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Sue Light

The Happy Hospital

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Sue Light

More than three years ago now, I started a blog on this forum about No.3 London General Hospital, with extracts taken from the extensive hospital magazine published during the Great War. Several people have contacted me recently about it, probably because of the suggestion that the blogs should be removed from the site. Although I gather that's not now going to happen, I've decided to re-start the blog on another site, with some of the old content, and hopefully a lot more varied bits and pieces from the Third London General Gazette. It's a really good insight into the life of a large Territorial Force hospital during the Great War - a link is at the bottom of the page.

Sue

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SiegeGunner

Very good to see this back, Sue. Thanks for deciding to relaunch it. The 3rd London General buried its dead at Wandsworth (Earlsfield) Cemetery, a short distance from the Royal Victoria Patriotic School (which housed the hospital). There are almost 500 WW1 burials (not all from the hospital).

Am I right in thinking that the artist Christopher Nevinson was an RAMC orderly at the 3rd London General in 1915?

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Ice Tiger
.....The 3rd London General buried its dead at Wandsworth (Earlsfield) Cemetery.....

Quite right Mick & here they are (or at least some of them)

MILESWH-07.jpg

MILESWH-05.jpg

Sue

As has been said, good to see the return of the blog

Andy

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Sue Light
Am I right in thinking that the artist Christopher Nevinson was an RAMC orderly at the 3rd London General in 1915?

Yes he was, and perhaps the one who became best known in later years, but there was so much talent there. Hopefully I should be able to include a lot more of the art work on the new site, from a whole variety of artists. I've recently read somewhere that Nevinson was a bit remote from the others, and not the most popular of people, but as I can't remember where I read it, it has to go down as 'hearsay' at the moment :whistle:

Sue

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JoMH

Thank you, Sue. I shall be watching this 'new' blog.

Would it be a fair assumption that with so many artists working at 3rd London there were other links with The Slade, apart from Nevinson?

My grandfather appears to have been a patient there for several months from November 1915. Family lore has it that he first met my grandmother in London in 1915. Her sister was a student at The Slade, and I speculate about how my grandparents met....

Joanna

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SiegeGunner
Quite right Mick & here they are (or at least some of them)

Thanks, Andy - that's the General Military Plot. The Newfoundland Plot is across the road to its left and the Australian Plot is at the end of the road on the left. Canadian, NZ and South African graves are in the border behind the Screen Wall and behind where you stood to take your pic. I have photos of all the plots and all the panels on both Screen Walls, if anyone wants them. Also photos of all the individual Australian, NZ, Canadian, Newfoundland and South African headstones and many other CWGC and private WW1 headstones elsewhere in the cemetery. I was there last week to photograph a private NZ war grave that has just been repaired, for the Dolores Cross project.

Nevinson seems to have had strained relationships with a number of his contemporaries, some of them not the easiest of people themselves. I keep meaning to get hold of this book and discover more about him - http://www.lutterworth.com/lp/titles/hanging.htm

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Sue Light
Would it be a fair assumption that with so many artists working at 3rd London there were other links with The Slade, apart from Nevinson?

My grandfather appears to have been a patient there for several months from November 1915. Family lore has it that he first met my grandmother in London in 1915. Her sister was a student at The Slade, and I speculate about how my grandparents met....

Sorry Joanna, I don't have much knowledge of the arty side of things - I have quite a list of names of the Chelsea Arts Club men, but Nevinson seems to be the only one who is well publicised as having been at the Slade. An interesting area for someone to research?

Sue

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JoMH

Thanks Sue. A fascinating area for research, I imagine. I'll let you know if I turn up anything of interest, though I don't have time right now to do justice to the subject.

Joanna

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JoMH

Sue,

I have just done some quick searches on the names contained in the text of your latest (28th March) addition to The Happy Hospital blog. There are many illustrators, as well as painters, who already had, or went on to have successful careers - judging by their presence on the internet. It is very striking that many/most of those I find results for were Australian.

Joanna

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Sue Light

Joanna

Yes, it does seem to have a very Australian slant as a hospital. The text said that 500 beds were set aside for Australian patients there, and maybe any Australian artists/writers who were in the UK at the time might have been encouraged to offer their services as orderlies due to both the predilections of the Commanding Officer and also to the number of their countryfolk being nursed there. And I can imagine wounded Australians with a literary bent arriving at Dover and demanding to be taken to Wandsworth to seek fame and fortune!

Sue

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JoMH

My grandfather was not Australian. Nearly though - he was a New Zealander.

According to his personnel file, he was at 3rd London General Hospital for nearly five months - 9/11/15 - 28/3/16 - and moved on to Hornchurch, still unfit. Perhaps the Gazette had some influence on him, as he later was one of three editors for the on board journal for HMNZ 'Rimutaka' on his way back to New Zealand in 1919/20, accompanied by his wife (who he may or may not have met through The Happy Hospital).

I transcribed the 'Rimutaka' journal, Epilogue, some time ago on a GWF thread which can be read here - the journal itself starting at post #18. It's not in the same league, but creating it must have been something of a life saver on the two month journey.

Joanna

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Sue Light

And maybe the dates he was there are relevant as the first issue of The Gazette was October 1915, so he would have been there right at the beginning, and perhaps influenced by so much 'hype' during the first few months of the life of the magazine. I've never read any of the thread on the Rimutaka, so thanks for the link and I'll read it through.

Sue

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SiegeGunner

They must have had a good track record of mending Australians, because there are only 33 burials in the Australian plot at Earlsfield. One of these is an anomaly - 2553 Private A P Jorgenson, Australian Army Medical Corps, 4 December 1925 - for whom I cannot find a service record in the NAA archive. As far as I can ascertain, the present formal military plots were laid out in 1925, and I wonder whether Jorgenson may have been a member of an Australian team involved in that exercise. Otherwise, perhaps originally a member of staff at the hospital rather than a patient, who stayed in the UK and was somehow wangled (with a 'clipped corners' non-world war headstone) into the Australian military plot.

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JoMH

It's interesting to speculate on how Private Jorgenson came to be buried at Earlsfield, and although I know nothing of the statistics, that number of 33 Australians buried there does seem low - happily.

Sue, I would love to know if you spot any similarities between the Rimutaka journal and the Gazette. I imagine there tends to be a formula for these on board journals, though the Rimutaka is the only one I've seen so far.

Joanna

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SiegeGunner

Sue may know otherwise, but as far as I am aware 3rd London General only used Earlsfield Cemetery. But some first-generation emigrants serving in the AIF may, perhaps, have been claimed by family for burial elsewhere in the UK. As regards death rates, wounded men would have needed to be pretty strong and stable to survive the journey from the WF to Wandsworth, so a high survival rate is perhaps not unexpected. Beyond a few who died soon after arrival, I would imagine deaths resulted mainly from complications of corrective surgery, infections and disease.

Thinking of corrective surgery, I wonder whether there was a policy of directing men with limb amputations to the 3rd London because of its close proximity to the specialist prosthetics department at St Mary's Roehampton.

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JoMH

I meant to ask whether Earlsfield was the only cemetery for the 3rd London General.

And I had speculated about the relative strength of those who found themselves there as patients. My grandfather had been suffering on and off with dysentery which he'd contracted early on in Egypt. He travelled to England from Lemnos, where he'd been treated in an Australian hospital, on the 'Aquitania'. I imagine that many arriving with him were Australian or New Zealanders, though he talks in a letter written on the voyage of the range of nationalities on board - English, Scottish, Irish, Canadian, South African, Australian and New Zealand. Perhaps once in England, they were sorted and sent to hospitals according to nationality, though I see from your previous post that many of these nationalities were buried at Earlsfield? In the letter he describes his health by saying, 'There's nothing really wrong with me now and I eat like a wolf, but I feel awfully tired.' So, in the scheme of things he was pretty strong, though I believe this dysentery, or the effects of it, plagued him for the rest of his life.

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SiegeGunner

Numbers from the other contingents buried at Earlsfield are: Newfoundland - 18, New Zealand - 6, South Africa - 6, Canada - 4.

There are two screen walls, one for those buried in the 'General Military Plot', which is a large collective grave, and another for unmarked burials elsewhere in the cemetery - but I think they are all British, as are the other 200+ WW1 burials in the cemetery. I don't know how many of the men buried elsewhere in the cemetery died at the 3rd London General. There are no men above the rank of Sergeant buried in the military plots, but there are officers buried elsewhere in the cemetery. Was 3rd London for ORs only?

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JoMH

Was 3rd London for ORs only?

Taking a quick look via Google, I found this article, written by an anonymous colonial officer patient who had been at the hospital for over a year. It's well worth a read.

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Sue Light
Was 3rd London for ORs only?

In the final part of the COs history of the hospital, which I've put up today, it says that originally it was intended to have just a nominal number of officer patients - twenty - but that was increased, and by the end of 1915 there were 160. There don't seem to be any great number of Australians buried anywhere other than Earlsfield - not in the rest of Wandsworth and Putney anyway, but as mentioned above, some are likely to have gone elsewhere in the UK for burial.

I haven't started reading 'Rimutaka' yet, as I was busy yesterday shaking the hand of royalty - but will start soon. Back to the housework and cooking today :thumbsup:

Sue

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JoMH

Which royal hand did you shake, Sue, and why? Variety is the spice of life, so enjoy the domestic day!

Joanna

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Sue Light

It was a reception at the New Cavendish Club in London, and Princess Alexandra was the guest. Last November I was the speaker at a lunch they had to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Voluntary Aid movement in the UK, and they do keep in contact with me now, and so I had an invite to this. Private members' clubs are not usually the world I move in, but it's been a very interesting experience. The New Cavendish Club was opened by Lady Ampthill in 1920 to provide a safe haven for genteel ex-VADs needing accommodation in London, and also employment for a number of women who wanted to be in London after the war. As its membership can no longer survive on ex-VADs (a dying breed), it's now open to both male and female members, but still a real core of older women. But very friendly and welcoming.

Sue

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SiegeGunner

There are no Australian officers buried at Earlsfield, but I suspect that British officers buried in the civilian plots adjoining the General Military Plot probably died at the 3rd London. There is, in fact, only one Dominion officer buried at Earlsfield, and he is a NZ Medical Corps officer who died in October 1919 - http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...asualty=4014538

I was mistaken about there being no-one above the rank of Sergeant buried in the General Military Plot (the collective grave) - going through the screen wall plaques, I've found one Colour Sergeant and one Quartermaster Sergeant.

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JoMH

Sounds like you had an enjoyable time at The New Cavendish Club, Sue.

Great new posts on your Blog. Thank you.

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SiegeGunner

Thanks to the invaluable assistance of forum pal Martin Elliget, I now know some more about the enigmatic Private Albert Percy Jorgenson, Australian Army Medical Corps, died 4 December 1925, who is buried in the Australian plot at Earlsfield Cemetery alongside men who died at the 3rd LGH. It seems that when he originally enlisted in the 59th Battalion in 1916 he was underage and gave the false name Albert Percy Gray. In 1917 he confessed his true name and age and was transferred to the Army Medical Corps until he turned 18. But he began to exhibit symptoms of TB, of which, apparently, several members of his family had already died, and he was returned to Australia and discharged in early 1918. He does not appear to have spent any of his time in the AMC at the 3rd LGH, either as an orderly or as a patient, so it remains a mystery why he came to that area of London when he returned to the UK (reason unknown, probably in 1924) after spending time in sanatoria in Australia.

When he died in 1925 (aged 25, apparently of TB), he was evidently known to the Australian authorities in London, as his service records contain a telegram from the Prime Minister's Office stating "Jorgenson entitled to war grave", and it appears that he was buried in the Australian military plot at Earlsfield shortly after his death, which must, I think, have been arranged by someone representing the Australian military in London. His mother later asked for a photograph of his grave, and his service record file contains a copy of a photograph supplied by the IWGC of his 'full' war grave headstone. This is obviously interesting, as the cut-off date is now some time in 1921 and Jorgenson's 'full' war grave headstone has since been replaced at some stage with a clipped-corners non-world-war headstone.

So some of the mystery still remains, and unfortunately no link has been found with the 3rd LGH. Jorgenson's service record, which is available online from the National Archives of Australia, runs to 160 pages -

http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.as...mp;I=1&SE=1

I have not pursued them (yet), but I presume that similarly comprehensive (if perhaps slightly shorter) service records are also available to anyone wishing to research the other 32 Australians buried at Earlsfield who did spend their last days at the 3rd London General Hospital.

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