In fact I remember being so inspired by Betty's story I went back to a thread I'd started elsewhere and read what I'd originally written. I thought people here might like to read a few extracts from the book, saves you ploughing through it:
"Having recently been digging out some information for a pal on Betty Stevenson, who died during an air raid attack in Etaples aged 21 whilst working for the YMCA, I came across a book printed after her death (the preface transcribed below will inform more fully). I also have (temporarily) in my possession two books which were Betty's. One dated 1908 (she was aged 11) and the other dated 1913 (aged 16) in which she has drawn flowers and birds and made notes on her nature walks.
I have gone through the two 'Nature' books, admiring her talent and giggling at her spelling (her mother despaired of her!) and was able to take pleasure from recognising places she had been (she lived here in Harrogate). I then read the 'Story of Betty'. My how I've been inspired. For one so young she really did have an extraordinary ability of making others feel better about themselves/situation.
Anyhow, in the book there are extracts of letters etc and amongst them is the following, which I thought some of you may be interested in:
This story of Betty's twenty-one years has been printed, first because she was one of a big family of friends who loved her dearly, and who wanted to have a record of her life and death which another generation might still remember, when our stories and memories are silent. And secondly, because it seemed to us, who knew and loved Betty best of all, that, although she never thought of it herself, she had a message to give the world.
During the testing years of war, the spirit of England has been kept alive and strengthened by the gallant devotion of those who fought and died for her, and whose motto, whether they knew it or not, was the vow of Blake:
"I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land."
Devotion and self-sacrifice must draw the picture, but, none the less, joyousness and gay adventure may colour it. It was so that our Happy Warrior set out, and so she did her war work to the end.
She could say with Antigone: "I was not born to join in hate, but love." for us at home, with not one word of the peril, weariness, and strain through which Etaples was passing.
We have added a little poem, "The Two Ships," and a little Christmas story, both of which she wrote in 1915. We are grateful to Betty's many friends who have allowed us to print their letters. Each adds something to the picture of Betty.
Extract from a letter to a grieving mother:
We have just come back from putting the little one in her last resting-place. she had a soldier's funeral, and a beautiful service, and some lovely wreaths and flowers, and I can assure you there was not a soul there whose heart did not ache with sorrow for you.
I feel her dear spirit round the place .........
You see, dear, I was blessed in having her up to the end .............
I must tell you about the funeral, as I am afraid no one properly did. We all went to the soldiers' cemetery and lined up at each side of the little chapel, and waited there till they carried her out, with a Union Jack rolled round just like a soldier. We went up and put our flowers and our love on the top, and the little procession started on its way down, the chaplain in his white robes in front, soldiers wheeling the little carriage; and the bugler; and then we came in twos. I walked directly behind with Effie, and then the drivers, and Lady Cooper and Mr Scott, and all the others.
The Burial Service was read and the 90th Psalm, and the chaplain spoke a few words, telling of her work, and how she had died for her country like a soldier. It was a beautiful and touching service, and was attended by her fellow-workers, people from Boulogne, her soldier friends, and the French sent a French Staff Officer from GHQ, to pay his respects with the others; he stood, a splendid figure, and saluted as she was carried by.
We did not have a hymn as it was a military funeral, but it was a beautiful service, and we had some verses which I have marked in my Bible to show you. And then at the last the bugler sounded the Last Post, and there was not a dry eye amongst us all, and I held on tight to my courage, and prayed so hard for you. Then they lowered her gently in, and we stepped forward and sprinkled her little bed with flowers.
Dear, it was beautiful, and it is a lovely spot with the river and the sea, and the woods all over the other side. She went home with all her courage, and a smile on her dear lips, and her lovely soul had gone without suffering.