14th Aug 1915. Experiences of a Rugby Red Cross Nurse

EXPERIENCES OF A RUGBY RED CROSS NURSE IN A LARGE BASE HOSPITAL.

“ SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE.”

The first intimation that I was to be sent to work abroad was received on Friday, May 7th. The telegram read: “ Wanted for France, Tuesday. Wire if available.” Having replied by a wire in the affirmative, I next day received orders to report myself by noon on Monday at Devonshire House (the headquarters of the British Red Cross Society) previous to proceeding “ somewhere in France ” on the following day.

I left Rugby early Monday morning, and arrived at Devonshire House, and found 29 other V.A.D’s assembled there, all for the same purpose. We then want to 83 Pall Mall, where Lord Onslow issued our Army certificates, brassards, identity discs and numbers ; then a visit to the War Office, where we signed many forms and documents, and received final instructions to be at Victoria Station next morning at 7.30 a.m. On arrival we had to register our luggage and have camp kit served out to us from the War Office.

A special saloon had been reserved on the Folkestone train, and thus on a glorious May day a party of 30 V.A.D’s left London for an unknown destination in charge of a military sister.

Our embarkation at Folkestone and arrival at Boulogne were full of interest. Being “ Army Medical Service,” and not mere civilians, we did not undergo a Customs examination, but were conveyed from the station by motor ambulances to a hotel, where we spent the night. We soon realised that we were in a country where war was raging. A convoy of wounded was being conveyed to a hospital ship in the harbour. Some of the men looked quite cheerful, while others bore unmistakable traces of pain and hardship.

The night was spent in Boulogne—one cannot say in peace. One’s advice to any other nurse contemplating active service is to provide oneself with a supply of Keating’s powder. Indeed, I feel sure that Keating’s Company would be pleased to supply it free of change did they know what a boon it would be !

At Boulogne our party of 30 became divided, some going one way and some another. The part to which I belonged left next morning at 7 a.m, and our destination was reached at 3.30 p.m. You can tell how quickly we had travelled when I tell you that we had only come about 60 miles. At the station we were met by one of the sisters from the hospital and two motor ambulances. Our party again became divided, six of us going to a large hotel converted into a hospital, which stands on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the sea, and the other six to a hospital under canvas.

When shown our quarters, which were large and empty, we set to work and unpacked our camp kit, putting up our chairs and bedstead. I have now learnt to sleep on my bed, which seemed very narrow at first.

Our duties began next moving. The daily programme (including Sundays) is :-Reveille at 6.30 a.m, breakfast at 7 a.m, on duty on the wards 7.30 a.m. The first duty on entering the wards is to tidy the beds and lockers ; then boil the instruments and have everything ready for the medical officer when he appeared at 9 a.m. The dressings are then begun, and these go on all the morning, the V.A.D waiting on the medical officer and sister. Some at the small dressings and fomentations are done by the V.A.D herself, but the extent of this naturally depends on the number of patients in the ward at the time. In the surgical ward where I work there are 101 beds and a staff of two sisters and myself.

When the hospital is very full dressings go on practically all day. In the evening the V.A.D has to make the beds, take the temperatures, make lemonade and beverages, wash the dressing bowls and instruments, while the sister does the dressings.

Dinner is at 8.10 p.m. and lights out at 10.30. When in a heavy ward with serious cases the mental and physical strain is considerable. Sisters out here say that the V.A.D’s have stood the sights remarkably well, and not one of them has fainted at a dressing yet !

One has not time to get tired of any particular dressing, as patients go to England immediately they are fit to stand the journey, unless the wound is slight enough for them to pass on to a convalescent camp en route for the front. It is rather disappointing not seeing the results of an interesting case, but the men are so pleased to be going to “ Blighty ” (as England is called by the Tommies) that one can but rejoice with them.

From what I have heard, on the whole the V.A.D is a success out here. There is so much in the way of cutting dressings, making gowns as well as ward work that can be done just as well by V.A.D as a trained nurse, and relieves a sister for doing the dressings and other important work that only she can do.

A V.A.D signs on for six months’ service abroad, in addition to one month on probation. This can be extended at the expiration of the time. The conditions governing her employment are the same as for the Q.A.I.M.N.S.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Lance-Corpl G S Rowbottom, younger son of Mr C H Rowbottom, of Lawford Road, Rugby, has been promoted to acting corporal. He is in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and enlisted in August last year. He has been at the front about three months, and was with the regiment during the heavy bombardment in the neighbourhood of Ypres, so has experienced a good amount of modem warfare.

Lance-Corpl W E Wiggins, of the Northants Yeomanry, son of Mr W Wiggins, of Rochbierie, Hillmorton, Road, has this week visited his home on short leave after nine months in the trenches. Lance-Corpl Wiggins, who returned to the front on Thursday, states that his regiment has been in a number of warm corners, notably, at Neuve Chapelle, but has given a good account of itself ; and, except for the engagement mentioned, has suffered very few casualties.

George College, eldest son of Mr W W College, 48 Church Street, Rugby, enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in June last, and is with the 3/2nd North Midland Brigade. As he showed great proficiency at mathematics, he was quickly promoted to be corporal, and he has now been made quartermaster-sergeant, and ranks as a warrant officer. Not bad for a recruit of three months’ standing, and he and his parents are to be congratulated on his quick promotion. He is an old Murray School boy.

During the past week a rumour—which has since been found to be baseless—to the effect that Sergt George Fiddler (son of Mr and Mrs F Fiddler, 15 Plowman Street, and brother of Rifleman H Fiddler, whose death we announced recently) had been killed, was freely circulated in the town. Sergt Fiddler, who enlisted in the 7th K.R.R early in the war, has written to his wife stating that he is in hospital suffering from a nervous breakdown, and the report doubtless arose from the fact that a number of letters and parcels had been returned.

SAPPER E R LADBROOK WOUNDED.

Sapper Ernest Roland Ladbrook, of the Royal Engineers, has written to his parents, Mr and Mrs J W Ladbrook, of 377 Clifton Road, Rugby, stating that he was wounded in the right leg and foot during a fierce bombardment on July 30th. An operation was performed on Sunday, August 1st, and the unfortunate young man is now an inmate of the General Hospital, Etaples, France, Sapper Ladbrook, who is 22 years of age, enlisted at the commencement of the war, previous to which he was employed by Messrs Willans & Robinson as a turner and fitter.

ANOTHER BILTON SOLDIER KILLED.

Mr and Mrs J Goadby, Magnet Road, Bilton, received the sad information from an officer of the King’s Royal Rifles that their son, Pte George Goadby, was killed in action on Saturday, August 7th. Pte Goadby, who was a bricklayer by trade and 24 years of age, joined Kitchener’s Army in September, and, with a number of other young men from this neighbourhood, became attached to the K.R.R’s. Much sympathy is felt in the village with Mr and Mrs Goadby and family in their loss.

He was a member of the Club, of which for a time he also acted is secretary ; also the Cricket Club and the Working-Men’s Club, and was generally respected in the village. He went out with his regiment to France a little more than three months ago, and since then he has been invalided and spent a month in hospital at the base, from which he was discharged only a short time before he met his end.

RUGBY FOOTBALLER WOUNDED.

Lance-Corpl Albert Ashworth, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, has been wounded in the knee and sent to an English hospital. His mother, who lives at 355 Clifton Road, Rugby, received a card, posted at Dover on Wednesday, in which he stated he had fine time crossing the Channel, and hoped soon to be all right. According to information supplied by a comrade, the injury was caused by the bursting of a “ Trench mortar,” part of the exploded shell striking the knee, but the relatives have not received any direct information as to the nature of the wounds. Previous to enlisting Lance-Corpl Ashworth played full back for Rugby 2nd XV.

HOME FROM THE TRENCHES.

Sergt W J Bryant, of the Rugby Infantry Company, is at his home in York Street on a few days’ leave. He left the trenches on Sunday, and arrived in Rugby on Tuesday, but has to return almost immediately. He says that the Rugby Territorials are now occupying trenches taken from the Germans by the French, and are contriving to make themselves as comfortable as possible. The men, though almost constantly under fire, are reported to be fit and well. Their trenches are in places 10ft deep, and, in addition, there are dug-outs, which have been made bomb proof, and bear evidence of much time and effort in their preparation.

A UNIQUE ADDRESS.

Mr James Renshaw, of the Black Horse Inn, Castle Street, has recently received a postcard from the front bearing a unique address. The card, which is from an Old Rugbeian, Quarter-Master-Sergeant A J Dodd, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, bears Mr Renshaw’s name, under which is drawn a black horse, followed by the word “ Inn,” and then a “ Castle ” Street ; the last line being taken up by the representation of a Rugby football, across which is written “ Rugby, Warwickshire, England.” The writer states that the address was “ drawn in the trenches under hellish shell fire,” and the ingenious and well-executed design is a remarkable illustration of the way in which the gallant lads at the front relieve the monotony of their long spells in the trenches.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

Recruiting has been somewhat slack in Rugby during the past week, and the following have been attested :—R G Webster and C W Kirtland, R.A.M.C ; H T Cross, C Berry, and A E Turner, Rifle Brigade ; F W Reynolds, Northants Regiment ; C W Davenport, Coldstream Guards.

5th Dec 1914. Local War Notes

Everything is in readiness now at 67 Albert Street for the reception of the Belgian refugees to be entertained by Holy Trinity congregation.

Arrangements are being made for the billeting of 4,000 troops in Leamington. The men have been under canvas on Salisbury Plain, and they are expected to arrive in a few days. They will remain at Leamington for two months. It is considered that the advent of such a large body of troops in a town like Leamington in the middle of the quiet winter season will do the tradespeople much good.

Colour-Sergt Winchcombe, who has been assisting in the recruiting in this district, and is training the Hinckley Home Defence Corps and other units, is thus referred to by a Hinckley journal :- “ In Colour-Sergeant P Winchcombe the corps is favoured with a man of remarkable vigour and determination, who as recruiter for Rugby has helped to obtain and pass into the army nearly 2,000 recruits, a feat which has raised Rugby to the first rank in the country. ”

WOUNDED SOLDIERS LEAVE RUGBY.

About 20 of the wounded Belgian heroes, who have been accommodated at Rugby School Sanatorium recently, left the town on Tuesday for Shipston-on-Stour, where they will remain for a time until they are completely recovered. The men went by the 1.15 train from the Great Central Station, a number of the Red Cross nurses and other friends assembling to see them off, and when the train steamed out of the station, the people on the platform gave the soldiers a hearty cheer, and a Belgian flag was waved. Mr Burdekin travelled with the soldiers, all of whom looked much better for the assiduous attention they have received at the hands of the nurses, and were loud in their expressions of gratitude for benefits and kindness received.

SOCKS FOR THE 7TH WARWICKSHIRE BATTALION.

To the Editor of the Advertiser.
SIR,—I should like to express through your paper my thanks to all those who have so kindly helped my wife in collecting socks and other comforts for the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Over 2,000 pairs of socks have already been collected and distributed among the men, and it was entirely owing to the fact that my Battalion having proper socks during the long march soon after mobilisation we had so very few men fall out.
Mrs Freer Ash is still collecting warm clothes and comforts for the men of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and will be very pleased to acknowledge any garments sent to the below address,
THOS. FREER ASH, Lieut.-Col.
“ Beaulieu,” Dyott Road, Moseley.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS FOR THE RUGBY TROOPS.

DEAR SIR,-Would any of your readers who are owners of large motor-cars be good enough to lend them for one day near Christmas to convey parcels from friends of the “E” Company and the Howitzer Battery to their camps in Essex. We think if these companies are then in England it would prove a boon to great many and ensure a quick and safe dispatch for presents. Arrangements would be made for parcels to be delivered at a central office and all despatched on a certain day. Nearly 100 Christmas puddings have already been promised us, and we shall be glad to receive any more for distribution among the Rugby Companies.-Yours faithfully,
AGATHA M WEST.
CLAUDE SEABROKE
“ Bawnmore,” Bilton, Rugby.

AN APPEAL TO THE WOMEN AND GIRLS OF RUGBY.

The men of this country are doing their duty splendidly by serving or making ready to serve, on the field of battle ; but the women and girls, who cannot go to the war have their duty to do at home. They, too, can support the empire ; they can help our sailors soldiers in the fight.

How?

(1) By working for them in their spare time. This will cost money and mean self-sacrifice ; but it is no hardship to give up something for the comfort of those who are risking everything for us.

(2) By praying for them morning and evening and when the Peace Bell rings. They need our prayers that they may be kept brave and strong and merciful, and that they may be brought safe home again.

(3) By helping them to keep straight and pure and sober.-Times of excitement and anxiety are times of temptation for all. Let the women and girls of this country make their own life so temperate, and their behaviour so modest, that our sailors and soldiers are not exposed to the risks of drink or vice, but that their last remembrance of home is associated with all that is pure and lovely and of good report.

There is a League of Honour, an association to uphold the duty and dignity of womanhood, which we hope that every woman and girl in Rugby will join. What is meant will be explained at a meeting to be held in the Co-operative Hall on Tuesday, December 8th, at 8.0 o’clock. Come if you can, and ask others to come with you.

E DAISY BLAGDEN (Mother’s Union), E HESTER DEWAR (Church League for Women’s Suffrage), MARY FRANCES FLINT (The Children of Mary), ANNIE LATHAM McCLURE (Girls’ Welcome Club and Hotel), E L MELLOR (Rugby Women’s Adult School), MARGARET J MERTTENS (Rugby Sisterhood), MIRIAM S SPORBORG (B.T.H Girls’ Club), MAUDE M THOMPSON (Girls’ Friendly Society).

November 30th, 1914.

MORE RECRUITS FROM RUGBY POST OFFICE STAFF.

J T Healey, a member of the Rugby P.O staff, who volunteered some time since for telegraph work with the Royal Engineers, was sent for last week and has now joined the colours.

A College, an ex-soldier, who has been employed as a postman in Rugby for several years, has again enlisted in the army.

F Burton, who was temporarily employed as a relief clerk at Rugby, and has since returned to his home at Market Harborough, has now, it is understood, joined one of the signalling units in the Royal Engineers.

ANOTHER FOOTBALLER JOINS THE COLOURS.

An appeal having been made to school teachers to enlist as drill instructors, Mr Joe Greenwood, of Eastlands Council School, son of the late Mr W Greenwood of Newbold, has offered his services and been accepted. He has left Rugby this week for the headquarters of the 7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which he has joined. Mr Greenwood has been at Eastlands School rather more than a year, and his colleagues on the staff, whilst appreciating patriotism, are sorry, to have had to say “ good-bye ” to him for the time being. As all followers of Rugby football in the town are aware, Mr Joe Greenwood at one time assisted the Newbold F.C in the back division, and in more recent seasons has played as stand-off half for Rugby Çlub.

LOCAL MEN LOST ON THE BULWARK.

There were several local navy men on the Bulwark, which was blown up in Sheerness Harbour last week, and   as a result of which nearly 800 lives were lost.

One of them, Seaman Gunner W H Pearce, second son of Mr W H Pearce, London Road, Dunchurch, joined the navy eleven years last January. He served first on the Sutlege and then the Prince of Wales, and has received two medals—one for participation in the operations in Somaliland and the other for services rendered when his ship went to the rescue of people who suffered in the great earthquake at Messina. He had been on the Bulwark about two yeas, and in his last letter to his parents he expressed the hope that the war would be over soon and that he would be home to eat his Christmas dinner with them.

Another victim was Mr Frank Sidney Edmans, eldest son of Mr W Edmans, polisher, of 82 Lawford Road, New Bilton. The unfortunate young fellow, who was only 21 years of age, was a stoker, and had only been in the navy two years, the whole of which time had been spent on the Bulwark. Before leaving Rugby, he was employed at the B.T.H Works, and was well-known and very popular in the parish. Much sympathy is felt with the family, who received the official announcement from the Admiralty on Sunday morning. On Sunday evening special reference to the sad event was made at St Oswald’s Church. In Monday’s issue of the ” Daily Sketch” appears an excellent photo of Stoker Edmans, together with the other stokers of the ship.