FARMBOROUGH-L Archives

Archiver > FARMBOROUGH > 2003-10 > 1066858415


From: "Pat Benham" <>
Subject: Fw: Florence FARMBOROUGH
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 22:37:22 +0100


----- Original Message -----
From: "Pat Benham" <>
To: "Christopher Edwards" <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: Florence FARMBOROUGH


> Interesting, Chris, that you have copied the Spanish memoirs of Florence.
I
> am familiar with the Russian books but not the Spanish one. She shares a
> common ancestor with my wife in Stephen Farmborough (1685-1762).
>
> Last Sunday (19 October) the UK TV Channel 4 series "The First World War"
> featured the Eastern (Russian) Front. Photos of Florence were shown during
> this episode and an actor read from her accounts over footage of war
action.
> The series is based on a book by Hew Strachan.
>
> There was a BBC TV programme about Florence in September 1974 together
with
> an article in the Radio Times. A full page colour photo showed her aged 87
> with some of her trophies from the Russian years laid out on a table in
> front of her. The text below was as follows:
>
> "Miss Farmborough now, with some of her souvenirs of pre-revolutionary
> Russia - among them her nurse's uniform and diaries, peasant costume, an
> icon ('I bought it in 1910 to send home to my parents') and (centre,
> foreground) her keys to the strongroom of Moscow's Volkov Bank. She has
> never been able to recover the valuables she deposited there before
leaving
> for the front."
>
> Pat Benham
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Christopher Edwards" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2003 4:14 AM
> Subject: Florence FARMBOROUGH
>
>
> > Florence Farmborough was born in 1887. Florence moved to Russia in 1908
> > where she found work as an English teacher. On the outbreak of the First
> > World War, Farmborough immediately offered her services as a nursing
> sister
> > at the hospital established by Princess Golitsin in Moscow. Later she
> > accompanied Russian troops in Poland, Austria and Rumania.
> >
> > Forced to retreat with the Russian Army, Farmborough witnessed the
Russian
> > Revolution in 1917. Farmborough fled to Siberia where with Maria
> Bochkareva,
> > the head of the Women's Death Battalion, she managed to get a ship to
the
> > United States. All through the First World War, Farmborough kept a diary
a
> nd
> > by 1918 it contained over 400,000 words.
> >
> > In 1926 Farmborough became a university lecturer in Valencia and
remained
> in
> > the country for the next ten years. A supporter of General Francisco
> Franco,
> > Farmborough moved to Salamanca after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil
> War.
> > During the war Farmbrough made radio propaganda broadcasts to English
> > speaking-countries. Her book, Life and People of Spain, was published in
> > 1938.
> >
> > Farmborough returned to Britain in 1940. Her book of war memoirs, based
on
> > her war diaries, entitled Nurse at the Russian Front, was published in
> 1974.
> > Florence Farmborough died in 1980.
> >
> >
> > (1) In January, 1915, Florence Farmborough attended a special church
> service
> > in Moscow to mark her promotion to a qualified Red Cross nurse.
> >
> > The golden-robed priest stood before me. "Your name?" "Florence," I
> > answered. The priest paused and whispered to his deacon-acolyte. A book
> was
> > brought and consulted, then he consulted me: "Of the Pravoslavny
> (Orthodox)
> > Church?" "No," I said, "of the Church of England." Again the whispered
> > consultation, again the book was referred to. I felt myself growing cold
> > with fear. But he was back again and resumed the prescribed ritual, the
> > tongue slightly twisting at the pronunciation of the foreign name.
> >
> > "To thee, Florenz, child of God, servant of the Most High, is given this
> > token of faith, of hope, of charity. With faith shalt they follow Christ
> the
> > Master, with hope shalt thou look towards Christ for thy salvation, with
> > charity shalt thou fulfill thy duties. Thou shalt tend the sick, the
> > wounded, the needy: with words of comfort shalt thou cheer them." I held
> the
> > red cross to my breast and pressed my lips to the crucifix with a heart
> full
> > of gratitude to God, for he had accepted me.
> >
> > One by one, we moved back to our appointed places. On our breasts the
Red
> > Cross gleamed. I looked at my Russian sisters. We exchanged happy,
> > congratulatory smiles. As for me, I stood there with great contentment
in
> > mind and spirit. A dream had been fulfilled: I was now an official
member
> of
> > the great Sisterhood of the Red Cross. What the future held in store I
> could
> > not say, but, please God, my work must lie among those of our suffering
> > brothers who most needed medical aid and human sympathy - among those
who
> > were dying for their country on the battlefields of war-stricken Russia.
> >
> >
> >
> > (2) In 1916 Florence Farmborough witnessed an explosion on the Eastern
> Front
> > (28th May, 1916)
> >
> > About a dozen men perished on the spot; others crawled out, but
collapsed
> > and died soon afterwards. Only two of them were able to stand and they
> were
> > brought to us. They came, both of them, walking: two naked red figures!
> > Their clothes had been burnt off their bodies. They stood side by side
in
> > the large barn which we had converted into a dressing-station, raw from
> head
> > to foot. Injections were immediately ordered, but we could find no skin
> and
> > had to put the needle straight into the flesh.
> >
> > We laid them down upon straw in an adjoining shed. In an hour or two,
the
> > cotton wool was completely saturated, but we could help them no further,
> > save with oft-repeated injections of morphia which, we prayed, would
> deaden
> > their sufferings. They died, both of them, before morning. And neither
of
> > them had spoken a single word! I don't think that anything which I had
> ever
> > seen touched me so keenly.
> >
> >
> >
> > (3) In the summer of 1916, Florence Farmborough accompanied the Russian
> Army
> > to Poland (31st July, 1916)
> >
> > As we continued our journey, we passed more than one battlefield. The
dead
> > were still lying around, in strange, unnatural postures - remaining
where
> > they had fallen: crouching, doubled up, stretched out, prostrate, prone,
> > Austrians and Russians lying side by side. And there were lacerated,
> crushed
> > bodies lying on darkly stained patches of earth. There was one Austrian
> > without a leg and with a blackened, swollen face; another with a smashed
> > face, terrible to look at; a Russian soldier, with legs doubled under
him,
> > leaning against the barbed wire. And on more than one open wound flies
> were
> > crawling and there were other moving, thread-like things.
> >
> > I was glad Anna and Ekaterina were with me; they, too, were silent;
they,
> > too, were sorely shaken. Those "heaps" were once human beings: men who
> were
> > young, strong and vigorous; now they lay lifeless and inert; shapeless
> forms
> > of what had been living flesh and bone. What a frail and fragile thing
is
> > human life! A bullet passes through the living flesh and it ceases to
> live.
> >
> >
> >
> > (4) In her diary, Florence Farmborough described the change of mood of
the
> > Russian soldiers on the Eastern Front during the summer of 1917.
> >
> > 11th May: Today we left Strusuv for Podgaytsy. Our division is back at
the
> > front and two of its regiments are already in the trenches. Now and then
> > unexpected skirmishes take place - the initiative always with the
> Austrians
> > - and a few wounded are brought to us. We notice a strange apathy about
> > them; they lack the spark of loyalty, of devotion to God and their
> > mother-country which has so distinguished the fighting-men in the
previous
> > two years. It worries us; we do not need to be told that the Russian
> soldier
> > has changed; we see the change with our own eyes.
> >
> >
> >
> > (5) In May 1917 Florence Farmborough met Dr. Elsie Inglis and her nurses
> at
> > a hospital in Podgaytsy.
> >
> > There is an English hospital in Podgaytsy, run by a group of English
> nurses,
> > under the leadership of an English lady-doctor (Dr. Elsie Inglis). I was
> > very glad to chat with them in my mother-tongue and above all to learn
the
> > latest news of the allied front in France.
> >
> > They are very nice women, those English and Scottish nurses. They all
have
> > several years of training behind them. I feel distinctly raw in
> comparison,
> > knowing that a mere six-months' course as a VAD in a military hospital
> > would, in England, never have been considered sufficient to graduate to
a
> > Front Line Red Cross Unit. They could not believe that I had experienced
> all
> > those nightmare months of the Great Retreat of 1915, as well as the
> > Offensive of 1916. "You don't look strong enough to have gone through
all
> > that, said the lady-doctor, "and too young," she added, "I don't think I
> > should have chosen you for my team." I secretly rejoiced that I had my
> > training in Russia!"
> >
> >
> >
> > (6) Florence Farmborough disapproved of some methods used by the VAD
> nurses
> > in Russia.
> >
> > I was surprised and not a little perturbed when I saw that tiny bags,
> > containing pure salt, are sometimes deposited into the open wound and
> > bandaged tightly into place. It is probably a new method; I wonder if it
> has
> > been tried out on the Allied Front.
> >
> > These bags of salt - small though they are - must inflict excruciating
> pain;
> > no wonder the soldiers kick and yell; the salt must burn fiercely into
the
> > lacerated flesh. It is certainly a purifier, but surely a very harsh
one!
> >
> > At an operation, performed by the lady-doctor, at which I was called
upon
> to
> > help, the man had a large open wound in his left thigh. All went well
> until
> > two tiny bags of salt was placed within it, and then the uproar began. I
> > thought the man's cries would lift the roof off; even the lady doctor
> looked
> > discomforted. "Silly fellow," she ejaculated. "It's only a momentary
pain.
> > Foolish fellow! He doesn't know what is good for him."
> >
> >
> >
> > (7) In her diary, Florence Farmborough records hearing about Yasha
> > Bachkarova, the founder of the Women's Death Battalion.
> >
> > 26th July, 1917: Yasha Bachkarova, a Siberian woman soldier had served
in
> > the Russian Army since 1915 side by side with her husband; when he had
> been
> > killed, she continued to fight. She had been wounded twice and three
times
> > decorated for valour. When she knew the soldiers were deserting in large
> > numbers, she made her way to Moscow and Petrograd to start recruiting
for
> a
> > Woman's Battalion. It is reported that she had said, "If the men refuse
to
> > fight for their country, we will show them what the women can do!" So
this
> > woman warrior, Yasha Bachkarova, began her campaign; it was said that it
> had
> > met with singular success. Young women, some of aristocratic families,
> > rallied to her side; they were given rifles and uniforms and drilled and
> > marched vigorously. We Sisters were of course thrilled to the core.
> >
> > 9th August, 1917: Last Monday, an ambulance-van drove up with three
> wounded
> > women soldiers. We were told that they belonged to the Bachkarova
Women's
> > Death Battalion. We had not heard the full name before, but we instantly
> > guessed that it was the small army of women recruited in Russia by the
> > Siberian women soldier, Yasha Bachkarova. Naturally we were all very
> > impatient to have news of this remarkable battalion, but the women were
> > sadly shocked and we refrained from questioning them until they had
> rested.
> > The van driver was not very helpful but he did know that the battalion
had
> > been cut up by the enemy and had retreated.
> >
> > 13th August, 1917: At dinner we heard more of the Women's Death
Battalion.
> > It was true; Bachkarova had brought her small battalion down south of
the
> > Austrian Front, and they had manned part of the trenches which had been
> > abandoned by the Russian Infantry. The size of the Battalion had
> > considerably decreased since the first weeks of recruitment, when some
> 2000
> > women and girls had rallied to the call of their leader. Many of them,
> > painted and powdered, had joined the Battalion as an exciting and
romantic
> > adventure; she loudly condemned their behaviour and demanded iron
> > discipline. Gradually the patriotic enthusiasm had spent itself; the
2000
> > slowly dwindled to 250. In honour to those women volunteers, it was
> recorded
> > that they did go into the attack; they did go "over the top". But not
all
> of
> > them. Some remained in the trenches, fainting and hysterical; others ran
> or
> > crawled back to the rear.
> >
> >
> >
> > (8) Florence Farmborough, Life and People of Spain (1938)
> >
> > The youth of Spain turn towards their Leader, Generalissimo Franco, as
> > towards a shining light; he is the beacon that guides them to their
> highest
> > goal. In all people this great faith in the Caudillo is to be found; in
> the
> > highest and lowest, in the richest and poorest, in the oldest and
> youngest,
> > for even the very small children are taught to play their role of loyal
> > subject to National Spain. And that reminds me of an incident which I
> > witnessed the other day, an incident which amused me and yet seemed to
> touch
> > a deeper chord. I was walking through the Arcade of the Plaza Mayor in
> this
> > city of Salamanca (one of the most beautiful old squares in Europe,
> > surrounded by a columned promenade, lined on one side by shops), when I
> saw
> > in front of me a woman of humble station in life, holding a small boy of
> > some three years by the hand. Suddenly the child stopped, turned towards
a
> > shop-window and, relinquishing his mother's hand, drew
> > himself up to his full height, clicked his tiny heels together and,
> standing
> > to attention, was about to raise his arm in the Phalangist salute. His
> > mother, unconscious of his action, grasped his hand and dragged him
along
> > with her - none too gently! The wee boy's face was a study in
expressions
> of
> > anger and disappointment. But, with sudden determination, he turned,
> > manfully resisting his mother's display of force, and, nearly toppling
> over
> > himself in his anxiety that his heels should touch each other, he
> stiffened
> > his small round body and saluted, solemnly and ceremoniously, in
> Phalangist
> > manner! His unheeding mother, sensing rebellion, seized him so
vigorously
> > that the child stumbled and nearly fell - but he was docile now, he had
> done
> > his duty. He had saluted a large portrait of Generalissimo Franco in the
> > shop-window!
> >
> >
> >
> > (8) Florence Farmborough, Life and People of Spain (1938)
> >
> > And what of the woman's role in the great Movement of Liberation in
> National
> > Spain? The answer comes readily: the woman of Spain is not found
wanting.
> > Her place is in her home, miles away, perhaps, from the front line, but
> her
> > heart is in the trenches. How could it be otherwise? Is not every
soldier
> a
> > mother's son? And has not every soldier a mother, sister, or sweetheart,
> who
> > are daily, hourly, experiencing anxious thought for his welfare? 'Men
must
> > work and women must weep.' And though it may be true that the women of
> > Spain, by reason of the greatness of their heart's pain, have, and still
> do,
> > shed tears for their absent ones, it is also true that this pain is
> > mitigated by pride, a pride born of self-sacrifice and patriotic
> abnegation
> > in the heart of every woman who gives her best-beloved to her country
that
> > he may defend it in its evil hour.
> >
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Chat via SMS. Simply send 'CHAT' to 1889918. More info at
> > http://ninemsn.com.au/mobilemania/MoChat.asp?blipid=6800
> >
>


This thread: