CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3991
VISITS DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS DURING THE MONTH
VISITS DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS DURING THE MONTH
Went to GHQ. Saw the DGMS and DDGMS with reference to the establishment of Nurses, and the scheme which I had submitted for his perusal with reference to the necessary happenings in the Armies, as well as in the Matron-in-Chief’s office, in consequence of the rapid advance and the difficulty of dealing satisfactorily with all matters in connection with the Nursing Services from the Boulogne Base. I also submitted suggestions with reference to the demobilisation of members of the Nursing Services when peace is proclaimed. Met Miss Kathleen Burke there; she had been visiting the Front areas with the DGMS and the DDGMS, she was on her way to Paris and I arranged to meet her there later on in the month before her return to America.
I went on to No.12 Stationary Hospital, where I had lunch, and from where I sent a telegram to Miss Stimson, Head of the American Nursing Service, saying that I was unable to go to Paris on the 4th, and asking her to appoint a date later in the month.
Then on to Lille, through Bethune, La Bassee, roads and weather very bad. Reported at the DMS Office, which has opened up in an enormous building, which had been left in very good preservation, except for the Electric Light Power House, which had been absolutely destroyed. I arranged with the DMS that I should take Miss Teevan, QAIMNS, the Principal Matron, round the Casualty Clearing Stations in the Army the next day.
Went on to 39 Stationary Hospital, where I stayed the night. This Unit had opened up in an enormous building recently occupied by the Germans as a Hospital, and it could accommodate an unlimited number of patients. One wing has been set apart for Sick Sisters, and would accommodate 16, if necessary. I arranged that Sisters with only minor illnesses should be nursed there, and should return to their Units if considered advisable, and that those who were likely to be ill for any length of time should be evacuated in the ordinary way by Ambulance Train. The Nursing Staff is accommodated in a large commodious house in the grounds, at present their great difficulty is lack of water and light supply. The Hospital was crowded with patients, and great difficulty is experienced with regard to evacuation in consequence of many of the bridges having been blown up. This Unit could accommodate 28 Nursing Staff. With the DMS’ approval I instructed Miss Teevan to look for a house which would be suitable as a Hostel for Nursing Sisters passing to and fro, as had been the practice at the Base. It is found necessary to open these Hostels with as little delay as possible in all Armies, so as to ensure Nurses being properly looked after and accommodated.
Went first to Ascq to 13 and 63 CCS opening up under canvas in fields, accommodation having been obtained for the Nursing Staff in billets not far away. They were not ready to take in, and the Nursing Staff were not expected till the evening.
Then on to Fretin, still raining hard, to No.1 Australian CCS, pitched under canvas, the Nursing Staff accommodated in a beautiful Chateau about 20 minutes walk, recently Headquarters of one of the German Armies. There was a staff of 15, 1 Team, and 2 lady Anaesthetists. The Sister in charge, Miss Menhennet, said that the staff were working very well, but that there were many of them overdue for leave and needing it badly.
I drove on to Pont a Marcq to the Field Ambulance where a staff of four had been sent to nurse refugees. They were in a small French Hospital, a great many of them had been evacuated, but there were still many more to go. I found that the Sister in charge, Miss Preston, was nursing one of the staff, Miss Toher, who had Pneumonia and who had apparently been kept 2 ½ days off duty before being seen by a Medical Officer. I found that Miss Preston was nursing her day and night, and sleeping in the room. I arranged for her to do day duty and Sister Allison night duty, and the 4th Sister, Miss Grant, to return to No.39 Stationary Hospital next day, as there was a French lady looking after the refugees, who could manage.
Then on to Don to Nos.15 and 32 CCS. These Units were also under canvas, and the Nursing Staff in both instances accommodated under canvas in the compound. Both were extremely busy mainly with cases of Influenza, many of which were of a very serious type. The Team Sister and Anaesthetist were working in the wards, as for some time there had not been any work in the Theatre. Everything was satisfactory in both Units.
Then to Cambrin to 54 CCS under canvas, the Nursing Staff also, everything most satisfactory and well managed. This Unit is likely to move up in the very near future, in which case it is hoped that the Hostel at Lille will be ready to accommodate these Nurses till their Unit re-opens.
Lille is a beautiful city and very little damage has been done, the shops had already begun to open up, and there is no doubt were of a first class type. The roads were beautiful and there were lovely houses everywhere.
Saw the DMS 5th Army, General Gerrard, before leaving. I told him what I had been able to do, and that the only Unit which I had been unable to visit owing to lack of time was No.51 CCS at Estaires. Learnt that this Unit had had orders to close down and move forward, and that the site had not yet been decided upon.
From there I went to St. André where No.11 CCS is opening up in another huge building, also recently a Hospital. There were big, airy wards and tessellated pavement everywhere, and the Nursing Staff were accommodated in one of the wings. These buildings are very different to manage in consequence of the small staff, as well as the small personnel. There was a staff of 15 with one American Team Sister and an Anaesthetist. Miss Fergusson, TFNS is Sister in charge and Lt. Colonel Hallows, RAMC, OC.
On to Roubaix, a most beautiful city, the only place that has looked really as in peace time I have seen since the beginning of the war. Lovely grounds and parks with beautiful water gardens. Magnificent residences, apparently only occupied by the very rich, and kept in perfect preservation as far as I could see by the Germans. The DMS and all his Staff established in a lovely Chateau. He and most of his Staff were in Hospital with Pneumonia, Captain Johnson was on duty, and Major Panton, who was away looking for new sites for Units. He told me that there was a possibility of No.10 Stationary Hospital opening up in that town, and I asked him to look out a suitable house as a Hostel. I learnt that the Duchess of Sutherland’s Hospital had already opened up in Roubaix in a most beautiful building selected for her by the Quartermaster General of the Army.
I then drove through Douai and Cambrai to Masnieres, Headquarters of the DMS 3rd Army established in a tiny little cottage set amongst a row of similar little dwellings, a great contrast to Headquarters of the DMS 2nd Army in Roubaix. Everything through Douai and Cambrai to this village was more or less destroyed, and in this actual village there was an enormous amount of destruction. I saw Surgeon-General Sir J. Murray Irwin, and the ADMS Colonel Tyndale. Everywhere there were an enormous number of casualties, and great difficulty was being experienced in consequence of the very bad weather, and the number of bridges which were suddenly being blown up owing to delayed mines left by the Germans. These constantly exploded when traffic passed either over or under the bridge. An Ambulance with the night Sisters from No.19 CCS had a miraculous escape, the bridge actually blew up as they were about to go under it, a lorry which was under was blown to pieces, and two Frenchmen and an Englishman were buried. Of the Sisters, one was only slightly wounded, and three were severely shaken.
I went on to Caudry to No.19 CCS, a long and difficult road, arriving at 8 o’clock. Found 19 CCS established in an enormous building with no windows and no light, hurricane lamps and candles being the only light except in the Operating Theatre where they had put up acetylene light. The Hospital was crowded with Pneumonias and wounded. I stayed the night in the Sisters’ quarters which were in a house at a considerable distance from the CCS in consequence of the bridge having been blown up and having to go a long way round.
With Miss Flower, Sister in charge 19 CCS, visited No.21 CCS, established in a large factory. They were very busy and very shorthanded, one of the Sisters, Miss Watson, being laid up in the billet critically ill with Pneumonia, a day and a night nurse attending her. She was being nursed under most comfortable conditions in a house, with every possible remedy at hand. I saw the Major in charge, and he was extremely anxious, and feared there was very little hope of her recovery. Miss Meeke, Sister in charge, Lt. Col. Walters, OC.
Then on to No.3 CCS Miss Ruck, TFNS Sister in charge, Lt. Col. Reay, OC. This Unit was also in an enormous building. They were extremely busy, with only 6 Nurses, and I undertook during the day to send the remainder of her Staff who had been scattered in other CCSs. Everyone was doing their utmost. The Staff were accommodated in a fine Chateau quite close. There was every convenience, except that there were no windows anywhere.
Then on to 49 CCS Miss Dunn Sister in charge, Lt. Colonel Ellery, OC. This Unit was opening up in a big building intended for the reception of refugees who were expected at any minute. The Nursing Staff were accommodated in two small houses quite close by. I had lunch at No.19 CCS after instructing Miss Flower to look out for a house for a Hostel. Wrote to the DMS 3rd Army and told him what I had done.
Then on to Awoingt to No.59 CCS, Sister in charge Miss Hopton, CHR, Lt. Col. Delacourt, OC.
No.45 CCS, Sister in charge Miss F. M. Tailer, TFNS, Lt. Colonel Pinches, OC.
38 CCS, Sister in charge Miss Baldrey, QAIMNS, Lt. Colonel Lowe, OC.
All three Units under canvas and working under the most trying conditions, heavy rain with mud everywhere, inches deep. Everyone was doing their utmost and the Hospitals full to overflowing. Found some of the Nurses belonging to No.3 CCS at both 59 and 38 CCS and arranged for them to be sent at once by Ambulance to their Unit.
On to Cambrai to 22 CCS Sister in charge Miss Wyllie. Lt. Colonel Goodwin, the late OC, had just left and the 2nd in command was temporarily in charge until the new OCs arrival. The Unit was in an enormous building, no light and no water, no lavatory accommodation, four storeys high, filled with minor cases, a certain number of seriously ill and a certain number of seriously wounded whom it had been impossible to transfer; the top floor full of refugees, wounded, gassed and sick, of all ages and all sexes. Staff only 14, who were doing their best, but not able to cope with the work. Stayed the night at their quarters in a house quite close, which they have made as comfortable as the conditions would allow. The staff were very well and working hard and most cheerfully, making the very best of the difficulties which presented themselves. I learnt that the DGMS had been there a few hours before my arrival, and gone all round the Unit, and appreciated the fact that they were working under great difficulties and very short-handed.
Visited Headquarters 3rd Army and left a letter for the DMS. Then on to the DMS Headquarters 4th Army at Eterpigny, near Peronne. These Headquarters are established in Nissen Huts which are well dug in. I saw the DMS and the ADMS. The DMS was arranging for a Hostel to be established as soon as possible at Le Cateau, which he considered would be ready for the occupation in the course of a day or so.
From there to Bohain. No.55 CCS, Lt. Colonel Higgs, OC, Sister D. P. Foster, TFNS in charge.
No.20 CCS, Lt. Colonel Ritchie, OC, Sister E. O. Schofield, CHR in charge, who had Influenza and was being evacuated.
No.50 CCS, Lt. Col. Simpson, OC, Sister Orchardson, TFNS in charge.
No.61 CCS, Lt. Col. Turner, Sister Blair, QAIMNSR in charge.
All were working under canvas, the staff being accommodated in bell tents and marquees in the compound, and all very busy. From each unit I found that one or two nurses had been evacuated with Influenza. At 20 CCS I arranged that Miss Schofield should go down without delay, and found that Miss Stavely would be able to carry on during her absence, with Miss McMillan as night sister. From every Unit I received satisfactory reports of the work and general management of the Nursing Staff.
On to Bussigny to No.12 CCS where I stayed the night. Slept in a bell tent which was well dug in and most comfortable: the Camp was situated in an enormous field, one mass of mud. Great difficulty was experienced in getting about in consequence of the trench mats not having arrived.
No.12 CCS, Lt. Col. Watson OC, who has recently taken over, Miss Duncan, CHR, Sister in Charge.
No.37 CCS, Lt. Colonel Rowe, OC, Sister Fewlass, CHR, Sister in charge.
No.47 CCS, Lt. Colonel Dive, Miss Roy, QAIMNS, Sister in charge.
All under canvas, the Sisters being accommodated under canvas also; all working well and the quarters extremely comfortable. Received a telephone message from the DMS asking me not to leave until his arrival. He told me that Le Cateau was now perfectly safe, that he was then on his way to select a building for No.41 Stationary Hospital and for the Hostel, and that Nos.5 and 47 CCS from Bihecourt and Nos.53 and 41 CCS from Roisel would be closing down tomorrow and opening up at Le Cateau.
I then went on to Bihecourt to No.47 CCS and on arrival received a message from the DGMS asking how soon I could get to GHQ and I arranged to meet him there at 6 o’clock. Had lunch and went round the Unit. OC Lt. Colonel Bateman, Sister in charge Miss Gray. Found that a Sister had been suspended from duty for giving treatment to a patient which had not been ordered, and which had resulted in serious consequences for the man. Saw the Sister and arranged for her to be transferred to the Base.
Left for GHQ via Peronne, Albert, Doullens and Frevent to Hesdin. Arrived in good time, was met by Miss Barbier, QAIMNSR, who brought all the returns with reference to the Nursing Services in France and the recent arrivals. The DGMS went into the question very fully, and sent a telegram to the War Office stating that the Nurses already asked for had not arrived. A further return was completed of the situation with regard to Trained Nurses during the last week, giving all particulars even to those sick in the country and those on leave. Had dinner at GHQ and got back at midnight.
Met Principal Matron, Miss Richards, RRC, QAIMNS who arrived by Hospital Ship on her way for sick leave in the South of France. Wrote immediately to the Matron-in-Chief at the War Office by King’s Messenger informing her of her safe arrival.
To Abbeville. Had lunch at No.2 Stationary Hospital “Annexe” and then went round the Sick Sisters’ Hospital. It was very full, 60 patients, including Trained Nurses, VADs and QMAACs, the majority doing well, but two Nurses critically ill with complications of Pneumonia.
I then visited No.3 Australian General Hospital and the South African General Hospital, mainly to see the Matrons with reference to the work, and whether they were requiring extra staff. In both Units the work had been enormous, but evacuations had been fairly frequent, and in consequence they were able to manage with their present staff, and in the course of a few days will be able to arrange for some to go on leave. I learnt that the dug-outs, as well as at No.2 Stationary Hospital, had just been completed; they had been excavated to a depth of between 40 and 60 feet, and were lighted by electricity.
I then went on to Headquarters, L of C where I saw the DDMS, the DMS having gone to Dunkirk with reference to looking out for a possible site for a Hospital which it might be necessary to establish there for the reception of wounded Officer Prisoners returning from Germany. The Unit which it was supposed would be going was No.8 Stationary Hospital. I was asked to do all in my power to make it as perfect as possible, and I pointed out that from every point of view it seemed that it would be more satisfactory if a British Unit could be selected for this special work, but later on I am going to hear what has been definitely decided. We discussed the question of the demobilisation of Nurses, and I was advised by the DDMS to write privately to the Matron-in-Chief asking whether any definite instructions had been formulated at the War Office on this subject. Returned to Boulogne.
Visited Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox with reference to the approaching visit of HRH Princess Mary. He wished me to undertake a lunch for the 21st at the Nurses’ Club, Abbeville. I undertook to send for Miss Loughron, the Matron of the ‘Annexe’, and to make all necessary arrangements. I explained to him that until I had let the Director General know I could not take any further action.
After lunch I went to GHQ where I saw the DDGMS, General Thompson, as the DGMS was in London. I explained to him all I knew, that HRH Princess Mary was supposed to be arriving on the 20th with the Lady Ampthill and Major Seymour to see something of women’s work in France, and that apparently Miss Crowdy, Principal Commandant VADs, was making all arrangements. Nothing official on this matter was known either at GHQ or by the Adjutant General. The DDGMS approved of me making every possible arrangement I could, and in the meantime he was going to see that the matter was put on an official footing. Returned to Boulogne.
Miss Loughron, QAIMNSR Aust., Matron Sick Sisters’ Hospital, Abbeville, arrived and went with me to see Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox, when everything in connection with the lunch at Abbeville on the 21st was finally decided, and she has undertaken to be responsible for everything. Colonel Fell came to the office after his visit to various Units of the Royal Air Force, and explained what was necessary and what was needed at No.42 Stationary Hospital, the Unit which has been detached from the Military Services for the benefit of the Independent Air Force. I saw the OC who informed me that the beds for Flying Officers at No.14 General Hospital were being transferred to No.39 Stationary Hospital at Lille, and he asked whether Miss Livingstone, the Sister in charge of the Division, might be transferred too.
Went to Hesdin, where I saw the DGMS on his return from England with reference to the great advance which begins on the 18th. The 2nd and 4th Armies will advance with the Medical Units which are considered necessary, the present arrangement being that 6 Casualty Clearing Stations will proceed with the 2nd Army, and 5 with the 4th Army. We discussed the question of HRH Princess Mary’s visit, which is now being placed on an official footing.
From there I proceeded to Roubaix, having lunch at No.12 Stationary Hospital on the way. I passed through Lille, where the troops were all waiting for the arrival of Marshal Foch. I arrived at Roubaix at 4.30, went to the Headquarters of the DMS, 2nd Army, where I learnt the arrangements in connection with the advance of the Army; as well as 6 Casualty Clearing Stations, it is proposed as they advance to take a suitable Hostel in the vicinity of the CCS where reinforcements can be waiting to meet casualties of the Nursing Staff and any temporary help which may be required, and where Nurses who are not suffering from any serious illness can be nursed and return to their Units; all those suffering from any complaint of a serious nature of any kind will be evacuated in the usual manner by Ambulance Train to a Base. Had tea at the Headquarter Mess, a most beautiful residence in first rate preservation which had recently been Headquarters of one of the German Armies, and the only thing which had been removed was the rubber from the cushions of the billiard table. The DMS arranged that his chauffeur should proceed with me and shew me the way to Tourcoing, where No.10 Stationary Hospital was opening up in a large girls’ school.
I arrived at Tourcoing at about 8 o’clock. The Hospital is built in large blocks capable of accommodating any number of patients with ample accommodation for Nursing Staff, Medical Officers and sick sisters, with central heating. On arrival I found that they were busy trying to get in, the whole of the equipment had not yet arrived, and they were not taking patients for the present until the water supply and the light and heating arrangements had been attended to. Miss Tunley, QAIMNS, Principal Matron of the Army and Matron of the Unit, was there with her staff of Nurses, and a certain number of Nurses who were returning from the Casualty Clearing Stations which were advancing, and which were only taking a staff of 7 with each Unit. I asked Miss Tunley if she would like to proceed with these Units, either in charge of a Casualty Clearing Station, or in charge of the Hostel, neither of which she seemed willing to do, as she seemed to think she would not have enough work to employ her. She was, I think, also taking into consideration that she would neither be drawing Principal Matron’s pay nor yet charge pay of a Hospital. Her decision not a little surprised me.
Left early with Miss Tunley for Courtrai. Arrived in time to see the staff of No.44 CCS with Colonel Emmerson and Miss Wood, QAIMNS, in charge, as they were moving off, having already handed over to No.62 CCS, the whole personnel, including the Nursing Staff being already there. The Unit was full of very seriously ill patients, mainly pneumonia cases. The building was a fine one consisting of small rooms capable of accommodating 6, or at most, 8 in each. I found that the staff selected for No.44 CCS were quite suitable and that everyone was well supplied with warm clothing and everything they required for the journey.
I then went on to Dadizeel where I saw the Staffs of Nos.64 and 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Stations, who were also ready to move forward. I was able to arrange that the Sister in charge of No.64 CCS Miss Johnson, QAIMNS, who had already sent in her resignation on account of her approaching marriage, should exchange with Miss Foley, QAIMNS of 10 CCS, who will take her place and proceed in charge of the Unit, Miss Johnson being instructed to hand over and then proceed to No.10 CCS temporarily until her resignation was accepted.
I returned by Menin, when I found S/Nurse Abel, QAIMNSR Aust. who had walked from Courtrai and who was not in authorised uniform. I brought her back with me to Tourcoing, and let No.62 CCS know that she would not return, as she was a member of their Staff. I returned to No.10 CCS where I had lunch.
I visited the Headquarters of the 2nd Army at Roubaix, and let the office know what I had been able to do. I learnt that No.10 Stationary Hospital and the four remaining Casualty Clearing Stations belonging to the 2nd Army had become part of the 5th Army from today, and also that Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland’s Hospital, which had been established at Roubaix, was demobilising.
I then went on to Lille to the Headquarters of the DMS 5th Army, where I saw General Gerrard, the DMS, who advised me to remain the night at No.39 Stationary Hospital to look for a house for a Hostel the next day, and to visit No.3 CCS which was just opening up at Tournai.
I went to No.39 Stationary Hospital where I found Miss Teevan extremely busy, the Unit being full of seriously ill people. I found also that Miss Moorhouse, Sister, AANS one of the staff of No.1 Australian CCS was critically ill with Pneumonia, following Influenza, she had specials day and night, and an Australian girl friend of hers was remaining with her. I looked at a very fine house, which we hoped would be able to be taken for a Hostel, but found that the owners were returning. The OC of 39 Stationary Hospital, Lt. Colonel Unwin, has undertaken to find another house.
Left with Miss Tunley for Tournai, visited Nos.51 and 2 Australian CCS which were established in an enormous sanatorium, which had recently been used by the Germans as a Hospital. If necessary it was capable of accommodating 2000 patients quite comfortably, and there was ample accommodation in various wings for the Nursing Staff and the personnel of both Units to be suitably and comfortably housed, one Unit to be quite apart from the other. The building was in very good preservation, and there were beautiful plants and gardens which had been kept in very good order. I was unable to see any of the Staff as they were all attending a Service.
I then went on to No.1 Australian CCS which was just opening up in nearly as big a building quite close to the sanatorium. I saw the OC, the Matron, and the Nursing Staff, all were very busy with a large number of sick patients. I returned in time for lunch which Miss Teevan and I had at the Headquarters of the DMS 5th Army.
After lunch I left for Hesdin, and arrived at tea time. I saw the DGMS and found correspondence form the BRCS had arrived for me, which had been sent to my office during my absence. The DGMS and I discussed what was to be done in connection with the approaching visit of HRH Princess Mary, he having already been informed by Lord Algernon Lennox of the lunch at the Nurses’ Club at Abbeville on the 21st. He arranged that I should go with him to meet Her Royal Highness on the 20th, and we both decided that the best Unit for her to see in Boulogne would be No.32 Stationary Hospital. Returned to Boulogne in time for dinner.
HRH Princess Mary, accompanied by the Lady Ampthill, GBE, Commandant-in-Chief, VADs, and Major Seymour, the equerry, arrived by the afternoon leave boat at Boulogne, on her first visit to the British Expeditionary Force. Among those to welcome Her Royal Highness on the quay were General Burtchaell, DGMS, Sir Arthur Lawley, Commissioner, BRCS, Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox, Colonel Thurston, DDMS Boulogne, Miss Crowdy, Principal Commandant, VADs, and myself, all of whom then proceeded with Her Royal Highness to the house which had been prepared for her reception, and where tea had been arranged.
Left with Miss Craig, VAD for Abbeville. Reported at the DMS Office, where I saw the DMS. Then went on to Princess Victoria’s Rest Club for Nurses to see if the arrangements had been completed in connection with the luncheon to HRH Princess Mary. Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox and the maid had already arrived. Found everything in readiness, the table well arranged, and prettily decorated with pink carnations, and set for 10, and the whole of the house in order. VADs from the Nurses’ Home had come to assist the 2 VADs attached to the Club with the cooking and waiting. The party consisted of HRH Princess Mary, the Lady Ampthill, Major Seymour the equerry, Miss Crowdy, Principal Commandant VADs, Miss Davey, Chief Controller QMAACs, Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox, the DGMS General Burtchaell, the DMS, L of C General Carr, the Base Commandant, Colonel Hulton, and myself. Miss Drummond Hay, one of the VADs, had arranged the menus, on which were represented the badges and ribbons of all the various women’s organisations in France arranged most artistically and, in miniature, emblems of the Allies intertwined. After lunch the Matrons of the Area, Miss Willetts, QAIMNS, Matron 2 Stationary Hospital; Miss Wilson, Principal Matron AANS, 3 Australian General Hospital; Mrs. Creagh, Matron 1 South African General Hospital, were presented to Her Royal Highness, also Madame Morant, Madame Blanger, and Madame Audin, at whose houses various members of my office staff had billeted when living in Abbeville. Her Royal Highness then left for Rouen, having first spoken to all the VADs present. Miss Craig, VAD returned to Boulogne with Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox, and I left for Amiens.
I arrived at No.41 Stationary Hospital at 7.30 p.m., and found the Hospital overflowing with Nurses who had been evacuated from the CCS which were moving forward, and no efforts had been made either by the CO or the Matron to comply with the orders forwarded and evacuate them to the Bases. Spent the night in the quarters at No.41 Stationary Hospital.
Before leaving Amiens I got into touch with the RTO and the Base Commandant with reference to the necessity of supplying transport for the evacuation of Nurses with as little delay as possible, and I also rang up the DMS, L of C.
I then left for Trouville, having lunch at Rouen, and arrived at Trouville at about 7 o’clock. I went to the DMS Office and with the ADMS I went to the Nurses’ Club where a room had been taken for me, and later General Hickson, the Base Commandant, and I discussed the arrangements which were being made for the arrival of HRH Princess Mary the next day. I learnt that the DGMS General Burtchaell was arriving, and would be staying with the DDMS. I was invited by the Matron of the Canadian Officers’ Convalescent home to dinner, but owing to the length of the journey I had just taken I excused myself.
I left early for the Hospitals, and went round Nos.72, 73 and 74 General Hospitals to see what arrangements had been made for the visit. I had lunch with the Matron of No.72 General Hospital, and immediately after lunch the party arrived, including HRH Princess Mary, Lady Ampthill, Miss Crowdy, General Burtchaell, Major Seymour, and General Hickson, the DDMS and Base Commandant Trouville. All the walking cases of this huge Camp were lined up, the entrances to the Sisters’ and the General Service members’ Quarters were also lined with VADs and Trained people, bands were playing in front of each Hospital, and men of the Royal Scots, at the request of Her Royal Highness, were lined up so that she might specially inspect them, as she is Honorary Colonel of the Regiment. All the Hospitals and Messes were inspected, and all Officers and members of the Services in the wards were presented to Her Royal Highness. At 4.30 she went to the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital, where tea had been arranged. After dinner she held a reception at the Club where VADs from all Hospitals, as well as Convoy and General Service people were invited.
Before leaving Trouville, at 8 a.m. I visited the Sick Sisters’ Hospital, which was full of patients, none of them seriously ill, and I was able to see a large number who were being evacuated to the United Kingdom.
I left for Abbeville via Rouen. Just before getting into Rouen, the axle of the car broke. I met with great kindness and attention from the Motor Transport Depot people. Arrangements were made for the car to be repaired as soon as possible, I had lunch in the Officers’ Mess, and afterwards a closed car was provided, and an Officer came with me to Abbeville. Arrived at Abbeville. I visited the DMS office to make arrangements with reference to the Nurses who had been asked for to proceed to Bruges to nurse Belgians, and arranged that Miss G. Wilton Smith, Matron, QAIMNS, and Miss Barbier should go to Bruges first to find out what arrangements had been made. I rang up the DDT at Headquarters, and arranged that a car should be sent to take me to Boulogne in the morning, and they undertook to see that my own car should be repaired with as little delay as possible.
Left at 7 a.m. and arrived at Boulogne at 9.30. Arranged for Miss Wilton Smith and Miss Barbier to leave at once for Bruges, the DDMS making arrangements to supply a car.
They returned on the evening of the 27th and reported to me as follows:-
After making enquiries for about one hour they were able to locate the office of the Inspecteur General du Service de Santé, General Melis, who was absent from Bruges at the time. The Officers on duty knew nothing of a demand having been made for British Nurses, but they were conducted to the billet of General Melis’ Chief of Staff to whom they explained their mission. This Officer also knew nothing of the matter, but said that a wire had been received by them on Saturday, 23rd, notifying that 24 Nurses were arriving, and that they had been unable to gather to what it referred. He advised that they should be accommodated for the night, and that they should report at 8.30 a.m. next day to General Melis, who might be able to throw some light on the matter. Accordingly the following day they reported to the Medecin Chef who said he knew nothing of a demand having been made, but suggested that the Matron and 24 Nurses should be sent to the Hospital Militaire at Brussels, where there were at present no nurses. It was represented, however, that this could not be done without further and more definite instructions. Finally after making various enquiries, the Inspecteur General requested these two ladies to report to Colonel Noltz, Physician to HM Queen Elizabeth, the OC of the Hopital St. Michel, who had informed him that the demand for 1 Matron and 24 nurses had been made by HM Queen Elizabeth about a fortnight ago owing to the very serious epidemic of Influenza at Bruges. He was very anxious to obtain the services of the Nurses to enable him to transfer his present nursing personnel to Brussels. The Hopital St. Michel was formerly a lunatic asylum. It has from 7 to 800 beds and is capable of expanding to 1000 in case of necessity. The Sisters’ quarters are in a wing of the Hospital and are quite suitable airy rooms, and there is good dining accommodation. Colonel Noltz said that there would be a certain number of Nuns and other voluntary workers who would assist the nurses. There were also about 100 German prisoners of war employed as stretcher bearers and other general duties. Having ascertained that the services of the nurses were required they notified me by wire, and I at once arranged for the first party of 12 with Miss A. P. Wilson, QAIMNS as Matron to leave by road on the morning of the 27th and the remainder, 13, with Miss McCormick, QAIMNS in charge, to leave on the morning of the 28th instant.
Was commanded by HRH Princess Mary to attend a dinner party given by her on the evening of the 26th. Among the guests present were Lady Ampthill, Major Seymour, the Equerry, Dr. Sandeman, Chief Medical Controller of QMAACs, Miss Fletcher, Principal Matron, BRCS, Colonel Thurston, DDMS Boulogne, Major Wynch, Deputy Commissioner, BRCS, Major Crawford, BRCS and myself.
Received a telephone message in the evening to say that the Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig would call at my office to see me in the morning.
Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, accompanied by two Staff Officers, arrived at my office at 12.15, and thanked me for the work done by all the Nursing Services since the beginning of the war. He was on his way to the quay to meet HM King George, who with HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Albert, were coming from England. The Royal party arrived at 1 o’clock on the Destroyer, HMS Broke, commanded by Admiral Sir Roger Keyes; they were met by many military and civil officials, both French and English, and received an enthusiastic welcome from the onlookers. A guard of honour was drawn up on the quay, which His Majesty inspected, and the party then left for lunch at the Officers’ Club.
HRH Princess Mary, accompanied by Lady Ampthill, General Carr, DMS, L of C, and myself, visited Hospitals in the Boulogne Area prior to her departure for England. She inspected No.54 General Hospital and the Recreation Hut attached, No.55 General Hospital, and No.32 Stationary Hospital. At this latter Unit the Nursing VAD members were drawn up outside for her inspection, one of whom presented Her Royal Highness with a beautiful bouquet of pink carnations. She went in various wards, the band playing all the time, and visited the General Service VAD Section of the Hospital. All the Matrons of the Boulogne Area were presented to Her Royal Highness, and she afterwards partook of light refreshments in one of the huts and conversed with the senior Matrons of the Area and the Matrons of the Overseas Dominion Hospitals.
After lunch HRH Princess Mary inspected detachments of VAD members (both nursing and general service section) and QMAACs who were drawn up in bodies of 50 outside the Hotel Christol; she then left for the afternoon boat. The VAD Staff of my office were lined up on the quay and were presented to her, and Miss Urquhart, the VAD who is in charge of the VAD records, went down to Her Royal Highness’ cabin and presented her, on behalf of all the Military nursing VADs in France, with a basket festooned with ribbons of all the Allies and containing an engraved shell case and other souvenirs of her visit to France. As the boat left the quay Her Royal Highness took up her position on the bridge, and waved till she was out of sight.
The Matrons of all the British Military Hospitals in the Boulogne Area came to my office in the afternoon to discuss various matters in connection with the work of Hospitals. It was impressed upon them that the feeling of restlessness growing up among the Nursing Staff since the signing of the Armistice should be checked; as we are still in a state of war, the services of all are required. In due course orders will be received from the War Office with regard to demobilisation. The Matrons were asked to keep their records well up to date, and not to permit slackness in uniform.
SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER, 1918
42 Stationary Hospital, on 1.11.18: Staff supplied – 31
4 Stationary Hospital, on 3.11.18: Staff supplied – 25
7 Casualty Clearing Station, on 15.11.18: Staff supplied – 5
Military Hospital, Bruges, on 27.11.18: Staff supplied – 25
Total – 86
Trained – 33
Untrained – 62
Sent home sick
Trained – 39
Untrained – 24
Returned from sick leave
Trained – 14
Untrained – 5
Total at present sick in UK
Trained – 139
Untrained – 80
Resignations sent forward
Trained – 7 (2 for marriage)
Transfers to Home Establishment
Trained – 6
Approx No. of leaves granted
To United Kingdom – 420
To Paris – 21
To South of France – 100
Total – 541
Untrained returned to England
Resigned – 17 (2 for marriage)
Termination of Contract – 8 (2 for marriage)
Transferred to Home Establishment – 7
Total – 32
[This seems to refer to deaths, although not actually stated]
S/Nurse E. H. Watson, QAIMNSR on 5.11.18: Pneumonia
Sister E. A. Baker, SAMNS on 6.11.18: Pneumonia
Miss G. Llewellyn, VAD, BRCS on 3.11.18: Pneumonia
N/Sister E. V. Mackay, CAMC on 4.11.18: Pneumonia
Sister E. A. Moorhouse, AANS on 24.11.18: Pneumonia
R/Nurse M. L. Pepoon, USANC on 24.11.18: Endocarditis
Military Medals awarded
N/Sister H. E. Hansen, CAMC on 8.11.18: 7 Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister B. McNair, CAMC on 8.11.18: 7 Canadian General Hospital
Married and retained in France
Sister M. Lockhart, TFNS (Mrs. Care)
Total No. of CAMC
Transferred to England – 21
Arrived in France – 9
Now in France – 768
Total of AANS
Transferred to England – 18
Arrived in France – 5
Now in France – 393
Total requirements of Nurses in BEF according to War Establishment on L of C (excluding Stationary Hospitals in Front areas, and including Trains and Barges)
Trained Nurses – 2324
Untrained Nurses – 1488
Total requirements of Nurses in Front Areas (Including Stationary Hospitals in Front Areas and Casualty Clearing Stations)
Trained – 695
Total requirements in BEF
Trained – 3019
Untrained – 1488
Total British Staff now in BEF
(Not including 5 Dietitians, 57 Anaesthetists, 4 employed at Hostels, 3 Embarkation Sisters)
Trained Nurses – 2475
Americans attached British Units nursed by British personnel – 113
Canadians attached British Units nursed by British personnel – 35
Total – 2623
(Not including 11 Secretaries to A/Principal Matrons, 6 employed at Hostels, 3 on temporary duty at 1 General Hospital.)
Total – 1715
Total shortage on establishment
Trained Nurses – 396
Trained Nurses sick in hospital – 125
Trained Nurses on leave – 116
Total – Actual shortage of Trained Nurses – 647
Untrained Nurses total surplus on establishment – 227
Untrained Nurses sick in Hospital – 100
Untrained Nurses on leave – 129
Actual shortage of Untrained Nurses – 2
Grand total in BEF (including Overseas and Americans)
Trained Nurses – 4835
*Untrained – 3237
*This included 943 General Service VADs working in British Units