Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Medical care for non-battlefield conditions


MichaelBully

Recommended Posts

Can anyone direct me to sources depicting the medical care of serviceman in the Great War who were suffering from non-battlefield conditions? I am thinking of outbreaks of contagious illnesses in army camps at home away from the 'Front and other active scenes of fighting.

Help appreciated, with thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try searching the forum on measles, typhoid, typhus and on malaria. All covered in various threads

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

My step-father 3363 Pte J B Williams was WIA 20 May 1916, transferred to UK and admitted to Frencham military hospital on 25 May. During his time here

he contracted scarlet fever and was shifted to the Military Isolation hospital at Aldershot on 11 August 16. On the 6 th of Sept 16, probably after recovery from

that illness he was transferred to Ward 3 Cambridge hospital and eventually discharged in December 1916.

It seems that hospital authorities would have been quite keen to get him into an isolation hospital to avoid spreading the infection.

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

My step-father 3363 Pte J B Williams was WIA 20 May 1916, transferred to UK and admitted to Frencham military hospital on 25 May. During his time here

he contracted scarlet fever and was shifted to the Military Isolation hospital at Aldershot on 11 August 16. On the 6 th of Sept 16, probably after recovery from

that illness he was transferred to Ward 3 Cambridge hospital and eventually discharged in December 1916.

It seems that hospital authorities would have been quite keen to get him into an isolation hospital to avoid spreading the infection.

David

Thank you very much for the responses Centurion and David.

David - do you happen to know if records survive for military hospitals such as Aldershot and Frenchman? Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try the volume "Diseases of the War", part of the medical Official History - it may be in two volumes.

Certain hospitals and casualty clearing stations in France (and presumably in other theatres too) were designated as isolation hospitals, usually on a temporary basis to deal with whatever was the current outbreak. If you have a chance to get to the National Archives at Kew, you could trawl through a few hospital/CCS War Diaries but it might be quicker to look at the War Diaries of the Director-General of Medical Sevices at GHQ, the Deputy DG at HQ Lines of Communication, or the Directors of MS with each of the five Armies. As the nomination of a hospital for isolation purposes was basically an administrative matter, that is where I would expect to see these details.

Some hospital records have survived, but only a very few. Those which have are in class MH106 at the National Archives. Hospital and CCS War Diaries rarely, if ever, mention patients by name.

Ron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From various accounts I've seen turning part of a camp into a quarantined area in which both those sick with an infectious disease and those who had been in contact could be kept was sometimes a response. This was not a purely UK response as I've seen examples in the West Indies (where a whole battalion's departure for Europe was delayed) and the USA where whole companies were quarantined (usually due to measles outbreaks).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every Base overseas had a separate isolation hospital set aside for the treatment of infectious diseases - e.g. No.46 Stationary Hospital for Etaples, and 14 Stationary in Boulogne. During winter time when battle casualties were lower, a number of Casualty Clearing Stations would be set aside to receive men with infectious diseases and non-trauma cases. This saved most of them the long journey back to the base, and ensured that they could be returned to duty more quickly.

There were also at least two hospitals in France which were set aside solely for officers and men with skin diseases - eczema, psoriasis etc., often much aggravated by the stress of active service conditions. I'm not at home at present, so can't quote which ones offhand.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The entire 2/7th battalion Middlesex Regiment is reported as having been put into a quarantine camp at Marseilles in May '16 because of Typhus, having arrived there after service with the Western Frontier Force in Egypt since early 1915 (the battalion was disbanded in June, but I'm not sure whether it was because of this or for other reasons.)

In 'Poor Bloody Infantry: A memoir of the First World War' WHA Groom relates how, on arriving back at camp after draft leave (August 1916), he was challenged by a sentry who asked where he'd come from; his reply of 'Bristol' caused him to be marched off to a hut on the outskirts of the camp (Fovant) where he joined a PT sergeant and two other men in isolation for three weeks because a sailor was in hospital in Bristol with bubonic plague. Groom comments that it was a boring three weeks which they occupied by playing games until the were sick of them, and that they were treated like lepers with their food being left outside the hut and all their plates and cutlery being sterlised after use. Because of this Groom missed going to France with the men he had trained with, and he believed it may well have saved his life as subsequently half of his original platoon were killed at Combles with the LRB on 26th September '16

NigelS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps is comprehensive and is available

here

Moonraker

PS Having checked this, I get a "broken link" message, but follow the "Go to" prompt and you should get there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for all the responses, very much appreciated. I will return to this topic in the New Year after I have had a chance to research more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

My great uncle (see signature) was attached to the BEF for his entire service. I thought you might enjoy a snippet from his diary, which I was so fortunate to inherit.

Ann

"April 9, 1918 – School dismissed at noon. Ordered to Strozule [strazeele] to attend French civilians who were evacuating. No train from Steenwerck. Met a Canadian, Capt. Kendall, who had charge of RR. Came to Strozule c[with] two orderlies in his car. Spent night in his hut.

April 10, l918 – Reported to concentration camp. Many “civies” but none sick. Later was called to RR station. Found a woman in labor. Could find no room for her in houses. So put her on bell tent bags and delivered her before many onlookers. Did not have time to wait for soap and water before delivery. All done under very septic conditions. Blanche Francois, baby boy, born 2:15 p.m. Very little hemorrhage, placenta delivered 2:30 in tact.

April 11, 1918 – Above lady & child doing well. Sent to Hazebrouck to hospital. Nothing doing rest of the day but sitting around camp helping to feed refugees. Last of refugees were sent away at 6:30 p.m. Then went & had dinner and prepared to get to bed. About 10 p.m. the Huns began shelling us so we left on train about 12 p.m. By this time shells were bursting all around us. Went thru Hazebrouck to Ebblinghem. Arrived 4 a.m. Had to sleep in hay loft with nothing but hay for cover."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my research into the life of Victor Richardson ( most known for his portrayal in Vera Brittian's writing) I have noticted that he was struck by meningitis whilst at the army camp in Horsham in January 1915. His war service record suggests that there was an outbreak there. I have no idea what records would be kept of illnesses in army camps or how it would be possible to trace them-advice much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not aware that any records of this type survive - I have a feeling that there was no requirement for records of Great War military units in the UK to be preserved. I would think that the only record would be that contained within a service record. Even if transferred to hospital, there are not likely to be any except for those men who were patients in existing civil hospitals, where a few records might have been retained.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found mention in my grandfather's file at Kew to the fact that he was hospitalised with German measles from 6 to 23 April 1916, in 16 General Hospital, Le Treport.

From there, he joined "30 OBD" - I have no idea what that means though... :huh:

Angela

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In respect of Victor Richardson, it seemed that he was eventually transferred from Horsham Camp to Brighton Borough Sanatorium for some seven weeks after first becoming in ill with meningitis in January 1915. A medical board hearing on 19th July 1915 classified him as still being under weight. His mother had died of meningitis a few years before.

As far as I can work out so far, Victor did not manage to get a posting out to the Western Front until September 1916, due to the state of his health.

I am hoping to check out the Wellcome Trust Library to see if there is any available material on meningitis outbreaks in the Great War.

http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...