CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3990
SUMMARY OF INSPECTIONS AND WORK DONE DURING THE MONTH AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
SUMMARY OF INSPECTIONS AND WORK DONE DURING THE MONTH AWAY FROM HEADQUARTERS
Left Abbeville with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians, first thing in the morning, for Frevent. On the way we passed various Casualty Clearing Stations opening up, namely, No.49 at St. Ricquier, No.21 at Auxi-le-Chateau, Nos.43, 19 and 3 Canadian CCS at Frevent, which are all opening round No.6 Stationary Hospital. None of them are at present ready to take in patients – all are under canvas and all short of equipment, a great deal of equipment having been lost in their sudden retreat.
I visited No.6 Stationary Hospital while Miss Ridley went her unit, No.3 Canadian CCS. At 6 Stationary I saw the OC and the Matron. At the moment they were not too busy, having evacuated during the night. The hospital was in the same state of perfect order – the whole place a blaze of bulbs of every kind, the grounds swept and the lawns beautiful, and the vegetable garden and poultry yard run as on peace lines. They had converted one of the big huts into an enormous operating theatre and another one into a huge dressing room. Half of it was supplied with seats all round, with cushions covered with ground sheets, where the walking cases can sit and be comfortable until it is time for them to be dressed. Smokes and arrangements for feeding these men while waiting have been made in the little bunk at the end of the hut. The staff at this unit has been able to accommodate a large number of nurses in the retreat and also nurses waiting for duty in units about to open. At the time of the visit there were only 21 on duty which was not adequate. The nursing accommodation at this unit is excellent and the Matron can easily put up 50 hutted and they have now accommodation for another 40 under canvas. They are short of Medical Officers and asked if I could supply some of the trained Anaesthetists who are still under instruction, to continue their third month there. I went round the wards and saw a great number of seriously wounded men, a certain number of self-inflicted wounds and 2 Chinamen extremely ill with pneumonia.
Miss Ridley joined me and informed me that No.3 Canadian CCS were busy getting into order and things were being done as quickly as possible. The Medical Officers had made suitable though not too luxurious arrangements for the nursing staff – they were comfortable and their messing arrangements were quite satisfactory. This unit had moved from the 2nd Army so that they were fortunate in bringing the whole of their equipment with them as well as their mess property.
From there we called on the ADMS Doullens, Colonel Fitzgerald, who spoke about the excess luggage of all nursing members, and said that the staff of 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was excessive and in the event of an attack or shelling of the town, with such large numbers the difficulties would be enormous. He desired me to discuss the question with the OC Colonel Reason.
I then went with Miss Ridley to the Citadel, to No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital. Found that they had about 80 nurses, 21 of which (as well as 4 anaesthetists) were members of the Reserve. I discussed the situation with the OC and pointed out to him that these nurses were badly needed elsewhere but that when he had absolutely more work than he could tackle he must let the ADMS know and he would meet his needs if possible.
I left Miss Ridley there to go into all matters in her department while I went on to Gezaincourt. On the old site of 29 CCS which had only so recently been a perfectly equipped hutted unit on the side of the hill near the railway siding, it is now a mass of canvas – 3 Casualty Clearing Stations crowded together – Nos.3, 29 and 56 CCS, each with a Sister in charge and 5 other nurses. I saw all the Sisters in charge and in addition, the OCs of each unit. These units were in the making and at present had very few patients, but they were each trying to make up their equipment as best they could under the circumstances. The staff are all accommodated on the top floor of the Chateau, which is again an Officers’ Hospital as it was formerly. Arrangements have now been made for them to mess in their own compounds. Colonel Carmichael, OC of 29 CCS, was anxious to see me with reference to Miss Rice, TFNS, who had been his Sister in charge for a considerable time at Ytres and who in the retreat had worked first at Doullens and had then come to Abbeville, now being in hospital at Boulogne. He said he considered she was over-tired and wanted a long rest and he was more or less anxious about her health as she had become so overwrought and difficult, entirely, he felt sure, the result of over-fatigue. I assured him she was now in hospital and said I was grateful to him for letting me know, and I would make sure that she had a long period of rest before again taking up her work. He spoke in the highest terms of her work and management and said she had left nothing undone that should be done. While there I got a telephone message from the DMS of the Army saying the staff was wanted for No.20 CCS and I also saw the probable OC, Major Watson, who has recently been attached to Headquarters.
From there I went to the Chateau which is again an Officers’ Hospital with Miss Gedye, QAIMNS in charge and 5 other nurses. Here I had lunch. At the moment they were not very busy, having evacuated a large number of officers the day before. Before Miss Gedye and her staff arrived there had already been several deaths. While there I discovered that there were certain nurses who were anaesthetists and others not quite suitable and on returning to Headquarters I dealt with the matter at once by replacing them from people at the Citadel. The surplus people left at the Citadel were instructed to join No.6 Stationary Hospital. From these people I was also able to obtain a staff of 7 for No.20 CCS. Returned at 3 o’clock – found everything quiet and no further developments at Headquarters.
Instructed Miss G. M. Smith, QAIMNS to visit the 3 hospitals in the Abbeville area, as there had been a great many changes in the nursing staffs of these hospitals during the last week, and I wished to know the exact numbers of patients, their condition, and the number of nursing staff working in each unit. Miss Smith reported to me as follows:
First went to the South African General Hospital, where I saw Mrs. Creagh, the Matron, who told me that she had at the present time in hospital 321 cases. They had evacuated 127 during the night and taken in a corresponding number. Of these, 50 are fractured femurs, 10 of which had been admitted yesterday. These patients are of course all in the special femur huts, and were looking very comfortable, but a few of the cases seemed in a very critical state. Mrs. Creagh told me there has been a good deal of gas gangrene, and some cases had to be operated on for this immediately after admission. They have at the present moment a nursing staff of 10 of her own with 2 Reserves lent to her from 2 Stationary Hospital. 12 of her staff who had been sent to Boulogne a few days ago have been now recalled for duty. Mrs. Creagh informs me that when these are back it will make the working of the hospital as at present all right as she has been able to concentrate all her bad cases in the femur wards. She has only people on night duty at present [sic] but when the others return she will put more on.
To 3 Australian General Hospital where I saw the Matron, Miss Miles Walker, AANS, who took me round the hospital. They have 680 cases and about half this number are very acute cases, with many chest and head cases amongst them. The difference between this unit and the South African General is that most of these cases can and no doubt will be evacuated very shortly. I went into the wards that had had cases in for some days, which were looking comfortable and nice. I also went into a number of tents where they had admitted cases during the night. All the patients were from road convoys and had arrived fully dressed and were very muddy and dirty and the great difficulty in this hospital seems to be that they do not seem able to concentrate their bad cases. They had 27 of their own trained nursing staff and 2 Reserves lent from 2 Stationary Hospital. Even with this number the Matron tells me she cannot have a Sister in each tent, and in one tent I went into there was only a sergeant on duty and a Sister on call in the next tent.
To 2 Stationary Hospital – Matron, Miss Minns, QAIMNS Here they have 350 patients, 50 of these being officers. All came in by road convoy. They evacuated in the night and also took in again. They have 29 nursing staff all told on duty – 21 trained and 8 VADs. If the work keeps like it is at present, taking in and evacuating as they are doing now, the Matron says she will be able to manage quite well. A great drain here is the number of cases for immediate operation, both day and night. There seems to be a good deal of gas gangrene about at the present time, which necessitates this.
All these three hospitals have in the last few weeks put up a number of new huts, some of which are in use and some all ready to be occupied. At the South African General Hospital a new hut has been put up and is now ready to take in Officers’ fractured femur cases, but this is not yet in use.
Left for the 4th Army. Visited Headquarters at Flexicourt. Saw Major-General Bruce Skinner, CB, DMS, 4th Army, who told me that Major-General O’Keeffe was replacing him, as the 4th Army had taken over from the 5th Army and he had always been working with General Rawlinson and the 4th Army. General Skinner is going to the Reserve Army.
At his request, I visited Picquigny where Nos.5 and 46 CCS are opening up in buildings in the town, the nursing staffs of each respective unit being accommodated in billets, also in the town. They had only recently arrived and were busy taking in under more or less difficult circumstances owing to the lack of equipment or comforts of any kind. As fast as they are able to, patients are evacuated from these two units to Abbeville by road as it is not possible to evacuate them by Ambulance Train from this village.
Had lunch at the mess of 46 CCS in a funny little room in the town – quite comfortable and quite a nice lunch. Saw the Sister in charge, Miss Gray, who had just arrived. Miss Baird, Sister in charge of 5 CCS, I unfortunately missed seeing as when I visited the unit she had not yet arrived. I saw the OCs – Colonel Lestrange, 5 CCS and Colonel Ellis, 46 CCS, who were both satisfied with the staffs they had and the way they were tackling the situation. A great many operations were being done, both during the day and night. Colonel Lestrange told me about Miss St. John, a member of a surgical team who had done most remarkable work from one Clearing Station to another during the retreat. He said she was a wonderful manager and would be capable of managing anything, and that both her team work and her administrative work during the hurried moves were remarkable.
After lunch I left for Namps where 41, 50 and 61 CCS are opened. 41 CCS is doing the heaviest part of the work, 61 being an evacuating station close to the trains, and 50 occupied with walking cases only and having no nursing staff, so that the nursing staff (19) were practically all working at 41. Today for the first time two of the staff at 61 CCS, were doing dressings at the railway station attached. Miss Pool, Sister in charge of 61 CCS, was running the mess for the two units and Miss Branson, QAIMNS, Sister in charge of 41 CCS, was managing 41. I saw the OC, Colonel Edwards, and also the surgeon in charge (Captain Roberts) and was more than astonished to find that there was neither a Sister in charge of the theatre on day nor on night. A large amount of surgical work was being done and instead of the Medical Officers being assisted by Sisters, each team was being assisted by the orderlies and there was no Sister in charge of the theatre. I saw both the OC, the Sister in charge, and the surgeon in charge together and discussed the situation, and said that I could not understand how such a condition of affairs could have continued for one moment after the staff had arrived, and I immediately ordered a Sister both for day and night duty, nominating both. After seeing them, I visited the Sisters’ quarters and learnt that the situation had been a very difficult one and there is no doubt that Miss Branson was not strong enough to tackle it.
Returned to Flexicourt, meeting Major-General Skinner on the way and drove back with him to Headquarters where I had tea. I told the General what had happened and he was pleased with the arrangements I had made. He instructed me to move some of the staff from 41 CCS to 12 CCS at Longpre. Nos.12 and 55 CCS are opening at Longpre, and No.4 CCS, now in the 3rd Army, is to be taken over tomorrow by the 4th Army.
After tea went to No.4 CCS at Pont Remy, a beautiful site, entirely hutted, with splendid accommodation for the Sisters’ quarters and also for the Medical Officers. It has been until recently a Corps School of Instruction, with excellent accommodation for the WAAC who were doing duty there. Colonel Raleigh is the OC and Miss Townend, QAIMNS, the Sister in charge, with 12 other Sisters. Everything was in absolute order but up to the present they had admitted no patients. Returned in time for dinner. Learnt that the Abbeville units, No.2 Stationary, No.3 Australian General and No.1 South African General, were all very busy, also learnt that the Second in Command of the regiment which Colonel Sloggett commanded was in hospital at 2 Stationary. After dinner I was asked by the DMS, Major-General Carr, to visit the unit and see what was going on. I talked to Major Thornton, who was in a very critical condition. He knew Colonel Sloggett had been taken prisoner on the 21st but had heard nothing since; he had been fighting all the time until 2 days ago, when he was wounded. Went round the hospital and found it very busy in all divisions. A train was coming in during the night and all patients who could be moved were to be evacuated from all three units. For the present both Abbeville and Treport are merely Casualty Clearing Stations where patients are being looked after under the very best conditions.
Left for the 3rd Army. Visited No.43 CCS – OC, Lt. Colonel Watson and Sister in charge, Miss Laing, ARRC, TFNS, with 12 other nurses. The unit is entirely under canvas, and they were trying to get into order under the most difficult circumstances as the place is one mass of mud. The Sisters are accommodated in bell tents with a good marquee for a mess. There is a suitable kitchen and 3 batmen. Miss Laing thought her staff was too big and asked that 5 might be moved, so that the number would be reduced to 8 which would be enough for all requirements. The OC agreed in the Sister in charge’s opinion and I arranged to move them.
Called on the ADMS Frevent, Colonel Harding, who is also in charge of No.6 Stationary Hospital. Had lunch at No.6 Stationary Hospital and after lunch took Miss Gascoigne, Sister in charge of the Advanced Dressing Station, back to her unit, she having come to see her nephew, an officer in the Grenadier Guards, who was at 6 Stationary Hospital, seriously wounded. I also took another Sister with me, Miss Allen, to see an officer seriously wounded at Aubigny.
Visited Avesnes-le-Comte, the Advanced Dressing Station – OC, Major Clark – Sister in charge, Miss Gascoigne, CHR, with 2 other nurses. This unit has been established on the old site of 38 CCS, occupying the same huts and nursing accommodation. On arrival I learnt that the unit was closing down at once and that part of the line had been taken over from today by the 1st Army. Arranged that I should send a wire for the Sisters to rejoin No.6 Stationary Hospital without delay.
Went on to 42 CCS at Aubigny, where I saw the OC, Colonel McLoughlin, and the Sister in charge, Miss Sloan, TFNS, who has at present a staff of 16, which includes 4 nurses from 30 CCS and 2 anaesthetists. Everything was going smoothly and well, and they had a tremendous lot of work. The only thing that was wanted was a capable Sister in charge of the second Operating Theatre, which I undertook to send them. A good many French civilians were being nursed here, wounded by shells in the bombardment of Arras. This is a well-managed, very good unit. Since my last visit they have a big mess for the Sisters established in the compound, which assists matters considerably, as they only now sleep in the convent. Miss Allen, TFNS who had accompanied me from 6 Stationary Hospital, visited her nephew, a private in the London Scottish, who was badly wounded in the chest and shoulder but was progressing favourably.
Then I went to 57 CCS recently opened on the other side of the road under canvas, doing an enormous amount of work under the greatest difficulties, the mud being very bad. A great many seriously wounded cases were being evacuated at the time of the visit. I saw both the OC, Colonel Clayton, and the Sister in charge, Miss Russell Lee, who both expressed themselves entirely satisfied with their staff, and said their work had been more than satisfactory during the recent rush and heavy work, which they had only just got rid of. The theatre was in splendid order and the wards and officers’ division quite excellent. The whole unit is under canvas and lighted by electricity. They had been able fortunately to bring everything with them from their last site.
From there I went to 7 CCS to Ligny-le-Fochel – OC Lt. Colonel Williams, Sister in charge – Miss Taggart, with 7 other nurses. This unit is under canvas and very far forward. A heavy bombardment was going on and there had been a certain amount of shelling. This unit is today being taken over by the 1st Army and had just received orders to close down and move to another site. I arranged with the Colonel that directly the official orders were received, the nursing staff should return to 6 Stationary Hospital until required again. This unit had only recently opened up and had had one heavy take in only. The OC had today been instructed to visit Le Quesnel, where Nos.7 and 8 CCS are to open up with as little delay as possible. They will thus be in the 1st Army.
Returned to Frevent, leaving Miss Allen at 6 Stationary Hospital, and went on to No.21 CCS which has opened up at Auxi-le-Chateau as an infectious unit. It is in a beautiful position, all under canvas, with woods at the back. The OC is Colonel Walters and the Sister in charge Miss Ruck, TFNS, with a staff of 5 others. They had a large number of local sick to be seen every day in addition to a great many accidents from the Flying Corps, as there are 4 squadrons all close by without any medical officers, and all casualties are taken in. The operating theatre had been in use constantly since their arrival. They are able to take in 300 cases. In consequence of the shortage of staff they had only one Sister on night duty and I arranged to increase their staff by 2, if possible by 3, people. The Sisters’ quarters are under canvas, and as comfortable as they can be under the circumstances. Miss Ruck and her staff are busy re-arranging their luggage so as to send their extra kit to Boulogne to be stored. Returned to Abbeville at 7 p.m.
Instructed Miss G. M. Smith, QAIMNS to go to Treport, with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians, to inspect the hospital there. She reports to me as follows:
Left for Treport with Miss Ridley. Went to No.2 Canadian General Hospital and saw Miss F. Wilson, who had just arrived there as Matron in succession to Miss Goodeve. Left Miss Ridley there and went on to No.47 General Hospital. There have been a great number of changes in the staff of these hospitals, both trained and untrained. Checked the nominal rolls with Miss Lang, A/Matron, QAIMNS and she gave me particulars of where all her staff had gone to. She has now on duty 25 trained and 20 VADs also 3 APMMC masseuses. Miss Lang was very anxious that the latter should be transferred where there would be more work for them to do, as there is comparatively little for them to do there now. Although this hospital specialises in fractured femurs, they had never had a great number and during the last few days a great many had been evacuated, so that they had only 4 fractured femurs in the hospital, one of which had been admitted during the night. There are also attached to this hospital 60 General Service VAD members who are doing work in the wards and Sisters’ quarters. They had only 68 patients altogether in hospital at the present time. Had lunch in the Sisters’ mess – exceedingly good and well served.
Went from there to Lady Murray’s Hospital (No.10 BRCS), where also the staff had been greatly reduced in the same way. Saw Lady Murray, and the CO, Captain Newman. They had at the time of the visit only 16 cases in hospital and none seriously ill. They have a trained staff of 8 and no VADs. Both Lady Murray and the CO said that for the present they were quite well off for staff. If the hospital were to fill up they would apply for more.
Then to No.16 General Hospital (USA Philadelphia Unit). Here too they have been greatly reduced in staff and have now only 50 on duty. The total number of patients in hospital was 399 and less than half of these were at all serious cases. The Matron told me her staff was quite sufficient as they were able to concentrate all the bad cases and they can in this way be well nursed. The greatest difficulty they have here is having the Isolation Compound, which takes up a great many Sisters, as well as orderlies. At the time of the visit they had only 4 officers and 1 Sister sick in the compound.
From there I went to No.3 General Hospital. Their present staff is 26 trained and 26 VADs – 12 of the trained are Sisters who have recently been evacuated from Clearing Stations and are more or less looked upon as temporary staff, as they may be called upon to return to their units at any time. There were 300 patients in hospital, 23 of whom were officers. In the Sick Sisters’ Division there were only 1 Special Probationer and 3 General Service VAD Members. Amongst the patients in hospital were 51 German wounded. There are 81 General Service VAD Members attached to this unit. The Matron informed me that the staff is ample for present requirements. If at all necessary she could quite well manage with even less. Went over the hospital – everything looked very nice, especially the officers’ division. There were a lot of packing cases about, as this unit, like the others in Treport, is prepared to move at short notice, and consequently the hospital did not look quite at its best.
Left for Boulogne with Miss Ridley after lunch. After reporting at the DDMS office, went to Messrs. Cox, Bankers, where I paid in the remaining subscriptions of the Trained Nurses’ Annuity Fund.
From there I visited the Chateau Mauricien, Sick Sisters’ Hospital, where we saw Mrs. Whiteley, CAMC who is dangerously ill from an abdominal tumour which is inoperative, and who is getting gradually worse each day. I also saw Miss Watson, a lady worker from HRH Princess Victoria’s Rest Club, who has been most alarmingly ill, but who is improving daily.
To No.14 General Hospital, where I saw the CO, Colonel Thompson, late OC of 36 CCS, and where I discussed the question of the Sisters’ messing arrangements, in consequence of the whole of the staff having had to be accommodated in various billets near the hotel since being obliged to leave the Hotel Regina. Many difficulties present themselves, one being the smallness of the kitchen, and until this can be enlarged, the Colonel is arranging for the main part of the cooking to be done in the officers’ kitchen and taken over to the Sisters’ quarters.
From there Miss Ridley and I went with the DDMS Colonel Thurston to inspect the new General Hospital for Portuguese, which is about to be opened, and is to be supplied by a specially selected staff of English nurses. We went over the quarters, which are hutted and will be most convenient in every respect, with one of the Portuguese Medical Officers. The Medical Officers have been for some time working in an English hospital – most of them can speak English and are most anxious that their hospital should be run on English lines. I undertook to send them a staff of 10 nurses with as little delay as possible and this will be increased as arrangements can be made. Dined with the DDMS and stayed the night at the Hotel du Nord, the new Nurses’ Rest Home, which is being run by the Canadian Red Cross and has only recently been opened, - Mrs. Brown is the Lady Superintendent, assisted by a staff of VAD workers.
Left for Calais. Visited 35 General Hospital – saw the CO, Lt. Colonel Pinches and the A/Matron, Miss Rowe, QAIMNS. Everyone was very busy – the Casino is now devoted mainly to walking patients in consequence of the recent persistent air raids, suitable dug-outs being available for the men when an air-raid is taking place. Went over the huts and found that one is being set apart for officers suffering from fractured femurs. Miss Rowe appeared to be managing well and the OC expressed himself as satisfied. He said she was rather over-anxious but in every other respect quite suitable, and his is satisfied she will get over her anxiety when she gets more accustomed to the work and her surroundings.
From there to No.30 General Hospital where there is both a new CO and a new Matron. The CO is Colonel Ransome, who was recently in charge of a CCS in the 4th Army, and Miss Merriman, TFNS is the new Matron. The hospital is very much improved since last I visited it. A large number of huts have replaced the marquees and they have even been able to make a certain number of gardens in front of the huts and marquees. The Sisters’ quarters are exceedingly comfortable and well managed and the ante-room has been enlarged. This unit takes in both men and officers and at the time of the visit was extremely full, with not only sick but also wounded men, the barges bringing down large numbers each day. During the night three barges had been down and 8 were expected during the day.
From there we went to No.10 Canadian Stationary Hospital. The hospital has recently been taken over by the Canadians and was before No.38 Stationary Hospital, run by the RAMC and staffed by Australian nurses. It is composed entirely of Nissen huts with the addition of a very good operating theatre with annexes and X-Ray apparatus. One Nissen hut ha been set apart for the reception of WAAC and is being nursed by Canadian Sisters. The Matron, Miss Dulmage, gave one the impression of being a very capable woman. We had lunch in the Sisters’ mess with the staff and everything was very well managed and comfortable.
From there we went to the Isolation Hospital, where Miss Prendergast, QAIMNSR, is Acting Matron, but she was out. We were taken round by the senior Sister, Miss Fitzgerald. The hospital was very full and many improvements have taken place since my last visit. Additional annexes have been built, electric light put in, and the Sisters’ quarters are very comfortable indeed, not only the mess and ante-room, but there is ample bath-room accommodation and first rate arrangements for the supply of hot water.
Before leaving Calais called at the ADMS office, where I saw the DADMS. Left for St. Omer at 3 o’clock. As we got towards St. Omer we met lots of refugees and could hear a heavy bombardment taking place in the distance. Arriving in St. Omer at 5 o’clock we found that the town was in a rather disturbed condition. During the night there had been heavy air-raids and a great many houses had been destroyed. I saw the ADMS Colonel Shine and Major-General Sir William Macpherson, who told me confidentially that the hospitals in St. Omer were about to evacuate and that their positions would in all probability be taken up by CCSs, that the DMS General Carr had just left for Abbeville and that when I got back I should receive instructions from him to move the nurses to other areas as quickly as possible, that Treport was going to be re-opened and that it would be necessary for all the staffs in that area to be brought up to full strength. After seeing the A/Principal Matron, Miss Hartigan, and having tea at the mess where I found that a large number of nurses had arrived from various CCS which had suddenly closed down (between 80 and 90 nurses) I left for Abbeville. Arrived in time for dinner. After dinner when the General returned from the conference which was held at Headquarters, I was instructed to begin at once to reduce the nursing staffs in the St. Omer area, which I did by sending a certain number of telegrams before I left the office which I did not do until midnight. Nos.58 and 59 General Hospitals, with the annex at Moule, Nos.7 and 9 Canadian Stationary Hospital and the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital are to be closed down for the present and to be evacuated – No.7 General Hospital is to be reduced to 240 beds and No.10 Stationary Hospital is to remain as it is for the present.
Left with Miss Ridley for St. Omer arriving in time for lunch. Found that in spite of the evacuation large numbers of nurses were still arriving from the front and the same condition of things were existing as had been here last month. After lunch went with Miss Ridley to Headquarters of the 2nd Army at Blendeques where I saw the new DMS, Major-General Guise-Moores, also the Consultant Surgeon, Colonel Maynard Smith.
Drove with them both to Arneke where we inspected Nos.13, 44 and 63 CCS. The staff of No.10 CCS were waiting at 13 CCS to open up as soon as 10 CCS was ready, this unit making the 4th in this area. The staff of 2 Canadian CCS were also waiting until it was decided whether their unit was to re-open. Everywhere there was a great deal of work and the units were making the best of their present conditions – all are under canvas with a shortage of equipment except No.13 CCS which has been established for many months, being mainly hutted and the Sisters’ quarters in Nissen huts and extremely comfortable.
We then returned with the General to Headquarters and went on alone to the New Zealand Stationary Hospital, which we inspected. This unit has very much improved – it was full of very badly wounded people and there is no doubt the very best was being done for all the patients, many of whom were in a most critical condition and certainly would not recover. In the Officers’ Ward there were a great many very ill indeed and amongst them a German officer belonging to the Flying Corps who had worked on the Russian front for more than 2 years and had only recently come to this front, where he had come down with his machine, badly wounded, and was in a critical condition.
Returned to the Sisters’ mess, No.10 Stationary Hospital, where I stayed the night and where I saw Miss Harvey, Matron, TFNS who expressed her willingness to open the Portuguese Hospital and run it on English lines, with Miss V. Rogers as her Assistant Matron. I also saw Miss Kerr, TFNS who expressed her willingness to assist in this new work.
After dinner I went to the ADMS office and saw Colonel Shine, and undertook to reduce the staffs of 7 General and 10 Stationary Hospitals still further. He informed me that all the General Service Section were being removed from the area. He also informed me that Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, was remaining in her present position with her staff for the time being. By tomorrow all the nurses from 58 and 59 General, as well as 7 and 9 Canadian Stationary Hospitals will have left the area.
Left early, first to 10 Stationary Hospital, where I saw the OC, Colonel Hine, who has recently taken over the unit, having been with General Skinner in the 5th and then in the 4th Army, until his departure. He expressed his wish that the number of nurses should be reduced as much as possible.
From there I went to 7 General Hospital, where I saw the OC, Colonel Waring and Miss Howe, the Acting Matron. They were busy packing up and making final arrangements so that there would be only 240 beds left in the main building. The East and West Camp were being taken over by the 1st Army, and No.1 CCS was going into one division and No.18 CCS into the other.
Had an early lunch and then drove to the 1st Army Headquarters at Matringhem which is now established in a late Army Instruction School, a little camp, very out of the way, and composed entirely of Nissen huts, where the whole of the Headquarters staff are now accommodated. Saw Major-General Thompson, DMS, General Wallace Surgical consultant, and Colonel Davidson, DADMS. They were quite cheerful but still considered the situation a very serious one. Many units were moving and others were opening up.
After leaving there went to Pernes and visited Nos.1 and 4 Canadian CCS – first-rate units situated in a beautiful position. Both were working hard and in addition to the 15 Sisters had a certain number of British nurses working in each unit. Returned to Headquarters in time for dinner, travelling via St. Pol and Frevent.
After lunch went to Hesdin to see the DGMS in connection with:
(1) The closing of HRH Princess Victoria’s Rest Clubs at Abbeville and St. Omer, in consequence of a letter received from Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox;
(2) The opening of another Convalescent Home in Boulogne at the suggestion of Sir Arthur Lawley;
(3) A letter from Lady Gifford who had just returned from Cannes and was at Princess Louise’s Villa at Hardelot, about to open it again for the benefit of nurses, but on arrival she had found that the old caretaker, Fonchon, was very ill and she was under the impression that it would not be desirable to re-open it as a Convalescent Home for Sisters for the moment. She was anxious to open another home elsewhere and was in communication with Sir Arthur Lawley on the subject;
(4) Also in connection with 2 letters from Sir Arthur Lawley, one in connection with the opening of yet another Convalescent Home, which I did not answer immediately, as I felt that the military situation was such that it was not desirable to consider any extra expense at the moment; and another letter from him in which he said he thought there must be some misunderstanding with reference to the removal of the VADs from 6 and 12 Stationary Hospitals, that he did not wish them to be moved unless the nurses were being moved also. This letter was a little surprising and entirely different from his recent opinions, when he was more than anxious about the VADs.
Returned to Abbeville.
Instructed Miss G. Smith, QAIMNS to visit Boulogne – she reports to me as follows:
Left for Boulogne with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians, arriving about 12 o’clock. Went to Messrs. Cox and Co. and paid in 7000 francs, mess balance from a number of CCSs which are temporarily closed. Had lunch at the Folkestone with Miss Ridley, Miss Blakely, Principal Matron of the area, and Miss Woodford, TFNS.
After lunch went to 14 General Hospital and saw the Matron, Miss Barrett, QAIMNS Retired, who had just arrived and was busy taking over the equipment of the hospital. They were busy evacuating at the time so we did not go over the hospital.
From there we went to the Portuguese General Hospital where we saw the new Matron, Miss Harvey, TFNS, who had arrived with 9 of her staff on the 19th. Miss Harvey said that everyone was most anxious to help them and make them comfortable. She was anxious to have more staff as they had 900 patients in hospital – a number of these were only light cases but there were on the other hand 200 helpless cases who needed care and attention. They were evacuating to Portugal via Brest at the time of the visit. Officers are not taken here but at the Portuguese Red Cross Hospital a little way off.
Called on Mrs Robertson Eustace with Miss Blakely, A/Principal Matron. She has now decided to become affiliated to the Scottish Church Huts, so that she can continue her Military Nursing Sisters’ Club, the AG having informed her that she must otherwise close her Club.
Left for Etaples arriving about 12.30 p.m. Called at the DDMS office, and then Miss Ridley went on to No.1 Canadian General Hospital and I went to lunch with Miss Stronach, A/Principal Matron, arranging to meet her again at 5.30.
After lunch, went out to Camiers to No.20 General Hospital, where I saw the Matron, Miss Humphries. This unit had been exceedingly busy but was then a little slacker. They had at the time 200 officer patients and 1055 men. Went round the hospital with the CO, Colonel Shea, and the Matron, and went into the Officers’ Division which is not yet finished, but will take 400 patients. This is a self-contained building, across the road from the other side of the hospital, and when finished will be exceedingly nice. Amongst the wounded officers was Brigadier Lord Esme Gordon Lennox, who was wounded in the back and chest. He had his wife and sister-in-law with him. The Matron told me that frequently they had as many as 50 relatives visiting wounded officers at the same time. I went into the special jaw and dental departments and spoke to the jaw specialist, who was operating. Both he and the CO said that it took Sisters some time to get accustomed to this special branch of work, and they were quite satisfied with their present staff.
Went on to 4 General Hospital, where I saw the new Matron, Miss Allen, QAIMNS. The CO, Colonel Steele, was out. This hospital used to be partly hutted and partly under canvas but the canvas is now being replaced by Adrian and Nissen huts, a number of which were finished and others in course of completion. Went into most of the special femur wards – all the patients looked very comfortable and well cared for. Miss Allen, who has not been there very long, said that everything was running smoothly and her staff were quite satisfactory. The only trouble at the present time which she discussed with me and the A/Principal Matron is that she and her assistant do not work quite in unison. She spoke very highly of Miss Harrison and hopes that when they become better acquainted this will be all right.
Went to 42 Stationary Hospital – this unit is now established on the old site of No.11 General Hospital, which was occupied for a time by No.8 Canadian Stationary Hospital. This hospital takes 400 patients and has been principally under canvas, but they are now putting up Adrian huts. Some of these are already finished and in use. There were about 200 patients in the hospital at the time of the visit. The quarters are very nice with good mess and ante-room but needs a good deal of cleaning and re-furnishing. They had fortunately some of their mess equipment which they were able to bring with them from Amiens when the hospital moved, and a good mess balance handed over by the Matron, Miss Jones, QAIMNS. Returned to Abbeville in time for dinner.
Left for 4th Army. Visited Headquarters at Flixecourt where I missed General O’Keeffe, but saw the Surgical Consultant, Colonel Sinclair, and Colonel Potts the DADMS, who told me that Nos.32, 34,46 and 50 Casualty Clearing Stations were re-fitting, and would not, under the present arrangements, be returning to the 4th Army. He said he had been discussing the question of staffs with the General, and they thought that at present if it were possible to bring all the Units up to 15 it would be an advisable number, and under ordinary circumstances he did not think this number would require increasing. I then left for Vignacourt, where I visited Nos. 61 and 20 Casualty Clearing Stations.
No.61 Casualty Clearing Station OC Lt. Colonel Turner; Surgical Specialist Major Stanley; Sister in charge Miss A. I. Baird, QAIMNSR; Sister in charge Operating Theatre Miss Hamilton Watts, TFNS. There were no Teams and no lady anaesthetists. The Hospital and Sisters’ Quarters are under canvas in process of becoming properly established. At the time of the visit there were only a few badly wounded patients remaining, as they had had an evacuation in the night. Arrangements were being made for a marquee to be set apart for a mortuary, and a bell tent as an office for the Matron, in which she kept a certain supply of Red Cross things, the remainder being kept in the Quartermaster’s Stores. The Quartermaster, Captain Brindley, was very good and most helpful. At the time of the visit there was a staff of 12, 3 being on night duty. The Sister in charge had borrowed crockery from the Quartermaster for the mess until they were able to purchase again, as all their equipment had been lost in the Retreat.
No.20 Casualty Clearing Station the other side of the road. OC Lt. Colonel Ritchie; Surgical Specialist Captain Anderson; Sister in charge Miss E. O. Schofield CHR and a staff of 15. The same arrangements with reference to the camp exist in this Unit as at No.61 CCS. At the time of the visit they were quite light, 272 people had been evacuated during the night. This unit is more fortunate than No.61 CCS as they have got the whole of their equipment, and in addition the Sister in charge has an Armstrong Hut for office, and Armstrong Hut for the night duty people, and an Armstrong Hut next to her office where all the sterilising is done and which she superintends. I saw the Surgical Specialist who is rather a difficult man, and difficult to please with regard to the Sister in the Theatre, and the OC later informed me that it was not entirely the capabilities of the Sister that he looked at, but he made a personal affair of these things. Miss Schofield said she had a splendid staff. Staff Nurse A. Macdonald, TFNS, who had only recently come to the country, is perfectly splendid in every way.
No.4 Casualty Clearing Station This unit has just moved from Pont Remy, and is now under canvas and in absolute order. There is every possible convenience, flowers in the marquees, trench mats, etc. etc. It is difficult to think that it has not been running for months. OC Colonel Rahilly; Surgeon Major Delacourt; Sister in charge Miss Townend, QAIMNS with a staff of 15 others. Most of the staff belong to No.19 Casualty Clearing Station and are reported as being excellent in every respect, the only person being rather doubtful is Miss Jackson, TFNS whom I have arranged to replace.
No.41 Casualty Clearing Station This Unit is busy opening up. The staff are at present resting at the Nurses’ Home, Abbeville.
No.5 Casualty Clearing Station OC Lt. Colonel Lestrange; Surgeon Major Gordon Taylor; Sister in charge Miss Pool TFNS and a staff of 13, one not suitable, and am arranging to increase the staff to 15. There was one Team working from No.41 CCS which is now closed, and am arranging for the Staff Nurse, Miss L. H. Saw, to be taken on the strength of No.5 CCS.
No.47 Casualty Clearing Station OC Lt. Colonel Dive; Surgical Specialist Captain Hancock; Sister in charge Miss E. Gray, TFNS with a staff of 15. At present the Matron has not an office, nor has she any Red Cross supplies, these being kept by the Quartermaster. I have asked her to approach the CO on the subject, and ask him what arrangements can be made. The Unit has a large number of seriously wounded patients, and the work had been very heavy. The arrangements and conditions of all these six Casualty Clearing Stations are practically the same, every possible arrangement has been made for the Nursing Staff, and they have been able to shop for the mess from Abbeville, as well as get various extras from the Expeditionary Force Canteens in the neighbourhood.
No.12 Casualty Clearing Station OC Lt. Colonel Hamilton; Sister in charge Miss E. Lowe QAIMNS who was not on duty. An enormous Casualty Clearing Station simply crowded with badly wounded patients, and in addition a factory nearby where there are a large number of walking cases more or less badly wounded, and a little section for Ophthalmic work. The OC was not satisfied with the Sister in charge, he does not think that she is capable of tackling this sort of work. I went round some of the wards with him, and saw the amount of work that had to be faced. The Operating Theatre had been working day and night for 48 hours. I undertook to increase his staff by 3 as soon as possible and send him a capable Sister in charge.
No.55 Casualty Clearing Station just next door, under the same conditions, only the whole of the Unit is under canvas. They were extremely busy, they took in alternately with No.12 CCS and they had the evacuation of not only their own but of the patients from Cruny as well. OC Lt. Colonel Higgs, whom I did not see, Sister in charge Miss D. P. Foster, TFNS whom I saw, and who has recently been awarded the Military Medal for her work in the Retreat in the 5th Army. In both these units the Sisters are accommodated in billets in the village and have their own separate Mess, batmen being supplied to do the cooking. They are very comfortable in every respect. The work in all the units which I visited was going smoothly and satisfactorily.
Visited Army Headquarters at Materinghem. Discussed with the DMS, Major-General Thompson, the following points:
(1) the question of the disposal of nursing staffs when a unit had to suddenly close either to retire or to advance;
(2) the advisability of appointing 2 permanent theatre Sisters to each unit to be on the permanent staff and not to be taken away for team duty;
(3) that in addition there should be 3 Staff Nurses available for team duty and that when these three had been taken away, the remainder of the staff of any unit was not to be taken away unless the number was considered to be excessive and then an application should be made to me to reduce the staff;
(4) the question of qualified anaesthetists who have just gained their certificates.
The first three points the DMS and the Surgical Consultant entirely agreed with –
(1) that in future the staff of a unit moving should be sent to one of the units which are most suitable for nurses to be sent to at the time and where they can have a rest until their unit is ready for them again; and, in addition, I should always have a fresh staff available to send at once to any unit which would be compelled to open to take the place of the one which had suddenly closed;
(2) they entirely approved of the appointment of permanent theatre Sisters;
(3) they also approved of the suggestion of having three available team Sisters only at each unit;
(4) the question of the number of anaesthetists to be left in each Army has yet to be decided by GHQ.
The following units are now working in the 1st Army:
No.12 Stationary Hospital, at St. Pol
No.39 Stationary Hospital, at Aire
No.7 CCS, at Ligny
Nos. 22 and 23 CCS, at Lozinghem
Nos. 42 and 57 CCS, at Aubigny
Nos. 51 and 54 CCS, at Aire
Nos. 1 and 4 Canadian CCS, at Pernes
Those that are opening up and not working or not requiring Sisters for the moment are:
Nos. 1 and 33 CCS, at Elnes
No. 6 CCS, at Pernes
Nos. 30 and 8 CCS, at Wavram St. Pol
Nos. 18 and 58 CCS have been taken over by the Second Army.
Then went to Lozinghem and visited Nos. 22 and 23 CCS.
No.23 CCS is in the same place in the grounds of a chateau, hutted and excellent in every way. The Sisters are accommodated in the chateau. They now have a great many more rooms so it is not necessary to have any billets in the town. It is exceedingly comfortable, a well managed, good mess. The hospital itself was full of seriously wounded people, both French and English, and a certain number of civilians. The CO, Lt. Colonel Fawcett, is new – Miss Alexander, CHR is the Sister in charge, and Sister May in charge of the theatre. They had 5 teams on duty at the moment, 3 from No.1 CCS, 1 from 59 General and one from 22 General Hospital, as well as their own team. They had one Sister on duty as anaesthetist. The staff on duty were 19 including team Sisters and anaesthetists, and there were 7 on night duty. The huts were well managed, well ventilated, well lighted and with very good annexes. They have a good chapel and mortuary. The Sister in charge has a very good office in a marquee where she keeps all her Red Cross stores – she has had most wonderful supplies from Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild.
No.22 CCS is just opening up in the grounds of the same chateau, having come from Bruay. It is entirely under canvas, including the operating theatre. The OC is Lt. Colonel Goodwin and the Sister in charge, Miss Wyllie, QAIMNSR, with a staff of 16, including 2 teams. Two of their good theatre Sisters, Miss Solling and Miss Cockburn, had been sent with teams to No.18 CCS in the 2nd Army, which had hampered them considerably. The OC was thoroughly satisfied with Miss Wyllie, the Sister in charge, who is suitable in every respect, and he welcomed the idea of having two permanent theatre Sisters and three other Sisters available for team duty only. At present he had an odd staff gathered from one or two units already closed, which he does not find very satisfactory, and I undertook to regularise it for him. The Sisters’ mess is partly in Nissen huts and partly under canvas and will be extremely comfortable. This unit also was very full indeed.
From there I went to Aire to No.39 Stationary Hospital. The OC is Lt. Colonel Unwin, RAMC and the Matron, Miss Preston, QAIMNSR. At the time of the visit they had a staff of 21 including 3 teams and 3 anaesthetists. They had had until yesterday the whole of the nursing staffs of Nos. 51 and 54 CCS. The hospital is partly in a prison and partly in Nissen huts. They have accommodation for both officers and men, and at the time had both French and English wounded and some wounded German officers. The quarters are partly in a building and partly in Nissen huts. There had been and still were at the time of the visit a great many patients who required a deal of care and attention.
I saw the OC who told me he was not entirely satisfied with the Matron and was glad I had arrived as he would be glad of some change. I expressed my regret that he had not written that things were not satisfactory, as I had not been at the unit since Miss Preston was appointed Matron 3 months before. I went round the hospital and had tea in the Sisters’ quarters and was not impressed with anything. I undertook as soon as I could to replace Miss Preston by someone having experience in the work in France, Miss Preston having only arrived from England just before Christmas, and will no doubt require instruction under a capable Matron as Assistant Matron before being able to run a hospital. In spite of having 2 French maids and 5 batmen, the quarters were far from satisfactory. It was somewhat disappointing as the unit had been in first rate order when it was handed over by Miss Toller, QAIMNS to the present Matron. In the hospital also there appeared to be lack of supervision of the nursing staff who were both untidy and improperly dressed.
From there I went to 2nd Army Headquarters arriving there about 7 o’clock, where I saw Major-General Guise-Moores, and discussed the same points with him as I had done at the 1st Army with General Thompson. He also agreed with my suggestions and was glad that I was going to visit the units in his area in the morning. The present situation is as following:
No. 3 Australian and No. 2 Canadian CCS, at Esquebecques
Nos. 10, 13 and 44 CCS, at Arneke
No. 63 CCS had just been handed over to the French
No. 15 CCS working, No. 2 CCS putting up at Eblinghem
No. 17 CCS, at Arques
Nos. 1 and 2 Australian CCS, at Blendecques
No. 58 CCS, at Longuenesse
The Duchess of Sutherland’s Hospital, at Longuenesse as an annex of 58 CCS
No. 18 CCS putting up at Malassises and when ready will take in infection cases
Nos. 36, 63 and 64 CCS just closed – opening up at Watten
No. 1 Ambulance Flotilla is now going to be taken over by the 2nd Army
No. 7 General Hospital (St. Omer Section) and No. 10 Stationary Hospital will also shortly belong to the second Army
Went on to No.10 Stationary Hospital where I spent the night.
Left early and took nearly 2 hours to get from St. Omer to Arneke, in consequence of the tremendous amount of traffic, both English and French, going forward and others coming back.
Visited No.10 CCS which had just opened up under canvas and where they had 9 of their own staff as well as 2 masseuses and the whole of the staff of No.62 CCS (18 in all), all working at very high pressure. The hospital had only just opened up in a field and there was a great deal of mud, the Sister’ quarters and the officers being in a field on the opposite side of the road, and these should be very good indeed when established. At present they are working under great difficulties as before they were properly established they had to take in. The CO is Colonel Tobin and the Matron Miss Foley, QAIMNS. I saw them both and arranged with the CO that if he was in any difficulty of any kind he would let me know. I saw the Sister in charge of 62 CCS, Miss Duncan, CHR, and got the particulars of her staff.
No.13 CCS was as busy as No.10. I saw the Sister in charge, Miss Killery, QAIMNS and found that in addition to her own staff of 13, she had the whole staff of 64 CCS, (22 people) as their unit had just closed. They were all working at high pressure. Unfortunately I did not see the Sister in charge of 64 CCS as she had been obliged to go to Boulogne to attend a Court Martial.
Went to No.44 CCS and found that in addition to their own staff they had the staff of No.36 CCS. Miss Wood, QAIMNS, had just arrived and Miss Potts was handing over to her. I saw the CO, Lt. Colonel Emerson, RAMC, and went round the hospital and quarters, which were all very nice indeed. The hospital was very full, both English and French.
I saw the Sister in charge of 36 CCS – she and her staff were waiting to go to their new unit which is supposed to open up in a day or two.
Found that the staff of No.63 CCS had just gone to No.10 Stationary Hospital as the French were taking over that CCS to enable them to have somewhere to nurse their own people. In all these units I told the Commanding Officers of the arrangements which were about to be made with reference to the nursing staff, and one and all felt that these arrangements would be of great assistance.
Then I went to Eblinghem and saw Colonel Crawford, the OC, and Miss Robb, CHR, the Sister in charge. They had 6 of their own staff and 20 belonging to No.2 CCS. This unit has been established for a very long time and is entirely hutted, both for the patients and the Sisters. It was overflowing with patients as No.2 CCS which is opening up on the other side of the road is only able at present to take in walking cases. The OC expressed himself entirely satisfied with Miss Robb and said one and all had worked magnificently. He, like all the others, complained of not having their own staff and having only lodgers who were there for a few days to go again.
I then went to No.17 CCS at Arques. Lt. Colonel Hughes, RAMC and Miss Dodd, TFNS Sister in charge, with a staff of 8. It has taken up its position on the old site of No.7 Canadian Stationary Hospital, a splendidly hutted unit in lovely grounds, walled in, with a chateau for their quarters. Up to the present they had had little or no work but everything was in readiness.
From there I went to Malassises to No.7 General Hospital where I saw Miss Howe, QAIMNS the Matron, and Major Eyre Smith, the CO. They had only 4 scabies officers in, and she had a staff of three who were just waiting to find out in what way this unit is going to be utilised when taken over by the Army.
In the grounds No.18 CCS was being established, making use of the huts which were used when No.7 General Hospital was working and also the huts belonging to the Sick Sisters’ Compound and all the accommodation recently used by the General Service Section, so that it promises to be a very fine unit indeed. Lt. Colonel Stores is the OC and at present I am not asked for nurses.
From there I went to No.10 Stationary Hospital and saw the OC, Colonel Hine, and Miss Hartigan, QAIMNS the Matron. They have at present only 22 nurses which is not enough and they are asking whether authority could not be obtained for 40. They are taking in officers as well as men and have two large theatres with 6 tables in each working pretty continuously. The Sick Sisters’ Hospital is still to remain open and Sisters from the Armies will at present be admitted there. Stayed the night here.
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