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Soldiers in Hospital


Kathie
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I have a number of soldiers who were in hosptial in England during the War before going back to the Front to be killed. Would the hospitals have any interesting records? Would the hospitals still exist? If not, where would such records be sent?Would the hospitals have taken any photos of happy patients and displayed them on walls? Any ideas which I could follow up? Thank you

Kathie

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Kathie

I think the short answer is that the vast majority of hospital admission registers no longer exist. Also, the vast majority of the hospitals no longer exist as hospitals although the buildings may still be there. Remember that private houses were pressed into usage as Auxiliary or privately run hospitals during the war and afterwards returned to domestic usage.

The National Archives in Kew has some records so it would be worth paying their websit a visit or looking in a little more depth at this website which also has a lot of information on hospitals and their locations during WW1.

Photos of wounded soldiers in hospital blues are quite common and many nurses kept autograph albums in which they pasted photos; I have three myself.

If you haven't already done so, try and see if the service records of any of the soldiers you are researching still exist. Again, you will need to go to the National Archives for this. If you do manage to locate a record, and it is reasonably intact, you should be able to see where your soldier was admitted and why he was admitted; eg : GSW [Gun Shot Wound] rt thigh etc.

Good luck with your hunt

Paul

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Guest Desmond6

Some time ago I optimistically posted that the local weekly newspaper which forms the basis of my research had carried regularly updated lists of soldiers who had arrived for treatment in the Waveney Hospital, ballymena, Northern Ireland. At that stage the year under research was 1915.

It must have been a 'news novelty' at that time and they kept up the lists on a sporadic basis into 1916 and then stopped. Instead, they began to list local people who had given gifts to the soldiers - extra fags, jam, cakes etc - and to report on concerts/days out etc.

These lists are still on the forum and if you try the keywords 'hospital lists' you will find some examples.

My point is:- From a local newspaper editor's point of view, he was directly interested in th activities of his long-term readers and thus who was coming in and out of hospital became less and less important to him in terms of 'reader value' as the war progressed.

However, reading between the lines, it is possible to cobble together a pretty good 'social picture' of what went on in recuperation hospitals such as 'The Waveney'. I do have a picture of soldiers in one of the wards which I will try and post later.

If the 'Ballymena Observer' is anything to go by, researchers will also find 'poetic thanks' letters from soldiers who are returning to their unit ... 'what a wonderful time I had in Ballymena, I won't forget etc' ; there are also examples of some fairly sentimental poems about fallen comrades 'the hell of Neuve Chapelle ...' being one of this genre.

On one famous occasion, the 'young ladies' of Cambridge House Girls school staged a concert for the soldiers at which cigarettes were handed out freely and smoked happily by the troops.

Some anon. person penned a letter to the editor complaining that the troops should have kept their ciggies until after the concert because of the smokey atmosphere created etc.

He signed himself C.F. - now, I understand that this is an abbreviation for Chaplain to the Forces.

The next week, the headmistress of Cambridge House tears into CF in no uncertain fashion, making it quite clear that she had no objection to the men smoking and pointing out that it was the girls who had collected the money to buy the fags in the first place.

Then you have a Sgt. Major - obviously the men's spokesman - virtually offering a boxing match with CF and doubting whether he's ever been at the front/his status as a 'gentleman' etc!!!

As an aside - one poem is signed from 'one in the redskin ward' . Would that indicate that the hospital was being used to treat facial burns patients at the time.

Most of my stuff on the Waveney is on the 'back burner' at the moment because I'm still doing the basic obits/last letters/joined up stuff.

Des

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Kathie

If the soldier was in a military hospital that was mobilised during the Great War; or a patient in any hospital set up in premises not normally used for that purpose, [e.g. private houses, schools etc.], then records are unlikely to survive other than in the man's service record. However, if he was a patient in a hospital that was already being used for that purpose pre-war [and continued as a hospital post-war], then it is always worth searching the National Archives on-line index of hospital records at:

Hospital Records

This index will give you the scope and date of all the records surviving for a particular hospital, and the address of the archive holding the records. Many of the hospitals named still hold admission registers, and a fair number hold more detailed patient records. Unfortunately if you should be lucky enough to find a complete medical record that you're looking for, it's very unlikely that you would be given access to the details in it unless you could demonstrate a sound reason - the archivist would probably just confirm that the record is held.

Sue

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If they served in the RHA, some Hussar regiments, Grenadier Guards, Leicesters or RFC then their medical records may be among the sample retained by the Army and now available at Kew in series MH106.

I've never looked at these, so I can't offer advice as to how comprehensive the coverage for the various units is or what they contain. But I bet someone on this forum can.

Jock

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If they served in the RHA, some Hussar regiments, Grenadier Guards, Leicesters or RFC then their medical records may be among the sample retained by the Army and now available at Kew in series MH106. 

I've looked at MH106 before for Casualty Clearing Station admission and discharge registers, but never at the other bits and pieces in this class. So today I whiled away a few minutes that I should have been spending on other things, to check out some of the contents. I picked at random a box of medical cards for Leicestershire Regiment other ranks - a real lucky dip as I had no idea what was coming.

The box [one of ten held for this regiment] contained A LOT of cards - probably 6-800, possibly more, filed in order of regimental number - the box I had chosen was mainly 1/4th, 1/5th, and 6th battalion men. Cards were raised for each episode of illness or wounding, with name, rank, number, age, length of service, name of the hospital and date of admission, reason for admission, a brief description of any surgical intervention, often names of surgeon and anaesthetist, and eventually discharge date. If and when the man was transferred, a second card was raised at the next hospital - that one probably in the UK.

There are also boxes of medical sheets [as opposed to cards] for the regiment, and although I didn't look at these, I did look at another run of medical sheets which I imagine were similar. They give more details of the illness and treatment during the stay in hospital - a log of the doctors' casenotes, just as in any hospital, and the usual sort of temperature, pulse and respiration charts [with a space for the usual question of 'Have you been today?].

There were a few misfiles - the occasional Leinster or Lincoln man - but on the whole they provide a great insight into the treatment of the men, and I would imagine they could prove both fascinating and useful for any dedicated researcher of the chosen regiments. I don't know how easy it would be to find any particular individual, as it could be difficult pinning down which box contains which battalion, but it might be a worthy way of whiling away a day or two!

There were other things there that I was keen to have a look at, particularly the records for No.31 Ambulance train, but time got the better of me - another day.

Sue

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thank you for all that informationl. I do have full cards for all my soldiers and those give the names of the hospitals - both in France and UK. I know the injuries (usually in short hand on the card) but thought there might be something more at the hospitals. I will follow up the Archives records - thanks.

Kathie

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Could someone do a look up of the records at kew for me (MH106)

Guardsman JH Mepham (grenadier guards 20879)

Died on 18th September 1916 - 'severe shell shock and trench exposure'.

Buried Abbville Communal Extension IB19

thanks

dave

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I don't know how easy it would be to find any particular individual, as it could be difficult pinning down which box contains which battalion, but it might be a worthy way of whiling away a day or two!

Dave

The above definitely holds true - a quick check of PROCAT shows that medical sheets are held for the Grenadier Guards for 1916, and the other ranks records are held in 11 boxes. With each box containing perhaps 1000 sheets, it could be a longish search. I have a feeling that volunteers won't be rushing forward - perhaps a holiday in West London on the cards? :rolleyes:

Sue

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Two questions for Sue (whose website on her memorial I think is amazing).

1. Why on earth would hospitals do no more than confirm they have the medical records. These patients have been dead nearly 85 years and arent going to sue for medical negligence and have no gripe about patinets privacy. Interesting expecially when , on my soldiers cards in the SADF archives, I have found two references to treatment for VD as well as the usual anaemia, german measles and wounds.

2. Stupid and forgive me - but what is PROCAT?

Thanks

Kathie

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Hallo Kathie

Sorry about PROCAT - I was thinking as I was writing whether it should be explained [but didn't] - it's the National Archives [Public Record Office] on-line catalogue, and can be found at:

Public Record Office

Click on 'Catalogues' and then follow the links that say 'PROCAT.' You can browse it, or search, but the search engine has more than a few foibles; it's a bit like a bad-tempered small child, and seems to understand only what it wants to. It hates hyphens, spaces, and initials, and prefers you to use a question mark when you want to use an apostrophe. But other than that it can be quite enlightening. :(

I'm not sure whether hospitals are bound legally by rules demanding closure of medical records for 100 years [someone's bound to know], or whether they have some choice in the length of time; but it seems that the UK are particularly protective about privacy of medical records, and in a country that fights in vain to get census information released in less than a century, I don't think that medical records have much of a chance. There are moves now to make access to records of births, marriages and deaths even more restricted, so things can only get worse [or perhaps better, depending on your views].

Once a month I visit the archives of a London teaching hospital, and sit with one ear listening to the archivists fielding questions from the public about access to records. They are asked to write with any questions about their own medical records, but the rules seem to vary with the type of query. If there is a question of inherited illness, then the notes will be looked at by a doctor, and any information released to the patient's GP, and for adopted adults, they are allowed details of their own birth, but not details of the parent [well, not over the 'phone, anyway]. I simply couldn't imagine them even entertaining the thought of a stranger extracting information because they are involved in family or local history.

I suppose if I relate the question to myself, and ask would I mind my records being read in fifty years, or a hundred years; by a complete stranger, or a member of my family, I would probably say go ahead. But then I have led such a pure,healthy, exemplary life..... :lol:

Many people would hate the thought - dead or not, and would wish to retain their privacy. I'm constantly amazed [but thankful] at what we are allowed access to.

Sue

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Hello Kathie

Two previous threads in recent days on this forum have discussed similar issues regarding medical records. I have contacted Bristol Record Office regarding my (now deceased) Great Uncle's medical records - here is the Senior Archivist's response:

Dear Mrs Watts

Thank you for your e-mail of 8 April. I am so sorry that it has taken such a long time to reply.

We have taken advice from the City Council's data protection officer who in turn has taken legal advice and it is their opinion that we are unable to give you access to your great uncle's records.

It is believed that disclosure would infringe the individual's right to privacy, even though he may be deceased.

Once again I regret that it has taken so long to give you such a negative answer, but I'm sure that you will appreciate we must act within the law when dealing with such sensitive information.

Yours sincerely

Richard Burley

Senior Archivist

Medical records operate under similar public closure times as Census Records, ie closed for 100 years, because they hold very sensitive information. However in the case of medical records it is closure of 100 years from the date of the last entry! It is possible though, to see some hospital admission and discharge registers, giving name and date of admission & discharge only.

The 100 year closure is to ensure that it will be almost certain nobody is able to access the records who may have been alive and aware of the person.

Hilary

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Kathie

If by chance any of your soldiers was in a lunatic asylum, as one of my uncles was, then the PRO has certain records in WO 94 (Lunacy Commission and Board of Control: Patients Admission Registers 1846-1960) and there's only a 30 year closure on them.

Their catalogue says 'This series contains registers kept by the Lunacy Commission, 1846 to 1913, and the Board of Control, 1913 to 1960. Record the name and sex of the patient, the name of hospital, asylum or licensed house, and the date of admission and of discharge, or death of each patient. Further information on the medical and legal circumstances of each patient was entered in the patients diaries, also preserved in this series. These note the receipt of medical statements and action to be taken, the receipt of a patient's right to see a judicial authority, the urgency of the case, and further remarks. Temporary and private patients' diaries vary a little in the information they provide.'

Odd, isn't it, when county ROs have 100 year closure? Of course, these must be British hospitals only, and the information very basic. And - there are 228 volumes!

I'm waiting to hear from the PRO about whether there's any sort of index ...

best of luck!

Viv

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Hi Dave

It may do, if you were to obtain his death certificate (from the Family Record Centre) to tell you what he died of exactly and the place of death. If it was in a hospital that would give you a name and you could look it up on the PRO catalogue hospital database which would give you a little more info!! You could go from there! As always you never know what you may uncover when you look at lots of different records and how different pieces begin to fit together to get a clearer picture. The best advice I can give is never may any assumptions, only go on firm evidence. That way you never get to go up false trails (hopefully!).

Hilary

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No South African lunatics in my research - only after 1948 and the National Party Government (would you believe not a single white South african ever voted for them). But what is the Family Record Centre - will I find I find birth certificates as far back as 1897??? what else?

Kathie

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Hi Hilary

He is burried in Abbeville so i had assumed that he died in hospital there. Where can i obtain the family records?, are they online?

thanks

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Hi Kathie

The Family Record Centre is the place where all the indexes for births, marriages and deaths in England & Wales are held, since records began in 1837. It is in Myddleton Street, in Islington, London. Copies of these indexes are also at the PRO, Kew. You are not allowed to view the certificates, those must be ordered and can be collected or sent to you. Each certificate costs approx £7.00 if sent. There is no refund if you find you have ordered the wrong certificate.

Certificates give a wealth of information. The Family Record Centre keeps all the census fiche in the public domain so you may view that there too. Many libaries around the country hold copies of indexes and census fiche for public viewing. The record centre has its own website: http://www.familyrecords.gov.uk/

with a lot more information.

You can also log on to

http://www.genuki.org.uk

Hope this helps

Hilary

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Hi Dave

Family records are not online as such!! 1901 census is, searchfree, pay to view the page. Previous census to that 1841.51,61,71,81,91 is available on fiche from local record offices & libraries for the area or for the whole country at the Family Record Centre. (See my previous reply to kathie.)

The indexes for the Birth, Marriage & Death certificates (BMD) 1837 onwards are able to be viewed online at:

http://www.1837online.com

This will give you a reference number and advice as to how you order a certificate. Again a search is free, but you pay to view the index numbers!

When looking for a relative it comes with a health warning, you can easily end up researching the wrong family!!!

There are several free websites where some indexes, records have been transcribed. Again a health warning, lists are not complete so keep that in mind. Pre 1837 (ie before national registration started you will need to go to Parish records. These are kept at local record offices.

http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/

http://www.familysearch.org/

However certificates and census can give you a wealth of information and worth the effort!

Hilary

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Dave

Lunacy is madness: reason is lost.

Shell shock was a perfectable normal reaction to the unbearable. Trench wounds are not to do with the mind. So your guy wouldn't be in any lunacy records.

If he died in Abbeville, I don't know where his death certificate would be. But it's always worth asking relatives, and taking what they say with a pinch of salt.

Sorry I can't be any more use!

VivP

Otto, my avatar, did go mad, and died in a lunatic asylum.

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Hi Dave

From information I have gleaned (and I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong), there should be a death certificate obtainable from the GRO General Record Office. I think all deaths of service men killed overseas had to be registered with the Registrar General and a Death Certificate issued.

The indexes are in the Family Record Centre with copies in the PRO. One has to look up the number in the indexes and order the certificate to view it.

If you have seen or have a copy of someone's Death Certificate then you will know the information that will be included.

Hilary

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Dave

There are quite a few threads on death certificates which will come up on a search. A 'military' death certificate for a man who died of wounds or was killed in action won't have a cause of death in the manner of a civilian certificate. A copy of one is on this thread:

Death certificates

Sue

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