St. Aloysius Academy graduate Alice Holmes and her companions completed their three-month service in Russia and bid farewell to their patients and the staff in the Petrograd hospital at the end of January 1917. Here we pick up with Alice’s description of the group’s trip home.
This was before the great uprising in Russia which has banished the Czar, the Empress, and other members of the Royal family from the Imperial Palace.
On the train with us, as we were going to Krylbo, Sweden, was a party of refugees from Bucharest, Rumania, and from them we heard some of the saddest, most tragic stories of the war. One was a young Belgian who had been making his living in Bucharest. His home was in a little village just outside the capitol. He was in the city but when the bombardment of Bucharest by the Germans began, he went at once to his home—but found the village raided—his wife and child gone. Without home—or that which makes home, wife and child—he was on his way to France.
There was another, a Belgian also, whose home had been in Bucharest. He sent his wife and children to Odessa. He remained in Bucharest until the last minute, trying to persuade his servants to seek safety in flight, but they would not go—staying to watch his property. At last he left the city and for two months remained in a tunnel by day and came out at night for air until the Germans had left that part of the country. Then he made a long trail of several miles on foot until he reached a train and finally after three month’s time reached Odessa. He had with him, his wife and children and was taking them to France.
Such were some of the personal stories which could not but arouse our greatest sympathy and such tragic scenes were part of life in all the warring countries.
We reached Bergen, Norway on January 31, hoping to sail the following day for Scotland and I thought I would visit England for a brief period at least. But the steamer could not leave the port without permission of the English authorities and we had to wait for that permission.
There was a ferry to take us from the steamer to the town and there was much to see there of interest. But we kept our quarters on the steamer and each night were back to it thinking that we might sail on the morrow. At the end of the month we were told to get off as the steamer had received permission to sail without passengers. So there we were left in Norway . . .
--[Echoes/St. Aloysius Academy; Alumnae Number; Vol. X No. 11 June 1917]