Paul Creswick.

Kent's care for the wounded online

. (page 4 of 11)
Online LibraryPaul CreswickKent's care for the wounded → online text (page 4 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


are made through it. The Belgian soldiers are dis-
charged either to Folkestone, for immediate service
abroad, or through the Legation in London if unfit
for service.

In the early days of mobilisation the Red Cross
hospitals, acting under instruction, sent away
many hundreds of convalescent Belgian soldiers to
homes all over Britain. The transport in this
matter was something to remember — by those who
had to carry it through. It seemed good to the
authorities that that part of the Belgian Army
which was temporarily hors de combat should be
distributed throughout the length and breadth of
the country. Collecting these strangers in a strange
land in small numbers from widely separated
hospitals in order to make them up into parties
worth sending to such homes as the Lady Forester
at Llandudno, the Soldiers' Home at Dunoon,
homes so far afield as Kenneth Mont, near Aber-
deen, and Shouldham Court at Yeovil, and a dozen
other places — was a task which one does not lightly



72 ORGANISATION

forget who had any part in it ! The trains to be
stopped at certain stations, the extra carriages to
be provided, the anxiety of keeping your party
intact all through the journey, with dozens of
interested but rather bothersome folk ever ready
to " stand treat " to the men the moment you
were looking the other way ! The transport across
London from South-Eastern termini to those of
the other great systems ; the feeding of the poor
fellows on sixteen-hour journeys. . . . These are
things to remember all your days, if you have
the duty of escorting and organising.

Discharges are now all British, and are made
through the portals of the three military hospitals,
emphasising the fact that the V.A.D. hospitals are
annexes, as already stated. They are under military
law, and conform to it willingly ; they are open to
surprise inspection by the military doctors ; they
cannot transfer a patient from any one hospital to
another without military permission. So closely
allied are the R.A.M.C. and the V.A.D. that
requests are now urgent for the latter to supply
the former with nurses, who, once they enter one
of the military hospitals, will cease to be voluntary
workers, and will receive their pay with the rest
of the military nurses.

What the V.A.D. have saved the country
cannot be properly estimated. Everything 1 is



ORGANISATION 73

voluntary. The War Office pays, on an average,
something under three shillings per capita per
night, for food allowance — that is the sole and only
charge on the National Exchequer.

That is practically " billeting " allowance ; and,
for the first four months, the grant was but
two shillings per man per night. This amount
includes everything : dressings, medical stores,
transport to and from the military base, the nurse,
the doctor, and the whole organisation. Of course
we have had our buildings rent free, rates and
taxes have been remitted, other splendid advan-
tages have been freely accorded by those able to
help.

The doctors give a great part of their valu-
able time willingly and gladly to the hospitals
to which they are attached ; ladies do orderly
work, any work, apart from their nursing, to help
along. Friends send in food and milk and a score
of things to assist the commissariat. Thus each
hospital manages to keep out of bankruptcy,
although, when we had the smaller grant, some of
our hospitals came perilously near to insolvency.
The Kent County War Fund put them on their
feet, and kept them there.

Each hospital knows what it can do, and each
quartermaster strives in friendly rivalry with her
neighbours in the county. When a hospital



74 ORGANISATION

planned to run forty beds finds itself averaging
about eighteen patients per day it is not easy to
keep within the limits. Heating, lighting and
general upkeep of the building is exactly the same
whether there are eighteen or forty patients. To
make the proposition a business one it is necessary
to keep our beds filled.

The larger allowance of three shillings meets
the case only if the beds are well occupied. Well
occupied they are, when our soldiers are being
cared for in them, and the Commandant's great
desire is to be kept busy ; a modest aspiration.

She likes to feel that she is doing her part. That
is her reward. That is the reward of all who are
honestly trying to be unselfish and rather better
folk than they were. There is no conceit about
this sentiment ; for often they who enjoy it are
almost unaware of the blessing which has come to
them.

It hurts a little, sometimes, that thoughtless
folk should say that our workers are well paid for
what they do. It is not true, and the fact must
be set down here plainly. From the Kent V.A.D.
County Director down to the Kent V.A.D. bearer
no one person other than a few of the trained nurses
receives pay for his or her service. The word
voluntary should be sufficient in itself.

A comprehensive plan has been adopted in Kent



ORGANISATION 75

in connection with Lord Robert Cecil's scheme for
tracing, or obtaining news of, the missing of all
ranks. A list is sent, periodically, to the Com-
mandant of each hospital containing full particu-
lars of the missing men. Any soldier of the same
regiment who happens to be in the hospital is
possibly able to supply information concerning the
soldier about whom enquiry is made — informa-
tion which, in many cases, has been of the utmost
importance to the anxious relatives. Reports are
made at once in such an event, and a visitor follows
up the matter by tactful and careful questioning.
These visitors have also the list for their district,
and are continually going round the hospitals
gleaning news which otherwise might never reach
those who are waiting here in suspense. Some-
times the news is good ; on other occasions dread
uncertainty is, at least, at an end. The visitor's
position is scarcely an enviable one, but the duty
is performed wisely and so kindly that the best
is made of a difficult task.

The Detachments owe a very great deal to
General Whitehead, Deputy Director Medical
Service, Eastern Command. He has helped the
V.A.D. in every possible way. His kindliness and
patience have made the road smooth. To him and
to Colonel Simpson at Woolwich, Colonel Haines
at Chatham, and Colonels Wilson and Noding at



76 ORGANISATION

Shorncliffe and their staff the Kent V.A.D. are
very deeply indebted. Much of the success of the
undertaking is attributable to the wise, healthy,
and ever-courteous treatment which the authorities
have accorded to Kent in her great enterprise of
tending the wounded and sick.

The central organisation of the British Red Cross
Society at 83 Pall Mall, S.W., has ever shown itself
ready to help and advise, upon application being
made to its officers, and sincere thanks are ex-
pressed to these gentlemen for their unfailing
courtesy. Each Red Cross detachment in Kent
was accorded £10, upon mobilisation, by the
central body, and most of the supplementary
contingents received £5.

Each St. John detachment was granted £5 by
their governing body.

These equipment grants were added to by the
Committee of the Kent County War Fund ; each
Red Cross contingent receiving £5, each St. John
detachment £5, and each Territorial Force detach-
ment £10.

Lt.-Col. Wood Martyn, the secretary of the latter
force, has shown the Kent V.A.D. the greatest
consideration from first to last. He has helped
the cause along in many ways, and has displayed
sympathy with its aims from the outset. His duties
have now devolved upon his successor, Colonel




'hoto b i i !

Lt.-Col. A. WOOD MAKTYN
Xth Service Battn. R. West Kent Regt.



ORGANISATION 77

Winch, who has already shown himself thoroughly
interested in the detachments.

It is with great satisfaction that we record the
service cheerfully rendered to the detachments by
the Boy Scouts all over the county.

It is right to say that the Kent detachments owe
their progressive success largely to the sympathetic
and very friendly treatment accorded them, and
their Executive, by all in this our effort on behalf
of " Christian Service and True Chivalry."



XI

STORES

The success of the Central War Fund for the hos-
pitals prompted the present plan on which Kent's
stores and supplies are also centralised. It will
be recollected that, at the beginning of the war,
each Commandant was furnished with a carefully
thought out list of articles likely to be wanted,
should a hospital have to be brought into being ;
and it will be readily understood that the canvass
of a neighbourhood frequently resulted in an
abundance of one set of articles, with the corre-
sponding shortage of another. Headquarters de-
cided to accept all promises, and collect accordingly
at the right moment — then to pool the super-
abundant articles at given centres. Each hospital
contributing to its central depot had the privilege
of applying to that depot for any other thing
which the particular hospital required.

These central depots were, in turn, attached to
the chief depot, and could apply there for all
articles not in stock. The chief depot had, and
has, especial means of procuring the wanted articles;

78



STORES 79

it is situated near headquarters, and it is only
necessary for us in Kent to ask in order to receive
almost anything we need. Such is the spirit which
animates our county.

In some parts of Kent a veritable epidemic of
blankets occurred ; in others the excess of gifts
was manifested by a delightful deluge of crockery
and cutlery. In yet another district came an
avalanche of medical stores ; a fourth centre was
overwhelmed with sheets and bedspreads. Each
Commandant took what she needed from her over-
plus, and forwarded the remainder to the centre,
with a request for those articles she lacked. The
chances were that these had already arrived from
another hospital ; if not, the request was passed
on to the chief depot, where a complete register
is compiled of all stores at all depots. If the
application could not be met at the chief depot,
those in charge knew precisely where to look for
help. The Kent County War Fund is always avail-
able, if other means cannot supply the desired
article forthwith.

As a general rule, it was found that the register
at the chief depot pointed the way. Blankets were
wanted at Cranbrook, which had too many sheets ?
Faversham had a stack of blankets, but few sheets
... a card from the chief depot adjusted the
matter, in the course of two posts.



80 STORES

The Stores Committee worked, and continues to
work, on sound business lines. Every centre takes
stock once a month and reports to the chief depot.
Literally thousands of articles have been re-
distributed in the manner shown, and every kind-
hearted and generous friend of the detachments
has the satisfaction of knowing that his or her
gift has not only been received, but has been, or
will be, used.

Nothing is wasted, so nothing is refused. All
find a place of service somewhere, and, as even
the best thing has the knack of wearing out, or
being broken, the demand for upkeep is constant.

Very acceptable presents have latterly come to
the depots. Several cases of new-laid eggs from
the Egg-collecting Committee in London : from
overseas, bags of flour, cases of sugar, hundreds
of tins of jam and treacle. Sides of frozen lamb ;
dozens of frozen rabbits — splendidly welcome
presents these, bringing joy to the breast of many
a kitchen matron, keen to keep her bills within
bounds. We are indeed grateful to the Australian
Government who, through Mr. Fowne, of the London
Chamber of Commerce, is sending these splendid
presents to the sick and wounded. They have
more than helped us along in Kent ; for each
gift has been sent so very modestly, and with such
heartening messages of sympathy and goodwill.



STORES 81

Here is a list of Kent's storehouses, with the
names of those who have administered them so
ably and unselfishly : Main depot, Bromley,
Mr. T. Pawley and Miss Pawley. Central depots :
Ashford, Miss Knock ; Canterbury, Mrs. Mason ;
Chatham and Strood, Dr. Skinner ; Chevening,
Miss Hall-Hall ; Chislehurst, Miss Paterson ; Cran-
brook, Mrs. Tomlin ; Dartford, Miss Dixon ; Deal
and Walmer, Miss C. Reid ; Faversham, Mrs.
Alexander ; Gravesend, Mrs. Bruce-Culver ; Maid-
stone, Miss Hills ; Margate, Mr. Leon Adutt ;
Sevenoaks, Mrs. Walter Hay ; Sheerness, Mr.
H. Rayner Catt ; Tonbridge, Miss Taylor ; Tun-
bridge Wells, Miss Violet Moore. These ladies and
gentlemen have had no easy task ; there are no
sinecures in the Kent V.A.D. — nor room for them.
All has to be kept going ; patients are passing in
and out the hospitals all the while. It is for them
that everyone labours ; that those who have served
may now find such rest and peace as we, in our
sincere endeavour, can provide.



XII

COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS

It is sometimes well to compare, in quite friendly
rivalry, your own methods with those of others
working for the same ends. By this means one
has the opportunity of learning, even more than of
teaching — which is the spirit which should animate
folk who want to be really of use in this world.
The management of our smaller voluntary hos-
pitals will be considered here in conjunction with
those of our larger Rest Houses. Owing to the
generosity of those who provide the former the
housekeeping of both costs much about the same
per man : in the ordinary course the larger hospital
has manifestly a big pull over the lesser.

But management can effect wonders, especially
if there be a little assistance from the owner and
friends of the small hospital. This has been always
unostentatiously forthcoming, and one of the fine
features of Kent's care for the wounded has been
the unceasing and self-denying kindness of those
who are not among the most blessed with this

82



COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS 83

world's goods. Few of us are able to offer a hos-
pital complete, but many have been ready to give
up part of the home, and have made the sacrifice
with quite surprisingly successful results.

A typical small hospital has been given us by
the surrender of the top floor of a square-built
house, where four straightforward rooms open on
to a decent landing : these rooms have been
emptied of superfluous furniture ; the floors have
been covered with plain linoleum ; three iron-
framed, spring-mattressed beds have been placed
in each ward — which just allows the regulation
900 cubic feet of air space to be enjoyed by each
patient. A double washstand, a table, three chairs,
a chest of drawers completes each ward. Upon
the landing is a table upon which the dressings,
etc., are kept under a cloth ; a second table forms
a serving-place and resting-place for the orderlies
when bringing the meals to the wards from the
kitchen below. There is a fair-sized garden for
fine weather, and a capital morning-room on the
lmlf-landing, just below the wards, for rainy days.
Only light cases are taken, so that the patients are
n< in II y well able to manage the few stairs from
the wards to the morning-room, and vice versa.
Twelve eases can be provided for — and, the house
being on high ground, the cures have been really
remarkable ; all the more so from the fact that,



84 COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS

in the earlier days, more serious cases had to be
entertained.

The housekeeping is very well arranged ; the
Quartermaster buys in reasonable quantities, and
does not order five tons of coal at the time when
the coal merchants are squeezing unfortunate
consumers rather more than usual ! Nor does she
go to the other extreme, and buy coals by
the hundredweight. There is an " in-between "
method upon which our little hospital works ; a
common-sense method. Fuel is dear ; therefore
they buy moderately, in the hope of a fall in price.
Also they state the position to the local trades-
folk, and find that one and all put them on most
favoured nations terms. Neighbours want to help ;
they do not need to be asked or given encourage-
ment. So much can be done with tact and a
sincere " thank you very much ' manner. The
hospital under notice has been generously endowed
by the owners, but it is the housekeeping with
which we are concerned. It is admirably done,
and is but an example of many others. The
patients are well-fed, well-nursed, cared for under-
standing^ without too much discipline, but just
enough.

There is always sufficient food for the morrow ;
a little over in case of emergency, but nothing that
can be wasted. They do not " run out " of any-



COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS 85

thing in this little hospital, yet never have large
stores, with the consequent temptation to be too
lavish.

It is something of an anxiety to run this hospital,
the cheerful Quartermaster admits. She has to
be always thinking about food. But she does so
" with a good grace."

The larger hospitals have their cares also, for
they must have always plenty of everything.

One hospital on the riverside has 100 beds, and
has averaged 60 patients per night since October,
1914. Something of romance about this place ;
a great deal of that sheer pluck which has always
a glamour for those of us who exercise imagination.
One needs to be imaginative to become truly
creative, and to be able to steadily pursue ideals.
Then, sometimes it happens that ideals are nearly
encompassed.

The vision we have, as we write, is of a great
grey building alongshore ; shabby before it was
new, an effort of olden happy days wasting ;
neglect and the accompaniments of neglect ap-
parent everywhere. That was the framework
upon which some devoted women brought their
splendid energies to bear.

It seemed a rather hopeless adventure. Our
plucky ones saw the possibilities, and set out to
interest friends and make them see possibilities.



86 COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS

Had estimates from decorators ; considered these
prudently, went carefully through figures and
measurements and suggestions and — got to work.

It's splendid of you all, said onlookers ; it's tip-
top practice — it's finishing your Red Cross educa-
tion. You'll be quite all right for field work when
you're wanted — after practice of this sort ! Scrub-
bing floors and cleaning down, are you ? Having
the windows mended, the place once more made
habitable, electric light installed, hot and cold
water put on ? . . . No doubt the military will be
glad to use the place for a headquarters ; for, of
course, you will not have any hospital duty there,
you know. You cannot expect it. . . . The mili-
tary hospitals are too fully prepared for all contin-
gencies

November 15th, 1914, proved that these amiable
optimists were prophesying vainly. The great
grey building had been only just transformed into
one of the finest " unofficial " hospitals in Kent
when the summons came. That day the whole
capacity of the hospital was taxed to help stem
the flood of wounded men returning to England.

Everything in the hospital had been systema-
tised. The wards had been allocated in blocks,
each block with its complete staff. On the huge
ground floor were the surgical wards ; on the first
and second floors were other surgical and the



COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS 87

medical wards. The housekeeping department
had been thought out by the kitchen matron to
the last detail. Hot soup was ready for the men
as fast as they were brought in — food was prepared
for those who needed it, according to the diet
deemed necessary by the medical officer. Order-
lies were soon bathing the men ; other orderlies
were sorting out the discarded rags of clothes,
keeping the best of these and labelling them for
the sanitary authorities, who collected the parcels,
for disinfecting, almost as quickly as they were
made up. Not too nice a job this ; the unfor-
tunate soldiers had come straight from the
trenches, bringing with them parasites who were
both numerous and very tenacious of life. It is
not a pleasant thing to remember ; but it happens
each time a convoy of wounded is brought in, and
the destruction of these vile pests is a part of the
organisation which has to be perfect.

After bathing, and purifying as far as was
possible — for some of the cases were very serious
— the men were put to bed, their wounds dressed
more thoroughly. Sleep was the great restorer
to the bulk of these poor travellers, and morning
saw a great change for the better in most of
them. But the whole staff of the hospital had
worked right through the night; making up the
War Office returns in the bureau, preparing the



88 COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS

breakfasts, ticketing each man's personal belong-
ings and bestowing them safely — underclothes had
been washed, boots had been cleaned and put in
lockers with such part of the accoutrements as could
be wisely retained. The medicines were prepared
by qualified dispensers, whose services remain at
command at all hours : extractions of bullets and
shrapnel in the very bad cases had been performed
within the four walls of the hospital. The
theatre is fully equipped — for when friends saw
that all this was not the dream of a few en-
thusiasts, but positively and actually a hospital
able to treat wounded men to the expressed satis-
faction of the military authorities, more money
and help came along. Nothing succeeds like suc-
cess — an old proverb exemplified once again.

The installation of this hospital was effected
without any charge on the Funds, thanks to an
infinity of intelligent devising and improvising
certainly not surpassed by any other national
effort. The running of the hospital cost the country
2s. per day per man for the first few months ; then
application had to be made for the larger grant of
3s. in order that nothing might be wanting. Sixty
soldiers have been each day lovingly cared for and
healed — for love heals perhaps more quickly than
medicine. Nearly four hundred patients have
passed through this great V.A.D. hospital in



COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS 89

the six months which have elapsed since it was
opened.

Another hospital, this time by the sea, is situated
beautifully for our purpose. Here we have all
the same elements for success in tending and
healing the wounded. A well-arranged house on
three floors, with a fine entrance hall, is planned
out methodically into wards for officers, rank and
file — medical and surgical, as the case may be. A
splendid operating theatre is fitted with every
appliance for the ultimate ease of suffering
humanity : the best of medical care and skilled
nursing is always ready ; plenty of windows,
bringing air and sunlight and hope into tortured
breasts, plenty of the best food, and plenty of
kind bright faces and clever hands to comfort sad
hearts and soothe away pain. The kitchens of
both these hospitals are superb. No great hotel
has better outfit or management. All is scrupu-
lously clean ; the shelves and dressers are opu-
lently provided with the impedimenta of cooking.
Larders full. Steam heating throughout the
building : hot and cold water at all hours, baths
on each floor, a cheering all-day view of the
Thames, or the Channel with occasional peeps
of " somewhere " in France. A stirring breeze
when casements are wide, but a friendly, healthy
breeze, for all that. " Night air is NOT poisonous "



90 COMPARISONS NOT ALWAYS ODIOUS

— one of the mottoes on the walls of the wards.
A very hard-working staff at both these hospitals.
The Commandant at one of them commences her
long day's duty by cleaning out her own small
office, believing in the principle of never asking
anyone to do that which you won't do yourself.
And the same "fine rapture" pervades the whole
company, and is ever sustained at high- water mark.

Close upon 10,000 patients have been now
admitted to Kent's Voluntary Hospitals, and the
care of the wounded has been ever the first thought ;
all have sought to keep that idea steadily in view ;
have tried to make it All and Everything that
Matters. Sometimes one has to pull oneself up ;
selfish thoughts try to push out of the way the
Right Thought :

We are trying to help our country and those who
have fought for it and us.




T3






ho
C

'2

>



WORK OF THE DETACHMENTS



TERRITORIAL FORGE
ASSOCIATION

KENT VOLUNTARY AID DETACHMENTS

County Director :
The Right Honourable The Earl of Darn ley,
Cobham Hall, Cobham, Kent.

Chief of Staff :

Dr. J. Horatio Yolland,
53, Bromley Common.

Assistant County Directors :

Division 1. Dr. Sterry, Riverhead, Sevenoaks.


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryPaul CreswickKent's care for the wounded → online text (page 4 of 11)