CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3991
SUMMARY OF WORK DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
SUMMARY OF WORK DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
After lunch left for Etaples. Went to No.4 General Hospital where I saw the Matron, Miss Northover, who had just closed down No.53 General Hospital and was taking over No.4. They were in the transition state. The Matron told me that she and one of the Sisters, Miss Preston, had had a very unpleasant experience the night before. They were sleeping in different blocks. Miss Preston wakened up in the night and found a man in her room, who disappeared quickly when he knew he had disturbed her. She merely got up and locked her door and told nobody. Later on apparently Miss Northover was roused by feeling somebody’s hand on her bed, which she thought was her little dog; she turned on her light which was fortunately at the head of her bed, and saw a man crouching on the floor. He was in uniform. He immediately fled, she pursuing him. He went through the next room which happened to be empty and jumped out of the window, smashing it to pieces. Afterwards a pair of man’s Army boots was found on the floor. Miss Northover informed her CO who was going to put a guard on the next night, but so far as she knew the matter had not been reported to the DDMS. I then visited the DDMS Office, taking with me a copy of the report which Miss Northover had sent to the CO in the morning. As the DDMS was not in, I went to the Principal Matron’s Office, where I reported the whole matter. Later in the evening I received a telephone message from the DDMS saying how grateful he was that the matter had been so promptly dealt with, and that neither he nor the Base Commandant had known anything of the incident, and that they were taking action at once.
I called at No.24 General Hospital where I saw the A/Matron, Miss Merriman, RRC, TFNS, who was busy closing her Hospital, and I arranged that as soon as all her patients were dispersed, she was to proceed to No.26 General Hospital to take Miss Hepple’s holiday, and on whose return she was to take her own leave. She asked my advice with reference to the bicycle question which has been going on since Miss Hills, Matron, TFNS, handed over to Miss Humphreys, who had left the matter in a very unsatisfactory condition, having handed the matter over to a VAD, and apparently a large number of the nurses were out of pocket. I advised her to write to Miss Humphreys sending her all the particulars, and saying that as there was apparently nothing official on the subject, she would be glad if Miss Humphreys would deal with the matter and settle it.
I arranged that in the case of both No.20 and No.53 General Hospitals the Mess equipment belonging to the Sisters’ Quarters should be packed up and sent to the Marine, and the Mess books and balance brought to the office.
Miss Wilton Smith, RRC, QAIMNS, visited No.14 General Hospital with reference to the same question, and arranged in like manner that when No.14 General Hospital was closed the same procedure should take place.
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig left for England by the morning boat. A large crowd of people assembled to see him go; they lined the Quai and all the approaches to the Station and the boat, and were crowded on all the buildings and at all the windows for a considerable distance round. All the heads of departments, both French and English, were gathered together in the reserved enclosure by the gangway. He arrived by train at 11 o’clock, and inspected the Guard of Honour and the regimental band drawn up on the Quai. He was introduced to many of the officials in the enclosure and shook hands with me and some of the members of the office staff. His wife and sister-in-law then embarked with him, and stood on the Bridge of the boat, and remained there amidst rousing cheers till they were out of sight.
Lt. General Sir J. J. Asser, KCMG, late GOC L of C has now been appointed GOC in Chief, British Armies in France and Flanders. General Sir W. Robertson, GCB has handed over to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig KT, his Command as GOC in Chief Great Britain, and will shortly be arriving as Commander in Chief, Army of the Rhine and British Troops in France and Flanders.
Officers in Headquarters Office, Boulogne
Major-General Sir M. O’Keeffe, KCMG: Director of Medical Services.
Major-General J. Thompson, CB: late Deputy Director General of Medical Services.
Colonel E. T. Jones: ADMS Demobilisation
Lt. Colonel E. T. Potts, CMG: ADMS Personnel
Lt. Colonel A. C. Thompson is taking over from Major Buckley, who is to go to the War Office.
Colonel Cummings: ADMS Pathology
Colonel Beveridge CB: ADMS Sanitation
Colonel Short: ADMS Medical Stores
Colonel Greig: ADMS Statistics
I went to GHQ to discuss various questions:-
1. The putting up of the needs of the Nursing Services for the Army of the Rhine, and France and Flanders.
2. Of General Service VADs, if sent to the Army of the Rhine, being accommodated in the Sisters’ Quarters and coming entirely under the control of the CO and Matron, independent of Commandants.
3. The necessity of a car being set apart for the use of the Principal Matron, Army of the Rhine.
4. Of notifying officially that all members of the Women’s Royal Air Force – all ranks – can be nursed in our Sick Sisters’ Hospitals.
5. Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AIF, approaching arrival.
6. The question of Nursing VADs being appointed to the Army of the Rhine.
The DGMS approved that all these matters should be put up officially with as little delay as possible.
I learnt that the DGMS Office was being moved to Boulogne, taking up the old site of No.83 (Dublin) General Hospital. Major-General Sir M. O’Keeffe, KCMG, late DMS 4th Army, to be DMS British Armies in France and Flanders. That the Nursing branch was to have its office with his, and accommodation was to be arranged for the Staff in the Compound. That the four Armies are now to be known as Army Areas with an ADMS in charge of each:-
1st Area: Lt. Colonel Bliss
3rd Area: Lt. Colonel Morphew
4th Area: Lt. Colonel G. Moore
5th Area: Lt. Colonel Alexander
Sir John Rose Bradford, Medical Consultant, and Lady Bradford, who have both been out since December 1914, the latter having worked continuously writing letters for the wounded and seriously ill patients since that date, never having crossed over to England, left for Home.
Left after lunch for Abbeville. Went to the DMS Office and found everything in a very unsettled state. The DMS, Major General Carr CB, was going home on the 14th, and the DDMS Lt. Colonel Gallie, seemed doubtful as to when the office was going to move, and what was going to happen to the various departments. We discussed the remarks of the AAG Calais, with reference to members of the Nursing Services in France being permitted to dance, and he himself sent a very strong minute back, pointing out that these were matters which were dealt with by the War Office and the Medical Services and the Nursing Board only. Colonel Gallie spoke of the necessity of the Matron-in-Chief’s Office now being attached to the Headquarter Office in Boulogne, and I told him that these matters had already been discussed at GHQ. He spoke of the continuous difficulty of being unable to regulate the needs of the L of C as no-one even yet knew the Units which were supposed to be remaining more or less permanently.
I stayed the night at the Annexe.
The next morning, with Miss Loughron, the A/Matron of the Sick Sisters’ Hospital, went to Headquarters of the 3rd Area, where I saw the new ADMS Colonel Morphew, who had just taken over from Major-General Sir J. Murray Irwin, KCMG, late DMS, and Lt. Colonel Tyndale, DSO, late ADMS, who had gone home.
Went to No.41 Stationary Hospital. The CO and the Matron, Miss Bannister, were both on leave, and I saw the Acting CO and the Acting Matron. The Hospital is partly under canvas and partly hutted, and is opening in a rather desolate part of the country, but in walking distance of the village. Both the Hospital and the quarters were in most excellent condition, the floors and brights being in most excellent condition, the work being done entirely by the Germans, who are excellent workers. There were about 250 patients in, and there were signs of care and comfort everywhere. There were a large number of German prisoners, and a certain number of Chinese, and many of them were seriously ill.
Returned through Amiens, visited the Cathedral, and then went to the Headquarter Mess to lunch. There was a very large gathering and lunch was arranged at small tables, Colonel Morphew, Major Marsh, his DADMS, Miss Loughron and myself having lunch together.
Returned to Abbeville, where a telephone message was awaiting me saying that Major-General McPherson was in Boulogne and was wanting to see me.
I arrived at Boulogne at 6pm and met General McPherson, who has been deputed to write the official history of the war, and had come to find out what records we had in connection with the work of the Nursing Services; he was more than pleased with what we had done and how it had been done, and said that our records and those of Colonel Beveridge, were undoubtedly the best he had seen in France. He had been round to all Bases and Units for the purpose of gathering as much useful information as possible.
Lt. Colonel Barefoot, DDMS Etaples, his daughter Mrs. Coles, Miss Ridley, Principal Matron Canadians, and Miss Pense, CAMC, her Assistant, and Mr. Barbier had lunch in the Mess during my absence.
Miss Corbishley, RRC, QAIMNS, came to the office to report her engagement to Major Perrin, ASC, he accompanying her.
Learnt that Colonel Barefoot, late DDMS L of C, now DDMS Etaples, had again been appointed DDMS L of C, and was opening his office at Paris Plage, Colonel Statham, ADMS Paris, being appointed DDMS Etaples in his place. Colonel Gallie, at present DDMS L of C was to come temporarily to Boulogne to Headquarters before returning to Home Service. From the L of C Office, the ADMS Sanitation, Pathology, Personnel, Stores, Statistics, are all to be part of the Headquarters Office, also the Matron-in-Chief’s branch. This would have been done immediately the DGMS opened his head branch at Hesdin had there been accommodation and billets available for this large branch to be established there, and in consequence, the DMS L of C’s headquarters being most suitable, the work had to be administered from there.
Major General Guise Moores, CB, late DMS Army of the Rhine, called on his way home, having handed over his appointment to Major General H. Thompson, CB, late DMS 1st Army.
Miss Fletcher RRC, Principal Matron BRCS, came to lunch and afterwards we went to meet Miss Gill, Principal Matron TFNS Scottish Command, and Matron of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and Miss Lloyd Still, Principal Matron TFNS and Matron of St. Thomas’ Hospital, who were returning from Cannes where they had been attending an Allied Red Cross Conference. Representatives from the Allies had been invited by the American Red Cross to discuss many questions. I had hoped that they would have been able to stay the night and see some of the work of this Base, but unfortunately arrangements had been made for them to go straight through, their passports having to be ‘vised’ [sic] at Paris had delayed their arrival at Boulogne.
Lt. General Sir Charles Burtchaell, KCB, Sir Arthur Lawley, GCSI, and Sir Arthur Stanley, KCB arrived for the farewell dinner which was being given by the British Red Cross Society at the Hotel Christol in their honour.
Miss Northover, RRC, Matron TFNS, came to the office with particulars of the closing of No.53 General Hospital. She was on her way to Dunkirk to be Matron of No.4 General Hospital, which moved from Camiers and recently took up its position on the site of No.10 Canadian Stationary Hospital. Miss Northover has been Matron of 25 Stationary, 53 General, and now 4 General Hospital. She is a very able woman who is anxious to remain with the Army for as long as she is able, as the post which she gave up on the opening of hostilities is still not available in consequence of the Hospital being used by the Army.
The DGMS Lt. General Sir Charles Burtchaell, KGB, came to the office to say ‘good-bye’. He was more than complimentary with regard to the work, not only of the Nursing Services in France, but the way the office had been managed. He is taking a personal interest in the matter of my pension, and said that if there was any difficulty about it in any way whatever, if I would let him know, no matter where he was, he would take up the question.
DMS Headquarters, British Armies in France and Flanders, opened in Boulogne.
Miss Conyers, RRC, Matron-in-Chief AIF, arrived in France. She stayed the night at the Mess on her way to Abbeville, where arrangements are being made by the Australian authorities for her to visit Germany and Brussels.
In the morning I went to No.83 (Dublin) General Hospital, and saw the DMS General O’Keeffe, and General Thomson with regard to the moving of our office. I went round with Colonel Potts to select suitable huts, as the Sisters’ Quarters had been handed over to the GOC for disposal without reference to me or anyone else, and in consequence, a certain number of huts will have to be reconverted into a Mess and bathrooms, etc. Everyone was most kind and helpful in every respect.
After lunch went with Miss Conyers to Abbeville to the Sisters’ Quarters, where we met the three Matrons, Miss Willetts RRC, Matron QAIMNS, 2 Stationary Hospital; Mrs. Creagh RRC, Matron 1 South African General Hospital and Matron-in-Chief of the Service; Miss Wilson RRC, Matron 3 Australian General Hospital and Principal Matron AANS. We all had tea together. Miss Conyers went with Miss Wilson to stay the night at No.3 Australian General Hospital. We had already telegraphed and communicated with the Headquarters of the Australian Corps notifying Miss Conyers’ arrival and asking that transport might be arranged.
Learnt that Dr. Sandeman, Medical Officer to the QMAAC, was to be attached to the DDMS Office, L of C, that she had just gone there, and there was difficulty getting her suitable accommodation. Rang up Etaples and asked Colonel Barefoot if he would kindly permit her to stay at the Villa Tino until she could make suitable arrangements, as she had recently been very ill with Pleurisy and Pneumonia.
Left early for Rouen. Arrived at midday. Reported at the DDMS Office. He was out but had left a message asking me to lunch with him. I excused myself and had lunch at the Nurses’ Hostel to save time, and then with the two VADs from the Hostel went to No.6 General Hospital, where I saw the A/Matron, Miss C. V. S. Johnson RRC, QAIMNS, and the Assistant Matron, Miss S. F. Davies RRC, QAIMNS, with regard to the present work of the Unit. Found it was very light, and that she could quite well manage with a staff of 35 Trained and 15 VADs. I took their Nominal Roll away with me having noted those who were most anxious and most suitable to be demobilised.
I also saw the Assistant Matron of 25 Stationary Hospital, Miss Connal, at that Unit, and took her Nominal Roll away with me also, and undertook to reduce their staff.
From there I went to No.10 General Hospital where I saw the Matron, Miss Newman, QAIMNS, and the CO Lt. Col. Leeke. Found their Hospital was full of Germans. The CO undertook to place all the acute cases requiring special treatment and nursing into one block so as to economise the nursing staff, and leave the convalescents to be looked after by orderlies.
Returned to the DDMS Office and saw Colonel Bray, discussed the question of the needs of the Area and the retention of the Nursing Staff, and was informed by him that he had been attending a Conference that very morning and the matter was under consideration of keeping only No.6 General Hospital open, and doing away even with the Isolation Hospital, making the Isolation Block an Annexe of No.6 General Hospital. He felt for the present it was necessary to keep the Sick Sisters’ Hospital at the other end of the town open. No.8 General Hospital would be getting its orders to close with very little delay. He invited me to dinner, but I pointed out to him that I had to go to No.8 General Hospital where I was expected, that it was some distance away, and that I had also to see Miss Rannie, the A/Principal Matron, who was sick at the Sick Sisters’ Hospital. Arranged that the Hostel was to close with as little delay as possible; he considered Easter Tuesday would be the best day; he thought it was probably that General Service VADs would take it over. Arranged that when it was closed, the VADs working in the office were to come with all records etc., to this office to hand over.
Arrived at No.8 General Hospital at 5.30 where I had tea with Miss Roscoe, QAIMNS, A/Matron. Afterwards I went to see Miss Rannie, who is looking very seedy and evidently is not at all well, and was full of many grievances; among the many was her own special grievance of not having been awarded the RRC in the New Year’s Honours. Stayed at the Sisters’ Quarters, 8 General Hospital, had dinner with Miss Roscoe and Colonel Butler, and arranged all matters in the usual way in connection with the closing of the Hospital and the Mess. The Colonel spoke in the highest terms of the work of the Nursing Services and expressed much regret that so many excellent people were being demobilised.
Drove with Miss Rannie to the Hostel; she was on her way to get her treatment (electric) in the Belgian Hospital. Went on to Abbeville, and arrived at lunch time. After lunch went on with Miss Loughron to Etaples. Stayed the night at the Villa Tino. Visited the DDMS and discussed the question of the further reduction of the Nursing Staff and the advisability of closing the Villa Tino at an early date. Had dinner with Colonel Barefoot, his daughter Mrs. Ring Rose, the Medical Officer, and Miss Hopton. Neither the Villa Tino nor the Villa les Pins had a large number of patients. At the Villa Tino there was a YMCA lady very seriously ill; she had met with a bicycle accident and sustained concussion.
Miss Loughron returned to Abbeville. I had lunch at the Villa Tino with Miss Allen, Principal Matron of the Area, and Miss Hopton, in the garden. After lunch went with Miss Allen to inspect her quarters and the Hospital, both of which are beautifully managed and in excellent order, the work in the Hospital being done mainly by Germans, and in a first rate manner. There were a good many sick officers, but apart from that the rest of the Hospital was not very full. Saw the new CO Colonel McLean, who had just come from Cologne. Had tea in the Sisters’ Mess, and then came on to Boulogne to the office. Learnt that Sir Arthur Lawley had been to say good-bye on his departure from France.
Lt. Colonel Boylan Smith came to the office to say good-bye; he was on his way to Ceylon. Colonel Cummins, ADMS Pathology, also came to say good-bye; he is taking up a post at the College in London. I saw Miss Cardozo RRC, TFNS who had just come from Germany for demobilisation. She was overdue leave and it was arranged that she should go on leave at once and return to France for demobilisation.
Went to Dunkirk, and reported at the ADMS Office. He was on leave, and I went on to No.4 General Hospital where I saw the OC Lt. Colonel Macdonald, who I had known before at the Connaught, and the Matron, Miss Northover TFNS. They were busy trying to get the Hospital into some order. The Canadians had left the place in a most dreadful condition, and moreover the engineers fixtures and ordinary necessities had received little or no attention. However, the CO was taking the matter in hand, and the engineers were already beginning to improve the sanitary conditions, and deal with all matters of an urgent nature. The Hospital is partly hutted and partly under canvas. They are liable to take in all nationalities, and in consequence of a large number of Armenians being in the vicinity, they are constantly receiving urgent cases needing immediate operation, owing to the many fights among the troops. The CO considered it was not advisable for any members of the Nursing Staff to be out after dark. There were between 200 and 300 patients, and there was also accommodation for Officers. 2 batmen and 2 French maids are employed in the Sisters’ Quarters, the latter live in and are paid out of Mess funds. Miss Northover and her staff are tackling the situation. Almost the first day they arrived they were inspected by three Generals, and they are expecting another visit later to see how matters have been improved. The Sisters’ Quarters are in Nissen Huts, there is a nice ante-room and Mess.
After lunch I went on to Calais, where I visited No.35 General Hospital. This Unit has recently moved from its old site and moved to the site of No.8 Canadian Stationary Hospital, and the staff appear to have been faced by the same difficulties as at No.4 General Hospital. I saw the CO Lt. Col Hitchens and Miss Rowe, the A/Principal Matron and Matron of No.35 General Hospital. I found she had been seedy for some days with a heavy cold. I saw the CO and arranged for her to be admitted to Hospital, and expressed surprise that the Assistant Matron had not arranged this before I arrived. The Hospital at the time of the visit had only a few British patients, some Portuguese and 10 QMAAC, accommodation being arranged there for any sick QMAAC or WRAF, their officers being admitted to the Sick Sisters’ Hospital at the Chateau Boursot. This Hospital also is partly hutted and partly under canvas, they had only recently taken over and a great deal of valuable work had been done and they were getting the wards into first class order. The Sisters’ Quarters are also very good, there is an excellent Mess and ante-room, and a good kitchen. One batman and four French maids are employed, the latter having an allowance of 160 francs per month. There is no accommodation for officers at this unit.
I then went on to the Isolation Hospital, where I saw the A/Matron, Miss Ayre, QAIMNS, and went round the quarters and the Mess. They were not very busy and everything was in very good order. Returned to Boulogne in time for dinner.
Went to the DMS Office and discussed the question of the Nursing Establishment, and shewed him a letter, semi-official, which I had received from Miss Becher, in which she had altered the proportion of VADs and Trained Nurses in the list I had sent her with regard to the requirements of Nursing Staff in the Army of the Rhine and the Clearing Up Army. I also shewed him a copy of the letter I had written to her pointing out that until we got an official notification it would not be possible to alter the official establishment. He entirely approved. I also spoke to him of the difficulty we were experiencing by some members of the Nursing Services wishing to visit graves, not only of their near relatives, but of distant relations, and in consequence demobilisation was being interfered with. So many of these girls had not even applied officially for permission, and the question of transport was becoming almost impossible. I suggested that with his approval every assistance should be given to members to visit the graves of near relatives, and that the Overseas people should have an opportunity of visiting any graves, whether of near relatives or friends, but that others would have to wait till a later date, as it was not possible to cope with the large numbers wishing to visit graves and have an opportunity of seeing the Front. He quite approved.
I then went to No.32 Stationary Hospital where I had lunch, and where I inspected the Sisters’ Quarters, and found that it would be impossible to dispense with their present building unless more huts were built. I saw the new CO, Colonel Mackenzie, who I remembered in the early part of the War had run and managed a CCS in a most remarkable manner, all the arrangements being like those of a miniature General Hospital. Owing to difficulty in obtaining batmen, I advised the Matron to put up the question of General Service VADs, not only for the kitchen but for their quarters.
I then visited the DDMS Boulogne, Colonel Thurston, with regard to the Staff which would be required for No.8 Stationary Hospital when it opened on its new site, that of 54 General Hospital, as it was merely going to take in cases of v. disease*and skin cases. I asked him to consider the question of whether any Nurses at all were advisable, and said that I was anxious to remove the Nurses from the Mental Division also.
* Venereal Disease
Mrs. Creagh RRC, Matron-in-Chief SAMNS, came and stayed at the Mess on her way home on demobilisation. After lunch I went with her to the DMS Office, and while I went round the quarters with Colonel Potts, and decided what alterations were needed for the office and the quarters which we hoped to go into in the first week of June, she visited the Pay Office, and on her return we both had tea in the DMS Mess, and I had an opportunity of introducing her to General O’Keeffe, General Thomson, and Colonel E. T. Jones, and the rest of the Officers of the Mess.
I then went back to the office and Mrs. Creagh returned to finish off some matters with the Pay people, afterwards visiting the Dispersal Hostel (Marine Hotel). On my return I learnt that A/Sister H. B. Hands QAIMNSR had failed to answer the Roll Call of the demobilisation party, and later a letter had been found in her room, saying that as she could not get authority from the Matron-in-Chief to visit certain graves, she had taken the law into her own hands, and that she would not return for a day or two. I notified the A/Provost Marshal, also the DDMS, and have reported the matter officially.
I saw Mrs. Creagh off by the morning boat. I had an opportunity of introducing her to Captain Walker, Naval Reserve, Embarkation Officer, and he was glad to get her signature in his book, which is a most wonderful record since August 1914 of any person of any importance who has embarked or disembarked. There are signatures of Kings, Queens, General, etc., and it is a most valuable record, which is going to be given to the Nation. I visited the Marine Hotel, and went round with Miss Easby, and arranged that a notice board should be put at the entrance, notifying what the building was. I also arranged with her that all members of the Nursing Services warned for demobilisation should spend one week’s notice at the Marine prior to embarking.
General Babtie called before crossing for England having visited practically all Units both on the Lines of Communication and the Army of the Rhine. He expressed himself very satisfied with the whole of the work in the Units and the number of Nursing Staff. He spoke of No.43 CCS, an infectious Unit in the devastated area which he thought required more nurses. He said that in some instances he thought the nurses might be more evenly distributed, and he did not think we could well spare any more for demobilisation, while as many Units were working as are now. When he returned he was going to discuss the question of dancing, of VAD nursing members working in the Army of the Rhine, and undertook to have definite instructions forwarded both in respect of these matters, as well as of my position when the Principal Matron arrived to take up her duty in Germany. He spoke in the most flattering terms of the work of all members of the Nursing Services, both trained and untrained, in the Units in France and Germany.
Miss Reid RRC, Matron QAIMNS, the new Principal Matron for the Army of the Rhine, arrived unexpectedly. She was put up at the Mess. She went into the question of all Nursing arrangements, and the organisation of the work in this office, which she thought would be a help to her.
In the morning Miss Reid came over to the office. She took various notes and collected all the correspondence of an official nature which she felt would be of any use to her, in addition to the index cards and the book of Nominal Rolls of the Army of the Rhine which had been prepared for her. In the afternoon she visited the Nurses’ Hostel, and the Dispersal Hostel, and left for Cologne by the express in the evening, accompanied by Miss Wilton Smith and Miss Barbier.
Miss Conyers RRC, Matron-in-Chief AIF, arrived from her trip to Germany and Brussels. I saw her off by the morning boat next day.
Miss Mary Crowdy came about the closing of the Convalescent Home, Hardelot, and the question of General Service VADs in the new Units in Boulogne. She told me that there would be no difficulty whatever in our getting General Service VADs to work in our Mess, if I considered it necessary, and she would be particular in selecting very nice people.
I arranged for Miss Mackay RRC, A/Principal Matron Boulogne, to come to this office every afternoon of the coming week. General Thompson, Deputy DG came to the office to say goodbye. Lt. Colonel E. T. Potts and Major Buckley came to let me know that official instructions with regard to Miss Bond and Miss Reid’s appointments as Principal Matron of the Clearing Up Army and Principal Matron of the Army of the Rhine respectively had arrived, that when I handed over to Miss Bond, the appointment of Matron-in-Chief would cease. The official orders were coming through the ordinary channels, so that they would not be arriving at this office for a day or so. In the meantime it was arranged that I should send for Miss Bond, and that she should take her leave which was overdue.
I dined with the DDMS Boulogne to meet Colonel Eames and his wife, Colonel Eames being the OC of the Australian Voluntary Hospital, which was taken over by the Military and became No.32 Stationary Hospital. He has been in charge of this Unit since the beginning of the War. He was leaving the next day on demobilisation.
In the afternoon I went to Etaples to see the DDMS with reference to the closing of the Villa Tino, and the reduction of the Nursing Staff in all Units on the L of C, the withdrawal of Nurses from the mental wards, and the importance of not permitting any members of the Nursing Services to nurse private cases in their homes. All these matters he undertook to deal with.
SUMMARY FOR APRIL 1919
No.16 General Hospital, on 9.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.20 General Hospital, on 14.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.81 General Hospital, on 1.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.53 General Hospital, on 2.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.56 General Hospital, on 10.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Nos. 12, 16, 21, 23, 20, 24, 19, 31, 33, 36, 25, 26 Ambulance Trains
Staff dispersed and demobilised
Nos. 46, 61, 55, 30, 6, 2, 10, 27 CCS
Staff dispersed and demobilised
46 Field Ambulance: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Military Hospital, Ath: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Nurses’ Home, Abbeville, on 23.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Sick Sisters’ Hospital (2 Stationary Hospital Annexe) on 23.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Nurses’ Hostel, Rouen, on 21.4.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Sent home sick
Trained – 55
Untrained – 18
N/Sister King, CAMC, on 4.4.19: Cerebro-spinal meningitis
Trained Nurses – 539 (British)
Trained Nurses – 1
Transferred to Home Establishment
Trained Nurses – 44
Untrained returned to England
Resigned – 9
Termination of contract – 1
Transferred to Home Establishment – 3
Demobilised – 143
Approximate number of leaves granted
To United Kingdom – 310
To Paris – 8
To South of France – 12
To Italy – 1
Total number of CAMC
Transferred to UK – 126
Now in France – 137
Total number of AANS
Transferred to UK – 18
Now in France – 76
Total requirements of Nurses
For Army of Rhine (Calculated at 75% of War Establishment)
Trained – 288
VADs – 120
For Clearing Up Army and additional Units still open in France and Flanders (Calculated at 50% of War Establishment)
Trained – 739
VADs – 374
Total Requirements of Nurses
Trained – 1027
VADs – 494
Total number of Nurses available on May 1st
Trained – 1162
VADs – 612
Trained – 135
VADs – 118
Grand total of Nurses working in Army of Rhine and in France and Flanders, including 586 General Service VADs in BRCS Hostels and Military Hospitals
Trained – 1396
VADs – 1526
SUMMARY OF WORK DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
SUMMARY OF WORK DONE AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
Went to Abbeville to No.2 Stationary Hospital, where I saw the Matron, Miss Willetts RRC, QAIMNS, who is being transferred to the Home Establishment for duty at Devonport Military Hospital. I made arrangements for her to hand over temporarily to her Assistant Matron, Miss Esden, until her successor, Miss Roscoe RRC, QAIMNS, would be able to join, so that there should be no delay in the transfer. I went round the Hospital and inspected her books and returns, which were most satisfactory. I found that she would be able to manage with a smaller staff now that the CO was collecting all the acute cases, both medical and surgical, into special huts. I visited the sick sisters’ division, which has just been transferred there when the Sick Sisters’ Hospital and the Nurses’ Home closed. I found that ample accommodation had been arranged for both the sick and the passers by.
Returned the same evening to Boulogne and found that Miss Macdonald RRC, Matron-in-Chief CEF, had just arrived from the United Kingdom. She was on her way to visit certain graves and was hoping to get a permit to go to both Cologne and Brussels. She stayed the night at the Mess. Wrote to Dr. Lilly Baker, the head medical officer belonging to the WRAF who had recently arrived in France. I arranged to send her a Nominal Roll of all her members who were admitted to Hospital each day.
Miss Macdonald left for Doullens. An official letter arrived appointing Miss Reid RRC, QAIMNS, as A/Principal Matron, Army of the Rhine, independent of France; Miss Bond RRC, as A/Principal Matron of France and Flanders, when she had taken over this work, the Matron-in-Chief’s appointment in France ceases to exist.
Instructed Miss Bond to hand over to Miss Cracknell TFNS, the Matron’s duties of No.12 Stationary Hospital, which she had been performing as well as those of A/Principal Matron, 1st Army, and to come without delay to Boulogne.
Visited No.7 Stationary Hospital, where I saw Miss C. W. Jones RRC, QAIMNS, A/Matron. Went into the question of her staff, and from the Nominal Roll marked down the members whom it seemed most advisable should be demobilised, and arranged to reduce the staff by half. The Hospital was full of Germans, a few British, and only a small proportion of acutely ill. Miss Bond RRC, QAIMNS, arrived in the evening and stayed the night at the Mess.
Miss Bond proceeded on 14 days’ leave to the United Kingdom – she has had no leave for 11 months – with the understanding that she should apply in 10 days’ time for an extension, and if it was possible, I would arrange it. By the 1st June the new office for the Principal Matron and her staff is expected to be ready in the same compound as that of the DMS British Armies in France and Flanders; if this can be arranged it will be more satisfactory in every respect. Miss Tunley arrived from Cologne by the express, and proceeded with Miss Bond to England.
Miss Lethbridge, VAD Commandant for General Service VADs came to the office with reference to the question of General Service VADs being attached to No.8 Stationary Hospital, now that this Hospital is a non-sisters’ Unit. I advised her to put up the matter officially to the DDMS and ask whether arrangements could not be made for these girls to be transferred to one of the Hospitals where there is a Matron and Nursing Staff.
Miss D. P. Foster RRC, TFNS, Sister in charge of 55 CCS, arrived with her Mess Books and Mess Balance, with the rest of her staff, as No.55 CCS has now closed as a Sisters’ Unit, only non sisters’ cases being admitted. Miss Foster proceeded on leave. On her return she is to be demobilised to take up an appointment which has been offered to her on the College of Nursing.
Received from the Commander-in-Chief of the American Forces, General Pershing, a letter of appreciation of all the kindness, consideration and assistance shewn to the American Nurses by all branches of the Imperial Nursing Service.*
Miss Willetts RRC, Matron QAIMNS, arrived in Boulogne on her way home to take up a new post. She stayed the night at the Mess. Eight sisters proceeded to Cologne by the express.
* The text of this letter can be read on this page
Miss G. M. Smith RRC, QAIMNS, and Miss Barbier CBE RRC, arrived from Cologne after having accompanied Miss Reid RRC, QAIMNS, A/Principal Matron, Army of the Rhine.
The DMS Canadians is arranging for a charabanc to take a certain number of Canadian Sisters for a trip to the forward areas and places of interest in Northern France and Belgium, and has very kindly set apart 6 seats for me to make use of. I am arranging for three trained nurses and 3 VADs waiting at the Dispersal Hostel for demobilisation to go with the first trip. It is to start today, and 3 VADs and 3 Trained Sisters, with Miss Ritchie Thompson RRC, QAIMNSR in charge, left at 11o’clock. They are expected to be away 3 or 4 days, two nights being spent at the Canadian Chateau at Camblain l’Abbaye, which has been set apart for the convenience of Canadian Sisters passing backwards and forwards to the Forward Areas.
After lunch went to No.4 Stationary Hospital at Longuenesse, quite close to St. Omer. Saw the OC Lt. Colonel Inkson VC, and the A/Matron, Miss Prendergast, QAIMNSR. Inspected both the Hospital and the Quarters, and they were in excellent condition. The Hospital is entirely hutted and accommodation is available both for officers, men and sick sisters and women of all other ranks. An Isolation Division is now being opened. Everything seemed most satisfactory. Here, like everywhere else, the question of shortage of orderlies is very great, but for the German prisoners it would not be possible to carry on at all. The Hospital is situated in beautiful grounds, and everything was looking its very best. Miss Gedye RRC, QAIMNS, returned from leave and proceeded to No.1 CCS as Sister in charge to relieve Miss Poole TFNS, who is being recalled for duty at her civil Hospital.
Visited Mrs. Robertson Eustace’s Club. Found that she is proposing to close toward the middle of next month owing to the fact of her father’s serious illness. Otherwise she had hoped to remain as long as required in France and then obtain authority to open up a smaller club in the Army of the Rhine. This she regretted very much not being able to do, as both her parents were getting old, and she felt it was imperative that she should be somewhere near, as the rest of her family were serving abroad and not available.
Miss Minns RRC, A/Principal Matron, QAIMNS, Havre, and Matron of No.2 General Hospital, came for 48 hours to explain to me the position in Havre and how things were being managed. Learnt that three members of the Nursing Services who were suffering from variola were going on satisfactorily.
Went with Miss Woodford RRC, TFNS, Embarkation Sister, and Miss Wilton Smith RRC, QAIMNS, to the kit store, to see that all arrangements with reference to the Sisters’ luggage were satisfactory. There was a good deal of luggage about at the Station, but it was all for the Sisters who were being demobilised. Inside the Station there is a large room set apart for the storage of kits, chiefly of sisters who have gone on leave and left their kits behind. There were shelves ranged all round and the whole store was in very good order, each Sister’s kit was all together, but owing to the size of the room it was not possible to arrange them in alphabetical order. Left the Station and about five minutes walk down the road there is another store which has been in use for some years. This chiefly contains Sisters’ boxes, and very little of any other kind of kit, belonging to members of the Nursing Services who are on duty at Casualty Clearing Stations and Units in the Forward Areas, as owing to transport difficulties it is not possible for them to take all their heavy luggage with them. These boxes are placed on end with a large letter stuck on to denote the initial of the owner. There is an upper room to this store similarly arranged, and altogether there are about 150 boxes, which as time goes on become gradually less and less.
Went to the DMS Office in the morning and saw Colonel Potts with regard to the question of the Gymkhana Club at Calais which was about to be opened, and which the Officers were anxious the Sisters might be permitted to join, and which the Nursing Board has recommended I should be asked to give my opinion about. Decided that I had better go to Calais. I called at the ADMS Office, found out all particulars about the Club, and submitted a report accordingly.
Went to No.30 General Hospital which I inspected. Found it very much improved. Lt. Colonel Hamilton in charge; I did not see him. Matron Miss K. Smith RRC, TFNS, who had just taken over, as her Unit, No.56 General Hospital, had begun to take in non-sisters’ cases. Found that No.30 General Hospital had been reduced from 1600 to 1040 beds, they no longer had a non-sisters’ Division, but were taking in both officers and men. The Unit is partly under canvas and partly hutted, and everything is in first rate order. There were not many dangerously ill cases, but a certain number of patients whose condition required skilled nursing. I had lunch in the Sisters’ Quarters and found everything very nice indeed, well arranged, well served and well cooked. I said that the Matron would have to expect to have her staff reduced considerably, as the Hospitals are now going to be placed on a peace footing. They had 1 French servant and 4 batmen, one of the latter being a cook. There was a very good Home Sister. Owing to the shortage of orderlies, which was daily increasing, the Commanding Officer had submitted a scheme whereby General Service VADs could be employed in certain departments. Arrangements were being made for them to be accommodated in the Compound, and to come directly under the control of the CO and Matron. Found that Miss K. M. Smith was not anxious to be demobilised any sooner than was absolutely necessary.
Then went round No.35 General Hospital with Colonel McLoughlin, the new CO and Miss Rowe, the Matron. Only officer patients are nursed here, and members of the QMAAC and WRAF. The Hospital is entirely hutted, and is well managed, well organised, and at the time of the visit there were not many really sick people. The question of General Service VADs is being considered and the CO has submitted a proposal, suggesting that accommodation should be provided for them in the Compound. The ADMS is rather anxious that they should all be accommodated together at No.30 General Hospital, and the detachment belonging to No.35 General Hospital marched there every morning, the distance being 25 to 30 minutes’ walk. The CO seemed extremely keen on making everything as comfortable as possible.
Then went with Miss Rowe RRC, QAIMNS, A/Principal Matron of the Area and Matron on No.35 General Hospital to the Isolation Hospital and Chateau Boursot, where there is accommodation for 20 ordinary sisters’ cases. It is a very comfortable little place, well managed and well organised, partly in a building and partly hutted. At the time of the visit there were two patients, a trained nurse and a YMCA lady, both slight attacks of Influenza. The staff consists of 2 trained Nurses and 1 nursing VAD, 4 General Service VADs and 2 batmen. Everything was in excellent order. The Sisters’ Quarters were comfortable, well arranged, and in excellent order, and in a building. The number of sick sisters and lady workers has considerably decreased, and it would appear that it would be well to consider the question of closing this Hospital and opening some of the wards at No.35 General Hospital near to the QMAAC huts for the accommodation of sick sisters and other workers. The present arrangement, owing to the small percentage of sick who are admitted, is an extravagant one. Returned to Boulogne in time for dinner.
Miss Fletcher RRC, Principal Matron, BRCS, came to say goodbye on her way home, her work in France having been completed; the only Unit belonging to the BRCS is the California Hotel, the Officers’ Convalescent Hospital at Cannes.
Left at 9 o’clock with Miss Hill VAD for Valenciennes. A very hot day the country looking beautiful. Arrived at Valenciennes at 2.15 and found Colonel Bliss ADMS had been called away. I saw the Staff Officer and arranged to be at the ADMS Office the next morning at 10am.
Then drove out to No.57 CCS which has just opened up a little way out of the town under canvas. There we had lunch. Found the Hospital in a beautiful field in a lovely position. They had slept in the Unit the night before for the first time. Arrived quite unexpectedly and found everything in practically absolute order, even flowers and beautiful branches of greenery in the vases. The Sisters’ Quarters – Armstrong huts for sleeping in, 2 GP tents, lashed together, one for an ante-room, one for a Mess room. The kitchen is situated between the Sisters’ and Officers’ Mess, so that the one kitchen and cook were able to manage for both Messes. CO Lt. Colonel Clayton, Sister in charge Miss E. Rogers, QAIMNSR, who has just taken over from Miss Russell Lee, QAIMNSR. Staff of 6 others. Said that under the present conditions her staff was ample. There were a certain number of sick and a few surgical cases, and there was accommodation for officers. The arrangements in the Operating Theatre and the dressing rooms were quite excellent.
Went on to Mons to No.1 CCS where I saw the CO Lt. Colonel Bell, and Miss Pool, the late Sister in charge, who was busy handing over to Miss Gedye RRC, QAIMNS, Miss Pool being about to be demobilised. The Hospital was established in a big, solid building, and both it and the Sisters’ Quarters were improved since my last visit. They were suffering from a shortage of orderlies, and the CO informed me that it was quite impossible to get all the scrubbing done or to keep the floors and wards as clean as they should be. The building used to be a Belgian Hospital, and the arrangements are not as satisfactory as they might be. It is a great big scattered building full of small wards, with a few big ones, and a tremendous amount of corridor space. The Nursing Staff consists of the Sister in charge and 7 others. I found an officer and a man critically ill, and was fortunate enough to be able to detain two nurses who were on their way down to the Base from No.30 CCS for leave, until further help could be obtained. The two sisters went on duty at once, and went to bed, to be called at 1 o’clock, the day people staying on till then. Saw Miss Blair QAIMNSR and her staff of 5 from No.30 CCS which had closed down, they were on their way to the Base, all being due for leave.
On Monday morning left early and went to the ADMS Office at Valenciennes, and saw Colonel Bliss, the ADMS. Discussed the importance of having some temporary people at one or other of the Casualty Clearing Stations for emergency work, also asked whether it would be possible for the sick sisters of the Area to be nursed at No.42 CCS which is a solid building having accommodation for officers, and I thought a ward could quite well be set aside for sick sisters. Said that No.42 CCS could manage with their present staff of 11, and I suggested that 2 extra could be posted there, making them a staff of 13, and help could then be supplied to other Units at short notice. Colonel Bliss agreed with me that No.57 CCS could quite well manage with a nursing staff of 7 and No.1 with 9. This letter will be one of the first to close, mainly because the French are agitating for the building. This will throw more work onto No.57 CCS. No.15 CCS at Ruitz will at present only require a nursing staff of 7. No.7 CCS the same, until No.12 Stationary Hospital closes down, when it will be more than probable that the work of this Unit will be considerably increased.
Then drove on to Douai to No.42 CCS and had lunch at the Sisters’ Mess, with Miss Newbould, the Sister in charge, and her staff. Everything was comfortable, the luncheon table nicely laid, and the appointments good. They had 1 French servant and 2 German orderlies. The Sisters were established in this very nice house which had been very much knocked about by the Germans, and was not very far from their work. The CCS had opened up in a very fine Belgian Hospital, very different from the one at Mons. Everywhere there was evidence of good management and care of the patients. There were all sorts of nationalities, French, German, Italian, and Chinese, as well as a great many English. There were a few officers in a very well arranged and pretty ward, most of them being Flying Corps Officers. Saw the CO Lt. Colonel Hunt, who expressed himself satisfied with everything in connection with the nursing arrangements.
We then drove on to Ruitz to No.15 CCS. A beautiful camp, beautifully laid out grounds. Apparently the Staff Sergeant of the Company is extremely interested in gardening, and some of the Germans had assisted him. Went round the Hospital, which was mainly huts, everything was comfortable and well arranged. There were 2 officers only and a great many British men, and a certain number of Germans, and some Chinamen very ill indeed. The Sisters said what extremely nice patients the Chinese were, how easy to nurse, and how grateful for everything that was done or them. I saw two of them who had pneumonia very badly indeed, one was in a very emaciated condition and there seemed no chance that he would recover, the other the CO was afraid was tubercular. The orderlies would do anything for the Chinamen, and the Sergeant in the Laboratory had taken a photograph of one to send to his relatives. Then drove back to Boulogne and arrived in time for dinner.
After lunch went to the DMS Office, and spoke to him about my remarks on the Club at Calais which I was sending to the Matron-in-Chief, and shewed him some correspondence which had come from the War Office with reference to the new arrangements for the more satisfactory distribution of the luggage of members of the Nursing Services being demobilised. Went with Miss Smith and Miss Barbier to look at the new quarters which are now in the process of completion.
Staff Sergeant Spare, the official artist who has come out to France in connection with the Imperial War Museum came to the office, and I sat for my portrait. He arrived in Boulogne on the 13th, and is to draw various subjects of interest with reference to the Medical Services.
After tea left with Miss Martin, VAD for Remy Siding. Arrived at 10 Stationary Hospital at 7pm and went round the Hospital with Miss Smyth RRC, QAIMNS, A/Matron, the CO Lt. Col. Bennett, who had only just arrived, being in Lille, where he had gone to report to the ADMS Colonel Alexander. The Hospital has taken up its position on the old site of No.10 CCS and No.2 Canadian CCS, the Medical Division being on the site of No.10 and the Surgical on that of No.2 Canadian. In addition a hut with the necessary conveniences has been cleared for the accommodation of sick sisters. The accommodation for officers is excellent, and the general arrangements everywhere very good indeed. There were not many British Orderlies, but a good number of German patients, who work well and are keeping the place in excellent order. There were a certain number really ill, and among them one German with enteric, who was having a rather severe attack. They had lost one only the night before with a sudden haemorrhage, also suffering from enteric. A large number of Chinese were working in the neighbourhood, a Chinese Hospital being established on the old site of No.3 Canadian CCS. There are a good many petty thefts taking place and irregularities of various kinds, which are being attributed to the Chinese, though the general impression appears to be that the Belgians are the culprits. In consequence of theft in the Sisters’ Quarters all table linen, some of it extremely good being taken, a guard has been placed day and night on the Quarters. The sisters are accommodated in the old quarters of the Canadian Nursing Sisters. There is a very good mess and ante-room, kitchen, etc. and the nursing staff sleep some in Armstrong and some in Nissen huts. There is a Badminton Court and everything is most satisfactory. After dinner, Colonel Bennett, the new CO, and Major Fell, the Officer in charge of the Chinese Hospital, came to see me.
Left early for Lille. Called on the ADMS Colonel Alexander, and arranged to go to No.39 Stationary Hospital and take Miss Teevan RRC, A/Principal Matron QAIMNS, with me to see the other Units in the Area.
No.39 Stationary Hospital is at Ascq, having recently moved from a building in Lille, and had now opened under canvas on the old site of No.32 and 13 CCS. Miss Teevan is A/Matron and has a staff of 10 others. CO Lt. Colonel Unwin. Found that the Unit consists of almost entirely non-sisters’ cases, a section for infectious cases, and 60 beds only for officers and men, for which the sisters are responsible. The Unit was getting into very good order, and promises to be a very good workable Hospital. I pointed out to the CO that unless the number of ordinary cases was likely to be considerably increased, the present staff was far too large to remain, and he quite agreed. The Sisters’ Mess is under canvas and we had some early lunch before moving on. I went round the Quarters and inspected the kitchen, which is very good. Miss Teevan had brought her poultry with her and was getting quite a large number of eggs each day.
We then drove on to No.51 CCS which is in an Asylum at Tournai. CO Lt. Colonel Miller, Sister in charge Miss Carnegie, RRC TFNS, and a staff of 6 others. A great big straggling building, appeared to be well managed and very comfortable. There were no German orderlies, the cleaning being done by a number of Belgian women, who are locally employed for the purpose. The sisters are accommodated in a wing of the Asylum, and are comfortable in every way. It is situated in beautiful grounds and there were lovely flowers everywhere. We had quite a good, comfortable lunch with the rest of the staff, and after lunch started for Uccle – a long dusty drive, and the roads not too good. The country was entirely under cultivation, and some parts very beautiful. Arrived at the 2nd South Lancs. Field Ambulance at 5.30. Opened up in a big Sanatorium in beautiful grounds in two buildings, one set apart for the Officers and the Nursing Staff – who are accommodated on the top floor. It was very comfortable, with a lovely outlook, the only drawback being that there is no lift to the Sisters’ Quarters, the cooking is done in the main kitchen, and everything has to be carried up three flights of stairs. The other building is set apart entirely for men. There were very few very sick patients. Like everywhere else, they were feeling the need of really good orderlies. The grounds were quite beautiful and most of the patients being more or less convalescent had an opportunity of enjoying them. There was a staff of 7, which is more than adequate, but owing to the distance of this Unit from anywhere else, its proximity to Brussels, and the possibility of seriously ill cases or accidents of a serious nature being admitted unexpectedly, it does not appear wise for the present to reduce the staff further. After dinner Lt. Colonel Wood came to see me, he having been in the morning to meet his wife, who has just arrived from England. I spoke about one or two things which I had noticed and which were not satisfactory, and he undertook to alter them.
Left Uccle at 8 o’clock and with Miss Teevan and Miss Martin drove through beautiful country, also under cultivation, to Courtrai, where we arrived at 11.30. In the same building, with the same CO, Colonel Marrott, and the same Sister in charge, Miss Jennings RRC, MM, TFNS, as on my last visit about 6 months ago – No.62 CCS.
The Hospital is in a large school, and is well managed, and everything is in excellent order. There is accommodation for officers, men, and a special division for non-sisters’ cases. There were a certain number of Chinese and German patients, all very well behaved. The Sisters live in a very nice house in beautiful grounds immediately opposite the Hospital. There are two Belgian servants and 2 batmen. We had a very nice lunch, and then left for Lille, arriving at 2.15. I went to see the ADMS Colonel Alexander. He undertook to let me know when Units closed, and approved of the suggestion that sick sisters in the Area should be sent to No.10 Stationary Hospital, and that 2 extra sisters should be sent there for emergency work in any of the other Units in the Area; also that the staff of No.39 Stationary Hospital should be reduced. I pointed out that as a large number of wives were arriving it should be understood that it would not be advisable or desirable for any of them to become members of the Sisters’ Messes. This point I made quite clear in consequence of Colonel Alexander suggesting that the CO’s wife at No.10 Stationary Hospital should be accommodated and mess with the Sisters. Left Miss Teevan at Lille, she having telephoned to the Unit asking the CO to send a conveyance to take her back.
Miss Martin and I went on to Steenwerk to No.11 CCS where I saw Captain Lang, who was acting for the CO who was on leave, and Miss Langlands RRC, TFNS the Sister in charge. There was a staff of 8. The Unit is entirely under canvas, and was not very busy, had accommodation for officers and men. At the time of the visit there were no officers, and the majority of the patients were Germans. Chinese patients were transferred with as little delay as possible to the Chinese Hospital at Remy Siding. Everything seemed very satisfactory, and they had a very good Operating Theatre. The Sisters are accommodated in Nissen Huts, and they have a big Nissen Hut as a Mess. Everything seemed very comfortable and well managed. We returned to Boulogne in time for dinner at 8 o’clock.
Went to the DMS Office where I saw General Gerrard who had just arrived to take over from General O’Keeffe. We discussed the approaching visit of the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, and my three days in London; the move of the office, and the work in the 1st and 5th Areas. I told him that in the 1st Area everything was satisfactory on the whole; the 5th Area was not good. He spoke of the necessity of getting rid of the Canadian Sisters with as little delay as possible; said that he had heard that there was a very large number at No.7 Canadian General Hospital where there had been no patients for a long time, and he asked me to take some action in the matter. I said that I would speak to the Principal Matron Canadians, Miss Ridley, on the subject, that the Matron-in-Chief CEF was now in the country, and asked him if he would approach the DMS Canadians about it.
Staff Sergeant Spare came to the office for a second sitting. He apparently is not at all strong, and is not at all comfortably accommodated. I arranged that he should mess at the Nurses’ Hostel, and telephoned to the Sister in charge, Miss Williams ANSR, asking her to arrange the hours so that they would not clash with the sisters’ meals.
Received a letter from the Matron-in-Chief saying that she would not be able to cross to France until the 26th, and also saying that she did not wish her approaching visit talked about until official notification arrived. In consequence I postponed my visit to London from the 19th to the 22nd.
The Matron-in-Chief CEF returned from Cologne, was met by Miss Woodford, Embarkation Sister, and was accommodated at the Hotel du Nord.
With her, and accompanied by Colonel Barefoot, DDMS, L of C, went to Etaples. Visited No.7 Canadian General Hospital with a view to ascertaining how soon the Sisters – 113 in all – including the staff of No.6 Canadian General Hospital which had recently closed in Paris, could be demobilised. The DMS Headquarters was asking why there had been so much delay in view of the fact that both Units had closed. The Matron-in-Chief said that she had delayed their departure as long as possible owing first to a certain amount of difficulty in obtaining accommodation for them while waiting for passages to Canada, but mainly because she was anxious that as many as possible should see as much as possible of France before leaving the country. The DMS Canadians had made arrangements for parties of 25 to take a several days trip in the forward areas, which included Brussels, Bruges, Ostend, Zeebrugge, Mons. In addition, parties of 25 Canadian Sisters had been arriving at regular intervals from England, presumably to visit graves.
Went to lunch with Colonel Barefoot at the Officers’ Club, a most wonderfully adapted stable and blacksmith’s shop, which was most tastefully furnished and most charming in every way; there was a first rate chef.
After lunch with Miss Macdonald, picked up Miss Ridley, Principal Matron Canadians, and visited the graves of the Canadian Sisters who had been killed or died of Cerebro-spinal meningitis in the Area. On each grave the Canadians had placed a moveable marble slab, with the name and particulars of each member, which was placed underneath the cross; it was quite small, only a few inches in height. Drove to the Hotel du Nord where Miss Macdonald had tea, and then I saw her off by the boat.
Learnt that Miss Grierson RRC, Matron QAIMNS, had arrived from London for duty with the Army of the Rhine, Miss Hordley’s arrival being postponed until the 23rd. Miss Grierson, and Miss A. L. Walker RRC, QAIMNS proceeding on leave, were to be put up at Mrs. Robertson Eustace’s Hostel.
With Miss Grierson left early and went first to the boat to see Miss Walker, whom I had missed when she came to the office. Learnt that everything was satisfactory at Marseilles. She was going straight to Ireland on leave to meet her sister.
Then went to the Chateau Mauricien where Miss Pedler, A/Matron QAIMNS took Miss Grierson round, while I went to see some of the sisters who were seriously ill, including Miss Anderson VAD, who had recently been working in our Mess and who was going to be evacuated, and Miss Williamson, a Canadian VAD who has been dangerously ill, but is now better, her mother being expected from Canada.
Then to Etaples to No.24 General Hospital where I saw the CO and Miss Allen A/Matron and A/Principal Matron of the Area. This Unit is getting into first rate order, and the CO is taking great pains in dividing the divisions into medical and surgical, to put all the acute cases in wards to themselves, separating the convalescent patients. There is a big sick officers’ division, and the remainder is mainly occupied by Germans. At present a staff of 50 is required, but both the CO and the Matron thought that shortly this could be still further reduced. They have accommodation for 2000 patients.
Left Miss Grierson with the Matron while went to No.46 Stationary Hospital to see Miss McCord QAIMNSR, who is shortly to be demobilised, and who is to hand over to Miss Lang RRC, QAIMNS. She is taking Paris leave before returning to the United Kingdom. She spoke of the recent improved conditions of the War Gratuity, which many did not quite understand, and she is putting up the matter officially, as from her calculations the Matrons, under the present arrangement, are not benefiting as much as they did under the old regulations. She also spoke a great deal about the discontent among the Nursing Staff, so many of the Trained Nurses being demobilised who have no fixed work to return to, while large numbers of VADs are still being employed in the country. I advised her to put the matter up officially. Saw the CO, found the Hospital is at present extremely light, they have a staff of 46, and under present conditions it is felt this can be considerably reduced, while at the same time they feel that the health of the troops is abnormally good; should there be an epidemic of any kind, their present staff would not be able to cope with any great emergency. Decided that for the present at any rate their staff should be reduced to 36.
Then went with Miss Grierson and Miss Allen to lunch at the Villa les Pins – a beautiful day. Had lunch in the garden under the pine trees. Inspected the Hospital and quarters, and then went over the Villa Tino, which has just been closed, to see in what condition it had been left. Found everything absolutely perfect, and was told by the Matron, Miss Hopton QAIMNSR, that the Claims Officer had complimented her and her staff on the great care that had been displayed during all the long years that this house had been a Sick Sisters’ Hospital, and said it was remarkable in what perfect order everything had been kept. Everything was absolutely clean and the floors beautifully polished.
On my return I called in at No.24 General Hospital and saw Miss Merriman, the A/Matron of 26 General Hospital with reference to a post which has been offered to her in Newcastle and which she is thinking of accepting. She is willing to remain until the end of July if she can be of any assistance, otherwise she is quite ready to go away as soon as her services are no longer required. She is a very charming and clever woman.
On my return to Boulogne I went to the DDMS Office with reference to the closing of this office when it moves to Headquarters, the transfer of 14 Stationary Hospital to the site of 7 Stationary Hospital, 14 Stationary Hospital having had to be given up as GHQ wanted it for offices. Discussed the question of whether the Sick Sisters’ Hospital at the Chateau Mauricien was to close also, accommodation being reserved for sick sisters on the new site. The DMS has decided that the Chateau should remain intact, and he thinks that possibly accommodation will be able to be provided for the staff and will be adequate in the building which is being used as the Officers’ Mess of 14 Stationary Hospital and which will shortly be evacuated. Discussed the question of the possibility of extra accommodation being required in all women’s and sick sisters’ hospitals in the very near future owing to the fact that the wives of both officers and men, and their children, were being permitted to come into the country in large numbers.
Left for London on the morning of the 22nd May for duty, and was absent for 4 days. Proceeded from Boulogne to Folkestone by the early boat. Had a very comfortable journey and a cabin on the steamer. When I arrived in London I went straight to Vincent Square. After tea I went to the War Office but only saw Colonel Harwood and Major Stirling as it was rather late.
The next morning I went to the War Office and saw Miss A. B. Smith RRC, Principal Matron QAIMNS, General Stanistreet, and afterwards the DG and Dame Ethel Becher GBE RRC, Matron-in-Chief QAIMNS. Discussed with DG and General Stanistreet the questions of No.11 Stationary Hospital (Scottish Red Cross Section) and of VADs to be posted to the Army of the Rhine. Returned to Vincent Square and after lunch went to Marlborough House to see Her Majesty Queen Alexandra. Saw Sir Arthur Davidson and was received by Her Majesty. HRH Princess Victoria was with her. I then went on to see Colonel Brereton at Brook House, Francis Street, on the subject of my early War Diaries, and he has asked me to submit the 2 missing numbers – November 1914, and February 1915.
Went to Headquarters AIF, and saw Sir Neville Howse VC, DGMS AIF, and Miss Conyers RRC, Matron-in-Chief AIF. I then went on to St. John’s Gate to be invested as a Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. On return I called on Major General Fell, RAF.
I went to Ascot to see the Dowager Countess Roberts.
Left London 12.55pm by staff train with Dame Ethel Becher GBE RRC, who is proceeding to France for the purpose of ascertaining the requirements of the nursing staff in the Army of the Rhine. It was a very fine day – we were seen off by Miss Davis and her sister, and Miss A. B. Smith. Lady Ampthill sent a deputy to the station to say that she wished the VAD Commandant for the Rhine to be attached to the Principal Matron’s office and come directly under the Principal Matron, who in all matters was to be responsible for the General Service VADs, both on and off duty. We had Pullman seats reserved and had lunch on the train. A cabin on the steamer was also reserved. At Folkestone we met Colonel Ayton, MLO, who we knew in South Africa. Had a very comfortable journey and were met at Boulogne by Miss G. W. Smith RRC, QAIMNS, and Miss Woodford RRC, TFNS, Embarkation Sister. Arrangements had been made for us to disembark first. The car met us and we were driven straight to the Mess, where Dame Ethel is to be my guest.
Dame Ethel visited the office and saw all departments and the routine work; how records had been lost, and what is being arranged about the permanent records to be sent to the War Office. She saw that the office is a separate one and all clerking done by VADs. It has telephonic communications with all parts of France.
From there we went on to the DMS office, where we saw Major General O’Keeffe, and his successor, Major General Gerrard. Discussed the work in France and the possibility of its getting less and less very rapidly after Peace is signed. Obtained the necessary authority to visit German.
After lunch, visited Mrs. Robertson Eustace’s Nurses’ Club, which has been in existence since early in the war. The Matron-in-Chief was informed that Mrs. Eustace was able to accommodate as many as 11 sisters arriving in France or proceeding on leave.
From there we went to Lady O’Keeffe’s and had tea with Lady and General O’Keeffe, Miss Baird, General Gerrard, Major and Mrs. Thompson.
Dined in the evening with Colonel Thurston, DDMS Boulogne. Six were present at dinner – Dame Ethel, Miss Congleton RRC, A/Matron QAIMNS, Matron of 32 Stationary Hospital, Colonel Thurston, his deputy Colonel Best, and Captain Sproule, one of his assistants.
We left Boulogne 9.15am and arrived at Longuenesse near St. Omer at 10.30am. Visited No.4 Stationary Hospital and had coffee in the Mess. Afterwards inspected the Hospital. The OC, Lt. Colonel Inkson VC, was a patient, having ruptured a muscle in his leg playing badminton.
Left Longuenesse 11.30am for Remy Siding, driving through Steenvoorde and Abeele and arriving at No.10 Stationary Hospital at 1pm. Had lunch in the Sisters’ Mess and met the OC, Lt. Colonel Bennett. After visiting the Hospital, went to the cemetery and there was the grave of Captain W. Mellor, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, killed on 23.8.14, and 2nd Lt. P. H. Bachelor, 2/8 Warwick Regiment, killed March 1918, who Dame Ethel had known.
Left at 2.30pm for Ypres where Dame Ethel was anxious to find a grave of a particular friend. Arrived at Ypres at 3.30pm and after some difficulty found the Graves Registration Hut in midst of many ruins. Met a most obliging Corporal belonging to the office – Corporal Jack Poole, GRU No.3, Ypres, Belgium – who offered to go with us to the cemetery at Weitze, near Ypres, where No.2 Oxford Cemetery is. He took us straight there and fortunately without difficulty found the grave, which was in order with a solid cross well marked at the head. The Matron-in-Chief took two photographs of the grave, one before and one after planting rose trees and pansies. The Corporal is undertaking to look after the grave.
We then left for Lille, driving through all the devastated country along the Menin Road. Saw many tanks which had come to grief. Beyond the devastated area was cultivated ground. The roads were not too bad. We passed very little traffic – occasionally civilian ladies driving in cars with officers. Went to Headquarters of the 5th Area and saw the ADMS, Colonel Alexander, an unpleasant man who complained that the Sister in charge of 51 CCS, Miss Carnegie, TFNS, had been moved and replaced by Miss Newman, QAIMNS, without either he or the unit being informed and no orders received. Said that a letter and the orders must have gone astray as it was customary on all such occasions not only to inform the unit, but to write to the AMDS with reference to approaching changes.
Drove on to Ascq arriving at 39 Stationary Hospital at 6.30pm, where we had tea at the Sisters’ Mess and saw Miss Teevan, QAIMNS, A/Matron. From Ypres we had gone to Lille via the Menin Road and Hooge through Courtrai, and not by the Roubaix route. Arrived at Tournai at 8pm and went to 51 CCS. Lt. Colonel Miller, the OC, and Captain Taylor RAMC came after dinner to see us, both very pleasant men. Stayed the night here. The accommodation is not very good.
The next morning we got up early as it was Ascension Day and attended early service. Miss Newman, QAIMNS, had arrived on Saturday to take over the duties of Sister in charge of 51 CCS from Miss Carnegie, TFNS, who was still there. There seemed to be a lack of management – there was not much comfort in the quarters, especially considering that they had 2 batmen and 2 French maids. They have a nursing staff of 7. There is a badminton court in a large ward. There is a great shortage of labour and the whole unit has an air of neglect. The 4 Belgian women who are supposed to clean the corridors were at the time of our visit doing the cooking as the cooks had been demobilised. There certainly is not enough help to keep this place up to the mark.
Left Tournai at 9.45am for Mons, travelling via Hornu and called on the way at the Headquarters of the ADMS 1st Area, to say we were going to No.1 CCS. From Headquarters we wired to my office for 2 more sisters to be posted to 51 CCS and also wired to the ADMS 4th Area that we would spend the night at 48 CCS.
Arrived at No.1 CCS, Mons, which is in the 1st Area, at 11.45am. We were met by Miss Gedye RRC, QAIMNS, Sister in charge, and went round the unit with her and the OC Lt. Colonel Bell. This unit is accommodated in a large building which has been a Belgian Hospital and was also used by the Germans as a hospital – a similar sort of building to 51 CCS but vastly different in every respect with regard to management of hospital and grounds. The country was very beautiful – we drove through long avenues of trees almost continually, with large stretches of cultivated land on both sides of the road. The crops were looking exceedingly well. Fruit trees and shrubs were in full blossom.
After lunch, before leaving Mons, we visited 2 cemeteries where British were buried, and a large Belgian one where a number of Germans were buried in one corner, each grave having a solid stone headstone. The graves of our officers and men were clearly marked with good plain crosses. All the graves looked very neat and orderly. The other cemetery was situated at St. Symphorien, about 2 kilometres out of Mons, entirely made and fenced in by the Germans. It was very prettily situated among most lovely trees and shrubs and looked very well kept. We entered by iron gates up grey stone steps to a large memorial statue, the resting place of German and English soldiers who were killed or died at Mons. From this main path there were woodland paths leading to graves. On the graves of the Germans were stone headstones covered with ivy – on those of the English a fir tree at the head of each grave and in front a wooden cross plainly marked; ivy covered these graves also. All looked very beautiful. In two open spaces Memorial Stones were erected, one in memory of 46 soldiers of the Middlesex Regiment and the other in memory of 16 English soldiers whose graves were all around. There were seats everywhere so people could sit down.
From there we went through Bray, Manage, Seneffe, Sombreffe, Nivelles to Namur, through beautifully cultivated country, arriving at No.48 CCS Hostel at 6.30pm. The Hostel is a most comfortable, not to say luxurious, house, very well kept and managed, where the sisters belonging to 48 CCS live. There is a Sick Sisters’ ward for the sick of the area and ample accommodation for any sisters who may be arriving for other units or waiting to go down to the Base. The Sister in charge, Miss U. Russell Lee RRC, QAIMNSR, manages everything splendidly. We had a very nice tea and an excellent dinner. The waiting was done by a young German who was very quiet and capable. After dinner, Colonel Moore the ADMS, and Lt. Colonel Dive, the OC called, and were most polite and helpful in giving me directions as to the most interesting parts of the country to travel by on our return journey.
[Dates as given in diary, but these do not fit exactly with the text]
Left Namur early for Cologne. Just before leaving went round the Hostel and saw Sister Cunningham, the Home Sister, who was sick in the Sick Sisters’ ward and is getting on well. There were lovely flowers all over the house. At the back of the house there are very nice grounds with a lovely chestnut tree in full blossom. We took with us a luncheon basket and left at 9.45am travelling via Huy and arriving there about 10.40am, passed through Liege about an hour later and then through Verviers, Aachen, Duren, arriving at Cologne, Army of the Rhine, at 5pm. We went straight to the Sick Sisters’ Hospital and Principal Matron’s Mess, where we had tea. Miss Reid, RRC, QAIMNS, Principal Matron, came over from her office soon after our arrival.
The Sick Sisters’ Hospital is a solid luxurious house with every possible convenience and in the best part of Cologne. The Principal Matron has her own mess here. After tea we went for a walk in the Gardens. Had a very good dinner and German maids waited on us.
Left at 10am for Headquarters where the Principal Matron has just been given an office in the DMS branch and is hoping to get two more rooms; one room has already been arranged for her clerks and another for the General Service VAD Commandant who is to be attached to her office. From there we went to the DMS office where we met Major General H. Thompson and Lt. Colonel Howell, the ADMS.
Later we left for Bonn, about an hour’s drive from Cologne. The Matron-in-Chief drove with the DMS in his car, and Miss Reid with me. Before leaving, the question of accommodation for General Service VADs was discussed and it was arranged that accommodation should be made at each unit – the Headquarters General Service VADs to be accommodated at the Hostel, and the Commandant there also. The question of GS VADs for Casualty Clearing Stations is to be considered, and the number required for each unit to be applied for officially. It is to be clearly understood that all GS VADs are to come directly under the control of the Matrons of the Hospitals, both on and off duty, and to conform to the same rules and regulations as the QAIMNS.
Arrived at No.47 General Hospital, Bonn, and were met by the ADMS, Colonel Dunn, and the OC, Lt. Colonel Martin, Miss Hordley RRC, Matron QAIMNS and Miss Barrett RRC, QAIMNS Retired. The DMS left after introducing us. Colonel Dunn asked about GS VADs being sent for Casualty Clearing Stations, also Lady Masseuses. This hospital has only recently opened and has expanded to 1040 beds. At present there are not many serious cases. Had an excellent lunch in the Matron’s room here. Afterwards we visited a most luxurious house taken for the GS VADs and advised the Principal Matron to put a senior sister to live there. The Matron of 47 General told us that when she arrived there she found a German woman as interpreter occupying a wing, who was very difficult to remove, and seemed anxious to arrange what should and should not be done by the Matron.
Went on to No.21 CCS where there are a very capable OC and Matron. There was an officer there critically ill who had his mother with him. Arrangements have now been made, as in France, for relatives of patients on the DI List to be sent for, and to be met and accommodated by the YMCA. Here for the first time we saw paper curtains, stair carpets and rugs.
Visited No.29 CCS which was most satisfactory in all respects. They had a good many very sick patients and the hospital was very full. Got back to the Hostel at 5pm and had tea. In the evening we went to the Opera.
SUMMARY FOR MAY 1919
No.8 General Hospital, on 2.5.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.10 General Hospital, on 22.5.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.8 Stationary Hospital, on 5.5.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Abancourt Stationary Hospital, on 22.5.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
No.1 Eastern Rest Camp, on 28.5.19: Staff dispersed and demobilised
Nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, 32 Ambulance Trains
Nos. 30, 50, 53, 55, 61 Casualty Clearing Stations
Sent home sick
Trained – 35
Untrained – 10
Trained Nurses (British) – 214
Trained Nurses – Nil
Transferred to Home Establishment
Trained Nurses – 20
Transferred to HMAT Aberdonian
Trained Nurses – 4
Untrained returned to England
Resigned – 1
Termination of Contract – 0
Transferred to Home Establishment – 3
Demobilised – 168
Approximate number of leaves granted
To United Kingdom – 208
To Paris – 5
In France – 8
Total number of CAMC
Transferred to United Kingdom – 125
Now in France – 12
Total number of AANS
Transferred to United Kingdom – 76
Now in France – Nil
Total requirements of Nurses
For Army of Rhine (Calculated at 75% of War Establishment)
Trained – 288
VADs – 120
For Clearing up Army and additional Units still open in France and Flanders
(Calculated at 50% of War Establishment)
Trained – 642
VADs – 347
Total requirements of Nurses
Trained – 930
VADs – 467
Total number of Nurses available on June 1st
Trained – 886
VADs – 430
Trained – 44
VADs – 37
Grand Total of Nurses working in Army of Rhine and in France and Flanders, including 543 General Service VADs in BRCS Hostels and Military Hospitals
Trained – 910
VADs – 1101