CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3988
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 1914
4pm. Arrived at Aldershot with orders to report to OC of 2 General Hospital and that I would be at the disposal of DDMS Lines of Communication.
10pm. Left with 1st section of No.2 General Hospital for siding behind Cambridge Hospital. The 2nd Section followed later with OC and Matron, No.2 General Hospital. Arrived at Southampton after midnight. Waited some little time for arrival of Steamer, the Comrie Castle. On arrival went on board.
1am. Left Southampton on a crowded boat with many Staff Officers on board including Generals Grierson and Haig. Arrived at Le Havre 3pm – met by Major Power RAMC who with Captain Turner ASC conducted staff to the various billets provided in 4 different Hotels. Reported myself at DDMS office. DDMS not there – saw Major Forest. Evidently was not expected.
Went the first thing to DDMS office – found everyone had left for Advance Base – proceeded to No. 1 Base and reported myself DDMS.
No. 2 General proceeded to Havre. L’Ecole Jean D’Arc was taken over as Officers' Hospital Miss Barber and 3 others sent on duty. As there were no … for staff of No. 2 General I put this afternoon … billets for Nursing Staff…
[Early pages are in poor condition, and destroyed or illegible at the bottom edge]
24 QAIMNS proceeded to Havre for duty at No.2 General Hospital including the Matron.
Obtained authority to engage car and made myself responsible for meeting the Nursing Staff of each Hospital as they arrived and of getting them billeted properly. Obtained imprests of 4000 franc from pay office to pay current expenses. Met Matron and Staff No.6 Hospital accommodated at Ecole Jean D’Arc, their camp kit being used. Were rationed until I could arrange at Hotel – engage cook for Officers' Hospital.
No.1 General Hospital arrived – met them – also accommodated Ecole Jean D’Arc. Messing Hotel Moderne. Several officers in Officers' Hospital and many patients in No.2 General.
Went to see 3 new buildings obtained for reception of wounded – selected by Col. Holt. Beautiful positions and splendid accommodation. Received a letter from Major Forest, instructing me to get in touch with DDMS Rouen and to make my headquarters there. Telephoned accordingly – wrote Major Forest telling what I had done and also telling him what I had been doing during DDMS absence.
Met 9, 8, and 10 General Hospitals and took them to their various abodes. Received wire DDMS Rouen saying he was ready for me. ADMS Le Havre asked me to wire for permission to remain a little longer as I could not well be spared. Sanction obtained.
Sick officers moved to Place de Regatta – leaving Ecole Jean D’arc for Sisters arriving and for any who might become ill. The Casino ready to receive patients and staffed – also the Maritime terminus ready and staffed – every one worked very hard and everything went smoothly and satisfactorily. Hospital Ship arrived ready for patients – No.6 Hospital started for Amiens.
Wired Rouen that I should be leaving 25.8.14. Paid all bills.
No.9 General left in the morning. I left by passenger train 11am. No.10 was to leave 6 p.m. No.8 received orders to divide – half to 1 General Hospital and half to 2 General Hospital. Arrived Rouen 4pm – was met – reported myself ADMS. Have a … Billet. Found that 3 and 5 General Hospital were opening up. Officers’ Hospital ready and a building ready for sick sisters. Went on board Hospital Ship which was waiting for patients.
Soon after arrival met Sir A. Keogh* who is anxious to supply us with British Red Cross Goods which will be most acceptable.
*Sir Alfred Keogh
After some difficulty billeted all nursing Staffs of 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12 in suitable surroundings. 9, 11 and 12 in 2 Convents; others in various houses – those in the Convents messed there – the others arrangements were made at the nearest hotels. My rooms very near DDMS office. Madame Boucher with whom I was staying gave me a little room as office and while I was away I left a Sister on duty to reply to all enquiries.
Supplied 6 more staff for Officers’ Hospital, Sister Minns in charge – visited No. 3 and 5 General Hospitals where patients were being admitted and things were getting into working order – Sisters at 2 buildings in the town. Detailed Sisters for day and night duty at Clearing Hospital at station.
Troops returning from Amiens – also many of the Staff – say Surgeon-General Woodhouse who spoke to me of the good work done by 7 General Hospital. 16 nursing Staff of No.7 Hospital arrived – 11 went on with some patients to Le Havre – 6 more Nursing Sisters required for Officers' Hospital – provided from No.4 General Hospital – unemployed.
Officers’ Hospital getting into order. Engineers busy making improvements. Have been given many comforts from British Red Cross. Called on British Consul. He and his wife called and they are both working hard and supplying and making many things – I have now a large supply.
Orders to leave Rouen – everyone packing up for the new move. Thousands of refugees here who are now leaving – crowding all trains. No.9 General Hospital complete left for Nantes.
All Hospital equipment and personnel with exception of Nursing Staff leaving by steamer. The nursing staff of 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12 General Hospitals left by train in the evening, with Medical officer, interpreters and myself. All supplied with 3 days rations.
In train. Left Rouen 31.8.14. Long tedious journey – the day very hot. There were many long waits while other trains passed – the nurses were most adaptable and made the best of everything. Arrived at Le Mans at about 6 p.m. Colonel Barefoot met us – I drove with him to see the Surgeon-General who decided that I with 20 Nursing Sisters should remain, leaving Miss A. B. Smith* in charge of those going on. Colonel Barefoot took us to No.5 Stationary Hospital which had already been opened in the Archbishops’ Palace where we slept on the floor. Major Symons who was in charge was most kind. There were a certain number of patients already admitted.
* Dame Anne Beadsmore Smith, DBE, RRC [1871-1960] at that time the next most senior member of QAIMNS in France after Miss McCarthy. Later Matron-in-Chief, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service [1919-24] and Matron-in-Chief, Territorial Force Nursing Service [1925-31].
Began work at once. Miss Bills in charge and Miss Hartigan on night duty. Major Taylor took charge. The building, a fair one, no bathroom, no lights, lavatory accommodation very bad. Lovely grounds – by evening they were able to take in 200 patients. Arranged I send 2 nurses for day and night duty to the Railway Station – selected one for both day and night duty who could speak French. During the day arranged suitable billets for the nurses and arranged for everyone to mess at the Hotel – not very satisfactory but the best that be had near the Hospital. Admitted the patients including 3 officers who had been at Red Cross Hospital. By evening Hospital full. All working well. Procured everything we could to make…
[Illegible to bottom of page]
The heat still continues intense. Have been provided with a car, 2 menservants and passport – in future to do all travelling by car. Telegraphed for Miss Smith and 2 nurses No.5 General Hospital to come up. Bought many necessities for the Hospital authority being given to purchase. Sir A. Keogh here on his way to Nantes where he is opening a large Red Cross Store. Many seriously wounded but all doing well.
Surgeon General to Nantes. Engineers (CRE) came with Major Fell to Hospital about lavatory and bath accommodation and the supply of gas – all to be done.
General Scott-Kerr admitted wounded in leg – Major Hardinge’s arm still very bad but improving.
Had a very busy day. Decided I should go to Nantes in the morning. Patients sent in ambulance train to make room for others arriving.
Went with Miss Elston to Nantes; left early, arrived at lunchtime. After a little difficulty found DDMS, Col. Westcott. Went on to St. Nazaire. To DDMS – arranged about Sisters moving for work apart from their unit, to take only what they required actually. Trunks to be left with the Hospital to which they belong. All sisters at Pontechat* 10 miles from St. Nazaire to await orders. No. 1, 2, 7, 8, and 10 arrived from Le Havre. Drove on to Pontechat where I stayed the night. Instructed the Senior Matron to act for me at the Base and keep me informed of requirements.
*[Now known as Pont-Château]
Returned to Le Mans, stopping at Nantes by the way to see Sir A. Keogh and Col. Westcott. Former took me to his stores and asked me to choose sheets for him for Lady Dudley’s Hospital. Went to No.9 opened in the Race Course, Miss Osborne appearing to manage only fairly well. At Angers I saw about billets for Sisters when staff arrived. Returned and saw Surgeon General who discussed the question of putting Sisters on the trains for duty. Considered that Sisters on the Stations at suitable places would be the better arrangement for the moment. Nurse Nunn took some officers down in Hospital train to St. Nazaire.
Busy all day. Miss Bills travelled by ambulance with Hon. G. Sturt*to St. Nazaire to Lady Dudley’s Home. He stood the journey well, hit in the region of the spine. Miss A. B. Smith and Sisters arrived.
* Captain Hon. Gerard Philip Montagu Napier Sturt [born 9th April 1893]
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry
Nurse Nunn returned. Busy all day trying to arrange about the Nursing Staff at Pontechat. Many French ladies called and are anxious to have some convalescent officers to take care of. Went to Pay office about pay and allowances. Visited the Hospital and Station both satisfactory.
10 of No.7 Hospital staff arrived for duty from St. Nazaire. Saw Hospital Train off. Nurse Nunn and N. Stanley joined it for duty. No.1 Stationary Hospital to open next week. 10 more nursing sisters wired for.
Very wet. At Hospital early. Then to see Ambulance train. At 11am started for Anger with interpreter to see Col. Russell No.5 General Hospital and find out when patients could be received. A very fine building, quite new. Saw about rooms for Sisters working at Station. No.5 Nursing Staff able to be accommodated at Hospital. Sent extra help to Station to dress wounded, assisted myself. Many very seriously wounded sent to Hospital. Saw Miss Smith about going with staff to Anger at No.5 General Hospital.
Miss Reid and remnant of No.7 General Hospital Nursing Staff arrived – took over from Miss Smith. Miss Smith and Barclay-Smith went by car to Anger, 19 of her staff having arrived from St. Nazaire and 4 of No.7 on duty at railway station under the same condition as here (Le Mans). No.4 General Hospital going to Versailles. No.8 General going to Rouen. Got many good things from British Red Cross Stores here. Telegraphed for 5 members from 1, 6, 10, 11, 12 General Hospital to be in readiness for emergency work which is now urgently needed. Nursing Staff of No.8 General Hospital proceeding to Rouen.
Nurse Barbier* arrived from St. Nazaire to be attached to Principal Matron. Sister … and 9 other staff No.5 Gen Hospital proceeded to Anger to join their unit. Received instructions to proceed to Versailles to obtain particulars of No.4 General Hospital. Left midday in car with Nurse Barbier – passed many sentries and entrenchments. Arrived at 5pm to find No.4 established in a magnificent building ‘Trianon Palace’ where they were busy getting in their equipment which was not being done as quickly as they could wish owing to lack of transport. The Colonel (Colonel Smith) however was ready to take in 100 men and 50 officers. He and I went to ‘La Place’ and telegraphed to DMS that effect. The Nursing Staff were expected and arrangements were made for them to be accommodated at Hotel Recevoirs. Received instructions to proceed to Rouen where I was to meet DMS.
*Isabelle Eugenie Marie Barbier, born 25 January 1885; one of eight children of a French family, her father, Paul Barbier, a Professor of French at Cardiff University. Trained as a nurse at Bristol Royal Infirmary [1910-13], and worked as Maud McCarthy's personal assistant throughout the war. She sailed for France on the same boat as Miss McCarthy, arriving 15th August 1914, and it was probably on this voyage that her capabilities were noted. After the war she became a nun at the Order of St. Dominic, Stone, Stoke-on-Trent. Died early in 1982, at the age of 96 years.
Awarded MBE, OBE, 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals.
In the morning helped generally in the Hospital with Nurse Barbier. Left her at Versailles and proceeded by car alone to Rouen. Even with passport experienced many difficulties in passing the sentries. Arrived Rouen 5pm – drove to Hotel de la Poste where I stayed and where I met DMS*, Col. Beveridge, Sir A. Keogh, the British Consul and his wife.
DMS telegraphed for No.12 General Hospital to proceed to Rouen. Went to No.8 General Hospital saw Col. Nash about the Nursing Staff which was expected and which I arranged to stay where the Sisters stayed when in Rouen before. Visited the school and saw Mademoiselle who agreed to take No.12 Nursing Staff until they were able to join their Hospital at the Race Course.
*Director General Medical Services Sir Arthur Sloggett
Before breakfast went to Railway Station to see if No.8 Nursing Staff had arrived. Visited the British Red Cross at Station and left a letter with the nurses for Miss Suart the Matron on arrival. After breakfast saw Sir Alfred Keogh who was most kind and will supply us with large quantities of Red Cross things to be forwarded to various bases for distribution. He wants a QAIMNS Matron for his Hospital in Paris when it opens. Left for Versailles after breakfast. DMS also. Went to the St. Patrick* on my way. Saw MO and Miss Wohlmann who gave me a note from Matron-in-Chief dated 2.9.14 only mentioning how busy everyone is in England – no instructions. Arrived at Versailles lunchtime. DMS went on to Villeneuve, he returned and stayed the night. Two very seriously wounded arrived – one operated upon – the other too bad – gangrene. Nursing staff arrived midday and 2 nurses on night duty. Hospital now quite ready for several hundred cases. Nurses detached for work at station both for day and night duty.
* Hospital Ship
DMS left for Paris to see a certain number of patients at American Ambulance – then returned to Le Mans. I went to stations with Col. Smith to see where the nurses were working and where the sick were to be detrained at Charlteres and Matelots stations. The latter considered the more suitable in every way. Left after lunch for Le Mans – a very disagreeable journey in pelting rain. Arrived 6pm. Found everyone very busy – went with DDMS to both No.5 and No.1 Stationary Hospitals where everyone is very busy, the hospitals being full of seriously wounded men, officers and Germans. 25 nurses telegraphed for had arrived – 4 had been sent up on new ambulance train – 2 had gone down with wounded and some had been utilised to increase the staff both on day and night in both hospitals. Miss Reid very busy and managing well and Miss Drage who is in charge of No.1 Stationary doing excellently as I understand she did at Amiens.
Went with Major Fell who arranged with the ordnance to supply linen sheets and pillow cases to all stationary hospitals and that the barracks ones were to be withdrawn. This will be an immense boon. Went round No.5 Stationary, many improvements I noticed since I was last there – baths, gas, cupboards, shelfs [sic] and patients looking well cared for. Miss Reid had procured many things from the Red Cross and many people in the vicinity had brought presents of fruit and vegetables which were most acceptable. After lunch went to No.1 Stationary which is very full and in the course of getting settled. Much is wanted but the building is a big one and the patients are getting every care and attention. Numerous operations and the surgeons are kept busy all day with the nurses getting the dressings done which in many instances are very large. Wired for 17 of No.6 General Hospital nursing staff to proceed to Versailles. Was asked for nominal roll of nurses on Hospital ships – lately increased. Saw 2 Ambulance Trains arrive. Sent 2 nurses down on one with Major Fawcus in charge.
After breakfast left for Versailles. Called at No.5 Stationary Hospital – arrived at Versailles midday found Hospital full of patients. Many operations had been done. The position of the hospital is excellent and the grounds beautiful. Marquees were now being pitched on the lawns and are extending down into the meadows. 500 patients can be accommodated in the building which is supplied with every modern convenience. Did some shopping for Miss Byers. Col. Smith went to Paris with Lady Dudley about a Hospital. General Robb and General Bray went round the Hospital.
Wire from American Ambulance for nurses. Col. Wake British Red Cross arrived from Paris with 20 convalescents from American Ambulance to make room for seriously wounded from the Front. He gave much information about various Hospitals which were opening in Paris. This information I brought from Col. Smith for the DMS information. Arrived at Villeneuve about 4pm. Reported matters to DMS . Went to Rest Station where I saw Miss Knowles who with a Civil Hospital Reserve were working hard and doing very good and valuable work looking after the seriously wounded who were being left by the Ambulance trains to be transferred to the nearest Hospital. 15 more Nurses have already been telegraphed for from the base and 6 to proceed from Versailles here at once. 2 Sisters have been put on a train going further up and it has been now decided to place Nursing Sisters on all new Ambulance trains which is most satisfactory.
Versailles and Paris
DMS and Col. Beveridge left for headquarters. Went to Versailles and took mails … letter to Col. Smith about Military Hospital about to arrive and the arrival of wounded by ambulance train and that a further 3 ambulances (Motor) were arriving. After lunch went on to Paris with N. Barbier. Went to American Ambulance which has been opened in Lycee Pasteur. Everything most lavish and comfortable looking. They are very short of nurses and I have with DMS’s approval arranged to send them some nurses to help them out of a difficulty with the understanding that I can recall them when required. Saw the funeral of 4 of our soldiers. Went to the British Red Cross where I met Dr. Robinson, who was most obliging and gave me addresses where I might get Peroxide, dressings etc. but he told me there was very little to be got, however with his introduction was able to get most of the most urgent things. Got back about 9pm without any difficulty whatever.
Wire from British Embassy for 10 nurses. Wired to know where they were required. Went to Rest Camp. 6 nurses had arrived from Versailles, 4 for duty at Rest Station, 2 for duty on next Ambulance train going up. Red Cross Ambulance [train] arrived for 80 lying down cases with Sir Savile Crossley, a MO of RAMC, 3 Red Cross Nurses – no other personnel. Went to Versailles with Peroxide. Arranged about 10 Sisters going to American Ambulance temporarily – 4 of No. 6 to remain at Versailles and 12 to proceed to Versailles for Train duty. I saw Lady Dudley who is very anxious to get authority from DMS to open another Australian Hospital in Paris at the Carlton. Has lots of money and a staff waiting. After she left Lord Esher came to see Col. Smith. I was introduced. He was gaining all information he could in connection with how the sick and wounded were nursed and where? Went round the Hospital with which he seemed very pleased – said he was returning at once to London. Returned to Villeneuve in the evening and reported what had occurred to DMS. Wire from Nantes asking for Miss Pedler for Officers' Hospital.
Telegraphed to Nantes suggesting Miss Hordley and Nurse Casswell for Officers' Hospital . Went to Villeneuve Triage and arranged about billeting of Sisters – all accommodated in one house and to Mess with the French Sisters. Ambulance train arrived with some very badly wounded who were brought to Rest Station, to go by ambulance to Hospital. N. Barbier went with 4 to Versailles. All very bad. 2 officers and 2 men. Ambulances to come for remainder. 4 men brought to Rest Station dead. These were conveyed to the Mortuary belonging to the French Hospital where our Sisters laid them out. The 12 nurses arrived in the late afternoon. Miss Knowles had made all arrangements for their reception. Visited 2 French Hospitals to see our patients there – 9 in all. These are being transferred to Versailles. They were very kindly treated but were pleased at the thought of getting among the English speaking people again. The Nurses coming from Villeneuve brought news of 12 patients who were being nursed by the French at a station between Versailles and Villeneuve. The French Dr. telegraphed to 4 General Hospital asking for them to be sent for. They were accommodated with many French wounded in a shed on beds and being nursed by the French Red Cross.
Learnt that all the patients had been taken to No.4 with the exception of 1 who was too bad to be moved. Col. Smith had been to see him and found he was suffering from Pneumonia and was having every care and attention – milk champagne etc., also one had died of enteric – the particulars were all in order and he had been buried reverently. Telegram from Nantes for 35 nurses for French Hospital now at the English people’s disposal. Wired for Miss Dods and Miss Mackay and 10 unemployed nurses to proceed. Received official notice of 2 Nurses having gone to Orleans to nurse some wounded there, also received the names of the nurses who had been detached from their units for duty on the Hospital Ships and Transports but omitting the names of those extra ones sent from England. No official communication has yet arrived from England as to the names and numbers of those recently sent out.
Went to Versailles with DDMS, found the Hospital very full and very busy. A fresh arrival of wounded the night before. Most of the staff up till 4am attending to the patients and many operations. There have now been several cases of tetanus and the condition of many of the wounds very serious, many being gangrenous. We saw Mrs. Babtie who had arrived from London to see her son, a Captain in the Queens who has been badly wounded in his arms. DDMS made arrangements for increasing the number of beds as well as the transfer of all those able to travel being sent to the sea Base.
Returning stopped at Villeneuve Triage where we found during our absence that 12 nurses had been put on 3 new Ambulance trains going forward, leaving only 8 for other trains and the Clearing Hospital where a great deal of work is being done.
Letter from Matron-in-Chief dated 13.9.14 saying she had not heard from me since 2.9.14. Since arrival have written twice a week sometimes oftener. Replied at once. Left for Le Mans. Stopped at Triage on the way – found 3 nurses from No.12 had been put on No.8 Ambulance train with 3 Red Cross nurses and although they had been 24 hours in the siding waiting to go up had not reported themselves to anyone. The train is not making another journey at present. Left orders for them to join No.3 Clearing Hospital. Stopped at Versailles - found No.4 had had another large convoy of wounded. Had lunch – went on to Le Mans arriving 5.30. DMS already there. On my way to report myself at Advance Base when I met DMS and DDMS . Miss Reid Matron No.5 and 1 Stationary Hospital came to report the work had been very heavy. Everyone had been working splendidly. Miss Drage managing No.1 Stationary very well indeed. The patients admitted were all suffering from wounds of a very serious nature and unable to travel.
Went over No.1 and 5 Stationary Hospitals where I found many improvements since my last visits. Many patients much improved. Tetanus was causing much anxiety – there had been several deaths and a patient in each hospital suffering from it both of whom were showing marked improvement. The Medical Officers all spoke in the highest terms of the work done by all the nursing staff, Miss Drage’s management being specially mentioned. The Station work is much improved and the department much larger – there are now rows of benches where the patients able to walk can sit and get food in the form of sandwiches, cocoa, coffee Bovril, milk etc. quickly and comfortably while the train waits and seriously wounded removed for transmission to Hospital. It was decided that Miss ... Newman should go home on duty and report herself at the War Office on arrival.
Angers – Noon
Left early for Angers. Visited No.5 General Hospital which I found fully established in the Nouveau Seminaire equipped for 420 beds for men and 26 for officers. They were very full and very busy – the largest number of admissions at one time being 360, when the whole staff worked all night. No.4 Stationary close by received all Convalescents ready to move on, leaving the building free for all seriously wounded. The staff are accommodated very comfortably on the top floor. Miss ... and everyone seemed to be working most happily together – they were anxious for more Red Cross things at the Station. There are 2 Sisters on day and 2 on night duty. Went on to St. Nazaire arrived 6pm.
Visited Asturias. Saw Col. Hardy and Miss Stevens – have promised to supply 2 more QAIMNS next voyage. Visited No.3 General Hospital partly in buildings and partly under canvas. The arrangements for the Staff excellent under canvas. Everything highly satisfactory. Beds full of serious cases. No.11 had opened in 3 schools but had been ordered to leave that day by French authorities. No.10 General Hospital is entirely under canvas – everything going well. The nursing staff in bell tents. The nursing sisters who had arrived by Asturias were at No.9 Stationary Hospital These I arranged with DDMS for duties where they were urgently required leaving 10 here. Came on to Nantes. Saw Miss Hodgins who with her staff were proceeding to Havre – arrived at Nantes in time for dinner. Saw Major Forest and Col. Wescott and DMS.
Went to Stationary Hospital where Miss Dods was taking over from Miss Osborne, No. 9 having gone to a Chateau. From there to Officers' Hospital Miss Hordley in charge and 5 nursing sisters. 20 officers – a nice building – very new and only lately occupied – will be very nice. Prince M. of Battenberg* in Hospital with jaundice. Many soldiers in French Hospital – they are going to be transferred as soon as possible. Tried to see Miss Caulfield who with 2 others are at a French Hospital where they are only allowed to nurse for a few hours a day but missed them. Visited the Pay Office where the Paymaster was most helpful but wants authority for the different rates of pay. Went on by car hoping to get to Tours but got only to Samur by 7.30 – had some difficulty passing the Sentries.
* Prince Maurice of Battenberg, youngest son of Princess Beatrice; grandson of Queen Victoria; killed 4 weeks later near Ypres.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry