he would come and have a big Tea with us when the English came. Will they ever come. Who knows. Perhaps things will be settled in quite a different way to what we imagine and Smyrna may take a very back seat. However the port will open some day and then our people will come back and we shall be able to go if we want and letters will again be allowed to come and go. Now we realize what a blessing an open port is and mail coming in every week.
I have let a month go by without writing as we all seem to be in a waiting game. Aeroplanes come now and again and sometimes kill women as well as men. The ships’ guns have gradually ceased firing. Von Leimman [Liman von Sanders] Pasha has come and is very busy looking after things. He has brought two lovely big Motors with him with the German eagle on the panel. So now we feel the Germans have come after all. Well they have set about seeing that the people get bread. A sure way of gaining the confidence of the people. They find that the English only throw bombs from their aeroplanes and kill their cattle and some of their women and they fire a lot of guns that do no damage, while the Germans have come and are seeing that the people are having bread. What is one to think. How will it all end. These days not a scrap of news has been allowed to come in. No one has had any letters or cards so we are quite in ignorance of what has gone on the last few weeks. We have managed to buy two sacks of flour for which we have paid thirteen pounds. It is well the Clinique can keep us going.
The last two weeks have gone by very quietly, we hear distant guns but know nothing. No more letters come from Athens. Numbers and numbers of Austrians have come, quite a large force with their guns and ammunition and horses. As the trains come in there was not the slightest sign of welcome given to any of them, only black looks. The Turks here quite look upon them as having come to take their country, but they are too apathetic to make any resistance. Von Leman Pasha left for Adalia [Antalya], but he comes and goes. There are all sorts of wild rumours about; that there will soon be heavy fighting here and there, probably all our men will be sent up country, however we do not get excited as we used to do at the beginning of the war. We only wish something would happen to end this awful waiting time. There are several German aeroplanes here. I went and saw one at the race course, and cursed it under my breath. In fact I cursed a whole train full of Austrians, as they came in last week. It is horrid and humiliating to have the Germans here instead of the longed for English. Such is life.
Since I last wrote we have had very little doing, everything is quiet, only aeroplanes have come, sometimes throwing bombs and sometimes throwing papers. On Easter Sunday they threw us English newspapers. What a treat they are. We have not yet had the luck of reading one, but we have heard the news. One of these days we will have our turn at reading them. Things seem to be very favourable for the Allies, and we are so happy. After all what the Turkish doctor predicted did not take place and the Germans have not broken through the French lines. Hurrah. He was so positive about it that at the time we almost believed it could happen. Now I wish I could see him, but unfortunately he has gone to the Dardanelles, I think the Turks quite expect an attack here, for they have shown great activity of late and they have emptied all the hospitals of the sick, sent them up country so as to have all the beds ready for the wounded. You should have seen us all yesterday afternoon. Even Mother got quite excited. Three aeroplanes came and whilst we were watching them, we kept hearing fearful explosions of bombs, they hit three different places, but not amongst the houses at the factories and some depot where soldiers are lodged. Also they threw some at Paradise where there was a German aeroplane. We have not yet heard what damage, I suppose we ought to send Mother to Bournabat, but she won’t hear of going.
Mrs. Tibaldi had a great wordy war with some German doctors that wanted to take her house. They have taken all the hospital and now they wanted rooms in her home. She fought them and came off conqueror. They have now gone to Anna Giraud’s, she also fought them and abused them like a fish-wife, called them B. Murderers etc. But they have borne it all and remain in her house. There are two of them and two orderlies, who eat no end of garlic, and are very objectionable in many ways. I do hope none will come here. There are a great many of them in Smyrna, also many Austrians.
Gracie Whittall [Gracie is Herbert James Whittall’s wife, née Pengelley, b. 1885 - WFT p. 59]has come to spend the day. She tell that one of the bombs yesterday fell on the Whittall’s factory [textile? probably in partnership with the Girauds], which had been taken by the Turks, and that it killed some and injured several men. Mr. Hunt when he saw the bomb coming fell flat on the ground and so escaped being hurt. I must go and hear all about it this afternoon from the Barkers who live quite close.
I went to the factory with Oswald [?Barker, son of Richard Barker and Mary née Lewis, and father of William] and saw all the damage, holes right through Mr. Hunt’s house and iron bars cut in two and hundreds of panes of glass smashed, all this damage was done though the bomb fell in the sea. Little Henry Barker was having tea with Mr. Hunt at the time and he was flung down by the concussion. The aeroplanes belonging to the Turks and kept on the race course were also struck and great damage was done. These seem to be new bombs for they are frightfully strong and make an awful noise in exploding and shake the houses for miles around.
Today we have all been very sad for we have had to part with a darling baby of 8 months who has been living with us for two and a half months. He was a sweet blue eyed darling, the child of a French Professor. The mother was ill with typhoid, that is why the child was brought to us. I mothered it and it slept in a cot in my room. I got to love it intensely. It was a beautiful child. Neneka too loved it very much, in fact we all adored it, but it got ill and two days after it went home it died.
We are still unhappy about our sweet baby, he was such a pet.
On the 13th Roselind MacLachlan got married to Cass Reed. Such a “kroio” [in Greek, krio= cold, so possibly a loveless marriage] affair, but I suppose they are happy. The wedding was held in their home in Paradise and afterwards the couple went to Bairakli for the honeymoon. Ida Peacock is now engaged to Mr. Beard, and is very happy. We are all so glad for her as he is such a good girl, and he is very good “Parti”. He is one of the Mac Andrews’ young men. Not too young, he must be over 30 years of age. He was a prisoner at Orfa [Urfa, south-east of Turkey - archive views]. For a long time he was there, and at last was released through the influence of our Vali here. He and several others together returned last Autumn having gone through no end of hardships. They were skin and bone when they came here. One of them was so affected by the horrors he saw that he shot himself after he came here. It was a very sad case, as he left a wife and child in America. Mr. Beard is an Englishman of good family and very pleasant fellow.
Life is getting more and more difficult, all food stuff is at enormous prices. No luxuries to be had. We have no sweets for months now. Petemese [Pekmez] is our only salvation in the way of sugar. Cholera has started, but our hopes lie in the Germans. They may be able to stop it, and they get so little help from the Turks, that they also may give up. A very high official, a German, the one in supreme command of all the Medical Officers, gave out that he was going to lecture on cholera and typhus and practically ordered the medical staff to attend at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon. No one, except an orderly who was once in Forbes employ, turned up, and he told us that the German was furious, and abused the Turks to such an extent that the poor Turkish employee was quite frightened and told him he was a Jew and not a Turk. “It is well for you that you are not” he said, “for they are an impossible race and must be done away with.”
They are doing away with themselves with all their carelessness over disease, and famine.
I met a desperate Mr. MacLachlan this morning. He has been trying for three weeks to get ten bags of flour, and although he has all the papers and permits from the Vali, can get us nothing. We hope to get 3 bags from Nazli if Wallace Turrell can get us the permit, but who knows. It is a very difficult job. Fruit is coming in but people are afraid of it on account of the Cholera. We only needed this to add to our happiness.
We had letters from Athens, such a treat as it is over two months since we had any, and we were getting desperate about ever hearing. The news is good all round and they too had at last got our letters. One gets encouraged to write once more. Lilla was not sure what had become of her Ruth, and it was a pleasure to hear that she was so happy since her engagement. There have been a good few engagements here lately, Mr. Morris and Marie Jabba, Mr. Green and Miss Rugge, Mrs. Everett’s sister and Mr. Bones, Eric de Jongh and a very nice young Armenian young girl who lives in Boudjah. She is very well educated and a good family. Also one or two others you don’t know, and one not quite fixed yet. You will be surprised to hear that Dr. Manicopoulo has married again. Life was too dull for him alone. He married a Greek of his own station, and not too young.
The Germans are very energetic in their efforts to stamp out the Cholera. They are making fresh Serum at the old B.S.H., and insisting on everyone being inoculated. I went there this morning and it is galling to see how they have taken possession of everything and how energetic they are and what heaps of things they have brought from Berlin. There is no end of work being done. They have lovely microscopes and instruments, have put up a telephone etc. I wonder if they ever will be driven out. It does not look like it at present. And they are very cock sure of themselves. We hate them all the more they show us their worth, for they certainly have their points, and I suppose soon Smyrna will be clean and smart etc. They have ordered more bread to be given to the people, as a first preventive of Cholera.
At 3.30 this morning, an aeroplane threw bombs at Basmahane station and the Turkish quarter of the town. I watched from my window the flashes in the dawn of the day. I can’t help thinking that modern warfare is horribly cruel and unjust. People killed in their beds. Both women and children. One whole family all together. It might be our turn next. We are close to the railway station if their aim is to destroy railways we stand a poor chance of escaping with our lives. Two bombs were also thrown on the gas works, but did no particular damage. This does not look as if the “Peace Conference” was successful.
The Turks are furious with the Allies for throwing bombs and killing their people that today they took all the English and French men to the Konak. You can imagine what we felt all day. They began taking them from yesterday afternoon and went on all night. They went to the Bretts [? William Henry Brett, Anglican Chaplain of Smyrna 1909-1919] at 2.30 am. At noon today they let them go on condition they all return at six this evening and sleep in the Turkish quarter of the Town. Also they have told them that whatever property belonging to the Turks has been damaged they will take the equal from the belligerents, also that for every Turk killed they will hang a belligerent of the same sex and station in life. So now here we are. What good have the Aeroplanes done? Damaged a few broken down houses and killed a few innocent people for which we will have to pay with our lives. This is war and we must put up with it, but oh. It does seem awfully unfair, and of course the people think the English are brutes and the little respect they had for us has now gone under. They are not much more pleased with the Germans, and if this had not happened they might have been won round to our side.
All the English and French and Italian and Montenegrins, and Russians, about 5000 in all they say, have been obliged to go and sleep in the Turkish quarter of the Town. They are kept there all night and allowed to return to their homes by day. It is a sort of concentration camp. Some of them have rather good quarters. That is to say, bare rooms but airy and clean, others mere huts. They have to take their own bedding and every thing they need. It is a horrid bore for all our men who are used to their nice homes to have to turn out and go to such places every evening at six. We watch them come from Boudjah and are very sorry for them.
I went down to the quay this evening after six and was so disgusted. Nothing but Austrians and Germans and Turks to be seen. Not a man of any other nation. Can you imagine the feelings I had. I felt ill and tired too. Which made me have the blues.
I was in bed all day quite ill and awfully afraid I had the Cholera.
Still in bed ill and did not sleep all night, was very depressed that a bore it would be to everyone if I died just now when things are so difficult for everyone. At about three in the morning when it was hardly light those fearful Aeroplanes came and threw bomb upon bomb. The women and children on their terraces all screaming and screaming. Poor old Mrs. Cros. She had hysterics, she was a son-in-law and a son in the Turkish quarter, and Mrs. Charlie Walker on our other side had hysterics on her terrace. Her husband is there too. Such an inferno. You can’t imagine. I was feeling awfully ill but I crept downstairs and lay on the floor of the sitting room waiting for the end of all things. Our old Mother we kept in bed. She is wonderfully brave. About 5 o’clock when all was quiet she was up and dressed and sitting in the sitting room looking out of the window to see if any English went by. We soon heard them, no one was hurt thank God. A Miraculous escape, but many Greeks were killed, men, women and children and about ten houses in complete ruin.
The authorities keep all the belligerents day and night now as prisoners of war. All the families are desperate. Alithea and Mrs. Tibaldi went up to see the Bournabat relations, husbands and sons. They were in a big Turkish han. Up on Mount Pagus. They were well and courteously treated. Of course they pay for everything they get, for their lodgings and all. But they are not robbed as they would be if the Greeks had to deal with them. Their landlord charges just the same price for a nights lodging as he always charges to his clients, only the whole place is occupied by the prisoners and a soldier or two keeps guard. They quite trust the parole of the English and really who could run away. We are all prisoners as tight as can be. Herbert Whittall [Herbert James Whittall, 1884-1933, of C. Whittall & Co., son of Herbert Octavius Whittall of Bournabat, Smyrna, and Louisa Maltass; Gracie is H.J. Whittall’s wife, née Pengelley, b. 1885 - WFT p. 59], father and son, are together in a room, the place has small rooms all round and a court with a fountain in the middle. The sanitary arrangements are primitive “A la Turka”. How they must miss their lovely homes and comforts. One good thing the weather is glorious and the view from up there is beautiful. They have made up their minds to be there nearly all the Summer. Who knows. We hear it may be true that the English will continue to send Aeroplanes as long as the Turks fire on their troops in Long Island [island just offshore, just to the south-west of Smyrna, near Urla]. Today we hear that this is true, the Germans did manage to place their guns at the entrance of Long Island, so now no English ships can get to the troops, and they will either starve or have to give in. Oh what are we coming to? It is too awful to think of. I wonder what sort of sentries they had. Did they not know the Germans had sent some of their big guns here. Dear Tottie you don’t know what we feel about all this. Yesterday we heard that today or tomorrow the English and all the Belligerents were to be let free and now we think they meant that they expect the English to give in today or tomorrow. How could they let the Germans place those guns. They took them on lighters from Vourla, on a dark night and the English never saw them. Another dreadful bit of news is that poor Dr. Newton died this morning. He had Typhus. But we had news he was a little better yesterday, and today he is gone. Poor, poor, Mrs. Newton. How awfully miserable she must be. And she expects a baby in the Autumn. They had such a happy nice little home, and he did such splendid work amongst his patients. In fact he over did the work and could not resist the illness. He makes the 18th Dr. dead since the war.
Prisoners still up in the Turkish quarter, and getting very sick of it. They have been promised release, but who knows how long it will be before they are allowed. Old Mr. Herbert Whittall has been released and one or two about the same age. A great deal of Bombarding goes on and the Railway Bridge has at last been destroyed. But so far in this town all is quiet. We are deadly sick of it all and are so dull. Only old Mr. Barff comes to see us now and then. And he is so down on the English that we would rather he did not come to visit us. I hate going down town, there are so many beggars and we have no change to give to anyone. This want of change is awful. One has to be always contriving how to manage and to think of a whole long summer before us is enough to drive one crazy. We have only a few patients just now and that makes us impatient for want of work. I pity the English too who are fighting if they have a long hot summer before them. One good thing, the Cholera has been suppressed and we have to thank the Germans for that.
We had a P.C. from Rowley today a month old. They are beginning to be anxious about us. What will it be when they hear of the Bombs and that all our men have been taken prisoners. Bill [? son of William Barker, verger at St. John’s Church] keeps indoors and has been left in peace we are thankful to say. Still a lot of the men are kept up and we are not sure when they will be allowed free again. We are so unhappy about the news of Lord Kitchener’s death by drowning. What an awful thing for Old England, and how very sad for him not to have to see the fruit of his labours. The Reforme also gives the Victory to the German fleet in the last naval battle in the North Sea, but that we won’t believe, however they put it. The Greeks too are keeping back the English in Salinike with their skunky ways. What a punishment they ought to get in the end. We are overrun by triumphant Germans. It is galling.
The Belligerents are still kept prisoners and a great number of the Belligerents’ private homes have been taken by the Turks and given to Turkish families. The English they say have been driven from Long Island, and we have seen a huge fire on the mountain-side there which has lasted for 3 days. Caleb came yesterday and brought us some American newspapers, with such depressing news of the War it makes us feel awfully miserable but all they say is true. The English will soon be humbled to the very dust. We hear that General Townsend is in Constantinople a prisoner of war. This is true for a person came from there and told us. I wonder what the Russians are doing. The Turks are making great preparations from here and all round, no end of trains full of troops go by every day. They have mended the bridge near Ephesus. We hear that a lot more Aeroplanes are coming to throw bombs tomorrow morning. Last Sunday they destroyed a heap of more houses and killed men, women and children, and the prisoners got so frightened as the bombs fell close to them, all round about. We managed to get two sacks of flour, 80 okes each, and paid fourteen pounds for them. All our money goes on bread, coals and food of the plainest of plain quality. Soap is an enormous price, 6 octa the piece. You can imagine how dirty the poor people are getting. Nellie Lawrence has a good crop of apricots this year and her boys are enjoying them. They are so happy and strong. Life is one joy for them as they are so full of life and good spirits. Our old Mother is very well, and has got used to going without sugar, and sweets and puddings. It is hard for the old to be deprived of the things they love. I shall not write again for a long time. We are miserable, and feel that the English are being beaten all round so it is no use hoping for anything.
We have had a terrible time of heat, such heat has not been known for many years. At Paradise the thermometer registered 115 deg. [46 ° C.]. Here we have had it up to 99 [37° C.] in the house in the hottest rooms. This house is a good one for resisting heat. We have been deadly dull. Not a line from anyone, and only Reforme lies, some news comes through now and then, but we don’t know how much we can believe. The Germans are in quiet possession here. The English played them a trick at Long Island, for after bombarding the English and carefully landing expecting great resistance, they found the island quite empty, not a soul on the place. Yesterday afternoon Alithea and I went to see a Military Memorial Service held to the memory of three officers who gallantly lost their lives in going to Long Island. One was a German, the other an Austrian, and a Turk. They had three different religions, and were represented by their priests. It was the first time a Mohammedan had joined in a service with Christians. The Service was very impressive, but I noticed a great coldness amongst the Turks present. They evidently do not care for this sort of thing and here in Smyrna there is not much love lost between Turks and Germans. The fourth Army Corps has gone away, with Perteff and all the officers who are in a dreadful state of ruin and the remnants of our things have been stolen. They broke open our storeroom and opened the cases of blankets, and took everything away. Blankets, quilts, and furs, and Jack’s rifle, which we thought we had so cleverly hidden between blankets, all gone. Poor Beckie’s home is a pig sty, and heaps of her things stolen, but what can one expect? it is war time and we must be glad our lives are so far spared.
The Turks managed to bring down another English Aeroplane last week, and the aviator was killed, we are very sorry, for we knew him and he was very nice. [possible aviator who shot him down]
At last we are beginning to see daylight and have hopes of an end to our troubles and a downfall of the Germans. What lies they have filled our heads with the last few months and we were fools to believe them and get depressed. Now we know things are different we have got a true account of the Sea Battle of Jutland. The Germans here for a long time made everybody believe that they had beaten the English hollow, and that very soon the English would ask for peace. They even had printed placards put up in the Bazaar, that the Peace Negotiations were taking place. Anything to deceive the poor Turks.
But it all has been no good. Things have come out at last and one or two important papers have come through and the truth is out. What a relief, and how proud and happy we are. Now we do not mind waiting any amount of time, we know we shall be conquerors in the end. Our summer has been very hot and tiring but when the grapes and figs and melons started we did not mind so much. Fruit is the salvation of the people here. All these past two months we have not had a line from anyone, and no letters whatever have come from Athens or anywhere. Mother thank God keeps very well. Our business has been very good, we have had the place full. This August we made £ 135, but of course we have spent it all. Things are frightfully dear. Anything that comes from Europe is ten times the price it used to be, and everything about 5 or 6 times its original price.
We have Mrs. Newton here. She had her baby girl six weeks ago, but unfortunately she had contracted Typhoid fever a few days before she came to us, and she has had a very bad time. In fact she is not out of danger yet. We put her in the Garden house soon after the baby was born, and there Alithea and Miss Parkinson her nurse have struggled hard to keep her alive. We are not sure yet what the end will be. But we are more hopeful today than we were yesterday. Her baby has a paranama and is doing very well. It is a healthy fine child, and so sweet we love it very much. Mrs. Tibaldi has kept her home in the B.S.H., but poor thing she is very dull, and surrounded by Germans whom she hates. She comes here everyday and sometimes twice a day. We all love and pity her, and Mother enjoys having her. She says she would have gone mad if it had not been for us. Our Clinique is the rendez-vous of a large circle of friends, and we are kept alive with our work etc. You will be surprised to hear that poor Mrs. Newton has almost entirely been attended by the German and Austrian doctors, and they have been splendid. We have no English doctors here and the few Smyrna doctors remaining are no good. The doctor from the B.S.H. have been simply splendid. So clever and gentle, and devoted to her. He comes twice a day regularly and any extra time we wish to send for him he at once comes.
In Boudjah there are Austrians stationed now, they have settled themselves in all the houses, that the Turkish found, but they have set to work to clean and whitewash. One Boudjah policeman went into one of the houses occupied by the Austrians without permission, and he was kicked out and sent sprawling into the street. Such joy to the Boudjalees [Turkish, Bucalı = from Boudja] who witnessed it. Everything is quiet here. I will write again when there is something to say.
Mother’s birthday once more. A lovely warm sunny day. She got up feeling happy and hopeful. The first present she had was a lovely bunch of flowers from a German friend. She says it is a sign of coming Peace. Let us hope it is so. Lilla made her big dish of feenikia [?fenikia: a Greek dessert, oblong, honey-dipped cookies covered with chopped nuts], a great luxury at this time, and costs more than a pound. A made her a new cap, and Evelyn a lace collar. Mrs. Tibaldi gave her two mustard pots of jelly. Sweets are most precious. Gracie brought a hundred drams of chocolate worth a dollar. A number of her friends came for tea, and she was so gay and bright. Quite a wonderful old lady. She is 85. We had tea, as a treat. We don’t make it regularly now as it is over £ 2 an oke, and poor stuff at that. We generally drink fig coffee, which is very good. On the whole we have plenty to eat, but then we have plenty of money, and use it all. We have made over eight hundred pounds this year with our Clinique. But every bit of it goes in keeping the pot boiling these dreadful times. We have much to be thankful for, all our patients have done well. Mrs. Newton returned home quite well and her baby splendid. She nurses it herself as her milk has come back to her. The past few months have gone and we are still waiting and waiting. We get no news whatever and it is hard to keep up our spirits when we are surrounded by cocksure Germans. They have taken absolute possession of everything. The B.S.H. is quite theirs. Although Mrs. Tibaldi is still in her house, but we do not think she will be left there for long as German Sisters are soon coming out to run the place. The poor Armenians are having an awful time these days, driven out of Smyrna to the interior, women and children and all rich and poor alike. The Hadkinsons had a hot time a month ago, the whole lot of them were clapped into prison, taken out of their beds in the middle of the night. Charlie and his old father and all of them. Percy and his father Robert are in Constantinople, and we think that they will probably be kept in prison there till the end of the War. The others have been let out after a fortnight’s imprisonment. This has made everyone most careful about what they say and do. I hide this old diary and am awfully afraid it should be found. We also have had police searching our house, but they let us off easy. We are still stewing in our own juice.
This past week we have witnessed the final giving up of the British Seaman’s Hospital. The Germans have taken it over. Every bit of it. So Mrs. Tibaldi has had to give in, in as good grace as possible. Never in our wildest dreams could we have pictured the final eviction of Mrs. Tibaldi being done by Germans. The scenes that have been enacted, if it were not that they were pathetic, have been most comical. You should have seen Mrs. Tibaldi rave against the Germans when she first was told most politely that she must find another home. She came to us to let off steam. Then she cried and did not sleep all night. However now she is in a more rational mood and she has been given a home and made welcome at the Herbert Whittall’s. She arrived here the other morning, a carriage loaded up with her goods and chattels. Her head just peeping out amongst bundles, bags and pictures. Some of her things we are housing for her. The Clinique is the refuge and store-house of lots of things. All this coming week we are to house Mrs. Tibaldi till she finishes all her final arrangements, dismissing servants etc. The Germans are going to make a laboratory and model hospital. The Turks have taken all the furniture, beds etc., and left the building to the Germans. They are going to make things hum, by bringing all their own things from Germany. They will build two big barracks at the back. We had visions of the English coming and doing all these things. Who knows, the English may yet come and take possession of all that the Germans are doing. The last three months we had two weddings, Phylis Charnaud’s and Louisa Landon’s [? Langdon]. Ethel Martin is engaged to Mr. Agustus Routh, and Maud Marcara to Mr. Campling. We are expecting the Greens to come from America. They left on the 9th of this month, but if they take as long to come as Mr. Brown is doing, they might reach here at Easter. Mr. Brown is detained in Constantinople for the last nine weeks and no sign of his coming as yet. Three people have gone to fetch him and they are kept too. The last is the American Vice-Consul and he is kept.
Christmas is nearly here and we have not yet had any great cold. We are glad as coal is enormously dear and the people being underfed and hungry would perish by the hundreds from privations. We hear that the Hadkinsons have been condemned to imprisonment, but their lives spared. It is mercy that was not hoped for them. Mr. Brown will not be allowed to come and the Greens we fear ditto as nothing is heard of them. We have had our own personal troubles. Had notice one day last week, to close our Clinique. You can imagine our fright. We at once set to work, went to the Vali, and begged him to interfere on our behalf. He has been very good and we are now told that we can now go on, but that we must have the Clinique put under the name of a qualified doctor, preferable a Turkish man. Today one is coming to see us and arrange but we hope it will only be a nominal affair and that we won’t bothered or made to pay. Mabel Whittall [youngest daughter of Herbert Whittall, b. 1886] is to be married the first week of the new year to Mr. Marachinie [Ulric Marraccini]. They will live in Sokia, as his business is there and he has been taken into the employ of [MacAndrews and] Forbes [liquorish processing]. Mrs. Tibaldi has settled down as far as it is possible at Bournabat. I feel very sorry for her to have lost all her servants and own home, and be dependant in her old age, just the thing she hated most in her life. We have heard some news of the outer world this past week, from Mr. Charlie Giraud who has been permitted to take a journey to Athens and back. He told us that all the English, French and Italians were ordered to leave Athens, so that now our people are probably in Italy. Real refugees, poor things, how Nellie and Becky will hate it. No home of their own. Bread is a dreadful price now. 8 octarakia the oke. Only a small quantity, 50 drams per head is sold so that those who have no flour are in a bad state. Butter is three dollars the oke. We have very simple food, but enough thank God. Meat has gone to double the price it was. It is strange that provisions should have so suddenly come to an end. There must be some speculations about and injustice being done, but who can be redressed now-a-days. Poor Mr. Charlie Giraud has lost two sons in France. Willie and Nod [Herbert Wilfied and Noel Edmund Giraud, both died 1916 while serving in the French army]. One Maltese from Smyrna has distinguished himself and has received the V.C. with two bars. He is a plucky chap that went off at the very beginning of the war together with Bobby Ashe.
On our birthday, Alithea’s and mine, we had a tea-party. I shall not forget in a hurry. Real tea and avyo Calamera. Mr. Thoburn also sent us a lovely cake. He is so grateful to us for having saved his life last year, as he puts it. It was on our birthday last year that he was so ill, and we spent the day injecting Caffeaiene and huille Camphre and keeping his heart going till the doctors came. They are both now very good friends of ours, their house is next door but one to us. Yesterday was his birthday. He is 67, and we were invited to go to tea there, all of us, Mother and the Perkins girls and all. We had no end of good things, such a treat. How one does enjoy sweets when one has been deprived of them for so long. We have given up thinking of politics and the end of the war. Have entered into a chronic state of endurance, and if only we can keep going in food we are thankful. Thank God our dear old Mother is perfectly well and enjoys her life and does not fret too much over her absent children. She goes to church regularly and enjoys the Services. Nellie and Caleb are well and so are their hungry lads. I say hungry for Nellie says that they never seem to have enough and she can’t keep pace with their appetites. We hear that Percy Gout has got on awfully well and he is now Colonel of the staff. Quite a big gun. Ruth is still in Egypt and at work we think but know nothing for certain. Now and then, about once in four months, your Mother gets a letter from Dacota, but they only give news about themselves and their children’s health. Only those sort of letters get through. From you we have never had a line for two years. It is strange that we should be having another Xmas shut in here, and goodness knows how many more we may have. Old Barff and I had such a wordy war yesterday. He makes me so angry by saying that it is the duty of England now that she has muddled affairs so much, to give in as good a grace as possible.
Here we still are well on in the new year and yet know nothing of what is going on outside. Before Xmas there were a great many rumour about Peace, and some people quite believed there would be Peace very soon, but now those hopes are done for, and we seem as far off the end as ever. Xmas we spent quietly and in some ways we were all happier than last year, when the death of Edmund Perkins was still quite fresh and the girls were very unhappy. But now, time the great healer has softened the wound and they were able to go out to their beloved Ida’s home and spend Xmas eve happily with their young friends. We had Gracie and Herbert on Wednesday after Xmas and as they brought their own turkey we managed quite a nice dinner and a tiny Christmas tree for the three boys. We also had a nice plum pudding, small but good. Also a few sweets for which I gave a pound for. 12 Mandarines, 6 octarakia. Eggs are now 8 mets each. We still though have enough to eat, but it is of the plainest, and bread is decidedly limited. In quantity as well as quality. However our sufferings are nothing to what the poor and villagers suffer. In the villages life is absolutely of no value and daily, people are horribly murdered. I will just describe one case as an example of hundreds. Sister Elfrida of the Greek Hospital came to see us yesterday and she told us that they had brought to them two little girls, one about 12 years, and the other 7. The elder had a bullet wound on her heel and the other on one elbow which was fractured, and the other arm evidently wounded by the same bullet going through. They were living in a mill near Rushedasie [?Rüşadiye, a then settlement to the South of the city, corresponding to today’s district of Güzelyalı?], when one night the whole place was roused by a lot of brigands, probably deserters from the army, demanding that the men may come forth. The father and another man came out and were promptly murdered, their throats being cut. The women, children and young lads took refuge in a barn near by, but they were discovered and the brigands entered and shot them all. These two little girls fell in a corner and pretended to be dead, probably they had fainted for the earrings of the little girl were taken out of her ears. After a long time they got up and went out to the house to see if they could find anyone living there. They saw the bodies of their father and the man without any heads. After a long time, when it was getting morning, they went out in the fields and after calling for a long time, an old Turk who was ploughing heard and came to their rescue, and that was how these poor children were at last sent to the Greek Hospital. The little girl of twelve told all the tale to Elfrida and it is most pathetic. The poor child is like a little old woman in her manners and in the sharpness in which she managed to save herself and little sister.
Since the new year has come in, the weather has been very rainy, but fortunately not cold, if that comes hundreds will die no doubt. People are beginning to look thin. We have all lost weight, and our clothes hang on us, but we are in good health. Do you know that we spend about a hundred pounds a month. Fancy our making so much money. And in the end we will have nothing to show for it. Such is life. No new clothes this winter, they are too expensive. A reel of white thread costs a dollar. Who can sew at this rate? We sit with our hands before us, if it were not for books we should go crazy. And those are scarce, for we have read everything by now. It is over two years we have been like this. But what is our condition compared to the prisoners in Turkey. I feel sick when I think of them. What a life for them, shut up in a school in Magnesia with very restricted allowance of food or exercise. No books, no news and no one to see them now, for Mr Brett [Chaplain] is not allowed to visit them since the Hadkinson affair. There are a good many officers and men at Karrahissar [Afyonkarahisar? in Anatolia] and who knows what they are going through. I can’t bear to think of them poor things, not many will live to tell the tale.
Caleb brought us two or three old American papers the other day and we fell upon them like starving people. From what we gather we shall very likely have to wait another year or year and a half before there is a change in these parts. I hope the dear old Mother will live to see her children again. She is very well and her mind is still quite clear though there is a change in her the last year. She forgets faces and people.
Time goes by and here we are still. We have had a very wet time since the first of the year. Torrents of rain and everything flooded. Yesterday and today the change has come and the cold North wind blows and it is gloriously fine. It has been deadly dull and at times our tempers have been sorely tried. No news whatever from the outside world. Provisions at fearful prices here. Had to give £ 44 for two sacks of 80 okes of flour. 4 times what we gave last year. But we are kept up by hopes and every day that passes we are nearer the end. Mother keeps remarkably well thank God. Short sermons seem to do us all good, but things are dreadfully bad for the poor, and hundreds have died. Today our first Mohamedan patient leaves. She had a fine boy ten days ago, and all her people and husband are so pleased. She has two little girls at home and therefore they are extra glad this baby is a boy. She has been a sweet patient and we have got quite fond of her. We expect many kanoums [Turkish?, hanıms = ladies] will now follow her lead and come here for their confinements. Yesterday I went to Boudjah for a walk. The anemonies have started and it is lovely gathering them. Today Alithea has gone to get some from Bournabat. The two Perkins girls have been staying for a fortnight at Boudjah, and they look so well, the change has done them good and it is nice for them to see something of their old friends. Boudjah is awfully dilapidated, it is wonderful the ruin that can take place in three years of neglect. These days an Aeroplane has been paying us visits and the Turks here seem to believe that an attack will take place, but I can’t believe it. I expect we shall probably jog on till the end of the war and not see anything much worse than what we have already seen, now that we have practically gone through the winter, the warm weather is always easier to endure the hardships. Mrs. Tibaldi is reconciled to her life without work in Bournabat. Though her health is not so good as it was when she was working. Panayota has found a Yabro. A very nice good looking young man who has a bakaliko [corner-shop]. He has known her for some years, and now they are engaged. She brought him to pay us a visit and he sat in our sitting room and looked very shy and happy. Poor little Panayotou. She is brimming with happiness.
Since I last wrote time has dragged on in a slow, a very slow way. Everyone deadly dull and the weather the same. We have had a very wet winter day after a day of pouring rain. The streets are perfectly hopeless. The few made roads there have been washed away, and the drains overflowing. The consequence is raging Typhus. Half the population has died from that or famine. And a third has been taken to the war and probably died before reaching the front. Every available man is bound to go. They will not let them pay their exemption anymore. So you can imagine the misery of the poor fat shop keeper Jews and Armenians. So unfit too as they are for roughing it. Many have tried to induce us to take them in as lodgers to hide. Fancy how unsafe for us. We have one of each sort and you can imagine how we feel about it, especially now that every mouthful costs an octaraki at least.
About two weeks ago we had a P.C. through the American Consulate from Mrs. La Fontaine giving us the very sad news of our dearest Mary’s [Grace and Alithea’s elder sister, died in Egypt] death. How very dreadfully sad this is. I can not realize it and we know so little, just the bare facts. We have not told Mother. We dare not as it will make her so miserable and she is pretty dull these days especially as dear Lilla has been ill with bronchitis for the last sixteen days. Mother has been the picture of gloom so we think it best to keep her in ignorance of all sad news. Alithea is just now in Bournabat nursing a case of Typhoid, Mrs. Alsa Giraud. Last night just as we were going to bed, who should walk in, but poor darling Nellie with her baby in her arms. I thought the child must be ill, and she brought it by the last train, but it appears that the American ambassador at Constantinople has ordered all missionaries women and children to go to Constantinople and be gathered under his protecting wing, so Nellie had 12 hours to get ready herself and 5 boys and be off. They left early this morning together with some other missionaries. Caleb remains behind as yet. He can’t be spared from the school as long as it is open. Aeroplanes have again appeared, one or two come almost every day.
We hope to hear today by telegram of dear Nellie’s safe arrival in Constantinople. She had good weather for her journey, that is one comfort but it is no small joke to haul 5 big boys on a journey in a country that is at war. And one does not know from one day to another what is going to happen. Poor girl at least we hope she will have no more anxiety about feeding her family, for latterly it was pretty bad. Yesterday and today no bread has been sold at the ovens. This looks serious. We will see soon what will happen. There is no doubt that this war must come to an end soon. I am thankful to say that thanks to our work we have had enough to eat and we have enough flour for another 4 months. The last 2 sacks I bought I had to pay forty four pounds for them. Now the price is half as much again. And one is not allowed to buy even at that price.
Alithea has been in Bournabat for the last ten days nursing Alsa Giraud. She has had Typhus fever and died last Wednesday. Such a sad case, she is quite a young woman and leaves two little children, the youngest a baby of two and a half years. Her husband is serving in France, and they have had no news of him for a long time. All Bournabat is in panic over this fever. And I must say we all feel nervous. For hundreds are dying all round us. There is hardly a house spared now. Yesterday we heard that poor Miss Parkinson is down with it. She is Mrs. Newton’s nurse. She has been taken to the old B.S. Hospital, and is being nursed by the Germans. It is so sad for the poor thing can’t speak a word of anything but English, and there the Sisters don’t speak a word of anything but German. Alithea took her there and she felt very sorry to leave her amongst all those strangers. What will happen to poor old Smyrna. There are no more horses left alive and only wretched people. How long, oh Lord, how long?
The epidemic of Typhus goes on increasing. Two more doctors have it as well as several well known people. Miss Parkinson is about the same, but it is difficult getting any news out of the Germans. Every time we go and try and see her we are told it is forbidden, but that she is well. There are so many rules and regulations in that hospital. One can hardly believe it is the same hospital. The garden is spick and span. Every bed is geometrical and not a leaf out of place or a speck of grass. The ivy is closely clipped, and over the letters of British Seamen’s Hospital, they have put a German placard in black and white letters. Outside the gate they have other notices and they never allow rules to be broken. I should like Dr. Chasseaud to spend a month or two there. He that never paid the slightest heed to rules of any kind. Yaconi is kept hard at work from morning to night and he is never seen sitting on a chair at the door. Angella is also never seen out at the door, in fact no one ever sees the servants. They are kept at their work. It was a fearsome lesson to them when Georghi was clapped into prison, for the stealing of the petroleum, and they know quite well that whoever steals will at once be put to prison. How they must regret the good old days of Mrs. Tibaldi. But it will do them good. If they survive it. Yacomi is half the size he was. Loulou, Barker Ernest’s [Ernest Barker] daughter is engaged to Henri Lochner. A very nice fellow, though a Smyrna German. Marie and Ernest are very pleased. Although we are in such hard times, the girls and young men find time for love making and getting engaged. There is nothing much else to do. Even the Cinemas are shut now by order of the local authorities, on account of the typhus. No more bombarding or aeroplanes or anything. We have got news that Baghdad has been taken by the English. Also Jerusalem, but we are not sure if it is true news.
Today a horrid tragedy took place. Two English Aeroplanes came about 11.30, and we watched them in the lovely blue sky, when suddenly out of we don’t know where, came a huge and splendid German machine, and there was a fight. And oh, dreadful to relate, both our planes were brought down. You can imagine our feelings. Our hearts stopped beating and we felt dreadfully sick. I never want to see aeroplanes again, for I shall always think of that dreadful moment. A dead silence seemed to fall over Smyrna, for of course nearly everyone was looking. The biggest plane, the bomb thrower, was partly damaged, and managed to come down partly guided, and it descended close to Perocacoes vineyard at little Paradise. The other came tumbling down helter skelter. Evidently the men were killed in it. They fell above Karatache [Karataş, just south of Konak]. Those at Paradise [Şirinyer, near Boudjah] were not hurt, at least one had his ankle only wrenched, and the other was unhurt. But the two who came down at Karatache were both killed. In the afternoon I went to Boudjah and saw one of these young fellows, the one who had his ankle hurt. He was taken to the Willie Rees’es house that is turned into a hospital. He is a man of only nineteen years and very good looking. I did feel so sorry for him. He was so upset, and could hardly speak of his friends that were killed. What a terrible thing this war is. Oh how I hate it. The Germans who brought them down only arrived in Smyrna. He has brought 20 planes down. On Saturday there was a very grand funeral of the two dead men. No end of fuss was made. They were carried from the Konak to the Point Church and then to the [?Caravan Bridge Anglican?] cemetery right through the town. All Smyrna turned out to see them, and there were no end of Military people and all the Germans and Aviators here. They gave the poor fellows every honour, but what little comfort that is. The poor wounded young fellow was taken away from Boudjah, where we were allowed to see him, and brought to the German hospital, and of course no one is allowed to go near him now everything is Verboten. I hate them all.
Nothing of great importance has happened since the aeroplane catastrophe. The young Englishmen were taken to Constantinople after a week. I was so sorry for young Stretchman. He evidently is a man of good family. He told me his eldest brother has been a prisoner in Germany, and another brother was killed and he only joined in December, and now all is up with him. I could have cried over him as a son, he is so young to have had such an experience. They left Mityline at eleven and before midday their little game was over. He was awfully well treated in Boudjah, too well. Everyone went to see him and he was sent trays of lunch and tea by the English there. And he was supplied at once with all he required in the way of clothes etc. And friends went to see him, but by the evening orders came from Smyrna and he was hauled out of his comfortable bed, and taken to the Germans. Afterwards when his foot was well he was sent to the common prison where all those lousey rayah deserters are. No bed, no privacy, nothing but utter horror. Mr. Brett did the best he could for him in the way of getting him a mattress to sleep on, and a rug to cover himself with, but it was awful. I can’t bear to think of his discomfort, and he was so pleased with Boudjah and the comfortable bed and clean sheets. I could not help thinking that this poor chap might have been one of our precious lads. We did all we could, but the Turks are Turks. There is no getting out of that. I do really hope and pray that England will never be humbugged by the Turks again. They are so plausible. When they first got the Englishman one believed they were going to do the straight thing by him, in fact, did too much to begin with, then all was changed, and no one was allowed to see or speak with him, and he was cast into the Common Prison. And now he has gone into the interior, goodness knows where, and what he will endure.
If Caleb ever gets off to Switzerland, I hope he will be able to let England and America know some home truths. On Wednesday he left with the Hortons and all the Consulate party, but of course we can’t tell if at Constantinople they may not be kept back and not allowed to proceed with the consuls. I do hope he will get off for dear old Nellie’s sake. She must be longing and needing him so much. You will be interested to hear that Mr. Frank Blackler’s horses which he has been keeping with bribes and great expense in town have now been taken from him. Also all his carriages. No Belligerent has a carriage or horse or even a donkey. There are very few horses left alive and the few there are are used by the Turks. Such a different Smyrna to what it was 8 years ago. Now it is truly Turkey for the Turk. They have everything. A party was given by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Smyrna, in Mr. Forbes’ house. All Mrs. Forbes beautiful things, her silver and glass and table linen, also her beloved Angelico, hovering over all the things and trying to keep an eye on them, but goodness knows what stealing will take place. The German and Austrian Consuls and most of their subjects were there, also a heap of ugly Turkish Beys and Pashas. There was no end of feasting and drinking. Today we have watched from our window the putting up of a Turkish sign on the offices of the Ottoman railway. I was in town yesterday and passed the “High Life” at tea time. Not a soul but fat Turks gorging and eating cakes and sweets. I bought 50 drams of sweets for Mother and had to pay a quarter of a lira, for them. That is what we have come to. Is this sent for us to be humbled, or why I wonder. I do not know that we ever were too proud. And we never were too proud. And we were never too down on the Turks, my conscience does not reprove me for that.
Gracie (Herberts) has had another baby boy. He was born on the first of May morning. I was there just in time. She had a very easy good time, and the child is nice like all her other children. Miss Parkinson is quite well now. There are still many cases of Typhus. Alithea Partridge has it, but it is a light case. Mr. Partridge is quite mad with fright. I pity him very much.
Weeks have passed and we lead a dull struggling life. No news from Caleb. We are afraid he has not yet been allowed to leave Constantinople. Such a sell for him as prices are even worse there than here. Our great worry is trying to get fuel for our cooking. The price of coal is very high, but patience that if we could get it. But one can’t get any. Now MacAndrews are trying to get us some from Sokia. I hope it will be managed, but I have not much hope as the railway is most difficult. They have no trucks and they won’t or can’t give us transport. Really life is very hard and most worrying. One struggle after existence. Prices are awful. Bread sometimes we can get, sometimes we can’t. A good Frangola [?] is 11 octarakia. What used to cost not even one. Fruit and vegetables are not to be had for purses like ours. The most wretched little green pears are 5 octarakia the oke. Tomatoes have had a blight on them and are eight octa, the oke. So we get none. Petemeze [Pekmez] the substitute for sugar has become a dollar the oke so now I do not know how we will sweeten anything. To me it is a wonder how people live. Of course a good number die. Typhus has disappeared with the great heat. I am thankful to say and so far no cholera. Our business has diminished from want of carriages to bring our patients. Next month we have a good many booked, but of those half as a rule don’t manage to come. Meat is now ten octa the oke. We can only have one meat meal a day. Butter is a lira the oke, for cooking and oil half a lira. Can this go on much longer do you think? We are resigned for at least another year. No hopes are given for any more speedy settlement of this dreadful war. We have no news whatever of what is going on.
On the 1st Aeroplanes came over at 6 in the morning and threw bombs on the factories and railway works not far from the Point Station. Our patients were terrified and yelled. We did not know what to do with them, two of them have husbands at the factory, and of course they were desperate about their husbands. The noise outside our house was most awful. The Turks have put machine guns all round and the firing was like a battle. Hundreds of people were running into all the houses. No end came into us and some women fainted and added to the din. By 8 o’clock the husbands came running in to show that they were unhurt and to see if wives and babies were alright too. One of the husbands is Harold Charnaud. He was very near the place where one of the bombs fell. They fell on their faces. It is the best thing to do. Unfortunately one of the places on the 1st came down. The machine went wrong, and the men threw rockets as a sign that they gave themselves up, they were fired on by the Turks and killed. They fell just above Arthur Hichens’ vineyard, and our man was one of the first to go to them, but he said they were dead. So nothing could be done. Since then the planes have come three times. Once on Friday afternoon just when the train was starting for Boudjah. Of course all the passengers ran out of the train and bolted into all the houses. We have to open our door and let them all come. And again this morning Aug. 12th Sunday, the bombs fell all about the factories and gas works and railway, but not much damage. A few innocent men, women and children were killed. We hear that they are determined to destroy all the factories and railways. So for the next few weeks we cannot tell from day to day what will happen to us. I am afraid this will put a stop to all patients coming here. We are too near the railway station. We feel it is our duty to send Mother and Lilla away, but they won’t go and leave us. What can we do?
The last two months have been quiet. The Aeroplanes have stopped coming. We suppose some arrangement has been come to and it is a relief. We had a Post Card from our Jack through Nellie Lawrence. He says they are all well, and that Ruth and Dorothy are married and happy. We do not yet know who Ruth has married. Poor Lilla, her beloved Ruth and not even to know the name of her husband. We heard that Nellie and her family have left for America, Caleb with them. How glad they will be to be safe there at last. Mother and all here are well and have passed the summer all right. We so far have enough to eat, but life is a great struggle. Meat is very scarce now and over two dollars the oke when one can get it. All other food stuffs double what they were two months ago. And there are so many people making money on these prices.
On Saturday the 6th I was staying at Gracie’s and we had a little family picnic. Took our breakfast out in the plain and the children and Herbert took their guns and shot Bekfigs [?] which we cooked on the spit and ate. How we enjoyed it, such a lovely day. We had even the baby with us and he looked like a lovely rose, he is such a darling and perfectly good. Aunt Agnes was one of the party. She always enjoys being out with the children. In the evening of that happy day we had a terrible disaster. Poor little Douglas, the second boy, was bitten by a mad Jackal in the field at the back of the Whittall house. You can imagine what an awful thing that is. Poor Herbert was white with misery and the only thing was to get the boy off to Constantinople as quickly as possible. Fortunately the Vali lives in Bournabat so Herbert went and got his permission at once. The Vali was most good and helpful, but he could not let Herbert go as he is a belligerent and a prisoner. But he allowed our Alithea to take the child and go. We arrived in a carriage here at the Clinique after midnight, roused poor old Alithea, and told her to pack and get ready to leave at five in the morning. How we did it all I can’t imagine, for there were no end of official papers etc. to go for, but Herbert was splendid. He worked like a nigger, for it was the life of his child he had to fight for. Things did get done, and they left and we have had a wire from Panderma to say that they were on board the boat for Constantinople.
Mother’s birthday again. This is the fourth since the war and everytime we hope the next will be in peace time, but all continues as it was and daily the time of peace seems further. We had Herbert and Aunt Agnes for lunch. Mother’s first present was a basket of roses from Mr. Barff which he brought himself and gave her a kiss on each cheek. Mrs. Barff sent her a lavender cushion and a poem which she composed herself. The next friend to come was dear Mr. Ashe with a dish of cakes and afterwards came the Shuels, Hadkinsons, etc. We had a nice tea and some real quince jam made with sugar. Unheard of luxury. Poor old Mother says she feels it in her bones that next birthday she will have her children and the War will be over. Inshallah it will be so. This year she has not even her beloved Alithea, for she is kept in Constantinople for some unknown reason the Authorities will not give her permission to return. Did you ever see such aggravating people as the Turks. What reason can they possibly have for keeping her there?
Still no Alithea. We are desperate. I am longing to have her back. The work is hard and it is horrid not to have Alithea to help, and as to Mother she is gloom itself. She was not well the other day and had a cold and of course she imagined she was going to die, and she slept longing and waiting for her Alithea. The Turks and Germans are very sure of themselves, they have all the best things and do what they like. Today in Mr. Barfield’s house, the Turks give a big feast. No end of motors and carriages drive up, and heaps of Hanoums and rich Turks come and go. There is music etc. All the employees are having a fine old time. Somehow Smyrna has recovered herself in a way as there are not so many poor people. Everything is awfully dear and European things are impossible, but the Turks have heaps of money and are spending it. Jews also make money as well as some Greek and Armenians and as they make money easily, they spend it freely and the place is looking up in that way. There is not the misery there was this time last year.
We quite expected Alithea today, but again were disappointed. She wrote a letter in which she says she is in despair about ever getting her papers and she asks if we could send her some clothes and her furs. Poor girl she must be desperate, such a sell for us all too not to have her here. Things are going on in a very dull way here, prices are simply awful. A tope of cabot [?] costs £40. People sell old sheets for five pounds a piece now. Commonest flanellette is one pound the pike, and yet young people find it in their hearts to get married and start housekeeping. Augustus Routh married Ethel Martin the beginning of this month. Their marriage day was very sad, for Mrs. Routh died in the evening. She was not expected to live long, but they had hoped she would last some weeks after the marriage, but she suddenly got worse and died. The day after the wedding they had the funeral. Now I pity them poor things. Rainy weather has started, but fortunately it is not cold yet. I hope that will keep off as coals are very scarce. Poor Evelyn Perkins has been ill for the last 3 months. No one can make out what is really wrong with her. Her leg pains and she cannot walk. The doctor has ordered a complete rest in bed. Such a trial for her. I wish she were well, I can’t bear having sickness in the house.
Alithea returned from Constantinople on Saturday morning. November 24, she came in grand style with the Vali. He has been an angel of goodness to her and if it had not been for him and the endless trouble he took she would never have returned. Even he had a great deal of trouble to get her papers. Three or four days before they came back we heard that our Vali had given in his resignation. All Smyrna was up in arms and they sent twelve delegates to bring him back. He came in triumph with music and honours of all kinds. We were all very frightened lest we should lose him for he has been a true friend to us all. Alithea is looking well and we are so glad to get her back. She has no end of experiences to relate. There she says one never feels at ease and always one is made to feel conscious that one is a belligerent. Life is very expensive, and even more so than here. We thought that things could not be dearer, but it seems that they are so there. The little boy Douglas was so happy to get to his home and the meeting between him and his mother was quite touching. Alithea made many friends in Constantinople, but no one could do anything to help her get her papers except the Vali. This little trip has cost Herbert £300, and Alithea was as economical as possible. The injections the boy had were very painful at first, but in time he got used to them poor chap. Every one of our friends came to see Alithea on her return. She had a most hearty welcome. I was so glad for the sake of the work. Last month we closed the 3rd year of our Clinique. We made Ltq [Turkish pounds] 1,498 from our patients. Of course the money is paper and not of the same value as gold, but it shows that the business is a growing concern, and in time when things are normal, we shall probably make money. Now whatever we make we spend in food. Last month over Ltq 30 went in bread alone, prices are enormous. Ordinary haricot beans are 3 medjs the oke. No wonder all our money goes in food stuff. And there is nothing left for clothes or books and shoes. We are thankful we are no worse off though, and we manage to give Mother all she wants. She is very good though, and very simple things make her happy. Alithea brought her a packet of sugar, and her joy over it. We have had some news of the outer world through Charlie Giraud, but just mere facts. One very sad is about poor dear Beckie and Rowlie [Pengelley] losing their beloved son Donald. Also the death of J. Holton. Who knows who else has lost beloved ones. This dreadful war!
On the 7th was our birthdays and we had a very nice time. People sent presents of cakes and flowers. Mr. and Mrs. Thorburn a lovely big cake from Cortis and the Hadkinsons a large dish of baklava. Such a treat. We had them all to tea, also Gracie, real good tea. I had bought a small six penny packet and paid £ 1¼ for it, some time ago. We had a real blow out. It is wonderful how one enjoys a feast at such times. Now we have cold weather and very little coal so we generally sit with our coats on. Last night we were a very gloomy company at supper. Which consisted of frost-bitten colokethia entratha [a type of courgette]. A dim candle on the table and we all wrapped in great coats, at half past eight we were all in bed. Evelyn said she was in bed at a quarter past eight. There is no coal to make gas, and there are only a few trains running. Boats to Cordello [Cordelio] too have stopped running. If one goes there it has to be in an open boat. This state of things is likely to get worse as the winter goes on. There is a rumour that the English Government is trying to arrange for the exchange of prisoners. Let us hope something will be done, though we can’t believe anything will be done.
We have had news of the outside world at last. Charlie Giraud was sent on a mission to the English by the Government and on his return he brought news to everyone from their relatives. At last dear Lilla has heard who Ruth has married. Till now she did not even know his name. We also heard the very sad news that dear Donald Pengelley was killed at the front. Yesterday being Sunday, Mr. Ashe held a memorial service in the Boudjah Church for Donald, J. Holton and W. Shotton. Such a sweet touching Service. All the Forbes’ young men were there and Holton’s friends. We sat in Pengelley’s old pew. Dear me, how different all is and what terrible changes in such a short time. Poor darling Becky, what must she feel like.
They say that Giraud took letters to our Henry from his sisters Charnaud. But it is a secret. I hope it is true, for they will be anxious to know how we are. Some reports have come out that the English will be allowed to leave in a few weeks time. If so, many will go. Amongst them our two Perkins girls. I hope all these reports are true, but one has become so unbelieving. We hear that Jerusalem - image - has been taken by the English. That may be true. What a joy.
The news about the English being allowed to leave Smyrna seems to be true. Many have decided to go. Amongst them the Partridge family. Mr. Partridge has decided that the keeping of his house is not worth the life they lead now. Besides he can’t forget the awful fright he had last year when he was taken prisoner with the others and lodged in the Turkish quarter, where the aeroplanes were throwing bombs. Most of the young men will leave and take their families with them. Only the old people will stay. We of course cannot take our Mother so we will all stop behind together and trust that nothing very terrible will happen. Poor Evelyn has been ill a long time and now the German doctor advises her to have an operation and remove the appendix. She decided to go to the Old B.S.H., and have it done. We all admire her courage, but her life has been such a misery the last few months that she felt she must have it done. She went into hospital on the 19th and the operation was done beautifully. Since it was done she feels like another creature. Of course the first 3 days were dreadful and she suffered very much. Ethel [her sister] suffered almost as much with anxiety, but now all is over, today is the eighth day and she is very jolly and well. She may come home for New Year. The Germans do a lot of very good work at the Hospital, but oh, what a mess the whole place is in. Soldiers everywhere.
Dirt and filth no end. The staircase that Yacome used to take pride in keeping highly polished is black and full of dirt like a road pavement. But the work is good that they do and no end of people are attended to. This Xmas we passed in a very quiet way, we were all by ourselves. We had a turkey that a grateful patient sent us. Ethel was away in Boudjah and Evelyn at the hospital. We had no wish for anything except that time should pass. Life is very dreary. For fifteen days we have had no gas and the evenings are so dull with only a little oil lamp burning. We have had no news from the outside world, but we know that Jerusalem is in the hands of the English and we can imagine that there must be rejoicing in England and the Holy Land. I wonder where Louisa and Arthur Hichens are and what they are doing. If the English are allowed leave to leave Smyrna Ethel and Evelyn will go. The price of food are so heavy and clothing is awful so it will be better for them to go, where at least they may be helped by their brothers and perhaps find work to do. Mrs. Barff made a Christmas pudding out of a cake she had made two years ago when Mother was invited to tea. She is a queer woman, she forgot the cake in a tin and when she discovered it last week she turned it into the foundation of her Xmas pudding.
January 20th 1918:
Nineteen seventeen is past and gone and on the whole it has not been so terrible for us, and we know so little of the events of the war that we cannot decide whether it has been a good year for the Ententists or not. The cold weather here started early and we hope that we have done with the worst of the winter. We have managed to keep warm at a good deal of expense, but at any rate we have kept warm. Now we have gas light too, which is a great blessing. We can’t help wondering what 1918 will bring. Will our port open. No one can possibly tell, and we have small hopes. We had a P.C. from Switzerland dated October which gave us news of the brothers and sisters. They are well up to that date. No mention of Donald’s death in it, but we have no hope it is not true. Evelyn is quite well now and we hope soon she will be able to forget she had an operation and cease to be an invalid. Mother is strong and well, so are all the rest of us. Business has been good and we manage to keep the pot boiling. Though we fear we shall soon have no clothes or shoes to wear. They are too expensive to buy. Louisa Langdon Stokes has had a baby girl, and Mabel Whittall Marraccini [Mabel (1886-1984), daughter of Herbert O. Whittall and Louisa nee Maltass, married Ulric Marraccini, their first of 2 children, named Georgina (Gina) Olivia M. - WFT] also a girl. Ida is expecting her’s in April. There are no new engagements or marriages to relate so far.
We are nearly over winter. The weather is so fine there is quite a taste of spring. It is Sunday afternoon and gloriously fine. Alithea went to lunch at the Herbert Whittall’s at Bournabat. Ethel and Evelyn have also just gone to Boudjah for the afternoon. Dear Evelyn is now in perfect health. She is so happy to have had her operation such a success and is very grateful to the German doctors for having done it so well. What a blessing she had the courage to have it done, for we none of us encouraged her, as we were afraid of the responsibility. But it is well she did as she wanted, for now the result is splendid. We have had a very trying week this last. Our dear friend William Thorburn died suddenly on Thursday the 7th. He got up quite well as usual and was nearly through with his dressing, when he got a sudden violent pain in his heart and we had barely time to go to his help (they live next door), and a few minutes after we were there he died. It was a dreadful shock, and we are very sorry to lose such a good friend. As to his poor wife, it is awful, awful for her. How will she bear her life without him, he was so good to her and they were always together. Now she is quite alone, without a soul of her own except distant relations. What a pity it is when one has no children. Mr. Brusik too died on Friday morning, but he was very ill and expected to die. He leaves his wife Betsy and daughter alone, but there are sons and grandchildren. Poor Mrs. Thorburn is alone at home now. Mother felt these two deaths very much, and we are so afraid of these shocks to her at her age, 85. She is well thank God, and we hope she will live to see her children again. We have had one letter from Henry written 2½ months ago. We were so delighted to get their news and to know they are well in Egypt. They mention Ruth and that she is very happy which makes her mother happy to hear it. Here life is still very hard, prices are dreadful, but of course as long as we can pay our way we are alright. Our work goes on well and we make enough money to meet our daily expenses, but very little money is over from the catering to provide for clothing. And clothing is at an enormous price. Cloth is 4 to 16 pounds the pike. Calico inferior quality £2 the pike. Sewing cotton £ 1-2 the small reel. And all else in keeping. Men’s suits cost from £60 to £70 and upwards. People have sold quite old suits for £20. Sugar went to £4 the oke and tea £15 to £25. Meat is now 4 medjs the oke, and milk 1 to 1½ medjs the oke. How we all live I don’t know. Our earnings this past year were £1,500, and we have had another £300 from the office, and we have spent it all and live most plainly.
In the last two months we had news of our people through friends. The Lawrences we know are well and that Nellie has Louisa staying with her. I am glad it will be a treat for old Louisa. Caleb we hear is in France working for the Y.M.C.A. How happy he will be to be right in the midst of the hub of the world. He hated being shut up here so much. We also have news that Dorothy and Ruth and all in Egypt are well, but no news of the Pengelleys for ages. The country is lovely and is more cultivated than it used to be at the beginning of the war. This season promised to be a good one. Arthur Hichens’ vineyard looks well and we have planted the field with wheat which we hope will give us flour. At least some of it. Our greatest trouble is clothing and shoes. The prices for them are awful. We are reduced to buying each others cast-offs, and paying bank-notes for them. We have had one or two nice picnics in the country and intend to have more. The flowers are lovely. Mother is well and happy. We don’t tell her much of the bad news and we always say that are all German lies. We think of you constantly and remember this time 4 years ago.
Today is the funeral of Betsyara Brusik. She has not been long in following her old husband. She was so miserable and ill the last 3 months, that it is a blessing she has gone. This week there is great excitement amongst the Belligerents as the governments are making arrangements for exchange of prisoners. Many people hope to get off as the life they lead here is not good for them. They ought to be working. Great strong healthy girls as they are now, and they wish it also for the years are passing and they must do something for themselves. Of course getting away from Turkey is no joke and people will have no end of bothers and travelling will be awful as long as it is in Turkey. Today and Lilla and I are going to Nellitsa’s house in Paradise, to put by some of her things as the house is to be let. The things people leave behind them are often stolen, there are no end of thieves. So many people’s rugs have disappeared from the places where they have been put by. That really it is best to sell all one has before one leaves. The Partridges I believe will sell all house and everything. It is the best plan.
Nearly three months have passed and I have not written a line in this journal. There has been nothing exciting happening here. Though we have changed places as it were with the Germans for when I last wrote they were all cock sure of success as possible and now they are down in the depths as we were then. But we of course do not know the extent of the Ententist successes whilst the Germans in April made a huge noise over every advance and success. They almost prepared to celebrate their entrance into Paris, and they were so sure of it, that we began to believe they would get there. But now that fear is over for ever and ever, we are sure of that. The summer is nearly over and the weather is getting cooler. We have not had a very bad time and the fruit has been plentiful though twice the price it was last year. But thank God we have enough money to pay for it. The last two weeks we have had quite a lot of letters and news. Lilla is overjoyed at the birth of her three grandchildren. Both Ruth and Dorothy have done well, and we got their news two months after quite quickly. Today we had 4 letters. One from Nellie Pengelley to her Gracie, one from Purdon, one from Ruth and one from Dorothy, one from Nellitsa. Quite like old times sitting and reading letters. Lilla is a lucky mother to have heard from all her children. Of you we get news second hand. Perhaps you will also write one day through the lady in Switzerland. We are ready to wait now for our dear England to do what we know she would do from the beginning of the War.
The Belligerents have hopes of leaving but as yet things are not settled. Turks take such a long time and the girls are impatient to be off. Since they have heard that the Pengelley girls are working in Rome it has made them long more than ever to be off and working themselves. Though what Ethel will do I can’t think as she is not strong or capable. Evelyn is all there and can accomplish what she makes up her mind to do. I am not attending a case in Paradise. Grace Ford, it is her second child and they long for a boy. Maud Campling also expects but she will come here. We get most of the cases in our own set, as there is no good English Doctor. Mother has passed the Summer very comfortably. She loves fruit and we get her all she wants. She enjoys her barley coffee with Petoneze and considers it nectar. I envy her, her enjoyment of these horrid war foods. To us they are too horrid for words. We make tea from blackberry leaves, mixed with very little tea and pekmez to sweeten it, it is just bearable, but better than nothing. We have to give four pounds the oke for the blackberry leaves. Smyrna is becoming such a dirty town. Only the splendid climate prevents some awful plague starting. The horses are a little better fed now and we don’t see them dying in the streets. Also there are no hungry people. All workmen and women have good wages! it is the clerks at a fixed salary that suffer, for the prices of things are awful. The commonest cotton prints are a pound and a half the pike so you can imagine that few people can renew their clothing and this war has lasted four years so that most people are in rags, but patience it will be over soon.
All goes on quietly here, the heat still continues and the dust is horrible. Mother is well and has enjoyed the grapes and fruit. Our work prospers but we have to spend all the money we make as prices are so enormous. I had to pay [?] for an ordinary pair of shoes. The Perkins girls are quite ready to leave as soon as the ship comes to take the exchange prisoners. We hope now that it will come before the end of next month. Some of the English who sold all their things are uncomfortable. Partridges have sold house and every stick of furniture as well as all the rubbish that was in the house, but they have made the wise provision that they retain all they need till they leave so that they are not at all uncomfortable. He is very satisfied with the prices he got. Double what he paid for his house, and four times what he paid for his furniture and linen. He is a wise old Partridge, there is no doubt of that. We are going to try to sell Rowley’s house and Arthur’s vineyard and hope to make a good bargain too. English prisoners have come and some are lodged in the American College, and some in the town in different institutions. They are in a very poor condition, and have hardly any clothing. The English ladies are making shirts as hard as they can, and every one is doing their best to send comforts. But there are so many, and it is a drop in the ocean what we can give. What revelations they will make. [insight into this period from the book ‘From Kastamuni to Kedos, Being a Record of Experiences of Prisoners of War, 1916-1918’ - Leonard Woolley, Blackwell, 1921 - segment]
The past month the prisoners have been coming from up country in batches of 50 or 60. Sometimes the poor fellows are very ill and dying. One lot journeyed for 5 days with nothing to eat. Several have died since coming. It is dreadful to think of the suffering they have gone through. Their numbers have been reduced from thousands to hundreds. One Company, 370 men is now 39 only. All the officers’ faces look so sad. They are not allowed to talk politics or say anything of what they have been through. Some of the civilian English are allowed to visit them, but there is nearly always someone near listening and also they have given their parole. So nothing much can be heard, but they will have awful things to reveal some day. I hope Turkey will not be forgiven. It is too wicked a nation. These days there are talks of Peace. Bulgaria having an armistice is very good news for us, also we hear that Damascus has been taken but we are not quite sure if it is true. How we hope it is. Last night after midnight we heard that the whole town was buzzing with talk. It was pitch dark, for we have no gas now. Presently Charlie Hadkinson rang at our door bell and announced that a general Peace was signed. Of course it is not quite true, but things are humming. We all jumped out of bed and talked with all our neighbours. We have Beard and Ida staying with us and we were all in dressing gowns in the garden talking till nearly 3 o’clock. There were bands of young men all over the town with mandolins and guitars singing at the tops of their voices. Oh how happy we are. This morning we see from the papers that there is reason for this rumour of Peace. You will also have been reading about it in the papers. Who knows before the year is out we may see the end. The two Perkins girls have been so busy and useful to the prisoners who are sick in the hospitals. Some were taken to Boudjah and there Ethel and Evelyn worked hard giving them comforts. Evelyn was allowed to nurse them. One English man died and they were so unhappy over him. They had to do everything for him, lay him out and put him in his coffin. Now Evelyn goes once a week to all the hospitals in town where sick are scattered about. We hear that the ship is to come in fifteen days time, but we are not sure whether it will or not. So many times we have been disappointed. We had 3 letters yesterday. One from Beckie, and one from Dorothy and her Jim. Such a treat and good news.
The peace negotiations are going on and we hope will soon finish. There is talk of a separate Peace with Turkey. The English prisoners keep on arriving, there are nearly a thousand men now and about 40 officers. You can imagine the excitement in the town. All the shop keepers grin from ear to ear. And English money is flying. Oh how happy we all are, but we have not realized it yet. Most of the English families have taken in some English officers. As of course they are not very comfortable in their quarters at the American College in Paradise. They are so crowded there. Some who can afford to have taken rooms at the Hotel. Our girls are bursting with excitement and we all feel a bit light headed. We get Mother as many sweets as she likes, poor old darling. Last night two officers missed the last train for Paradise, and Carmaelo the ticket puncher at the station brought them over to us. Poor fellows they were, so shy and shabby. But we soon made them feel at home. Having Mr. Beard here, they were soon made comfortable. We gave them hot baths and clean beds and they did enjoy themselves. To one it was the first civilized bath, and bed he had got for three and a half years. He danced in the bathroom for joy. The other was a flying man who was brought down the coast fifteen months ago.
It will soon be exactly since I came from Cairo. And the war was started, well the Armistice has been signed and now we have every hope of all the troubles of Turkey to be over and please God Germany will also be put in her place. And there will be no more wars for years and years. We are going to start writing letters and soon we shall be getting news of you all. I can imagine you reading about us in the papers and rejoicing with us, you will be quite excited. Everyone is giving tea-parties for the officers and quite feasting is going on in each household. We cannot make too public a rejoicing as of course, we are not in our own country and there are so many Germans about still and it will not be good form, but oh how glad and happy we are and not only we but all the population of Smyrna. The British Seaman’s Hospital will soon be given over and we will clean it and put our own men in it. Hurrah. Our own flag will fly on the mast again, and the German one hauled down. Hurrah. Again Hurrah. I shall start writing letters from today and hope soon to be able to post them. The Perkins girls will leave by first steamer. They are all packed and ready. They have been for the last month.
Yesterday evening we suddenly heard that the ship which is to take the prisoners has come in to Fokia [Foça] and that all who wish to go must be ready by 7 o’clock the next morning. Some people said that they were only going to take the military, however, as our two girls were very anxious to leave, they packed up till the small hours of the night and were ready by 7. Such a commotion and excitement. We were all, sort of hanging out of the door, and again we were told no civilians allowed. However, we went on to the railway pier, which was entirely in the hands of the English. And a Colonel who knew the girls told them to come along and they would be taken. Hurrah. How glad we were that we went on to the pier. A glorious day, and the small launches, 6 of them went off with a lot of hurrahs and shouts of goodbye so lovely. Herbert and a small party went with them in the General’s launch, they will return in the evening. Perhaps tomorrow some more launches will leave with the rest of the prisoners and the civilians, but one is never sure from one day to another. So it is just as well the girls got off. One of the officers sat on the bows of the General’s launch and as they moved off he put his foot over the side and dusted the soles of his shoes with such a disgusted face. Everyone roared with laughter.
The past 10 days have been full of excitement, English prisoners daily arriving. Officers staying in private homes. Tea-parties, dinners etc. No end of fuss. Germans gone. They are a thing of the past. Never to return. Bad luck to them, I hope we have seen the last of them. The Greeks here have been great asses as usual. A small English gun-boat came into the harbour, bringing the Eastern Telegraph staff and one or two staff officers to take over the Consulate. When the Greeks saw it they thought it was one of their own. They are absolutely certain that the Greeks will be given Smyrna. And they went off their heads with joy. In about ten minutes every house was decorated with their own lovely blue and white flags. The quay was like an ant train. Carriages, carts, donkeys all going up and down waving flags. Frank Street impassable, as evening came on they got worse and worse. Parties of drunk men kicked up rows. And fought, smashed windows etc. In fact they lost control of themselves. At last the commander of the English gun-boat went to the Vali and told him he must use the police to stop this fuss, that it was ridiculous. That Peace had not been signed yet and this was only an Armistice, and the Turks had a right to punish all who made fusses. You should have seen how soon the Turks restored order. A few soldiers with fixed bayonets marching through the streets. The English were very angry and the next day they put in the Papers that if the Greeks did not know how to behave themselves, they would not allow a Greek man-o-war to come to Smyrna with the fleet when it comes. I am so glad they got this snub for they have been too awful for words. According to them they have done all the work, they openly say that had it not been for the Greeks who helped the English the Turks would not have been conquered. Cheek just like these ours. I hope England will keep them well in their place. Yesterday we entertained three officers to tea, one of them was young Trenchmann, the aviator who fell here in January 1916. We had heard that he had died of spotted fever, but he is very much alive and looks awfully well. He is a very nice young fellow. His two friends are very nice too. We have seen a good deal of the officers some are so nice and all are most pleasant and jolly. They don’t know what to do with themselves they are so happy. Tomorrow is Mother’s birthday, the 5th she has had in this Clinique. We have invited her best friends and are going to have a big tea. She is so happy and is all the time saying that God is showering blessings on her. She will soon see her boys and children now.
The last few weeks have been very stirring. Military coming and going. And the remaining civilians who wish to leave getting ready. Such packing and selling of furniture etc. On Monday at 10 in the morning two tugs full left from the railway pier. We went and saw them off. In one tug were all the officers, about 300. And the civilians, Partridges, Newtons, Bretts, Morrisons, Ed Whittalls [probably Edward Sidney Whittalll, (1888-1960) son of Edward Whittall of Bournabat, the botanist, and Mary Maltass, who married in 1913 Dorothy Jane Peacock] etc. They sang Auld Lang Syne, and cheered in a good old English style. Now we are only a very small remnant left with only one clergyman, Mr. Ashe, things are very quiet, but the prices are higher than ever. And as yet the English have not made anything of a move here. They are too busy with Constantinople. The port is not yet open. There are too many mines knocking about. The civilian Germans are being sent away and of course there are many who do not wish or are too old to go and they are unhappy and that makes Mother unhappy and our old friends the Webers are also very unhappy. In fact we are all dull and the weather is very wet and depressing.
Since November a lot of events have taken place. First of all, a number of British men-o-war have come in and an Italian and a French and a Greek one. The Greeks lost their heads over their own ship. We have had very nice times with the officers and have heard thrilling tales. How lovely and brave all our people and the dear Americans have been. I read and read all the papers that come our way. The post office has not opened yet so we don’t get letters except those brought by friends. We were delighted one evening when Kathleen Fitzgerald came in with a friend. You can imagine our joy, she had so much to tell of everyone. She is a warm hearted dear girl. She and her friend stayed three days and it was pouring all the time. When they left Alithea went with them. Such a treat to Dear Jackie to get her. Now we expect her return. And surely she will bring our Jack with her. She sent us all a lot of things, provisions and clothes and lots of letters. Now every week more English people come and they are bringing provisions for us all. How glad I am, it will be lovely having rice again. The weather is simply perfect, it makes one happy to be alive. We long for letters from you. Yesterday the staff from the railway came. How glorious now things will hum. Though, they say we must have patience for we can’t have coals of gas yet. But it is lovely to have the dear English at last.
January 20th, 1919:
Our services in Church are a perfect treat. Old Brett has gone and we have Mr. Ashe to preach. A naval officer to read the lessons, and a military organist in a fine church so you can imagine he is good. Several good men are in the choir, so we have really nice services. The Church is packed every Sunday with soldiers and sailors, and we have the National Anthem at the end. It makes my heart glow to have our dear Nation come up top. We have suffered so much all these years with the Germans scoffing at the English. And their hateful decorations every time they had a victory and their beer gardens and their Hock Hocks [German wine party?]. But now they have vanished, everyone. The few that are left are hiding their heads. Now it is Englishmen everywhere and good quiet men without any bombast or clap-trap, but solid and all there. At the B.S.H. for the present are lodged the railway commission. Amongst them is Sydney Barker and Stevy Gordon. Both look so smart in their uniforms. We hope to have Alithea back here one of these days and she may bring us heaps of things we long for, new clothes and certain things one is used to having and what we have had to do without for the last 4 years.
The first of our people to come back were the Lawrences, Caleb, Nellie and the five boys. Such joy to see them all and all looking so well and prosperous. Heaps of good clothes and lots of provisions with them. They came with the American Relief Commission. Caleb has distinguished himself in France with the Y.M.C.A. and now he is working for the Relief. Nellie was glad to get back her own home. They stayed with us in this blessed Clinique for a week until their home could be cleaned and their furniture gathered from here and there. What shocks all housekeepers get when they return to their tumbling down homes. We are yet expecting Alithea, it is nearly four months since she left.
Alithea returned in April bringing no end of good things from our dear brothers. Our dining room looked like a groceries store. She looks so well and has good clothes and spent a lot of money of course. She came in a transport and paid nothing for her fare. After some time the Pengellies came and little by little all returned home. Ruth and her husband also came in June.
May 12th, 1920:
I must just add a line of goodbye to this old diary. The War is over and things are quite different to what we thought. The English have given Smyrna to the Greeks. And this pill must be swallowed. The Turks are furious and declare they will never submit to the Greek. There were horrible massacres of Turks by the Greeks on the day of their landing now a year ago. Alithea and I saw them kill 4 Turks on the quay and after they had shot them they flung them into the sea and fired on them till they were quite dead. Our first sight of slaughtering, and it was not nice. We hate the Greeks and can’t help showing it. There are murders in all parts of the town and every Kavash in factories was murdered. Even old Emin would have been slaughtered had it not been for Zoe Rees and Alithea who saved him from their clutches. The brutes. Up to now things are unsettled and we don’t know really how far the Greek will have power here and even the Smyrna populace is disgusted and wishes the Greeks were not the ones to be here. We are waiting for the final signing of the Turkish Peace and wondering what will happen. Our old Mother was gathered to her father’s [died, buried in Boudjah cemetery] on September 8th. Without seeing her own sons, but she got her Rowley and daughters. Peace to her soul, the darling. Goodbye.
This diary is penned by Grace Williamson (1865 Smyrna - 1945 Smyrna), daughter William Williamson merchant who had migrated from Yorkshire, England and Elizabeth née Barker whose family had lived in Turkey for a few generations before (her grand-father, William Barker of Smyrna was admitted a member of the Levant Company in 1759).
The follow up diary is viewable here: - and a brief return to Smyrna in 1922 recorded here: