CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3989
All Saints’ Day.
Went to the cemetery and visited the soldiers’ graves, also that of Miss Rowe, YMCA lady, who had recently died of cerebro-spinal meningitis. The English graves had been decorated by Madame Dumont, assisted by many of the nursing staff in Abbeville. There was a ceremony on both French and English parts of the cemetery and large numbers of people attended. The Bishop of Khartoum consecrated a new piece of ground.
Sent to DGMS a very satisfactory report on Miss C. M. MacRae, QAIMNS, who recently resigned to get married. Received and forwarded to Boulogne copy of WO wire notifying the arrival of 4 Reserves – Miss Botting from Transvaal and 3 newly joined Staff Nurses. I also received a letter from the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, saying that Miss Botting was an exceptionally capable woman and also asking that she might be inoculated on arrival in France. Sent Command Paymaster list of nursing staff returned to France from sick leave during the month, giving dates and postings. Sent Matron-in-Chief, War Office, list of nursing staff sent to England sick during the month, and those still in England since July 1915. Also sent her, as well as Miss Crowdy, list of postings of VADs who arrived on the 29th, and to Mrs. Furse at Devonshire House an unofficial list of VADs who returned to England during the month. Telephoned to Matron, 5 General Hospital, saying that Miss Young, VAD, who wished to go to Amiens to see her parents could not be permitted to do so, but if she would let me know to which Base they were arriving, arrangements would be made for her to be transferred to that Base to meet them. Her parents were on their way from England to India via Marseilles. The Matron replied she had no idea how they would come and if there were any likelihood of her being moved from the unit, she would rather not go. Received from DGMS application from Sister Samsing, AANS, to be appointed Charge Sister saying she had brought a party of Australian Sisters from Marseilles to Boulogne and had acted in the capacity to the best of her ability in the position to which she had been appointed. Forwarded this correspondence to DDMS, Rouen, to ask the OC of 1 Australian General to give a full statement of the case.
Received from DGMS instructions from the WO directing the following moves to take place:-
Nursing Sisters Ivey and Parkins from 1 Canadian CCS to Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe, to be relieved by Nursing Sisters Gillean and McLeod from 2 Canadian General. Nursing Sisters Smellie, Harston and Nelson to Shorncliffe and Nursing Sister Tupper to Uxbridge. Sent necessary orders to SMO, Treport and forwarded copy of instructions to DMS, 2nd Army. Arranged that Miss King, AANS, reported sick last night from 2 Stationary (gynaecological case) should be transferred by ambulance to 14 General Hospital. Major Cuff, who attended her, decided she could not go until tomorrow. Telephoned to DMS, 2nd Army, to ask if he approved of an extra Sister being sent to 46 CCS. This was agreed upon. I also said that when inspecting 12 CCS I had found the Sister in charge, Miss Custance, in bed and I asked whether she was now fit for duty. Found she was on duty again. Arranged that Miss Fraser, QAIMNSR who was reported sick from 5 Stationary Hospital, Abbeville, should be transferred to 3 General. The A/Principal Matron, Boulogne, telephoned that she had not received postings of VADs who arrived yesterday. Gave her the distribution and asked that Miss Gee and Miss Humphreys should be posted together, as I had received a request from War Office that this should be arranged if possible. Was informed by Miss Hordley that the Glengorm Castle had sprung a leak, and that Miss Flanagan, posted in relief of Miss O’Shea, had been withdrawn in consequence, as there was a question whether the ship would be able to carry sick on her return journey. Instructed the Principal Matron that if the ship loaded up Miss Flanagan should rejoin and this office should be notified through the DDMS.
Telephoned to the A/Principal Matron, Etaples, instructing her to order Miss McCormac to proceed to the Nurses’ Home, Abbeville, as soon as she was discharged from the Villa Tino. Arranged so that A/Matron Morris should go on leave and that Miss Hopton from 23 General should do her duty during her absence. Sent to all Principal Matrons of areas asking for a weekly nominal roll of nursing staff in all Convalescent Homes for Sisters in their area. Forwarded correspondence to DDMS Boulogne with reference to Miss Sinclair Covell, VAD, stating that she was not recommended for further service and would not therefore be permitted to renew her engagement, so should return to England on completion of her contract. Sent to DDMS Boulogne, circular with reference to members of the Nursing Service in France who had been awarded the RRC, that, if not already decorated, on arrival in England on leave, they should inform the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, so that if an investiture was taking place they might have the opportunity of being decorated by His Majesty. Sent to DGMS reminder with reference to application for appointment of Principal Matrons at Rouen, Etaples and Boulogne for administrative duties alone, to ascertain how the matter now stood. Wrote to Miss Blakeley, asking what arrangements were made for Sisters arriving or departing from Havre when going on leave, and whether someone always met the boat as at Boulogne, so that if no arrangement of the kind had been made so far, I could issue some instructions on the subject. Received from DGMS instructions to arrange for the nursing staff of Hospital Ship “Galeka” who had been waiting in Havre since the mining of the ship, to proceed to England as soon as fit to travel, and report their arrival to the War Office in writing.
Sent Command Paymaster copy of authority for employment of a charwoman at 1 South African General from August 19th. Telephoned to DDMS Boulogne with reference to the application from Mrs. Hayes Sheen, VAD to proceed to the south of France on termination of contract, to say that all members of the Nursing Service on completion of contract must return to England and no members are permitted to travel in France except on duty. Forwarded to DGMS application to resign from Staff Nurse A. Westbrook, QAIMNSR, 20 CCS, her reason being her approaching marriage. Asked DGMS whether we could be informed if the application of Miss Lindsay McKenzie, AANS for transport duty to Australia, forwarded on 12th, had been approved, as she was very anxious about her mother’s health.
Received letter from Matron-in-Chief, Canadian Contingents, asking if certain moves could be made in Canadian units, and also asking whether I could let her know if Matron Rayside and Matron Nesbitt had been recommended for the RRC as they had been a year and seven months in France, and if I was taking no action in the matter, she would deal with it from her side. I replied with reference to the moves, that the hospital to which she referred was not now going to Havre, but was being transferred to one of the Armies, and at present it was unknown to how many beds they would extend, and I therefore thought it advisable to hold over her orders until we knew. With reference to honours for nurses, of course she realised that it was entirely confidential, but I had consulted the DMS and he saw no objection to my saying that these two ladies names had been recommended for the RRC. I also added that their names had not really ever been forgotten, but as only a certain number could be submitted for each gazette, the names of those most highly recommended were submitted first for this most coveted distinction.
Received a letter from DDMS, Embarkation, Southampton, saying that he had been informed that certain members of the Nursing Committee were coming down to consider the question as to whether the nursing staffs of ships could be moved from one ship to another, as they were under the impression that the Sisters had a great deal of idle time on their hands. His suggestion was that when the ships were in dock, the Sisters should have a certain amount of leave, at the expiration of which he would send them for duty in France if I felt this arrangement would answer. I replied that I was of his opinion that nurses should have a stated period of leave, but the objection to his suggestion as to their being transferred for duty in France was that we never knew at what port the ship would arrive, and I asked if it could not be arranged for the Sisters, on completion of leave, to be transferred to Netley or Dover, until their services were again required. A similar arrangement had always been made in France in connection with the Ambulance Trains temporarily out of action and Casualty Clearing Stations temporarily closed when moving forward, and has been found to answer admirably.
Received a letter from Mrs. Furse saying that she expected I should be required to attend a meeting at the War Office in order to give evidence on certain complaints she had been making but which she said had nothing to do with VADs working in our units in France. I replied, saying that so far I had heard nothing officially on the matter, and that I was glad she felt that the work in our military hospitals in France in connection with VADs had on the whole been satisfactory. Sent DGMS list of VADs returning to England during the month of November – 49 out of 210 due to renew contracts, and list of 5 VADs at present on sick leave in England. Sent to DGMS completed gratuity form for M. E. Duffy, signed by Miss Patton, late Matron of the Chicago Unit, under whom Miss Duffy had served. Forwarded DGMS application to resign from Staff Nurse D. Marshall, TFNS, 5 General Hospital, on account of approaching marriage. Received from DGMS copy of War Office letter notifying the arrival of Matron Willetts, QAIMNS. Received from DGMS copy of telegram notifying re-engagement of A/Sister Hobson, QAIMNSR, and also re-joining of VAD Constantinides for duty in France after sick leave. Forwarded to Boulogne with instructions as to their disposal on arrival. Received from DGMS copy of WO letter notifying the arrival of Sisters H. E. Smith and E. J. Ford, CAMC, in relief of Sisters A. M. Dancey and J. A. Mann, lately recalled to England from 3 Canadian General. Telephoned to DGMS to ask if it would be convenient for me to see him at 10 am tomorrow. Major Black informed me that it would be quite convenient. DMS, 1st Army, wired that 3 Sisters due at Chocques at 1.15 had not yet arrived. Communicated with Miss Baldrey, Sister i/c Nurses’ Home, and found that they had left at 6.49 a.m., that the train had been 3 hours late at Abbeville and that the Sisters had detrained at St. Pol where they stayed at 12 Stationary Hospital. Communicated with the Matron and asked her to wire to DMS, 1st Army, informing him of what had taken place. Learnt from Miss Nunn, A/Matron, 2 Stationary Hospital, that Miss King, AANS, had stood the journey by ambulance to Boulogne very well and she had handed her over to Miss Fox and Miss Esden, and had asked them to inform 2 Australian General Hospital, so that some of her friends might visit her. DDMS, Boulogne, telephoned that VAD Merton had received a wire saying “Come at once” – feared meant death in family. Asked if she might have special leave, which was approved. Learnt from Sister i/c, 38 CCS, that Miss Phillpotts, NZANS, had been sent to the Base sick with tonsillitis. Informed the Matron, 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, and also the Matron-in-Chief, NZANS in London. The Matron of the New Zealand Hospital asked that the remainder of her staff who were temporarily employed in British units might be returned, as they were very busy and had so many orderlies sick. Wired to the Casualty Clearing Stations that these 4 nurses should return forthwith to their unit. Letter from the Principal Matron, Havre, saying that she had taken Miss Cameron-Smith and Miss Hubley, Matron of 7 Canadian Stationary, to Etretat, had shown them over 1 General, and the new Sick Sisters’ Hospital. She also informed me that a large part of the luggage belonging to the nursing staff had been recovered from Hospital Ship “Galeka”.
Left early for GHQ where I saw DGMS and told him about Mrs. Furse’ letter. Discussed the Nursing arrangements in both Australian and Canadian Hospitals as well as the advisability of employing VADs in front areas, in consequence of a letter which had been received that day from the War Office, saying that in view of the shortage of Trained Nurses, it should be possible to select suitable VADs and Special Probationers for work at the front. This letter also informed us of the proposal to exchange 100 nurses who had been out here since 1914 and who were showing signs of over-work, with 100 nurses from home, the exchange to take place in parties of 20, names and rank to be reported by the 1st of each month and the exchange to take place on the 15th, and departures and arrivals to take place on the same day.
From there I went to DMS, 3rd Army, to let him know that I was visiting the remaining CCS in that area.
I first went to 30 and 42 CCS which have just been taken over by the 1st Army from the 3rd. The work was going on satisfactorily and not of a very heavy or serious nature. The condition of things is very much improved here and the OCs expressed themselves entirely satisfied with the Sisters in charge. I found that in both units the nursing staff had been going on duty at 8 a.m. in the morning instead of 7.30. This, I said, was to be altered at once. I found that Miss Norton-Taylor, TFNS, had been writing to the Matron-in-Chief, TFNS, asking why she had not been promoted to the rank of Sister. This had been done entirely without the knowledge of anyone in the unit. It is not considered that she has had sufficient experience to render her suitable for promotion.
From there I went to 43 CCS in the 3rd Army where I saw the OC and the Sister in charge. Since my last visit this unit has made wonderful strides and is now well established and wonderfully comfortable. A large number of huts have already replaced the unsuitable marquees. The nursing staff are considered quite suitable. Their accommodation and messing arrangements are satisfactory and they are able to do a certain amount of shopping in Frevent which is not far away. The staffs of all 6 CCS in this area have been increased to 12 in view of heavy work expected. In each instance I was given the names of Sisters who were not proving as satisfactory as the others, so that when the staff is reduced to 7, I should know which could best be spared.
From there I went to Lucheux to the Convalescent Officers’ Hospital to see the new Sister in charge, and to let Miss Barwell, the Sister who was handing over, know that a relief was coming, on whose arrival, arrangements would be made for her to go on leave, and on her return she would be instructed to report to the A/Principal Matron, Boulogne. This unit is doing very useful and satisfactory work, and a large number of officers are having the benefit of having a comfortable place where they can have a rest.
Arrived at 35 CCS (The Citadel) at 7 p.m. where I stayed the night. Here the unit is being packed up to make room for 3 Canadian Stationary, which is taking over the position there. It is understood that the present unit will probably be sent east. The nursing staff will not go with them but will be able to be distributed to other units.
Left early in the morning. Visited 19 CCS at Doullens – everything in first-rate order. Present staff ample. Arranged with OC in view of heavy work that he should communicate with me direct when extra help would be available in a couple of hours’ time.
From there to 2/2 South Midland CCS at Resmenil Farm, for infectious cases and self-inflicted wounds. This unit is very much improved and they are putting up huts both for patients and nursing staff. Good useful roads and paths are now being made in the camp, and everything is becoming comfortable.
Then to Headquarters, 5th Army, where I unfortunately missed the new DMS, Surgeon-General Skinner. I saw the DADMS, who told me about the Army Commander’s recent visit to Contay, where he expressed dissatisfaction at the nursing staff being under canvas. He asked me if I were satisfied with the way the nurses in that Army were accommodated. I told him that I felt that the nurses in all the Armies were receiving every consideration, and in many instances the nurses preferred being under canvas: - everyone coming up had Beatrice stoves and gum boots as part of their equipment. He told me that arrangements were being made that all members of the nursing staffs should be housed in huts.
From there I went to Contay to 49 CCS and 9 CCS. Everything going on satisfactorily and the huts for the nursing staff in both units in process of erection, these being Nissen huts, the same as those in Varennes.
Then to Puchevillers to 3 and 44 CCS – everything working smoothly and satisfactorily; a certain number of wounded and a good many sick in both units. The huts are to be put up for the nursing staff of both units in the orchard where the bell tents are now placed. It is being arranged that each unit may have their Mess hut and ante-room near the Clearing Station so that they will not have far to walk in times of heavy work. From there I went to Headquarters, 4th Army – saw the DMS, had tea; was told that if the weather would hold up, heavy work was expected in the course of 2 or 3 days and in consequence it was not considered advisable to reduce the staffs of any of the CCS. Left for Headquarters where I arrived in time for dinner.
During my absence found that 25 VADs had arrived on the 4th, amongst them Lady Michelham’s niece, Miss Salomons. Received no notification of this until the lady was in the country, and they rang up from Boulogne to let us know. She was instructed to proceed forthwith by the Paris train with orders for duty at the Officers’ Convalescent Home, Cap Martin. We informed the APM Paris of her expected hour of arrival, asking them to let Lady Michelham know. Received communication from the DMS, AIF, saying that Nursing Sisters J. McDonald, Tyers and Stevenson, now in England on leave, were considered unfit to return to duty in France. Informed DDMS, Rouen.
Received from DGMS copy of WO letter showing reinforcements sent to France in October: Trained 123 (QAIMNS 4, QAIMNSR 89, from sick leave 30), untrained 227, making a grand total of 350. Sent to DGMS detailed form giving WO letter numbers and dates announcing arrivals during October, and showing number actually arrived with dates: QAIMNS 4, QAIMNSR 93, TFNS 1, Returned from sick leave 20 – Total Trained 118, Untrained 209. Returned from sick leave 8 – total untrained 217.
Received from DGMS copy of WO letter refusing the application of VAD Neville for personal reasons. Forwarded to SMO, Abbeville, for communication to Miss Neville. Received wire from Staff Nurse Onions, asking for extension of leave on account of serious illness of her mother. Wired approval. Received wire from Miss Cameron Smith, CAMC, saying she would leave Paris by midday train, and had received authority to visit a CCS. Wired to Paris that arrangements had been made and she would be met. Circular sent to all areas giving instructions with reference to admissions to the Villa Roquebrune, Convalescent Home for Nursing Sisters and VADs at Mentone. All applications to be submitted to this office through the DDMS of area. On account of the limited number of beds (17), a careful selection ought to be made. Received letter from Miss Rodgers, Hopital Temporaire, Arc en Barrois, applying for work in a military unit, in consequence of a letter she had received from Miss Cox Davis, advising her to apply to me. Said she was going to England via Havre on the 7th. Wrote immediately, saying all appointments are made by the War Office, and enclosing application form.
Principal Matron, Etaples, wrote enclosing article in “British Journal of Nursing” on Miss St. John, VAD, pointing out that it was rather sad that when such a large number of trained people were at our disposal that VADs should be given such responsible work in connection with wounded soldiers. Principal Matron, Boulogne, wrote that she had been asked by DDMS, Boulogne, to accompany an American lady, Mrs. Willard, round the hospitals. As well as the hospitals, she had taken her to a hospital ship and on a new Ambulance Train to see it arrive and be unloaded. She appeared to be extremely interested, asked endless questions and made copious notes. The Matron of 35 General Hospital wrote about K. E. Robertson who she had sent to Hardelot for a change and who had been transferred to 14 General Hospital, as TB had been found in her sputum. Memo from AQMG, asking, in connection with the claim of Mrs. Hagar, Matron of Harvard Unit, if orders had been issued to ensure that Matrons and Sisters did not remain in England after handing over their drafts. Reported that this had been done. Special leave for 2 days from 9th instant approved to the Hon. Miss Lawley’s and Miss Leatham, VADs, to meet Sir Arthur and Lady Lawley in Paris on their return from South America. Received duplicate gratuity from DDMS, Havre, for Staff Nurse N. Clements, resigned, which had been asked for by the War Office, the original having been mislaid. Forwarded to DGMS Memo from DDMS, Rouen, informing this office that A/Sister Winfield, Hospital Ship “Aberdonian” had been admitted to Sick Sisters’ Hospital, Rouen, and asking for a relief, as she was a bad sailor. Arranged for Miss McAdam from 6 General Hospital to replace her, and when Miss Winfield was fit for duty ordered her to join 6 General. Application from SMO, Treport, for Nursing Sister Carmichael, 2 Canadian General, to be permitted to proceed to Boulogne from 6th to 8th inst. with her brother Capt. Carmichael, to see another brother on his way to the front. Telephoned approval and arranged that she should report to the Matron of 3 Canadian General in Boulogne, who would accommodate her. Telephoned to the Principal Matron, Boulogne, to inform her and to ask her to communicate with 3 Canadian General Hospital.
RTO Abbeville telephoned asking for information about a Sister Robinson under orders to proceed to Amiens as the French authorities had asked for the authority to claim her ticket money. There was no trace of this lady’s movement order either at RTO Abbeville or Amiens, and on looking up the registers we found there was no Sister of any nursing service due in that direction. Enquired of Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, Amiens, if anyone had reported to her and informed the RTO that there was no trace of the lady. Miss Barbier, who was on duty at the time, wrote a statement of the telephonic conversation and a list of all members of the Nursing Services names Robinson was forwarded to the PM with their postings. The Matron, 6 General Hospital, asked if it would be possible to supply VAD cooks to their Mess as their man cook was not satisfactory. DDMS, Boulogne, telephoned that 3 Canadian Stationary was parked, and the staff could be made use of. Sent passes for Matron and 16 Sisters to proceed on leave so as to be able to join their unit when it opened at Doullens, and the remainder were divided temporarily between 2 Canadian Stationary and 3 Canadian General Hospital, until we received instructions from the Matron-in-Chief, Canadian Contingent, as to her wishes. Miss Crowdy wrote asking that transfers of military VADs from one unit to another might be notified to her for the purpose of re-addressing letters and giving information to relatives. Replied that all letters should be sent to this office and that any friends or relatives requiring information would receive it they applied here also.
Miss Cameron Smith, the Canadian Nursing Sister engaged in writing a history of the nursing arrangements in connection with the Canadian Contingent, arrived from Paris, as I had received sanction to take her to visit a Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. She was accommodated at the Nurses’ Home, Abbeville. Received from DDMS, Rouen, application for increase of accommodation for nursing staff of 3 Stationary Hospital. This was forwarded, recommending that a hut should be erected capable of accommodating 10 Nursing Sisters and having also a Mess and pantry (to Director of Works). Arranged with the A/Principal Matron, Havre, that she should detail a Sister (as has been done since the beginning at Boulogne) to meet all Sisters arriving and departing and arrange for their accommodation and to report any unusual circumstances in connection with these arrivals and departures. All areas have been asking urgently for extra help in view of continuation of heavy work. The Hon. Charlotte Knollys wrote from Buckingham Palace under instructions from Queen Alexandra, enclosing a letter from Staff Nurse Milburn, QAIMNSR Australia, which she had addressed to Her Majesty, asking if she could assist her in any way in getting a free passage to Australia to see her father who was ill, and to return in the same way. I replied that everything possible would be done but nurses are not now able to travel to Australia on duty by transport as these duties are entirely allotted to members of the Australian Army Nursing Service but, if possible, a passage would be obtained for her and arrangements would be made for her return in one of these transports.
Received an official letter from DGMS at the War Office asking if possible to arrange for 14 days’ leave for Miss Dorothy McLean to proceed to Scotland at end of November or beginning of December. Returned correspondence with a minute to the effect that leave would be arranged if possible, but this lady had only arrived in France on June 28th and many were due for leave before her. Received applications from 2 Canadian Sisters for 14 days’ leave at Villa Roquebrune. Received instructions from DGMS to proceed to England on the 10th inst. to attend a meeting in connection with the Supply of Nurses Committee to be held in London on 13th inst., and in consequence asked DGMS to see if the visit of the Matron-in-Chief, Australian Nursing Service, might be postponed until my return from London. Received War Office letter requesting that when in future applications to resign are forwarded, it should be stated whether the applicant is recommended for a gratuity and, when possible, the correspondence should be accompanied by Army Form W3165. Letter from the Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, saying she was pleased and surprised to find that 4 of her Sisters who had returned from temporary duty in our Clearing Stations were looking so well and had enjoyed working in our units so much. Received letter from A/Principal Matron, Rouen, saying that the OC 9 General Hospital had visited her; he was not satisfied with Matron Miss Wohlmann and had asked whether a change could be made, that he had intended asking me when in Rouen, but had not liked to worry me. Replied, asking Miss Rannie if she would communicate with the OC and let me have a report to that effect.
59 Trained nurses and 13 VADs arrived unexpectedly at Boulogne, the A/Principal Matron having much difficulty in accommodating them in consequence of the port having been closed for two days and every hospital crowded. They were eventually accommodated in 4 different hotels. Miss Cameron Smith returned to Paris to await my return from London before visiting a Casualty Clearing Station. Informed DGMS of this arrangement. Was informed that 3 Ambulance Train would be garaged for 3 weeks and arranged for the staff to join 2 Stationary Hospital for temporary duty.
Sent circular to all areas reminding the Matrons that all members of the Nursing Services should provide themselves with Active Service outfit, including gum boots and Beatrice stoves, and that any Sister receiving orders for the front must not be allowed to proceed unless in possession of her complete kit, and that the matter must be reported to this office, so that s substitute could be appointed. Learnt from the Sister in charge, 12 CCS, 2nd Army, that extensive alterations were being made in the unit – beds were being supplied for 580 patients and huts were being built to enable patients suffering from shell shock and head injuries to be nurses until it was considered safe to remove them to the Base. Correspondence received informing us that A/Sister McBride, QAIMNS, was not returning to France. Asked DDMS Havre to furnish a confidential report on her work at No.1 General Hospital
Sent to all Bases a circular requesting that arrangements should be made for VADs to be given lectures 3 times a week on the lines of the syllabus laid down in RAMC Standing Orders, the syllabus and roll of attendance to be furnished monthly to this office. Received correspondence from War Office with reference to our communication relating to Long Service Bar for Special Probationers. It ruled that they should wear one white stripe on the sleeve above the cuff and that the VAD stripe should not be used as Special Probationers are not members of the VAD. This was circulated to all Bases. Received from DDMS, Boulogne, draft of letter from Base Commandant which he proposed sending to IGC in connection with making better arrangements for the accommodation of the Nursing Staff in that area. Suggested that the hotels now being occupied should be taken over by the Government and that they should be converted into Sisters’ Messes, the Matrons making their own arrangements and appointing Home Sisters and the necessary helpers as is done in other areas. This arrangement is considered more satisfactory in every way and a great saving to the public as it would do away with billeting allowance.
Left for London. The OC, 44 CCS, wrote asking that the Sister in charge might be replaced as she was not entirely suitable for work at the front. 10 Trained Nurses arrived. Received telephone Message from DMS 4th and 5th Armies stating that the staffs in all the Casualty Clearing Stations must not be reduced for at least a fortnight and that they would communicate with us directly any of the nurses could be spared. Received from DDMS, Rouen, application from Staff Nurse L. Craig, QAIMNSR for 6 months’ leave to Canada on account of serious illness of sister. Forwarded to DGMS asking if this might be granted.
Application received from various units both in 4th and 5th Armies asking for extra help in consequence of heavy work. Received official letter from OC 27th Ambulance Train, forwarded by DADMS, reporting on the excellent conduct of Sisters Evans, Mahoney and Thompson on the night of the 10th, when the train was bombed for 2 hours, it being loaded with patients at the time, and asking that their conduct might be recognised. Matron, 30 General Hospital, wrote saying she had to report sick and was going to 14 General Hospital, and that she considered her Assistant Matron would be able to carry on for the time being.
DMS 1st Army, wrote asking for information with regard to granting of leave to Nursing Sisters at Christmas time. He was not allowing any officers or men to be away at that time. Replied, approving his suggestion that this should apply to Nursing Sisters also. Received from DGMS proceedings of Court of Enquiry held on November 8th at 37 CCS to investigate the question raised by letters from his mother as to the disposal of 2 rings which Rifleman Noble, 4th K.O.L.L.R.* [sic] was wearing. Forwarded correspondence to the area where the two Sisters were working who were looking after this patient at the time of his death.
* Possibly an error for K.O.R.L.R., meaning King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). Even if this is so, there is more than one man who could fit the bill.
Received letter from Commissioner, BRCS, saying that arrangements were being made for opening the Nurses’ Convalescent Home at Etretat on December 1st; the Lady Housekeeper had arrived and they were only waiting for the Lady Superintendent. Learnt that the A/Principal Matron, Etaples – Miss Denne, QAIMNS, had been sent sick to Villa Tino with influenza, and instructed Miss Drage, QAIMNS, to replace her temporarily. Letter received from Miss Doyle, QAIMNSR, Sister in charge, 9 Ambulance Train, saying that on the 10th instant when the Germans bombed Amiens station, they had 2 hours very trying experience – the windows of the train were smashed to splinters but fortunately no casualties occurred. Received WO letter saying that the proposal re appointment of Principal Matrons, QAIMNS, for Etaples, Boulogne and Rouen areas was still under consideration. Wrote to the Matron in charge, Villa Roquebrune, asking her if she could let us know each week how many vacant beds they had, so that we could make arrangements when applications arrived at this office. Notification received from A/Principal Matron, Rouen, saying that VAD Haslam had been placed on the Seriously Ill List with erysipelas of the face. Her friends had been informed. A/Principal Matron, Etaples, informed up that Miss Harvey, Matron, 30 General Hospital, had had to be admitted to Hospital suffering from some internal complaint and that her Assistant Matron, Miss Hill, was carrying on during her absence.
DGMS came to the office with Colonel Morgan and told us that 45 CCS and 1/1 South Midland CCS at Edgehill had been heavily bombed – and there were certain casualties amongst the patients and R.A.M.C. staff – one Sister was wounded in the leg, not serious. Correspondence received from AQMG in connection with a claim for billeting allowance for Miss Clements, A/Matron, QAIMNS of 8 General Hospital, for 395 francs from June 23rd, 1915, to July 22nd, 1916, saying that the IGC considered the cost of this accommodation should fall on the officers who were responsible for allowing Miss Clements to be billeted when Government quarters (hutted) were available, and asking for the correspondence to be returned so that the Base Commandant, Rouen, might be informed. Letter received from Matron, 35 General Hospital, saying she had seen the Sisters on 31 Ambulance Train who complained that they were ignored and not well treated by the Medical Officers. She had arranged to take these Sisters off and replace them but before these ladies were able to be replaced, the train left. Application received from Col. Douglas, OC, 21 CCS, saying that 4 of his Sisters had been out a year and had had no leave. Could reliefs be supplied so that he could arrange for leave, as it was now open. Received correspondence from Base Commandant, Boulogne, with reference to the question of taking over certain hotels in the Boulogne area for the accommodation of the Nursing Staffs of 7 and 13 Stationary, 13 and 14 General Hospitals. Letter from Miss Montgomerie, QAIMNSR, asking for special leave to attend a Medical Board at the Indian Office as she had applied for the Indian Nursing Service, also asking, in the event of her being appointed, when she could be released from her present contract, which terminates in May, 1917. Replied that her application should have been forwarded officially and recommended her to do so without delay. Letter from the Matron-in-Chief, New Zealand Nursing Service, Miss Thurston, saying that she hoped to be in France during the month.
23 General Hospital closed down and the staff of 7 Canadian General took over – midnight Nov. 15th. This unit has been under canvas at Treport and owing to the severity of the weather, the camp hospital is closed until the spring. Of the Matron and Sisters of 23 General Hospital, some were sent on leave and the remainder distributed to fill vacancies in various hospitals in the Etaples area. Application forwarded by DDMS, Rouen, from Matron, 1 Australian General Hospital, asking that the Sick Sisters retained in England might be replaced by Staff Nurses as they were already over their establishment of Sisters. Correspondence received from Command Paymaster, pointing out that included on the staff of 14 General were 3 Acting Matrons and 2 Assistant Matrons, and suggesting that Miss Bond, QAIMNS should do Assistant Matron’s duties and Miss Branson, QAIMNS should revert to lower rank. This difficulty has arisen owing to the fact of the regulations entitling all members of the Reserve and TFNS to continue to draw the pay of their rank, although doing duty in a lower rank. Army Council Instruction forwarded through DGMS with reference to pay of members of the QAIMNS, acting in higher rank, and also nurses of Military Families’ Hospitals employed in the QAIMNS Reserve. In future they will receive increments of pay in the rank in which they are acting. Service already given since August, 1914, will be allowed to count, but no arrears of increment will be given. Circulated to all Bases. Received telegram from DMS, Canadian Contingents, asking for 12 nurses from 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital to proceed to 7 Canadian General at Etaples. Sent orders to DDMS Boulogne, for 11 Sisters only to proceed as 17 were on leave and 1 sick in England.
Was informed by DADMS, Ambulance Trains, that 19 Ambulance Train had been badly bombed at Varennes – no casualties to patients or staff. Letter received from OC, Advanced Operating Station, asking for a Sister to replace Staff Nurse Storey, who was not suitable for the work. Arranged for a relief. Application received from Miss M. Davies, QAIMNS, asking that she might be transferred to the Home Establishment as she was anxious to be near home in consequence of her aged mother. Staff Nurse A. A. Sadler, QAIMNSR, applied officially for permission to do duty on a hospital ship going to Australia for one voyage so that she might visit relatives in Adelaide who she had not seen for 5 years. Replied regretting that this could not be considered, as only members of the Australian Army Nursing Service were employed for this duty. Miss K. Carruthers, TFNS who was wounded slightly in the leg at the recent bombing at Edgehill, has been recommended for the Military Medal.
Letters received from Sisters i/c of 1/1 South Midland and 45 Casualty Clearing Stations relating the damage done when the camp was bombed during the early hours of the 15th – 3 killed and 1 wounded at 1/1 South Midland CCS and 1 wounded at 45 CCS. Tents and huts badly damaged. Sister Carruthers had been evacuated to the Base. Application from the DMS, 5th Army, asking that the staff of the South Midland Hospital at Warloy might be increased by 2. This was done. Letter from Matron, 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, stating that three of her staff were being evacuated as they were suffering from minor ailments. Going by hospital train to Rouen.
Notification received from Headquarters, 4th Army, that the Army Commander had awarded the Military Medal to Miss Carruthers, TFNS. Letter received from Miss Cackett, TFNS, reporting damage done to the train when bombed. One coach completely smashed, another much too damaged to bring away. No patients on the train and no casualties. The MO reported that the Sisters behaved splendidly. Letter received from A/Principal Matron, Rouen – all hospitals very busy, and 9 of the staff of 10 General sick in hospital. Urgently asking for help. Miss Todd, Sister in charge, 21 Casualty Clearing Station, wrote asking for help as the hospital was very busy indeed. DMS, 4th Army, also wrote asking for help. Received communication from OC, 47 CCS, saying that Miss Edwards, TFNS had pneumonia, too ill to be moved, and a night and day special were looking after her in her billet. Fortunately the unit was very light and they were able to manage.
Returned from London. Confidential report received from DDMS Havre, on Miss McBride, QAIMNS, late of 1 General Hospital, transferred to Home Establishment. Returned to Havre – copy to be sent to Miss McBride. A/Sister M. Vernon Harcourt arrived from a CCS to proceed to Villa Roquebrune Convalescent Home.
Sent circular to Principal Matrons of Rouen, Etaples, Boulogne and Havre and Matrons of 35, 16 General and 12 Stationary Hospitals, asking them to supply temporary reliefs for Sisters in charge of Ambulance Trains when going on leave and to inform this office when this had been done. At the same time, asked them to visit if possible all trains on arrival or before leaving, and to report to me if there were any difficulties of any kind. Received official correspondence approving transfer to Home Establishment of Miss Galloway, QAIMNSR. Mrs. Creagh, Matron, 1 South African General Hospital, came to discuss the question of accommodation of her nursing staff. This was in consequence of an order which has been issued by the DMS to all units on the L of C informing all OCs that no members of the Nursing Service are to be accommodated under canvas until the spring – the DGMS having forwarded extract of a letter from a VAD at 11 Stationary Hospital to a friend (an M.P.) complaining that she was accommodated in a single bell tent which was leaking and surrounded by water, and asking him if he could not appeal to Sir Arthur Sloggett to improve the condition of affairs. Forwarded to DGMS a list of members of the Nursing Service (10 QAIMNSR and 10 TFNS) who are to be transferred to Home Establishment on December 15th and replaced by 20 from home.
Sent circular to all areas with reference to VAD camp kit, giving instructions that they should be handed in to Army and Navy Stores in future instead of to 83, Pall Mall, and Devonshire House should be notified that this has been done. Professor Caird, Edinburgh University, attached to 3 General Hospital, Treport, called. He has recently come to the country and is very favourably impressed with the military organisation and arrangements made for the reception and evacuation of the wounded. Letter received from Capt. Boulton, Secretary to Supply of Nurses Committee and Chairman of Queen Mary’s Hostel, 40, Bedford Square, saying that he had arrived in Boulogne the day before and had authority of the Army Council to visit Hospital Ships and to go into the question of the supply of nurses and the cause of wastage. His pass entitles him to visit Boulogne, Hesdin, Abbeville and Havre and he hoped to be in Havre on Thursday or Friday. Received letter from DGMS, War Office, saying how sorry he was to miss me before I left, as there were many things about which he had wished to talk to me, and that I was not to be discouraged by the many criticisms of not too friendly a nature which outsiders inclined to make about military arrangements.
Received information that Matron Hills, TFNS, 20 General Hospital, was sick and had been sent to Hardelot for a few days’ rest, and saying that her Assistant Matron, Miss Laing, would be quite able to carry on her duties. Ascertained from the Matron, 2 Stationary Hospital, how many of her staff were under canvas, and what was the maximum number she could accommodate in the huts, so that I should know how many should be removed to other units. Received letter from Miss Crowdy, Principal Commandant, VADs, saying she regretted she was not able to transfer the Hon. Miss Dickson Poynder, VAD, now serving at 2 BRCS Hospital to a military unit, as she had signed a 6 months’ contract with the BRCS and was only 19 years old. It would be necessary for her to return home at the completion of her time. Wrote to Miss Dickson Poynder and informed her that the transfer could not be arranged. Forwarded to DGMS correspondence from Etaples with reference to the proposal to reduce the staff of 22 General Hospital (Harvard Unit) from 75 to 50 nurses. Pointed out that as the hospital was still at 1040 beds, 50 nurses would be quite inadequate, and asked him if there was no chance of more nurses arriving from America would he wish the present staff to be supplemented by members of the QAIMNSR.
DGMS met with an accident on his way back from Paris to Rouen – a heavy French lorry skidded and crashed into his car smashing it to atoms. He, Major Black and the chauffeur were thrown out. He escaped with injury to the head and arm, a scalp wound and slight concussion. The rest of the party were not hurt. He was taken back to Paris and is being looked after at the Astoria Hotel.
Miss Sydney Browne, Matron-in-Chief, TFNS forwarded list of VADs and Special Probationers now serving in France, asking for their present addresses. Application for 2 months’ leave for Miss Thorogood, QAIMNSR, on account of health of invalid parent, returned, saying she should apply to resign and later, when free, should re-engage. Sent circular to all areas with reference to applications for leave being sent in more carefully. Correspondence forwarded by War office to IGC with reference to claim of Miss McNeil, late Chicago Unit, for £7 for uniform for herself and the rest of the members of her staff, saying that they were entitled to this and it had not been given them by their Matron, Miss Patton. As Miss Patton is now serving with the Canadians at 2 Canadian General, the correspondence was forwarded to SMO, Treport, asking for explanation. Capt. Boulton came to the office, and saw both the DMS and myself with reference to the Nursing services generally – their accommodation, their needs, how leave was arranged and whether the supply of nurses is sufficient and what is the cause of wastage. He has already visited Etaples and Boulogne, where he appears to have got certain information from all the Matrons of the hospitals which he visited. He is on his way to Treport, Rouen and Havre, and was fortunate in getting a permit to visit the 4th and 5th Armies so that he might see the conditions under which the nursing service worked in France.
Confidential reports on Miss K. Holmes, E. M. Collins, K. Matthews and M. McBride, all QAIMNS, were forwarded to DGMS for transmission to the War Office. Application received from Staff Nurse Linscott, 22 General Hospital (Harvard Unit) asking whether she might be permitted to have 5 days’ leave to Auxerre via Paris. Returned, saying much regretted it could not be approved, owing to so many difficulties being put in the way of British personnel visiting French areas while still in our units. Correspondence received notifying arrival from England of 3 Sisters and 6 Staff Nurses to replace the same number retained in England from 1 Australian General Hospital. Forwarded recommendations for Military Medal for staff of 27 Ambulance Train, to DGMS for approval.
Left for Rouen 8 a.m. Arrived at 8 General Hospital, where I was met by Miss Rannie, Principal Matron. Very wet and everything looking at its worst. The whole of the building which has up to the present been allotted to officers and men, is to be converted entirely into an Officers’ Hospital. To be re-papered and a kitchen added. It will need much reconstruction as at present many conveniences are absent and there is a lack of bathrooms and suitable sculleries. The wards at present are over-crowded, the beds being as close together as in the Tommies’ wards, owing to the fact that accommodation had to be found for 200 officers. The OC thinks that when the changes are made, the whole condition of affairs will be vastly improved. The cooking for both officers and men is excellent and both the OC and Matron told me that they received many letters thanking them for the care and attention the officers had received at the unit. The sick officers’ Mess and ante-room is run by 2 VADs and everything appeared to be in excellent order. The nursing staff are accommodated in huts with a good Mess and ante-room. The cooking is done by a certified VAD cook, assisted by a VAD. Two other VADs assist the Home Sister and they have as well two French servants who come by the day, and are paid by Mess funds, and 3 batmen. Everything seemed to be going fairly satisfactorily. I am inclined to think that this charge is rather more than the present Matron, Miss Roscoe, is capable of undertaking. I had lunch with the staff – a well cooked and well appointed meal.
Visited the Sick Sisters’ Hospital – a section of this unit. This is now in full swing, the staff consisting of an A/Matron, 3 trained nurses and 5 VADs, a VAD cook and assistant, 2 French servants paid by the Government, and 3 men who do the fetching and carrying and look after the garden. They can accommodate 26 sick patients. At present, as well as the building, there are 2 marquees – one for the Mess and the other to accommodate 8 sick patients. They are lighted by electricity and heated by stoves. The huts are in process of completion and will consist of a good Mess, ante-room, sculleries, kitchen and large ward capable of accommodating 10 patients, with the usual offices. The whole of the staff look very tired in consequence of continual heavy work which they have had since this unit opened. This has been increased by the trying weather.
Then I went to 3 Stationary Hospital. This unit is working as satisfactorily as usual. 3 wards are now set apart for the special treatment of burns which are being treated with an application of wax, the same as is being used by the French with very marvellous results. The nurses’ accommodation in this unit is far from satisfactory, the rooms being small and very crowded. It is with great difficulty that 37 can be accommodated. This matter is now under consideration and either an extra hut is to be built or the rest of the building now occupied by the Medical Officers will be handed over to the Nursing staff and the Medical Officers will look out for another house.
Visited the DDMS office. Found no-one in – left a message with the clerks to say I had arrived and was staying the night at 6 General Hospital, and would the DDMS kindly ring me up if he wished to see me before the morning.
Left early for 12 General Hospital where I saw the DDMS before going round, and asked him whether it would be possible to arrange a room in his office for the Principal Matron, where she and a secretary might deal with all official correspondence in connection with Rouen, and where all members of the Nursing Staff might be sent to get information or receive orders when arriving or departing. I pointed out that this was a great need in Rouen and would assist greatly. He said he would consider the matter and let me know later. Went over 12 General Hospital with the A/Matron, going especially into the question of accommodation, all of which is excellent. 8 members of the staff are accommodated in 2 marquees which are well boarded, lit with electricity and heated by stoves, and 4 are in bell tents, all of whom have made special requests that they might remain where they were instead of going to the huts. I recommended them to put the matter up officially.
From there I went to 10 General Hospital where I went round with the OC and the Matron. In spite of heavy rain and quantities of mud, everything in this hospital was in wonderful order – the patients well looked after, warm and comfortable. The hospital was very full of badly wounded although they had evacuated in the early morning, they were again taking in. The nursing staff in this unit are accommodated in huts and everything is most comfortable. A VAD cook with an assistant are running the Mess in the same manner as at 8 General Hospital. I remained to lunch there.
After lunch I went to 11 Stationary Hospital, where I found the A/Matron had gone to Hardelot and Miss Wilkin was in charge temporarily. I went into the question of accommodation here, where the complaint had emanated from a VAD, and found that these girls were still in 2 small marquees, 4 in each, and 2 in a single bell tent – everything of a most unsatisfactory nature. I expressed surprise that after the complaint had been made, some steps had not been taken to improve matters. The bell tents were leaking and sitting in a pool of water just on the edge of a large clay pit. I saw the CO and asked him to see that the 2 Sisters in bell tents should at once be accommodated in the Matron’s room and sitting room, and the tent be removed. There has been a great deal of correspondence about accommodation in this unit, and authority had been given to build a hut to accommodate 16 Sisters including a sitting room. The work was to begun at once and should be ready in about 10 days. When this is complete, the arrangement for the accommodation of the nursing staff will be excellent. At present a certain number are accommodated in huts and 4 in Alwyn huts. They have a good Mess and ante-room which is comfortable in every way.
Visited 9 General Hospital and saw the OC, Colonel Hayes, who said that he would be glad if I could make arrangements to relieve Miss Wohlmann, the Matron, as he felt the work was more than she could manage – she was very kind and hard working, but there was more or less friction going on always owing to the fact that she was not able to control such a large staff. I asked him if he had spoken to the Matron on the subject and he said he had not done so, so I said I would speak to her and make other arrangements as soon as possible. I afterwards saw the Matron and explained the situation – she was very upset and did not realise that there were any difficulties of a serious nature. She hoped that she would not be moved until after Xmas as she was making all arrangements for giving the patients and nursing staff a good time. The nursing staff at this unit are accommodated in huts and the Mess and everything else seemed satisfactory. The Home Sister is assisted by VADs and they employ 3 French women servants paid by Mess funds, and 5 batmen.
Went to 5 General Hospital where I saw the OC Colonel Morphew and the Matron, Miss A. A. Wilson. This hospital is run on the same lines as 6 General Hospital and everything seemed to be most satisfactory.
Then to 6 General Hospital where I found Capt. Boulton had just arrived. He had already visited the front and had been at Varennes at 11 Casualty Clearing Station whilst a heavy bombardment was going on. He was very much impressed with the work and what the nurses were capable of doing under most trying conditions. He went round the hospital with me and was very much impressed with the arrangements and talked to many of the patients, some of whom had been in for many weeks suffering from serious injuries.
After he left, I went round 25 Stationary Hospital (Isolation). The accommodation is satisfactory, the new huts for the accommodation of Sick Sisters are completed, and most comfortable and well equipped. In one I found a VAD suffering from Dysentery and getting better. In another there was a VAD suffering from erysipelas of the face: she was also improving. The accommodation of the nursing staff is hutted and capable of accommodating 43. Returned to 6 General Hospital, where I saw various members of the Nursing Service who wished to see me on various matters. 2 Staff Nurses of the QAIMNS complained of having to work under an Assistant Matron of the TFNS, and several others saw me in connection with leave which was overdue.
Rouen – Havre
Left at 8 a.m. for Havre – reported at DDMS office, where I rang up Headquarters and I learnt that the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, had telegraphed asking that the new Matron for the Hospital Ship “Asturias” should join forthwith as she was not making another journey to France, but was going East taking a large number of trained nurses and VADs for Malta. Said she had given instructions that the present Matron, Miss Keene and two Staff Nurses, Francis and Maggitt, should remain on shore and asked for reports on their work. As the Asturias had left, I asked that Miss Cowie, who was waiting at Headquarters, should go at once to Boulogne, and proceed to Southampton with as little delay as possible and that the War Office should be informed of what arrangements had been made.
From there I went to the Quai D’Escale, where I saw Miss Blakeley, the Principal Matron, and the OC, Colonel Babington. The “Gloucester Castle” was alongside and they were admitting patients. I went on board and saw the OC and Matron who took me round the ship. She said that her staff of 10 were thoroughly satisfactory in every way. The ship was quite full of patients – a certain number of wounded German officers as well as men. Had lunch with Miss Blakeley and after lunch went to the Officers’ Hospital where Miss Gedye, QAIMNS, is in charge. This unit has improved remarkably under her management. 23 sick officers were in the hospital, none seriously ill, and 7 Sick Sisters, 3 of whom were being sent to Convalescent Home.
At 4 o’clock went to DDMS office to meet the DMS, General Woodhouse and Capt. Boulton. I made enquiries about late 6 Stationary Hospital, at present occupied by 7 Canadian Stationary, and learnt that the whole of the unit will be moved out at the end of next month, and it will then be a section of 2 General Hospital, where local sick and wounded Germans will be admitted. I asked that the present house occupied by the Canadian Sisters should be kept on so that I could send the new staff there when the unit opened, and suggested that Miss Wohlmann, the present Matron of 9 General, should be put in charge.
Then I went to the Casino, where Miss C. W. Jones, QAIMNS is in charge. She now looks quite well after her recent illness. This hospital is in the usual state of perfection and the accommodation for the nursing staff in the building is excellent. The hospital cook cooks for the Sisters’ Mess also and the Home Sister manages with the assistance of a VAD, a French servant being employed, and 2 batmen.
From there I went to the Palais des Regattes, where Miss Schofield is in charge. Everything was going satisfactorily and the nursing staff are accommodated in two nice houses at a short distance from the hospital. A VAD is doing the cooking and running the quarters with the assistance of another, also a French servant and two batmen. Stayed the night at the Quai D’Escale.
Left at 9 a.m. and went to the DMS office where I saw the DMS who was going round Havre with Colonel Leishman and the French Mission.
Went to the Isolation Hospital. Found that the Sister in charge was on leave and everything quite satisfactory. The nursing staff are accommodated in huts and a VAD is doing the cooking with the assistance of a French servant. There were a certain number of patients in the hospital, all doing well. A division has been set apart for Kaffirs who will be looked after by orderlies.
Then to Etretat where I inspected the Convalescent Home for nurses which the British Red Cross are opening in a villa. This will be run on the same lines as at Hardelot with a VAD lady housekeeper and a lady superintendent, the latter not yet having arrived. The house is beautifully situated on the top of a hill overlooking the sea. It is commodious and well furnished and luxurious – a beautiful dining room, hall, drawing room, billiard room which opens off the drawing room. There is accommodation for 20 Sisters. There are 2 bathrooms and the whole building has an air of great luxury and is situated in beautiful grounds.
Then to the Sick Sisters’ Hospital which has recently been opened capable of accommodating 8 people. At the time of my visit, there were only 2 patients who had just been discharged – one for duty and the other going home after an attack of dysentery. It is a nice little house, well furnished and comfortable with a small dining room and sitting room. The staff consists of a Sister, 2 nurses and 2 VADs, with a VAD cook assisted by a French servant and batman.
To 1 General Hospital where I saw the Matron and OC. This unit was much the same as usual except that the work has been, and still is, extremely heavy. I inspected another house with a view to taking it for extra accommodation for the nursing staff so that the 2 small houses now in use might be disposed with, and it would give accommodation for 15 extra people which is badly needed. At the present time, the arrangements for the accommodation of the staff are good and the messing excellent. The A/Matron, Miss Smith, who has recently been on sick leave, is again duty quite fit, and is being assisted by Miss A. P. Wilson. Arrived at Headquarters in the evening.
During my absence, the OC of 47 CCS had applied for extra help in consequence of increased number of patients. Miss Edwards, TFNS suffering from pneumonia, was sufficiently recovered to be transferred to Treport by ambulance with a Sister to look after her. Letter received from Sister in charge, 29 CCS, giving a description of the serious railway accident which had happened to a leave train when 18 officers and 51 men were badly injured and 3 officers killed and 7 bodies found in such a charred condition as to be unrecognisable owing to the fact that some of the carriages had overturned and caught fire and the men were unable to get out. War Office letter received granting Staff Nurse Milburn, QAIMNSR Australia, 5 months’ leave without pay but no guarantee could be given as to whether she would be sent back to France on her return to duty. Correspondence received from DGMS in connection with War Office letter recommending that, owing to the shortage of nurses, specially selected VADs and Special Probationers should be employed in front areas. This was sent originally for our remarks and was returned, pointing out that this action was not recommended in consequence of the smallness of the staffs, and the serious nature of the work, and the need for having the most capable people obtainable for work in these areas. The correspondence was again returned to us with the DGMSs remarks, stating that he did not entirely agree with me and he thought that capable VADs should be employed in all Stationary Hospitals and in selected Casualty Clearing Stations. The recommendations for the staff of 27 Ambulance Train for immediate award were returned from the DGMS strongly recommended, and forwarded to the IGC for favourable consideration. Was informed by the OC, 47 CCS, that there was a possibility of their leaving shortly for Varennes, and I wrote asking that when the unit closed, the nursing staff should be instructed to return to the Nurses’ Home, Abbeville, without delay until they were again required with their unit. Application received from 3 nurses belonging to the British Red Cross to transfer to the QAIMNSR.
Miss Rice, TFNS, called on her return from sick leave on her way to 29 CCS to take up her work. Miss Toller, QAIMNS reported on her return from 35 CCS, which has just closed, and she had handed over to the Canadian unit which is taking up the position in the Citadel. War Office telegram received instructing Mrs. Hagar, Matron, 22 General Hospital, (Harvard Unit) to proceed to London to meet a party of nurses for her unit. Confidential report received from DDMS, Rouen, on the unsuitability for active service of Sister Samsing, AANS, and recommending that she should be transferred to Home Establishment. DMS, 1st Army, telephoned asking for 2 more nurses for 46 CCS as they had a large number of sick and he was afraid that the Sister in charge would knock up. Arranged to send 2 at once. Correspondence in connection with the accommodation of the nursing staffs in Boulogne was sent to AAG approving of the suggestion of taking over certain hotels so that the nursing staffs could have their own respective Messes run by the Matrons with the assistance of a Home Sister and VADs. Miss Cameron Smith, CAMC arrived from Paris.
The number of Sick Sisters is increasing daily for the last month, this week’s numbers having varied between 80 and 90 and today 104. War Office letter received granting Staff Nurse Craig, QAIMNSR, 5 weeks’ leave with pay to go to Canada, provided she undertook to complete her contract and she would have to pay her expenses both ways. Sent the Matron-in-Chief, TFNS, postings of the Territorial VADs and Special Probationers in France. Wrote for reports on the suitability for special posts of trained nurses who had been in France more than 6 months to all areas. GHQ telephoned to say that the War Office had wired saying that Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AANS was coming to France shortly and would it be convenient to me. Replied in the affirmative.
Went to GHQ and saw Sir Arthur Sloggett, who had quite recovered from his recent accident. Told him of my recent visit to London and the general feeling in the nursing world against VADs being sent into front areas for duty. I had told him I had seen many civil Matrons on the subject and they had all expressed surprise at the decision, and felt certain that if the suggestion was carried out, a large number of trained nurses would send in their resignations at once. I told him also that the Dowager Countess Roberts and Countess Airlie who are on the QAIMNS Nursing Board expressed themselves very strongly on the subject. The DGMS said that while we had the nurses of a suitable character, to carry on as we were doing, but he emphasized the fact that it was important to make the best use of the material we had in the country, and he left it to me to do the best I could. He pointed out that although VADs were not fully trained, they had proved themselves to be very capable and efficient workers. I also told him about Miss Cameron Smith’s proposed visit to the Armies and Capt. Boulton’s visit to all areas on the lines of communication as well as to the 3rd and 5th Armies where he went very thoroughly into the question of the nurses’ accommodation and the work which they were asked to do, and I had heard from all units that he had taken copious notes. I also said that I had met him at various places and at Havre, where he expressed himself surprised at the nursing arrangements and the work which was being done by nurses and VADs in this country.
Summary of Visit to London – 11.11.16 to 18.11.16
Left for London on the 11th. Reported to War Office on 12th. Unable to see DGMS or the Matron-in-Chief, as they were not there. Left my address and arranged to be at the War Office at 2 o’clock, so that I might see both before attending the meeting which was fixed for 4 o’clock on Monday.
On the 13th, saw the Matron-in-Chief, the DGMS and the Adjutant General, before attending the Committee meeting in connection with the Supply of Nurses, and discussed with all of them the difficulties in connection with the shortage of trained nurses in France and the wastage.
Went with the Matron-in-Chief to the Committee meeting at 4 p.m. – a full committee, Lady Airlie being the only one absent. The Chairman first asked me if I had prepared a statement, which I said I did not know was required of me. He then asked me various questions on the supply of nurses and VADs and the nursing arrangements in France. I gave him full particulars and the number of trained and VADs and emphasized the fact that it was necessary to have a larger supply of trained people so that the needs of the Armies could be supplied without the Bases having to suffer in consequence. At present we had 1750 trained and 1175 untrained, out of which over 500 were at the front, and in consequence the proportion of trained at the Bases was most inadequate. I pointed out that it was not advisable to send VADs to Casualty Clearing Stations because of the small numbers of nurses supplied to these units, where large numbers of sick and wounded men were passing through continually and only the most experienced and most adaptable nurses would be of any use in such a situation. Owing to the smallness of numbers, the question had even been considered of sending only Sisters, as Staff Nurses had, in several instances, been unable to deal with the situation. Those selected were the strongest, most adaptable and most highly recommended for their surgical qualifications. There had been complaints in the newspapers with reference to the responsible work given to VADs in France – what would it be if they were working in Casualty Clearing Stations where no supervision is possible? The trying conditions under which they live are also to be considered, also the impression it would make in the nursing profession, and, most important of all, the importance of giving the wounded man the very best attention in those areas where they want the most efficient care and attention obtainable. I pointed out the daily need of more trained people in consequence of units constantly opening, and also for superintending the many special departments which were constantly opening up in all units in France for the treatment of patients suffering from special injuries and complaints – head injuries, burns, Carroll-Dakin treatment, etc. I made a great point of how valuable the work of the VADs had proved to be, and how impossible it would be to carry on without them, and I suggested that for those who were willing to serve continuously until the end of the of the war, special arrangements should be made, in view of the fact that many of these may wish to continue nursing as a profession, and their work in the Army should be taken into consideration when they continue their training in Civil Hospitals.
During my visit in London I saw the Matron of the London Hospital*; Lord Knutsford; Miss Gill, Principal Matron, TFNS Scottish Command; Miss Cox Davies, Matron of the Royal Free Hospital, and one of the members of the Nursing Board; the Matrons-in-Chief of the Canadian and Australian Contingents; Lady Airlie; the Dowager Countess Roberts; Mrs. Furse, Principal Commandant of VADs, all in connection with matters referring to the nursing arrangements in France.
I also visited, with the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, the large military hospital at Knapsbury, near St. Albans, where 1600 patients are accommodated; the King George Hospital, Waterloo Bridge, and the Officers’ wards of the London Hospital.
* Miss Eva Lückes
Establishments opened - 0
35 CCS, on 12.11.16: Staff released - 7 Trained
23 General Hospital, on 15.11.16: Staff released - 47 Trained 38 Untrained
Trained - 75 (including Matron Willetts, RRC, QAIMNS)
Untrained - 39
Total - 114
Transfers to Home Establishment
12 Trained (including Miss McBride, QAIMNS)
Sent Home Sick
Trained - 31
Untrained - 14
(This does not include Colonials or members of the Nursing Staff on 3 weeks’ sick leave).
Returned from sick leave
Trained - 15
Untrained - 6
Total sick at present in United Kingdom
Trained - 91
Untrained - 53
Resignations sent forward
Trained - 9 (including 2 members of S.A.M.N.S.).
Approximate number of leaves granted - 360
VADs returned to England
On termination of contract - 53
End of probationary period - 3
Resigned - 4
Invalided - 1
Special Probationers to England on termination of contract - 4
Total - 65