CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3989
Queen Alexandra’s birthday. Sent her a telegram of congratulation from all members of the Nursing Service working in France and received in a very short time a reply, signed “Alexandra”: I thank you and all the members of the Nursing Services working in France most sincerely for your congratulations on my birthday, and I am very touched by your remembrance of me in the midst of your splendid labours.”
Interviewed Miss Ford, QAIMNSR with reference to an article which she wrote describing her life on a barge and enclosing a photograph of the barge, which was forwarded from the AAG, asking for an explanation as to how the photo had been taken. She was full of apologies and regretted the incident and felt it was quite all right as the photo was given her by the Sergeant Major who informed her it had been taken with the permission of the authorities.
Wrote to the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, with reference to Captain Boulton’s visit in reply to a letter of hers in which she pointed out that there were certain members of the Nursing Staff on some of the hospital ships who had been on duty more than 6 months and others who were suffering from sea sickness. Explained that these changes would be made with as little delay as possible. Pointed out the difficulty which had arisen in consequence of members of the Reserve and TFNS who had done Matron’s duties continuing to draw the pay of that rank when employed in other capacities, and many of these Matrons are not capable of taking over a large charge such as we have in France, and the difficulty is likely to increase unless some other arrangement can be made. Wrote to the DDMS, Rouen, thanking him for his letter and saying I was so glad he was able to provide the A/Principal Matron of Rouen with a room in his office where she could deal with all matters in connection with the Nursing Services, and that when the room is available I am proposing to put a trained nurse and a VAD secretary on duty there to assist the A/Principal Matron and to enable her to arrange so that nurses arriving and departing from Rouen area should be met and seen off as is done in Boulogne and Havre. Received the withdrawal of resignation of Staff Nurse Thorogood, QAIMNSR. Sent to various areas asking for reports on Staff Nurses of the QAIMNS with 5 years’ service with a view to permanent promotion.
Resignation received of Staff Nurse S. Marron, QAIMNSR Australian, now at 6 General, her reason being that she is dissatisfied with the conditions of work in the British Nursing Service. Application to transfer to the United Kingdom received from Sister A. M. Hill, QAIMNSR at 8 General Hospital, as she is unable to do the work expected of her in France. Received War Office letter giving the postings of 20 nurses who are proceeding to England on 15th instant for service on the Home Establishment. Sent circular letter to all areas with a copy of the receipt from the Trained Nurses Annuity Fund, and extract from Dr. Ogier Ward’s letter, and saying that anyone knowing a nurse disabled during the War and in need of assistance should forward name and address under confidential cover to this office, and it would be submitted for the consideration of the council.
Left early with Miss Cameron Smith, CAMC, for the 2nd Army and went to Headquarters, where I saw the DMS who told me of various alterations which were being made in the condition of Casualty Clearing Stations in his area, and the need of increased help everywhere, as during the winter months it was proposed to nurse as many sick as possible without evacuating them to the Base. Also at 12 CCS at Hazebrouck they were opening special wards for shell shock, head cases and abdominal operations, so that this unit is now becoming more like a Stationary Hospital than a CCS, and the nursing staff in consequence would need to be increased. I discussed the question of looking out for a house so that the staff might all be accommodated together, and where a proper Home could be established, as the present arrangement of billets scattered all over the town would obviously not be very satisfactory. He undertook to approach the Town Major on the subject. Saw the Lady Superintendent of the French Hospital at Hazebrouck who thanked me for the assistance we had been able to give them for so long by lending one of our trained Sisters to assist in operations in the civil hospital where the need of trained help had been very great.
Visited the Northumbrian CCS where I saw the OC who is anxious still to retain his staff of 4 nursing Sisters in spite of this unit being likely to have a large number of scabies during the winter months. He undertook to see that the conditions in the hospital were as satisfactory as possible and that the Sisters should have his entire support in any difficulties in connection with the orderlies. This unit has not been very satisfactory in this respect for some time past.
Visited 12 CCS where Miss Cameron Smith and I had lunch in the Sisters’ Mess – a small room in a building close to the CCS, fairly satisfactory, but entirely too small with an increased staff of 12 or 14. Went over the CCS which was in excellent order and saw an extremely nice little room which has just been set apart as a chapel in the Clearing Station, and had been supplied with nice altar, fair linen and other things necessary for its use. Here, I understand, there is daily Celebration to which many of the patients attend.
Went to the Officers’ Hospital – part of this unit – which is very much improved and where I was presented with an enormous bunch of flowers from the sick officers.
After lunch, went with Miss Cameron Smith to Remy, where we visited both the Canadian CCS, and also 2 British ones, No.10 and 17. Everything in excellent order and things going smoothly and satisfactorily. The number of sick is considerable. Everywhere they are complaining of the cold, and even with fires it is difficult to keep the patients warm. Returned to St. Omer where we stayed the night at 10 Stationary Hospital.
Before leaving, was informed that the Australian Matron-in-Chief had arrived in Boulogne. Telephoned to the DDMS and said I would meet her at 13 General Hospital at 4 p.m.
Left early for Calais – visited 35 General Hospital where I saw the OC and the Matron. Went into the question of accommodation of the nursing staff and what arrangements had been made in the way of the nursing staff entertaining their friends. Apparently one or two members of the staff had behaved in a manner not altogether to be desired, and I arranged to replace some of these Sisters and to send them to other units where the accommodation for the nursing staff would not be so scattered. This hospital is in most splendid condition – everything first rate, and the accommodation for the sick officers particularly nice and extremely pretty. The A/Matron, Miss L. E. Mackay, QAIMNS, is looking very tired, and I arranged for her to go immediately after Christmas for 14 days’ leave to the Villa Roquebrune at Mentone.
From there to 30 General Hospital. Miss Harvey, the Matron, is away on sick leave. This unit is still most uncomfortable and they are building huts both for special wards and for the entire accommodation of the nursing staff. When these are completed, things should be vastly improved. Here also everyone was complaining of the extreme cold and the OC was making efforts to get increased number of stoves and authority to draw more coal. The Assistant Matron, Miss Hill, appears to be managing quite well during the Matron’s absence.
Before leaving, visited the ADMS’ office, then proceeded to Boulogne, arriving at 4 o’clock. Reported to the DDMS office and then went to 13 General where I met Miss Conyers, the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, and arranged with her that, after her visit to Rouen, she should come to Headquarters, and in the meantime, I would obtain authority from GHQ for her to visit the Australian CCS in the Armies.
Returned to Headquarters with Miss Cameron Smith in time for dinner. During my absence correspondence had been received from DDMS, Etaples, informing us that Miss I. M. West, TFNS, on leave in England, had written to inform the OC of the unit that she had been married for some time and now found it impossible to return for duty in France owing to certain legal matters, and she wished to tender her resignation. Returned the correspondence to Etaples to ascertain particulars as to date of marriage and present name.
Received letter from the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, saying that she was proposing to give Special Probationers a grey cape piped with white, and had interviewed one of the Special Probationers on leave, who informed her that all Special Probationers in France were wearing the Army cap instead of the Sister Dora. She was anxious to know by what authority they were doing so and whether I had issued any instructions on the subject. Replied that I had understood that the Army cap was part of their uniform. Wrote to all areas, asking for statements from all Special Probationers as to what War Office instructions they had received, what cap they wore in England and by whose authority they had taken it upon themselves to do away with the Sister Dora and adopt the Army cap. Wrote officially through DGMS asking if one might be officially informed of the regulation uniform of all branches of the Nursing Service working in France, so that such an incident should not occur again. War Office letter received notifying that Miss M. M. Clifford, recently taken on the Reserve in France, and now working in a French Hospital, would not join for duty in France as stated in War Office letter of the 11th, as she could only serve for 6 months, and must therefore be employed on the Home Establishment. Arranged for the Matron of 11 General and 2 other members of the staff to proceed to Mentone to the Villa Roquebrune Convalescent Home for 14 days’ rest. Miss Cameron Smith left for Paris. The Matron of 2 Stationary Hospital came to see me with reference to making arrangements for Christmas festivities for the patients and nursing staff.
Colonel Carr, DDMS, Etaples, came to see me in connection with the need of larger staffs and the question of further accommodation for Nursing Sisters. For many months the numbers in hospital have kept continually high, and the present staffs are not capable of doing all the work needed. He expressed regret at Miss Denne’s illness and hoped as soon as she was fit, she would return to her original post, as the constant changes make administration very difficult. Arranged that the first floor of No.5 Stationary Hospital, “B” Section, should be set apart for the accommodation of sick Sisters from the 3rd, 4th and 5th Armies. Instructions were forwarded at once to the SMO, Abbeville, to put the matter in hand at once so that the accommodation would be available by the 15th. The need for further accommodation for sick Sisters in France is growing daily, and the present sick Sisters’ hospitals on the L. of C. are not adequate in any area. Sent circular to the Principal Matrons of all areas to say that the pay of sick Sisters from Casualty Clearing Stations and trains should be put by the Matrons of the sick Sisters’ hospitals in future. Forwarded from Havre unfavourable report which was rendered by Captain Donaldson, Surgical Specialist, on Miss Plaskett, QAIMNS Retired, saying he did not wish her to look after his patients as he was not satisfied with her work when she was at Havre before. This statement Sister Plaskett asked him to make as, when she took over a ward in 2 General Hospital, he immediately transferred his patients to another division. Wrote to Colonel Babington expressing surprise at the report on Miss Plaskett, as she had served some years in the QAIMNS before the war, and, since mobilisation, had had excellent reports on her capabilities, her hard-working and energetic disposition.
Received a letter from Captain Boulton saying how he had enjoyed his visit, acknowledging the numbers I had given him and asking as well if I could give him some idea of what I considered an ideal increase of the Nursing Staff in France. Replied that it was difficult to estimate the numbers which would always be required, as the number of units altered so constantly, but owing to the large number of patients who had been continually in hospital for some months, an increase of 15% of trained establishment would be of great assistance. Received letter from Lord Islington asking whether I could use my influence to enable his daughter the Hon. Joan Dickson Poynder (aged 19) to be transferred for work in a military hospital, as he was most anxious for her to work under us and especially at 6 General Hospital where she had some friends. Replied saying I was sorry I could not assist him in the matter as we had very definite War Office instructions on the subject. Attached a copy of the regulations, her age being the stumbling block. The only thing to do would be to approach the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, and, if she agreed, I would do all I could to meet his wishes. Also received a letter from Miss Becher with reference to this subject, saying she had learnt that I had said I had no objection to this VAD provided Mrs. Furse and the Matron-in-Chief, War Office, would make an exception to the rule that all members in France must be 23. Replied at once enclosing copy of the letter which I had already sent to Lord Islington.
Wrote to the Matron-in-Chief, TFNS, in answer to a letter received from her saying that numbers of Staff Nurses returned from France saying that their Matrons had promised that they should be promoted but nothing further had been done, to say that since mobilisation 150 Staff Nurses had been promoted and that a circular had been sent round asking for names recommended for promotion and these had been forwarded for consideration. In consequence of the large numbers serving in France it may be that some names have been over-looked, and if she would kindly forward the names of those Staff Nurses who felt aggrieved, I would look into the question, and ascertain whether they were eligible for promotion.
Miss M. E. Kennedy, QAIMNSR, came to see me with reference to her resignation. She appeared to be thoroughly dissatisfied with things in general, and, after sending in her resignation, seemed rather anxious to withdraw it. As her contract expires on the 15th, I have advised her to wait until she gets home, and after taking a holiday, she could approach the Matron-in-Chief with a view to taking on again. Although she expressed much dissatisfaction with things, she apparently is anxious to join the Regular Service. Received telephone Message from Sister in charge, 47 CCS, saying that there were still some seriously ill patients not able to be evacuated, so the staff would not be returning for a few days to the Nurses’ Home.
Received information that Miss Rooke, QAIMNS, had been sent to 14 Stationary Hospital, suffering from Diphtheria. She had been taking the A/Matron’s holiday in the Infectious Hospital, and had contracted it whilst there. Interviewed Miss Mackay, A/Matron, QAIMNSR, 5 Stationary Hospital, with reference to the element of discontent which I was led to suppose existed amongst the nursing staff of her unit. She explained that she attributed the whole matter to Miss Kennedy’s influence and felt that as soon as she left matters would right themselves. She had been more than a year in the unit and her relations with everyone had been of the very best. I also spoke to her of the proposed changes in the unit, and asked her to make every effort so that the arrangements for the accommodation of sick Sisters should be of the very best. Received applications from Miss Tait and Miss Angus, QAIMNSR to withdraw their resignations. Received statement from Miss Patton, 2 Canadian General, late Matron of the Chicago Unit, with reference to a statement made by one of her late staff, Miss J. Meeke, saying that she had neglected to give her and the rest of the staff the uniform allowance to which they were entitled. Miss Patton’s statement was that she had not received the money in question, and she trusted a thorough investigation into the matter might be made.
22 American Nursing Sisters belonging to the Harvard Unit arrived in Boulogne, and 21 left on completion of contract for the United Kingdom. Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AIF, arrived from Rouen, was met and taken to the Nurses’ Home where she is staying whilst in Abbeville. The Matron of 2 Stationary Hospital invited her to lunch so that she might see her staff working in the hospital, and the Matron of 1 South African General was also invited to meet her. Received application from Staff Nurse Locke, QAIMNSR asking that she might go on leave at once and might be permitted to marry during her leave and return for duty in France on expiration of leave. Forwarded correspondence to DGMS. The leave was granted and she was given instructions to report to the War Office immediately on arrival in London to obtain the necessary sanction, as her leave had to be unexpectedly hastened in consequence of her fiancé getting leave sooner that was expected.
Received information from GHQ that the Military Secretary in London had wired asking for further names of QAIMNS Reserves and TFNS for decoration in the New Years’ Honours and pointing out that there were 12% QAIMNS, 1% QAIMNSR and 2% TFNS. Arranged to submit further names as soon as possible. Had the opportunity of talking with the officer responsible for these decorations at GHQ and pointed out how unfortunate it was that there was only one decoration for women, and consequently the RRC, which is considered the highest decoration which women can receive has to be distributed generally. SMO, St. Omer, rang up to say that the Matron of 7 General Hospital had been sent down sick to 14 General Hospital. Arranged for Miss Keene, QAIMNS, from 10 Stationary Hospital, to go for temporary duty in her place. War Office letter received notifying the arrival of 25 South African nurses who are attached to the QAIMNSR, on the 11th instant. Sent instructions for their disposal. War Office letter received asking for confidential reports on all Staff Nurses, QAIMNS, with 5 years’ service, as to their fitness for promotion to the permanent rank of Sister. Already called for. Application from SMO, St. Omer, for 12 more Sisters as they had large numbers of cases of mumps arriving.
Received official notification that Military Medals had been awarded to 3 Sisters on 27 Ambulance Train, and informed those concerned immediately, Miss M. L. Evans, TFNS, Miss H. Mahoney, and E. K. Thompson, QAIMNSR. Forwarded application on from Miss Blankley, QAIMNSR for transfer to United Kingdom and permission to remain in the service after marriage.
Telephonic Message received from GHQ saying that the Military Secretary had asked for the rank of all members of the Nursing Services already recommended for mention and decoration and that it should be forwarded to the Military Secretary in time to be taken by King’s Messenger tomorrow morning. 6 weeks’ leave without pay granted to VAD Clark to go and relieve her Matron at the Mental Hospital Brentwood, to enable the latter to take leave and undergo treatment at Bath, as she was suffering from rheumatism. Received application to resign from Miss L. Risdon, QAIMNSR (late ANSR) in consequence of urgent family affairs. Application received from Miss K. Hoyle, VAD, to transfer to United Kingdom for duty on account of her mother’s serious illness. Application received from Miss S. P. Morris, QAIMNSR, to resign on account of aunt’s ill-health. Returned, asking if she had been informed that she could renew her contract for six months only, or if she would prefer to transfer to the United Kingdom.
25 South African nurses attached to the QAIMNSR arrived and were instructed where they should proceed. Forwarded the required particulars with reference to the ranks of all nurses recommended for honours and mention, to the Military Secretary, by special dispatch rider. Recommendation for 4 nursing Sisters from the Boulogne area for a month’s change at the Villa Roquebrune returned – no vacancies until the 20th. Application from the Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, for 3 Sisters for temporary duty until reinforcements arrived from home. Forwarded to DGMS application from OC, South African General Hospital, for 6 extra Sisters from the South African Hospital, Richmond Park. Returned application for a Canadian and an American Sister to go to Villa Roquebrune – both recently recovered from infectious complaints. Informed them there was no accommodation at the Villa Roquebrune and suggested they should go to the Convalescent Home at Etretat. Application from Sister Kitchin, 1 Australian General Hospital, for transfer to England for Home Service, forwarded to DGMS.
Left at 10.30 with the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, for 5th Army. Went to the Headquarters office and from there to Gezaincourt where we visited 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station and saw the OC and Sister in charge. Everything most satisfactory, and the OC spoke in the highest terms of the work both of the Australian and English Sisters during the recent rush – he said he did not think it was possible for women to do the work they had done.
We then visited 29 CCS where we had lunch. We afterwards went to the Chateau, where 80 officers, chiefly sick, are accommodated. Went on to the Citadel where 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital is just established. The nursing staff were busy getting into their quarters and this should be an extremely good unit.
From there we went to 10 CCS where I saw the OC and Sister in charge – Miss Teevan, who has recently taken over. I asked her to call upon the Matron of the Canadian Hospital and to give her all the assistance possible, also to get in touch with the RTO and ask him to keep her informed when the Ambulance Trains arrived, so that she could call on the OC and go round with the Sister in charge, and find out if they were in need of help or advice, as I explained to her the difficulty I had in coming across the trains. They are constantly delayed there, even for a week, and I asked her too to look after the Sisters and take care of them generally.
Returned at 6.30 to Headquarters, where I found that the Adjutant General was asking from GHQ for all particulars re distribution of trained and untrained nurses on the L of C which we undertook to let him have in the morning. Colonel Meadows, SMO Abbeville, called with reference to the conversion of some of the wards of 5 Stationary Hospital for the accommodation of sick Sisters. He said there was great difficulty in getting wall paper, which will have to be ordered from Paris, and there was a doubt whether the rooms would be ready by the 15th.
War Office letter received notifying us that Sister M. T. O’Connell, QAIMNSR, would not be returning to France after sick leave. Notification from Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital that she had been informed of the arrival of 2 New Zealand Sisters so she would not require the temporary relief asked for yesterday. Forwarded to GHQ completed return of distribution of all branches of the nursing service in France and sent a copy to the DGMS office. Telephoned to the A/Principal Matron, Etaples, giving permission to one of the Sisters from 22 General to proceed to Boulogne and spend the night there on her way on 14 days’ leave, in order to enable her to meet her sister. Telephoned to DGMS asking that we might be supplied with VAD agreement forms as the work of the office is being delayed in consequence of not receiving them. Received telegram from Medsercan saying that 7 Canadian General had notified their need of additional nurses, that 10 were available, and asking that we would make the request official. Repeated the telegram to DGMS for transmission to the War Office.
Mrs. Creagh, Matron of the South African General Hospital, came to the office to see me in connection with accommodation, also her need of both 5 nurses and 5 VADs lent to her temporarily until reinforcements arrive from England. Sister Coward, TFNS, came to see me on arrival from 47 CCS which had closed. She brought all particulars of her hospital books and Mess accounts. The Clearing Station had now moved up to Varennes and they were not at present ready for the new staff. The OC, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, telegraphed saying that 2 of his Sisters were sick and proceeding by ambulance to 3 General Hospital and that they were in need of further help. Received notification of departure of Miss Gould, Principal Matron, AANS, from 2 Australian General Hospital, where she was doing the duties of Matron, and the arrival of Miss Gray, AANS who was replacing her.
DMS, 3rd Army, telegraphed to say that Miss James, QAIMNS had been transferred by ambulance to 14 Stationary Hospital, suffering from mumps. As the Field Ambulance was not very busy they would be able to manage without a relief for the time being. DMS, 5th Army, telephoned that 3 of the nurses from the Field Ambulance, Warloy, would be arriving at the Nurses’ Home, and the 3 others remaining for the present.
Telegram received from DGMS repeating War Office telegram saying Nurse Chatfield, QAIMNSR, would be returning to France for her luggage and would then return to England and report at the War Hospital, Napsbury. Application for 4 months’ leave without pay forwarded to DGMS from Miss A. G. Mackay, QAIMNSR, A/Matron, 5 Stationary Hospital “B” Section, to proceed to South Africa on urgent private affairs. Left with the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, for the 2nd Army. Visited the DMS office and reported. Had lunch at the Mess.
Proceeded to 2 Australian CCS, where we saw the second in command and the Sister in charge. This unit is now entirely hutted both for the patients and the nursing staff and a great deal of care and thought has been expended on the whole unit and everything is in first-rate order. There is a good operating theatre, X-Ray room, the huts are well ventilated, warmed with stoves and lighted with electric light. There is one hut for the accommodation of wounded officers. The Sister i/c reported that her staff are suitable in all respects and their health has been good.
From there we went to No.1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. This unit is not so suitably placed, as it is established in several buildings, which are more or less old. Recently the walls have been colour washed, and strips of linoleum laid between the beds. Every possible convenience has been provided and many of the men who are carpenters have made useful furniture, such as bed tables, dressing wagons and instrument cupboards. This staff is billeted in the town, and they Mess in the compound. A large Nissen hut is being put up, and they were only just getting into it, so the electric light was not yet established, nor were they supplied with stoves. This hut is big enough for a Mess and pantry as well. Returned to St. Omer, where we spent the night in the Sisters’ quarters at 10 Stationary Hospital.
Started early and visited 10 Stationary Hospital, where I went to see the sick Sisters. Miss Whiteford, an old Reserve, who has worked very hard from the beginning, is now being invalided home suffering from some sort of rheumatism and the OC thinks she will not be fit for further service. Took the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, over the hospital, which was as usual in excellent order.
From there to 7 General to see the OC with reference to the illness of the A/Matron, Miss Fairchild, QAIMNS. He reported that her work had not been entirely satisfactory, and he did not think she was capable of managing such a large charge. Miss Keene, the present A/Matron, has been posted there temporarily with a view to seeing whether she will be able to carry on. We went over the hospital and saw the big wards which are set apart for the Carroll Dakin treatment and also those set apart for head cases. In the infectious division, there were 573 cases out of which 519 were cases of mumps from the Australian Division. The nursing staff here are partly accommodated in the building and partly in a house in the compound, and the night staff are in a small house at the gate. A large hut is in process of construction to enable them to have a larger staff.
Went to Hazebrouck to 12 CCS to see what arrangements had been made for the accommodation of their staff. Found that since Miss Corbishley’s arrival (where she is doing temporary duty in the absence of Miss Custance, the Sister in charge) she had effected many very great improvements. She has taken a house where the whole of the staff can be accommodated, with two large rooms next door as a Mess and ante-room and she had also secured several other rooms in the same house where Sisters passing through could be accommodated for the night and Mess with them. She had engaged 2 French servants and had put the Mess and allowances on a proper footing. Both the DMS and the OC of the hospital were loud in her praises.
After seeing the DMS, 2nd Army, proceeded to Boulogne. Whilst the Australian Matron-in-Chief visited 2 Australian General Hospital, went to 8 Stationary as I had not visited this unit since the new A/Matron, Miss Kaberry, had taken over. The work has been continually heavy and she does not find the staff which she is able to accommodate adequate in any way. The OC is going to present the matter officially and put in for extra hutted accommodation. The work in this hospital is extra heavy as not only have they a large number of sick and wounded, but they have 400 Germans, and a large mental division where shell shocks are nursed and a staff of nurses with mental experience are working. Miss Gray, the new Australian Matron, and the Principal Matron of Boulogne dined with me and the Matron-in-Chief, AIF. Miss Gray strikes one as being an extremely capable and keen woman, and I expect there will be vast improvements in 2 Australian General before very long.
Visited the DDMS office, where I saw the Surgeon-General with reference to the need of extra accommodation in the area. We also discussed the question of accommodation of women clerks, when the time comes for them to replace men in the hospitals. I agreed that if suitable accommodation were forthcoming, these extra workers could be accommodated and arrangements made for their messing in connection with the quarters for the nursing staff, but it would depend upon the class of woman engaged, and nothing of that nature could be settled at present. Left Miss Conyers at Boulogne as she was crossing to England and proceeded to Abbeville where I arrived at lunch time.
During my absence, found that a WO letter dated the 8th, which had arrived at GHQ on 14th, had been received saying that His Majesty would present the Military Medals to Matron Tunley, and Sisters Whyte, Allsopp, Easby and Hutchinson. Leave should be granted to these ladies and arrangements made for them to report to the War Office on Tuesday so that 3 days’ notice cold be given before an investiture. War Office letter received notifying that Miss Harvey, Matron, 30 General Hospital, was unable to return to France until the 20th. War Office letter received approving the transfer of Miss M. H. Atkins, TFNS, 20 General Hospital, to Home Establishment. War Office letter received notifying the arrival in France of Miss Rowntree and Miss Tucknott, both recently taken on the Reserve. Sent Command Paymaster list of the Nursing Staff transferred to England during the week. Copy of Army Council Instruction received with reference to increase of pay for QAIMNSR, TFNS, VAD members and Special Probationers. This is being circulated to all areas. Sent a notice to all areas that Special Probationers attached to the QAIMNS or TFNS were to wear the Sister Dora cap and not the military Nursing Sisters’. Miss Price, Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital had lunch with me, on her way back from Treport where she had left her sick Sisters. She is short of staff and I had to arrange to give her help temporarily until the nurses applied for a week or two back have arrived.
Arranged that the recent order might be cancelled, with reference to nurses going on leave having to travel by leave train or else pay their own fare by passenger train. The matter is being rectified, at once, as the order was a mistake, and was not intended to include nursing staff, as the leave trains are entirely unsuitable for ladies to travel by, owing to the large numbers travelling and the time the journey takes, and there are no conveniences of any kind for ladies. The Principal Matron, Rouen, rang up saying that extra help was needed at 10 General Hospital, as 10 of the Nursing Staff were off duty sick. Sent one nurse from the Nurses’ Home, and 6 from the Treport area. Telegram received from DDMS, Etaples, saying that Miss Hallam, VAD, 18 General Hospital, at Villa Tino suffering from gastritis was suddenly much worse and had been operated on by Sir George Makin for gastric ulcer, and her condition was so far satisfactory.
Sent orders to Boulogne for distribution of 25 trained nurses expected on the 19th. Sent copies of new Army Order with reference to increase of pay for Reserves, Territorials and VAD members to all areas, trains and ships. Received telephone message from Etaples to say that Miss Hallam, VAD, died at 1.30 a.m.
Telephoned to DMS, 2nd Army, saying, with reference to Sisters travelling on leave trains when proceeding on leave, that the matter had been settled, the order that they were to travel by such trains or pay their own fare by passenger trains having been a mistake. Wrote to DGMS asking for a supply of TFNS gratuity forms. There seems some doubt as to whether Territorial nurses resigning during the war are entitled to a gratuity or not. Left in the morning for Etaples.
Went to HQ where I saw the DDMS who spoke of the need of a Principal Matron in the area to do the administrative work independently of any hospital. He spoke of the growing work in the area and said that it was impossible for anyone to do both duties in a satisfactory manner. I said the matter was still under consideration and he said that he wished to put it up officially to see if it could be hastened in any way. Had lunch at 24 General and afterwards went to Miss Hallam’s funeral, which was attended by a large number of officers, nurses and VADs, and the burial took place in a heavy snowstorm. Afterwards I went to the Villa Tino where I went over the hospital and visited all the sick Sisters. The hospital was very full, extra beds everywhere, but no-one seriously ill. Then went to Boulogne arriving in time for dinner.
25 Canadian nurses attached to the QAIMNSR and wearing Reserve uniform arrived from England. Went to 7 Stationary Hospital, where I saw the A/Matron and spoke to her about her management. She told me of many difficulties with which she was faced, in consequence of the OC not keeping her informed of many matters which were entirely the Matron’s responsibilities. Went round the hospital which was very full of sick officers. The place appeared to be well managed and the sculleries and annexes orderly and very clean, and everything in good order. I spoke to many of the nurses and VADs who were all busy making various preparations for Christmas.
From there I went to 13 Stationary Hospital. Went over the hospital and found everything in beautiful order. This hospital is extending and all special departments are increasing daily. Went round the jaw department and was shown the different appliances and the success of Major Valadier’s work. He showed me many photographs of faces as they came in and after some months, the transformation effected. Four men he was specially proud of who had recently been to Paris to be shown at a Conference there. There is a big electrical department being built consisting of several huts.
Left for Abbeville after lunch calling at Hardelot where I saw Lady Gifford. The Home is very full of convalescent Sisters, not a vacant bed. Some of the Assistant Matrons had come by ambulance from Boulogne to get Christmas trees from the woods. Miss Barbier came from Mentone where she had been staying at the Villa Roquebrune. It is a beautiful place with beautiful surroundings and everything done to make it a real rest and the Matron in charge is extremely kind and welcoming and anxious to do everything for the comfort and pleasure of the Sisters, but not being a fully trained nurse, the home is more suitable for convalescent people than for people suffering from any illness.
Correspondence received from DDMS, Etaples, with reference to Mrs. Brice Miller’s Home. He suggested that Mrs. Brice Miller should be asked in future not to close her home without his consent. Failing this, that the Home should be taken over by the Army and placed under the direction of the authorities. Forwarded correspondence to DGMS. DMS, 1st Army, telephoned for a Sister with theatre experience for 33 CCS and one was sent. Forwarded correspondence to DGMS with reference to the demand for 5 nurses for the New Zealand Stationary Hospital, asking that this request might be expedited. Application received for staff of 3 for Hospital Ship “Princess Elizabeth” expected to arrive shortly.
Went to the 4th Army. Visited 21 CCS where I had lunch. The hospital has recently been taken over by a new OC and Sister in charge. This Clearing Station is growing daily more like a Stationary Hospital and is in first-rate order in every detail. Very full of sick officers and men, and a certain number of wounded Germans. From there I went to DMS’ office where I learnt he had just started to inspect the New Zealand Stationary Hospital, so I followed him there. Went round the hospital and the Sisters’ quarters. The Sisters’ quarters are not large enough and the question of a bigger building is under consideration. The DMS also told me that they were considering the necessity of opening an Officers’ Hospital at Amiens to be run very much on the same lines as the one at Gezaincourt, for which he would soon want a staff of nurses. He also informed me that 48 CCS would soon be requiring a staff of nurses. He told me that the work in all the Casualty Clearing Stations in his area was satisfactory and the staff quite suitable, and he was arranging for leave to begin immediately after Christmas. Got back in time for dinner.
Sent DGMS a list of Sisters and Staff Nurses of the QAIMNSR and TFNS returning to England on January 15th. Wrote officially to DDMS, Boulogne, suggesting that a house should be taken near the railway station and converted into a hostel for the accommodation of nurses arriving and departing, in consequence of the growing difficulty of getting suitable accommodation in the hotels. It should be quite easy to put a Sister in charge and possibly messing could be arranged at a certain rate with a hotel in the vicinity. With reference to the extra 4/- a week which has been granted to all members of the Nursing Services, put up the question to the AQMG if, when rations are drawn, only the actual cost of the rations could be charged, and whether it would be possible to draw rations in kind on repayment, on account of the growing difficulty in obtaining the necessary articles of food from local sources. Pointed out that if this could be arranged it would be very satisfactory, as one could then draw 25/- a week for each member of the Mess, instead of the present arrangement of 2/3 on rations and 1/3 messing. In this way one gets certain articles in excess and others not enough.
Received a letter from Mrs. Furse attaching a copy of a letter from Miss Latham, VAD written to someone, name unknown, complaining of the arrangements at 35 General Hospital. This Mrs. Furse forwarded, attaching a small note in which she said that if the conditions of which she heard existed, the hospital was certainly not a suitable place for young VADs. Took this correspondence with me to DGMS. In consequence of the serious nature of the report, he thought it advisable for me to go at once to Calais and see the OC and Matron and ask for a full investigation. Both the Matron and the OC said that there was no foundation whatever for the statements made and emphasised the fact that Miss Latham was a very difficult member and that she criticised everyone’s work and management, even to questioning Mrs. Furse’s judgement. The DGMS had advised that a copy of the correspondence should be sent to the ADMS, requesting a full investigation with as little delay as possible, and this was accordingly done.
Returned to Abbeville by 8 o’clock. Received application to resign from Staff Nurse K. Cameron, QAIMNSR at 8 General Hospital, who objects to work as a Staff Nurse. War Office letter received giving correct information with regard to the uniform of Special Probationers and Canadian Red Cross members.
Boulogne harbour blocked by a sunken ship. Correspondence forwarded to DGMS with reference to VAD certified cooks employed as cooks in hospitals, asking if they should not be employed as General Service members and be paid as such. If this arrangement were made, they would benefit by £10 a year. Went with the DMS and the DDMS to 2 Stationary Hospital, where we had tea and went round the wards – everything well arranged and the wards beautifully decorated and the patients comfortable. There was a service in the chapel at 7 and after 8 o’clock the choir was going to sing carols round the wards.
Sent correspondence with reference to Mrs. Furse and Miss Latham under confidential cover to ADMS Calais. Sent telegrams of good wishes to the Queen, Queen Alexandra, Princess Christian, the Dowager Countess Roberts, Miss Luckes, Miss Becher, Sir Alfred Keogh and Miss Sydney Browne. Went with the DMS to 5 Stationary Hospital where we had tea and went round the wards. Everything bright and cheerful and a certain number of sick people who were not able to get up. Dined with the General with 3 of my staff and the others went to Sir William Leishman’s Mess.
Telephone message from the Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, saying that she had 3 more sick Sisters to come to 5 Stationary Hospital. Arranged for 3 sisters off a train which was in garage at Amiens to join the New Zealand Stationary Hospital temporarily. Let 5 Stationary Hospital know about the 3 sick Sisters and asked them to arrange for some of the convalescents to go to Lady Gifford’s. In consequence of the port being closed at Boulogne and everyone arriving by Calais, arranged for Miss Woodford to proceed to Calais to carry on her duties there, and asked Miss Hordley to nominate Miss Cameron to fill Miss Woodford’s place in Boulogne, as all nurses arriving would have to be transferred to Boulogne by train as the accommodation at Calais is very limited. Already there are no rooms to be had and the patients are lying on the floor. Received replies from the Queen, Queen Alexandra and Princess Christian to our Christmas telegrams. Interviewed Miss Toller who is under orders for duty at 9 General Hospital as A/Matron. Explained to her many of the difficulties which would confront her and the importance of keeping all the regulations and having all her report books and messing accounts in good order. She is taking over from Miss Wohlmann, who will be proceeding to Havre as the present unit is more than she can manage. Part of the office staff went to some sports at Nouvain – the 18th Division, where they saw an officer decorated with the Montnegrin Medal for bravery. This officer had been recommended for the VC but had received the DSO.
Received and returned correspondence with reference to Staff Nurse West, TFNS, to DDMS, Etaples, saying that all allowances should be settled with her solicitors and a receipt obtained from them, and all correspondence on the subject should be returned. Apparently there is some mystery in connection with Miss West’s marriage as she is unwilling to give her married name. Forwarded to DGMS application for 40 days’ leave for Sister S. J. Robley, CAMC to proceed to Canada, her father being dangerously ill. Returned correspondence to Etaples with reference to taking over Mrs. Brice Miller’s Home by the Army, asking him to formulate a scheme with reference to taking over the building. Also returned the correspondence with reference to Principal Matron being appointed solely for administrative work, saying that the question is still under consideration and he will be notified of the decision arrived at. Received War Office letter with reference to 2 months’ leave without pay to be granted to Miss Rind, VAD, asking that she should notify them the date on which she would be able to return. Capt. Cohen visited the office on his way to Paris, and said how pleased Lady Michelham was with the staff of the Home at Cap Martin, and how well everything was going. The Comtesse de Pellete called. War Office letter received approving the withdrawal of resignation of Miss Tait, QAIMNSR, 18 General Hospital.
Sent correspondence to DGMS with reference to resignation of Staff Nurse Barry, Marseilles Stationary Hospital, asking if this had been accepted as no authority had yet been received and her leave expired on the 30th. DDMS asked for a ruling as to the disposal of kit of the late Miss Hallam. Replied that it should be treated in the same way as that of officers. Correspondence received from Command Paymaster with reference to the pay as A/Matron of Miss E. Smythe, QAIMNSR Nurses’ Home, regretting it could not be allowed either by War Establishment or by War Office letter. Received correspondence from DGMS with reference to the Matron-in-Chief being allowed to draw the allowances of her class, saying this must be submitted to the GOC, L of C, in the first instance. Message from the Matron, New Zealand Stationary Hospital, saying that the 3 Sisters from 26 Ambulance Train were rejoining and asking for 3 reliefs. Ordered 3 nurses from Treport to proceed. Application from Miss A. G. Mackay, A/Matron, 5 Stationary Hospital, for passage in a troop ship going to Australian or New Zealand by the Cape.
Went with Miss Skinner to an entertainment at the Baltic and Corn Exchange Hospital. Saw the DDMS, Etaples, who was considering how extra accommodation could be obtained for the nursing both of lady motor drivers and lady clerks who were shortly arriving in the area. He was putting up a scheme for erecting huts, either in the Villa Tino compound or just outside, with all necessary annexes, so that it could be run with the Villa Tino as one unit. He thought that 30 beds – 15 for motor drivers and 15 for clerks, would be sufficient to begin with.
Sent DGMS a list of 57 VADs returning to England on termination of contract, most of them resigning as they are in need of a rest. These ladies joined Army Service June, 1915 and 1916. War Office letter received accepting the resignation of Miss K. Read, QAIMNSR, from 31st January. Priority wire received asking for the staff of “Princess Elizabeth” to be at Rouen to join. Appointed a Sister i/c and 2 Staff Nurses from the Rouen area to join the ship as soon as it came in. Sent correspondence to Colonel Stock, SMO Abbeville, pointing out that it would be advisable to put in for his deficiencies in nursing staff without mentioning names, as the present help was only temporary and might be wanted at any minute. The help given them consists of 5 trained nurses and 5 VADs. This was in answer to his request that his former application for help from the Richmond Park Hospital might be cancelled, as the work there was heavy.
DMS, 1st Army, telephoned, as well as sending a copy of a circular he had sent to the OCs of CCS, complaining that the Sisters, when on leave, on many occasions failed to return on the day they were expected, which entirely upset the arrangements made for their comfort and convenience – such as having an ambulance to meet them and drive them to their unit, instead of having to travel by a crowded leave train, or by passenger train in the early hours of the morning. This irregularity is causing much inconvenience and if it continues, he will not be able to allow members of the nursing staff to go on 9 days’ leave every three months, and will revert to the same system as on the L of C – 14 days’ every 6 months, if they can get it. He also approved my suggestion that those who could not return up to time should be moved to the Base. Staff Nurse J. B. Wilson sent in her resignation, her reason being that she had not been promoted. Returned correspondence, with that of Staff Nurse Cameron also, saying that their names were on the list, but there were many who had arrived in the country in 1914 and who were still waiting and had a prior claim. Received War Office telegram granting extension of leave to Staff Nurse A. H. Brown, TFNS to be married – not returning to France. This lady went on leave from a Field Ambulance without reporting in any way her intentions. Received telephone message from Miss Rannie that A/Matron B. F. Perkins, 10 General Hospital had been admitted to 8 General Hospital, and seemed to be very ill – that she would be unable to proceed to Villa Roquebrune as was intended. Arranged for a member of the QAIMNS to fill her place at 10 General, and Miss Welman, QAIMNSR, to proceed to Villa Roquebrune.
Received telegram from Surgeon-General Donovan, DDMS Embarkation, instructing the new staff for Hospital Ship “Princess Elizabeth” to proceed to Havre instead of Rouen. A/Sister F. B. Gill, QAIMNSR resignation accepted. Received correspondence from Major Knapp, Command Paymaster, with reference to the difficulty caused by the appointment of new A/Matrons to replace those on Hospital Ships. Their numbers are increasing in consequence of a recent order pointing out that it was not advisable for the nursing staff of ships to be left longer than 6 months without a change. I wrote pointing out that his suggestion that the Matrons of ships and hospitals might be interchangeable could not work, owing to the fact that the Sisters who were appointed as A/Matrons were those who were capable of looking after a small charge but would be totally incompetent to manage a staff of 80 or 90, independent of the work in the large hospitals, which is increasing daily. Rang up 4 CCS to ascertain whether Miss Bulman could postpone her leave until her successor could return. This was arranged.
33 Casualty Clearing Station, on 1.12.16: Staff supplied – 8
H.S. “Princess Elizabeth”, on 31.12.16: Staff supplied – 3
Total – 11
2/1 South Midland Field Ambulance, on 12.12.16: Staff released – 8
47 Casualty Clearing Station, on 15.12.16: Staff released – 8
Total – 16
Trained – 64
Untrained – 0
Transfers to Home Establishment
Trained – 13
Untrained – 1
Sent home sick
Trained – 29
Untrained – 13
Returned from sick leave
Trained – 12
Untrained – 7
Total sick at present in England
Trained – 98
Untrained – 55
Resignations sent forward
Trained – 11 (including Miss E. S. Riddall, QAIMNS – marriage)
Approximate number of leaves granted – 270
Deaths – Miss A. V. Hallam, VAD, on 18.12.16, from gastric ulcer, after operation
VADs returned to England
Termination of contract – 64
End of probationary period – 3
Resigned – 6
Invalided – 4
Special Probationers returned on termination of contract – 4
Total - 80