7-13 March 1916: Battersea Polytechnic’s Women Students

The March edition of the Battersea Polytechnic Magazine carries updates from students and former students, including the seventh edition of the Roll of Distinction of those serving. There is also an update of the roll of honour, giving details of two former students who had been killed – Victor Haskins and Thomas Turland.

Part of the Polytechnic was the Training Department of Domestic Science, who had been actively involved in the earlier campaign to make shirts for soldiers and many of whom were now working as VADs, nurses, or in other war occupations.  The magazine has a list of what former Domestic Science students were doing, it includes two who were working as “Instructresses in His Majesty’s Commisariat Department” (this seems to have been part of the Army Service Corps) and several who were working as VADs in various hospitals around the country.

One of the hospitals listed was the VAD Hospital, Clapham Common. There does not appear to be a great deal of information about the hospital, it as at 9 Cedars Road but is not listed in any directories at the time.  The Imperial War Museum holds a souvenir embroidery from the hospital, which is referred to as the 3rd London Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital.  The Red Cross has lists of their hospitals from the war, and the Cedars Road hospital is referred to as having been accepted by the War Office through the Red Cross.  More information on Red Cross hospitals can be found here.

Photographs of the hospital and nurses are at Lambeth Archives and can be found on their photo page, where it is referred to as Battersea Auxiliary Hospital – showing that the name was a bit variable!

The student who was based there was called M Holman.  The Red Cross have lists of VADs online, including several M Holmans, but we haven’t been able to match their records to a VAD who was at Cedars Road.  Several others were at the First London General Hospital in Camberwell, which is also where Vera Brittain served initially so for an account of life as a VAD in London you might want to consider reading Testament of Youth.

Battersea Polytechnic Magazine, ref: S14/5/9

Advertisements

2-8 November 1915: Tooting Military Hospital

The Tooting and Balham Gazette of 6 November carried several notes relating to the Tooting Military Hospital, including notes on the entertainment of the troops there by two groups of local pupils. The first group were pupils of the Misses M Pinnell, the Red House, Burntwood Lane and the second were pupils of Miss Emily Clifton, Garratt Lane. Miss Clifton’s group also distributed over 900 cigarettes and ten pounds of chocolate, bought with money raised by the pupils and the girls of Mrs Piper’s laundry.

Tooting Military Hospital had originally been the Tooting Home for the Aged and Infirm, and was on Church Lane. On 27 May 1915 the minutes of the Wandsworth and Clapham Union Board of Guardians record that the Military were to take over the building from 1st June that year. The existing patients were to be transferred to Mitcham Workhouse, Swaffield Road institution or St John’s Hill Infirmary, and some of the staff were also to transfer to Swaffield Road. It would appear that the Board actually offered the building up, as the Local Government Board wrote to them on 17 May to express their appreciation of the patriotic action.

St Benedict's Hospital, 1930s - the former Tooting Military Hospital

St Benedict’s Hospital, 1930s – the former Tooting Military Hospital

After the war, the hospital was taken over by the Department of Pensions, and in 1931 re-opened as St Benedict’s Hospital, run by the London County Council. It’s difficult to find much more detail about military hospitals (this post on the Scarletfinders website explains why) – a search on the National Archives catalogue for “Tooting Military Hospital” comes up with three records relating specifically to it, one a medal card and the other two relating to the Committee on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War (see here and here for details).

Silver War Badge medal card for A M Hallen

Silver War Badge medal card for A M Hallen

The medal card is for Agnes Hallen, who seems to be also listed as having received a Silver War Badge, the card for which is available via AncestryLibrary and says she was a Sister in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service – her other medal card says she was “Nurse and Sister-in-Charge” at Tooting Military Hospital. At the time she received the Silver War Badge, she is listed as living at 8 Montserrat Road in Putney – although no other record of her at that address survives and further details about her are difficult to trace. The Silver War Badge was designed to honour those who had been discharged because of wounds or illness, so that former military personnel could wear it to deflect criticism for not being in uniform. Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service still exists, although it is now known as Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).

Tooting and Balham Gazette available on microfilm

All Wandsworth Libraries have access to AncestryLibrary.com which includes medal cards