Skip to main content

First World War: Cantine des Dames Anglaises, 1914-1924

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9790/5

Scope and Contents

In July 1917, Ruth Darwin began volunteer work at an 'English Canteen' established in the Argonne region in eastern France. It was one of fifty or so Cantine des Dames Anglaises organised by the British Committee of the French Red Cross where English women served refreshments and organised entertainments for French soldiers. Ruth volunteered at a 'Foyer de Cantonnement', a particular class of canteen with recreation rooms where men could sit and read, smoke, play games and write letters.
On arrival in France, Ruth assisted in the setting up of a Foyer de Soldat (Soldier's Home) in Avenay where she remained until it was abandoned in May 1918 following the German Spring offensive. Thereafter, Ruth worked in Sainte-Menehould and, after the Armistice, set up a refugee shelter in Reims where she remained until May 1919 before returning home to England.
Many of the French soldiers who passed through the Foyer de Soldat wrote to Ruth and several continued their correspondence until the early 1920s. This correspondence forms the principle part of this series. Other items included are letters from colleagues at the Foyer de Soldat, travel documents and permits, notification of honours and awards, Ruth's accounts and observations of some of her activities, a handful of photographs and a collection of ephemera.


  • Creation: 1914-1924


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1.5 archive box(es) (1.5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom