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There's a Long Long Trail A-Winding - vol 1

There's a Long Long Trail A-Winding - vol 1
There's a Long Long Trail A-Winding - vol 1
This is the first volume of diaries by Ethel Moir, a nursing orderly serving with the Scottish Women's Hospital during World War 1.

The first page sums up the entries in these diaries, "We are supposed to reach Archangel in a couple of days, so I will start a letter, in hopes of getting it posted there. You will want to hear everything from the beginning; so here goes!"

By the late summer of 1916 the war in Europe had been raging for two years.

Setting sail from Liverpool was a troopship carrying on board a group of very special women. These were members of The Scottish Women's Hospitals, heading for war torn Serbia. Among the group was Ethel Moir, a middle class doctor's daughter from Inverness.

Over the next two years she would record the realities of life near the battlefields of the Russian Front in two handwritten diaries.

The first of the diaries covers nearly a year, from August 1916 to April 1917. In it we are told of the journey to Archangel in Russia, of meeting dignitaries who "seemed highly amused by us" and how the unit had to build makeshift hospitals and deal with the 100's of wounded soldiers.

Amid the fields of war there was snatched hours off when Ethel, together with her friend Lilias Grant had the opportunity to visit a local village where she describes how to get along with the locals..."There are two words, which will cover a lot of other deficiencies in "the lingo"- the one is, "pozháluista" -"please"; the other, "spacibo" [spasibo] - "thank you"!
-heartedness, where she describes that they had "looted a goose" and provided no end of amusement in preparing it for the table "It lasted us for 3 days! The soldiers assisted with the plucking - but I wish you could have seen us severing the brute with the aid of one pen knife - it was "some" work of art I assure you".

By the end of 1916 Ethel's unit had now been moved to Odessa to set up a hospital here she writes "We have been very busy all week getting our Hospital in order & getting in patients. It all looks so nice now & quite professional! I'm in the theatre, it is topping. I'm most awfully pleased I've got that job & am quite happy & in my element".

Ethel's mother died on 31st December 1916, and at the beginning of January 1917 Ethel with her good friend Lilias Grant for company, started the journey home for Scotland, a journey she had hoped would take 12-14 days. In the end because of the changing mood in Russia and rumours of a Revolution, it was 22nd March before they finally made it to Scotland arriving in Lerwick Harbour, proclaiming proudly "Scotland forever!"

View the images and text from Ethel Moir's Diary (volume 3) and the pictures from her photo scrapbook (volume 2).

There's also a mini-exhibition about research undertaken to find out more about Ethel and her family.