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17th April 1917

Our drama is set at the Duchess of Westminster's No. 1 British Red Cross Society (BCRS) Hospital in the old casino in Le Touquet. It was for officers only, and famously the BRCS bought the nearby Hotel des Anglais and used it as a place where relatives of dangerously wounded and sick officers could stay while waiting for their sons to die or in rare cases, get better enough to be shipped back to Blighty. Basically, you had to be very ill, and to be sent there implied the worst.


The overarching idea of this episode was to subject Mickey to his worst nightmare, deafness.


You could be remarkably unfit by modern standards and still be passed as A1, but in the Army deafness is much more serious. Mickey'd be kept well behind the lines, graded 'B3'. So if he's deaf, he's practically speaking out of the Army already, however well he recovers from his other physical problems.


You can read all about his condition and the remarkable true-to-life cure for it Norbert Hammond comes up with in MEDICAL DISEASES OF THE WAR by Arthur Hurst at There are a number of examples but the one on page 120 is especially clear. It took me some time to find this, and I am fairly certain I found the whole topic during my own research – but WAR SURGERY 1914-18 by Thomas Scotland & Steven Heys as well as THE MEDICAL WAR by Mark Harrison probably guided me there as well as providing many additional details. And ROSES OF NO MAN'S LAND by Lyn MacDonald was of course vital, especially on blood transfusion.


The Science Museum had an exhibition while we were working on this episode and below are my reference photos. As always, with printed caption first to remind me what I've taken (!) then the picture trying to get as much of the object in as possible. Never very artistic, but always very useful for showing to the production team.

IMG_4503 IMG_4510 IMG_4511 IMG_4515 IMG_4516

Vera and Jack took us into the remarkable world of the YMCA. I had no idea it was a front for American soft power attempting to subvert the British Empire. I am very grateful to Harald Fischer-Tiné of ETH Zürich for letting me see a draft of KEEP THEM PURE, FIT, AND BROTHERLY! an unpublished research paper subtitled "The Indian Y.M.C.A.’s Army Work Schemes during the Great War (1914-1920)". I look forward to publication.


The other sources for Jack and Vera were the wonderful THE FISHING FLEET by Anne de Courcy, THE COMPLETE INDIAN HOUSEKEEPER AND COOK by Flora Annie Steel and Grace Gardiner, our old unvarnished touchstone of Indian Army life, OLD SOLDIER SAHIB by Frank Richards and The Army Children Archive website.


I also got an overall picture from SAHIB by Richard Holmes


Evadne's beginnings of her WAAC career are taken from that wonderful resource often namechecked on this site, the Long Long Trail website, and colour came from a BBC Radio 4 iPlayer recording of telegraphist Annie May Martin on her work passing coded messages from the front line in France in 1918, and the hostility she experienced from local civilians.


The Imperial war Museum has excellent tape recordings, espe-cially Lt Col Savory of the Ferozepore Sikhs and Deborah Dring, the British civilian wife of a Major General in the Indian Army who is great on the effects of heat on children, enjoying Diwali, and how to keep water cool in a jug.