[Postmark, London, April 14 &
Buckingham, April 23 & 25]
W-MCP1-3b.023 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Miss G.A. Smurthwaite
Apr 14 1916
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten Buckingham, Quebec
From: York Hotel, Berners Street London, W.,
Dear Mr. McQuesten,
Now what do you think to you [being?] the first to receive a letter from me! You will see by the above that I've got to dear old England O.K. We landed here Tuesday night 11th after a delightful but rather anxious journey, "voyage," I should say. We wore our lifebelts all the way. If we tried to slip out of our cabins without them we were turned back by armed guards. We embarked at Halifax N. S., April 1st but didn't sail until the 5th so we had quite a good time while waiting, dances afternoon & night. We sailed on the H.M.T. 2810 which is the Olympic sister ship to the ill-fated Titanic. We had 5500 soldiers, 300 officers and 150 nurses. Making a total including the crew of 7000, besides the holds full of munitions. We are inclined to wonder over in Canada what our British navy are up to, but never doubt her after this. I was talking to one of the Marconi men and he told me the convoy would meet us at 12 o'clock Sunday and just at 12 two destroyers come alongside just as thought they had come from nowhere. And believe me they look big grimy looking fallows and look ready for any work at all. When you see them, you can't help having great faith in the British Fleet. We were chased by two submarines just off the coast of Ireland, but owing to the speed of our boat and the zig zagging they didn't get us, but they got an Italian passenger ship just ahead of us. All the Canadian girls think England a most beautiful country, but like myself wouldn't care how soon they were out of it. There is an air of stately depression in this England of our own stately ladies who think it a crime to smile. Believe me as soon as this war is over I'm going to make tracks either for Canada or some other country.
We are at present on strike. The British war office want us to work. Six dollars a month less than we signed on for, and will not give us our expenses so we are not going to uniform until they give us our rights. So as the British government have got to pay our Hotel Bill we are well content to do the sights of London. I may go down home to see my people as soon as this expense question is settled up. Mother didn't know I was coming to England. I wired her from Liverpool she would most certainly get a shock. I went to a service in St. Pauls yesterday morning and in the afternoon we did Westminster Abbey. They are magnificent. I must now close, will be glad to hear from you if you have time to write to a poor nursing sister. We may be here for three weeks. Remember me to Miss Suite[?].
G. A. Smurthwaite