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Remembered Today:

Which hospital potentially?


Private Butler
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Hi, I have a chap who was ordered to work on the transport behind the lines, temporarily away from his unit. He was in the Flesquieres sector when he was injured by a shell circa january 1918. Which general hospital could he have been sent to realistically? I appreciate that there could be a number of different places but I am particularly interested in which ones if anybody would know?

Many thanks.

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Hello Abraham

I assume that he was not killed, or his place of burial would give you a closer indication.

It is more likely, if his wound was a minor one, that he would have been treated at an Advanced Dressing Station or a Casualty Clearing Station, and never got to a General (or Stationary) Hospital at all. In January 1918 there would have been less need to move casualties any further back than strictly necessary.

If his service record has survived, his medical sheet will indicate at which medical unit(s) he was treated.

Ron

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Hello Abraham

I assume that he was not killed, or his place of burial would give you a closer indication.

It is more likely, if his wound was a minor one, that he would have been treated at an Advanced Dressing Station or a Casualty Clearing Station, and never got to a General (or Stationary) Hospital at all. In January 1918 there would have been less need to move casualties any further back than strictly necessary.

If his service record has survived, his medical sheet will indicate at which medical unit(s) he was treated.

Ron

Thanks Ron. I will admit this is a hypothetical case but it is not a minor injury as he doesn't get back to his unit for around 2-3 months. I wouldn't have thought it possible to convalesce in either a CCS or an Advanced Dressing Station for this long? Where else could he have been sent which would have beenf or a lob ger term recovery before being sent back to his unit?

Thanks again.

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I honestly don't think it's even worth thinking about :wacko: Assuming he went via the usual route of Field Ambulance/CCS, from there he would have gone wherever the next Ambulance Train was going, which could have been to any one of dozens of hospitals from Boulogne, to Rouen, and onwards to Treport and Trouville. Without a service record it's a needle in a haystack job.

Sue

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I honestly don't think it's even worth thinking about :wacko: Assuming he went via the usual route of Field Ambulance/CCS, from there he would have gone wherever the next Ambulance Train was going, which could have been to any one of dozens of hospitals from Boulogne, to Rouen, and onwards to Treport and Trouville. Without a service record it's a needle in a haystack job.

Sue

Many thanks Sue, I had a browse through your websites to try and find some more information but what you've written should be good enough to go on. It doesn't need to be anywhere in particular, just6 somewhere plausible. Many thanks to you. I was initially thinking no.12 in Rouen but by this time it was in US hands...?

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Sorry - I must be having a very dim day today - I realise now that it is REALLY hypothetical! What about 5, 8 or 9 General at Rouen; 2 General at Havre; 24 General at Etaples, or if you want a really glamorous cliff-top location go for 3 General at Le Treport :rolleyes:

Sue

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Sorry - I must be having a very dim day today - I realise now that it is REALLY hypothetical! What about 5, 8 or 9 General at Rouen; 2 General at Havre; 24 General at Etaples, or if you want a really glamorous cliff-top location go for 3 General at Le Treport :rolleyes:

Sue

Many thanks again Sue, you've managed to come up tops again. I was thinking no.8. She's a VAD from Ireland and her name is Grace, he is Cecil with an injured arm and they meet and fall in love and all that malarkey! Cheers! The racecourse sounds nice but I figured that where they were was actually in town as they go out on the odd day for coffee.

Incidentally, if it's not stretching my ignorance too far, who were the VADs attached to? Hospitals or fighting divisions and where would recruits be liable to joining them? I'm sure this information is somewhere, I just haven't found it yet so if you could point me in the right direction...? One virtual pint coming your way... ;)

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who were the VADs attached to? Hospitals or fighting divisions and where would recruits be liable to joining them? I'm sure this information is somewhere, I just haven't found it yet so if you could point me in the right direction...?

How long have you got? :lol:

Roughly speaking (and I'm sure someone will know someone else who did it another way ....)

A woman would join a Voluntary Aid Detachment somewhere near her home in the UK and work in a VAD or auxiliary hospital for some months. At this point she would be employed by, and be under the orders of, the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.

After about six months, she could apply for overseas service, though would have no control over where she went. She would then sign a contract with the War Office for seven months - one month's probationary period, and then another six.

She would go out to France (or wherever) with a group of other VADs, usually about 25 - 50 at a time - going to France would be on the usual leave boats. They would be met in Boulogne by an embarkation Sister, accommodated overnight if necessary and then sent on, usually by train, to their destination.

During her time overseas she was still employed by the Joint War Commitee, although for all day to day matters, pay, discipline etc., she was responsible to the War Office, and under the direction of the Matron-in-Chief with the British Expeditionary Force, and her staff (i.e. first stop the Matron of No.8 General Hospital).

They were initially posted to one hospital, but could be moved anywhere that they were needed at the discretion of the Matron-in-Chief and the Director General Medical Services. They were also free to ask to be moved if they had a good reason for doing so, which may or may not have been accepted.

N.B. VADs never worked in Casualty Clearing Stations or Field Ambulances - a very small number worked in Stationary Hospitals.

They could sign another contract for a further six months if they wished, or sign a longer contract for the duration of the war or however long their services were required - if they did the latter they would receive more pay.

They were civilians, and although breaking contracts was frowned upon, there was no real bar to them doing it except it might have been a black mark against them if they later wanted to sign on again.

And please take great care in those illicit meetings - any fraternization with soldiers, particularly other ranks was forbidden - if she was discovered behaving improperly there was a pretty good chance that she would be on the first boat back to England in disgrace (and by 'improperly' I include even walking side by side or hand-holding). Of course, it went on, but being discovered was a bit of a blow. :(

There's a very good account of a group of VADs going out to France in Olive Dent's book 'A VAD in France' - she was working at No.9 General at Rouen. It's available on the net as a download - a search will find it.

Sue

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N.B. VADs never worked in Casualty Clearing Stations or Field Ambulances - a very small number worked in Stationary Hospitals.

Sue

I know that at the beginning of the war there were no female staff at a CCS, but I recall seeing somewhere that they appeared later on - possibly because of the effect they had on the patients' morale. Is this true, do you know, and if so, were these ladies only QAIMNS and not VADs?

Ron

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Ron

Nurses first worked at Casualty Clearing Stations in October 1914, when five were sent to No.4 CCS at Poperinghe. The following day five more went to No.1 CCS at St. Omer, and on the 5th November five were sent to both No.3 and No.5 CCS at Hazebrouck - and to nearly all CCSs from that point. There was some opposition from a few medical officers who were not used to working with women and found it unacceptable (a minor problem throughout the war), but they had already proved of immense help at Villeneuve St. Georges triage while waiting for ambulance trains from the very earliest days, and a similar position could be seen for them in CCSs.

They went not for reasons of bucking up the soldiers' morale (although I quite see they had that effect) but because they were highly trained professional women, experienced in nursing across the board, many very skilled surgical nurses used to theatre work, and with a background of training and hard work which left them with the stamina of oxen. To me, it's rather like me asking you if a regular infantry Major was good at anything other than ridin', shootin' and fishin' :)

VADs never, ever, worked in CCSs in France, and should never have done in any other theatre, although I can't confirm from primary sources that this never happened at all. As the number of trained nurses became more and more thinly spread over an increasing number of hospitals, Matron-in-Chief Maud McCarthy was put under a lot of pressure, not least from Arthur Sloggett, to allow VADs to go to CCSs to relieve a critical situation. She (and her counterpart at the WO) held out with complete determination - her view was that the soldiers at 'the front' were likely to be the most badly injured and in need of the most skilled and consistent nursing care. For VADs to be part of a small unit, perhaps just eight or ten nurses, would dilute the skill mix, and all the nurses needed to be interchangeable at all times - VADs were not trained nurses, and only trained nurses would do. For instance, to have a VAD on night duty when suddenly an extra theatre sister was needed would not work at all. But it's certainly a commonly held view which I try to put right at every available opportunity!

Sue

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Sue

Thanks for clarifying that - I was surprised that CCSs had acquired lady nurses quite that early.

Far be it from me to suggest that nurses were anything other than skilled professional women! I did say "possibly" because of the effect on morale, though clearly that was a lesser (much lesser) factor.

Ron

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Many thanks Sue, excellent information there that will help immeasurably. I will take great care in regard to their fraternization, thanks for pointing that out and I will find that internet source.

Cheers

Sam

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