• Bruce Bandersson writes to Susan Barlow:
Thanks for posting World War I Memories by Dorothy Cheney. This was so well done it could have been written by a professional research author of history. It gives insight on the brutality of war, any war, it was personal, up close and so detailed I felt like I was there experiencing the time.
Manchester was so fortunate to be blessed with the very benevolent Cheney family. They gave their all for Manchester and the world where ever they were involved. Are there any surviving relatives living in Manchester?
Susan replies: There are some Cheney family members in Connecticut (and of course all around the country), but I don't know about Manchester.
• Mary Ann Foote, Hebron CT Historical Society, writes to Susan Barlow:
I so enjoyed Dorothy Cheney's "Memories" this morning. I read it with my breakfast and for an hour or so beyond. She wrote extremely well, and her memories were vivid. What a volunteer effort for her twin and herself!
Thank you so much for including "Memories" in this MHS update,
• Jim Hall writes to Susan Barlow:
Just finished reading Dorothy Cheney's "Memories" book. To say it was a revelation is an understatement. One seldom hears about the conditions when caring for wounded soldiers in World War I, now nearly a century in the past. What Dorothy Cheney has given us is an unflinching view of what it was like during that period, for them, for the soldiers they cared for, and for the French civilians they encountered.
Dorothy and her twin sister Marjory were in their mid-30s when they left for this volunteer service. They were Cheney's, and as such were about as upper-class as you could get back then. By any measure they didn't have to go ... but they did.
One wishes that one could thank them for what they did back so long ago. It probably wouldn't be enough; but at least it would be a start.
Susan replies: So true, Jim. Their brother Ward was killed in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Their father was a Civil War veteran. Cousin Sherwood went to West Point and was career military.
• Timothy Williams, a son of Hannah Cheney Williams, writes to Susan Barlow:
My very faint memories of Aunt Peg and Doll are close to the images of them in the video of Hannah's wedding posted on this website, two amiable elderly women in long white dresses and large hats. What a shock to begin reading her book and find mordant wit and some of the most unflinching descriptions of war I have read. Her no-nonsense style reminds me most of Hemingway. Her courage and fortitude under miserable conditions reminds me that young American women of the early 1900s were tough and determined despite those lovely dresses and hats.
Here is an example: In the Beauvais hospital near the front. It is night and pitch dark in a room filled with 100 wounded men during an air raid with a single flickering flame for light. Bloody, filthy, delirious wounded are steadily being unloaded from ambulances into the hospital.
"Suddenly there was a terrific tearing, crashing explosion. The glass of one of the windows cracked. A Red Cross man helped me lift the stretchers away from under the windows so that glass would not fall on them. Crash followed crash and always high up above all was the sharp short rattle of the machine gun. A handsome young doctor came running in looking for his wife who was a nurse, threw his arms about her and gave her a farewell kiss. A touch of the melodramatic suddenly made the whole thing seem like a scene from the movies. He pulled the mattress from a cot on to the floor and crouched there with his wife and another nurse and called to me to come too. The very last thing in the world I wanted to do was to sit still and think about what might happen. I said so to a big fat ambulance boy who was standing beside me and he took me by the arm and said, "That's right, Sis, what can I get you?" He brought me a basin of hot water and I found a towel and a piece of soap and fell to on a poor boy and washed him as he had never been washed before."
Webmaster's Note-1: The following email was written prior to the addition of Dorothy Cheney's
[World War I] "Memories" book
to this web site. The "squibs" refers to Susan Barlow's
excerpts of Dorothy's book.
• B. Owen Williams, another son of Hannah Cheney Williams, writes to Susan Barlow:
Thank you for these squibs, which are indeed tantalizing.
I can remember visiting Peg and Doll in the Homestead, and, I am ashamed to say, doing so with the jaundiced view of a Grade Schooler. "They really are old people aren't they; they don't seem to hear very well and moving about isn't their strong suit. And, I am not really sure what to say to them. Do we have anything really in common?"
Even though I was told that they had done many things, such as work as volunteers and nurses in WWI, the reality of what they did never really sunk in at the time. For ladies born in the late Victorian era, to travel abroad and work under the described conditions was truly extraordinary. What DNA to have indeed.
I look forward to more from their book.
Note-2: Dorothy and Marjory Cheney were Hannah Cheney's aunts. The marriage of Hannah Cheney and Byard Williams in September, 1939, is documented in film in our Facebook page; and can be accessed directly in this web site's 'Selected YouTube Videos' section of our "Related Web Sites" page by clicking here.