In reply to your letter of Jan. 3rd and attached correspondence on the subject of the treatment of British prisoners in Turkish hands, I forward to you the following statement.
I was Matron of the British Hospital, Nazareth from the year 1905 and was detained by the Turks as a prisoner. Over three years of that time I spent in Nazareth and almost a year in Damascus to which place I was exiled after the fall of Jerusalem. Being a fully qualified nurse, I was able to judge of the serious nature of the maltreatment to which our prisoners were subjected and I had many opportunities for seeing instances of professional neglect.

FOOD: This was not enough for the proper nourishment of the men. It consisted of breakfast basin often not full of tepid soup of which the greater part was water with a few grains of rice or corn floating about in it, very bad indeed, small quantity of bread.

DINNER: Boiled corn and small bit of meat, corn very dirty and full of small stones and sticks. I reported this to Headquarters and an attempt was made to improve this by employing women in the kitchen to pick over the corn before cooking.

SUPPER: Boiled corn and meat again, a cup of tea was sometimes given. Food did not agree with patients. In some cases the boiled corn did not agree with our men and often caused very bad Diarrhoea, this was often pointed out to the different doctors, but no change was made. They always said this was all they had in the stores. Ismail Bey was the chief inspector of the Nazareth Hospitals when these requests were made. Sometime in summer boiled vegetables were given.

Milk Diet. This was only another name for starvation, it consisted of one cup of milk and leben in 24 hours, these were served about 5 p.m. and the patients ordered to drink them at once as the cups were needed for other patients, in some cases soup was allowed in the morning and a cup of tea during the day. The diet sheets of the hospital will I know show a different allowance, but I am speaking of what I know actually reached the patients after it had passed through the hands of those who were in charge, I have often been told that thre was only milk enough for half the number for which it was ordered. Many and various were the excuses given for this shortage of things. The food given in Damascus hospitals was much better than Nazareth where it was very bad. This milk diet was so little that patients who were really bad would rather suffer in silence than have their full diet cut off.

Extra Milk, Eggs, etc. The doctors were not allowed in Nazareth to write extras for weak patients except officers, one doctor was ordered to pay two pounds the cost of eggs, milk etc., which he had ordered for some weak patients and was told he would be severely punished if this occurred again. These matters varied so much in different hospitals, in some cases they wished to make a big show and all sorts of extras which the patients in many cases never received were written for them, so that if any complaints were made they had the patient’s paper to show. This is Turkey’s method, everything in fine form on paper but nothing in reality.

Clothing. This was quite insufficient, when patients left hospital they were often dressed in old Turkish uniforms, these were often very dirty and full of lice. When our men complained they were told that they would get new things in Damascus. This was not true. If patients came to the hospital in their own clothing, this was never washed unless done privately by us and in some cases by French nuns, so that when the patients left after several months they had to dress in garments that were in many cases stiff with blood. The Mudirs of the hospitals are responsible for these things, their names are:-
Hussein Eff., Fuad Eff., and Towfik Eff., Nazareth, Chickary Bey, Damascus.

Greatest charges. To my mind the most inhuman treatment which our men received at the hands of the Turks was the performance of operations without proper anaesthetic, when I think of what I have seen I feel as if I can never forgive these men for this dreadful amount of needless suffering they caused our poor men.

Cause. Often want of patience, the doctors would not wait till the patient was properly under, sometimes lack of enough anaesthetic in the hospital, often that the anaesthetic was entrusted to any odd person standing round, very often it was given by the girl who cleaned the theatre room, a girl of no education and as far as I can judge about 16 years old. I have seen Dr. Faud Bey of Damascus amputate a leg when he has known that the patients was not properly under. For he could not help but hear the poor fellow telling me he was still feeling the pain, I told him this, but he did not stop. Some of these things for the sake of the friends of our poor men who have suffered and gone from us are almost too dreadful to write about and I trust that someday I may be able to forget these memories which haunt me still, much depended upon the training and character of the doctor. I have seen men who have been most careful of their patients and have done their work really well. Some told me they had studied in London.

Lumbar Puncture. More often than not were not properly given although the attempt was made and often our poor men had to be held down on the operation table by Turks while the operation was performed.

Dressing of Wounds. These were left in the early days entirely in the hands of the most incompetent people, many of them without any training, later an order was given that the doctors must remain in the dressing room. One of our men came to us from Jerusalem as a proof of their incompetence with the tip of his ear grown on to his head. This was allowed to become attached in this manner by careless dressing, with proper care this could never have occurred. Nearly all the splint cases were suffering from large ulcers caused by badly applied splints, these often took many months to heal and often caused the patient more pain than the wound itself, these could all have been prevented by proper treatment.

Shortage of Drugs and Dressings. This caused much delay in the healing of the men’s wounds. I found cases of amputation of leg in Damascus which had taken over a year to heal. It was often most difficult to obtain enough dressings. Once the order was given that I was to dress patients without gauze, with cotton wool only, we had several cases of circular amputation and the pain of such dressings on a large raw surface would have been dreadful. I refused to dress any cases, and it was only when I threatened to report the matter to Headquarters that they produced a few bits of gauze. For some of the cases we bought lotion ourselves when the wounds need stimulating, this we had to hide carefully from the eye of the Turk or we should have got into serious trouble. It was quite impossible to get any Methylated Spirit for the backs of helpless patients in order to prevent bed sores. This with brandy for the bad cases we had to buy ourselves, as no stimulant was ever used in the hospital but Camphor Oil. Had I not visited the central depots and seen the amount of stores of every kind that were there, I should have felt very different about the matter of this shortage in the hospitals, but I know they had stock of everything and were only stinting the poor patients to enrich themselves.

The top floor of the English hospital, Damascus, there were between 80 and 90 beds, out of these at one time 42 were occupied by English patients. Permission was given me to do the dressing of our own men. For the dressing of the whole floor only two basins and one tray for instruments were provided, 3 pairs old rusty forceps, 1 probe, 1 pair scissors, 1 knife so blunt that it took all the strength of the doctor to cut at all. Fortunately I had a few instruments of my own and I had to work with these and only my bedroom jug and basin which I used to carry over in the morning when I went to dress the men. I made several requests for things but nothing more was given until I reported the matter to Headquarters and orders were sent that they were to give me what was needed. It was almost impossible to obtain any fire for sterilising instruments or heating water, there were also days when unsterilized dressings were used. I always boiled all gauze used upon the wounds of our men.

Merkes Hospital, Damascus. In this hospital I found four of our men who were treated as common prisoners. They were away in a room which adjoined the common prisoners ward. An armed guard stood between the two doors, some of these prisoners were mad and our men told me that they could not sleep at night on account of their screams. They were also devoured by bugs in the beds. The hospital garments they were wearing were far from clean. They also told me they were not allowed to walk in the garden by order of Kamel Eff. I requested the doctor to send them to other hospital with all the other English, this request was granted, but they were only allowed to stay a few days as they were healed and then sent up to the barracks, no doubt because we had asked for their removal.
While our men received such treatment in this hospital there are no doubt officers who could tell of chicken and wine among their bills of fare, in this very same hospital. It was always so with the Turks, they always thought of looking well after the officers, thinking they would get a good name in that way, the comfort of the men did not count with them.

Dressing stations. Judging from the state of some of the men when they arrived at hospital the treatment they had received must have been very bad. I think neglect would be a better name than treatment. I know of cases that were sent to hospital without even a splint to support a broken leg, the patient coming a journey of several days before reaching hospital.
Transport. Was also very bad, the patients were conveyed from the train in carts without almost any springs, the shaking must have been dreadful and badly wounded patients must have suffered long weary hours of agony as these carts crawled along these roads of ruts and holes, drawn by horses who were half starved. The coming in of wounded men in Turkey was a sad and sorry sight. They might well play a band to try and hide some of the misery with which these carts were filled, our men suffered much in the journey from cold; they lay on the stretchers without any extra covering and many of them had very little clothes of their own as the Turks had stolen them, those who came to us the end of last winter suffered much from cold. From the condition in which I found some of the helpless cases when I undressed them in the receiving station, I should say they were left almost unattended on the journey, their state was too sad, poor fellows. The men have often told me they had very little to eat for days on the journey as all their money was stolen and very little food provided. Nothing that can be written of the way our poor men have suffered while sick and wounded in the hands of these Turks in their incompetency can convey any idea to those who have not see it.

I have never known any of our men to be punished or treated disrespectfully in the hospitals, but as this statement shows they have suffered much through the mismanagement, ignorance and neglect while they were sick and wounded in the hands of these Turks.

(Signed) EDITH JOHNCOCK (Matron)