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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1918

Letter from Hubert H. Daniell, 22.1.1918

No. 1 N.Z. Gen. Hospital, Brockenhurst, 22nd January, 1918.

Dear "Spike,"—There is a din of many voices, raised in expostulation, in argument of I know not what, and by some curious twist, my memory turns to you. Have you ever heard hospital auction bridge played? It is divided into three stages—"before," "during," and "after." "During" is played along the lines of ordinary auction, "before" is mainly advisory, "after" Abusive. There are two games going on at present, go you can imagine what the noise is like. Over in France it was comparatively peaceful playing even close to the line, but in hospital———

You will gather by this that I am still in the land of the V.A.D.

Talking of V.A.D.'s, one sees almost as many varieties here as one sees at the "March past" at the notice boards during the first week. In one hospital in France there were two V.A.D.'s, who, in the language of our brothers in Egypt, "stood about sixteen hands." They handled me like a babe in arms. One of them was Scotch and had a red nose and a cheerful page 21 disposition—she was the hard-hearted brigand who woke me remorselessly every morning and washed me long before even the early bird had got busy. Her comrade in arms (I speak metaphorically) was English, but was really quite decent when we became better acquainted. There is a misconception prevalent in some circles that V.A.D. stands for voluntary and delightful—but this is not necessarily correct. I remember one that hailed from the North of Ireland and had red hair—she would make a splendid librarian. It seemed to us she knew all the rules of the hospital by heart, especially those beginning: "Patients will not——." In justice to them I must say that they carried out their work in an excellent manner, but if one read the magazines it would seem that hospitals were a sort of subalterns' Heaven with the V.A.D.'s filling the angels' rôle

Bullard is in the same ward with me here, and the Frog and Salmond are next door. Fulton is the X-ray artist and takes photos of those parts of us that the doctor is most interested in for the time being. Dan Bowler was killed the day I was hit. Any information I can give of V.U.C. students would appear under the "Accidents and Fatalities" column, I'm afraid, and most of it you may have heard. S. A. Atkinson was in our battalion when he was killed last year. I had been with him a couple of hours before he was hit. Colonel R. St. J. Bere was also in the same battalion. This battalion had, at one time and another, quite a number of our ex-students. Those I can remember are: Colonel Beere, Capt. Bennett, Lieuts, (now Major) K. Caldwell (all wounded at various times), Lieut, Liardet (killed), Castle (killed), Norman Hogg (killed), Atkinson (killed), Bowler (killed), J. B. Parker (returned through illness), B. J. Jacobs (wounded), G. Morrie (wounded), J. D. Vernon, W. F. Hogg, and H. M. Keesing. In the ranks were Nevill Wright, and possibly others. As you know, the bulk of these were law students, so Professor Garrow would have been able to conduct a class with us. The better half [better half = that portion of the college that wears skirts] of College is also represented "here in England now," as Blanche of the "Bystander" has it. Last year I met Miss Larry Mac., and the Frog tells me that he met "Mary" recently—but, perhaps, dear "Spike," another generation has arisen that knows not—well, shall I say, that does not remember—the "hop floor on the top floor."

If I don't get on I'll be firing Omar and "the moving finger" at you.

The November number of "The Spike" has arrived in due course. One noticed a slight increase in the verse published, but I was sorry to see that most of the initials were still familiar. I'm not complaining of their longevity, but of the absence of new ones. If I may add a further criticism, the first number is better than the second, from which one would infer that exams, are still held at the end of the second term. Has the football team, that faded dream, quite lost its dash—or was the secretary late with his reports?

I see there is a proposal to erect a Memorial Building. It is a good idea, but I hope it originated with the students, as it sounds a little utilitarian to come from higher up. I know that we have a crying need for more room, but it would be a pity if we used the needs of a memorial as a sentimental appeal to the Government (which must, sooner or later, provide the room) for immediate cash.

Well, I seem to have written rather much; but you can put that down as a phase of my illness. Please address my next "Spike" to me at Mathon Lodge, Masterton, as I hope to be there by that time. Please thank the Students' Association for a pair of socks which duly arrived. They should last some time, as I will be able to wear only one at a time for another six months.

With best wishes for your next issue.—I am, yours sincerely,

Hubert H. Daniell. "Jerry."