Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Moonraker

Casualty's family summoned to hospital in France

Recommended Posts

Moonraker

Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth refers more than once to next-of-kin in England being summoned to the bedside of a casualty at death's door in a hospital in France.

 

I've read once or twice of a well-connected mother or wife travelling to France to see a wounded officer, but hadn't realised this was done on a wider scale. Vera Brittain refers to "a little woman in fusty black" weeping at the bedside of her son, "Corporal Smith", as he died in a hospital in the Calais area.

 

I'm wondering about how many such visits there were and about the logistics involved. Presumably the notification came by telegram, but the travelling for a distressed relative who perhaps had not before ventured far afield before must have been challenging. Where to go, for a start -  presumably to a London rail terminus to catch a crowded train heading for a Channel port, but how would the relative know which one? With few people having a telephone, it would have been difficult to find out. What boat should be taken - and would there be room for a civilian. And on arrival in France where to go next - and how?

 

And how would the relative(s) fare for accommodation? "Mrs Smith" was given the night superintendent's bunk. Might she have stayed for the funeral? And was immediate repatriation of the body be feasible - perhaps at a financial cost?

 

Were the next-of-kin expected to pay their own way - which might have been a problem for poorer families. Was there a voluntary society that might have assisted?

 

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John_Hartley

I'm sure I've come across this once with a Stockport casualty - an OR, not a prominent family. The recollection is that the mother was told to get the travel warrant from the local police station. She was off almost immediately but the son had died shortly before she got to the hospital.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Terry_Reeves

I think you will find that this has been discussed before if you can find the right combination of words to search on. 

 

TR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Retlaw

Relatives were notified if a son or husband was close to death,  Travel being arranged by the Red Cross in some records I've seen. One mother arrived, and her son had just been taken to the  cemetery, she was driven there by ambulance just in time, reported on the local rag on her return, she was full of praise for everyone from the hospital staff to the Vicar, and the burial party, I've also seen notifications where visiting will not be allowed, another where a parent was told,  you will not be issued with a death certificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kenf48

Most recently 

as noted this thread includes a case study

 

And this one a press cutting giving some directions and a note from a record

There are many others as Terry mentions.  The facility was only available at the Base Hospitals.  On the LLT Chris notes the YMCA set up a hostel in June 1915, and gives the figure of  100-150 such visitors each day.

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/other-aspects-of-order-of-battle/ymca-british-volunteer-organisations-1914-1918/

 

Early in the war if the relatives had means the body could be repatriated, there was a French ban on exhumation and repatriation during the war issued in March 1915 but this was ignored by thos with means and influence until Fabian Ware managed to persuade the Adjutant General to order a ban on repatriation within the British Army.  

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Hone

A few years ago I started a thread about the relatives of a mortally wounded soldier from Ulster who were summoned to his bedside in France. I recall that there was some discussion about how typical this sort of thing was   I'll try to locate it.  

Edited by Mark Hone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

   An example of the sequence of telegrams culminating in the journey by parents in this case can by found on Lloyds War Memorial online- for 2Lt George Herbert Turner, Warwickshire Regiment, dow June 1916. He was hit in the right shoulder and lung  during a routine turn in the line in early June 1916 and got to a base hospital at Le Treport, on the coast (among other things, the sea air was thought to be beneficial for lung wounds).

    The telegram authorising travel is there. It is the same as others I have seen. Transport from  a British port was free on presentation of the telegram and ID to the Port Embarkation Officer-I believe similar had to be shown to the same equivalent officer on the French side. 

 

     What is harrowing with these telegram sequences is often one does not know whether the parents got their son in time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
David_Underdown

Happened for one of my grandfather's cousins (who had contracted paratyphoid and was in hospital at Le Treport).  A telegram was sent to his father in Manchester, explaining how a travel warrant could be obtained.  The father didn't actually feel up to the journey himself, but asked if it was possible for another of sons, also an officer in France, to be given leave to see his brother in hospital.  This was granted, though it's not clear whether the brother made it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stiletto_33853

relevant advice, Army Form W.3459.

 

Andy

DSC07025 copy.jpg

DSC07026 copy.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ilkley remembers

The service record of Corp. 465 William Arthur Nunns 11th (Ilkley) Battery WR RFA contains the below telegrams asking mother to visit as her son was dangerously ill with Nephritis at 11 General Hospital, Boulogne. I don't think that she made the journey as he died the following day and a telegramme was sent to cancel her visit. It appears that she was told to visit at her own expense, a tall order for a working class family of limited means.

nunns telegramme 1.PNG

nunns telegramme 2.PNG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...