Somewhere in France

Somewhere in France

Friday, August 29, 2014

VAD L268--Update on Dorothy Pearson Twist

Yesterday I wrote a short blog about Dorothy Pearson Twist. Little did I know, but there was a Red Cross service card enroute to me with more details about this remarkable VAD's life. Not all voluntary nurses nursed! Many did clerical work as well. That was the case for Dorothy. What is even more interesting is that the clerical work she did was in an area of tremendous importance to many soldiers--in particular, prisoner's of war. Beginning in May 1916, VADL268 as she was known, was secretary to Lady Evelyn Grant Duff, head of the "Berne Bread Bureau," a voluntary organization providing much needed bread to prisoners of war in Germany. As John Lewis-Stempel writes in his book The War Behind the Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War:

“The blessedly white bread in the Red Cross ration was mainly courtesy of the redoubtable Lady Evelyn Grant Duff, who arranged shipments of flour from Marseilles to Switzerland, where it was baked into loaves. Known to POWs as ‘Swiss Dodgers’, Lady Evelyn’s moist, white loaves were delivered into Germany by road and rail. By 1917 her “Berne bread Bureau’ was packing 15,000 loaves a day and had been supplemented by a Copenhagen Bureau to supply camps in the north of Germany. In summer, when bread tended to go mouldy quickly, the bakeries substituted hard biscuits or rusks for Lady Evelyn’s baps.”

Twist must have been committed to this work; she went on to work with the Prisoner of War Committee from February 1917 to August 1917. At that point, perhaps out of the growing need for nurses to care for flu victims, the VAD was transferred to the Frensham Hill Military Hospital, Farnham. Sadly, she came down with pneumonia and died at the hospital on September 26, 1918.

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