Margaret Box, my Great Aunt went to Serbia with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals during the First World War. By March 1919 the doctors and nurses, who had been running a hospital in Sarajevo were winding down the hospital and preparing to return home.
Miss Willis, secretary of the London Unit, wrote to Margaret’s father to say that she was going out to Sarajevo to help winding of the hospital and offered to take out letters and money and a small parcel.
Dorothy Willis wrote to JR Box on March 1st 1919, saying
1 March 1919
I am going up to Sarajevo to help in winding up the hospital and expect to start on Wednesday March 5th and can take letters and money. If you want badly to send a parcel of needful things to your daughter, I could take a very small one. It should arrive here on Tuesday.
He replied on March 3rd,
80, Northampton Road, Crodyon
3 March 1919
Dear Miss Willis,
In reply to your note I am glad to hear you are going out to Sarajevo to wind up the Unit of the S.W.H. there & will I hope bring my daughter home soon.
I am sending you by parcel post for my daughter tonight a package containing chocolate & biscuits to the value of 6/- if inconvenient for you to take please return to the above address. We do not know what else to send her, any article of clothing might not be required.
I enclose you herewith my cheque for £5 – so that you can give her money and if she needs more for her personal expenses otherwise than the salary payable by your Society will you advance her another £5 which I will refund you afterwards.
Our last news of her arrived on Friday last, dated 10 Feb, she informed us that the Hospital in Sarajevo had been burgled on 3 successive nights and many articles of clothing stolen but no money as they had none to lose. Moreover her rations appeared to be very short at times but she did not grumble.
I suppose you will travel as fast as the mail so I enclose you a letter to give to her. I expect the journey home will be as you said in your previous letter by way of Fiume,Trieste,Venice, Turin & Paris
Can you tell me where on the homeward route a letter would be likely to reach the party.
Wishing you a safe and pleasant journey,
Yours very truly,
The Scottish Women’s Hospitals send him a receipt for the cheque.
Sarajevo hospital burglaries
These are not mentioned in any of the letters I have seen, but may have a reference in the diaries, otherwise they will almost certainly remain a mystery – even if there is a Sarajevo Cold Case team they will probably not be following these up.