Reading Time: 2 minutes
Cover for Buried Letters by Helen Parker-Drabble

Remembrance month is a time to remember those in our family who were touched by war.

This remembrance month, I invite you to listen to ‘Buried Letters’.

Buried Letters was an award-winning short piece of creative writing inspired by Chloris Drabble who, during World War 1, left nursing in the Huddersfield Infirmary to join the Scottish Women’s 7th Field Hospital at Lake Ostrovo in Macedonia, in 1917, where she fell in love with a Serbian interpreter and was irrevocably changed.

From the judges ‘Away from the Western Front’ Creative Writing Competition:

The author’s chosen approach – reconstructed letters – offers a route into the hearts and minds of the three writers so that we were able to empathise with them in the way that one can with original objects and documents. Each writer has been given a distinctive voice, so that it’s almost possible to believe that these are actual letters. The effect is made all the more authentic by the historical context, which comes over as very realistic, and is undoubtedly based on extensive research. We also liked the modern context, which the author is obviously part of – that of family history researchers who have opened up the history of the First World War, including our own project, through their painstaking work.

With grateful thanks to the Glasgow City Archives for giving me access to the records of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. The archive consists of the records of the London Committee of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH): authorisations, correspondence, files, circular letters, telegrams, postcards, photographs, statements of accounts, balance sheets, cheques and counterfoils, reports, lecture notes, lists of donors.

The Women’s Library also holds the Papers of Elsie Bowerman (7ELB); the Papers of Vera (Jack) Holme (7VJH); a Scrapbook [relating to the Scottish Women’s Hospital] (10/22). The Women’s Library Museum Collection holds postcards and photographs related to the Scottish Women’s Hospital and of several of the women who served. Similarly, the Printed Collections holds additional material such as ‘The Scottish Women’s Hospital at the French Abbey of Royaumont’ by Antonio de Navarro (1917); ‘The Little grey partridge: First World War diary of Ishobel Ross who served with the Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit in Serbia’ introduced by Jess Dixon (1988) as well as biographies of individuals such as ‘Dr Elsie Inglis’ by Lady Frances Balfour (1918)

Letters and reports of Elsie Inglis as well as correspondence, financial records, subscriptions, personnel files, and various committee minutes created by the Scottish Headquarters, as well as reports from overseas units, are held in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

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