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57 General Hospital - Location?


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Here is a snippet from the casualty form in the service records of 38145 Benjamin Finch of the 15th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.

 

It shows he was gassed on the 22nd July 1917 (whilst the 15th/LF were in the Nieuport sector on the Belgium coast)

He was moved by the 91st Field Ambulance on the 23rd July 1917, arriving at the 24th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) on the 24th July 1917. This CCS was located in Adinkerke, well-behind the front line.

He arrived at No 57 General Hospital in Boulogne on the same day, 24th July 1917.

It seems he was shipped back to the UK on 6th August 1917.

 

Two questions:

 

1) Can anyone please confirm that the No 57 General Hospital was in Boulogne in July 1917? The reason I ask is because the LLT states that this hospital was in Marseille between July 1917 and November 1920 and it does not indicate if, or where, it existed earlier than July 1917.

 

2) Can anyone please advise the means and the route by which this gas casualty would have been transported between the CCS in Adinkerke and the Hospital in Boulogne on the single day of the 24th July 1917?

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

Edited 20/03/2017: I can now see from the record below that he actually arrived Boulogne on the 25th July having been transported there by No 10 Ambulance Train (the train departed Oosthoek on the 25th July at 10:00 hrs, arriving Boulogne 17:30 hrs). These details match the War Diary of the 24th CCS (367 cases evacuated in total on the 25th July) and the War Diary of No 10 AT (527 cases evacuated in total - the remainder evidently being evacuated from the 1st Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, which was co-located with the 24th CCS).

 

38145 Benjamin Finch 15th LF - gassed 22nd July then 91st FA then 24 CCS then 57th GH Boulogne 24th July.jpg.

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1) Can anyone please confirm that the No 57 General Hospital was in Boulogne in July 1917? The reason I ask is because the LLT states that this hospital was in Marseille between July 1917 and November 1920 and it does not indicate if, or where, it existed earlier than July 1917.

 

The LLT list comes from a letter written to the BRC from The Ministry of Pension on 1923. There are numerous errors in the letter that place CCSs in the wrong location and/or dates. As his Casualty form states Boulogne I think that's probably a better source for the location of 57 GH. But only the diary would confirm that.

 

Quote

2) Can anyone please advise the means and the route by which this gas casualty would have been transported between the CCS in Adinkerke and the Hospital in Boulogne on the single day of the 24th July 1917?

 

The diary for 24 CCS goes into some detail on this gassing event. Although the diary has an entry for the 22nd and then 26th, nothing in-between. It does say that the DMS ordered them to prepare for 500 cases and that 502 arrived.

 

The 24 CCS was in Oosthoek from 19th June. There is an appendix that shows 502 ORs arrived on the 23rd, 61 of those were transferred to 1/Canadian CCS on the same day. 32 were evacuated on the 24th (no location given). No admissions noted for the 24th. No movements to Marseille.

 

24 CCS was officially closed during this period and didn't open until 3/8/17 so these gas admissions must be under emergency arrangements.

 

TEW

 

Arrivals in June & July of equipment from Aubigny seem to have been by railway siding but the CCS had only just opened for these 502 men. The DMS diary shows 355 ORs evacuated from Oosthoek to Boulogne by AT 25.

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Thanks for the link Phil and the comprehensive reply from TEW.

 

I've downloaded the No 57 General Hospital diary for the relevant period. It was in Wimereux from end of April 1917 to end of June 1917 but the equipment was transferred to Au Bon Secours in July 1917 with its first admissions being made on 17th July 1917.

 

There are then no further admissions (and there is no diary entry at all for the 24th July) until the 25th July where it states that "a convoy of 63 arrived (55 cases of lethal gas - (mustard oil group))". I can only presume he was in this convoy (and which included the 32 evacuated from the 24th CCS on the 24th July as mentioned in the 24th CCS diary).

 

Just for the record, the No 57 General Hospital diary states that it was at Au Bon Secours until 16th December 1917 but on the 17th December it was at a place called Musso Camp, which I understand was indeed at Marseille.

 

I can't find Au Bon Secours (is it a place or a name in a place?) - I presume it was in or near Boulogne - but can anyone confirm or otherwise please?

 

TEW - I am interested in your mention of a DMS Diary stating that 355 ORs were evacuated from Oosthoek to Boulogne by AT (Ambulance Train?) 25.

 

Is this Diary for the Director of Medical Services of the 4th Army or some other unit? Either way, I'm struggling to find that on The National Archives - any chance please of a link, and I'll then download it.

 

Many thanks for your assistance,

 

Russ

 

 

 

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The DMS diary for 4th Army I mentioned is here.

 

15 Corps DDMS diary also has some details regarding the movement of the gassed casualties, but other than stating that the various CCSs at Ossthoek that took in the gassed men were actually closed there isn't much more.

 

32nd Division ADMS diary for some reason glosses over the period but has a lot of appendices to go with July orders. That one is also on ancestry, or TNA WO95/2378/3.

 

The 61 transferred to 1/Canadian CCS were serious cases, otherwise 24CCS acted as a simple clearing station IE to gather the men for evacuation. Not sure if they received any treatment there.

 

And I agree that those evacuated from Oosthoek to Boulogne by AT 25 included Finch along with others from 39 CCS and maybe 1/Canadian CCS.

TEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for links TEW - I'll take a look at both the 4th Army and XV Corps diaries

 

Yes, I looked at the 32nd Division ADMS diary and was disappointed to find little of relevance - he seems to be concerned with wood supplies for fly-proof latrines and the lack of a telephone (he got one, duly recorded in the diary, on the 27th July) on the relevant dates!

 

First time I've researched someone going down the medical evacuation chain - it's fascinating stuff. It has sort of surprised me how rapidly they got men to the Base Hospitals from the front, even when seemingly overwhelmed by casualties - I think there were a few thousand casualties in this gas attack of 21st/22nd July 1917 (the first use of mustard gas as I understand it).

 

Do you know if Ambulance Trains left behind any records (diaries)?

 

Regards

 

Russ

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David_Underdown

There is a catholic religious order called Bon Secours https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Secours_Sisters (currently in the news as they ran the mother and baby home at Tuam, Ireland, where the apparent mass grave for many children of unmarried mothers who were in their care seem to have been buried), so possibly Au Bon Secours refers to one of their convents taken over by the CCS?  According to the Wikipedia article linked above they first established a presence in Boulogne around 1830, so it appears possible.

 

There's a Parc Bon Secours near the memorial to Napoleon's Grand Armee https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bon+Secours,+62126+Wimille,+France/@50.742918,1.6220305,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47dc2c2cdabdd785:0x49e4fa05e191a79f!8m2!3d50.74395!4d1.624305 and the order also seems to have a presence at 9 rue Saint Martin, Booulogne, 62200

 

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Thanks David - having done a bit of googling around last night, I came to the same conclusion as to its location in Boulogne (and its history with the Order you mention).

 

I also found this useful link, confirming same for Bon Secours in Boulogne, showing the locations of hospitals used by the French during the war - it seems the British eventually took over this one during this time.

https://fr.geneawiki.com/index.php/H%C3%B4pitaux_militaires_de_la_r%C3%A9gion_nord_(14/18)

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

 

 

From the Website Hopitaux militaires de la region nord 14-18.JPG

Google Book - New Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer second Edition.JPG

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Russ,

 

Yes, there is a diary for 25 AT. It's 27Mb for the whole of 1917 so probably just lists of totals by date. From the above I guess 24, 39 and 1/Candian CCSs were grouped together and used the same railway siding so I doubt the AT diary will seperate the 355 men by CCS.

 

Would be interest to hear what it does say though.

 

Did you spot the bit in the 15 Corps diary (I think) that mentions the difficulty in identifying the men with very slight gas symptoms and those who were pretenting to have been gassed?

 

I'll check the DMS diary again for May/June to see if 57 GH is given a location, it's way off the Mcmaster map grid so I can't see how it can have a map ref.

 

TEW

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TEW - many thanks for the link to the 25 AT diary - I've downloaded it (I've not yet downloaded the XV Corps or 4th Army diaries).

 

The 25 AT diary is interesting - the train's schedule is almost daily from one different location to another - not on any set to/fro route for any length of time. It just goes all over the place from day to day.

 

For the days in question (see images below), the AT departed from Abbeville empty and arrived at Oosthoek on the 23rd July 1917 at 22:30. It loaded 360 Other Rank patients (322 of which were lying cases). It departed 02:30 on the 24th July 1917.

 

The diary notes that a number of men died on route, all from shell gas poisoning (of which 286 patients were suffering).

 

The train arrived at Le Treport at 15:40 on the 24th July 1917, with (I assume) all patients being off-loaded. It then entrained 374 patients including 12 Officers and 3 German PoWs and departed from Le Treport at 22:30 to Havre, arriving there at 08:45 on the 25th July 1917 where those men were off-loaded to the hospital ship Warilda.

 

I've checked CWGC and all the men mentioned as dying on route in 25 AT are all buried at Mon Huan Military Cemetery, Le Treport, so this tallies (noting that 203401 J Martin should read 230401 J Martin).

 

So evidently these gas cases were sent to Le Trepot, and on that basis Benjamin Finch (and probably other cases) were somehow transported to Boulogne by other means than this 25 AT.

 

In looking for service records of men who were serving with the various participating units and who became fatalities in this gas attack in late July 1917 at Nieuport, I came across one record (attached) giving a list of admissions on 25th July 1917 at 83 General Hospital, Boulogne. The list includes 267505 G H Lancaster who died on 27th July 1917 and is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. So the men on this list, and probably others (including Finch), were transported to Boulogne somehow - evidently being looked after in at least two different hospitals - No 57 (as per Finch's record) and No 83 (as per the record attached).

 

Then looking at the No 83 General Hospital diary for the 25th July 1917, it simply states (also attached) that 118 cases were admitted and that a large number of gas cases were received that day.

 

Piecing all these diaries together in trying to get a consistent picture of the evacuation chain after this gas attack is becoming quite a fascinating challenge - any further tips/insights would be appreciated.

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

 

 

 

1 - 25 AT 1.JPG

2- 25 AT 2.JPG

3 - 267505 Lancaster - Admitted Boulogne Hospital - Gas.jpg

4 - 83 General Hospital.JPG

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Odd that it says AT 25 say went to Le Treport, quite a way off from Boulogne.

 

The DMS diary extract is below;

Clipboard01.jpg

 

The diary also has;

22/7/17. 29 officers and 425 ORs were evacuated from Oosthoek to Thorne today by AT 22.

23/7/17. 10 pm. AT 25 sent up to Oosthoek and get away as soon as possible. [Looks like they arrived at 10.30]

23/7/17. 48 officers and 351 ORs were evacuated from Oosthoek to Le Treport by AT 15

 

Hope the DMS didn't muddle up AT 25 and AT 15, although as both diaries say 'ORs only' that seems unlikely.

TEW

 

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Strange.

 

The 25 AT diary is clear - it went to Le Treport and those mentioned explicitly who died on route are buried there.

 

One possibility - might they have stopped on the way and off-loaded the wounded at Boulogne and then carried on to Le Treport and off-loaded those that had died at Le Treport? It seems they had to go to Le Treport to collect the waiting 374 patients there to take them to Havre.

 

I'm not at all sure what the rail network looked like in those days but Boulogne would be about half way, on a near coastal route as per map attached, between Oosthoek and Le Treport.

 

I might get round to having a look at 15 AT.

 

Russ

 

 

Map.JPG

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I'd still expect to see the 25 AT diary mentioning stopping off at Boulogne. And with the DMS stating the train went from Oosthoek to Boulogne rather than Le Treport something is amiss. Even if something prevented AT 25 from going directly to Boulogne as planned they would still mention that surely?

 

Unless AT 15 does say they went to Boulogne rather than Le Treport. But that's a day too early.

TEW

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Well, as per the DMS diary, the 15 AT diary confirms that it indeed go from Oosthoek on the 23rd July 1917 to Le Treport (arriving there at 00:30 hrs on the 24th July 1917).

 

It carried 48 Officers (lying), 260 Other Ranks (lying) and 95 Other Ranks sitting (403 total), compared to the 48 Officers and 351 ORs (399 total) in the DMS diary. Most were gas cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 AT 1.JPG

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