APRIL 1915

Busy all day with correspondence. Heard officially from London that 18 Red Cross Nurses now working in France have been transferred to the Reserve. Wrote informing Headquarters Red Cross and issued instructions and orders to each nurse.

Busy all morning with letters and making necessary moves among the Staff to meet needs.
After lunch drove to Le Treport, where I was met by the Officers in charge and Matrons of 3, 16 and the Canadian Hospitals, and shewn all their nursing arrangements. No.3 General has expanded and can now take 750 patients. No.16 General now ready for 1000. No.2 General Canadian Hospital can now take 400 patients and by the end of the week will be fully established. This is a splendid camp in many respects but very exposed. The arrangements for the Nursing Staff everywhere is splendid and everyone is looking exceptionally well and are enjoying camp life, ‘even when the wind blows’ some of them added.
Heard from Miss Fletcher, Matron Red Cross Headquarters, that Miss Swift was asking for a Sister in Charge for one of the new trains. Wrote to say this application must be made officially.  Heard that Miss Swanston, CHR, 10 General Hospital was dangerously ill with scarlet fever and had been admitted to Isolation Hospital.

To Boulogne for the day. To Red Cross office about nurses for Malassises and Rouen, and also to find out when nurses now accepted by the Reserves can be released from the Red Cross and also to discuss the question of how and whether the nurses recently moved from Officers’ Hospital Rouen should continue to be employed in France. Decision – they were to go home. Visited 7 Stationary now quite capable of admitting 200 officers. Everything in order. The receiving room, office, ante-room and mess room on the ground floor admirable.
14 General Hospital requires some bucking up. 8 Stationary Hospital established, no accommodation yet ready for the Nursing Staff. Tents expected daily, staff waiting to join.
Returned 8pm to find a wire from Dehorted ordering Miss Dods, Matron 14 Stationary to proceed to London for duty in Egypt. Informed her. Wired Havre to instruct Miss Steenson to proceed to Boulogne from Carisbrooke Castle for Matron’s duties. Replaced her on Carisbrooke Castle by Miss Slater, QAIMNSR. This necessitated moving Miss Gambardella QAIMNS to 16 General Hospital, and replacing her by a Reserve also. Officially informed War Office of the change.
While in Boulogne saw Sir A. Lawley, Sir Bertrand Dawson and Surgeon-General Sawyer on official matters in connection with the Nursing Staff. Sir Bertrand who is in charge of the Sick Sisters at 14 General Hospital is anxious that he should be given the power of recommending sick leave to the Nursing Staff and deciding the time and whether they should (the Sisters) spend it here or in England.

Very busy all day. Lady Ponsonby called – she came to tell me of the arrangements she had made at Rouen for the Nurses’ Club. Surgeon-General Treherne called on his way to Rouen, where he is relieving Colonel Skinner. Colonel Fell also came from Treport.

Busy all day arranging staffs and answering letters. Letters from the M-in-C re: B. E. Smith’s uniform and bills, the pay and regulations of VADs and also telling me that Miss Dods is required to relieve Miss Lamming in Egypt, who is not capable enough for the work – never thought she would prove able as a Matron.
Wrote Miss Reid, Assistant Principal Matron re the new staff for the Water Ambulance, and instructing her to see them on board when ordered to join. Letter from Lady Lawley re clothes which have been forwarded to Malassises and apparently have never arrived. Wrote to Officer in charge asking him to wire me whether they have yet turned up or not.

Miss Barbier returned.
Staff for Water Ambulance joined. Colonel Skinner came to say goodbye on his way to the front.  Wire from Malassises saying goods had not arrived – informed Sir A. Lawley. Visited the Soldiers’ Club which has recently been started and which is excellent – reading rooms, tea rooms, silence room, games and a small room converted into a chapel for services. Wrote to Red Cross about allowances of Red Cross and VADs for members working at Malassises. Wrote to Colonels Penton and Hickson informing them that I was coming to Nice and Marseilles.

Left for Paris arriving 6pm – warrant supplied not in order. Unable to get one till next day. Called at Hotel … British Red Cross. They couldn’t help me so went to Versailles where I spent the night and saw Miss Byers and Col. Smith DSO. Stayed at Hotel Recevoirs.

After breakfast went to 4 General. Colonel Smith arranged about warrant. Was most kind, sent into Paris for it which saved me going there until it was time to catch the train at 8pm. Had a Wagon Lit reserved for me and arranged to put up the car and accommodate the chauffeur during my absence. Then went with him to the landing stage on the Seine, some 4 miles off where it is proposed to embark the first set of patients who are to travel by Water Ambulance to Rouen and possibly on to Havre. Also saw the engineering arrangements originally made by Louis XIV for the water supply at Versailles, by which water is supplied from Artesian wells at the other side of the Seine to Versailles, which is at a considerable height above the river. A wonderful piece of engineering and a perfect and plentiful supply of water is obtained. Also saw a wonderful barge which had been built and furnished by a Russian, a most beautiful, artistic and luxurious home with every possible convenience. Left for Nice 8pm.

Arrived at Nice 2pm, drove to Hotel Cimiez in car sent to meet the train. Found my letter had not arrived, so was not expected. Had a very pleasant welcome and found myself in a beautiful Hotel in luxurious surroundings and in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Was introduced to Lady Michelham who took me for a drive to Monte Carlo, returned by Beaulieu, called at Mary Laud’s, Mrs Wilson’s, and saw one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen – so beautiful that it hardly seemed real. After dinner was presented to the Duke and Duchess of Teck who were most gracious.

Didn’t get up till 9am. Went round Home which is perfect – capable of accommodating 100 officers. Nursing Staff - 1 Matron, 3 Sisters, 6 orderlies. Drove in the morning, had lunch and left by 2pm train for Marseilles where I arrived at 6pm. Colonel H. Thompson travelled with me; at Marseilles we were met by Colonel Hickson who had taken rooms for us at Hotel Splendide.

After breakfast Col. Hickson took me to Lahore General Hospital. A nice building capable of accommodating the local sick. Officers’ beds 5, men’s 25. 4 Indian Nursing Sisters have been here since September, when it possible I mean to move some of them further up. After lunch Colonel Hickson took me all over the Indian Camp and Hospital which is most admirably arranged and was intensely interesting. Left with Col. H. Thompson by 6pm train for Paris.

Arrived 8.30, had breakfast Hotel Maurice, after drove to Abbeville arriving 1.30pm. Had lunch. To office where as usual a huge pile of correspondence to be dealt with. Among them a letter from M-in-C in connection with inoculation and under the impression there had been some slackness in France. Wrote at once explaining the procedure here which had been in force since mobilization, and proving that the matter had not been overlooked. Also an official letter from Miss Hay, Matron St. Andrew, forwarded by OC to me, informing me that Nurse Fairbrother “had got married on 31st March to Lieut. ____ RAMC.” No letter of explanation and apparently the happy pair were still on duty!!! Later sent back through DMS for explanation.

Busy with official correspondence all day and confidential reports in connection with names to be mentioned in despatches. Major Bird OC of 17 Train came about staff and arranged to give him 3 TFNS as he was a Territorial also. Learnt that 3 MPs are on the Water Ambulance just established.

Busy all morning. Left 5.30pm for Boulogne. Before leaving received a letter from Sir A. Lawley saying he wished to see me when next in Boulogne. Arrived Boulogne 8pm. Went to 7 Stationary about Conference to be held tomorrow – decided to hold it in Miss A. B. Smith’s office. Miss Reid and Miss Richards had arrived when I got to Hotel, bringing with them Miss Barber and Miss Osborne. Learnt that 2 ladies had been detailed for 17 train, so cancelled orders for Territorial unit already arranged for this train, and decided to put a QAIMNS, Miss MacCrae in charge. Before leaving Abbeville arranged about 6 new groups of nurses to be employed temporarily at Casualty Clearing Stations when telegraphed for from GHQ. Reported myself at office and saw Surgeon General Sawyer, also Colonel Lynden-Bell who is warded at 7 Stationary Hospital and is going home – duodenal ulcer?

To DADMS Ambulance Trains about staffs for new trains. Then to British Red Cross. Sir A. Lawley who wished to see me about his 2 daughters and a niece now working over here, working as VADs in our Hospital. As I have had no instructions on this matter I advised that they should apply direct to the War Office, and he decided that his wife could call on Miss Becher.
Spent the morning at the Conference drawing up various rules which may assist in bringing everything in line and assist Assistant Principal Matrons in managing the new areas, as well as in those already established, and will I hope assist me and the Principal Matron when she arrives, in keeping in touch with everything.
A Miss Murray from Sir H. Norman’s Hospital to say she had not been accepted for the Reserve.  2 nurses trained at Bart’s called about joining the Reserve – instructed them to apply direct to WO. They had been working at the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital. A wire from England, N. Gambardella required for duty on new ship – sent a wire at once to that effect. Had lunch with Sir Bertrand Dawson who told me how satisfactory the nursing arrangements are and how well everything is going, which was good to hear. It would be difficult to express how excellent the work is, I feel, on all sides and how everyone is doing their very best. Miss Freshfield only is joining 17 Train – she is fully trained. Mrs Loder Symons is medically unfit. Saw Col. Brazier Creagh with reference to transferring Miss McCrae from his train onto the new one.

To Ambulance Trains. Letter from Miss Cheetham saying Miss J. A. M. Stewart recommended to be sent home, exophthalmic goitre – has been very worried about her father’s death.
Visited 13 Stationary and Mrs Robertson Eustace who is very pleased with the attendance at her club which is charming, and where she has arranged that Sisters off trains as well as any others can have a hot bath at any time. She has provided also a dressing room with dressing gowns, slippers and toilet requisites.
After lunch the Conference was continued and ended, the Matrons expressing themselves very glad of the opportunity of discussing many things of which they are in doubt. The result of this Conference will be transmitted through the DMS to DGMS. Saw Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox with reference to the pattern of a shirt sent on approval from Lady Lawley.
Miss Hay from St. Andrew, hearing I was at Boulogne, called to see me. Seems the happy couple had been engaged some time, that the OC said there was no need to report the matter – that there was no regulation to that effect – that she thought that as they were civilians she had no control over them – that their behaviour was exemplary – (I had breakfast with them all some short time before the wedding but no one said anything about it. When the ship was being repaired I understand they were married without anyone’s knowledge.) I told her that I thought her action in the matter was quite extraordinary and that personally I didn’t think she was fit to be in charge, if matters such as these were not reported to the Matron-in-Chief, but I said I had reported the matter to the Matron-in-Chief War Office, and it would be for her to decide.
Later the OC came – said there was no regulation with regard to reporting a matter of this sort; that he didn’t wish Miss Hay’s future to be affected etc., and that according to regulations the marriage was reported officially and that the officer was on another ship. I told him exactly what I thought of the matter, and also that the Matron-in-Chief would be dealing with the matter and I am sure whatever decision she came to would not be done without fair consideration.

Miss Barber waited to take the VADs back. Arranged leaves for all nurses who have been on the train over 4 months. Saw Sir A. Lawley about Miss Gore, Ormesby and Seymour VADs who are applying to M-in-C War Office for duty in our hospitals.
To 8 Stationary Hospital with Miss Stronach in charge. It is going to be very nice – all under canvas and the Sisters accommodation is good. 30 VADs arrived with Miss Wilson in charge. They seem very nice and capable. None of them have Camp Kits. After lunch Miss W. went to 13 General, I went to 14 General, where papering and packing is going on. This hospital has now spread into 3 buildings and a garage as well. The Matron has at last got all her Staff under one roof. Took Surgeon General to see Mrs R. Eustace’s Club. Afterwards went to the Australian Hospital which is exceedingly well run, everything in first rate order.

Left after breakfast for Etaples where I found 18 General Hospital fully established and ready for their staff. Beds 1040 – am intending Miss Hodgins for this, and am putting Miss A. A. Wilson in charge of 1 General. Consulted Miss Richards who says she will be able to manage it well – it will come under her – Miss Richard’s area. This Camp is progressing by leaps and bounds. 5 more 1040 bedded hospitals to be opened here. After lunch went to look at the Chateau which Mrs Brice-Miller probably will take for a Convalescent Home for Army Nurses.
Arrived Abbeville 5pm to find many letters, as well as one from M-in-C saying that Miss Oram would have to go to Mediterranean and Principal Matron Expeditionary Force that I must select someone else. She also spoke of N. Gambardella’s move – she didn’t realize I had moved her from the ship, although I had reported the matter officially – don’t understand how it was delayed, but it doesn’t matter. She spoke of being pressed on every side, but this fresh call for nurses. I have impressed upon her that I will of course help all I can as I have always done in fact – the absence of a Principal Matron must be faced – I must do without one – my number of Matrons are too small to spare one for here, and my pucker [sic] Matrons I must distribute to best advantage so as to have them where they will be most useful. In these large units it is important to have Army representatives.

Received wire that Miss Smith Dorrien a lady from coffee stall in Rouen, who had been nursed at 10 General had died of measles and bronchitis. Her sister also was admitted and Miss Egerton aged 18. Wired Miss Mark – asked her to procure flowers and wrote both to her and Lady Egerton.
Spent most of the day preparing names for Despatches. Arranged various moves and 3 groups of 3 Sisters from Rouen and from Etaples to be ready at short notice to start for the front in case of emergency.

Meerut British General Hospital for infectious diseases ready for patients. Arranged for Miss E. M. Lang to take over 11 General Hospital, fully established and the staff under one roof and moved Miss Blakely to take over the new unit, procuring staff from units where VADs had recently joined.  18 General Hospital also, Miss Hodgins and 15 Nurses joining today. Must fill up these staffs by degrees – are to be ready for patients shortly. So many of the nurses seem to be going off duty with measles – 4 quite recently have had to be replaced.

St. Omer
Left early for GHQ, first to office where I saw DGMS, DDGMS and Col. Burtchaell on various matters in connection with the Hospitals, then to Malassises Hospital with Col. Pollock about to take over from Colonel Guise-Moores. The Nursing Staff now under canvas and quite near their work. The arrangements at this Hospital are admirable both in the Hospital itself and the Nurses accommodation. The Col. spoke in the highest terms of Miss Hartigan’s nursing and administrative capabilities. The Staff is partly Red Cross and partly Reserve. I was asked if it would be possible when employing Red Cross nurses that their applications were approved to appoint them as well, as it would make matters easier for the nurses, as at present many of them are in a state of uncertainty as to what they should do as either their contracts have, or are, expiring, and many of them cannot afford to be unemployed, so that it is creating a feeling of unrest. This hospital can now take 500 patients and are kept constantly full. All the women and children have been put into little white calico caps which are most picturesque looking. The question of putting measles cases into an adjoining field is under consideration. Returned 5pm.

Abbeville 5pm
A letter from M-in-C in which she was under the impression Miss Blakely was under a cloud because I had said to Miss Wilson I could spare Miss Blakely and Miss Mark better than other Matrons, if any other Matrons were taken away, not knowing at the time that Miss Oram was not coming out and saying she was going to apply officially for a Matron and would like Miss Blakely sent. Wired her “to withhold official letter, writing” and wrote at once to explain. I suppose these silly misunderstandings can’t be avoided. The M-in-C takes a different view with regard to Miss Hay – looks upon it as an error of judgement. I am therefore glad I referred the matter to her – she is to have a Home Hospital later. It is evident I took too serious a view of the case.
Find that VADs here wishing to join our Military Hospitals must apply through their own authorities, to the Joint War Committee. Am writing to Miss Gore and Miss Annesley to inform them.

Official communication forwarded from Mrs de Winton, Matron 2 Red Cross Officers’ Hospital through the usual channels attaching a correspondence in connection with the recent trouble at this Hospital from the Red Cross, and instructing the Matron (Mrs de Winton) when in any difficulty to communicate direct to Miss Fletcher, Principal Matron, British Red Cross. The correspondence has been forwarded to DGMS.
Lately numerous applications have come from many of the Nursing Sisters for special permission to leave to proceed home in consequence of family trouble, either serious illness or deaths.  Forwarded notes of Conference to DMS for transmission to DGMS.

A large amount of correspondence. Learnt that Sister Phillips QAIMNS 13 Stationary had measles and had been transferred to 14 Stationary. N. Baker, CHR to 14 General with temperature and skin eruption, Influenza? from 11 General, Boulogne. N. Marshall, CHR, 9 General with measles to 10 General from 9 General Hospital Rouen.

Miss Pearse QAIMNS 10 General, transferred 8 General suffering from what seems to be the verge of nervous breakdown and result of private worries. Learnt that N. Vernon-Harcourt had returned from England to Boulogne. Asked hurriedly to supply No.16 Train (one of the Millers) with a staff.  Colonel Holt Calne reported satisfactorily of Nursing Staff in Field Ambulance at Bethune. A section set apart for officers.
13 General and 14 Stationary asking for extra help in consequence of the nature of their cases – arranged it. DMS to Treport. 17 Reserves arrived most welcome helped to fill up gaps at Boulogne which I have been able to do.
Received a mask for approval – for use of troops to protect them from asphyxiating gases put down by the Germans on our troops. Learnt that heavy fighting was expecting [sic] and consequently … preparing by having extra help and beds in readiness as near the front as possible.

Wired for nurses from Havre, Rouen and Versailles so as to have 50 nurses at 18 General. 2 groups of MOs, orderlies and nurses wired for, for CCS, also 2 nurses from 13 and 11 General Hospital. Nurse Rice to report 2 Ambulance Train, 2 nurses not satisfactory – changed them at once.  Question of utilizing Convalescent Camp for wounded in an emergency. Had staff ready to warn if required.
Letter from DGMS re his daughter and Miss Swan being employed as VADs by us.
Letter to Mrs Furze, Head of VAD Selection Committee re them and Miss Cliffe, General Bray's niece.
Heard from Dehorted re Nurse Dunk and … and Robinson’s return – issued orders. Sent list of postings of VADs to Mrs Furze and Miss Swift.

After attending to letters, to Boulogne. 1st to DDMS office, then to 7 Stationary. Full of officers. Extra beds had to be put up – officers coming in, others being evacuated at the same time. Many serious wounded, others suffering from effect of gases.
Then to 14 Stationary about opening of another section at some distance under canvas which will require a Matron and fresh staff. Propose putting Miss McCreery in charge. Staff needed by end of week.
Then to 14 General – very full, and as well a large number of officers with measles in garage.
Then to 8 Stationary – quite full up with serious cases.
Then to 13 Stationary – crowded also. Then on to Etaples to find staff had been up all night and just before I had arrived 10 had been wired for to go at once to Hazebrouck, leaving only 5 on duty and over 500 patients. 30 nurses wired for had not then arrived – were coming from Havre, Rouen and Versailles.
Letter returned from GHQ with reference to Officers’ Red Cross Hospital, and inspections in the recent disturbance, enclosing letters from Miss Swift and Mrs de Winton saying to let the matter drop.
Sent instructions for Nurses Tulley and Coulter to join 13 General – found had already gone to front from Ambulance Train. Sisters ordered for Rest Station at Hesdigneul and Serqueux.
Heard that Miss Wohlmann had been replaced by a Reserve and was instructed by Matron in Chief War Office to take Miss Seale QAIMNS off and replace her with a Reserve which has been done. Returned 8.30pm and wired for 4 more nurses to proceed for duty 13 Stationary Hospital.

St. Omer
Left at 9.30am for GHQ arrived 11.30. Went to office found Miss G. M. Smith and Miss Knowles, Sisters in Charge of 3 and 5 Casualty Clearing Stations in DDGMS office to report they had all been shelled out of Poperinghe at midnight and after getting all the patients away by train. They had all 20 of them come to St. Omer where they were put up at 10 Stationary. It was decided they should go to Hazebrouck to release 10 nurses who had been sent from Etaples the day before. Went on to Hazebrouck where I visited 10 Casualty Clearing Station and London CCS, both overwhelmingly busy. Everyone doing tremendous work, patients streaming in while others were going, stretcher cases in ambulances, sitting up cases in motor ambulance – all quiet and orderly. Many deaths – in the marque 24 were lying decently laid out with a corporal as sentry. Went in a bell tent next – 8 more, while in wards many there were dying, all very dreadful, but everyone very calm and plucky and hopeful. The names, regiments and particulars of all were being taken to inform their friends. Postcards were being sent to relations of those wounded and when being transferred a note is pinned onto each coat giving all particulars possible.
Returned to GHQ. Arranged to keep 3 nurses always waiting at 10 Stationary for emergency ready packed. Went to 10 Stationary, there and at 9 Casualty Clearing Station very busy too. Patients suffering from asphyxiating gases being nursed in the open. All very blue and very chesty. Some had succumbed and some appeared to be slowly improving. Returned to Abbeville 8pm. After dinner dealt with official matters till a late hour. Learnt Miss Devenish-Meares, Sister in charge 4 Casualty Clearing Station has measles – replaced her by Miss Musson TFNS from 13 General.
Miss Pearse and Miss J. A. M. Stewart leaving from Rouen for England via Havre – 2 Sisters going down with them.

Busy all day with correspondence. Sent to all units to order summer uniform. Received official intimation that 19 more Red Cross had been taken on to the Reserve. Arranged for more help in Boulogne.
Letter from Miss Wilson saying Miss Oram and many nurses were starting for Mediterranean on 29th. Hospital Ship Nevasa to go to Meditarranean.

Left 8.30am for the Front, arrived GHQ 10.45. Went to office, found everything satisfactory. Saw DGMS who was just starting for Boulogne to see for himself the condition of the Hospitals.
Went on to Hazebrouck. Called on DMS 2nd Army, General Porter re Casualty Clearing Stations. Learned that the behaviour of everyone at Poperinghe in the recent shelling was magnificent. 5 Casualty Clearing Station now open in a church at Hazebrouck and 3 Casualty Clearing Station to open in an Asylum at Bailleul. Staff waiting at Hazebrouck and assisting in 10 Casualty Clearing Station till their Station is established. Took Miss G. M. Smith with me to Bailleul. Everything much quieter and except for those too ill to be moved all Stations are now empty and the rush over. Visited 2 and 8 Casualty Clearing Stations with Miss Matthews and Miss Medforth in charge. Went to the Asylum to see where No.3 Casualty Clearing Station is opening – a magnificent building in beautiful grounds. One block is being handed over to us. Large airy wards lighted with electric light and tessellated floors. Here the officers and men stationed in Bailleul able to have baths – one block on one side being set apart for officers and the men on the other side of the building. Had tea at 10 Stationary, returned to learn that Miss Richards had telephoned to say that Miss P. Pearse* who was on her way home, diagnosed neurasthenia had thrown herself out of the window and was killed – she is writing fully. Tried to get on to Havre without success on my return – endless applications from VADs.
Abbeville 7.30pm. Arranged various moves so as to ease matters at Boulogne. More nurses badly wanted now that all units are full. For many of our units establishments are not complete.

* Phyllis Ada Pearse, born 22 December 1880, trained St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London 1908-11; joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service 1912.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry

Received letter of particulars from Miss Richards with reference to Miss Pearse. Wired to War Office saying was writing. Wrote briefly and said all particulars would be forwarded as soon as I heard. Wrote Misses Suart, Mark and Reid for further particulars. Busy with correspondence all day. Wrote War Office for more nurses.



NEXT - MAY 1915