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”.
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.
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:
The December issue of the Battersea Polytechnic magazine includes an update on students and staff who were serving with the Armed Forces. An entire page and a photograph are devoted to Lieutenant F H Johnson, who recently visited the college whilst home on sick leave, mentioning that he had received a “slight leg wound in the Hill 70 action”. Lieutenant Johnson was covered in more depth in this post from the University of Surrey, he also won the VC at Hill 70 – something he didn’t tell the Polytechnic when he visited. The magazine also contains photographs and information about former students who had been killed in action, including Private Albert Alder, Sergeant S G Eaton, Private F N Dexter and Sergeant E T Croager.
Several accounts of life at the front had been received from former students, including an account of nursing in Serbia by Monica Stanley, who had been a member of staff at the Serbian Relief Fund Hospital in Kragujevacs (sic), and was a former Polytechnic student. She had previously been in Antwerp and France, and her experience in Serbia started with an epidemic of typhus. The hospital was lost to Bulgarian forces with the city, including an arsenal. Miss Stanley refers o having to spend much of her journey back to London in a cattle truck, but also refers to others who were travelling: “At the railway stations I witnessed the tragic flight of the refugees. All they had ben able to take with them they had wrapped up in large counterpanes or some sort of bed coverings, and the children looked very pitiful. They were all moving on, but where they were going to eventually nobody seemed to know. They appeared to rely upon the Allies.”
The magazine also contains two images of munitions classes at the Polytechnic, with only a short paragraph to explain these further. Two members of staff, Mr Shaw and Mr Tottle, were congratulated on the work being done in the Engineering Workshops. They were training men in munitions work, but also hoped to have delivered 400 anti-aircraft shells before Christmas in addition to other work for the War Office. The shells in questions were apparently one of the “most difficult to manufacture”. The Engineering department had also lost their Instructor in Motor Engineering to the Admiralty, although he was not permitted to tell them what he was working on.
Current students were raising money for the Polytechnics War Fund, including the making of shirts which were sent to English, Belgian and Serbian Forces – so far over 1783 had been made and sent out. The War Fund report also listed the total numbers from the Polytechnic who had volunteered, two Governors, eighteen members of staff and three hundred and eighty four students up to December 1915. The Domestic Science students were raising money by producing “Polytechnic Plum Puddings” and other festive treats for sale, which the magazine urged reders to purchase as soon as possible due to limited supply.