Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday 11th November 1943

36 furlongs today.

At the OT Dept. the disorganisation caused by the fire is now ended and the book binders shop is back again in the quiet little room where it used to be. The tap works in the wash basin, there is even electric light in working order!

Bill Lias has been told that he will be going home shortly – perhaps next week.

The moon was at the full last night (it rather dimmed some of my favourite stars!) and one wonders whether the moon has the influence upon neurotics and psychotics which it is supposed to exert. Anyway it was not a very tranquil evening or night.

One patient threw a fit (hysterical, not epileptic) and later this same man refused to take a sleeping draught, saying it was poison. He got a bit violent and ran into the wash house. Three orderlies went in after him, and we then heard grunts and cries of pain coming from the unlit wash house... Very soothing.

Lights-out as usual at 9p.m. and I fell asleep soon after. At about 11p.m. I awoke suddenly with a scream, or howl, still ringing in my ears. However I lay still; perhaps I was imagining it. Moonlight was streaming into the shadowy ward at several windows and everything looked peaceful in my part of the ward; the other half I couldn't see because of a dividing half-wall beside my bed. From beyond I heard a faint shuffling... then the hurried footsteps of a night orderly coming; I saw the weak flicker of his lantern, reflected on the opposite wall.

Suddenly the silence was again broken, this time by the quavering voice of Magee, in that unseen part of the ward. “Orderly! Orderly! Come 'ere quick! There's a man going crackers 'ere. No! Not there – there!” As he spoke there was a ghastly, blood freezing screech on the other side of my half-wall. There was something indescribably horrible about it, and in the way the poor creature then rushed out into the moonlight, still screaming. He had a knife in one hand and a tin bowl in the other.

Orderlies appeared from nowhere and after a brief struggle I saw them carry the madman away. Four of them held him horizontally, by the legs and arms. He was howling, but now and then we caught coherent words. He was a foreign Jew but curiously enough he was crying out in English... “NAZIS! LET ME OFF THIS TIME! DON'T SLAY ME! NAZIS!” The sound of screams lasted about 20 minutes, then died away.

That was another very soothing incident on this night of the full moon.

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