A Surgeon in Belgium

Henry Sessions Souttar
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A Surgeon in Belgium

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Title: A Surgeon in Belgium
Author: Henry Sessions Souttar
Release Date: February 14, 2004 [eBook #11086]
Language: English
Character set encoding: US-ASCII
E-text prepared by A. Langley

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by H. S. Souttar, F.R.C.S. Assistant Surgeon, West London Hospital
Late Surgeon-in-Chief, Belgian Field Hospital

To write the true story of three months' work in a hospital is a task
before which the boldest man might quail. Let my very dear friends of
the Belgian Field Hospital breathe again, for I have attempted nothing
of the sort. I would sooner throw aside my last claim to self-respect,
and write my autobiography. It would at least be safer. But there were
events which happened around us, there was an atmosphere in which
we lived, so different from those of our lives at home that one felt
compelled to try to picture them before they merged into the shadowy
memories of the past. And this is all that I have attempted. To all who
worked with me through those months I owe a deep debt of gratitude.
That they would do everything in their power to make the hospital a
success went without saying, but it was quite another matter that they
should all have conspired to make the time for me one of the happiest
upon which I shall ever look back. Where all have been so kind, it is
almost invidious to mention names, and yet there are two which must
stand by themselves. To the genius and the invincible resource of
Madame Sindici the hospital owes an incalculable debt. Her friendship
is one of my most delightful memories. The sterling powers of Dr.
Beavis brought us safely many a time through deep water, and but for
his enterprise the hospital would have come to an abrupt conclusion
with Antwerp. There could have been no more delightful colleague,
and without his aid much of this book would never have been written.
For the Belgian Field Hospital I can wish nothing better than that its
star may continue to shine in the future as it has always done in the past,

and that a sensible British public may generously support the most
enterprising hospital in the war.
H. S. S.

To Antwerp The Hospital The Day's Work Antwerp Termonde The
Chateau Malines Lierre A Pause The Siege Contich The
Bombardment--Night The Bombardment--Day The Night Journey
Furnes Poperinghe Furnes Again Work At Furnes Furnes--The Town A
Journey The Ambulance Corps Pervyse--The Trenches Ypres Some

I. To Antwerp

When, one Saturday afternoon in September, we stepped on board the
boat for Ostend, it was with a thrill of expectation. For weeks we had
read and spoken of one thing only--the War--and now we were to see it
for ourselves, we were even in some way to be a part of it. The curtain
was rising for us upon the greatest drama in all the lurid history of strife.
We should see the armies as they went out to fight, and we should care
for the wounded when their work was done. We might hear the roar of
the guns and the scream of the shells. To us, that was War.
And, indeed, we have seen more of war in these few weeks than has
fallen to the lot of many an old campaigner. We have been through the
siege of Antwerp, we have lived and worked always close to the
firing-line, and I have seen a great cruiser roll over and sink, the victim
of a submarine. But these are not the things which will live in our
minds. These things are the mere framing of the grim picture. The
cruiser has been blotted out by the weary faces of an endless stream of

fugitives, and the scream of the shells has been drowned by the cry of a
child. For, though the soldiers may fight, it is the people who suffer,
and the toll of war is not the life which it takes, but the life which it
I suppose, and I hope, that there is not a man amongst us who
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