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anita_isaacs@hotmail.com

Military Hospital - London, Surrey - help identifying

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anita_isaacs@hotmail.com

Following my posting a request for information on my paternal grandfather and being pleased with the helpful response I received, I am now trying to find out more about my other grandfather!

I have a postcard showing him in the ward of what I presume is a military hospital, with the inscription "Sister Roper's ward, R.M.H.R. 1916".

He served with the 11th, London Regiment during the war but never went abroad being a category C soldier. I know he was in an encampment on Wimbledon Common during the war and was discharged in August, 1916. He continued to live in Wimbledon and died in 1925 at the Croydon Borough Sanatorium, Cheam. He suffered from tuberculosis.

I have tried without success, to find out the name of the hospital. My mother had an idea it was at Roehampton and when I wrote to the Wimbledon Society Museum of Local History, they suggested the initials might stand for "Royal Military Hospital, Roehampton". However, this hospital was actually called "Queen Mary's" and, as far as I understand, was a hospital for men who had lost their limbs in battle.

The Surrey History Centre didn't have an answer either. They said the nearest they could come up with was the Reigate Municipal Borough Isolation Hospital, Reigate.

Can anyone help, please?

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Sue Light

Anita

They're quite unusual initials, and the only match I can find in (roughly) the London area is Richmond Military Hospital, Richmond (Surrey) - that was its official name, so does seem to fit the bill. It was a large hospital with over 500 beds, and large enough for the wards to be named after the sisters-in-charge.

Sue

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anita_isaacs@hotmail.com

Thank you, Sue. I hadn't heard of this hospital but it certainly fits and is near Wimbledon. Does anyone have any photos or information on it?

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Sue Light

I don't have a photo, but I believe it was housed in the local Poor Law Infirmary - not to be confused with the South African Military Hospital in Richmond Park. I'd try the Richmond-upon-Thames Local Studies Library at the Old Town Hall - their contact details are online, as they may well have photos of the building in its Infirmary days, if not as a Military Hospital.

Sue

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anita_isaacs@hotmail.com

Thank you for your advice, Sue. I have had a very fast reply from Richmond Council Local Studies and I thought you might be interested in seeing it. However, they don't have any photos.

I will have to try and find out something about Sister Roper's nursing service which may provide positive confirmation of the hospital where my grandfather was a patient.

The website you provide a link to is helpful in this regard. Do you have any quick tips about which service she may have belonged to?

I also read about territorial forces' hospitals in the 1st World War. Do you know which the 23 original hospitals were?

"I think I may have found a link to Richmond Workhouse as the military hospital RMHR

I have found an old newspaper cutting from 1915 which said the following:

A Way to Richmond Park

In connection with the military hospital, said Mr Umney, it was thought desirable to make a gateway through the end of the yard into the Park, so that wounded soldiers might be able to go through, instead of going up the road; and it was also suggested that two or three of those very large trees which overhung the top right-hand corner of the institution should be cut back or removed, to let in more air and light.

H.M Office of Works 31st August.

Your letter of the 24th instant addressed to the Commissioners of H.M.Office of Woods &c having been forwarded to this office, I am directed by the First Commissioner of HM Works &c to inform you that, in the exceptional circumstances , the Board are prepared to sanction a doorway being made from the Poor Law Institution of the Richmond Union into Richmond Park for the use of wounded soldiers subject to the conditions that the work be carried out by this department , that the door be closed up when the institution building ceases to be used as a military hospital, and that the cost of making the doorway and of its removal be recoverable from the union.

I checked electoral registers for 1918 (there were rarely any made during the war) and listed in Grove Road (the site of Richmond Union Workhouse) were 6 women (presumably nurses) and next to their names - Military Hospital. Unfortunately, none of the women listed had the surname Roper."

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Sue Light

I'm glad you had a quick reply. Coincidentally I'd phoned them yesterday lunchtime about something totally different, but they sounded very friendly and helpful. It might be very difficult to trace Sister Roper without even a forename. It was usually the case that Poor Law Infirmaries continued to employ their own staff when the hospital was taken over by the military, though there would probably be additional military staff. So Sister R. could just as well have been a civilian. When I first looked at your photo I felt the nurses were not military i.e. not Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service or Territorial Force Nursing Service as they would usually be wearing shoulder capes, particularly for photos (although I have seen them without)- I thought probably British Red Cross or civilians. But looking more carefully, it does seem that the central nurse has stripes on her left forearm, which could well be a sign that she was a military nursing sister. The National Archives Catalogue has files for two nurses with the surname Roper, Florence Roper and Nellie Roper, both Territorial Force Nursing Service, and it would certainly be worth a look at these files to see if there was any evidence of service in Richmond. I'll get them out when I'm there next and have a look - it's a bit hopeful, but you never know. I think that other than this it might only be by a stroke of luck that anything turns up.

The 23 (later 25) Territorial Force General Hospitals are well documented. I have a full list here, together with the buildings that they occupied on mobilisation, though they all expanded greatly later. If you email me via the link on my profile page (it's still there despite the changes!) I can send a copy.

Sue

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anita_isaacs@hotmail.com

I have just found the following on another part of the forum:-

The Richmond Military Hospital was in Grove Road, Richmond. It was part of the Union Workhouse infirmary and opened in August 1915, among its patients were German POWs. In July 1918 it became an extension of the Richmond Park Hospital.

They also suggested the NAM may have a photo so I will try them.

Also, I found on TNA Hospitals database that Richmond Studies Library have the holdings of the Grove Road Hospital including clinical and patients' records for the period I am interested in, so I have written back to them asking if they can help.

Regarding nurses, on the off-chance that Sister Roper was a civilian nurse, do you think it is worth asking the Royal College of Nursing for a search of their archives, notwithstanding I have no Christian name, but stating the period?

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Sue Light

I saw the entry on the Hospitals Database last night, but sort of read it as them having admission/discharge records just to the Union Workhouse Infirmary, so it will be interesting to see if they do include anything of its military period.

I'm not sure what the RCN would be able to search. There were no national lists until after the Nurses' Registration Act of 1919, the first Register being published in 1921, and it's the run of GNC Registers that they usually search. They give the surname, forename, date of registration, training hospital with dates, and permanent home address at the time. So even if you knew the first name, by 1921 onwards the current address would not be relevant. Roper is a pretty uncommon name, although it doesn't sound like it. I've got a copy of the 1928 Register, and there are only four Ropers in there, but nothing that could remotely help with identification.

If the aim is to identify the hospital and confirm that your grandfather was a patient there, I think that searching for images is probably the best way forwards. Hospital photos seemed to be taken in similar places, and images often come up on Ebay and other places. I've found one on my hard drive that I have labelled as 'Richmond', but this wasn't taken in the same place as yours, although the nurse does seem to have those same, rather odd stripes on her sleeve.

I'll send the list of Territorial Hospitals over.

Sue

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Guest ValC

Hi, Yesterday I googled "R.M.H.R. 1916" and was sent to this site. I recently found amongst my Aunt's possessions a photo postcard showing a group of staff with the inscription underneath "H Ward R.M.H.R. 1916"

The photo is taken outside showing gardens and buildings and has two nurses and possibly a doctor seated and six men standing in military and semi-military uniforms, possibly other ward staff. One of the men

standing is my paternal grandfather. i know nothing of this grandfather or his military record as he died when my father was about 12. I wondered if any further information had come to light about this place and

those who worked and were treated there?

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iains
Cheam Hospital
132 London Road, North Cheam, Surrey KT4 8LL
I think the hospital you are referring to is above. It was still a TB hospital in the 50's. It has since been demolished and built upon. It was located between Dorchester road and Ebbisham Road ,Worcster Park, with access from the London Road. The buildings fronted to Ebbisham Road with a cricket pitch between.

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Michelle Young

Welcome to the forum Iain. Anita hasn't visited the forum for 5 years, but as she used her email address as her username, you could try sending her an email with this information.

Michelle 

 

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