DISTRESS IN SPAIN.
WORK OF SCOTTISH AMBULANCE UNIT.
GLASGOW, November 4th. 1938.
The many friends who subscribed to enable us to send a substantial consignment of food, medical and other comforts, and a new ambulance for local work among non-combatants in and around Madrid during bombardments, will be glad to know that the " Stangate " reached Valencia safely on Sunday, 30th October, and began discharging next morning. We were all very thankful as this was the costliest shipment we have made, the total value being nearly £3,500 and the need in Spain, especially for foodstuffs, being greater than ever. Our joy was short-lived, however, for Tuesday morning's newspapers reported "that insurgent warplanes bombed Valencia yesterday. A number of houses were destroyed, and some 15 bombs fell close to three British merchant ships". One message said that a bomb struck the " Stangate ". Fortunately a telegram from Miss Jacobsen informed us that it did no serious damage. Discharging continued and with our usual luck everything was safely landed and despatched by our own lorries to Madrid.
But Miss Jacobsen's list of households desperately requiring help is increasing daily. The original number - 700 - reached 800 in October and will soon touch 850, besides numerous cases of invalids needing special care. These figures represent only a small fraction of the numbers who apply for help and have to be refused.
Miss Elsie Brook, Miss Jacobsen's indefatigable helper, is now on a short visit to her family in Yorkshire - the first for three years. The stories she tells of the distress in the midst of which she was living in Madrid are positively heartrending. For instance:
"A woman - hunger in every line of her face - who had been on our list for a short time, begged me with tears in her eyes to visit her house. She was so insistent that I went. The building had been badly bombed and I had to step over piles of debris, but the flat was intact. First I met the grandmother; I could see that she was sharing her rations with the children. Then came the father; I was shown an old photograph of him; he was merely a shadow of his former self. Behind him came a boy of 21 suffering from shell-shock. The light had gone out of his eyes, and like a child he was playing with a toy. Then a boy of 16 and a girl of 14 - both terribly pale and thin. "This boy was spitting blood (the dread sign of consumption) but is better since you helped us...I am afraid for the little girl..." Then, forcing a smile, she said cheerfully: "Let us have some music". It was ghastly! We passed into a larger room, obviously never used. The boy of 16 sat down at the piano and struck a chord. The mother picked up a violin and played exquisitely the "Ave Maria" based on Mascagni's /