Tuesday 15th June.
We brought back some bread rolls to our rooms on Monday. Reveille at 5:00 am today. I made tea and with rolls we had breakfast in bed instead of at the mess.
I am billeting officer, started away in front of the field ambulance in a motor ambulance with my billeting party consisting of interpreter, Sergeant Butcher and six men.
I had no name of a place as to help me for a destination, I simply had a point given me on a map being about eight miles away.
However our maps are so splendid and drawn to such a large scale that I had no difficulty in following the narrow country roads rapidly finding the exact farm house being just outside Bailleul, the to find quarters for the men.
Composition of 36th field ambulance:-
Officers chargers. 17.
Heavy draft. 27.
RAMC men. 181.
ASC men. 40. (army service corps)
Mechanic transport. 15.
Motor ambulances. seven.
* A field ambulance was a mobile medical unit to treat the wounded close to combat zone. It was not a vehicle. It was manned by the R.A.M.C(Royal Army Medical Corp) and normally under the command of a division.
Capacity of a field ambulance was 150 casualties but dealt with many more during battle. Responsible for setting up evacuation chain from R.A.P(regimental aid post) - A.D.S(advanced dressing station) - M.D.S(main dressing station) - R.D.S(regimental dressing station) The field ambulance would normally set one A.D.S each brigade and one M.D.S for each division.*
Monday 21st June.
I was orderly officer, the duty now very irksome as I am obliged to remain at the hospital from 10:00am until 4:00pm except an hour for meal and I must be either at hospital or at the old mess where we have a bedroom and take our meals. A terrible dog whined nearly all night at the moon from a kennel just below my window. The mosquitoes sound is making it impossible to read. How-ever I managed to get to sleep without being bitten very much. My birthday by the way, 36 today, what a big boy!
Tuesday 22nd June.
Received first casualty today from the trenches. A shrapnel wound of head and not serious.
Wednesday 23rd. June
One or two casualties today. I have now got the medical ward place in my care. In afternoon Jack and I set off on horseback to visit 37th field ambulance at Steenwerk some seven miles. My horse being lame I rode another which was very comfortable. We arrived at 5:00pm and Malone treated us to some excellent red wine at the esteminet.
We lost our way on the road home and had to follow a track through cornfields for a mile or two in order to reach the canal along the way we wanted to ride home. My horse fell off this track into a narrow deep ditch which was hidden by vegetation, and I found myself also at the bottom of it, some way behind the horse unhurt.
Sunday 27th. June.
Four shells fell into our transport field this afternoon and exploded but owing to a piece of luck none of the horses were in the field and no damage was done. one shell was dug up, proved to be a French shell. So, the Germans are evidently using the guns they have captured instead of wasting their own.
Tues 29th June.
Throat still sore, I feel wretched, shivering. Made cup of tea in bedroom as a breakfast. Some seven casualties, including a man shot through the lower end of scapula and out just above base of heart then through top button of coat which was flattened out curiously. We give antiserum serum (tetanus*) as routine.
Apart from some ordinary cases of sickness and very slight casualties, there is really very little use for a field hospital run on the same lines as this one. Indeed , I consider it to do more harm than good, seeing as all casualties it evacuates from the trenches are brought to this hospital. If they arrive here in the evening they remain here until the following day at 10.00am, then they are sent to the clearing hospital at Bailleul to be operated on.
Our field ambulance therefore defeats its own object, because instead of using its splendid cars to take wounded with all speed to the clearing hospital it merely acts as a blockhouse where cases are delayed 10 or 12 hours on their way to a properly equipped hospital. It is very painful to see this sort of thing going on.
Jack was orderly officer in waiting, took two the two cars up to Gunners Farm and Headquarters Farm. Shells were bursting and a machine gun was reported trained on the road.
Our Chaplain buried two men today, the funeral was shelled in the process, so they all had to take cover, some of them throwing themselves into the grave which they had dug!
(Any idea on the location of the two farms mentioned anyone ??)
Orderly officer today, went up to Headquarters Farm to pick up wounded and also to Gunners Farm where we took in one gunshot wound sitting up. While there they brought in a supposed civilian spy. He had a gun and revolver and said he was out shooting hares. Several civilian sharp-shooters are known to be about, he may be one of these. They live in some of the farm houses and cottages which are scattered about and probably sneak out at night and take up their position in trees from where they can snipe men who would normally be well protected from enemy trenches.
This evening I had a man with entrance bullet wound R.apex and out oat left upper lobe then in appendix. Then at 2:00am a man with entrance wound to larynx and out right upper lobe lung. He was breathing with great difficulty mainly through larynx wound. I got Jack to come around and I enlarged the wound and put in tracheotomy tube. He breathed better but died at mid-day from internal haemorrhage. I also had compound fracture of lower jaw from shell and many sick men.
* All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this blog is the sole copyright of the holder of the diaries of Reginald Hannay Fothergill (author)