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Meaning of Abbreviaions in the Observation Column of Hospital Records


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I have a serviceman who was at 2 General Hospital (2 GH) between 4 and 12 March,1918. In the 'Observation' Column of his Hospital record is "A Harfleur".

He was again at 2 GH between 17 and 20 March,1918. On this occasion the 'Observation' column notes "MB Harfleur".

The obvious conclusion is that A = sent to and MB = sent from and that this man was at 40 Stationary Hospital (?) at Harfleur between 12 and 17 March. But I don't know if that's correct.

One complication is that his complaint changes during the 2 spells at 2 GH - Tonsillitis and than Neurasthenia.

Finally, he is back at 2 GH over 24 and 27 March,1918, again suffering from Neurasthenia. On this occasion the 'Observation' column notes "HSW Australia" which I presume means that he was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship (?) Australia.

Can anyone put me right ?

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Off the wall guess re neurasthenia - Mental Block? Mental Beds?

A might refer to Admission?

No hard evidence for either.

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I agree. 'A' might be 'admitted' but MB is Medical Board.

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Thanks, guys.

So, would it be a coheent timeline for him to have been at 2 GH from 4 to 12 March.

Then at 40 SH at Harfleur where he attended a Medical Board and had his diagnosis changed to Neurasthenia (PTSD).

Followed by a return to 2 GH over 17 to 20 March.

Discharge back to his unit - just in time for the Spring Offensive ! - followed by a return to 2 GH over 24-27 March and  evacuation to England on the HS West Australia ?

Or is it not that clear-cut ?

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Sorry, I should have attached the original document - done now.

I also think that I've over-compicated this.

He was a patient at 2 GH. Was sent to Harfleur (40 SH ?) twice for specialist attention. The second time he attended a Medical Board which concluded that he would be in no fit state to return to duty anytime soon. So he was sent from 2 GH to the port of Le Havre to be evacuated on the WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

Nice and neat.

Thank you all for the help.

1918 - 2 GH 1&2.jpg

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Looking at this, the As in the far right column are in quotation marks, so I think that that may refer to the individual's state of health, i.e. Class 'A' (fit for general service), especially since the locations after the 'A' are where the relevant base depots are. 


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Thanks, David, that's an interesting one.

One of the other entries states - Duty "A" - which would certainly line up with your thoughts.

That would mean that this man was posted to Harfleur Depot on 12 March as fully fit, but then sent back to 2 GH on 17 March with Neurasthenia.  Fits.

But what about the MB for Medical Board ? Would one of these be held at a Base Depot ?

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Although I have seen references to "Travelling Medical Boards", Medical Boards were, I believe, largely held in hospitals.  I am not sure if each base depot had its own hospital, but the depots tended to be in towns with a wide range of military facilities which would include hospitals, see for example this entry from LLT about Le Havre and Harfleur.

Gazetteer of the Western Front: Le Havre and Harfleur base - The Long, Long Trail (longlongtrail.co.uk)

Within some of the Base Depot towns there were even Medical Board Base Depots, see for example this list of camps for Le Havre in 1916: 






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