The Second Line Of Defense

: Winning A Cause World War Stories

In Norwich, England, stands a memorial which will forever be visited

and prized by travelers from every part of the world, and especially by

the people of England and of Belgium. It is the statue erected to

Edith Cavell, the British nurse who was wrongfully condemned to death

for helping innocent women and children to escape from the terrible

cruelties of the invading Huns. That her fine courage equals the

bravery of
any soldier is indicated in the sculptor's work itself. It

represents a soldier of the Allies looking up toward her strong, kindly

face, raising in his right hand a laurel wreath to place at one side of

her, opposite the one already hung at the other.

The statue is a symbol of the glorious deeds and the beautiful spirit

of the women of France, England, and America, during the awful

conflict. It is difficult to realize the complete revolution which

took place in the lives of the women of the world when they awakened to

the need for their services in connection with the war.

In forsaken schoolhouses and barns, as well as in quickly erected

hospitals, near the firing lines, they moved quietly in and out among

the patients, administering needed medicines, bringing cheer and

comfort to the long line of wounded soldiers. At unexpected moments

the hospital was bombarded, making it necessary for them hurriedly to

transfer their patients to some other building. During a bombardment

of a large theater which had been turned into a hospital, several

patients were too ill to be moved. So some of the nurses, wearing

steel helmets, remained to care for these men while shells burst all

around them.

[Illustration: This memorial to the memory of Edith Cavell was unveiled

by Queen Alexandra in Norwich, England, at the opening of the Nurse

Cavell Memorial Home. The statue and the home for district nurses are

constant reminders of the nurse, a brave victim of Prussian despotism,

who lived a patriot and died a martyr.]

Certain dressing stations in which the nurses cared for the most

seriously wounded were so near the firing line that the men could be

carried to them. Summoned, perhaps by a Red Cross dog, a nurse at

times ventured out under the enemy's fire. In the fields or woods lay

a badly injured man who must have constant care until darkness would

permit bringing him in unseen by the enemy, for the Huns spared neither

the wounded nor the Red Cross workers.

In the operating rooms, in hospital kitchens, on hospital trains and

ships, the nurses gave no thought for their own safety but worked

untiringly to save the wounded.

But even thousands of miles from the firing line, women were saving

lives and winning the victory. There were the girls who assisted the

police in the places of the men gone to fight. Gloriously they served

during many an air raid over France and England, ready in the face of

danger to do their full duty,--like those of Paris, who behaved so

bravely that some one suggested they be mentioned in the Orders of the

Day. But the commanding officer's reply only reflected the daring

spirit of the girls themselves. No, he said, we never mention

soldiers in orders for doing their duty.

There were the women and girls who went to work in fireproof overalls,

stopping before entering the shop to be inspected and to give up all

jewelry, steel hairpins, and anything else which might cause an

explosion of the munitions among which they worked. They might be seen

often with their hair hanging in braids as they hurried to and fro

between the different sheds, over the narrow wooden platforms, raised

from the ground to prevent them from carrying in on the soles of their

shoes any particles of grit, iron, steel, or glass, that might cause a

spark among the high explosives. So well did these women work that

near the end of the war in many places more shells were made in two

weeks than previously could be made in a year. The many women,

willingly risking their lives in these shops, made this work possible.

In England alone, where seventy-five out of every hundred men stepped

out to fight, seventy-five out of a hundred women and girls left their

homes and stepped in to work or to serve.

More tiresome were the long hours spent at machines in large closed

factories where army blankets and clothing of all sorts were turned out

for the use of the fighting men.

Out on the farms the girls could be seen in overalls, plowing furrows

in long, sloping fields, and planting potatoes and vegetables to help

feed the world. With hard work and small pay, they too helped win the

victory. One girl tells how on arriving home from work one night, she

found at the house a letter from a friend.

How jolly it must be, she wrote, and how you must be enjoying it!

That day had been particularly cold and wet and windy, but the girls

had worked right through it. When they had finished, they were damp

and weary and only glad that it was time for tea. I don't feel a bit

patriotic, said the girl, and I don't care if I never plant another

potato. She was an artist and found farm life very different from

sitting in a quiet studio. But planting potatoes was more helpful to

her country and so the next morning found her up early and ready to

work again.

Like this artist many women, unused to common labor, gladly left lives

of ease and good times to help win the war even by drudgery. In the

case of English women this was particularly true, and would have been

true in America if the war had continued much longer. As it was, the

women of America responded to the call of service with the same spirit

which sent millions of men to the colors. Besides those positions

which, left open by men going into war, were filled by women, countless

services were performed by them to add to the comfort and happiness of

soldiers, sailors, and marines. Knitted articles were made for the

needy in the service, and for the destitute in the ravaged war

countries. Not a canteen in the whole United States but has seen the

untiring devotion of weary workers who whole-heartedly sacrificed their

time and household comforts. In Europe the Salvation Army lassies

worked in the trenches themselves. Hospitals everywhere have been made

more grateful sanctuaries by the tender reassurance of the American

nurse. As if by one voice the fighters of the nation unite in praise

and appreciation of all the women who by their help made the second

line of defense.

[Illustration: Somewhere in France these Salvation Army lassies are

baking pies and doughnuts for the doughboys. Their kitchen is set up

in a part of the trenches under constant fire from the German guns.

You can see their box respirators, or gas-masks, worn at the alert

position. Home cooking for the soldiers made home itself seem not so

far away after all!]