REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE C.A.M.C. NURSING SERVICE WITH THE B.E.F. IN FRANCE
CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES WO222/2134
CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES WO222/2134
ARRIVAL AND OPENING OF UNITS ETC.
The first members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps Nursing Service to be attached to the British Expeditionary Force, were a contingent of 20 Nurses who arrived in France on 7.11.14 for duty in Imperial Units. They were posted as follows:-
4 to No.7, Stationary Hospital
6 to No. 14, Stationary Hospital
10 to No.11, General Hospital
No.2, Canadian Stationary Hospital opened on 3.12.14. in the Golf Club Hotel, Le Touquet, with 320 beds, expanding to 520. The Nursing Staff of 35, with Miss E. B. Ridley in charge, had arrived on 6.11.14.
In March 1915, 10 re-inforcements arrived, making the total Nursing Staff up to 42. In September, 1915, the unit moved to Outreau, taking over the site of No.2, British Stationary Hospital.
No.1, Canadian Stationary Hospital was established at Wimereux in March 1915, and instructions were issued for the C.A.M.C. Sisters working in the British Units to join this hospital, of which Matron Charleson, C.A.M.C. was in charge.
This unit was transferred to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, and left Southampton on August 1st, 1915.
No.2, Canadian General Hospital (1040 beds) was established at Le Treport on 8.4.15. The Nursing Staff, with Matron E. C. Rayside in charge, had already arrived on 18.3.15.
No.1, Canadian General Hospital (1040 beds) with Matron V. C. Nesbitt in charge, was established at Etaples on 3.5.15, but as these units were not at once ready to receive their staffs, the 139 C.A.M.C. Nursing Sisters who arrived between May 12th and 26th were posted temporarily to British Units, and were gradually withdrawn as the units were ready to receive them.
These arrivals included 34 French Canadians who served in Imperial Units until they were recalled to England in July.
In June 52 C.A.M.C. reinforcements arrived, and in July 17 more. On 18.7.15, 10 of the Nursing Sisters of No.4, Canadian General Hospital, who had been working in the Rouen Area, were recalled to England to rejoin their unit. On 27.7.15, 49 more C.A.M.C. Sisters were recalled to London to rejoin their own units, Nos.4, 5, and 3, Canadian Stationary Hospitals.
No.3, Canadian General Hospital, McGill Unit, (1040 beds) opened at Dannes, Camiers, on 7.8.15., with Matron K. McLatchey in charge. A Nursing Staff of C.A.M.C. Sisters was detailed from members serving temporarily in British units. This unit moved to Boulogne shortly afterwards.
On 1.10.15., 19 C.A.M.C. reinforcements arrived for Nos.1, and 2, Canadian General Hospitals. On 4.10.15., the remaining Sisters of No.4, Canadian General Hospital (33) were recalled to England to proceed with their unit to the M.E.F.
On 9.11.15. 34 C.A.M.C. Sisters were recalled to England from Nos.1 and 2, Canadian General Hospitals and from British units.
No.4, Canadian Stationary Hospital opened at St Cloud, near Paris, on 9.11.15., to work for the French. The Matron was Miss H. Cassault, C.A.M.C. This unit became known as No.8, Canadian General Hospital after July 1916. On 15.7.16., Matron Cassault was recalled to England, and Matron C. de Cormier took her place.
Miss E. B. Ridley, Matron of 2, Canadian Stationary Hospital, was recalled to England on 21.11.15 and was replaced by Matron A. C. Strong.
On 8.12.15., 30 Sisters from No.3, Canadian General Hospital were recalled to England for duty. The unit was at that time about to close before moving to Boulogne, where it re-opened in a building - the Old Jesuit College.
No.1, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station opened in March 1915, at Aire, with Nursing Sister V. Tremaine in charge.
No.2, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station opened at Remy, in the 2nd Army on 6.2.16., with Nursing Sister H. Graham in charge.
No.3, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station opened also at Remy, on 4.4.16. Nursing Sister G. M. Hare in charge.
No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital, transferred from the M.E.F. (400 beds) opened at Boulogne on 10.4.16., with Matron E. M. Wilson, C.A.M.C. in charge. This unit moved from the Lines of Communication to the 5th Army in December 1916, and re-opened at the Citadel, Doullens. At first only 17 of the Nursing Staff rejoined, but later it was found necessary to have the complete staff as the unit had 800 beds.
No.7, Canadian General Hospital transferred from the M.E.F. opened at Le Treport, with 1040 beds, on 5.6.16. Twenty-five of the Nursing Sisters had already arrived on 24.4.16., and had been posted temporarily to other units in the area. The remaining 46 arrived on 17.6.16., with Miss Willoughby, C.A.M.C. in charge. Later this unit moved to the Etaples area.
No.7, Canadian Stationary Hospital, with 300 beds, opened on 20.6.16 at Havre, with Matron L. Hubley in charge. This unit moved to Arques, near St. Omer, on 7.6.17.
No.6, Canadian General Hospital opened at Vincennes, near Paris, for the French on 2.7.16., with Matron Y. Baudry, C.A.M.C. in charge. This unit was transferred to Troyes on 24.1.17., and again to Joinville du Pont on 6.6.18.
On 26.1.17. Matron V. C. Nesbitt, C.A.M.C. was recalled to England from No.1, Canadian General Hospital, and Matron E. Campbell took over her duties. In October 1916, Matron Rayside had been recalled to England and replaced by Matron Dulmage, who herself was recalled to England on 31.1.17., and relieved by Matron M. Goodeve, C.A.M.C. at No.2, Canadian General Hospital. Matron A. C. Strong, No.2, Canadian Stationary Hospital, was recalled on 26.6.17., and Matron J. Urquhart arrived in relief.
No.4, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station opened at Longuenesse on 28.7.17.
Nos.8, 9 and 10, Canadian Stationary Hospitals arrived in France on 22.12.17., and were established at Etaples, St. Omer, and Calais. The Nursing Staffs of Nos.8, and 9, arrived on 23.12.17. Matron Pope arrived with No.8, and was posted to No.2, Canadian Stationary Hospital, and Matron J. Urquhart, from No.2, rejoined No.8, which was her original unit. Matron McIsaac was in charge of No.9. The staff of No.10, arrived on 26.1.18., with Matron E. Dulmage in charge, and proceeded to Calais, where the unit opened on 28.1.18. This hospital had one ward set apart for sick members of the Q.M.A.A.C.
It was decided in December 1917, that a Nursing Staff was required for the Canadian Forestry Corps Hospital at La Joux, and 5 Nursing Sisters, with Nursing Sister M. Francis in charge, were sent down on 12.12.17. In addition to this unit, Sisters were attached to 3 other small Forestry Corps Hospitals in the Vosge District, in the spring of 1918.
After the March Retreat and the consequent reduction of hospitals in the St. Omer area, Nos.7, and 9, Canadian Stationary Hospitals closed down, and the Nursing Staffs were distributed between Nos.1, and 7, Canadian General Hospitals. The units proceeded, No.7 to Rouen, and No.9 to Etaples. Later they formed up again as Non-Sisters' hospitals, so that the staffs remained attached to other units.
No.8, Canadian Stationary Hospital closed in February 1918, at Camiers, and moved to Charmes, where it was attached to the Independent Air Force, R.A.F., with a large Officers' Division. The Nursing Sisters rejoined in July. In November, 1918, No.42, Stationary Hospital took over this unit, and No.8, Canadian Stationary Hospital proceeded to Rouen, where it was parked, and the Nursing Staff distributed to other units.
ACCOMMODATION AND ESTABLISHMENT
In March 1917, when the scale of expansions in the number of beds for Hospitals on the L. of C. came into force, applications were received from the Commanding Officers of certain Canadian units, through the Administrative Officers of the Bases, for an increase in the authorised establishment of nurses for these units. It was decided to represent their demands to the D.G.M.S. and to request that a higher scale of nursing staff should be authorised for these units to meet their needs when expanded to crisis accommodation.
A demand for a total of 164 nurses was made by the D.G.M.S. to the D.A.G. 3rd Echelon, to meet the needs of Nos.1, 2, 3, and 7, Canadian General Hospitals, and these reinforcements were subsequently sent to France at different times.
The strength of the C.A.M.C. in France was as follows:
July 1915 419 Nursing Sisters
April 1916 254 Nursing Sisters
January 1917 458 Nursing Sisters
January 1918 816 Nursing Sisters
January 1919 725 Nursing Sisters
The highest number was reached on March 1st, 1918, when the total was 828.
TRANSFERS AND EXCHANGES
In addition to the recall of those Nursing Sisters belonging to specified units, exchanges were constantly taking place between Canadian Nursing Staff in England, and those in the B.E.F. France. In each case instructions were received from Canadian Headquarters, London, and were carried out with as little delay as possible.
APPOINTMENT OF PRINCIPAL MATRON C.A.M.C. IN FRANCE
In October 1917, the Canadian authorities in London put forward the question of the advisability of appointing a Principal Matron in France to inspect Canadian Hospitals and to make suggestions she considered advisable in relation to the Canadian Nursing Staff, which was then a total of 764.
The medical authorities in France did not consider this appointment necessary at the time, in view of the fact that the seven Canadian Hospitals and four Canadian Casualty Clearing Stations were visited at intervals by me, and all Matrons and Sisters in Charge knew that they might refer to me for assistance. They also considered that the existing arrangements of the Matron in Chief, C.E.F., visiting France at intervals, and inspecting all units had proved satisfactory. All important moves in connection with the Canadian Nursing Services were carried out according to her wishes, and all matters of importance were reported to her.
However, on November 19th, the Army Council decided that an Inspecting Matron for the Canadian Hospitals in France should be appointed to the Staff of the Matron-in-Chief British Expeditionary Force. Matron Boulter C.A.M.C. was nominated to this post. It was immediately represented that as she was an Inspecting Matron, it would be necessary for her to have a car at her disposal to enable her to fulfill her duties for which she was specially appointed, and it was asked that her embarkation might be deferred until arrangements were made for the provision of a car.
Matron Boulter was unable to take up the appointment, owing to illness, and on January 30th 1918, Matron E. B. Ridley, R.R.C., C.A.M.C. arrived in France to take up the duties of Principal Matron, Canadians. She was attached to the Office of the Matron-in-Chief. In spite of the fact that she was specially appointed for Inspection duties, no definite arrangement was made for a car to be placed at her disposal.
In October 1918, a question arose as to whether Miss Ridley should be taken on the staff of the Director of Medical Services, Canadians, at the Canadian Section of General Headquarters, 1st Echelon, and a letter was received from the Matron-in-Chief, Canadian Expeditionary Force suggesting the transfer, but the Canadian authorities took no further action in the matter.
In November 1918, authority was granted by the D.M.S. Canadians, for the appointment of an Assistant to the Principal Matron, Canadians, and Nursing Sister E. F. Pense C.A.M.C. from No.2 Canadian General Hospital was selected for this post.
Three Sisters from No.7 Canadian General Hospital, and three from No.2 Canadian General Hospital took part in the first course of training for Nursing Sisters in the administration of anaesthetics, beginning January 1918. Those from No.7 trained at their own unit, were posted to No.10 C.C.S. for their final month's course, being certified competent on 27.4.18. Those from No.2 were trained at No.15 General Hospital (Philadelphia Unit U.S.A.) and were posted to No.49 C.C.S. for their final course. They returned to No.16 General Hospital on 20.4.18, and were certified competent on 16.5.18.
In the second course, commencing in May 1918, 2 Sisters from No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, and one from No.3 Canadian General Hospital were trained at No.13 General Hospital (5th Harvard Unit, U.S.A.) afterwards proceeding to No.2 Canadian C.C.S., where they were certified competent on 11.8.18. Two Sisters from No.1 Canadian General Hospital, and one from No.2 Canadian General Hospital were trained at No.3 Canadian General, and took their final course at No.3 Canadian C.C.S., all being certified competent. Two Sisters from the Canadian Forestry Corps were trained at 83, General Hospital, proceeding to 13, C.C.S. for their final course. Three Sisters from 2, Canadian General Hospital, were trained at their own unit, and proceeded to 57, C.C.S. for their final month. All these Sisters, when trained, were employed as anaesthetists, either at their own Base units or with surgical teams at Casualty Clearing Stations.
Besides the 17 Nursing Sisters who were trained in the B.E.F. there were three C.A.M.C. Sisters – Nursing Sisters O. G. Nicholson, M. Parks, and M. Stewart, who were qualified anaesthetists prior to their arrival in France. These ladies did valuable work as anaesthetists with surgical teams in front areas.
(b) Surgical Teams
C.A.M.C. Nursing Sisters were detailed with surgical teams as Theatre Sisters with all the Canadian Base Hospitals for work in emergency in forward areas, and also from the Canadian C.C.S.’s. These Team Sisters did very good work, both in Imperial and Overseas Units, sometimes under very trying conditions.
In April, 1917, the D.G.M.S. sanctioned the employment of 15 V.A.D. Members in Canadian Hospitals, for work in the recreation huts and as secretaries. These ladies were members of the Canadian Red Cross Society and in each of the larger units there were 2 employed.
In February, 1918, a detachment of Canadian V.A.D. Members of the S.J.A.B. were sent over from Canada for duty in Imperial units. They were accompanied by Mrs. Kuhring who afterwards came to my Headquarters, but I unfortunately missed seeing her.
C.A.M.C. IN IMPERIAL UNITS
On 14.10.18., 35 members of the C.A.M.C. arrived for temporary duty in Imperial units, in response to urgent appeals for reinforcements. These ladies gave valuable help until their withdrawal in January 1919, to fill vacancies in Canadian units.
In time of pressure, Canadian Sisters were willingly lent to Imperial units. Their help was especially valuable in July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when there was a great shortage of Trained Nurses.
On 30.4.18., a C.A.M.C. staff was appointed to No.15, Ambulance Train with Nursing Sister K. Shaw in charge. This train was one of those chosen to serve the French area where the British 9th Corps was operating during the Champagne battle. On May 27th, the train received orders to leave Rouen for Soissons, but on arrival at Fere-en-Tardenois news was received that the Germans had broken through. After picking up some refugees, among them two Englishwomen, Canteen workers, the train turned back. Two hours later the Germans were in the village. Finally the train loaded at Epernay with patients who had been evacuated from a shelled C.C.S. and who had been waiting on the platform many hours. This journey was only typical of many similar ones.
On 15.8.18., a C.A.M.C. staff was also appointed to No.4, Ambulance Train, with Sister M. McInnes, C.A.M.C. in charge. Both these trains continued to be staffed by C.A.M.C. Sisters until demobilization in March 1919.
SICKNESS CASUALTIES ETC.
It is regretted that the following deaths due to sickness, occurred amongst members of the C.A.M.C. in France:
N/Sister Mrs. E. Whiteley, No.10, Canadian Stationary Hospital, died 21.4.18 (abdominal tumour).
N/Sister M. E. Green, 7, Canadian General Hospital, died 9.10.18. (pneumonia).
N/Sister E. V. McKay, 3, Canadian General Hospital, died 4.11.18 (pneumonia)
N/Sister J. King, 3, Canadian General Hospital died 4.4.19 (cerebro-spinal meningitis)
The following members were killed by enemy bombs, or died as a result of their wounds:
N/Sister K. M. Macdonald, 1, Canadian General Hospital, killed 19.5.18.
N/Sister G. M. Wake, 1 Canadian General Hospital, wounded 19.5.18. Died 21.5.18.
N/Sister M. Lowe, 1 Canadian General Hospital, wounded 19.5.18. Died 28.5.18.
N/Sister D. M. Baldwin, 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, killed 29.5.18.
N/Sister E. L. Pringle, 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, killed 29.5.18.
N/Sister A. McPherson, 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, killed 29.5.18.
The following members of the C.A.M.C. were wounded during bombing raids:
N/Sister M. Patterson, 2, Canadian General Hp. (temp. duty Amiens) on 27.3.18.
N/Sister G. D. Long, 1, Canadian General Hp. On 19.5.18.
N/Sister I. K. G. Wishart, 1, Canadian General Hospital on 19.5.18.
N/Sister E. A. Gallagher, 1, Canadian General Hospital on 19.5.18.
N/Sister M. C. Hirsch, 1 Canadian General Hospital on 19.5.18.
N/Sister B. McKinnon, 9, Canadian Stationary Hospital, attached 1, Canadian General Hospital on 19.5.18.
N/Sister M. Hodge, 3, Canadian Stationary Hp. On 29.5.18.
Members of the C.A.M.C., when sick, were admitted to the Sick Sisters’ Hospitals and Convalescent Homes in France, and, in addition, there was a Canadian Convalescent Home at Margate (later replaced by one at Buxton), where they could spend their sick leave in England. Many C.A.M.C. Sisters enjoyed their periods of rest at the Convalescent Homes in the South of France.
In August 1917, a proposal was made to establish a separate Convalescent Home for Canadian Sisters at Etretat or Trouville, but it was pointed out that the establishment of such a Home was unnecessary, as there was sufficient accommodation in the existing Homes, to all of which the C.A.M.C. Sisters were welcomed.
Leave to the United Kingdom for Canadian Sisters was arranged through this Office on the recommendation of the Administrative Medical Officers of the Areas, vacancies being allotted to them from the general allotment to all Nursing Services. They were entitled to 14 days every six months.
With regard to leave in France, CAMC Sisters enjoyed the privilege of spending their leave wherever they wished in France, authority being obtained in each case from the A.A.G. Many members of the C.A.M.C. also obtained permission to spend their leave in Italy. In November 1918, the allotment for leave in France was raised to permit more Canadian Sisters, many of whom were French Canadians, with no interests in England, to spend their leave in France.
From the time of opening in December 1917, until it closed on April 20th 1919, 88 C.A.M.C. Sisters spent periods of leave at H.R.H. Princess Victoria’s Club in Paris – a residential Club, with every comfort, which proved especially valuable to members of the Overseas Services.
The following numbers spent periods of leave at the Convalescent Homes in the South of France:
Winter 1916 – 1917
Villa Roquebrune, Mentone 14
Winter 1917 – 1918
Villa Roquebrune, Mentone 17
Hotel de l’Esterel, Cannes 145
Winter 1918 – 1919
Villa Roquebrune, Mentone 1
Hotel de l’Esterel, Cannes 110
Casa del Mare 40
CANADIAN RED CROSS HOSTEL (HOTEL DU NORD)
In February 1918, a scheme was put forward by the Canadian Red Cross Commissioner, Lieut. Colonel Blaylock, for the opening by the Canadian Red Cross Society of a Nurses’ Rest House at Boulogne, where accommodation would be provided for Nursing Sisters of all Services passing through this Base. Colonel Blaylock had been in communication with the D.D.M.S., the Acting Principal Matron, and the Embarkation Sister, and knew of the existing difficulties with regard to the accommodation of members of the Nursing Staff detained at Boulogne. Among the proposals he put forward was one that Miss Woodford, R.R.C., TFNS., the Embarkation Sister, who up to this time had been accommodated at the Louvre Hotel, should be given a bedroom and an Office there. This very kind and generous proposal was strongly recommended. The scheme was approved, and the Hotel du Nord opened as a Hostel on April 1st 1918.
It had accommodation for about 70 persons, and members of all Services passing through on duty or on leave were accommodated there. As regards payment, for Imperial Sisters, the same procedure was adopted as at other Hostels, and claims sent in to the Command Paymaster for all who spent 24 hours or more there. Fixed prices were charged for odd meals. Mrs. Gordon Brown, V.A.D. Canadian Red Cross, was appointed in charge of the Hostel, and an establishment of 13 V.A.D.s was authorized. The entire cost of rent, equipment, service etc. was borne by the Canadian Red Cross Society. This Hostel has been of the very greatest service to all Nursing Staff passing through Boulogne, and many thanks are due to the Canadian Red Cross Society for their generosity, and to Mrs. Gordon Brown and her staff of V.A.D.s who have at all times worked most devotedly and willingly. It is regretted that one of the members, Miss Williamson, became very seriously ill with chronic anaemia. She was placed on the ‘Dangerously Ill’ list, and her relatives came over from Canada, but fortunately she improved and was well enough to be evacuated to England on 26.6.19.
The total monthly pay of all members of the C.A.M.C. is deposited to the credit of their banking account, once a month in arrears, by the Chief Paymaster, O.M.F.C. London, who is represented in France by the Paymaster, Canadian Troops in France.
The pay of a Nursing Sister in the C.A.M.C. is:
Regimental Pay $2. 00 per diem
Field Allowance 60 per diem
Messing Allowance 1. 00 per diem
Total 3. 60 per diem or 15/-
Members of the C.A.M.C. are permitted by their regulations to dance with officers in their own messes. At a Conference of Overseas Matrons-in-Chief, at Abbeville, on 23.11.17., this subject was thoroughly discussed, and the Matron-in-Chief, C.E.F., stated that she considered dancing a necessary and very legitimate exercise and that Nurses who were surrounded with a atmosphere of depression needed the recreation both mentally and physically.
MASS MEETING IN PARIS OF ALLIED WOMEN WAR WORKERS
In the 3rd week of August, 1918, a Mass Meeting of Allied Women on War Service was held in Paris. It was initiated by leading American women and was well supported by British and French. The Prime Ministers of France and Great Britain were to be present.
Miss E. B. Ridley, C.B.E., R.R.C., Principal Matron, Canadians, received instructions from Canadian Headquarters in London, that both she and Matron J. Urquhart, C.A.M.C. should attend this meeting, as representatives of the women of Canada. They accordingly proceeded to Paris, spending a week there and attending many interesting Conferences arranged by the Mass Meeting Committee.
Miss Macdonald, R.R.C., Matron-in-Chief, Canadians, visited France on the following occasions:
1. In November, 1914, on her first visit to the B.E.F.
2. In April, 1915, on a visit of Inspection to Canadian Units.
3. In September, 1915, on a visit of Inspection to all Canadian Units.
4. In November, 1915, when she stayed several days at Headquarters with the object of getting a better insight into all office routine and the official procedure to be adopted when transferring Nurses, etc.
5. In July, 1916, on a visit of Inspection to all Canadian Units.
6. In July, 1917, accompanied by Matron Rayside, C.A.M.C. for Inspection duty.
7. In November, 1917, on inspection duty, and to attend a Conference of Overseas Matrons in Chief, held at Abbeville.
8. In July, 1918, on inspection duty to all Canadian units. Miss Ridley, R.R.C. Principal Matron, accompanied her on her tour.
9. In May, 1919, on a final visit of inspection. She was again accompanied by Miss Ridley and they were authorized to visit the Army of Occupation in Germany.
Miss J. Cameron Smith, Matron, C.A.M.C. visited France in November 1916, in an official capacity as historian of the Canadian Nursing Service. I conducted her round various Bases where she was able to see the work of both the Canadian and Imperial Nursing Services, and she also visited the Front and went round the Canadian C.C.S.’s.
VISITS TO FRONT AREAS
After the Armistice, arrangements were made for all members of the Nursing Services in France, wherever possible, to have an opportunity of visiting the devastated areas. The Canadian authorities made their own arrangements for transport, and trips varying from one day to a week in duration were arranged for the Nursing Staff. Arrangements were made to accommodate them in a chateau at Camblai l’Abbaye near Arras, and they were conducted all over the battlefield areas and shown everything of interest. When there were vacancies in the motor char-a-bancs taking them, the Canadian authorities very kindly invited our Sisters to take part in these trips, and their kindness and hospitality throughout the tour were much appreciated by those who were fortunate enough to have this opportunity.
After demobilization began, Canadian Headquarters in London made arrangements for parties of Canadian Matrons and Nursing sisters from the United Kingdom to come over to France to visit the battlefields. These ladies arrived in parties of from 15 to 30, and were accommodated at first in the Hotel du Nord, and later when that closed at the Marine Hotel (Nurses’ Demobilization Hostel). The Embarkation Sister met them and every possible arrangement was made for their comfort.
On the demobilization of Canadian units the Nursing Staff proceeded to England in parties, to report to the Matron-in-Chief, O.M.F.C., unless definite instructions had been received as to their disposal otherwise. The following is a table of the dates of demobilization of all C.A.M.C. units:
Unit Location Ceased to admit Returned to England
No.1 Can. Gen Hp Trouville 27.1.19 13.2.19
No.1 Can. Gen Le Treport 31.1.19 7.3.19
No.3 Can. Gen Boulogne 6.3.19 19.5.19
No.6 Can. Gen Joinville 4. 19 4.19
No.7 Can. Gen Etaples 19.5.19 30.5.19
No.8 Can. Gen St. Cloud 23.1.19 4.3.19
No.2 Can. Stat. Hp Outreau 17.3.19 1.4.19
No.3 Can. Stat Malassises 31.1.19 28.2.19
No.7 Can. Stat Etaples* 28.1.19 6.2.19
No.8 Can. Stat Rouen Parked**
No.9 Can. Stat Etaples* 16.5.19 16.5.19
No.1 Can. CCS Bonn 28.1.19 6.2.19
No.2 Can. CCS Bonn 28.1.19 6.2.19
No.3 Can. CCS Le Quesnoy 11.2.19 29.3.19
No.3 Can. CCS Mons 9.3.19 30.3.19
Corps Hp. La Joux Vosges 28.1.19
* Nos.7 and 9, Canadian Stationary Hospitals were moved from St. Omer after the March 1918 Retreat, and were parked. Later they opened up as non-sisters units.
** No.8, Canadian Stationary Hospital left Charmes on 2.11.18. and proceeded to Rouen where it was parked. The nursing staff were distributed in other units.
Principal Matron Miss E. B. Ridley C.B.E., R.R.C., proceeded to England on 30.6.19. and her branch of the Matron-in-Chief’s Office was closed. Her Assistant, Miss E. F. Pense, R.R.C. left on 24.8.19.
HONOURS AND MENTIONS
From the beginning of the War up to and inclusive of, the Birthday Honours’ Gazette, June, 1919, members of the C.A.M.C. working in the B.E.F. France, have received the following Honours and Mentions in Despatches, in recognition of their services:
Bar to R.R.C. 1
R.R.C. 1st Class 29
R.R.C. 2nd Class 84
Mil. Medal 8
Mentions in Despatches 132
Medailles des Epidemies 3
The Bar to the R.R.C. was awarded to Matron E. M. Wilson, No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital, in June 1919; the C.B.E. to Principal Matron E. B. Ridley, R.R.C. and the O.B.E. to Matron B. Willoughby, R.R.C. both in January 1919.
Nursing Sisters F. M. Clark and J. A. Macdonald received the Medailles des Epidemies in January, 1919, for their work with a surgical team from No.4, Canadian C.C.S. which was attached to the Hopital St. Jean, Arras, for the benefit of French civilians, during the advance in the autumn of 1918. N/Sister Clark was Theatre Sister and N/Sister Macdonald Anaesthetist with this team, and both did excellent work. N/Sister M. H. Forbes C.A.M.C. was also awarded the Medailles des Epidemies in the London Gazette of July 11th, 1919, for work for the French at the Front.
The eight members who received the Military Medal are:
Matron E. Campbell No.1, Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister L. Harrington No.1, Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister L. Urquhart No.1, Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister J. M. Williamson No.1, Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister E. J. Thompson No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital
N/Sister M. Hodge No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital
N/Sister E. H. Hanson No.7, Canadian General Hospital
N/Sister B. McNair No.7, Canadian General Hospital
In each case they were recommended for bravery and devotion to duty shown during the bombardment of their hospitals by enemy aeroplanes.
Owing to the Military situation in March, 1918, a great many of the C.C.S.s in forward areas were forced to retire.
No.1, Canadian C.C.S. was then at Ruitz in the 1st Army, and the neighbourhood of the C.C.S. was both bombed and shelled. On March 27th they stopped receiving and orders were given to evacuate to Pernes, 12 miles further back. The staff and equipment were moved without incident, and the C.C.S. began receiving again at Pernes on April 13th.
No.4, Canadian C.C.S. had also opened on March 17th at Ruitz, and the Nursing Staff joined from 10, Stationary Hospital, where they had been on temporary duty since 11.12.17. They were busy preparing the hospital when on March 25th orders were received to pack up and move to Pernes, as shells had been dropping near. The new camp was quickly got into order and the patients were received on April 10th. Between the 10th and 30th April there were 3948 admissions, 931 operations, and 135 deaths. The work continued heavy for some time.
No.2, Canadian C.C.S. at Remy Siding, in the 2nd Army was heavily shelled on March 18th, and the patients were evacuated, the Nursing Staff being sent to 10, Stationary Hospital, St. Omer. They returned, however, on the 28th and the C.C.S. took in large numbers of wounded. The work was extremely heavy until April 14th, when orders were received to move the hospital immediately owing to the proximity of the shelling. The patients were evacuated and the staff proceeded to 13, C.C.S. at Arneke, where they stayed until No.2, Canadian C.C.S. re-opened at Esquelbecq on April 18th.
No.3, Canadian C.C.S. also at Remy Siding was closed on 17.3.18 owing to the shelling and re-opened on the 28th. After the second evacuation of Remy, this unit was moved to Frevent in the 3rd Army.
No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, in the 3rd Army remained open throughout the Retreat and did a great deal of work. The nursing staff of 37 were reinforced by sisters coming down from evacuated C.C.S.’s in the 3rd Army, and in addition, 12 Sisters were sent up temporarily from 2, Canadian General Hospital. The neighbourhood was continually bombed at night.
On August 15th, this unit was closed at Doullens, and most of the staff went on leave. The hospital re-opened at Malassises near St. Omer in the Second Army in October.
In the subsequent advance of the autumn of 1918, the Canadian C.C.S.’s moved forward with the Armies to which they were attached.
Nos.1 and 2 Canadian C.C.S. were opened at Bonn in the Army of Occupation at the end of December, but they were demobilized after a little more than a month.
No.3, Canadian C.C.S. advanced with the 3rd Army and was eventually established at Le Quesnoy.
No.4, Canadian C.C.S. advanced with the 1st Army, and arrived at Mons, where it remained until demobilization in March, 1919.
WORK UNDER SHELL FIRE AIR RAIDS ETC.
The Canadian units unfortunately suffered heavily during the air raids on Etaples in May, 1918.
In that of May 19th, which lasted 3 hours, 1 Sister at No.1 Canadian General Hospital was killed, 2 died of wounds and 5 were wounded. The O.M.O. and a number of orderlies were killed and wounded. The Sisters’ quarters were partially wrecked by a bomb.
No.7, Canadian General Hospital was also hit in this raid, but there were no nursing sister casualties. Some patients and an N.C.O. were killed and 3 M.O.s wounded.
Another bad raid took place at Etaples on the night of May 31st, when the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital was completely wrecked and a Sister killed there.
At No.1, Canadian General Hospital the main kitchen was destroyed, and bomb blew in the end of the Officers’ Fractured Femur Ward, killing one patient and wounding several others. The Matron, Miss Campbell, behaved with conspicuous bravery throughout this raid, and she and 3 of her nursing staff afterwards received the Military Medal.
About midnight on May 27th, No.3, Canadian Stationary Hospital, in the Citadel, Doullens, was attacked by enemy aircraft, and the main building was struck by a bomb. Three Sisters unfortunately lost their lives and another was seriously injured. The part of the building struck burst into flames immediately – apparently the direct hit was at the main stairway and the wards to one side of it, which was over the Operating Theatre. The Officer patients, 2 Medical Officers, the 3 Sisters and the whole of the operating staff were buried in the ruins of the building. The other Sisters remained at their posts and assisted in the removal of the patients, some having to slide down the debris, as the stairway had gone. The staff, at the time of the bombardment, was 42, and it was thought advisable to reduce it immediately to 20; the remainder being sent on leave or given a rest, at a Convalescent Home. The Matron and the Commanding Officer reported that the Sisters did splendid work, and spoke very highly of their courage and devotion to duty. For their conduct on this occasion, 2 Nursing Sisters were awarded the Military Medal.
Besides these severe bombardments, Nos.3, Canadian General, and 2, Canadian Stationary Hospitals at Boulogne, Nos.7 and 9, Canadian Stationary Hospitals at St. Omer, and No.10, Canadian Stationary Hospital at Calais also went through many bad air raids, and the Nursing Staff had many sleepless and disturbed nights, owing to the continual bombardments.
As already reported, all the Canadian Casualty Clearing Stations came under shell fire at the time of the Retreat, and the behaviour of the staff was splendid at all times. No.3, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station was also shelled by long range guns whilst it was established at Frevent in May 1918.
The work of the C.A.M.C. throughout the war has been most valuable. They were the first of the Overseas Contingents to arrive in France, and their numbers quickly grew until in March, 1918, there were over 800 working with the B.E.F. in France. Besides the excellent work done in the Canadian units, many C.A.M.C. Nursing Sisters worked in Imperial units, and their help has always been thoroughly appreciated.
The Matron in Chief, O.M.F.C. – Miss Macdonald, R.R.C. has always been ready and anxious to give help in times of pressure when the shortage of trained nurses has been particularly felt in Imperial units.
Until the arrival in France of the Principal Matron, Canadians, all work in connection with the Canadian Nursing Service (moves, sickness, leave, etc.) was arranged with the constant co-operation of the Matron in Chief, O.M.F.C., and she was kept informed of all matters of importance.
She herself was always kept in close touch with the work in France by constant visits to the B.E.F., and her broad-minded co-operation throughout has been of the greatest assistance.
With the appointment of a D.M.S. Canadians, at G.H.Q. France, and the simultaneous appointment of a Principal matron, Canadians, to my staff, the character of the administrative work was slightly altered, but the principle of close co-operation with Headquarters in London has remained the same.
I cannot close this Report without speaking of the generosity of the Canadian Red Cross Society in supplying comforts for the Sick and Wounded, and clothing for refugees etc. This Society has never failed to give most generous help, not only to Canadian units in France and Belgium, but wherever extra comforts were needed for the sick and wounded, the homeless and the destitute. The large consignments of clothing and medical comforts sent by them in the autumn of 1918, when the Army was advancing over devastated areas, were a veritable godsend. Not only have they earned the gratitude of French and Belgian refugees and troops of all nations, but also that of the Nursing Staff whose work they greatly facilitated by these generous gifts.
E. M. McCarthy
British Troops in France and Flanders