9781499153613: AN ENGLISH WOMAN-SERGEANT in the SERBIAN ARMY: A Large Print Classic
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EVENTS moved so rapidly in Serbia after the Bulgarians declared war that when I reached Salonica last winter I found it full of nurses and doctors who had been home on leave and who had gone out there to rejoin their various British hospital units, only to find themselves unable to get up into the country. I had been home for a holiday after working in Serbian hospitals since the very beginning of the war, but when things began to look so serious again I hurried back to Serbia. We had rather an eventful voyage, as the French boat I was on was carrying ammunition as well as passengers, and the submarines seemed to make a dead set at us. At Malta we were held up for three days, waiting for the coast to clear. The third night I had been dining ashore, and on getting back to the boat, about eleven, found the military police in charge, and the ship and all the passengers being searched for a spy and some missing documents. We were not allowed to go down to our cabins until they had been 'thoroughly ransacked, but as nothing incriminating was found we eventually proceeded on our way, with a torpedo-destroyer on either side of us as an escort. The boats were always slung out in readiness, and we were cautioned never to lose sight of our life-belts. We had to put in again at Piraeus, and again at Lemnos for a few days, so that it was November 3rd before we finally reached Salonica—having taken fourteen days from. Marseilles—only to find that the railway line had been cut, and there was no possible way of getting up into Serbia. My intention had been to go back into my old Serbian hospital at Valjevo to work under the Serbian Red Cross as I did before; that was out of the question now, of course, as Valjevo was already in the hands of the Austrians, but I thought I might get up to Nish and get my orders. from the President of the Serbian Red Cross there. I inquired from a Serbian officer staying at the hotel, who had just ridden down from Prisren, if it would be possible to ride up into Serbia, but he most strongly discouraged all idea of riding, saying that with every facility at his disposal, and relays of fresh horses all along the route, it had taken him ten days to ride from Prisren to Salonica, and that during that time he had frequently been unable to obtain food either for himself or his horses; that, furthermore, it was very dangerous even with an escort, as part of the way was through hostile Albania, and that all the horses were needed for the Army. I gave up that idea, therefore, and set to work to find out where I could come into touch with the Serbians, and finally found I could go to Monastir, or, to call it by its Serbian name, Bitol. Accordingly, I, with four other nurses and a doctor whose acquaintance I had made on the boat, who also found themselves unable to reach their original destinations, left for Bitol the next day. Arrived at Bitol, I at once made inquiries about the next step farther, and found that Prilip, about twenty-five miles farther on, was still in the hands of the Serbians, though its evacuation was expected any minute, and even now the road from Bitol to Prilip was not considered safe on account of marauding Bulgarian comitadjes, or irregulars. However, the English Consul had to go out there, and he said he would take us with him to see how the land lay, and whether we were needed in the hospital there. I spent the afternoon prowling round Bitol, mostly in the Turkish quarter. The next day we went with the Consul to Prilip—though up to the last moment I was afraid we should not go, as there was so much talk about the road not being safe—some of us in the touring car and the rest in a motor-lorry, with an escort of Serbian soldiers, all armed to the teeth. I took my camp bed and blankets with me, on the off chance of being able to stay at Prilip, as I was gradually edging my way up to the Front, leaving the rest of my baggage in Bitol to be sent after me.

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