CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3991
VISITS AND WORK AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS DURING THE MONTH
VISITS AND WORK AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS DURING THE MONTH
Left for 4th Army, lunched at No.12 Stationary Hospital, St. Pol, and with Miss Bond, QAIMNS Principal Matron, went to Valenciennes, where after reporting to the DMS of the Army, we stayed at No.2 CCS. This Hospital has recently been taken over by Miss Corbishley, QAIMNS. It is established in a large school, and it is receiving only refugees, men, women and children, in large numbers, and of all ages, and suffering from all sorts of complaints. Everything possible is being done for them, the wards are well arranged and the patients look extremely comfortable, the only difficulty being the need of clothing; a certain amount has been sent by Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, but they are badly in need of more. There was a staff of 13 at this Unit, and three French ladies had arrived that night from Arras to assist. They are accommodated in two very good houses, not far from the Hospital, and they are fortunate in having some excellent Belgian servants, as well as two batmen. I saw the OC and he expressed himself exceedingly satisfied with the present arrangements, Miss Corbishley having recently taken over because she spoke fluent French, and Miss Potts who was thus released filled her vacancy at No.58 CCS.
With the DMS and Miss Bond visited No.57 CCS, recently opened in a very large building capable of accommodating any number of patients, which had recently been used by the Germans as a Hospital, and a great deal of their equipment had been left behind. It was beautifully managed, and the wards looked first rate in every respect. The Hospital was full of seriously ill men suffering mainly from Influenza and Pneumonia, many of whom, there was no doubt, were not going to recover. The work the nurses were doing was simply magnificent, and the Army Commander had been to the Unit to thank them. Lt. Colonel Clayton OC, Miss Russell Lee Sister in charge. Practically no surgical work was being done here.
Form there I went to No.4 Canadian CCS, also in a big building. They were apparently faced with many difficulties, and their Unit was overcrowded with patients waiting for evacuation, and was not in the same state of order as the two other Units. Lt. Col. Campbell OC, Miss Johnston A/Matron, with a staff of 24, and of that number 5 were sick in quarters. I visited the quarters, a big house, well furnished and comfortable in every respect. I found the sick Sisters sleeping in separate rooms in which members of the Staff who were on duty were also accommodated, one Sister only being in a room to herself, this one having been on the DI list, but was better at the time of the visit. I pointed out to the Matron the necessity of keeping one ward apart for the sick Sisters and accommodating them all together: they could be better looked after, would be quieter, and it would obviate the risk of spreading infection, as these girls were suffering from Influenza. As soon as it is possible the DMS is going to take a house in the Army so that all sick Sisters can be nursed, in the same way as on the L of C as the distances are now so great that it is impossible to evacuate them to our existing Hospitals unless they go by Ambulance Train to the Base. We then went to look for another building with a view to its being suitable for a Stationary Hospital. This building is at present being used for English Prisoners returning from Germany. They are seen, those sick transferred to Hospital, the others disinfected, fed, their old clothing removed and perfectly fresh given them to replace it. Thousands had already passed through this Unit. It was a fine, big building, with big airy rooms which had been class-rooms, and fine kitchens, half of it being occupied by the Flying Corps. It was decided that this building must be still set apart for the purpose for which it had been originally taken. I learnt that No.13 and 63 CCS at Ascq, Nos.15 and 32 CCS at Don, No.51 at Tournai, and No.54 at Cambrai had been taken over from the 5th Army by the First.
After lunch left with Miss Bond for Mons, where I left her at No.1 CCS and went on to Charleroi, where Nos.20 and 55 CCS were opening, the Nursing Staffs not having yet arrived.
From there, with an escort, went on to Ham-sur-Heure, Headquarters of the 4th Army, where I saw the DMS and discussed the question of the necessity of opening as soon as possible at Namur, their new Headquarters, a Hostel for reinforcements with a sick Sisters’ wing, so that the Nurses in this Army can be looked after, and where a senior can be placed to go round and inspect the CCSs. The DMS informed me that there was to be a Conference of all the DMSs of the Armies the next day at Valenciennes, and it was hoped it would be definitely arranged and sanctioned for at least one Stationary Hospital to be attached to the advancing Armies. Had dinner and returned to Charleroi, where I was put up in a very nice billet belonging to one of the Belgian residents. Charleroi is an enormous town crowded with inhabitants, and well lighted, both by electricity and gas. The Germans had only recently left this town, and it was in a very good state of preservation, neither light nor water supply had been interfered with in any way.
With Colonel Potts drove to Namur where I visited No.48 CCS. This Unit also is opening in an enormous building, which was out of repair and in need of a great deal of attention. It was full of very sick patients, and difficulty of evacuation and supplies being very great. The first Train up was expected at midday. I went round the Hospital, which was big and fine, with a view to seeing whether a wing could be set apart for sick Sisters, and whether there was sufficient accommodation for reinforcements of Nursing Sisters. In the grounds, as well, there are a certain number of good, solid houses, which had been left by the Germans, and an enormous amount of equipment. Still in the Hospital were some religious Sisters and some Belgian lady workers. When this Unit gets into working order, there is a wing consisting of several small rooms, which can well be set apart for sick Sisters. Colonel Dive, the OC, was in communication with reference to a big house quite close by for the Nursing Staff, and where it would be possible to accommodate reinforcements as well, if the owner would place the house at his disposal. The Nursing Staff had not arrived here. Namur is going to be the Headquarters of the 4th Army, and the Units which are going to be established here will, in all probability, remain here until Peace. I found that No.44 CCS belonging to the 2nd Army, as well as Headquarters of the 2nd Army, were still in the town.
I went to Headquarters where I saw the ADMS Colonel Howell, the DMS being at Valenciennes attending the Conference. The Headquarters were moving the next day to Spa, and No.44 CCS, as soon as it had disposed of its patients, would be moving forward. The 2nd Army, it has been decided, is to be the one to go into Germany, while the 4th Army will remain on the borders. No.44 CCS has opened in a magnificent building, where Novices were admitted before taking the veil. This also had been used by the Germans for a Hospital, and a large wing which had been used by the German Nurses was now set apart for our Nursing Staff. A certain number of Nuns were still living there, and they were most kind and helpful and welcoming. Apparently the German nurses are of a very different class to the English, and their mode of living and their regulations are entirely different to those of the English Services. This Hospital also was crowded with seriously ill patients, both officers and men, as well as released prisoners passing through. I was glad to learn that although the numbers on the “Dangerously Ill” list were very great, the death rate was small in comparison.
At 2 o’clock I left for Mons, drove through Charleroi, and arrived at 5 o’clock, where I stayed the night at No.1 CCS.
1st Army, Mons
Before leaving I went round No.1 CCS with Miss White, TFNS, Sister in Charge. The CO was on leave. This Unit has opened up in a civilian hospital which in 1914 had been a CCS. A lot of English equipment which had been taken by the Germans then was still remaining, as well as a very large amount of German equipment, including instrument cupboards, instruments and sterilising apparatus in the Theatre. This Hospital is big enough to accommodate large numbers of officers and men, as well as the personnel, officers and Nursing Staff. All these big buildings present enormous difficulties in consequence of the smallness of the personnel to tackle the great amount of cleaning, which has to be done independent of the nursing of the patients. Also in all these Units the question of water supply, generally of light, and always of sanitary arrangements, are among the great difficulties which have to be dealt with.
Had lunch at Headquarters, and with Miss Bond went to Denain, to No.33 CCS another large building in perfect preservation, and very well managed. OC Lt. Col. Delacourt, Sister in charge Miss Crawford, QAIMNSR. Everything most comfortable, and even tastefully arranged. Wards opening off large corridors, with central heating. A large number of seriously ill patients. Here arrangements had been made for the washing to be done on the premises.
Then to No.23 CCS at Auberchicourt. Miss Alexander, CHR in charge, the CO in Hospital with Influenza, and Major Goldsmith acting for him. Another large Unit in many scattered buildings in the town, the Nursing Staff being accommodated in a row of little villas, one of which had been set apart for the care of 2 Canadian Sisters who had been on the “Dangerously Ill” List, and where they had ‘Specials’ on day and night duty. Miss Harrison was convalescent and would soon be sent to the Base, Miss Tate was still in a very serious condition, her sister, a Canadian Nursing Sister, and her brother, both there. Her temperature had continued high for 13 days, and in addition to her chest complications, she had some Nephritis, and consequently the Medical Officer was not quite satisfied with her condition. This Hospital also was very full of patients, and one and all complained of the great difficulty of evacuating the patients; up to the present the only way had been by sending them by Ambulance long distances to the next CCS where they were taken in and then again evacuated by road to another Station before they were able to get to a railway siding.
I then went to No.6 CCS opening up in a Sanatorium in enormous grounds at Montigny, composed of a large number of isolated buildings, a chateau, and a great many villas, capable of accommodating large numbers of men, and the whole of the personnel, men, officers, and the Nursing Sisters. In the grounds there were also a large number of huts and canvas. The light and the water supply had been cut off, and the engineers were busy getting both established. In one of these blocks they had a large Isolation Section, and the whole place struck me as a very depressing and somewhat difficult Unit, which will require a large amount of help both in the way of men and Nursing Staff to get it into anything like order. This Unit is one which is under consideration to be handed over to a Stationary Hospital in the near future.
Miss Bond and I then proceeded to St. Pol, where we arrived at about 8.30, and where I stayed the night in the quarters of No.12 Stationary Hospital. I went round the Unit next morning. OC Lt. Col. Crombie, RAMC; Miss Bond, QAIMNS Matron and Principal Matron 1st Army. Miss Pedler Assistant Matron, Miss Ronaldson, QAIMNSR, night Sister, Miss Shepherd, QAIMNSR in charge Operating Theatre. This Unit received officers and men and has an Isolation Division. There is accommodation for 950 and at the time of the visit there were 800 patients, which included many French civilians, among them one old man who had been trachaed, and who was going to have excision of the tongue on the day I visited this Unit. There is a great deal of massage work here also, which is being done in a very successful manner by S/Nurse Guppie, QAIMNSR. There is a very nice chapel and mortuary. Both the Hospital and the Sisters’ quarters are first rate, hutted accommodation, with every possible convenience, including a large laundry where all the washing is done for the Hospital. Sister Sly, TFNS, Home Sister, 5 batmen, 2 French servants. The quarters can accommodate 60, at the time of the visit there were 46. Large numbers of Nurses pass through this Hospital, and up to the present have been accommodated here, on their way backwards and forwards from the Armies. Here too they have been able to arrange for 2 excellent, big rooms where the trunks of Sisters going forward can be taken care of. The Unit is lighted by electricity, thoroughly well heated by stoves and central heating in the actual Hospital. I inspected the Mess books, the Hospital returns, the particulars of the Staff with regard to their records since joining Army Service, all of which were excellent, and I found they had a balance in hand to meet expenses. I found a Staff Nurse, a member of the TFNS, wearing a hat which had been bought at Peter Robinson’s, and was not in any way uniform, and I instructed the Matron to report the matter officially without delay.
I then went on to No.6 Stationary Hospital, Fillievres, OC Lt. Colonel Harding, Miss Daly, A/Matron, QAIMNS. This Hospital admits officers and men, and is equipped for 800 beds, at the time of the visit there were only about 300, the staff on duty at the time being 21, which the Matron and CO told me was ample for the work they were doing at the time. In the past this Hospital has accommodated a large number of Nurses passing through backwards and forwards. Home Sister Miss Gabriel, QAIMNSR Aust.; Night Sister Miss White, TFNS. Since the rapid advance the work in this Unit has not been such as to necessitate an Assistant Matron. I saw all the Mess books, and the records which the Matron keeps in connection with the Nursing Staff, past and present, and found them quite excellent, the records being very thorough, and I know of no other Unit where they are better kept. There is every possible convenience in the Hospital and they have exceptionally nice Sisters’ quarters. The OC of this Unit takes a personal interest in everything in connection with the Hospital, the patients and Sisters’ quarters. The Hospital is well lighted, well warmed, and there is an air of comfort throughout the whole Unit. They have a very fine recreation hut, beautiful stage and scenery, and capable of holding several hundred men, special entrances being made for the sick Officers and Nursing Staff, so that they are not obliged to walk through large numbers of convalescent patients. This Hospital, until the signing of the Armistice, was one of the centres where large numbers of shell shocked patients and men with self-inflicted wounds were treated. There is a good chapel, and a mortuary. In the quarters there are 5 batmen, 1 French servant, an excellent worker. Miss Daly, the Matron, specially brought to my notice the names of the following members of the TFNS who only arrived in France in August this year, as being quite excellent in every respect: Miss White, Miss Sutherland, Miss Donald, Miss McLeod, Miss E. G. B. Sim. The other Sisters specially mentioned were Sister Gabriel, QAIMNSR Home Sister, Miss McGibbon, QAIMNSR, Miss K. Clark, TFNS who are both specially trained in mental work, Miss K. S. Bright, QAIMNSR, a most excellent ward Sister, and Miss Mackie, QAIMNSR who transferred from the BRCS, and who has done very good work and is excellent in the Operating Theatre.
Arranged for Miss Wilton Smith, RRC, QAIMNS to accompany Miss Conyers, RRC Matron-in-Chief, AIF on her tour of Inspection to Abbeville and Rouen areas and while on this tour to report at the Headquarters of the Third Army. She has given me the following report of her Inspection.
[The following pages, until the 13th December form Miss Wilton Smith’s report, and then reverts back to Miss McCarthy’s report from the 11th December]
We left Boulogne at 8.30 a.m. on the 7th December, lunched at the Nurses’ Home at 12 a.m., left again at 12.30 p.m. for the Headquarters of the Third Army at Flexicourt. Did not see the DMS, he was not in, saw the ADMS Colonel Tyndale and the DADMS Captain Finnigan, who gave me certain information with reference to the Units in their Army but as they are in so very unsettled a state just now and so many Units on the move, no definite arrangements could be made for the present. A number of the CCSs are coming down and some are settled round about Abbeville Area. 18 CCS which has just lately settled at the Citadel Doullens is busy and requires a fairly large staff. The question of which locality in the Army would be the most suitable for keeping a reserve supply of Sisters to fill any vacancies which might occur, either by sickness or any other cause was discussed and it was through that either 41 Stationary Hospital at Amiens or 18 CCS at Doullens would be the best places, and in many respects 18 CCS would appear to be the one to be the most suitable. It has ample accommodation for any number of temporary Sisters we might wish to send. The particular reason for which this Unit would be most suitable for the purpose required, is not only that it is fairly central but there is a very good motor transport at hand, which can be used for conveying the Sisters to the different Clearing Stations. This is a most important thing, as transport is so difficult at the present time. 41 Stationary Hospital was not so suitable as it was not quite so central, and there is great difficulty here in procuring transport, moreover it is almost settled that 41 Stationary Hospital will be moving out of the building it is in at the present, although it will remain in the same area. It was finally decided that the majority of Sisters who should be wanted for replacements in the Third Army should be kept at 18 CCS and a few only at 41 Stationary Hospital.
Went on to 41 Stationary Hospital which is settled in a large Asylum and is about a mile from Amiens. We arrived there about 2.30 p.m. to find the new A/Matron Miss Bannister, QAIMNS, who had arrived there the day before. Miss Holmes, QAIMNS, the late A/Matron was still there, but was going on to her new post as Assistant Matron at 35 General, Calais. They were both very relieved to see me, as there was very great difficulty in getting away the 35 Sisters who were temporarily attached to them and belonged to the five CCSs of the Fourth Army which have been moving as follows:- 5 and 47 CCS to Mauberge, 20 CCS and 55 CCS to Charleroi and 48 CCS to Namur. They had been endeavouring to procure transport or find a suitable way to get these Sisters up to various places, but had no success although they had been trying for six days. The OC was not in at the time, so I rang up the ADMS Ambulance Trains who promised me that if the 35 Sisters could be got to Boulogne that they should be taken up from there by Ambulance Train to their destination. I rang up the RTO Amiens, and told him what the ADMS Ambulance Trains had said, and asked him to arrange for these Sisters to proceed by the early train in the morning. This was satisfactorily settled, and I informed the DMS Fourth Army by telephone what we had done. I then saw the CO Colonel Myles Roberts and told him what we had succeeded in doing during his absence, and he was very relieved to know that at last the Sisters would be able to get away.
I then saw all five Sisters in Charge, who were going up to the Fourth Army and explained certain difficulties that they might be expected to meet when up there. I was also able to tell the Sister in Charge of 15 CCS, that there would be a Red Cross Unit stationed next to them, who would nurse the French Refugees, and she was to do all in her power to help them. I also took this opportunity of explaining to the Sisters in Charge that they must make their staff understand that we were still in a state of war and there was no question of people being relieved from their duties at present, as there seemed to be a good deal of discussion about this among all ranks.
I also interviewed two Sisters, Miss McMunn and Miss Kelly. These ladies belonged to 20 CCS. Although they had been definitely informed that they were not to be away from the Hospital except for a very short period, had been out all the afternoon the previous day, and did not arrive back till six in the evening. This they had done without consulting the Sister in Charge, and were feeling very sore at not being allowed to proceed forward with the Unit. I explained to them how serious a thing this was, for if the Unit had gone off at short notice, it would have proceeded with two of the members short out of a staff of only seven, and that as they had not complied with orders while at the Base it was not considered desirable for them to go forward. Although they were very disappointed at not going they quite understood and were exceedingly sorry that they had not exercised more forethought. I then went round with the A/Matron. The Hospital was very busy, there were still a good many bad cases in, but they had very little surgical work. Some of the wards were fairly well lighted and were quite warm and comfortable, others were cold and badly ventilated, and not only insufficiently lighted, but what light they had were candles supported by their own grease. I feel sure that as soon as the Matron is settled in this Unit, she will do all in her power to make the wards more comfortable.
Spent the night at 41 Stationary Hospital, left in the morning for Rouen. Had lunch with the Principal Matron Miss Rannie, and then went on to the DDMS Colonel Meeke’s Office and saw him. The particular thing he seemed to be interested in was the question of allowing the Nursing Staff to dance, especially now that peace had been declared. I told him under the present circumstances this was impossible. The ruling was not made as he knew out here, but was laid down in the Standing Orders of the QAIMNS which were drawn up by the Nursing Board, and sanction could only be obtained from the War Office, and that there was no likelihood of this rule being relaxed in any way.
We then went on to 25 Stationary Hospital, the Matron-in-Chief, AIF wished to see an Australian Sister who was working in the Laboratory there. I also visited a few of the wards, which looked exceedingly nice. The whole unit in fact is in excellent condition. I then took the opportunity of interviewing Miss Kay who had been Sister in Charge of 25 Ambulance Train and who had been transferred to this Unit after having been on the train only three months. She was feeling a little hurt, as she thought she had not completed her tour of six months. This move had been carried out as she did not appear to work on the train satisfactorily. She did not seem to be able to manage the orderlies and get on with the rest of the Staff in such cramped surroundings. I explained to her that though it was thought necessary to give her a change of work, there was no reason to think that she had not done very good work on the train.
Miss Conyers visited No.1 Australian General Hospital and I went on to 5 General Hospital. This being Sunday there was an At Home in the Sisters’ quarters. Their own Medical Officers and several other officers including the DDMS of the Area were present. I stayed here a short time only. I saw the OC and Matron and they reported that everything was very satisfactory and they had no special request to make. The only thing the Matron is worried about is the grant of leave for American Sisters. I explained to her that under the new arrangement, it was hoped that we should get all these Sisters away on leave almost at once.
From there I went on to No.11 Stationary Hospital as requested by the CO Colonel Jamieson. He wanted to see me with reference to the signing and re-signing of Contracts especially the VAD Contracts. I talked the matter over with him. I then went on to 8 General Hospital and spent the night there.
The next morning I visited a few of the wards. This Hospital is extremely busy. They have over 150 fractured femur cases. As No.2 British Red Cross Society Hospital is closed, the Officer’s Section of No.8 General Hospital is over full. They admit all the officers who come to Rouen. I saw the CO Colonel Butler in the Matron’s Office and he discussed the signing of contracts etc., and I explained to him that things were to go on as usual at present.
I then went on to the Principal Matron’s Office where we had a meeting of Matrons. As we have been receiving an increased number of resignations lately, it was thought wise to arrange this meeting in order that the question might be thoroughly discussed. It was explained to all that until Peace is signed the Country is in a state of war and the obligations of all members of the Nursing Staff remain the same. All the Matrons seemed anxious to know what would happen to their Mess property on demobilization. I explained that no instructions had been received, but they were advised to make a list of all equipment, noting how it had been purchased etc., and to have their Mess accounts clear and up to date. Christmas entertainments were also discussed.
We then returned to Abbeville, Miss Conyers visited No.3 Australian General Hospital and I went to see Colonel Gallie, DDMS at his office. He told me certain Units were closing and discussed a letter which had been received from the Sister in Charge No.1 Eastern Rest Camp with reference to Red Cross Stores. Colonel Gallie pointed out that although this was an unofficial letter, he had had it copied and forwarded to the DGMS.
Spent the night at the Nurses’ Home. The next morning visited No.2 Stationary Hospital. Saw the Matron, Miss Willetts and she reported that everything was quite satisfactory. The Hospital had very few British patients, but they had over 100 German prisoners, very bad cases, both Medical and Surgical.
Saw Miss Easby, Dietitian who was very anxious for a change of work. She informed me that on her arrival at 2 Stationary Hospital for this special duty she found that her services were apparently unnecessary, as the diets at this unit were of a most satisfactory nature. I told her I would inform the Matron-in-Chief when I got back and I felt sure that she would give her a change of work, where her services would be more pressingly required.
Returned to Boulogne with Miss Conyers, arriving at lunch time. Reported to Matron-in-Chief regarding Miss Easby, and as a Sister in Charge was required to replace Miss Taggart at 13 CCS, arranged for Miss Easby to proceed immediately as Sister in Charge.
Miss Wilton Smith left with Miss Conyers, RRC, Matron-in-Chief AIF at 10.30 a.m. for Inspection duty of all Units in the Fifth Army, and reported to me as follows:-
Arrived at 12 Stationary Hospital, St. Pol at one o’clock; had lunch there with the Matron Miss Bond, QAIMNS who is also the A/Principal Matron of the First Army. After lunch Miss Conyers went round the wards with the Assistant Matron, Miss Pedlar, QAIMNS, while I discussed with Miss Bond some changes which were considered necessary in the different Casualty Clearing Stations, and selected eight sisters who were to go up the next day to different Units in the forward area. Arranged that these sisters should all proceed together using the same transport. As the distances are so great and transport is so difficult to obtain it was again pointed out that as far as possible when moves are effected on account of leave or sickness or when transfers take place, that the transport taking sisters to forward units should be used to bring those being relieved to 12 Stationary Hospital.
Two more sisters were required for 20 CCS. As this Unit is principally taking in French and Belgian refugees, two sisters who could speak French were selected. Miss Bond has ample staff for her Hospital at the present time, as the Isolation division has been closed. She has also eight sisters attached as temporary staff and this she considers ample to meet the requirements of all Units under the present circumstances and she has undertaken to let us know at once when she sends any sisters forward so that this temporary staff may be kept up to strength.
As time was limited did not go over the Hospital but with the CO Colonel Crombie, and Miss Bond, I went into a few of the principal wards leading out of the main block. None of the wards were full but still had a good many acute Influenza cases and also a number of French civilians both men and women. The wards were looking exceedingly nice. Also went into the Officers’ Division which is really light as there were only two bed patients, and neither of them severe. Miss Allsop, QAIMNS, is in charge of this division and she seems to have it in excellent working order.
Left at 2.45 p.m. for Lille via Bethune and La Bassee; arrived at 39 Stationary Hospital which is at Lille at 6.30 p.m.; had dinner in the Sisters’ Mess and a very good string band played while we were at dinner. This band was composed principally of RAMC men. After dinner went over the Nominal Roll of the Nursing Staff with Miss Teevan, QAIMNS, Matron who is also the A/Principal Matron of the Fifth Army. She has at the present time a staff of twenty four which she considers as far as can be foreseen ample for the satisfactory work of the hospital. She also has four sisters who form the temporary staff for filling vacancies in the Fifth Army. These she can comfortably put up as she has accommodation for twenty-six, as there are usually some of the staff on leave. If it is necessary for her to put up more, there is always room in the Sick Sisters’ Division which is most suitable for this.
At 8.30 a.m. before leaving in the morning, I went over a few of the wards with Miss Teevan, and saw the early morning work going on. They were not heavy and still have some of their old cases, who have been waiting for evacuation for some considerable time, and also a fair number of acute influenza cases. The Surgical Specialist Major Lucas, who is second in command, took us over the acute surgical ward, and although it was not really straight for the day it appeared a very nice ward. These wards were equipped by the French and had been made use of by the Germans. We then went into the Sick Sisters’ Division. There was only one sick sister here, who was suffering from nephritis, but she was going on well. There was accommodation for twelve sisters here, two single rooms and the rest double rooms. This is a wing of the hospital, with a kitchen, bathroom and sisters’ duty room. There were many comments on the fact that a large number of orderlies, who were miners, had been taken away that day, and some of whom were their best orderlies. This hospital however, seems to be all right in this respect, as it employs twelve French women.
Headquarters, Fifth Army
We went to the cemetery, so that Miss Conyers might visit the grave of Miss Moorhouse, the Australian sister who died a short time ago, and from there to the office of the DMS General Gerrard who took Miss Conyers first to see General Birdwood. On their return General Gerrard discussed the movements of the nursing staff in the Casualty Clearing Stations, and he stated that he thought very shortly some of the staffs could be reduced considerably, but for the present the influenza cases were so numerous that it would not do to make any changes. He said it would be a very good arrangement if Miss Teevan still visited the Casualty Clearing Stations that had been in this Army and were now transferred to the First Army but had remained in the neighbourhood. He also agreed that four sisters would be ample to keep as a temporary staff at 39 Stationary Hospital for the filling up of casualties in the Fifth Army.
From there we went on to 13 and 63 CCS at Ascq which are both situated in the same field. Saw the CO of 13 CCS Colonel Watson in his office and he stated that all the sisters were quite satisfactory, and he considered that under the present conditions a staff of seven or eight was ample. Went round some of the acute wards and the Theatre with the CO. Although it was a very wet and dirty day and mud everywhere as this unit is in a ploughed field still the wards looked very nice. Surgical work now is almost nil. There is still a large marquee set apart for the Theatre with two tables. When I went in they were preparing an operation for an appendix. Miss Taggart, CHR the sister in charge of this unit is leaving. She has put in an application to resign as she is required at home. She has not been here very long, but told me that everything had gone on well and satisfactorily since she joined the unit and that she had had great help from her OC. The only difficulty she has had was on account of the orderlies who it would be seen had been allowed by the late Sister in charge to get into slack ways, especially with regard to a tendency to sleep on night duty. I told her that the new Sister in charge Miss Easby would probably be up the next day and I knew she would give her all help in handing over. Miss Taggart says that all her staff are quite suitable and that she does not wish any changes made. She shewed me her messing books; she has a good balance in hand to give to the new Sister in Charge. This unit is all under canvas.
63 CCS has packed up ready to move and I saw the Sister in Charge Miss Duncan CHR in Miss Taggart’s duty room. She has a staff of ten, which includes one sister on leave and one who is wanting to resign, so that it was not considered that there was more staff than would be necessary when they started work again.
Went on to 1 Australian CCS at Tournai where we had lunch in the Sisters’quarters. I left Miss Conyers there and I went on with Miss Teevan to 51 CCS. This Unit with No.2 Australian CCS is in an immense asylum. After going down what seemed to be miles of corridor reached the Sisters’ Mess which is exceedingly comfortable as most of the furniture had been left. Everything looked quite nice, although it was a very wet and miserable day. The Sister in Charge Miss Rogers TFNS seemed to be very flurried as she was packing up ready to proceed to the United Kingdom on transfer and was anxious to get away as soon as possible, owing to the illness of a great friend. Her relief had not yet arrived. She is to hand over temporarily to Miss Taylor, QAIMNSR, who seemed in every way suitable, until the new Sister in Charge arrived. She had handed over the Mess accounts to Miss Taylor. She explained to me that she had written to the office on the subject of her last Ration Bill. She had sent the cost viz., 600 francs to the Base Cashier in an ordinary envelope and it had not yet reached him, and as it was a considerable time ago, it is thought that this letter must have gone astray. They have a staff of thirteen at this CCS and it would appear from what Miss Rogers told me, that they are suitable in every respect. There is a sister, Mrs. Fletcher, QAIMNSR applying to resign in order to return to Australia with her husband. There were also several due for leave, so it was not thought that this staff should be reduced in any way, and although the unit is very light, it is very scattered and consequently difficult to work. Did not see the CO of this Unit as he was out, and as it was getting late there was no time to go over the wards.
I then went on to 10 Stationary Hospital at Tourcoing; arrived just in time for tea. Miss Tunley, the Matron who is also the A/Principal Matron of the Second Army had gone up to 3 Australian CCS which is some three hours distance away to see the Sister in Charge who it is thought was ill. On Miss Tunley’s return we went over some of the wards of 10 Stationary Hospital which are fairly empty. The acute surgical ward which takes fifty beds had only ten patients in bed, all looked very nice and comfortable, a piano in the ward and patients singing and playing. These are most convenient wards in every way as they are situated on the ground floor and are easy to get stretchers into, and although not crowded take fifty cases. Went over the officers’ ward which is a separate little wing of its own. Went into one of the large wards which was very well equipped and looked exceedingly nice and was steam heated. This ward was not very busy having only two patients in bed. Leading from this ward is a large sitting room for the up patients, with billiard table, card tables, and piano, etc., and it looked very comfortable. They have a bathroom and toilet fixed at the end of the ward, which is very nice. There is a kitchen and scullery, both very convenient. The principle drawback in this Officers’ Division is that there is only one large ward, and if patients are very ill there is no small ward in which they can be nursed. The Sick Sisters’ Division attached to this Hospital is composed of small cubicles. There were only three patients in at the time and it was not thought that there would be many in the future, as they are only taking their own staff and any sick Sisters there may be from about four Casualty Clearing Stations.
The building used for the accommodation of 10 Stationary Hospital seems to be very suitable except that the upper floor of all is used a an Orderlies’ Barrack Room, and consequently a great deal of traffic goes up and down stairs. Discussed the staff with Miss Tunley, who is of opinion that 23 would be enough, and four to six Sisters for temporary staff. There were one or two Sisters she thought would be better moved, as they had been up there for some time, and that work at a Base would be better for them. There was also one who had been at 64 CCS and when this Unit was reduced in staff had been attached to 10 Stationary, a S/Nurse Wallace QAIMNSR, and Miss Tunley did not think she would be suitable for CCS work. It was therefore arranged that she should have orders to come to the Base.
From there we went on to No.8 Casualty Clearing Station, which is within 10 minutes walk, and is a large building, at one time a college, which had been used by the Germans for a Hospital. Went over the Hospital with Miss Tunley and Miss Molyneux TFNS the Sister in Charge. Did not see the OC as he was out. This Unit is not at all busy. In the acute surgical ward the majority of the patients were French civilians and soldiers. Attached to these wards and opening out of them is a Theatre. As there are very few surgical cases just now (only an occasional appendix etc.) and as there is a very good corporal in charge, the Sister in charge of the Unit thought that it was not necessary to have a Theatre Sister; but I explained to her that if there was only an occasional operation she must have a Sister in charge of the Theatre even if she did other duties as well. The Matron-in-Chief was most particular on this point. I advised her to let the sister who runs the surgical ward be in charge of the Theatre as well, and she must arrange this at once. There is one fairly large officers’ ward which looked very nice and well equipped. There were no patients in bed and the patients that they had were up in the sitting-room which seemed to be most comfortable. I inquired here as I had done at all the other CCSs if the feeding arrangements were quite satisfactory.
The Sisters have a very nice mess and sitting room and they are billeted in a private house adjoining which is beautifully furnished. They have a staff here of eleven sisters, and the Sister in charge considers that eight or nine sisters would be ample. One sister is going on leave and will consequently not be returning. Discussed the staff with her and she assured me that all were quite suitable for this kind of work.
The next morning just as I was leaving 10 Stationary Hospital the Sister in charge asked to see Miss Tunley or myself and then told me that there was a Staff Nurse Coakhill QAIMNSR who she had been informed was a little too friendly with the Medical Officers and from what she told me it was very evident that this sister should be moved from the Unit. I asked her if she had spoken to her and she said no and I told her she must do so at once. This she said she would do.
The next morning at 8.45 a.m. went with Miss Tunley to 10 Casualty Clearing Station which is about twenty minutes away and is also at Tourcoing. This hospital is in a French Civilian Hospital and consists of several blocks some distance apart. Saw the CO Colonel Mitchell and he explained that he had given permission to the Sister in Charge Miss Rogers, QAIMNSR to go into Dunkirk to shop, as it was impossible to get anything in that area. Miss Rogers has not been very long at this Unit but the CO tells me she is very satisfactory in every way and had made many improvements especially in the Officers’ Section. They first took me to see the officers’ block and especially the sitting room which they had just completed, and they were very proud of it. We went round the rest of the Hospital with Miss Jones, QAIMNSR, who was acting for Miss Rogers while she was away. They had just taken over and equipped a large block which would take in about two hundred patients for throat nose and ear cases. They have a Specialist attached to this Unit and he is anxious to have a sister who has been specially trained in this work for duty in this block. The acute surgical Division is equipped with two hundred beds in a block with two large wards upstairs and downstairs. The wards were looking quite nice but there seemed to be a little difficulty over having the linen washed; the bed linen might have been a better colour. As it was very early the passages and corridors were all being scrubbed. The Sisters’ Quarters are on the other side of the garden and are in a separate block. The Medical Officers have the ground floor for their accommodation and the sisters have the upper floor. They have a very nice sitting-room and a large mess room and the bedroom accommodation is excellent. It is very noticeable here that it would take a large number of batmen to keep this large block in proper order. Miss Jones informed me that all the staff was quite suitable, but as there were one or two sisters who had been at this Unit for some considerable time, I told her that they would not return when they went on leave.
Returned to 10 Stationary Hospital and arranged about the Australian Sisters who are going up to 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.
Left at twelve after early lunch. Called at 11 CCS and saw the Sister in Charge, Miss Ferguson, TFNS and the CO Colonel Hallows but as time was limited I was not able to go over the Hospital, but was informed that everything was satisfactory.
Then on to 4 Stationary Hospital at Longuenesse. Sisters have only recently been appointed to this Unit; there is now an A/Matron and a staff of twenty four sisters. Had tea in the mess sitting-room with Miss Forrest, QAIMNS, the A/Matron and the CO Colonel Inkson. It was late and we only went into a few of the wards. This Hospital is still kept very busy with Influenza cases and they have nearly two hundred French patients mostly soldiers. The Sisters Quarters are well designed and seem to be very comfortable but as they have only been there such a short time they are not so well finished off as they no doubt will be shortly. Miss Forrest informed me that all the staff were quite satisfactory and that her present staff is quite sufficient. Returned to Boulogne on the evening of the thirteenth.
[This ends Miss Wilton Smith’s separate report]
Left with Miss Conyers, RRC, Matron-in-Chief, AIF and Miss G. M. Smith, RRC Matron, QAIMNS for GHQ. On arrival they went on to the 5th Army to inspect Australian Casualty Clearing Stations and I remained at GHQ to see the DDGMS General Thomson, in connection with the question of demobilisation of Nurses. The aspects of the question discussed were: (1) when the demobilisation of women was considered desirable, should I be responsible for all women belonging to all branches passing through (2) that all women workers should be evacuated via Boulogne (3) that accommodation would be necessary for detachments arriving where they could stay the night, records be taken, and Rolls in duplicate made to be given to the woman in charge of the detachment to take with her, with all other necessary records to be handed in to the Matrons at the dispersal stations at Folkestone. I said there would be no difficulty for me to arrange this for all classes and grades of women workers, provided I was given due notice, and I undertook to find out with as little delay as possible the amount of accommodation which could be obtained in Boulogne for this purpose. Had lunch at the DGMS Mess. I did not see General Burtchaell, the DGMS, he being away on important business with the Commander-in-Chief.
Left with Miss Conyers, RRC, Matron-in-Chief, AIF for Paris, she being on her way to Italy, I to Marseilles. First visited the Permit Officer at GHQ who appeared to think there would be some difficulty in Miss Conyers not only getting to Italy, but being able to return, as the orders from the War Office were not definite.
Had an indifferent journey, getting to Abbeville too late to go on. Visited the DMS, L of C Office, and discussed the question of irregular leaves which members of the Harvard Unit were asking for, certain difficulties on Ambulance Trains, as well as difficulties in connection with our Hospitals at Marseilles. The DMS, General Carr, was on leave. The DDMS did not advise my going to Marseilles at the moment, as he considers it was necessary that I should inspect all the Convalescent Homes in the South of France at the same time, which it was not possible for me to do in under a week. He therefore recommended that while in Paris I should inspect the Units there, and go on to Cherbourg if time would permit.
We arrived in Paris late in the evening, in consequence of great crowds had difficulty in getting to the ADMS in Paris, where I found it was not possible to get on to either Marseilles or Italy the same night. In consequence of the arrival of President Wilson it was difficult to get rooms, but eventually these were provided for us at the Hotel St. James.
After calling at the ADMS Office, where I met the DMS 1st Army who told me of the great difficulties which were being experienced in consequence of the lack of clothing for the refugees who were still arriving in large numbers in very destitute condition, I visited the Head of the American Red Cross in Paris, and received addresses in Boulogne and Lille where clothing of all descriptions could be supplied and sent to whatever centres were considered necessary. It was raining heavily all day, and there was great difficulty in transport in consequence of the car being in the work-shops having some repairs done. Dined with Major General Thomson and his Staff Officer at King Edward VII Hotel.
Car available. Inspected the Station Hospital, OC Capt. Shackleton, RAMC, A/Matron Miss I. Whyte, RRC, QAIMNS. Found the Unit enormously improved, full of seriously ill officers and men, the Nursing Staff being 8, which was not adequate, but at present it is absolutely impossible to get extra accommodation anywhere. Had approached the American authorities who had undertaken to let them have 4 more rooms in the Pension where the present staff is accommodated as soon as the rooms become available, and I arranged with the Matron that telegrams should be sent, when Nurses would be instructed to proceed at once from Rouen. The CO and the ADMS spoke in the highest terms of the work and management of the Nursing Staff. Although this is a very small Hospital it is a very important Unit, and all the English Staff Officers passing through, as well as those who are stationed in Paris, are nursed in this little Hospital.
Inspected HRH Princess Victoria’s Rest Club for Nurses, where I had a very good tea. The Superintendent, Mrs. Stevenson, struck one as being a very capable and kind woman, and as she has spent many years in Paris, she is able to let all Nurses staying or passing through know the important places of interest for them to see, and the easiest way of getting there. The Officers of the Headquarters BRCS, who are responsible for meeting and seeing Nursing Sisters off from all parts of Europe and the East spoke of certain difficulties with which they were faced. Namely (1) Sisters instructed to arrive on a certain day continually arrived 24 hours earlier than they are expected, thus causing confusion. (2) Sisters and women workers from the East constantly arrive with all their luggage registered on one ticket, these people being destined for various places, such as Paris, South of France, Havre, Boulogne, and considerable inconvenience and delay is experienced in sorting the luggage which arrives in bulk, which would be obviated if each party had their baggage registered separately. This trouble originates at Modane, where there is merely an RTO who does not understand the difficulties which are caused by this method of registering large quantities of luggage. They suggested what an advantage it would be if a member of the Nursing Services could be stationed there also to meet and see off all women workers as they are passing through from the East. I undertook to consult with the DGMS on this subject. They paid a high tribute to the courtesy as well as the disciplined behaviour of all workers from Military Units, the difference in all cases being marvellous.
Left for Boulogne at 9 o’clock. Had lunch at Beauvais at 12.30, arrived at Abbeville at 4.30. Started for Boulogne 5.15 in heavy rain, and after many difficulties and delays arrived at Boulogne at 11.30 p.m.
Queen Amélie of Portugal arrived in Boulogne and was met by representatives of the BRCS and stayed at the Hotel Christol. I received this information in an entirely unofficial manner, and learnt later from the BRCS that the DDMS Boulogne had been asked to arrange for her to visit certain Hospitals in the Boulogne Area during her visit, and that she was returning to England on the 23rd. Late in the evening I received a message from Major Wynch, Sir Arthur Lawley’s ADC, saying that Her Majesty had asked whether I could meet her tomorrow, and whether I would call at the Folkestone Hotel at 2 p.m. and drive with her to certain Hospitals in the Area. Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AIF left for England after a visit lasting 16 days.
Drove with HM the Queen of Portugal to No.14 General Hospital, where we were met by the OC and the DDMS Boulogne, and Her Majesty also visited the Chateau Mauricien and spoke to many of the sick Sisters.
Miss Barbier, QAIMNSR accompanied Queen Amélie of Portugal to Low Mass at St. Nicholas at 11.30, and in the afternoon I drove with her to No.8 Stationary Hospital, where we were met by the CO and the Matron, and the Assistant Matron, and the senior VAD of the Unit presented Her Majesty with a beautiful bouquet of pink carnations. The Queen visited the wards where there were 200 French repatriated prisoners. She spoke to them all and gave them cigarettes, and when she left 2 men played the Marseillaise and the National Anthem on the Banjo. She then went round the officers’ Fractured Femur wards and talked to the officers. Then on to No.83 General Hospital, met by the CO, the Matron, and the Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox. After going round the Hospital had tea in the Sisters’ Mess. From there with Lady Algernon went to HRH Princess Victoria’s Rest Club for Nurses. I then left Her Majesty at the Folkestone Hotel.
Her Majesty the Queen of Portugal left for England by the morning leave boat and I went down to the quay to see her off. She was travelling alone with her maid, and I found a Nursing Sister whom I presented to her, and she was in attendance should they need any assistance, as it was an extremely bad day for crossing. The Sister undertook to assist them with their luggage, and get them into the Train when they arrived at Folkestone. The BRCS were going to meet them too. It was unfortunate that during the whole of Her Majesty’s visit, the weather was very bad indeed, incessant rain all the time. Yesterday the boat that she went in was the only one that either left or arrived at Boulogne owing to the weather.
Left for GHQ for the purpose of discussing the question of the red chevron, which is being worn by some VADs about whom there is some doubt as to whether they are eligible or not. The matter was brought to my notice by the Lady Ampthill, Commandant-in-Chief, VADs, in a letter marked strictly private and confidential. It was decided that I should write to the Lady Ampthill and say that in order to investigate the matter it would have to be put up in an official manner. We also discussed the question of whether at a later date all nurses working in Military Units might have an opportunity of visiting places of interest, such as Ypres, Arras, and the Somme District. Discussed the question of Honours and Mentions for the Peace Gazette, names being asked for by January 6th. Also spoke of the question of nurses now being required in Germany, and I let GHQ know that Hostels and Sick Sisters’ Hospitals were being established in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Armies, the 3rd Army carrying on with the arrangements which have been in existence for some time. Returned to Boulogne in time for tea.
Four of us from the office were invited to dinner at GHQ on Christmas day.
On Christmas day we had a middle day meal in our Mess. We had a big luncheon party to which we invited Miss Blakeley and her office staff, and 26 sat down to table, the lunch being cooked by two VADs. After lunch everyone visited various Hospitals, and at 5 p.m. I with 3 others left to dine at GHQ, and after dinner there was dancing.
After dinner there was a dance in the Mess, to which each member invited an officer friend, 6 of the Staff previously dining with the DDMS in Boulogne. The orchestra consisted of a pianist, a violin, and a cello, and light refreshments were served in an ante-room. The party consisted of 60 odd people, and the dancing continued until 1 p.m., and was appreciated to the fullest extend by one and all. For those who did not dance bridge tables were provided. Very great pleasure has been given to members of the Nursing Services through the War Office granting them the privilege of dancing this Christmas time. The wire received through the DGMS states that “Permission is given for dances to be given in Nurses’ quarters or Messes, or in RAMC Officers’ Messes, for members of the Military Nursing Services, provided that in no case disturbance or inconvenience is caused to patients. This permission is for this exceptional Christmas, and covers the period from December 20th to January 3rd only.” Advantage has been taken of this concession by all, and dances have been arranged in all Units, and it has added very greatly to the enjoyment of everyone.
SUMMARY FOR DECEMBER 1918
Establishments opened – Nil
Scottish Section No.1 Stationary Hospital, ceased to admit on 18.12.18: Staff demobilised
No.2 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 30.11.18: Staff demobilised
No.5 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 31.12.18: Staff demobilised
No.6 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 30.11.18: Staff demobilised
No.8 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 30.11.18: Staff demobilised
No.9 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 28.11.18: Staff demobilised
No.10 BRCS Hospital, ceased to admit on 15.12.18: Staff demobilised
No.1 Australian General Hospital, ceased to admit on 7.12.18: Staff demobilised
No.1 General Hospital (Presbyterian Unit, USA): Staff waiting orders
No.1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, ceased to admit on 19.12.18: Staff demobilised
No.28 Ambulance Train, closed on 17.12.18: Staff released – 3
No.29 Ambulance Train, closed on 4.12.18: Staff released – 3
No.30 Ambulance Train , closed on 14.12.18: Staff released – 3
No.35 Ambulance Train, closed on 16.12.18: Staff released – 3
No.108 Barge, closed on 5.12.18: Staff released – 2
No.106 Barge, closed on 5.12.18: Staff released – 2
No.110 Barge, closed on 5.12.18: Staff released – 2
No.29 CCS, closed on 18.12.18: Staff released – 3
No.45 CCS, closed on 17.12.18: Staff released – 9
No.38 CCS, closed on 17.12.18: Staff released – 8
No.21 CCS, closed on 23.12.18: Staff released – 11
No.59 CCS, closed on 21.12.18: Staff released – 13
Total – 62
Arrivals – Nil
Sent Home Sick
Trained – 29
Untrained – 11
Returned from sick leave
Trained – 5
Untrained – 5
Total at present sick in UK
Trained – 147
Untrained – 78
Resignations sent forward
Trained – 28 (4 for marriage)
Transferred to Home Establishment
Trained – 30
Applications to be released first on demobilisation
Trained – 11
Untrained – 12
Approx. No. of leaves granted
To United Kingdom – 557
To Paris – 67
To South of France – 88
Untrained returned to England
On resignation – 17 (2 for marriage)
Termination of contract – 25 (2 for marriage)
Transfer to Home Establishment – 9
Married and retained in France – Sister M. Richardson, TFNS (Mrs. Howes)
Total number of CAMC
Transferred to England – 47
Arrived in France – 4
Now in France – 725
Total number of AANS
Transferred to England – 112
Arrived in France – 0
Now in France – 281
Total requirements of Nurses in BEF according to War Establishment on L of C, (excluding Stationary Hospitals in Front Areas and including Trains)
Trained Nurses – 2309
Untrained Nurses – 1488
Total requirements of Nurses in Front Areas (including Stationary Hospitals in Front Areas and CCS)
Trained Nurses – 702
Total requirements in BEF
Trained Nurses – 3011
Untrained Nurses – 1488
Total Staff now in BEF
(Not including 51 Anaesthetists, 3 Dietitians, 3 Embarkation Sisters, 4 Employed at Hostels)
Trained Nurses – 2428
Americans attached British Units nursed by British Personnel – 111
Canadians attached British Units nursed by British Personnel – 17
Total – 2556
Untrained Nurses – 1660
(Not including 10 Secretaries to A/Principal Matrons and 7 employed at Hostels)
Total shortage on Establishment
Trained Nurses – 455
Trained Nurses sick in Hospital – 113
Trained Nurses on leave – 146
Actual shortage of Trained Nurses – 714
Total surplus on establishment
Untrained Nurses – 172
Untrained Nurses sick in Hospital – 95
Untrained Nurses on leave – 116
Actual shortage of Untrained Nurses – 39
Grand total in BEF (including overseas and Americans)
Trained Nurses – 4476
*Untrained Nurses – 3167
*This includes 883 General Service VADs working in British Units