CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3990
INSPECTIONS AND WORK DONE DURING THE MONTH AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
INSPECTIONS AND WORK DONE DURING THE MONTH AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
Returned to Boulogne, after being off duty from the 13th March.
Arrived at Headquarters Office, Abbeville.
Miss Beadsmore Smith, Principal Matron, QAIMNS, who had done Matron-in-Chief’s duties during my absence from April 18th left Abbeville for Boulogne, whence she proceeded on leave on the 14th instant, with orders to report at the War Office for instructions on her arrival. I saw her off, and before she left went with her to see the Nurses’ Hostel at Boulogne.
On my [way] back from Boulogne to Abbeville I called at GHQ, where I reported myself in person to the DGMS on my return from Sick Leave.
Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AIF: who had been visiting the Australian Hospitals at the Bases arrived at Calais. Having previously arranged to take her to the Armies to inspect her Clearing Stations I left Headquarters for Calais where I reported at the ADMS Office and arranged to go with him in the morning to see the new Isolation Hospital. From there went on to No.38 Stationary Hospital, where Miss Conyers and I stayed the night. This hospital had recently arrived from England, with complete personnel and Nursing Staff, but in consequence of fresh orders from the War Office, the recently arrived staff had had to be distributed amongst other units, and a Staff of Australian Sisters with an Australian Matron in charge had been appointed. This Hospital is in process of completion and should be ready for occupation during the coming week; there is every prospect of it being a good and useful unit. All the acute wards are composed of the new pattern large Nissen Huts, accommodating 25 patients in each; 2 of these huts are connected with the centre by the usual lavatory, bathrooms, Sisters’ and Service Quarters accommodation – it seems an admirable arrangement. There are 8 of this class of hut – the remainder of the Hospital will be under canvas, with the exception of the Operating Theatre and the Acute Surgical Ward, which are built like so many of our other Hospitals. There is an Administrative Block, where the Matron has her office; the Nursing Staff have very good accommodation for 27 in Huts, with suitable bath and lavatory accommodation, a fine Mess Room, Ante-room and kitchen, and the whole unit is lighted with electricity. At the time of the visit there were only a few patients, but the Staff were busy getting the hospital in order. I saw the CO and pointed out to him that the accommodation for 27 Sisters only would not be sufficient and advised him to put in at once for the provision of 3 Marquees, which should be boarded, supplied with floors and electric light, for the extra Nursing Staff we shall require.
The next morning I went with the ADMS to inspect the new Isolation Hospital. This unit is quite close to 30 General and 38 Stationary Hospitals, is entirely hutted, and at present has accommodation for 100 infectious cases – there is plenty of space for it to be considerably increased if the necessity arises. Here the accommodation for the Nursing Staff is similar to that which has been built for 38 Stationary Hospital, with accommodation for 16 people. No arrangements have been made for the lighting of this unit by electricity and the ordinary paraffin lamp will be utilised. Arrangements are being made to hire the compound next to this unit with the intention of erecting an Infectious Hospital for the WAAC, and a general Sick Sisters’ Hospital for both the WAAC and the Nursing Staff of this area, to be built on the same lines as those elsewhere in France.
From there, with the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, I went to the 5th Army, driving via DUNKIRK. The whole of the Headquarters of the 5th Army are established in the most beautiful grounds at La Lovie, the medical staff having a certain number of huts erected where they do their administrative work. I saw the DMS of the Army and learned that several Clearing Stations had been bombed and 3 of the Nursing Staff of No.61 CCS were wounded and had been sent down to Boulogne. After seeing the DMS we visited Brandhoek, where 32, 44 and No.3 Australian Clearing Stations are established, beside the railway line. These units had been bombed the previous night and a medical officer had been killed. At each unit they were busy building in their quarters with sandbags. The work had been, and still was, extremely heavy, and each unit had a staff of 35 Nursing Sisters, which included 4 Surgical teams. I saw the CO of each unit, and also the Sisters in charge, and ascertained the names of those who were showing signs of nervousness, and also of those who were not entirely suitable for the work, arranging with the COs that on my return to Headquarters they should be removed and replaced by others. They one and all spoke very highly of the excellent work which was being done by all members of the Nursing Staff. After lunch we drove on to Remy Siding to No.17 CCS. This unit also had been bombed – 13 men of the Corps and 10 Germans being killed, and 27 men badly wounded; 10 Germans were also wounded. Here the work, as at Brandhoek, was extremely heavy. Apart from everyone being shocked at the terrible loss of life in the unit, everything was going well and smoothly and no one appeared to be over-wrought in any way. Left Remy, having arranged that I would return the next day and spend the night there so as to see the 4 units which are established in this vicinity.
Then went on to St. Omer via Cassel, where I called on the DMS 2nd Army and arranged to visit as many units in his area on the following day as time would permit. Everything was going smoothly and satisfactorily in the area, but I was advised not to drive through Hazebrouck as the town was being shelled constantly every day. We arrived at St. Omer for dinner and spent the night in the Sisters’ quarters at 10 Stationary Hospital, where I found that the Matron, Miss Tunley, had been able to make arrangements in their quarters, a Convent, to accommodate as many as 100 passers by.
Left St. Omer with the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, for Trois Arbres, where No.2 Australian CCS is established – Lt. Colonel Ramsay-Webb, the Australian CO and Mrs. Stobo, the Australian Sister-in-Charge. Since my last visit this unit has thoroughly established itself, is vastly improved in every way and is now capable of accommodating 1000 patients in a thoroughly comfortable manner. A great many huts had been erected, marquees well arranged with boarded floors and lighted with electricity. Here, as in the 5th Army, there had been considerable bombing at nights and several nurses were beginning to feel the strain of these constant bombardments, and I was asked by the CO to arrange for them to be moved. The nursing staff are accommodated in Armstrong huts with a large Nissen hut for their mess. Everything is well arranged and most comfortable and we had an excellent lunch. After lunch we went to Outhersteene, No.1 Australian CCS – Lt. Colonel Dick, CO and Miss Anderson, RRC, AANS, Sister-in-Charge. This unit has only recently opened and everyone was busy getting the place into order; it has every prospect of being a most useful unit, the position is excellent, near the railway like most of the other Clearing Stations. At the time of the visit they were very busy, and had admitted during the night a large number of badly wounded men belonging to a Labour Battalion, the result of an Air Raid quite near by. The Nursing Staff at the time of the visit was 15 in number; they are accommodated on a piece of rising ground on the other side of the road in Nissen huts.
Drove via Goddesville, the new position of Nos.11, 37 and 41 Casualty Clearing Stations, but there was not sufficient time to visit them. These units are on the road to Remy, where we stayed the night. On arrival, we found No.17 CCS very busy; No.30 Ambulance Train was at the siding loading up. All these units, which include No.10 CCS, Nos.2 & 3 Canadian CCSs, were very full of patients, having in each a staff of 35 Nursing Sisters – these include several Surgical Teams. No.17 CCS was still very upset in consequence of the recent Air Raid. I went round the unit, which appeared to be excellent in every respect, the patients looking comfortable and well nursed. The Operating Theatre has been enlarged since my last visit and is now large enough for 8 tables. In all these units for some days past the operating tables had been constantly in use day and night. We spent the night in the Sisters’ quarters, where I met 6 American Nursing Sisters, as well as a lady Anaesthetist, all of whom were working in this unit. We had an extremely disturbed night as the Taubes were overhead, and in the early hours of the morning Abeele Station, which is quite close, was heavily bombed.
Before leaving Remy I saw the Sisters in Charge of No.10 CCS and of Nos.2 and 3 Canadian CCSs. No.10 CCS is shortly going to move and at present is only taking walking cases; everything is going satisfactorily in this unit, and they, like 17 CCS, are well accommodated. The two Canadian units are also working smoothly and satisfactorily; the gardens in front of these 2 units being especially beautiful. In this area the only people who seemed to be suffering from distress of any kind were 5 Australian Nursing Sisters whom I have arranged to send to the Base as soon as possible. From Remy I proceeded to Proven, where I saw Nos.12, 46 and 64 CCSs. Everything was satisfactory; these units, like all the others, are grouped together quite close to the railway siding; they are composed of huts and canvas, and the Nursing Staff in each case comfortably accommodated in a compound set apart entirely for their use.
We went on to Bandaghem to No.62 CCS, a large unit capable of accommodating 2,000 patients, where Shell Shock cases, both officers and men, only are taken, a Nursing Staff of 9 only being required. No.63 CCS has the same accommodation as No.62 CCS. This unit is set apart entirely for minor medical cases and the Nursing Staff required here is also only 9. In each of these units there is a fine Operating Theatre, so that at any time they can be used for wounded if the occasion arises. We had lunch at 62 CCS and then proceeded to General Headquarters, where I had hoped to meet the DMS. He unfortunately had not returned, so I brought the following points to the notice of his Staff Officer, Colonel Hynde, asking if he would refer them to the DMS and let me know if he approved:
That I should be responsible for:
1. Always keeping the Staff up to the required strength in each unit.
2. When extra help is needed for me to supply it; I can always supply suitable people at very short notice and can arrange to have them always available.
3. When a unit closes the staff should always then come down to rest, and I will undertake to return them directly they are wired for.
4. This would do away with the need for temporarily attached people everywhere. The Sisters in Charge would know better where their Staffs were and would have them more under control, as this constant moving of people from one unit to another makes matters difficult for the Sisters in Charge, not only with regard to management but also with regard to pay and clothing.
5. That I should make myself responsible for supplying all Sisters required in the Operating Theatres and thus do away with Sisters acting with each Surgical Team. It seems to me that this arrangement might work better, as at present many Sisters attached to a unit on Team duty do not understand that they belong for the time to that unit, and are just as much under the Sister-in-Charge as the rest of the Staff.
We returned to Boulogne via Cassel and St. Omer, arriving at 6.30 p.m., reported at the DDMS Office and heard that 9 Masseuses of the Almeric Paget Massage Corps had arrived for duty in France. Spent the night at Boulogne.
Saw the Matron-in-Chief, AIF, off to England by the Packet and then visited No.83 (Dublin) General Hospital, where I saw Miss McDonald, the American Sister who had recently been wounded at No.61 CCS and who had had her eye excised. She was going on most satisfactorily; her brother, who is a Colonel in a Canadian Hospital was with her, also two American medical officers. As soon as she is able, she is going to be moved to her own unit at Etretat and be nursed in the Sick Sisters’ Hospital there.
Returned to Headquarters after Lunch.
Went to 10 Stationary Hospital, St. Omer, where I saw the Sister-in-Charge of 32 Casualty Clearing Station, Miss Luard, and the remainder of her Staff who had been resting for two or three days at the Mess of 10 Stationary Hospital after the recent shelling of Clearing Stations when Miss Spindler was killed. They had all rested and everyone was willing and anxious to return to the work, and the DMS of the Army had informed them that the Quarters had been made Bomb-proof – and that it was perfectly safe for them to return. The Staffs of No.44 CCS and No.3 Australian CCS were still to remain in St. Omer, having been distributed amongst the various units for accommodation for the time being; arrangements were being made for those due for leave to have it and for the remainder to go to the Convalescent Homes for rest until their units were re-established.
I then went to the opening of the new Nurses’ Rest Club where Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox was holding a tea-party, to which she had invited everybody who had assisted her in taking the house and making the necessary arrangements. The house is an exceedingly nice one and is to be run by 2 VAD members. Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox made an appropriate speech and read a letter from HRH Princess Victoria (of Great Britain and Ireland) and the Base Commandant, Colonel Sprout, replied very suitably.
Afterwards I interviewed Miss Price, the Matron of the New Zealand unit. She and her Staff are also being accommodated at the Nurses’ Mess, 10 Stationary Hospital until their unit is ready to be re-opened again, having been shelled out from Hazebrouck. Spent the night at 10 Stationary Hospital.
I first went to 59 General Hospital, where I was taken round the main building – which has recently taken over from the French – by the CO and the Matron, Miss Whiffin, TFNS. It was a French Hospital with a splendid Ward and Theatre accommodation, but with the usual lack of any satisfactory sanitary arrangements; the engineers, however, are putting in the necessary improvements and additions. The Nursing Staff at present are accommodated in a building at some distance from the Hospital, which later will be an Annexe thereof, and will thus bring their numbers up to 1040. Eventually the Nursing Staff will all be accommodated at General Petain’s house, and a hut is being put up in the grounds to take 20 Nurses, so that the whole Staff will be all together.
The Officers’ Section of this unit is 8 kilometres away in a beautiful Chateau with lovely grounds, this building, up to quite recently, having been used as a Hospital by the French; a certain number of Marquees are being put up temporarily for the accommodation of men suffering from Shell-Shock, which are to be replaced as soon as possible by huts. There is a great deal still to be done before this unit will be at all up to the standard of the other Officers’ Hospitals in France, and I arranged with the Matron that I should provide a competent Acting Matron, who will be capable of managing and putting the present unit in order. As the personnel has only recently come from England they find it most difficult to know the requirements of Active Service – and what they can get from Ordnance and what will be supplied for officers from the British Red Cross Society. The Staff are at present accommodated in the top floor of the Chateau, but huts for a regular Sisters’ Mess are about to be built in the grounds.
After lunch I left for the 5th Army, where I met the DMS at No.4 CCS at Dozinghem, Sister-in-Charge, Miss Greaves, QAIMNSR. This unit had recently been bombed and the Staff had been distributed between the two adjacent units – Nos.47 and 61 CCSs. These units are all under canvas with the exception of the Operating Theatres and special Surgical Huts, and the Staff in all instances are accommodated under canvas and bell tents, with a marquee for the Mess.
I drove with the DMS to ELVEDINE, the new site for Nos.10 and 13 CCSs. I discussed with him the question of certain new regulations regarding the Nursing Staff and its management in all the Clearing Stations, now that the numbers of Nurses required in each unit has so increased, and also the importance of letting all “Team” Sisters thoroughly understand that they are entirely under the control of the Sister-in-Charge of the unit.
We then drove on to No.17 CCS, where I saw Miss Teevan, QAIMNS, the new Sister-in-charge, who is about to take over from Miss Williams. From there I went back to St. Omer and spent the night at 10 Stationary Hospital.
Visited 10 Stationary Hospital with a view to seeing the accommodation for Sick Sisters and the WAAC. There are two big wards, with a Sitting-Room between them – 1 for Sisters and the other for the WAAC, furnished in precisely the same manner and excellent in every respect.
To 58 General Hospital, a new Territorial unit under canvas, which has recently arrived. It is not yet properly established; they have no doubt had tremendous difficulties in consequence of bad weather and shortage of labour; eventually it ought to be quite all right, but at present the roads are not even properly made. Miss Humphreys, the Matron, seems an extremely nice Scotch woman but she appears to be surrounded with many difficulties in consequence of her Staff having been drafted from different parts of Scotland; some of them are very elderly women, and many of them not inclined to make an effort to fit in with the others. They are at present accommodated under canvas with a large marquee as a mess tent. The Mess looks as if it is comfortable and well arranged as far as one could see. I asked Miss Humphreys to report officially on any of her Staff who were particularly difficult and undisciplined, and if she got her CO to support her I would forward the correspondence to the Matron-in-Chief of the Territorial Service asking for exchanges with the Home Establishment to be made. I went through several of the Wards which looked as if they were well managed and the patients comfortably cared for.
From there I went to No.7 General Hospital, Miss Keene QAIMNS, Matron, to see the accommodation provided for the Sisters and WAAC suffering from infectious diseases. The arrangements are good – hutted accommodation with a little kitchen, bathroom and all necessary annexes. The extra accommodation which has been put up in the Compound for the accommodation of the WAAC workers to be attached to the Hospital is at present used as extra wards for officers until orders are received that the WAAC are arriving.
Went on to the DMS of the 1st Army where I discussed the same question with regard to the best way to arrange matters in connection with the Nursing Staff and Surgical teams in all Clearing Stations. Returned to Headquarters in the evening.
Went to Boulogne in the evening, where I stayed the night.
Summary for August, 1917
No.36 Ambulance Train, on 9.8.17: Staff supplied – 3 Trained
No.33 Ambulance Train, on 23.8.17: Staff supplied – 3 Trained
Isolation Hospital, Calais, on 25.8.17: Staff supplied – 7 Trained, 9 Untrained
No.32 Ambulance Train, on 31.8.17: Staff supplied – 3 Trained
Total – 16 Trained, 9 Untrained
Establishments closed – Nil
Trained – 142
Untrained – 75
Sent home sick
Trained – 21
Untrained – 14
Returned from sick leave
Trained – 8
Untrained – 6
Total sick at present in England
Trained – 106
Untrained – 71
Resignations sent forward
Trained – 24
Approximate No. of leaves granted – 314
VADs returned to England
Resigned – 5
Termination of contract – 11
Transferred to Home Establishment – 1
Total – 17
Special Probationers returned to England
Termination of contract – 2
Transferred to Home Establishment – 1
Total – 3
Transfers to Home Establishment
Trained – 7
Staff Nurse H. J. Jenkins, QAIMNSR – Mrs. Hockenball (Transferred to Home Establishment)
Miss R. O. Harper, VAD – Mrs. Montgomery (Retained in BEF)
Staff Nurse O. Hockey, QAIMNSR (South Africa), on 14.8.17 from cerebro-spinal meningitis.
Staff Nurse N. Spindler, QAIMNSR on 21.8.17, killed by a shell.
Total Nursing Staff now in BEF
Trained – 2620
Untrained – 1868
Shortage according to War Establishment
Trained – 195
Military Medal awarded to Sister Ross-King, AANS, Sister Cawood, AANS, Staff Nurse Derrer, AANS.
Sisters Wounded – 4
Suffering from Shock – 6