From the archive: The Friends’ Ambulance Unit

Janet Scott continues her selection from the archives of the Friend published during the first world war. The Friends’ Ambulance Unit, set up in late 1914, had now established itself as a permanent feature of Quaker witness

In 1916 T Edmund Harvey, a prominent Quaker MP, was asked to visit the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU) in France and Belgium and to take a message of goodwill from Friends to members of the Unit. His account of the trip was published in the Friend on 6 October. These extracts are taken from his report:

I reached Headquarters at dusk, after a day’s journey from the port, by trains, which would scarcely have taken a couple of hours in time of peace. Fortunately I was able to see the Unit both in its old quarters and also, before I left, in the new building hard by, which now provides far roomier and more suitable accommodation. The change from the crowded and dingy rooms at the Kursaal is a great improvement in every way. The new dining-room is lofty and spacious, while adjoining it another large room serves for reading and recreation in the evening; deck chairs, papers and small tables making the place comfortable and attractive. Round about in adjoining streets various branches of the work go on; the transport office, the different motor garages and repairs shops, the motor stores, and the general stores, while six minutes’ walk away is the Hôpital Alexandra, in a little compound of its own, overlooking the large grassy expanse which separates this suburb from the canals and fortifications which surround the old town on every side. The male staff of the Hospital live upon the spot, and are therefore a good deal isolated from other members of the Unit, but the human interest of the hospital work is great and appeals strongly to many who have undertaken it.

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