What are the truths of Muriel’s diary?

13th February

What are the truths of Muriel’s diary?

In my last blog I mentioned that I’d seen inaccurate quotes on the internet apparently from Sister Muriel Wakeford’s 1915 Gallipoli diary.

I’ve read the original and I would say two universal truths emerge:

  1. Ordinary people like nurses and soldiers involved in the grimmest ordeals just get on with it. They write about their experiences in a matter-of-fact way, not dwelling on the horror of it. In fact, in the first-hand accounts of war I have read, the word “horror” seldom appears. You can judge for yourself by reading the many digitalised letters and journals available at the Australian War Memorial website http://www.awm.gov.au/
  2. In amongst the times of action and death are hours, days or even weeks of waiting for something to happen. This extract from Muriel’s diary illustrates the point:

Sat 13 Feb

Still frightfully busy, looking after measles.

Sun 14 Feb

Visited Cairo. Had a pleasant time.

Mon 15 Feb

Still measles, measles, measles, but they are diminishing. A number of the girls have succumbed.

Fortunately for me I’m feeling very well.

Tue 16

Nothing new

Wed 17

No change

Thu 18

Had a pleasant afternoon. Visited the Zoological Gardens with Greig Anderson. They really are very fine. Went to Heliopolis. Had a look round some of the buildings which are quite palatial. Came back and had dinner at the Continental. The night was gloriously moon-lit. We enjoyed the drive home.”

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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