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Merstham Hospital, Surrey


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Good day all

I was chasing the story of my grandfather (Driver Thomas Dodd, 267 Bde RFA and 245 Bde RFA) when I stumbled on what, to me at least, was an oddity. My grandfather was wounded, probably at Passchendale in 1917, and landed in a VAD run hospital in the small village of Merstham in Surrey. I have enough evidence from the Village Council and the local residence association to be quite sure that this is so, yet there is no record anywhere else. According to every official source, including the National Archives, RAMC records, etc, etc, the place never existed. No unit, personnel, financial or administrative records of any sort. I am curious how this is possible as, while it was not a large Hospital (only 30 beds) it treated many hundreds of men, had a full time staff of doctors and nurses, and was existent for at least 2-3 years.

Are there other examples of 'missing' hospitals that anyone is aware of?

Colin

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Colin

Have you contacted the Red Cross Archives?

Email

enquiry@redcross.org.uk

Telephone

020 7877 7058

Post

British Red Cross Museum and Archives

44 Moorfields

London

EC2Y 9AL

Dave

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There is mention on the Surrey CC web pages of 'Netherne Hospital, Merstham' and that the records are held in Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6ND Tel: 01483 518737 Email: shs@surreycc.gov.uk - perhaps this was it.

See Surrey County Council 'Brookwood Hospital'

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Dave and Martin

No, haven't taken a shot at either the Red Cross or the Surrey County Council. Thank you both for 2 new trails. Much appreciated. My blood is up now! Attack!

Colin

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There was a Merstham VAD Hospital. It was an affiliated hospital under the Epsom, "Horton" County of London War Hospital. It contained 30 beds for O/Rs.

Barbara

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... According to every official source, including the National Archives, RAMC records, etc, etc, the place never existed. No unit, personnel, financial or administrative records of any sort. I am curious how this is possible as, while it was not a large Hospital (only 30 beds) it treated many hundreds of men, had a full time staff of doctors and nurses, and was existent for at least 2-3 years.

Are there other examples of 'missing' hospitals that anyone is aware of?

Colin

Colin: elsewhere on the Forum is an ever-increasing list of UK hospitals*, and I would bet that in many (most?) cases very little remains in the way of records, and I wouldn't expect there to be anything much in the National Archives, apart from a passing mention. And I don't think there would be anything in the RAMC records (though I would be interested to know what connection - if any - the RAMC had with hospitals that weren't at military camps**).

I've compiled a list of WWI hospitals in Wiltshire and though I haven't gone to your lengths to research them I wouldn't expect to find out much about them, except a few words in a village or town history or in contemporary local newspapers. You're lucky that Surrey County Council appears to hold some material. Now and then one does strike lucky: copies still exist of the Longleat Lyre, the magazine produced at Longleat House when it housed convalescent officers.

Moonraker

* Are there plans to rationalise this list along the lines of that for UK military hospitals in The Long, Long Trail? The Forum list is very long and not easy to search, and I bet there are quite a few cases of multiple entry.

** Cue for expert info. Presumably military hospitals found places for patients in VAD hospitals in towns and villages, but I don't imagine these had any military staff. Did a military medical officer visit regularly, or was it up to the civilian staff to decide when a person was fit to leave?

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Merstham Hospital was in Rockshaw Road, Merstham. In was a Type B hospital (i.e it did not take casualties directly from the front, but from other hospitals) and had 30 beds. It opened on 1 July 1916 until 10 March 1919. It was one of several affiliated to Horton Hospital, which was a Mental asylum during peacetime.

For further details see Lt Col J R Lord's book 'Horton War Hospital, Epsom' (W Heinemann (Medical Books) Ltd, 1920). It is also mentioned in 'Reports by the Joint War Committee and the Joint War Finance Committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England on Voluntary Aid rendered to the sick and wounded at home and aboard and to British Prisoners of War'. (HMSO, 1921).

The asylum was run by London Council Council, so any surviving records may be at the London Metropolitan Archives. Although many of the records for these temporary hospitals have not survived.

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Good day to all who chipped in to answer.

Many thanks. This was a group effort and, thanks to all of you, I think it is at least partially knitted together. In short form, Merstham Hospital was one of several others in the area set up to shelter recovering soldiers who were being evacuated from the larger hospitals (Horton at Epsom amongst them) due to the huge number of casualties resulting from the Somme. It was affilliated (which apparently means that this is where it's patients came from) with Horton War Hospital but may have had assistance of some kind (maybe administrative?) from other hospitals in the area. (Netherne in Coulsdon is certainly one). It is still unclear if Merstham was a completely civilian run (VAD) set up or if there were military on staff as well. But I shall continue to chew away on that sort of thing. Again, thanks to you all.

Colin

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