27  FEB 1937
The Scottish Ambulances in Spain.
Miss Jacobsen, the Lady Comandante, writes from Madrid as follows:-
During the few weeks we were away there have been enormous changes here. The whole outlook has become worse; starvation is rampant and neither for love nor money is a bit of coal to be had in all Madrid. We all shiver incessantly; to be in the house at night is a positive nightmare. Bed is the only solution and at the moment I am sitting rolled in layers of wool - not enough - with hands literally frozen stiff. Every one in Madrid has chilblains and looks pinched and miserable. We only hear the distant boom of the guns; there is practically nothing doing at the front as the weather is just too ghastly for words. As soon as it clears up and the people cease to be embedded in mud there will be a big offensive. It is a repetition of the conditions in Germany, Austria and Russia after the Great War.
We cannot get any food to buy here for ourselves - it just isn't to be had - so we have to draw on our relief supplies to feed the Unit, no matter how frugally, and then deal with relief work. The people are literally STARVING and babies dying for want of milk. If you could only assist at the scenes we have been having these last few days during our distribution of milk, ham, sugar, coffee, biscuits and chocolate in the badly-shelled districts near the Puente de Toledo and Tetuan, where many of the houses have had to be evacuated! To-night especially in Tetuan the Ambulance Staff thought I had gone west. For three solid hours the soothing masses of women with children and wailing infants behaved really well and with the help of our own men and two militiamen we got them lined up into fairly orderly queues. I stood taking names and addresses and enquiring into their circumstances, number of children, etc., while Burleigh and Watters decided just how much food that could be spared out of the Ambulance. We had already all our packages prepared, Burleigh having spent all morning boning and slicing the hams and making them up into parcels, while the others were making up bags of sugar, coffee, etc., and loading the Ambulance with cases of milk. The queues began to assume alarming proportions and when word went round that the supplies were running out there was PANDEMONIUM. They surged around us quite out of their minds, shrieking, tearing and clawing at each other; free fights were indulged in and our men and the militia were literally powerless to stem the tide. We thought both women and children would be