1917 Report


Imperial War Museum, Women's Work Collection

     The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry Corps was started in 1909 by Mr. Edward Baker, and was re-organized, and its aim directly laid down in 1910 by Mrs. McDougall (then Miss Ashley Smith). When first founded the women enrolled wore scarlet tunics with white braid facings, and navy blue skirts with white braid round the hem. They had lessons in side-saddle riding and elementary instruction in stretcher drill and bandaging. The Membership was over one hundred in August 1909, and in January 1910 it had fallen to seven or eight active members. In February 1910 astride-riding was made compulsory, and drills were held once a week, alternate drills in stretcher work and horsemanship. Khaki uniform, consisting of a service tunic and skirt with a leather waist-belt, was enforced.

     A scheme of training was laid down, and the objective of the Corps was to assist the Royal Army Medical Corps in time of war by providing mounted detachments with horse ambulance waggons, to take over wounded at Clearing Hospitals or Dressing Stations and convoy them to Base Hospitals or to the nearest railhead. For this work members were trained to move, feed and tend patients in a skilled manner, and to prepare sheds, tents or any available buildings as temporary hospitals. The training was carried out under R.A.M.C. instructions and trained nurses and members received a thorough grounding in stretcher drill, moving patients, improvising and applying splints, and in bandaging and cooking. First Aid and Home Nursing Certificates had to be obtained, and a certain time passed in a hospital or the Outpatients’ Department of an Infirmary to gain experience.  Horsemanship and the care and feeding of horses was carefully taught. The Corps was mounted in order to move rapidly from one point to another as required. Arrangements were made for the Corps to be drilled by the riding-master of the Cavalry Regiment stationed at Hounslow. On the Heath and in the Riding School the members were exercised regularly and the standard of efficiency was a high one.

     In 1912 Mr. Baker resigned his connection with the Corps and Mrs. McDougall provided a Headquarters’ Office in Lexham Gardens and later at Earl’s Court Road. Colonel Ricardo, C.V.O. became the nominal Commanding Officer. Mrs. McDougall was Secretary, and Miss Franklin was Treasurer. A series of training camps was organised, and during these, field days were carried out with the Royal Army Medical Corps supervisors.  In 1912 the first summer training took place at Bourne End, the expenses of which were borne by Colonel Ricardo and Mrs. McDougall. In 1913 and 1914 camps were held at Pirbright, the Guards’ Depot there most kindly furnishing a large part of the equipment, and the Cavalry Instructors from Stoney Castle Camp helped with the mounted work. The members supplied their own horses and groomed and fed them themselves. A typical programme of a day’s work at Camp may be of interest:

Reveille 5.30 a.m.
Stables 6.00 a.m.
Breakfast 7.00 a.m.
Tent Inspection 8.30 a.m.
Mounted Parade 9.15 a.m.
Canteen 11.00 to 11.30
Bandaging 11.30
Stables 12.15
Lunch 12.45
Bathing Parade 2.00 to 3.00 p.m.
Stretcher Drill/Bandaging 3.00 to 5.00 p.m.
Tea 5.00 p.m.
Mounted Parade 6.00
Stables 7.30
Supper 8.00 p.m.

     This was varied by Signalling Classes where the Morse Code was taught, by flags, lamps and heliograph. Field days were held on the moors and patients brought in over rough and uneven ground. The patients were generally stalwart guardsmen. The training in stretcher drill was very carefully given, recruits were never allowed to do more than 10 minutes’ carrying work during their first few drills. No cases of over-strain resulted, though a good stretcher squad of four girls could carry a heavy man over 200 yards of rough ground without difficulty.

     In 1913, the F.A.N.Y. offer of an ambulance detachment for Ulster in case of hostilities in Ireland was accepted and a specially thorough course of training followed. It was the first offer of its kind and was made in June. In September a large and enthusiastic Ulster Camp was held, although the summer training had been in July as usual. All through the winter and spring that followed weekly drills and bandaging practices were held. Meetings were instituted at which Mrs. Glanville spoke on behalf of Ulster and Mrs. McDougall for the Corps. When the crisis arrived, Mrs. McDougall and Miss Cicely Mordaunt went to Belfast and arranged for food, accommodation, etc., for the Ulster detachment.

     In July 1914, during the summer camp the F.A.N.Y. were allowed to send two members daily to the Reception Hospital at Pirbright Camp. They did the dressings and attended to the cases there. Also they were allowed to send a mounted squad of seven and their horse ambulance driven by a F.A.N.Y. to a Field Day held by the 1st Division at Aldershot, and a skeleton army from Pirbright. This was a great success, and the F.A.N.Y. arrived at Caesar’s Camp as fresh as they started. Surgeon-General Woodhouse of the Aldershot Command came to inspect the Corps, and was so pleased with its efficiency that he sent Mrs. McDougall to the Director-General of Medical Services at the War Office to ask for official recognition.  When war broke out a fortnight later, Mrs. McDougall had left England, but returned from Cape Town at once. Miss Franklin was in London and offered the services of the Corps to the British Authorities. As they could not utilise the F.A.N.Y. in any way, Mrs. McDougall crossed to Antwerp early in September 1914 to offer the services of the Corps to the Belgian Army. There, whilst making arrangements, she was asked to work at the Belgian Field Hospital, and later to go out as interpreter with a motor ambulance from the Antwerp Red Cross to bring in wounded from the English Naval Division. The Belgian Red Cross of Antwerp first offered a Convalescent Home in Avenue Marie Therese, and later commissioned Mrs. McDougall to staff a hospital of 300 beds in the Rue des Retranchments with F.A.N.Y. The bombardment prevented this.

At Ghent (in October 1914) at the Convent D’Orsai, a F.A.N.Y. remained with the nuns to nurse British and Belgian wounded. After Ghent was given up to the Germans a F.A.N.Y. returned there from Ecloo to nurse a dying English officer.

At Calais (27th October 1914) a F.A.N.Y. unit of twelve landed with a few cases of bandages and hospital stores and a motor ambulance belonging to Mrs. McDougall, who was in command of the unit. There were hundreds of Belgian wounded from the Yser arriving in Calais, and General Clooten, who commanded the Belgian troops, at once arranged with the Belgian Surgeon-General that the F.A.N.Y. should take over two old schools full of wounded. These they turned into a 100-bedded hospital, and nursed typhoid and wounded alike. There were many difficulties, and no means of obtaining beds or sheets or basins. The staff themselves slept in a box-room and in billets in the town. Gradually the F.A.N.Y. collected money, dressings, beds and comforts. The hospital was known as Lamarck Military Hospital. The Queen of the Belgians inspected the hospital in November 1914 when the typhoid scourge was at its height. Mrs. Morris acted as Secretary, Treasurer and Forwarding Agent in London from October to April.
In March 1915, Zeppelin bombs fell on the Cathedral next door and in the yard of the Lamarck Hospital. Misses Cole-Hamiton, Wadell, Strutt and Nurse Woolgar were on duty and stayed by their patients despite the falling glass and masonry. Miss Nicholson and Miss Hutchinson went out with a motor ambulance to help at the Central Station, which was also bombed. Over 4,000 Belgian soldiers passed through Lamarck Hospital before it was closed down by Inspector-General [Melis] on 31st October 1916, two years after its opening.

At Ostkerk (1st November 1914) Mrs. McDougall established a Regimental Aid Post with the Battalion doctors of the 3me. Chasseurs-a-Pied, and for three months kept two F.A.N.Ys up there to cope with the rush of wounded from the trenches three miles distant. Lamarck Hospital served as a base, and the motor ambulances went up twice a week with supplies of dressings, clothing and comforts for the men. The fare was rough and the bedding was straw strewn on the floors of a tiny café. About this time two other cars were brought out to the F.A.N.Y. and Miss Bond and Miss Nicholson were sent every morning to the Clearing Station to assist in transporting the wounded who arrive from the front by train to the various hospitals in the town.
In 1914 the typhoid scourge was so bad that there was not enough accommodation. In consequence Mrs. McDougall searched the neighbouring villages until she found a suitable building, and this – village hall kindly lent by the Curé of St. Ingilvert – the F.A.N.Y. converted into a convalescent home, and 16-20 of the patients from Lamarck Hospital were sent out and cared for until they were fit to rejoin their regiments. Miss Cicely Mordaunt and Miss Laidley were entrusted with this work, and for three months it was kept up entirely at the expense of the F.A.N.Y.

     About this time a sudden call for assistance for an unexpected train-load of French wounded was received. There were 400 cases entrained at Calais, and Miss Nicholson and Miss Cluff, with Miss Marshall and Miss Hutchinson as Orderlies, drove their ambulances (motor) 125 miles to the destination of the train, unloaded their cases from midnight to early morning, and then motored back to rejoin their unit.

     In April 1915 Mrs. McDougall offered to establish a recreation hut at the front for the Belgian troops, but as this was impossible owing to certain regulations, the General commanding the Belgian base at Calais asked her to go down and report on the conditions prevailing at the Camp du Ruchard, the new camp given for Belgian convalescents. The conditions in May were truly appalling and the men were badly housed and living in mud. Mrs. McDougall promised to establish a recreation hut or tent, but owing to her unexpected absence, nothing was done until August when she went down with Miss Cole-Hamilton, Miss Nicholson and Mrs. Lovell. The French General at Tours kindly supplied a large roomy hut, and the Belgian Commandant had a counter and store-room built and stoves put in. The hut was open three weeks later under the able management of Miss Cole-Hamilton.

     There were about 700 convalescents, many of whom were epileptic or insane. Tea, chocolate and coffee were sold at 5 centimes, or one halfpenny the cup, and cake for 10 centimes each. Chocolate, soap and biscuits were sold also. English lessons were arranged for, and newspapers, magazines and writing paper were distributed. A piano was hired from Tours, and a gramophone, bagatelle-boards and games of all kinds were provided. A trained nurse was paid by the F.A.N.Y. to nurse the consumptives, of whom there were several hundred, and to supervise the distribution of Benger’s food and other additions to the hospital rations. Miss Crockett took over the Canteen from Miss Cole-Hamilton, whose health demanded a change. (March 1916)
In 1916 a cinematograph was added and proved a great success. This was purchased chiefly with a large sum sent form the citizens of Aberdeen for the F.A.N.Y. work. Miss Crockett and Miss Walker have now gone with the insane and epileptics to the new hospitals at Soligny-la-Trappe to carry on their work of devotion. The conditions and climate make their task very hard, and they are far away from any of their own compatriots.

     In May 1915 an officer of the 7th Regiment of Artillery (Belgian) applied for the loan of the F.A.N.Y. motor kitchen, and Miss Hutchinson, with Miss Lewis as cook, accompanied the Regiment to Ypres. They were able to render great service during a gas attack, and indeed saved the lives of at least two Canadians by their treatment. However, three days after their arrival they were sent back to Calais as the work was considered too dangerous for women. About this time the F.A.N.Y. became a unit of the Anglo-French Hospitals Committee of the British Red Cross Society.

     In July 1915 Mrs McDougall asked the War Office in London to consider the employment of women drivers of the F.A.N.Y. for driving motor ambulances at any British Base, thus freeing the men drivers for work further up. The answer to this was a curt negative – ‘It was not considered practical to employ women to drive for the British wounded in France.’ However, renewed applications resulted in the British authorities in France taking an interest in the scheme, and in December 1915 the first contract was signed by Sir Arthur Lawley on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and by Mrs. McDougall on behalf of the F.A.N.Y.

     On January 1st, 1916, the F.A.N.Y. British Convoy started work – the first convoy of women drivers for the British Army abroad – Miss Franklin, who was an officer of the Corps in peace time, and had come to Calais with the first unit in 1914, was given command of this convoy. It is responsible for the transport of all British sick and wounded in and around Calais – about 80,000 cases were carried during the first year. It has increased from sixteen to thirty-six drivers.
In July 1916, at Mrs. McDougall’s request, three of the F.A.N.Y. motor ambulances were attached to the Belgian Field Hospital at Hoogstadt four miles behind the firing line. The drivers lived in tents. After five months they were withdrawn owing to the difficulty of keeping them in constant touch with the Central Unit.

     On 1st September 1916 the orders of the day of the Belgian Army contained the announcement that the Belgian Minister of War had accepted Mrs. McDougall’s offer of F.A.N.Y. chauffeurs for the Belgian Military Ambulances attached to the Clearing Hospital in Calais. The drivers at Lamarck Hospital were transferred to the Clearing Hospital at the Central Station. They now convoy all the Belgian wounded from the Clearing Hospital to the hospitals in Calais and the neighbourhood, and bring in the sick and casualties from the cantonments of the base. They are also called upon to do the ‘Service of Bombardment.’ During raids by air or sea they have to be ready to go out with their cars and bring in the casualties. They help with all big trains of French wounded. When Lamarck Hospital was closed, this unit was attached to the Belgian Corps de Transport.

     From October 1916 to May 1917, near Ypres, the F.A.N.Y. motor bath worked with the 7th (Belgian) Regiment of Artillery. This motor bath was presented by the two Misses Granwell. It gives 250 baths a day, and disinfects the men’s clothes. It had already worked in camps round Calais. The F.A.N.Y. Corps have repeatedly undertaken emergency work for the troops. At Calais in 1915, Miss Franklin lent staff to run a canteen for two British Divisions for a week, in addition to carrying on the usual work at the Hospital. The Y.M.C.A. provided the fod, but had not sufficient workers to cope with the distribution. In addition to this the F.A.N.Y. organised concerts for the troops and musical evenings for the officers, usually after a hard day’s work in the wards with the ambulances

     In 1916, after the closing of the Lamarck Hospital, Miss Cole-Hamilton and Miss Lewis were asked by the Y.M.C.A. to open up their new hut at St. Pierre Brouck. For six weeks they worked under very trying conditions, shortage of supplies owing to difficulty of transport, very bad weather and bad health. The results were excellent. The hut was splendidly run, and a God-send to the hundreds of British troops in the Camp. The Y.M.C.A. specially congratulated the F.A.N.Y. on the work done. Other members worked strenuously in Calais at canteens, for it took six weeks for Mrs. McDougall to settle the preliminaries attendant on the installation of the new F.A.N.Y. hospital for French wounded in Champagne. The Société de Secours aux Blessés Militaires undertook to provide the building, light, heating, food, etc., whilst the F.A.N.Y. were to provide staff, 100 beds and the necessary dressings and comforts for 100 patients. They were also to provide chauffeurs and ambulances.

     Miss Cole-Hamilton superintended the strenuous work of pack-up and listing all the stores at Langmarck Hospital, and transferring them to the Prieure de Binson 20 miles behind Rheims. This hospital has a total complement of 210 beds, and owing to the repeated requests of the F.A.N.Y., an X-ray installation has been given by the London Committee of the French Red Cross, and a large recreation tent by the British Red Cross. The Secretary and Treasurer of the F.A.N.Y. (Miss Lean and Mrs. Cluff) opposed the beginning of this new enterprise as beyond the resources of the F.A.N.Y. Mrs McDougall spent another six weeks in England and Scotland collecting money, cars, and additional staff, and satisfied the Treasurer as to the practicability of the scheme. Miss Lean resigned and Mrs. Cowlin became Secretary in her place.
Miss Baxter Ellis, a member of the Corps, collected over £200 in aid of the Allies Units, and Mrs. Bernard Allen of the Belgian Hospital Fund sent a splendid collection of surgical instruments and hospital stores. The Workmen’s War Relief Committee of the Armstrong-Whitworth Company, Newcastle-on-Tyne, gave largely in stores in response to a personal appeal from Mrs. McDougall, who was introduced to their Committee by Miss Baxter Ellis.
Cars for this Hospital were appealed for and resulted in the gift or loan of sufficient motor ambulances to ensure the convoying of the wounded from the railways to the Hospital. The British Motor Ambulance Committee, the British Red Cross Society, Mrs. Bernard Allen, Miss Reynolds, Mrs Hargreaves and Mrs. Head all gave generous help in this way. Two well known French surgeons are the medical officers and the staff are all F.A.N.Y. with a trained nurse as matron, and a trained nurse in charge of the operating theatres. The building was formerly a Priory, and is situated in extensive grounds and in very healthy country. With the exception of the trained nurses, the F.A.N.Y. nurses and drivers are all voluntary and supply their own uniforms in addition to a small yearly subscription. This subscription covers the cost of the F.A.N.Y. Gazette, first brought out and edited by Mrs. McDougall in July 1915, now brought out by the Secretary in London and designed to keep all the Units in touch with one another and to publish monthly a Report of the work they are doing.

     At Fismes (June 1917) two of the F.A.N.Y. under Miss Anderson, the Quartermaster-Sergeant of Unit 1, ran an emergency canteen for the French troops from the Chemin des Dames. This was a great success, and the Canteen was crowded daily. After Miss Josephs, the lady in charge of the canteen now, returned to her post, the Commandant of the troops stationed in the neighbourhood wrote to Mrs. McDougall a special letter of congratulation and thanks for the work done by the F.A.N.Y. and the capability and courage they displayed. The town was heavily bombed nearly every night by enemy air-craft during the month the F.A.N.Y. were working there.

     In July 1917 Mrs McDougall submitted a proposition to the French Military Authorities to supply a F.A.N.Y. motor ambulance convoy for French wounded. The terms were similar to the Belgian Unit, and the French Hospital Unit. The F.A.N.Y. were to supply staff approved by Mrs. McDougall, who was to appoint a F.A.N.Y. officer who would be responsible for the discipline and efficiency of the Unit. The French army were to give rations, accommodation and laundry. Orders were received shortly afterwards to send the first unit to Amiens, and in August 1917 they started work. There were many hospitals and an important railway junction at Amiens, and the work consisted of evacuating the hospitals, meeting the trains and fetching casualties from outlying districts. The work was hard and very important, but unfortunately the French Military Authorities had neglected to ask the permission of the British General Headquarters to send British subjects into this area. The result was that the British General Headquarters ordered the French Authorities to transfer this Unit elsewhere outside the British area. The Permit Office assured the Anglo-French Hospitals Committee that this was done for military reasons, and that no reflection was cast on either the organisation or the personnel. This Unit now works in the Aisne district at Chateau Thierry, under command of Mrs. Bowles.

     Unit 7 under command of Miss Doris Russell Allen is now at work as a motor ambulance convoy attached to the Clearing Hospital at Epernay. The French have also asked Mrs. McDougall to supply units to work at Chalon-sur-Marne and at Bar-le-Duc. The French Red Cross Society in London have now proposed that the F.A.N.Y. should become the women’s motoring section of the French Red Cross. The British Red Cross Society are now arranging with Miss Thompson, the Section Leader of the F.A.N.Y. British Red Cross at Calais, to start a new F.A.N.Y. Convoy for the B.R.C.S. at St. Omer.  Four of the F.A.N.Y. have received the Order of Leopold II from the King of the Belgians, and three have been mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches. Five of them have received the Croix Civique (2nd Class).

First Unit in France
Landed in Calais 27th October 1914
Mrs McDougall, Chevalier de l’Ordre de Leopold II
Miss Franklin (mentioned in despatches)
Miss Walton (Croix Civique)
Miss Wicks (Croix Civique)
Miss Marshall (Croix Civique)
Miss O’Neill-Power
Miss Jordan (Nurse)
Miss Dunn (Nurse)
Miss Robinson (Nurse)
Mr. W. G. Smith (killed in action)
Mr. Brittain (died on active service)
Mr. Hickson

Members on active service who belonged to the F.A.N.Y. before the War and are still working with them
Miss Franklin – joined F.A.N.Y. 1909 (B.R.C.S. Unit)
Mrs. McDougall – joined F.A.N.Y. 1910 (Allies Unit)
Miss Anderson – joined F.A.N.Y. 1911 (Allies Unit)
Miss M. Marshall – joined F.A.N.Y. 1912 (Allies Unit)
Miss Cluff – joined F.A.N.Y. 1912 (B.R.C.S. Unit)
Miss Cole-Hamilton – joined F.A.N.Y. 1913 (Allies Unit)
Miss W. Mordaunt – joined F.A.N.Y. 1913 (B.R.C.S. Unit)
Miss Lewis – joined F.A.N.Y. 1914 (Allies Unit)
Miss White – joined F.A.N.Y. 1914 (Allies Unit)

Belonging to or collected by the F.A.N.Y.

UNIT 1. Port a Binson
Napier Motor Ambulance given by Mrs. Head
Mors Motor Ambulance given by Mr. Hargreaves
Mors Camion lent by B.R.C.S.
Crossley Motor Ambulance lent by B.M.A.C.
Humber Motor Ambulance lent by Miss Reynolds
Renault Motor Ambulance lent by Société de Secours aux Blessés Militaire
De Dion (torpedo) given by Mrs. Bernard Allen.

Cadillac Motor Ambulance given by Australian Committee per Sir George Reid
Sunbeam Motor Ambulance belonging to Miss Ganwell
Wolseley Motor Ambulance belonging to Miss Paynter

Unic Motor Ambulance, Mrs. McDougall
Ford Motor Ambulance given by Miss Bond
Ford Motor Ambulance given by Miss Warrack
Armstrong Whitworth Motor Ambulance given by Elswood and Scotswood Workmen’s War Relief Fund
Daimler Motor Ambulance lent by Women’s Reserve Ambulance
Argyll Motor Ambulance lent by British Red Cross Society
G.M.C. Motor Ambulance given by City of Aberdeen
Buite Motor Ambulance given by Belgian Hospital Fund
Daimler Motor Ambulance given by Miss Robertson
Jan Calthorp Bicycle and Side Car given by Miss White
Overland Touring Car given by Miss O’Neill Power

Vulcan Motor Ambulance Mrs. Bowles
Ford Motor Kitchen – collected by Miss Hutchinson
Daimler Motor Bath Miss Ganwell
Ford Motor Ambulance Miss Marples
Mors Torpedo Mr. Hargreaves
Mors Torpedo Miss Bond