Excerpt: ‘Red Poppies’ by Lynette Rees

There was talk that maybe this war was coming to an end. It had been going on for three long years, but Adele dismissed it as rumour-mongering—no such luck, she expected. Though people said the arrival of the Americans would hasten the defeat of the German army.

To the North East of Ypres, things weren’t going too well. At Passchendaele in October 1917, it did little but rain for the entire month, so that many soldiers went down with trench foot, such were the conditions they had to endure from the cold, rain and mud. It really was a hell on earth for them. The Third battle of Ypres had been launched on the 31st of July, 1917 and continued until the fall of the village of Passchendaele on the 6th of November. Adele prayed for the day when it would all come to an end.

She had become increasingly concerned about Belinda, after discovering she’d joined the Suffragette Movement back home. They were the women, headed by Emmeline Pankhurst, who fought for women’s rights. But they were sometimes inclined to violence and only in 1913 had blown up David Lloyd George’s house, and all this whilst he was thought to be a supporter of the right of women to vote. It made Adele wonder if they could do that to someone who supported their cause, what would they do to someone who didn’t?

Though Belinda had informed Adele in one of her very long letters that Miss Pankhurst had instructed the Suffragettes to stop their campaign of violence and to support the government and its war effort, so that demonstrations were more peaceable, but Adele still remembered the buildings the women had set on fire and the letter bombs. She hoped Belinda would not get herself involved in anything like that.

Adele’s thoughts jarred back to the present moment as a man was brought into the tent by two stretcher bearers, shivering and shaking so badly that he almost toppled off it.

“Shell shock!” The bearer, whose name was Arthur, said.

Of course, she’d immediately recognised the condition. “Between me and you,” Arthur carried on, “I hope for his sake whilst he’s over here he doesn’t get discharged as they’ll send him straight back out to The Front. Only a few months ago this happened, they got sent to that hospital that takes the overflow from ‘ere, and the poor bastard was sent back to his death. He just couldn’t take the noise of the explosions.”

“Ssh!” Adele warned. “I don’t want us to disturb this man’s mind any more than it already is.”

Arthur nodded. “Sorry, Doctor Owen. It’s just it makes me feel so angry.” She noticed a tear in his eye and patted his arm.

“I know you are, Arthur. I dislike it myself the way the men get treated, and sometimes it’s by their own superiors who should be taking care of them.”

He nodded. “Very well, Doc, we’ll leave him here. But please try to put some kind of word in for him, send a message to the hospital when he gets there. This man can take no more. His name is Donald by the way.”

A lump arose in Adele’s throat. How she wished she had the authority to do what she could with the men when they were due for discharge. Even some who had been sent to British hospitals had been despatched back to The Front instead of returning home to the families who loved them. What kind of war was this?

She leant close to the man and whispered in his ear, “Donald, we’re going to get you fit and well again, I promise you that.”

He shivered uncontrollably as his limbs made sharp jerky movements. “Nurse, a strong sedative, please!” She called out to Morag.

Morag returned a couple of minutes later with an injection which Adele administered to the man, within ten minutes he was asleep and his muscles had ceased jerking.

“This is awful,” Adele complained to Morag. “Arthur told me that some of the men are this way due to the trauma of being told to take no prisoners. He explained to me that one young man had to bayonet a couple of German soldiers in the face, and as a result, developed facial tics. It’s a psychosomatic thing, almost as if the men take on the injuries of the men they have wounded or killed.”

Morag grimaced. “The ones who are going back to Britain, where are they being sent to?”

“Some have been sent to the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital. But Mr. Bellingham has told me that a psychiatrist will be at his hospital soon to try a talking cure with the men.”

“A talking cure?” Morag furrowed her brow. “Never heard of that before. How can that possibly help?”

“Well, the psychiatrist, Doctor John Bowden, says that it’s cathartic for the men to relive traumatic events. Some are having severe nightmares where they wake up screaming and shouting, it’s very scary, Mr. Bellingham says it disturbs the whole ward.”

“Yes, I can well imagine that happening…”

“Anyhow, Mr. Bellingham says that he’d like me to be involved in this talking cure thing and he’ll bring someone here to replace me.”

Morag frowned. “Och no. I’d hate to lose you here, Adele. I cannae be thinking of you leaving us all! You’re a brilliant surgeon, you’ve saved so many lives.”

“And lost a lot too along the way,” she replied sardonically.

“Ye cannae save everyone! What shall I do without you? You understand the nursing staff so well as you were once one of us.”

Adele looked her colleague firmly in the eye. “Well, this is what I was going to tell you…Mr. Bellingham has informed me that I can bring one person from the nursing team with me and I’ve chosen you, if you don’t mind?”

Morag’s eyes lit up. “Mind? I’m absolutely over the moon! I’m ginna afta give ye a big hug, hen!” She embraced Adele so tightly, she could hardly breathe, but it was nice to see her colleague so happy.

If they could just help one soldier like Donald, it would be something, Adele supposed.

Excerpt: Red Poppies

Adele had to admit, she’d shed more than just a tear that night and fallen onto her bed thoroughly exhausted. The bed itself was little more than a narrow camp bed, with a couple of army blankets to keep her warm, but it was a better condition to sleep in than those who slept on the floor on pallets who were at risk of being woken by rats that often found their way to the encampment. Though the relative few she saw, were nothing compared to the ones the soldiers themselves described in the trenches as being as ‘fat as cats’.Wounded Canadian being carried into the receiving room at a Can

She had drifted into a deep sleep of dreams of her homeland and family when she heard a soft female voice beckon her.

“Och, Adele, wake up. We’re expecting another few ambulances full of injured men. I’ve brought ye a cup of tea before they arrive.”

For a moment, she thought she was still dreaming, until she opened her eyes and saw Morag, a young Scottish nurse from Dundee, holding out a tin mug of tea in her hand. Adele sat up and took it gratefully from her, it would be many more hours before she’d have the chance of another.

“Thanks so much, you’re very thoughtful.”

Morag smiled. Even in the dimly lit tent, where there were only a couple of lanterns lit, she could see the young woman’s dazzling smile. She was the sort of person who lit up a room with her presence, always positive, forever cheerful, an asset to be around.

Morag sat in a chair sipping her own tea, it would be hard work for her too later. Harder in some respects as she had to run hither and thither, looking for this and that for the medical team, whilst they only had to attend to the task-in-hand.

The nurses, though, sometimes did the doctors’ jobs if they were not around and were well-experienced. She knew that herself from the time she’d spent as a nurse back in Merthyr. The ward sister there could diagnose as well as any of the doctors, and more often than not, was correct with her diagnoses.imagesEIHQLYFQ

At first light, the ambulances arrived and the stretcher bearers brought in the casualties to the clearing station. Adele had had hardly any time to draw a breath for the first half hour or so, the large tent was in chaos as the injured were sorted into those requiring immediate surgery and those that could afford to wait. All the other casualties were in another tent. Some could wait, others were already dead by the time of arrival or else on the brink. Often Adele heard one or another of the men cry out with delirium, their limbs shivering, lips trembling. Shell shock, they called it. Some of the poor men would never be the same again. Fortunately, for some, with the right help, support and guidance, they became physically whole again, though they’d never forget the mental anguish, ever.

Worst of all were the firing squads—who on the command of a senior officer would shoot a deserting soldier, as they brought shame on the army and could prove a security risk if they fell into enemy hands. Adele often wondered if those poor men were just shell-shocked and refusing to take any more, their bodies shutting down, their need to escape, their only outlet from a hell on earth. Life in the trenches was arduous. Often they were stuck in inches of wet muck with no means of washing, changing or drying their clothing. Although they were told to change into clean socks and dry their feet, it didn’t always happen that way and as a result, many soldiers developed something known as ‘trench foot’, a painful condition. The constant mud and rain had exacerbated the condition for many. Often the foot would crack and change colour, then swell up as blood vessels and nerves were damaged in the process. If untreated, then gangrene could set in resulting in amputation to save the soldier’s life. One soldier arrived at the clearing station and his toes fell away when his socks were removed, the stench being unbearable. Adele had to inform him that his limbs had to be removed as soon as possible.

The sounds and smells they endured as they worked at the encampment was like nothing she’d ever witnessed before. Here, there wasn’t much cleaning up of areas, like at the hospital. It was very rough and ready, often a quick sweep and mop of the floor were all they had time for. No time to disinfect operating tables as time was of the essence, a delay could mean the difference between life and death. Often wounds were already infected from mud and manure from the fields, the medical staff were really up against it.

One young man lay on a gurney whimpering in the corner of the tent. There was no time to attend to him. Adele wished she could split herself in two, realising that a lot of her decisions meant the difference between life or death. She was in the midst of suturing a wound when the young lad cried out, “Mam! Where are you?”

Morag left the operating table as Adele was able to manage alone for a while. She knelt beside the gurney and took the lad’s hand. He wanted and needed his mother, but she was in a distant land. Adele watched Morag stroke the soldier’s head and softly kiss his cheek. A smile appeared on his face, he held out his arms as if he was embracing someone, and then he was gone, in the belief his mother was him. If there’d have been time, Adele would have wept, but there were many more casualties to attend to and she just didn’t have the time to spare. No time to ponder her decision on whether she’d have saved the lad if she’d operated on him first. Only God knew the answer to that.

Adele didn’t have the time either to dwell on her dry mouth, aching back and limbs, and her growling stomach. Something spurred her on, propelling her to get through the day’s work. James Bellingham was beginning to leave more and more cases in her capable hands to work at another hospital over the Belgian border in Northern France. That one was in a large château that had been taken over for the war effort. The men were transported there by ambulance and even trucks after their operations. If then found to be chronically unwell, they were shipped back to Britain, where special hospitals were set up to deal with the aftermath of burns, amputations and shell shock.

At that time, there was also pioneering plastic surgery being carried out at various British hospitals. Some of the men had received horrific burns to their faces and other parts of their bodies, making them barely recognisable to their families and friends.

The first time James had left her alone with the nursing team, she had trembled from top-to-toe, but a professionalism had taken over, along with a comforting word from Morag. After a couple of minutes of adrenaline coursing through her veins, she had calmed down, realising she was doing the best she could under the circumstances. James, who checked out her work when the casualties arrived at the hospital, informed her he was very pleased with her work indeed, which gave Adele an immense feeling of satisfaction.

It wasn’t planned that she would head a surgical team but there was little choice as one of the senior surgeons had fallen ill, so it was either in at the deep end or let the men die. There was no other choice.

Apart from a quick cup of tea and a small corned beef sandwich, it was 4.30 p.m. before Adele got to go off duty, when another surgeon, who had rested most of the day, took over for another long shift.

The cost of this war was high and seemed totally futile to Adele.

Red Poppies is now available in Kindle format on Amazon!

UK Readers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

US Readers: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

 

Excerpt: Red Poppies

** Throughout the month of November ALL royalties for my book, Red Poppies, are being donated to the Royal British Legion Poppy Fund. **

She had to admit, she’d shed more than just a tear that night and fallen onto her bed thoroughly exhausted. The bed itself was little more than a narrow camp bed, with a couple of army blankets to keep her warm, but it was a better condition to sleep in than those who slept on the floor on pallets who were at risk of being woken by rats that often found their way to the encampment. Though the relative few she saw, were nothing compared to the ones the soldiers themselves described in the trenches as being as ‘fat as cats’.Wounded Canadian being carried into the receiving room at a Can

She had drifted into a deep sleep of dreams of her homeland and family when she heard a soft female voice beckon her.

“Och, Adele, wake up. We’re expecting another few ambulances full of injured men. I’ve brought ye a cup of tea before they arrive.”

For a moment, she thought she was still dreaming, until she opened her eyes and saw Morag, a young Scottish nurse from Dundee, holding out a tin mug of tea in her hand. Adele sat up and took it gratefully from her, it would be many more hours before she’d have the chance of another.

“Thanks so much, you’re very thoughtful.”

Morag smiled. Even in the dimly lit tent, where there were only a couple of lanterns lit, she could see the young woman’s dazzling smile. She was the sort of person who lit up a room with her presence, always positive, forever cheerful, an asset to be around.

Morag sat in a chair sipping her own tea, it would be hard work for her too later. Harder in some respects as she had to run hither and thither, looking for this and that for the medical team, whilst they only had to attend to the task-in-hand.

The nurses, though, sometimes did the doctors’ jobs if they were not around and were well-experienced. She knew that herself from the time she’d spent as a nurse back in Merthyr. The ward sister there could diagnose as well as any of the doctors, and more often than not, was correct with her diagnoses.imagesEIHQLYFQ

At first light, the ambulances arrived and the stretcher bearers brought in the casualties to the clearing station. Adele had had hardly any time to draw a breath for the first half hour or so, the large tent was in chaos as the injured were sorted into those requiring immediate surgery and those that could afford to wait. All the other casualties were in another tent. Some could wait, others were already dead by the time of arrival or else on the brink. Often Adele heard one or another of the men cry out with delirium, their limbs shivering, lips trembling. Shell shock, they called it. Some of the poor men would never be the same again. Fortunately, for some, with the right help, support and guidance, they became physically whole again, though they’d never forget the mental anguish, ever.

Worst of all were the firing squads—who on the command of a senior officer would shoot a deserting soldier, as they brought shame on the army and could prove a security risk if they fell into enemy hands. Adele often wondered if those poor men were just shell-shocked and refusing to take any more, their bodies shutting down, their need to escape, their only outlet from a hell on earth. Life in the trenches was arduous. Often they were stuck in inches of wet muck with no means of washing, changing or drying their clothing. Although they were told to change into clean socks and dry their feet, it didn’t always happen that way and as a result, many soldiers developed something known as ‘trench foot’, a painful condition. The constant mud and rain had exacerbated the condition for many. Often the foot would crack and change colour, then swell up as blood vessels and nerves were damaged in the process. If untreated, then gangrene could set in resulting in amputation to save the soldier’s life. One soldier arrived at the clearing station and his toes fell away when his socks were removed, the stench being unbearable. Adele had to inform him that his limbs had to be removed as soon as possible.

The sounds and smells they endured as they worked at the encampment was like nothing she’d ever witnessed before. Here, there wasn’t much cleaning up of areas, like at the hospital. It was very rough and ready, often a quick sweep and mop of the floor were all they had time for. No time to disinfect operating tables as time was of the essence, a delay could mean the difference between life and death. Often wounds were already infected from mud and manure from the fields, the medical staff were really up against it.

One young man lay on a gurney whimpering in the corner of the tent. There was no time to attend to him. Adele wished she could split herself in two, realising that a lot of her decisions meant the difference between life or death. She was in the midst of suturing a wound when the young lad cried out, “Mam! Where are you?”

Morag left the operating table as Adele was able to manage alone for a while. She knelt beside the gurney and took the lad’s hand. He wanted and needed his mother, but she was in a distant land. Adele watched Morag stroke the soldier’s head and softly kiss his cheek. A smile appeared on his face, he held out his arms as if he was embracing someone, and then he was gone, in the belief his mother was him. If there’d have been time, Adele would have wept, but there were many more casualties to attend to and she just didn’t have the time to spare. No time to ponder her decision on whether she’d have saved the lad if she’d operated on him first. Only God knew the answer to that.

Adele didn’t have the time either to dwell on her dry mouth, aching back and limbs, and her growling stomach. Something spurred her on, propelling her to get through the day’s work. James Bellingham was beginning to leave more and more cases in her capable hands to work at another hospital over the Belgian border in Northern France. That one was in a large château that had been taken over for the war effort. The men were transported there by ambulance and even trucks after their operations. If then found to be chronically unwell, they were shipped back to Britain, where special hospitals were set up to deal with the aftermath of burns, amputations and shell shock.

At that time, there was also pioneering plastic surgery being carried out at various British hospitals. Some of the men had received horrific burns to their faces and other parts of their bodies, making them barely recognisable to their families and friends.

The first time James had left her alone with the nursing team, she had trembled from top-to-toe, but a professionalism had taken over, along with a comforting word from Morag. After a couple of minutes of adrenaline coursing through her veins, she had calmed down, realising she was doing the best she could under the circumstances. James, who checked out her work when the casualties arrived at the hospital, informed her he was very pleased with her work indeed, which gave Adele an immense feeling of satisfaction.

It wasn’t planned that she would head a surgical team but there was little choice as one of the senior surgeons had fallen ill, so it was either in at the deep end or let the men die. There was no other choice.

Apart from a quick cup of tea and a small corned beef sandwich, it was 4.30 p.m. before Adele got to go off duty, when another surgeon, who had rested most of the day, took over for another long shift.

The cost of this war was high and seemed totally futile to Adele.

Red Poppies is now available in Kindle format on Amazon!

UK Readers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

US Readers: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

 

Red Poppies

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At first light, the ambulances arrived and the stretcher bearers brought in the casualties to the clearing station. Adele had had hardly any time to draw a breath for the first half hour or so, the large tent was in chaos as the injured were sorted into those requiring immediate surgery and those that could afford to wait. All the other casualties were in another tent. Some could wait, others were already dead by the time of arrival or else on the brink.

Often Adele heard one or another of the men cry out with delirium, their limbs shivering, lips trembling. Shell shock, they called it. Some of the poor men would never be the same again. Fortunately, for some, with the right help, support and guidance, they became physically whole again, though they’d never forget the mental anguish, ever.

Worst of all were the firing squads—who on the command of a senior officer would shoot a deserting soldier, as they brought shame on the army and could prove a security risk if they fell into enemy hands. Adele often wondered if those poor men were just shell-shocked and refusing to take any more, their bodies shutting down, their need to escape, their only outlet from a hell on earth.

Life in the trenches was arduous. Often they were stuck in inches of wet muck with no means of washing, changing or drying their clothing. Although they were told to change into clean socks and dry their feet, it didn’t always happen that way and as a result, many soldiers developed something known as ‘trench foot’, a painful condition. The constant mud and rain had exacerbated the condition for many. Often the foot would crack and change colour, then swell up as blood vessels and nerves were damaged in the process. If untreated, then gangrene could set in resulting in amputation to save the soldier’s life. One soldier arrived at the clearing station and his toes fell away when his socks were removed, the stench being unbearable. Adele had to inform him that his limbs had to be removed as soon as possible…

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-4-Seasons-Change/dp/1534857028

Red Poppies [Excerpt]

Red Poppies 5

The doctor paused before speaking, “To be totally honest with you…I think the surgeon is looking to train people up to go to The Front with him. He intends setting up a casualty clearing station there, as there is great need. It shall be arranged by the RAMC, The Royal Army Medical Corps.”

“The Front?” She blinked several times. It was something she had admired others for, especially Doctor Elsie Inglis who had set up her own hospital for the war wounded.

“Don’t think you got the mettle for it?” Woodrow-Smythe teased.

“I think I could give it a go, yes, but what about my training?”

“My dear,” the doctor said, sitting forward in his chair, “what better training could there be for you? Granted you’d be thrown in the deep end, but that’s the way to learn!”

“I shall have to give this some serious consideration,” she said, all of a sudden feeling extremely shaky indeed. One moment she had entered the lion’s den thinking she was to have an extreme ticking off, the next she was being put forward as a surgeon on the Western Front. She’d once thought of going as a nurse there, but never in a million years thought she’d get to work as a doctor out there.

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

Review: Red Poppies

Red Poppies Kindle July

 

I’ve read all of Lynette Rees’s saga series to date but for me, Red Poppies, is the best by far!

Set during the First World War, the reader meets Adele Owen, a young nurse from Merthyr Tydfil; she has one lofty ambition, to train as a doctor in what is undisputedly, a man’s world.

She heads off to a London teaching hospital where women are welcomed as students except by the male students, who for the most part appear to be obnoxious middle class oafs, who cannot stand seeing a woman doing better than them.

Adele needs rescuing from a tricky situation and when that person comes along, she somehow realises he will always be in her life.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away here, but needless to say Adele impresses the powers that be and ends up serving at a casualty clearing station in Ypres, Belgium, where she has to make life and death decisions. Later she serves at a military hospital in France where innovative methods are used for dealing with men who have suffered from shell shock.

The character of Adele, shows great fortitude and courage under bombardment from artillery fire in the distance, and she not only has to contend with men who are physically injured and dying but also the psychological wounds they endure.

On returning to London, Adele’s biggest dilemma is being torn between two loves. One is a fatherly figure who has taken care of her for the longest time, the other, the surgeon she worked with on the Western Front.

This is a gripping drama that I found hard to put down. There are many shocks and surprises inside this book. At one point I actually shook my head in disbelief but as the story unfolded, it all made complete sense and the signs were there all along.

If you’d like a compelling read about WW1 where it’s evident the author has really carried out extensive research, without the book sounding like a history encyclopedia, then this is the book for you!

It would be hard to remain unmoved by this phenomenal read.

Highly Recommended!

J.  Gowerton – Loves Books

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

Red Poppies [Seasons of Change book 4]

It should have been the war to end all wars...Adele Owen is a young woman living in a man's world but she is determined to train as a doctor...leading her to a close encounter at the Western Front....png

It’s 1916 and Adele Owen from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, is standing at the graveside of a dear family member, whilst another was recently killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

It’s a time when the Suffragettes are campaigning for ‘Votes for Women’, and although they are making their mark, women have a long way to go to compete with the men of Great Britain. It’s a man’s world and women usually have to accept their lot in life, or do they?

Adele is a young nurse who has lofty ambitions — she yearns to become a doctor during a time when it’s quite unusual for women to take up the profession. She has the dilemma of telling her parents of this decision, coupled with the fact she will have to go to London to train.

Once there, at the Royal Free Hospital, she faces opposition from the young men, who are her contemporaries. They think an ex-nurse from a valley town isn’t good enough to become a doctor in training, doing all they can to put her off. But unknown to them, Adele has already caught the eye of an eminent surgeon who sees something stoic and worthwhile in her. So much so, he offers to mentor her and plans to take her to the Front with him to work at a casualty clearing station in Ypres, Belgium.

Once there, she is thrown in the deep end, amongst the explosions and horrors of war, not to mention her involvement with shell-shocked soldiers, some of whom, signed up underage to take the King’s shilling.

Adele leaves an admirer behind in London, a well-respected physician of his day, who writes to her whilst she’s overseas. This will eventually put her in a difficult position where two men vie for her attention. But which one will she choose?

And will she survive the Third Battle of Ypres? Otherwise known as the Battle of Passchendaele…

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01HBQ7BU2