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Diary of a Ypres Nun

October 1914–May 1915
The Diary of Soeur Marguerite of the Sisters of Lamotte Suffering and Sacrifice in the First World War

Linda Palfreeman is Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Cardenal Herrera, Elche, Spain. Her research on local aspects of the Spanish Civil War and of the International Brigades’ Medical Service resulted in ¡Salud! British Volunteers in the Republican Medical Service during the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 (2012), followed by Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances: British Medical Units in the Spanish Civil War (2013), and Spain Bleeds, the final book in this informal trilogy, continues to provide long unavailable information on health care and medical assistance during wartime.

The campaign in Flanders, with its successive battles, would be the longest of the Great War and the costliest in terms of human life. At the centre of the fearful and prolonged barrages of shelling by the military of both sides lay the town of Ypres, known for its Cloth Hall and cathedral, its butter and its lace – now to be blasted to infamy as an indelible symbol of suffering and sacrifice and wanton destruction.

The underground passage-ways of the town’s ancient fortifications provided shelter for the trapped townspeople. In desperate circumstances courageous and selfless individuals administered medical attention, distributed food and clothing, provided milk for babies and set up orphanages and schools for children. Some of these volunteers, such as the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU), came from afar, whilst others already formed an essential part of the moral and social fibre of the beleaguered town: these included the local priest, Camille Delaere, and the nuns who lent him their support. The curé’s indefatigable assistant was the young nun Soeur Marguerite of the Sisters of Lamotte, and it is her daily journal that became The Diary of an Ypres Nun. Originally published in French in 1917, this harrowing yet sometimes surprisingly humorous account of events in the besieged and battered town of Ypres was written between October 1914 and May 1915, as she worked alongside the FAU and Father Delaere, to bring comfort and succour to the suffering civilian population.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-870-1
Paperback Price: £14.95 / $24.95
Release Date: June 2017
Page Extent / Format: 56 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


The Diary

Notes to the Introduction and Diary

Originally published in French in 1917, this diary documents events in the town of Ypres, Belgium, between October 1914 and May 1915 during the Flanders campaign of World War II, as Soeur Marguerite of the Sisters of Lamotte worked with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and local priest Camille Delaere to help the civilian population. She describes the bombings of the town, administering medical attention, distributing food and clothing, the damage to Ypres, and setting up orphanages and schools for children.

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