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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Malcolm, Ian
Russell, Flora
Cecil, Robert
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper

50.725231, 1.613334

Boulogne Dec 16 Dearest Mother. Your two letters reached me today, bless you for them. But don't write when you are so busy. It's really too much. If you go on having wounded at R'ton [Rounton] don't you think I had better come back? Surely it would be too much for you à la langue? I'll come at a moment's notice.
Diana has brought me everything I could possibly want - thank you so much. It will be a great comfort not to live from hand to mouth with never quite enough clean things. This is the dirtiest place I have ever been in.

I've got a great chunk of work done these last days and very nearly cleared away the mountain of mistakes which I found when I came. Nothing was ever verified and we went on, piling error onto error, with no idea of the confusion that was being caused. Now that's all done with I hope. The man from the Round Table, Mr Dove, a funny dowdy little man, is a tower of strength. With his good aid I shall keep things straight I think. If we are not scrupulously exact we are no good at all and it weighed on me. I think I have an inherited love of office work! A clerk was what I was meant to be.

Diana brings us news of Scarborough, but we haven't yet heard the extent of the bombardment.

Here we believe that we are on the edge of a big forward movement. Mr Grier, whom I saw yesterday, just down from Bailleul with his ambulance, told me it had begun on Monday. That we and the French had been told to take La Bassée at all costs and had failed. If it's true we shall have another stream of wounded here. The letters I receive and answer daily are heartrending. At any rate, even if one can give these people little news that is good, it comforts them to think that something is being done to find out what has happened to their Belloveds. Often I know myself that there is no chance for them and I have to answer as gently as I can and carefully keep from them horrible details which I have learnt. That's my daily job. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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