February’s edition of the Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital contains an image by Private C R W Nevinson of “A Futurist’s Impression: The Receiving Hall”. This was the last image drawn by Nevinson whilst he was on the staff at the hospital, the notes column on contributors says that he was discharged from service due to ill-health – although he did still contribute to later editions. The receiving ward, and process of receiving new patients, was also covered by a series of cartoons from new contributor Captain C Rhodes Harrison, with a rather less serious approach.
Arrival of patients to the hospital has been briefly covered in the blog before (see here), mainly referring to the reception granted to patients arriving at the station. There are various suggestions that a special platform was built for the hospital – so far this has not been mentioned in the Gazette and it does not appear on the 1916 Ordnance Survey map. An account of the arrival of the first patients in the January Gazette says that the staff all watched for the Red Cross train coming up the line past the hospital and that they waved and cheered as it went by, then promptly all scattered to be on the wards ready for the patients coming from Clapham Junction.
A later description of an intake of wounded describes the orderlies waiting outside the hospital for the ambulance convoy to arrive: “They chat and joke in subdued voices. Some puff the surreptitious smoke. Suddenly there is a stir. Someone has caught sight of the lamps of the first ambulance, creeping at a snail’s pace along the road on the far side of the railway line”. As the ambulances reached the entrance, the main doors were opened and Matron and the sergeants came out to oversee the arrivals. Four orderlies went to each ambulance to take the stretchers – sometimes as many as four in each ambulance – and carry them into the receiving hall. On the way in they were stopped by doctors who checked what was wrong with each patient and assigned them to the appropriate ward, whilst other orderlies brought in bundles of uniform and patients’ possessions, which were all recorded before taken to stores. The Rhodes-Harrison cartoon implies the efficiency of the process, if not entirely accurately.
Elsewhere in the February Gazette, the Notices, a regular feature on the back page, included several directed towards ANZAC troops. Cabling to Australia was advertised as available at a special rate, available from the Australian War Contingent Association, which also advertised opportunities for Australians on furlough to spend some of their time in country houses in England. The New Zealand War Contingent Association had a memorandum on display in the Recreation Room, with information on cabling, correspondence and accommodation in London. Both sets of troops were to be made welcome at 130 Horseferry Road, where an “energetic staff of Australian ladies” had set up the ANZAC buffet. ANZAC troops featured elsewhere in the Gazette on a regular basis, this month also includes two sketches by Vernon Lorimer of the 5th Field Ambulance AIF, as well as his illustrations for a piece called “Jonah’s Diary”.