The first edition of the Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital was published in October 1915, and included a report on the visit of the King and Queen to the hospital on 1st September. Understandably, this was also reported by the Wandsworth Borough News and between the two publications we can get a good idea of the scale of the visit.
According to the paper, the Royal party visited with only a few minutes notice, having driven up from Windsor, but when they arrived around 200 patients were “drawn up in double file. They were all in the now familiar blue uniform”. The Hospital Gazette phrases it slightly differently, saying that it was as nearly a surprise as was reasonably practicable and that no preparations were made aside from lining up the chairs outside for the patients. The party arrived, went inside for introductions then returned to go up and down the lines of patients, accompanied by the CO, the Matrons and Sir Alfred Pearce-Gould.
The Borough News reported on exchanges between the royal visitors and the patients, including one patient who asked if he could have a job in the royal stables. Another said that they were fed like cattle, to which the King replied: “You don’t mean they fed you on hay” – apparently this “caused many smiles”. The King and Queen subsequently passed the kitchens as orderlies were fetching food for patients (the Gazette reports that apart from the patients outside, everything else carried on as usual), and paused to inspect the food, perhaps spurred on by the conversation.
The visit lasted two and a half hours, during which the King and Queen visited almost every ward. The Borough News notes that the wards have passages over a mile long, and there were additional wards built to the side of the Royal Victoria Patriotic building as well (forming what was known as “C block”).
The visit was summed up by the Gazette as:
The King and Queen had come down to Wandsworth, really, to say just two words to each of those blue-clad men. And the words are: “Thank you”.
The Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital is available on request
Wandsworth Borough News available on microfilm
For details of a nurse at the 3rd London General Hospital: http://www.schoolsofnursing.co.uk/Collections1/Collections18.htm