Elizabeth Smith's Journal Entries
January 19, 1914:
My name is Elizabeth Smith. I am from France. Today is my 18th birthday and my mother gave me this journal for my present.
Today I decided to join the Red Cross, and I think that this journal will be the perfect way to remember my life as a nurse
in the Red Cross. The reason that I made the decision to become a nurse was because my uncle died in the war. We found out
last week, and decided that the only way to show my love for him is to play a part in the war. I went to the local hospital
to sign up, not knowing what I am getting myself into. I was scared, I don't know what is going to happen. There are people
dying left and right. I know they need me. I leave the day after tomorrow. This is why I know they need me. Before I leave
I have to go back to the hospital and learn how to wrap wounds and to work in hospitals. I am only 18 and I am not married
I do not have kids, I don't have a stable job, and I am ready for an adventure. I am going to do it for my uncle. He is one
of the many out there that I will be able to help. The next time that I will write in here I am going to be on the front helping
the wounded and dying soldiers.
January 20, 1914
Today on the front was extremely hectic. There were soldiers coming in left and right. Some of their injuries were on
their head; others needed help with their legs, or their arms. I learned so many things, such as how to wrap a man's leg so
that it stops the bleeding until it gets amputated. The first time I had to work with a soldier I threw up on the floor. I
felt horrible, but the nurse what was in charge of me said it happens to all of the people on their first day. She was kind,
but she told me that wasn't going to get me out of work. She had someone come and clean it up for me. The hardest thing to
get used to was watching a man suffer at his deathbed. I have never seen a man cry before, this was very hard for me to deal
with. I stood there for minutes in awe, not knowing what to do to help. One thing that makes me feel better is to put cold
water on the soldiers faces. I really think it helps, because that way they know that I am there to help and someone cares.
At times I wonder what I got myself into, but when a solider thanks me or gives me a simple smile it makes me realize that
I did the right thing.
January 21, 1914
Today I met a girl my age named Caroline. She signed up for the Red Cross because she had no where else to go. Her father
and brother died at war, and her mother was in their local market begging for food when a bomb was dropped. The only place
left for her was to come here. It really made me thankful that I came here because I wanted to, and not because I had to.
She joined a week before I did, so she knows more about this job than me. I look to her for help on things that I don't know
how to do. We asked the head nurses if it would be possible if we worked and roomed together. They said that would be fine
if we worked together if we got our work done. I am really excited that we get to be by each other through this time. She
is the only person that I feel I can tell my feelings to. I am pretty sure that she feels the same way. Even though we just
meet I just feel that because we are the same age. I hope that this friend ship will last a long time.
January 22, 1917
Today was one of my most tragic days while working in the hospital. I saw something that I will never forget. I was told
to go into section 3 curtain 6, and there he was. My first love Charles. I had been with him for two years, and then he had
to move to another part of France. I thought my life was over that day. I opened the curtain, and before knowing that it was
he, my heart dropped. It was the oddest thing. I had worked with hundreds of men before and this had never happened before.
I walked over cautiously, and I saw his face covered with blood and dirt. I stopped. I took a step back and took a deep breath.
I said to myself "I can do this." I went over and got the bucket of water and a washcloth. I washed his forehead
off and went in to a daze remembering what my life used to be like with him. He opened his eyes, and I don't think that he
remembered who I was. This broke my heart, I never thought I would see him again, especially like this.
February 31, 1917
I has been a while since I have written, I have been really busy in the hospital, and I have been too tired at night
to write. I got to go home for three days and see my family. I was really excited at first to be able to go and see then,
but when I was there I felt like I did not belong. I had heard that this happens to the soldiers, because when my uncle came
home he had told me that. I thought that I would be so happy to be back, and never want to leave but didn't feel that way
at all. As soon as I got there I already felt out of place. My siblings are so much older and they look so different, I feel
like I missed out on so much. I miss Caroline and the other nurses like I missed my family before. The only thing I feel comfortable
about being home is eating better food. I feel that I am in my own "lost generation." I need to go back and see
my new family. Don't get me wrong, I love my family, but I don't feel that this is the best place for me to live anymore.
I am going back in three days, so I hope things get better.