CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3988
Left early went by Tours to Orleans. At Tours found the Rest Camp at the station had been moved to Orleans. Arrived Orleans lunch time – reported myself to Colonel Jack the Commandant. Went to 10 Stationary Hospital Major Barker in charge. Miss Corbishley and Miss Stokes on duty where they had recently arrived from the French Hospitals where they had been nursing British wounded. Telegraphed for Miss Finlay to be in charge. 8 nurses from 11 General Hospital unemployed. Say Lady Anslin Leigh who had been very kind to the nurses and was interested in the wounded. Heard from Miss Corbishley that they had been sent there in consequence of a telegram received from the War Office which I had not heard of from DMS. Accommodation for nurses not very good – but can be much improved. Got to Le Mans quite late. Miss Bills and Miss Hartigan came to see me on the way to Versailles.
Le Mans 8pm.
Called on DDMS Col. Barefoot. Miss Reid came before breakfast. Work very heavy still at both Hospitals (Stationary) had lost 5 cases of tetanus – one an RAMC boy. Went to 1 Stationary where they are still very busy. Very good results – everyone looked very happy and everything highly satisfactory in every way. Left for Villeneuve. Called at Triage found everyone depressed. The Red Cross appeared to be busy fault finding. Received letter from Matron-in-Chief written to Miss Richards to be passed to me altering the original orders given on mobilization – the result of some complaint. Found Major Birrell had arrived.
Wrote to Matron-in-Chief in reply to her letter – sent it by King’s Messenger. DMS went to Headquarters. Went to Paris with Major Birrell after lunch. Went to British Red Cross Hospital Called on Mrs. B. French – unable to see the Hospital. Went to British Ambulance saw Mrs. Vanderbilt and explained that we could not spare the nurses any longer. She was very nice and took me over part of the Hospital and left me with Miss Walker. They will all be glad to get back and appear not to have been allowed to do any actual nursing. Saw Major Douglas at Villeneuve, who had come about the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital.
Went to Triage. Saw Major Moore and Miss Barwell who gave me particulars of the trains. Learnt that an Isolation Hospital is to be opened at Versailles for enterics. Wrote an account of recent journey to St. Nazaire which was sent by King’s Messenger to London.
Telegraphed for nurses from Paris and also to London for 32 to replace those now employed on trains. Went to Versailles and arranged about accommodation for Nursing Sisters belonging to No.6 being accommodated at Hotel Vartel who are to nurse enterics. Wired to Miss Dods about some luggage of her people’s still at Rouen and also for her to arrange about sending the pay to the members of staff who were separated from their Matron. Went with Major Babington to see the marques ready for the reception of enterics until a suitable building is found. Accommodation for 100 in marques in a meadow next No.4 General Hospital. Everything is to be quite apart – every precaution is to be taken and this Hospital will be absolutely up to date with every convenience including electric light, disinfector and its own laundry.
Had an official letter from No.9 General Hospital with request to employing a maid servant – not authorized in wartime. Also about pay of Reserves and Staff Nurses QAIMNS doing Sisters' duties. The Red Cross it has been decided are to take over the Rest Camp in the sheds at Villeneuve Triage, thus releasing 4 of our people. Saw several ambulance trains – arranged about 2 more nurses joining No.5 Train. Saw Col. Hickson, also Col. Burtchaell who had arrived from London with General [here a blank space] in order to get some information which was needed at WO.
Went with Col. Barefoot to see No.2 Ambulance Train with enterics for Versailles. One man who had been wounded in the abdomen and was very bad was taken off the train and taken over to the Rest Camp. Telegraphed for Miss Stronach to replace Miss Wilkin on the Hospital Ship who is a bad sailor.
Went to Triage where I met the Medical Officers and Nurses belonging to the Red Cross who have taken over the Rest Camp from our people. Saw No.1, 6 and 8 Ambulance Trains and learnt that the patient had died, an embolism. Col Burtchaell and various Generals inspected trains. Saw Sisters about not taking too much luggage with them when on duty on trains. Sent for 5 extra nurses for train duty and ordered Miss Medforth to replace Miss Isaacson on Hospital Ship St. David.
Supplied Staff for No.11 Stationary Hospital which was moving to Rouen putting Miss Minns in charge. No.10 and 11 General Hospitals in readiness to move when required. Owing to the many demands for Nurses wired for 32 nurses to replace those now on duty on trains. Receipted hotel bills returned from Pay Office to attach the names of Sisters messing at the various hotels.
Went to Rouen via Paris where we had to go in consequence of our car not being ready – one sent by Monsieur Guillemon arrived late. DMS and Col Beveridge already there. Called on Madame de Brachet. The Dr. away. Met Sir A. Bowlby, also various Red Cross people and Major Poe who is going to the front with 25 motor ambulances.
Went to No.12 General Hospital at the Race Course under canvas. Miss Cheetham happily installed with her staff some of whom are under canvas, some in horse boxes, which have been boarded and converted with … and some at a convent and come by train daily to this camp. A large number of patients, some very badly wounded but everything going well and the patients all looked well cared for and cheerful. They have a chapel in a marque with altar, seats, carpet had been sent by one of the convents for the use of all denominations. Met Lord Richard Neville who had brought smokes for the men. Saw Major Poe leaving with his 25 motor ambulances for the Front. After lunch went to No.8 General Hospital in the same buildings which No.3 General Hospital was originally in. The arrangements very much the same except that many improvements begun are now completed. A certain number of marques being good with boarded floors raised from the ground by supports of bricks. Saw many seriously wounded some enterics and 3 tetanus – 1 a German who had … and 2 others who were improving. Here some of the nurses are accommodated in the building and some at the convent and they also came to Hospital by train daily. They had a large room as a Mess. At both of these Hospitals they have a large supply of Red Cross articles. From there we went to the Red Cross Officers' Hospital which was originally ours and which now with all the improvements which were in progress when we left has now become a first rate Hospital. It seemed sad that we had been obliged to leave it. The Matron was out but a very nice Sister showed me everything. At No.8 General Hospital I met Lord Dunraven and his party who had arrived in his yacht and who was being escorted to the various hospitals by the DMS . Went to the station hoping to find a train which was expected but heard that it was not yet expected. Met the British Consul and his wife who were on their way to No.8 General Hospital with more Red Cross things.
Both Miss Cheetham and Miss Suart the Matrons of 8 and 12 General Hospital spoke of the satisfactory work done by all their staff, Miss Suart mentioning specially Miss Lang and Miss Cheetham, Miss Toller and Miss Riddall who she said was particularly capable.
Started early for Le Havre in company with the DMS our car following his – arrived in time for lunch. After lunch went to Le Gare Maritime the headquarters of No.2 General Hospital where I found Miss Richards and some of her staff, Miss Johnstone being in charge. Everything in excellent order only 6 patients who were too ill to be moved – all other beds ready made up with blankets only for the reception of patients from the trains from these they will be transferred to the ships which are anchored close by. The Oxfordshire and Asturias were in waiting for patients along side of the pier. The arrangements here are excellent in every way and there is excellent accommodation for stores of every description. Miss Richards showed the many beautiful things sent from England privately by Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox for the troops. Some special £1 notes sent by the Queen for specially bad cases enclosed in a case with her picture and a morning and evening hymn. She had also some tea which had been specially sent by Queen Alexandra for the QAIMNS . From there I went to the Casino a beautiful building in a magnificent situation intended mainly for medical cases, everything in excellent order, the absence of counterpanes being the only thing. A certain number of enterics were in a set apart for them and a Sister and orderlies were in charge. The Officers’ Hospital close by was most comfortable and suitable in every way. A large private house well furnished and with good kitchen pantry, bath and lavatory accommodation – sitting rooms and Mess – the Nursing Staff were accommodated there, Miss ... in charge, Miss Lyde in charge of Casino, Miss Johnson of Gare Maritime. Miss Richards spoke well of her staff and the OC and DDMS spoke very highly of Miss Richards management and capabilities generally.
Then went over the Oxfordshire and the Asturias. Saw the Sisters in Charge, Miss Steenson and Miss Stevens … who both expressed themselves completely satisfied with their nursing staff. Beautiful ships, beautifully equipped and thoroughly comfortable for everyone. Went out to Favril to No.1 General. Saw Miss Hodgins and the OC under canvas. The staff were billeted nearby until marques had been erected. A building in the town was also being equipped for this Hospital.
After dinner went to DDMS office to arrange about where the nurses who recently arrived, 34 in number, were to be sent. It wasn’t possible for me to see them as they were billeted in different directions. Miss Richards was going to see them off.
Miss Richards came before breakfast. Afterwards started back – stopped at Rouen – went on board St. Patrick. Saw Miss Wohlmann, they were waiting for patients. Went on to No.8 to let Col. Nash know about the nurses who were arriving for No.11 General and No.11 Stationary Hospital. Saw Miss Minns who is to be in charge of the Stationary Hospital and instructed her to arrange central billets for nurses arriving and to look after them till the arrival of No.11 General Hospital. Went to Versailles to let them know about the nurses who were arriving. Saw Miss Byers and Miss Walker and found they had 30 enterics in the enteric section of the hospital and were expecting 12 more that evening. Got back to Villeneuve 9pm – had some difficulty passing the sentries.
Saw DMS who is anxious that everything that can possibly be done is done to make the ambulance trains perfect. Went to Triage saw Major Moore. Arranged about 4 remaining nurses returning to Versailles. Saw the Red Cross nurses and MOs. Learnt that No.13 and 14 General Hospitals had arrived at Boulogne and that 10 and 11 had been ordered there, also No.7 Stationary.
DMS and Staff left for Abbeville early. We were unable to leave till 7pm owing to our car not being ready. We saw many French troops moving and had some difficulty passing sentries. Arrived Portvese at 11.30pm and decided to go no farther. Stayed in a very dirty hotel.
Left at 7am. Arrived at Abbeville 12 noon. Went to office – found DMS was at Headquarters. Had lunch with Majors Fell and Birrell. Met Sir A. Bowlby. Couldn’t get a billet. Directly after lunch went to Boulogne which we got at about 4pm and had difficulty in finding DDMS. Went to No.13 which had only just arrived and was beginning to open in Casino. Went to No.7 Stationary which was also about to open in an hotel. Eventually found Col. Skinner at the wharf seeing the patients being conveyed from Ambulance trains to the Ships which were alongside. 4 Hospital trains, 1 Hospital Ship and 2 Naval ones already and 2 more Ships expected. Saw 11 General Hospital staff on a train in a siding which had also just arrived. Had dinner with Col. Skinner. The Hotel proprietor at first refused to give Miss Barbier and myself any. After dinner started back arrived at Abbeville 11.30pm. Stayed at the Hotel for the night.
Got very nice billets. Went to office gave DMS the information I had obtained before he and Col. Beveridge left for Boulogne to arrange abut Sisters for the new Hospital. Sent a telegram to the Red Cross in Paris and Miss Richards at Havre to send things to Orleans and Boulogne, both very much in need of them. Went to Station with Colonel Barefoot. Sent a letter and account of recent tour to Matron-in-Chief by King's Messenger. Visited the Pay Master about my imprest account, my travelling expenses and the many Hotel bills I had paid for many of nursing staff of general hospitals as they arrived.
The office of the Matron-in-Chief remained in Abbeville during the next four years until it moved to Boulogne on 1st August 1918.
Have now a table in Colonel Barefoot’s office which is a great convenience*. Have received an application for change of station for Miss Harvey QAIMNS – have arranged for her to go to 13 General Hospital and will see Miss Wilson before her arrival. Consulted DMS who approves.
*By the Armistice, this one table had become a suite of offices and a staff of 20!
Saw DMS who spoke about the light in which French people considered trained nurses in France. Heard that Surgeon General McPherson was expected. Saw Colonel Ferguson who was passing through with his convoy of ambulances, who spoke of the trains where so many improvements have been made of late and where still more are required. Saw Major Douglas and Mr. Gordon Watson who were still waiting about looking out for a Hospital for the Duchess of Westminster.
The DMS and Colonel Beveridge went to Headquarters. I went to the Chief Pay Master about my imprest account which I was granted so that I could pay the bills for the nursing staffs when we first arrived. The chauffeurs French – have some difficulty about getting their pay. The French are arranging about this matter. Sent a wire requesting all nurses belonging to No.7 to return to Le Mans.
DMS returned from Headquarters rather worried and very busy. Answered many Matrons’ letters. Received another letter from M-in-C not quite satisfactory and which I answered at once referring to her previous letters. In consequence of the pressure of work and the long intervals which has until now been obliged to elapse before the receipt of a letter and the answer, has made matters difficult. This difficulty has been removed by being able to send each day if necessary by the King's Messenger and get a reply at once.
Started for Boulogne with Miss Barbier, DMS, Col. Beveridge and Col. Leishhman . Had lunch by the way. Arrived 2pm. Found every place crowded with wounded. 4 Hospitals open and others opening, and at 7 Stationary as well as our own people found 10 untrained Red Cross nurses who I removed. Went to the office about it and found the DDMS Staff Officer getting a Red Cross officer to telegraph for Red X nurses. Was very angry. Said why didn’t he telegraph to us – because he thought we knew!!! I telegraphed at once to 19 belonging to 6 General Hospital from Versailles to complete 13 General – 12 from Rouen to complete 14 General. The whole of No.5 General staff (this hospital was closed) for 7 Stationary Hospital so as to release those of No.11 who had been lent and 21 from Le Mans for 14 Stationary with Miss Dods in charge. 3 ships and 3 trains and quantities of ambulances for conveying the wounded to the various Hospitals. A continuous stream of trains were passing all night taking troops and stores forward.
Busy all day at the hospitals. Nurses urgently required. Everyone doing their best. The condition of things dreadful with such crowds of wounded streaming in. Now open 11, 13, 14 General Hospital with Miss Blakeley, Wilson and Clements as Matrons. Miss A. B. Smith at 7 Stationary, Miss Dods at 6 Stationary. Lady Dudley, Duchess of Westminster and Lady Sarah Wilson also to open Hospitals. The Queen of Portugal went round the Hospital with Lady Gifford.
Busy all day going from one hospital to another. Trains continually arriving crowded with wounds. Ships ready to take patients which were returning to England crowded. Our hospitals full – not beds for everyone – but those on the floors were provided with mattresses and bed clothes. 12 Nurses from No.10, 21 from No.6, 19 from No.7 General Hospital arrived. I had already arranged about the billeting and have those arriving. Hotel Marine being able to take the nursing staff of 11 and 7 Stationary Hospitals and had undertaken to provide for Nursing Sisters only. All hospitals are situated in Hotels where the Commanding Officers had hoped to keep the top floor for Nursing Staff, but this was not possible in consequence of the number of wounded to be accommodated.
A busy day going round Hospitals and trains. Major Myles asked me to go a journey on his train but in consequence of the amount of work and untrained Red Cross wanting to assist, I shall not go till later.
Still busy all day and the same continual stream of wounded arriving. The Duchess of Westminster still looking for a building. DDMS advised me to go and see the Queen of Portugal and tell her about the Hospitals and the arrangements. Miss A. B. Smith and 38 of her staff arrived from 7 Stationary (5 General closed) and 4 Sisters left with patients who cannot be moved.
Went round Hospitals, visiting the Carisbrooke Castle saw Miss Stronach, everything in order. Unable to see DDMS, left letter on 26th. Was received by the Queen of Portugal and Lady Gifford who was most gracious and I explained to her about our Hospitals and the number of nurses who were there at the beginning and how these numbers had been increased without delay, at least as little as possible. Lady Gifford talked a great deal about the Red Cross nurses and asked me to make use of them. I pointed out that there were only untrained Red Cross here at present. She said that Sir A. Keogh was all in favour of these VADs coming out for employment and that she quite saw my point that it was imperative for all nurses employed in Hospital to be trained!! and that she was only engaging those who could be thoroughly recommended and in possession of their Certificates. I queried the remark about Sir A. Keogh and said there must be some mistake as Sir A. K. was at the WO when our Service was reorganized and realized better than anyone I should think the importance of having thoroughly trained and suitable nurses in war time. South African War could still be remembered by everyone.
Left for Abbeville, arrived 6pm, found Surgeon General McPherson, also that 10 Stationary Hospital from Orleans had been ordered to St. Omer and it was arranged that I should go with him the next day.
Miss Barbier and I have been granted 9 francs a day travelling allowance.
Left with Surgeon-General MacPherson for St. Omer, I driving with him, Miss Barbier following. He talked of many things of interest referring to the arrangements in connection with Hospitals and what he had seen since he had arrived from London and expressed himself very satisfied.
Arrived St. Omer noon. Saw Col. O’Donnell and Major Cummings. After lunch returned to office and went with Major Cummings to see 2 buildings for 10 Stationary Hospital then arriving. Decided upon the School of St. Joseph now occupied by a Clearing Hospital which was most excellent. Stretchers raised on folding tressles easy of transport and a theatre in excellent order. Major Symons in charge and I saw an old Millbank theatre orderly now a Sergeant who was running the theatre and this Clearing Hospital is about to move and the Stationary Hospital is to take its place. Curiously this was the same Clearing Hospital which moved on when No.5 Stationary arrived at Le Mans. Returned to Abbeville.
Found that the A. G. was asking for nurses for 8 Clearing Hospitals, 5 for each. This question was to be decided by DMS then in Rouen and a wire had been sent to him for his approval and sanction. While at St. Omer saw the London Scottish who were all proud at being ordered to the front.
Busy all day arranging about Staffs for Clearing Hospital by taking 5 from each Hospital unemployed. Midday telegram came from DMS approving and by the afternoon 10 nurses were asked for. Telegraphed to Boulogne giving names of those required and ordered the others to proceed to Boulogne. Letter from Miss Richards enclosing an extract from The Times and enclosing the answer she had sent in connection with an appeal for … for nurses.
Left for Boulogne. Went to DDMS office had a … about the Nursing Staffs who were arriving as there was thought there might be difficulty about the accommodation. However this I had arranged, also Miss Barbier and I met them and arranged about their luggage etc. so that in this severe time of pressure no Medical Officer had to waste time. Went to see Matron 7 Stationary Hospital about the nurses going to Clearing Hospitals. Saw them all and found that they were all anxious to go. The nurses for 13 and 14 Generals to complete their establishments had arrived and also extra ones which were required for 7 Stationary and 11 General Hospitals. Sir A. Sloggett anxious for some Red Cross Nurses to be employed, so called on Colonel Wake and said I should like 6 for each hospital but that they must be fully trained and that I should like them to be sent for me to see and enter on my nominal roll with all their particulars and detail them for duty. They were supposed (the Red Cross) to have many waiting unemployed but on enquiry I found they had to be telegraphed for like our extra ones!!! Returned to Abbeville and told DMS what I had done.
Returned to Boulogne the first thing in the morning. Went to meet Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox but missed her. Have employed 44 Red Cross nurses in the Gare Maritime. This hospital is composed of large sheds and lends itself admirably for a Hospital. It is better situated and constructed for this purpose than any other building in Boulogne – cement floors, lofty rooms, lighted with electric light, has been partitioned off into 6 large wards, some stores and offices. This originally was not intended for Sisters. Miss A. L. Walker is in charge, Miss Drage is running the Casualty department where hundreds of minor wounded are dressed and fed daily. I have several QAIMNS and Reserves on duty here and intend when I am able, to dispense with the Red Cross Nurses services.
11, 7 Stationary are in Hotels with many small rooms of the 1 2 3 4 5 floors. Narrow staircases and crowded with and not many conveniences [sic]. 13 and 14 Generals are both in large Casinos, the enterics being nursed in a large shed in the Casino grounds. Telegraphed for nurses to fill vacancies made by supplying 8 Clearing Hospitals with nurses.