PREVIOUS - MARCH 1st – 31st 1918



MARCH 1918 (Visits)

Went to Treport with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians, after lunch. Saw the ADMS in connection with 2 Canadian General Hospital, as the ADMS was not satisfied with the number of applications made for transfer from there. He is under the impression that they are not very happy in the unit. The OC had seemed to infer the same and said that he and the rest of the officers felt they had to be more than cautious with the Matron as she had a great deal of political influence. I informed him (and Miss Ridley agreed) that the policy in the Canadian Nursing Service is for members to volunteer wherever they want to go, a procedure which I do not approve of and do not permit in our units, as it encourages people to be restless. Miss Ridley arranged to stay in the unit and ascertain if possible from members of the staff whether they were contented or otherwise.
She then left for the Canadian unit, and I discussed with the ADMS the question of replacing the present Matron of 3 General Hospital, Miss Willetts, QAIMNS, with another more capable one. This arrangement he entirely agreed with. Another point which we discussed was the Nursing Sisters’ Mess room, which is next to the kitchen, a big room but badly ventilated and not suitable in many respects, but as the nursing staff had put up with this for the last three years he thought it more than doubtful if anything could be arranged, but undertook to do all he could.
Left for Rouen and stayed the night at the Nurses’ Hostel. Met the new DDMS Colonel Meeke, also Miss Tunley, A/Principal Matron, and dined with them.

Left for Trouville, arriving in time for lunch. Stayed with the Base Commandant, Major General Hickson, who is also the DDMS of the area. Had a very disagreeable journey – heavy snow and rain the whole time. When not raining it was snowing and blowing.
After lunch I drove with the Base Commandant first to the Sick Sisters’ Hospital, which has been established in a large hotel – the Hotel des Terrasses – which will when finished be an exceedingly fine and commodious unit with a fine sea front. At present they have 40 beds ready for patients but at the time of the visit there were only five patients in. It is 4 storeys high and can accommodate, as well as the 40 patients, a large staff and 40 or 50 convalescents if necessary. It has a large basement where there is a big kitchen, sculleries and the usual offices of a large hotel. Miss Devenish-Meares, QAIMNSR is the Sister in charge.
We then drove to the Camp, which is at some distance from the town and up a somewhat steep road. There are two hospitals already established and a third unit in the making, all composed of 2500 beds, entirely hutted, with fine accommodation for officers, Nursing Sisters and men. The hospital is built in self-contained blocks of 250 beds, each a little hospital in itself. Each unit has accommodation for 100 officers and the rest is for men. They have most splendid mess, dining rooms, kitchens, store-rooms, a great big reception hut and a good administrative block. The Sisters’ quarters are first-rate in every respect – a great big mess and ante-room and accommodation for 125 people in cubicles, all under cover and connected by corridors. There are 4 bath-rooms only. All the out-houses, kitchens, etc. are first-rate, similar to those in our other units but larger in comparison. The unit is lighted with electricity and heated with coal stoves, and when the road is made and they have got rid of the mud, it will be first-rate. It is situated on the top of a hill. At the time of the visit 72 General Hospital had 1600 patients and they were taking in at 73 General Hospital the next day. They are beginning to lay out the grounds and are going to have large vegetable gardens.
Miss Wilson, QAIMNS is A/Principal Matron of the area and Matron of 72 General Hospital. A certain number of VAD members of the General Service Section have arrived, but not nearly enough. The General Service accommodation is similar to that of the Nurses, only perhaps not quite so luxurious. They have one big common room instead of a mess and ante-room. They have a fine kitchen, out-houses, bathrooms, and all entirely hutted.
I went over 73 General Hospital – the quarters are not quite completed there and the staff are temporarily accommodated in the General Service Section quarters. The nursing staff is composed entirely of Territorials, and Miss K. Smith as Matron, who struck me as a very capable woman. As well as the hospitals in this area there are 3 Convalescent Camps and a Prisoner of War Camp. Stayed the night at Trouville.

Left for Havre, arriving in the evening in time for dinner. Reported at the DDMS office, but he was not in. Saw Major Mitchell, DADMS, and then went to 2 General Hospital, where I saw the A/Principal Matron, Miss Rannie, RRC, QAIMNS. Dined with the OC Colonel Babington, Miss Rannie, the lady doctor Miss Proctor, and two VAD Commandants. Stayed the night at the Hotel.

Left early with the A/Principal Matron, Miss Rannie. First visited No.40 Stationary Hospital – OC Colonel Booth – A/Matron, Miss K. Bulman, QAIMNS Retired. The hospital is at present all under canvas but is in process of being entirely hutted with big French huts. The patients are mainly local sick but they have a certain amount of operation work as well. They have a very good theatre and anaesthetic room. The unit appears well managed and comfortable. The Sisters’ quarters are entirely hutted and very comfortable, and the Home Sister, Mrs. Moynihan, appeared much interested in her work. The rooms are pretty, the table appointments good and excellent bathroom and lavatory accommodation. The OC expressed himself entirely satisfied with the Matron and the staff and said everything was going most satisfactorily. The patients looked well cared for and the wards well managed – the beds well made and everything in good order.
From there I went to the Isolation Hospital which is now called No.52 Stationary Hospital – OC Lt. Colonel Ellery – Matron, Miss Forbes, QAIMNSR. This unit is entirely hutted. At the time of the visit there were only 120 patients, but there is accommodation for 400. The arrangement for the isolation of various diseases is very good indeed and the whole unit seems well-managed. The Nursing Sisters’ quarters are extremely good and have been considerably enlarged since my last visit. They now have accommodation for 40 people but only 27 on duty. Miss Forbes seems a capable person, very interested in her work and the whole of the staff appear happy and contented. After going round the unit I saw the OC who has only recently taken over, and who has undertaken to let me know if at any time the staff should not prove satisfactory.

From there we went to Etretat to No.1 General Hospital (the American Presbyterian Unit). Was met by the Matron, Assistant Matron and the CO.
Had lunch with the Matron, Assistant Matron and Miss Rannie, A/Principal Matron, at the Plage Hotel. The OC came to see me and apologised for not being able to go round with me as he had many things to ask me about, but the Consultant, Colonel Bruce, had just arrived. After lunch went round with the Matron, but the unit does not look anything like as well managed a when it was a British military unit. The patients looked well cared for – it was a beautiful day and all the patients who could be were out on the front. It happened to be equipment day and all the equipment was lying out to be counted, but on the whole things looked much better than I expected.
I went over the Sick Sisters’ Hospital which was first-rate in every respect – well managed and in beautiful order. The Matron told me she had many difficulties to contend with in consequence of having for orderlies many men of means who had never done this kind of work before. I went over their quarters which were very nice and the bedrooms of the staff were beautifully neat and attractive looking, all of them apparently took a great interest in their rooms and had made them very pretty and some quite original.

Then we drove back to see the new Sick Sisters’ Hospital in Havre where we had tea. It is a nice house in grounds with a fine mess and sitting-room. Miss St. Leger, QAIMNSR, is A/Matron. They have accommodation for 30 people and the staff are accommodated on the top floor. At the time of the visit there were only 11 patients – 6 WAACs and 5 Sisters, none seriously ill. There is no WAAC sitting-room and I undertook to see what arrangements could be made in this respect.
After tea visited the Rue Phalsbourg, one of the sections of No.2 General Hospital: OC Captain Neil – Matron, Miss Wellman, QAIMNS It is a nice house which has been very much improved in many ways, and a small garden. They have General Service VADs doing the work and find the cooks most satisfactory. This hospital takes local sick and German sick and wounded. They have a considerable amount of work – in fact, more work that any unit in the area, as they are constantly taking in and evacuating..
We then went to the DDMS office, where I saw the DDMS, Colonel Firth, for the first time. I spoke to him about the lack of accommodation in the Sick Sisters’ Hospital and asked him whether it would be possible to retain a similar house, which has recently been a hospital, as an overflow where the nursing staff could be accommodated. I pointed out that if the present hospital became full of seriously ill people the present staff would be totally inadequate. Got back at 7 o’clock and had dinner at the Officers’ Hospital.

Left early – visited the Palais des Regattes (section of No.2 General Hospital) – Sister in charge, Miss Rankin, QAIMNS Retired. There were a great many patients in the building, but none seriously ill. In the rooms facing the sea front there were a certain number of officers suffering from various skin diseases, and in the huts in the garden there were all sorts of patients – BWIs, Indians, Chinamen and Kaffirs. They looked to be well managed and thoroughly looked after by orderlies, the Officer and the Sister in charge inspecting daily. Each section has separate bath and other accommodation. The nursing staff are accommodated in two separate houses a short distance from the hospital and on the whole are very comfortable. There is a lack of proper bath and washing accommodation, but this is in process of being altered and improved.
I then went to the Casino – OC Major Lowndes; Sister in charge, Miss Molloy, QAIMNS. The had just evacuated and at the time of the visit there were only 35 patients in the building. There has been very little alteration since my last visit, except that 2 large wards are now set apart for nurses passing through. The nursing staff are accommodated in rooms in the same building and have a comfortable mess and sitting-room and very nice bedrooms. They have extra accommodation for 23 people passing through and arrangements are made so that they mess and pay a franc a head for each meal they have.

Left for Etretat and visited Villa Orphee and Villa des Fleurs Convalescent Homes. There is a new Lady Superintendent at Villa Orphee, Mrs. Farrer, a very charming woman. The Home was quite full of Sisters. Mrs. Farrer said how thoroughly she enjoyed the work and how charming one and all of the convalescents had been. I had lunch there and then went over to Les Fleurs and saw Miss Gregory White, the Commandant, who is running this Home, which is set apart entirely for WAAC and General Service Section.

After lunch I left for Dieppe, where I went to No.5 Stationary Hospital. Visited the mess and saw the Matron, Miss Kydd Hart, AANS. It is now entirely hutted and they take mainly local sick. They have fairly regular and not at all heavy work and have from time to time a large number of coloured people of various nationalities. Returned in time for dinner.

Miss Wilton Smith, RRC, QAIMNS visited Rouen with Miss Conyers, RRC, Matron-in-Chief, AIF, and reports to me as follows:
Left for Rouen with Miss Conyers, and arrived at 12.45 p.m. Reported at the A/Principal Matron’s office. From there Miss Conyers went to No.1 Australian General Hospital and I went to No.5 General Hospital where I had lunch. OC – Lt. Colonel Lawson, RAMC, A/Matron – Miss C. V.S. Johnson, QAIMNS. At the time of the visit the hospital was fairly light, most of the wards being only half full, with the exception of the two acute surgical wards, which had a good number of cases. Had lunch in the mess with the staff – very good lunch, well served. The quarters are large and comfortable and well-lighted. The garden was beginning to look nice but had not yet had its spring-tidying up, but there were men working on it at the time.
After lunch went over to No.25 Stationary Hospital, with Miss Tunley, A/Principal Matron of the area. The OC Colonel McCarthy, was out but we saw the Matron, Miss Northover, TFNS. This hospital is now all hutted – some of the new huts are quite finished, and others are in process of erection. The new huts are exceedingly nice, wide, well built, with a nice duty room at the end as you go in and a scullery opposite. As it was a nice day the patients had nearly all be carried out into the garden. A new chapel has just been completed – it is built entirely of tree bark, but the actual building and the fittings – and all the labour has been done by members of the staff and patients. All the necessary furniture has been presented so that the whole building has cost nothing whatever to the Government. The windows are made of used X-ray plates which have been cleaned. The whole effect is wonderful and unique and the chapel is much appreciated by both the staff and those patients who are able to go. Went over the Sisters’ quarters. It was Sunday, the Sisters’ At Home day, and the sitting room looked very nice but is much too small. It was originally built for a staff of 30 and they are now 60. Additional mess and ante-room has been authorised and it is hoped that the accommodation will soon be ready. The bed-rooms appear to be tidy. There is urgent need of more bath and lavatory accommodation. Stayed the night at the Nurses’ Hostel.

Left for No.1 Australian General Hospital, where I met Miss Conyers. Saw the CO – Colonel Dick, and Miss Conyers thoroughly inspected the hospital, Miss Tunley accompanying us. The hospital was very empty, in some cases there being only 3 or 4 patients in a 30-bedded ward. There are 3 large Adrian huts just completed with 40 beds in each. The Sisters’ quarters are excellent in every respect, with a good mess and ante-room. Two additional coal stoves have already been put in and more are being arranged for, and when the Sisters have obtained paraffin stoves, the heating arrangements should be adequate. We had lunch in the Matron’s sitting-room.
After lunch we left for Abancourt where we visited No.4 Stationary Hospital, which has just been established, the nursing staff of 5 trained and 5 VADs having arrived about 3 weeks ago. This unit has accommodation for 100 patients, in 3 large Adrian huts of 30 beds each and a small Officers’ hut with 10 beds. Only two of the large huts were in use. They are similar to those I saw in Rouen and very nice, but as yet a little unfinished though they are each day getting more complete. The CO was bringing back Red Cross comforts from Rouen that day. The quarters are on the opposite side of the road, facing the hospital They are built of “quick” brick which gives a very pleasing effect, something like a stone bungalow. There is a large sitting-room with the mess leading out of it and a small scullery and kitchen at the other end. A second hut built at right-angles to the mess contains the sleeping accommodation – 4 double-bedded rooms and 3 single ones, with a bath-room attached. There is a verandah running the length of the hut which improves the general appearance of the quarters. The lavatory is connected with the quarters by a covered way. The bed-rooms were tidy but unfinished looking but this will no doubt be improved in time. The most urgent need is a fence of some description round the Sisters’ quarters, as at present they are open both to the road and to the field in which they have been built, with no protection of any kind. I impressed upon the Matron the importance of getting this done as soon as possible. Returned to Abbeville (Miss Wilton Smith’s report ends here).

3rd Army
Visited 3rd Army with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians. Left in the morning and drove straight to No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, where we both saw the OC and the Matron. We spent a considerable time in the Matron’s office where she explained to us the difficulties she had to contend with from certain members of her nursing staff who were neither loyal nor disciplined in any way. She gave us the names of a certain number she thought it would be advisable to have transferred to another unit.
After this interview we left for the Headquarters of the Army where we had been invited to lunch arranging to return after lunch to inspect the hospital and see any members of the nursing staff who were anxious to see either the Principal Matron or myself and also to see the OC of the unit. Arrived at Headquarters about lunch-time where we saw the DMS of the Army, Major General Murray Irwin alone, and explained to him the difficulties with which the Matron of 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was faced, owing to the undisciplined behaviour of a certain number of her staff. Although an invitation which had been given to the whole of the staff had been refused by the Matron as she considered it an unsuitable one, some of these members went to the entertainment which was given in a Café in Doullens by a very undesirable officer of a certain Division. The Matron found that these girls had not only gone and taken tea there but had attended a dance. In consequence of this, an entertainment which was being given by the Division to the hospital, the main moving spirit of which was the same officer, was cancelled and when the troupe arrived with the intention of entertaining both the patients and personnel, the OC would not permit them to come in or hold the entertainment. This annoyed the GOC of the Division who reported it to the DMS of the Army who, I am glad to say, supported the OC and the Matron.
After lunch we returned to No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital and went round the hospital, the grounds and the quarters, accompanied by the OC and Matron. It is a very large and scattered unit, spread over several blocks. It is self-contained, having its own water supply, electric light supply, laundry and vegetable garden. They are now starting a poultry yard and a piggery. Both the Commanding Officer and the Matron seem extremely keen and capable. After tea we returned to Headquarters in time for dinner.

Left with Miss Conyers, Matron-in-Chief, AIF and Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians, for GHQ, 2nd Echelon, where I saw Colonel Martin with reference to the new form which is required for obtaining particulars of capable VADs to be promoted to the rank of Assistant Nurse, also asked for the particulars to be forwarded without delay to enable us to send the 63 trained nurses who have just completed two months of their anaesthetist course at the Base to proceed for their final trial to a CCS, after which they will receive their certificates if considered sufficiently competent.
Drove to St. Omer where we had lunch at 10 Stationary Hospital mess, after which we drove on to Remy Siding where Miss Ridley stayed at No.3 Canadian CCS to enable her to inspect both that unit and No.2 CCS, while Miss Conyers and myself drove to Nine Elms and inspected No.3 Australian CCS where we saw the OC and discussed the question of teams and he pointed out the necessity of being supplied with a sufficient number of thoroughly efficient theatre Sisters directly the heavy work began. The unit is partly hutted, partly under canvas and the Sisters are extremely well housed in Armstrong huts, their mess and ante-room being in a marquee.
From there we went to No.1 Australian CCS which during the winter months has been and still is a Rest Camp. Here we stayed the night. The staff are well housed in Nissen huts, a large Nissen hut being set aside for their mess. The unit itself is composed mainly of Nissen huts and a certain number of marquees, and they have very fine operating theatre arrangements. They were in the act of changing from a Rest Camp back to a CCS. The unit seemed well organised and well managed and especially all arrangements with reference to their feeding seemed first-rate.

Left early for Remy Siding where we picked up Miss Ridley and where I saw the OC and Sister in charge of No.3 Canadian CCS as well as the OC and Sister in charge (Miss Dodd, TFNS) of No.17 CCS. Miss Dodd spoke to me about Mrs. Cameron, a member of her nursing staff who she thought it was desirable to send down to the Base. She was very nervous and excitable and had recently lost her husband who was buried near Ypres and she had been writing to all sorts of influential people in the Army to get permission to visit her husband’s grave, and had said she refused to leave the front until she saw it. As this lady is due for leave, I arranged for her to take it and to be replaced at the unit with as little delay as possible.
From there I went to Headquarters, 4th Army, where I saw Major General O’Keeffe, the DMS, and where we all had lunch with him at Headquarters with his staff. I told him of certain reports I had heard with reference to the New Zealand Stationary Hospital and undertook to visit the unit and let him know the result of my visit.
After lunch we drove to St. Omer where we visited No.7 Stationary Hospital, established in very fine grounds belonging to a chateau, the chateau itself, a very old one, being set apart for the accommodation of the nursing staff. It is extremely old, part of it having been built in the time of the Crusades and is a very interesting chateau in many respects having a very large amount of fine old oak, amongst which is a beautiful old staircase and a grandfather clock. The unit itself is composed mainly of Nissen huts having a very fine Red Cross hut given by the Canadian Red Cross Society, having a stage, plenty of card tables, 2 ping-pong tables and a fine billiard table. The hospital appeared well managed and comfortable. At the time of the visit there were not more than 50 patients.

4th Army
We then went to the New Zealand Stationary Hospital. The unit is equipped for 950 beds, mainly composed of Nissen huts and there is both a new OC (Lt. Colonel Newton) and a new Matron (Miss Brook). The hospital seemed to be very busy and not too well managed. It is under-staffed, only having a nursing staff of 35 Sisters out of which 5 were on leave and 2 were sick in hospital. There seemed to be a lack of interest everywhere and although the unit was undoubtedly short of trained nurses, there seemed to be an undue proportion of members of the nursing staff off duty. I went into a great many wards where there were no Sisters at all and when we went to the quarters and had tea, a large number were sitting about off duty.
Returned to 10 Stationary Hospital, where we stayed the night and where the whole staff of No.4 Canadian CCS and No.2 Australian CCS are resting, waiting for their units to re-open. Their respective Matrons-in-Chief interviewed these staffs after dinner.

Before leaving for Headquarters inspected the Sick Sisters’ Hospital which has just been established in the building which for the last three years has been set apart entirely for officers. A Lady Doctor has been appointed to this unit and she has a bedroom and sitting-room in the building. This hospital is both for nursing staff and WAAC and can accommodate 35 in all. It is well supplied with bath-room, lavatory and scullery accommodation. There is a sitting-room and mess room both for the Nursing Staff and WAAC and General Service people. The wards are nice and airy, there is plenty of accommodation for stores but the kitchen is a small one. At the time of the visit no arrangements had been made for a scullery of any kind but the Matron is dealing with this matter. As the kitchen is so small it is hardly possible to do the work in it, yet no room had been set apart as a scullery – out of the many out-houses the scullery had been entirely forgotten. The present room where a small supply of stores is kept is to be used for this purpose and the stores taken upstairs to the loft where there is ample cupboard accommodation, both for equipment, crockery and stores.
Returned to Abbeville in time for lunch – Miss Ridley and I to the office and Miss Conyers to spend some time at No.3 Australian General Hospital.

Left for Boulogne with Miss Conyers, RRC Matron-in-Chief, AIF and Miss Ridley, RRC Principal Matron, Canadians. Went to the DDMS office which has recently been moved to the Hotel Dervaulx where all the offices in connection with the Headquarters of the Boulogne area are now collected. The Principal Matron has 3 rooms – a waiting room, her own room and a large room where Miss Woodford, the embarkation Sister, and 4 VADs are comfortably accommodated. The DDMS was on leave. We went with Miss Blakely, A/Principal Matron, to tea in the house which she has just taken for herself and her staff. It is a well-built, well furnished house, with nice dining-room, sitting-room, basement, kitchen, out-houses and a very nice garden at the back. She has a VAD and a French servant to manage it. They will, I feel, be very comfortable. The house has gas laid on – the only thing lacking is a bath-room; it is taken at a rent of 300 francs the month. Miss Conyers and I stayed at the Hotel du Louvre and Miss Ridley at No.2 Canadian Stationary Hospital.

Went with Miss Conyers to No.2 Canadian Stationary Hospital, where we were met by Miss Ridley, Miss Pope, the Matron, and Lt. Colonel Donald, the OC. This hospital is well-managed and the patients give one the impression of being thoroughly well looked after. Some of the Sisters are accommodated in the quarters attached to the hospital and the remainder live in a chateau not far away. They all mess at the chateau.
We then left Miss Ridley at 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital and went on to 25 General Hospital where we first saw the OC with reference to the question of reducing the staff of this hospital in consequence of the majority of cases being skin cases and mostly walking cases, most of whom were being dressed at a central dressing station, in a hut. The Colonel was loath to part with any of his Sisters and said the treatment of skin cases presented many difficulties in consequence of the baths which were taken first before the treatment could be begun. He also emphasised the fact of the large numbers of cases arriving every day, which prevented the treatment of cases, many of whom stayed many months, being carried out at regular hours. He was not of opinion that the Sisters were likely to contract skin complaints from the patients and said that if one was short of nurses he would be quite willing to have a proportion of VADs in their place, which I said I did not agree with. Miss Kellett, RRC is the Matron and at present she has a staff of 92, all members of the AANS. The hospital is established in a hotel, 3 Villas and a large section under canvas and the nursing staff are very well accommodated in 4 well-furnished Villas with a Home Sister in charge and 4 VADs to assist.
Had lunch and after lunch returned to Boulogne, where we met Miss Ridley and proceeded to inspect No.2 Australian General Hospital – OC Lt. Colonel Powell, AAMC – Matron, Miss Gray, RRC, AANS – 4 Head Sisters. The hospital was not at all full and they were busy spring-cleaning. It is entirely hutted and the nursing staff are well accommodated in huts, with a good mess and ante-room, and good bath-rooms.
We then went to No.3 Canadian General Hospital – OC Lt. Colonel Eldred – Matron, Miss McLatchy, RRC. The hospital was very light at the time, the majority of the patients being Portuguese. It is a well managed unit, with very comfortable quarters for the Sisters.

To the DDMS office where I saw Colonel Blaylock, Head of the Canadian Red Cross, who is anxious to open a Convalescent Home for Imperial Sisters. I thanked him and asked him to put up his request officially, and said that up to the present we had applied to the Commissioner, BRCS, when in need of further accommodation for Sisters, but I felt sure his application would be considered and much appreciated.
We then inspected the new Nurses’ Home being opened by the Canadian Red Cross in the Hotel du Nord. It is being run by a Canadian lady, Mrs. De Brown and a certain number of VADs. It is being thoroughly done up and a bed-room and sitting-room are being set apart for Miss Woodford, who meets all the Sisters. All branches of the services are to be accommodated and to be taken in as they arrive, at a cost of 5.50 francs a night. It is expected that it will be open by April 1st.
I then visited the Chateau Mauricien (Sick Sisters’ Hospital) and saw the 2 VADs who had recently met with an accident, being run over by a motor-car, but who are now progressing favourably. We also saw Miss Whitely, a Canadian Sister, who has had Laparotomy done, when it was found that there was a malignant growth impossible to remove. Her condition is satisfactory. We also saw Sister Sherwin, AANS, who had recently been working at 25 General Hospital and who had contracted some form of specific disease in the form of an ulcer of her lip. She had been under treatment since December and is now free from infection and is recommended to return to 25 General Hospital. Miss Conyers saw the OC on the subject and it has been decided to bring the matter to the notice of the DMS, AIF who will decide what action to take. Returned to Abbeville.

The 21st March 1918 was the first day of the German spring offensive, when the German Army made such sudden and rapid progress, that many medical units were obliged to close or move at very short notice, or risk being over-run by the enemy. The moves and closures that took place are outlined in the following two pages - 'Visits' and 'Appendix', and a fuller account of the actions taking place can be found in this page from Wikipedia:
German Spring Offensive

Left 8a.m. for the 5th Army, arriving at Headquarters at 10 a.m. Saw the DMS, Major General Skinner – found him and his staff extremely anxious. All telephonic and telegraphic communication was entirely cut off and he was in want of both ambulance and train transport, transport of all kinds being a great difficulty owing to all lorries being used for ammunition. He asked me to visit No.41 Stationary Hospital, Gailly, Nos.32 and 34 CCS, Marchelpot, and No.47 at Rosieres.
I got to No.41 Stationary Hospital with very little difficulty, and saw the OC and the Matron Miss Badger. They were very busy and anxious to get more help. I promised if possible to send reinforcements, they undertaking if I could not manage it otherwise to send the transport.
From there I went to Marchelpot – had the greatest difficulty in getting along – the roads were absolutely crowded on both sides with troops and transport of every description, retiring. We passed large numbers of Italian, Portuguese and English troops, also large numbers of refugees in all sorts of conveyances as well as on foot.
Arrived at Nos.32 and 34 CCS which are side by side. In addition to their own staff they had the staffs of Nos.5 and 55 CCS which a few days before had to retreat from Tincourt. Both the units were overflowing with patients. Two trains had gone out early in the morning and so far they did not know when others were arriving. They had stopped operating in the morning and were all ready to evacuate. The total number of nursing staff there was 81. I saw the OC of 34 CCS and discussed the question of how the nurses could be got away. He said transport was very difficult – he introduced me to the General of the 24th Division who spoke with reference to the removal of the nursing staff. Transport was not available and he had advised the Colonel to ring up the 17th Corps and he though some help could be obtained from there. I pointed out to the OC that I disliked very much being brought into this matter – it was entirely his business and it was for him to report to the DMS what he had arranged. Capt. Payze of the Ambulance Corps stationed close by also came to see me. He wrote to the DMS and sent it by Despatch Rider, saying he thought he could get an ambulance from the 19th Corps. I left Marchelpot after lunch, and it was arranged that as soon as the patients were evacuated the nurses were to come away as soon as possible. I brought a member of the QAIMNS and an American nurse down with me, rather against my own judgement, but at the advice of the OC who thought it would be at any rate 2 less to be moved.
From there I went to Rosieres where 47 CCS was established, and 5 and 55 CCS were getting ready as soon as possible. No.47 had a staff of 35 including some anaesthetists and some team Sisters. I saw Colonel Ransome, the OC and Sister Fergusson, Sister in charge. They were very busy indeed, having begun taking in the day before. During the day they had taken in over 1000 and had at the present moment over 1700 patients and had not evacuated.
I returned to the Headquarters of the Army and found that the DMS had arranged for ambulances to go to Marchelpot to take the Sisters away and 2 Ambulance Trains had been arranged. He had taken 6 nurses from 61 CCS which was temporarily attached to 47 CCS to open a Rest Station on the station at Villers Bretonneux. I saw the OC of 41 CCS who said he had been able to take 9 of his staff to Roye where 50 and 53 CCS were established but he did not know where the Sister in charge and 5 other Sisters had got to. Found out later that they had arrived at No.42 Stationary Hospital, Amiens, after 24 hours on a refugee train. The DMS of the Army was very anxious and worried about Marchelpot.
Arrived at Abbeville at dinner time and returned to the office after dinner. Informed the DMS, L. of C of what I had found and rang up GHQ, arranging to visit them in the morning. Found that 53 nurses belonging to the 3rd Army had arrived at Abbeville, and that 54 and 30 CCS in the First Army were moving.

To GHQ first thing, where I saw the DGMS and Generals Macpherson and Bowlby, also Colonel Martin. Explained what I had done the night before and Colonel Martin undertook to send a wire to the DMS of the 5th Army instructing him to keep the minimum number of nurses in his Army and to remove all anaesthetists and team Sisters. Saw the DGMS privately and explained exactly what I had done. He was very anxious about his son who was commanding the 1st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles at the beginning of the engagement, at the extreme right of the Army, and he had had no news of him. Found everyone extremely anxious at the military situation.
Returned to Abbeville 11 a.m. Found that nurses were arriving from the 3rd and 5th Armies – from the 3rd Army to 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, and to 6 Stationary Hospital at Frevent; from the 5th Army to Abbeville and to 42 Stationary Hospital, Amiens.
In the 3rd Army – Nos. 3, 29, 45, 48, 49 and 56 CCS had evacuated and closed.
In the 5th Army – Nos. 5, 55, 32, 34, 61 and 41 CCS had closed. No.47 CCS was open and 6 nurses from 61 CCS had gone to form a Rest Station at Villers Bretonneux. Nos. 50 and 53 were open, also No.41 Stationary Hospital.
Had lunch at the Nurses’ Home and interviewed all the nurses personally. Instructed all Sisters in charge to give me a short account of what had happened from the 21st to the 24th. Great demands for nurses were being made from all the Bases and help was given. Everyone was working magnificently.

Left early for Amiens to No.42 Stationary Hospital. Found the hospital crowded with patients. The nurses had been working all night and all day, and there had been a heavy bombardment incessantly during the night and a great deal of damage done in the town. The hospital had not been hit and no-one was hurt – an ammunition train in the station was destroyed. Saw the OC and Matron and arranged to increase their staff. Sent the nurses (13 in number) with Miss Greaves, QAIMNSR Australia in charge, to join No.38 CCS which had opened in its new site at Corbie, the old site of No.21 CCS. No.42 Stationary Hospital was expecting the staff of 46 CCS and that of the Advanced Operating Centre. Arranged with the OC that when they arrived 6 of them were to be sent at once to 41 Stationary Hospital where help was required.
Went to the Amiens station to see the RTO. It was crowded with refugees in addition to the troops which were passing through. Found an Australian Sister, Miss Chadwick, who had been waiting 48 hours trying to get to the First Army. Sent her back to 42 Stationary Hospital, with written instructions to join for duty.
Then went on to Headquarters of the 5th Army. The day was still very hot and the roads, practically from Abbeville to Headquarters, were crowded with a Division moving forward. Saw the General and discussed the Marchelpot retreat which he was very distressed about. I did not visit any unit. I took some fruit with me which I gave to the General
I then went to 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in the 3rd Army at Doullens, where I saw the Matron, Miss Wilson, CAMC, and the OC Colonel Reason. The hospital was over-crowded, and an evacuation was taking place. In addition they were expecting 900 more wounded. They had their own staff of 38 Canadian Sisters and, in addition, the Sisters of 29 CCS and 45 CCS, numbering 36, but this was not adequate to cope with the large numbers of wounded. I undertook to send them 9 more people which they said they would be able to accommodate and if I could not send them any other way they said they would supply transport. Everything was working smoothly and satisfactorily and there was no confusion or excitement of any kind whatever.
From there I went to Frevent to No.6 Stationary Hospital where I saw the Matron and the Acting CO, the CO, Colonel Harding, having gone to 43 CCS to carry on during the absence of their CO. This unit was also very busy. The gardens were a blaze of colour and the lawns beautiful. The Matron was anxious to have her staff increased and I undertook to do so, and she said she could still put up the staff of 3 Canadian CCS directly they arrived, and make use of them until the unit was established, this unit having arrived from the 2nd Army. There had been a constant bombardment at night, both at the Citadel and at Frevent, but no-one in the precincts of the unit had been hurt.
From there I went to 12 Stationary Hospital, St. Pol. The town of St. Pol has been shelled incessantly for the last week. It is supposed that as 12 Stationary Hospital has escaped, the Germans take their bearings from the Red Cross for hitting the aerodrome in the same vicinity, the tank camp and the railway station. Here a certain number of the nurses have become very nervous and I undertook to send them fresh nurses to replace them. I got back to the office at 6 o’clock – everything was going smoothly and satisfactorily. General Carr had visited Treport and found everything satisfactory.

Miss G. M. Smith and Miss Ridley went to Etaples to see that everything was all right and to visit the hospitals and see the Principal Matron. General Carr visited Boulogne and returned by way of Etaples. Both said that everything was going smoothly and satisfactorily. We learnt that the 5th Army was moving into Amiens, and that 42 Stationary Hospital was coming to Abbeville with the whole of their personnel, that the staff of 41 Stationary Hospital (35), of 47 CCS (35) and the remainder of 41 CCS (9) had arrived at Amiens. The DMS 5th Army rang up to day he wished these nurses to remain at Amiens so I rang up 42 Stationary Hospital and let the OC know that only the staff of 42 Stationary Hospital were to come to Abbeville. Learnt that Miss Baird and 5 nurses who have been working at Villers Bretonneux were opening up a CCS at Namps.
Madame Dumont came to the office to say she had 4 beds in which she could accommodate nurses, and later sent a message to say she could take 6. Miss Harvey, Lady Superintendent of the Princess Victoria Rest Club, has been putting up 6 Sisters, and Miss Beesley, Superintendent of the YMCA Hostel for Relatives, sent round to say she could take 12 Sisters. Mrs. Gwynne Vaughan, CC, WAAC, sent her car with a messenger to say she had arranged that as many nurses as liked could go to the WAAC hostel and get hot baths.
Miss Bowden Smith, VAD who has served since the beginning of the war (not consecutive service) visited me on her way home on completion of her contract, she having resigned feeling she had many grievances and amongst these, that although she had worked for so long, she was only eligible for one Efficiency Stripe. I discussed many points with her and asked her to write to me officially on the points she considered many VADs had grievances, so that the matter would be passed officially, to the authorities.
Received letters from the DMS, 1st, 3rd and 5th Armies with reference to the supply of nurses and the work in their various areas.

Left early for the 1st Army arriving at Headquarters at 10 a.m. Saw the DMS, Major General H. Thompson, the surgical Consultant, Major General Wallace, and the ADMS Colonel Davidson. Discussed the military situation and he gave me particulars of the changes which were taking place in his Army:

No.39 Stationary Hospital is to remain at Aire.
No.51 CCS is to move from Merville to Aire.
No.12 Stationary Hospital is to remain at St. Pol.
No.30 CCS is moving to St. Pol, the staff helping at 42 CCS in the meantime.
No.1 CCS at Choques will move later.
Nos. 1 and 4 Canadian CCS are moving from Ruitz to Pearn, the staffs of these units waiting at St. Omer until required..
No.6 CCS from Ruitz will move later.
No.33 CCS from Bethune is opening up at Haverskerque near St. Venant.
No.54 CCS is also opening at Haverskerque.
No.22 CCS is still open at Bruay.
No.23 CCS is still open at Lozinghem.
No.42 CCS is still open at Aubigny.
No.57 CCS is opening up at Aubigny.
No.58 CCS is still open at Lillers. Has a staff of 6 – in need of 2 more theatre Sisters.
No.18 CCS is opening up at Lillers from Lapugnoy. 3 of the staff are waiting at 23 CCS for team duty and the remainder are resting at 10 CCS.

I discussed the situation with the DMS and undertook to supply nurses when required. In the meantime when units are moving, the staff of one CCS is going to be attached to one near by until the CCS that is moving is ready to receive their staff again.
Went with the DMS to visit No.58 CCS. We walked there so as to enable me to see the place where the recent fatality occurred exactly on the railway line, the result of a bombing raid when a goods shed had been set on fire and a tank of oil burnt, enabling the Taube to return and attack an Ambulance Train which was in the siding near by, and finally resulting in the death of one Sister and serious injury to another. The two Sisters who accompanied them displayed wonderful presence of mind – although shells were popping all round, one stayed on the line by the side of the girl who was dead and the other who was wounded, while the other went to the CCS for help. The 4 were returning to their billets when the accident occurred. The two girls, after bringing their sad burden to the CCS, continued working all night as though nothing had occurred. I am glad to know that the DMS is now arranging that all Sisters should be accommodated in the camp near their work to avoid the risk of any accident when walking backwards and forwards at night. Had lunch with the DMS – arranged that he was to ring me up when in need of help and I undertook to supply as far as possible all requirements. In the event of a rapid evacuation from any of his units, the nurses will be sent off as advisable, either to 10 Stationary Hospital, St. Omer and to 12 Stationary Hospital, St. Pol, whichever proves most convenient.

I then went to Headquarters St. Omer, where I saw the Principal Matron, Miss Hartigan, and the Sisters in charge of 10, 17 and 12 CCS which were being employed in that area while the units were moving.
Saw the ADMS who asked me to deliver a message to the DMS, L of C with reference to some order which had been given in connection with the evacuation of the General Service VADs, the information having been given by the Commandant, Lady Victoria de Trafford that the head of the Red Cross organisation was coming to St. Omer to consider the situation. The ADMS was naturally very annoyed and wished the DMS to know. Said he was informing the Base Commandant of the matter as the evacuation of all military personnel was their responsibility and theirs only. Returned to Abbeville in time for dinner. Found that the situation was considered serious and that the French were coming in to assist us in large numbers.


NEXT - MARCH 1918 (Appendix)