4-10 April 1916: 3rd London General Hospital

April’s edition of the Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital covers the usual wide range of subjects, including noting that the magazine was now six months old and talking about its success.  Some rivalry creeps in here, as it refers to one of their artists being sent there and “not to one of the other hospitals with whose magazines ours is in such pleasant rivalry”.  The Gazette benefitted from a group of artists who had joined up as hospital orderlies – some of whom this blog has covered before, such as C RW Nevinson, but for this issue also included Australian artist Private Vernon Lorimer, who was a patient.  The editors were pleased to have reached six months, as a voluntary endeavour often dried up after the first two or three, and felt that the Gazette “was never more alive than it is to-day” – although they did hope for the end of the Gazette when the war itself ended.

There were several articles about the nursing staff, as there often were, this edition including a photograph of Queen Amelie of Portugal, who was one of the nurses.  Although she mainly lived in France after Portugal became a republic, she came to the 3rd London General Hospital to help with the wounded, “performing the ordinary duties of a probationer, going to her ward on arrival, and leaving when her duties were finished”.  Few photographs of her at work existed, as she preferred to focus on what she was doing and not the press – the photographs in the Gazette were presumably taken purely because it was the hospital’s own magazine.

Nursing staff contributed their own articles to the magazine, including one about the first Zeppelin raid. It’s not clear if it refers to the first ever Zeppelin raid over London, or the first one which crossed over the hospital, but it does include an anecdote about a sister who sprang out of bed, dressed in perfect uniform at speed and disappeared to the wards, muttering: “let me die with my men”.

The nurses and artists were also the subject of an illustration by Corporal Irving, showing one nurse in the style of the various artists. Left to right, those are: Stephen de la Bere; C R W Nevinson; Miss VAD Collins; patient Captain Tomkin McRoberts; “as she really looks to the average human eye”.

Nurses and Artists' Styles

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14-20 March 1915: The King and Queen at Roehampton

Queen Mary's Hospital in 1930

Queen Mary’s Hospital in 1930

This week’s Wandsworth Borough News reports on the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the Queen Mary Auxiliary Hospital for Limbless Soldiers at Roehampton (to use its full title as given by the paper).  The royal couple made a tour of the wards, talking to the patients and examining the artificial limbs – including a group of convalescent men walking round them to demonstrate how well they were getting on.

They also visited the work-rooms, where a basket maker gave the Queen an apple-basket, and they saw men working at type-writing, book-keeping and carpentry. The King was curious as to how the limbs were actually constructed and, following one man doing a military salute with an artificial hand and arm, some of the limbs were stripped and disconnected so that he could see how they worked.  The Hanger Limb Department was where the men made the artificial limbs, and the King and Queen were shown round it and had questions answered.  From the article, it seems that most of those at work making the various prostheses had lost limbs themselves – one man at Loos, another at Givenchy – and that the work was part of their rehabilitation.

Queen Mary’s Hospital opened in June 1915, having been offered rent-free accommodation in Roehampton House, which had been previously requisitioned as a billet for soldiers. 25 soldiers were patients there, rapidly rising to 224 by October 1915 and 550 by June 1916.  By June 1918 there were 900 beds at the hospital and a waiting list of 4321 men.  The limb workshops mentioned above were set up in September 1915 as training workshops, as well as fulfilling the demand.

A summary of the hospital history can be found here and details of the the Queen Mary’s Hospital Archives & Museum Group can be found here.

Wandsworth Borough News available on microfilm

15-21 February 1915: The 3rd London General Hospital – Reception & ANZACs

Nevinson Receiving HallFebruary’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.

Reception of Wounded cartoon

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”.

21-27 December 1915: Christmas at the 3rd London General Hospital

The December edition of the 3rd London General Hospital Gazette was produced with some Christmas cheer in mind, as it includes a poem “For a War Christmas” and a Timetable of the 25th.  A full report of Christmas at the hospital does not appear until February, as both the December and January editions were sent to the printers before Christmas.

The February edition even carries an explanation of why the January one did not have an account of Christmas

…a cautious scribe is shy of effervescing over events which, at the moment of writing, have not yet taken place… It would have been sae enough to compose an “intelligent anticipation” in the past tense, asserting that Yuletide had been a stunning success – and the risk of fire, earthquake, or Zep bombs preventing the consummation of the prophecy was one which would have deterred no modern journalist from so congenial an exercise of smartness.

It also has a write up from the Matron, describing Christmas at the hospital. On Christmas Eve, all the nurses went round all the wards with Chinese lanterns, singing Christmas carols.  The Ladies’ Committee of the hospital had spent the weeks beforehand gathering presents to make Christmas stockings for all the men, which the nurses put on the ends of their beds for the morning and had what the Matron describes as “the greatest joy at Christmas… watching the men wake up and find them in the morning.”  Buttonholes were given out on Christmas day by Matron and Mrs Bruce Porter, the Australian men got wattle (better known as acacia) in theirs.  Dinner was served in each ward, with turkey, plum pudding and crackers.  Queen Amelie of Portugal, who was a nurse, came in specially to have dinner with her patients – even getting a special cheer at the concert party which was given later.  HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, attended the afternoon tea part of the day with a special message from the King to the men – conveying his pride in them and wishes for a speedy recovery.  Afternoon tea also included a cinema showing, as it had been recently gifted by a Mr Nichols, an American who was a friend of the Commanding Officer.  It was all very different from the timetable of the 25th in a German Military Hospital which appeared in December’s Gazette, written up in sarcastic fashion by a returned Prisoner of War.Timetable of the 25th POW Hospital

The other reference to Christmas in December’s Gazette was a poem by H M Nightingale, “For a War Christmas”. Helen Nightingale appears to have been a nurse at the hospital, she frequently wrote poetry which appeared in the Gazette referring to nursing and caring for the men, as well as on the war in general:

For a War Christmas poem 1915

5-11 October 1915: the First Edition of the 3rd London General Hospital Gazette

The first edition of the Gazette of the 3rd London General Hospital was published this month in 1915. We’ve already used some of the articles in it on blog posts on the opening of the hospital and a royal visit.

Contributions to the Gazette came from both staff and patients at the hospital. The editorial comments that they “little guessed, when we advertised for contributions, how prompt would be the response from the poets”. Not all submissions were considered suitable for publication – the second letter opened contained a series of poems dedicated to encouraging the “slacker” to enlist, which the editors decided was laudable “but here singularly unnecessary”.

Futurist view of 3rdLGHIllustrations were provided by several of members of the Chelsea Arts Club, including C R W Nevinson – who provided a Futurist view of the Hospital grounds – and Stephen Baghot de la Bere contributed a series of cartoons. These were described as having “characteristics already familiar to many of our readers through the public press”, although additional information about his career is slightly more difficult to find. Some of his paintings are in galleries around the country, see here for more information. The cartoons covered the reactions across the hospital to the rumour that a lowly nursing orderly might be promoted.

Only a Rumour 3rdLGH cartoon

According to the CO in a later Gazette, the majority of the orderlies to begin with were young men recruited from Messrs Hitchcock and Williams (which seems to have been a drapers). After the hospital was set up, orderlies were given the chance to transfer abroad if they were deemed fit enough, so that by the time the Gazette was produced all of the orderlies were either over 38 or under 19. At least two artists were orderlies, as mentioned above, but they were joined by an ARA, an ARSA and members of the International Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. There were also teachers, actors, a retired professional boxer, a piano tuner, a “character vocalist”, dentists, a stage carpenter and a cinema pianist, amongst others.

The Gazette gives some statistics on how the hospital was staffed, as well as details on where the staff came from. There were 42 officers and 204 NCOs and men and 114 Territorial Force sisters and nurses. VADs were called Probationers, there were 134 of them. A hospital extension was due to be completed, meaning that figures would only go up, but staff also included Engineer’s staff, laundry staff, tailoresses, officers’ and nurses’ servants – plus 25 Lady helpers from the Red Cross Society and Labour Exchange.

You can read more about the 3rd LGH here: http://thirdlondongeneral.blogspot.co.uk/

The Gazette is available in the Heritage Service.

14-20 September 1915: Gifford House

(c) Surrey Flying Service

(c) Surrey Flying Service

The Wandsworth Borough News of 17 September reports on 70 wounded soldiers being entertained at Winchester House, which was the Putney Constitutional Club.  The soldiers came from Gifford House, which was being used as an auxiliary hospital from King George’s Hospital at Waterloo.  Entertainment included tobacco or cigarettes on arrival, followed by bowls or billiards.  Prizes were pipes and tobacco and there was then a concert, including singing, “humorous sketches were immensely enjoyed”, recitals and “exceedingly clever ventriloquist sketches”.  When the soldiers reached their transport, more cigarettes were apparently showered on them, having been bought specially by club members.

Gifford House was a mansion on Putney Heath, the site is now part of the Ashburton Estate, bordered by Innes Gardens, Tildesley Road and Putney Heath.  The house was originally built around 1760 and had a range of occupiers, including James MacPherson and Baron Charles Joachim Hambro, before being purchased by the Charrington brewing family in 1892.  The Charringtons carried out extensive remodelling of the house, including adding the ballroom for 120 people, but moved to Ashburton House around 1910.  The Duchess of Westminster occupied briefly around 1913, but the house appears to have been empty when it was offered up as a location for a hospital.

Patients in the hospital were expected to follow military rules for discipline and routine.  According to Cpl William Lunn, whose reminiscences are included in the book “The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home: A History”, the patients all wore uniform and provided their own cutlery, as it was part of their kit.  Patients who were able to regularly headed for London after breakfast, as they were usually allowed to travel for free, but they had to be back in good time.  “We had to be back by 1900 hours.  Many who were late climbed in over the fence – legless or not… I was caught more than once – and sent back to Roehampton [Queen Mary’s Hospital] as punishment, but they did not have room for me and so I returned to Gifford House.”

Gifford House continued to be a hospital until 1919, when it became the Queen Alexandra Hospital and Home for Discharged Soldiers In memory of Lady Ripon”. It formally opened under this name on 9 July 1919 and stayed until 1933, when it moved to Worthing – where it remains.  Many of the QAHH’s old photographs are available online here.

Wandsworth Borough News available on microfilm.

Queen Alexandra Hospital Home: A History available for reference use in the Heritage Service

31 August – 6 September 1915: Royal Visit to the 3rd London General Hospital

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.

Third London General Hospital PCWC109The 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