Christmas at Oldway 25 December 1914

Abridged from the Paignton Western Guardian 31st December 1914

The American Women’s War Hospital at Oldway was a scene of brightness and cheerfulness that could scarcely be surpassed. Evergreens and mottoes, flags and draperies, rendered the wards the acme of cosiness, and special Christmas fare was served with sumptuousness remarkable even for this magnificently managed institution. A delightful touch of home was infused by the presentation to each of the 165 patients of a large stocking -these were specially made by the nursing Sisters and others - which each man received in the morning. They contained all sorts of acceptable gifts, including a very thoughtful present of a handsome cigarette case, with the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes embossed, from the American Women’s Committee; a very pretty card and box of chocolates from Mrs. Harcourt, one of the Secretaries, a pretty card from Miss Fletcher, the Matron; a neat matchbox from Nurses Hewat and Mackenzie, with their initials engraved thereon; and a khaki handkerchief from the ladies of the bureau.

After the mid-day dinner, the Commandant, Lieut. Col. R.C. Gunning, accompanied by Mrs. Gunning, the Chief Surgeon and Mrs. Beale, and the Matron, visited each of the wards, wishing the men a Happy Christmas and a speedy recovery. The Commandant distributed to each patient a special Christmas card from their Majesties the King and Queen. This was a handsome photogravure of their Majesties, and on the back of each card was a lithographed in the King’s handwriting:

“With our best wishes for Xmas, 1914. May you soon be restored to health. Mary R.; George R.I.”

The present was, quite needlessly to say, received with the liveliest gratitude and pride by the gallant soldiers, who were delighted to receive the Royal cards, and who appreciated their Majesties’ kindly thought very deeply. It was hoped to distribute presents from Queen Alexandra and the Princess Mary’s fund, but these not arriving in time were left to be the subjects of the New Year gifts. The Commandant, who spoke a few pleasing words to the inmates of all the wards, also distributed a box of chocolate from the firm of Messrs. Cadbury, and a handsome card from another well-known firm. Lieut. Col Gunning expressed his great pleasure in handing these gifts to the patients, especially those from their Majesties. The Committee provided a very excellent dinner of roast beef, plum pudding, mince pies, apples and bananas, which were all thoroughly enjoyed. The Plymouth Breweries sent a bottle of beer for each convalescent patient. Handsome presents were very generously sent by the Committee for each member of the staff, and Christmas Day, 1914, will long be remembered by all at the hospital.

In each happily decorated ward, entertainments were given by several performers, and a really merry Christmas Day was spent by all.