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”.
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
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