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.

Fiddler, Harry. Died 21st Jul 1915

Harry Fiddler was the son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Fiddler born in 1887 at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. On the 1891 and 1901 he was living with his parents, 3 brothers and 2 sisters in Garston, Lancashire. In 1911 he worked in the Machine Shop at the B.T.H. and lived at 15 Plowman Street, Rugby.

Fiddler

 

He was attested on 1 September 1914 aged 28 years 1 month, number R87, a Rifleman in the 7th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles. He was 5ft 6½in tall with a dark complexion. His eyes were grey and his hair dark He embarked on 18 May 1915 and landed at Boulogne. The regiment took part in various actions including Hooge and Harry was killed by the bursting of a shell on the night of 20/21 July 1915.

The 1914/15 Star, Victory Medal, British War Medal and his Princess Mary Gift box (which was awarded to every soldier serving on 24 December 1914) were sent to his father.

As well as the Rugby Memorial Gates, he is listed on the B.T.H. Memorial.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

26th Jun 1915. Warwickshire Yeomanry in Egypt

WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY.

EXPERIENCES IN EGYPT.

A member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry in Egypt writes :-“ Since I last wrote to you the Wayfarer party has arrived. They got into dock on May 15th, and came up to our camp the next day. They all look very well and fit and their adventures don’t appear to have injured their health in any way. They must have had an exiting time ! They say the sea was terribly rough at the time, and they also had it very rough on the journey here. The day after they arrived they were inspected by the Brigadier, who complimented them on the way they had behaved and the manner in which they had looked after the horses. I believe there were very few horses died indeed in spite of the fact that many of them were up to their bellies in water for 24 hours. We are still encamped in the same place, down by the sea, and much enjoy our bathes every morning. We need to bathe frequently here for it is nothing but dust everywhere, and it gets in one’s hair and works through one’s clothes. The flies also are a great nuisance, but as we cannot get rid of them we have to put up with them. We have had Australian horses given us now, as those that were on the Wayfarer are not coming out ; many of them are rather green and in poor condition at present, but I think when they have picked up a bit we shall be quite as well mounted as we were before. As we have only just got our saddles we haven’t had much chance to ride them yet, except bareback, which we have been doing every morning. The Public Gardens here are very beautiful, and of course more interesting to us because the majority of the flowers and trees are strange. In one of them a little stream runs through with hundreds of gold fish in. I saw rather an amusing incident in one of the gardens last Sunday night. About a dozen soldiers were sitting on a bank singing hymns (this, I may say, is not altogether a frequent sight), and they were singing very well such hymns as “ Onward, Christian Soldiers ” and “ Rock of Ages.” They had an admiring circle of natives of all ages and both sexes. Presently along one of the paths appeared about a dozen natives of the class which in England we describe as “ Nuts,” marching in half sections and each one playing a guitar or similar musical instrument. When they reached the “ choir ” party they halted and turning to the soldiers solemnly played the chorus of “ Tipperary ” through twice, then with many bows and good nights passed on. By the way, we have heard “ Tipperary ” played and sung more times since we left England than we should have done in twelve months at home. Once we had it played for our benefit by the band on a French battleship and we responded by singing, or trying to, their National Anthem.

Another Yeoman says :—Our daily programme is something like this : Reveille 5 a.m, roll call 5.15 a.m, feed horses, get a cup of tea, and saddle up for exercise by 6 a.m. We go out for exercise every morning, riding one horse and leading two others, returns from exercise at 8 a.m, water and feed, and have our breakfast ; nine o’clock, stables, clean horses and saddlery until 12.30 ; dinner, or rather lunch, for we have a very light meal in the middle of the day, either bread and cheese or bread and butter, with tea to drink. At 1.30 p.m we water the horses again, and afterwards got our saddlery ready for inspection at 3 p.m. From 4 p.m to 5 p.m we have evening stables ; dinner—boiled beef, potatoes, and boiled rice—at 5 p.m. As a general rule, after this we are free until bedtime, 8.45 p.m-except, of course, those who are on guard.

RUGBY TROOPER WOUNDED IN THE DARDANELLES.

News was received in Rugby on Thursday that Trooper Geoffery Hardwick Dodson, youngest son of Armourer Staff-Sergt F H Dodson, of St Matthew’s Street, has been wounded in the Dardanelles. Trooper Dodson went out to Australia four years ago, and obtained an appointment in the Civil Service. When war broke out he joined the 10th Light Horse, and went with the Australian Contingent to the Dardanelles. Armourer Staff-Sergeant Dodson is now serving with the forces in France.

LOCAL WAR CASUALTIES.

The death has taken place in the Military Hospital at Tidworth of Private A Jones, of the 6th Leicester Regiment. The deceased was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs George Jones, of Lorne Villas, Knox Road, Wellingborough, and he joined the Army soon after the outbreak of war, and made himself useful and indispensable as hairdresser and chiropodist to the battalion. He was 29 years of age. and leaves one child. Death followed an operation for appendicitis. He left Wellingborough for New Bilton about six years ago, where he had a business of his own. The remains were taken to Wellingborough for the funeral.

Rifleman L J Newton, of C Company, 7th (Service) Battalion K.R.R. has been killed in action. He was at the time of enlistment in the employ of Messrs Frost & Sons, Printers, Warwick Street, and in the June number of the journal entitled “With the Colours,” which is being published the firm in the interests of, and for the encouragement of their employees who have joined the Colours, we find the following reference :-“We record with deep regret the death of L J Newton, who was killed in action by shrapnel on June 17, 1915. Newton came to us as a compositor in February, 1914, and joined the King’s Royal Rifles in the first month of the war. He was a careful and accurate workman, a fine specimen of manhood, and held in high esteem by all. He joined the Army at a time when recruits could not be accommodated nor fed properly, yet he never grumbled, being ever-ready to bear patiently and sacrifice self to the exigencies of State. His O.C writes to his father : ” I am very sorry to have to tell you that your son, Rifleman Newton was killed suddenly to-day by shrapnel. He was at work unloading a wagon when a shrapnel burst and hit him straight through the heart ; he died immediately – absolutely no pain. I can assure you he is a great loss to my platoon, and he was one of those of whom I was most fond, being an excellent soldier and an all-round good fellow. I’m sure it will be a consolation to you later on – if not now—to know that he was killed in action doing his bit for King and Country.’ Redfearn, who was conversing with him not more than an hour before he was struck down, writes : ‘ We buried him here near the trenches, and put a small cross and a few flowers on his grave.’”

WOUNDED TERRITORIALS.

In the lists published on Wednesday the following were returned as wounded :—

TH BATT ROYAL WARWICKHIRE REGIMENT (T.FF).-Allsopp, 1942,. Pte H ; Arnold, 2412, Pte G ;Clowes, 1402, Lce-Corpl R ; Eaton, 1933, Pte L G ; Gallemore, 1456, Pte W ; Goodhall, 3414, Pte A W ; Gorrell, 1703, Pte W H ; Hazlewood, 3355, Pte W ; Rogers, 2252, Pte H.

Lance-Corpl Clowes has since been reported as having died of his wounds. He was an apprentice in the L. & N.-W. Erecting Shops at Rugby, and went out with the “ E ” Company of the 7th Warwickshire Territorials.

NEWBOLD-ON-AVON.

MR G GRANT has received a communication from his son Ernest that he has been wounded slightly in the forearm, so that of his three sons serving at the front one (Harry) is missing, and the other two, Ernest and Alfred, are both wounded.

FOOTBALL AT THE FRONT.

A member of the Rugby Howitzer Battery writes :-“ A team was chosen from our Battery to play the 5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment during their rest from the trenches. The Battery won by one goal to nil. It was a very hard game, and you can imagine how every man in the Battery team must have played, as we have only so few men to choose from as compared with a battalion. Spicer at back and Goode in goal played especially well, whilst Major Nickalls was also very safe. The evening was very warm, and rain had been falling pretty heavily in the morning, so that the conditions were not the best : but the game was played at a good pace all through, and was thoroughly enjoyed by the good crowd of supporters from both the Battery and the Battalion. The Germans were dropping their ‘ Little Willies,’ &c, at a respectable but visible distance, but this certainly did not disturb anyone. Gunner Ashir scored the only goal of the match half-way through the first half. Battery Team : Gunner Goode, goal ; Gunner Spicer and Major Nickalls, backs ; Gunner Fanriston, Corpl Watson, and Gunner Redmayne, half-backs ; Sadd, Yarwood, Sergt Sadd, Dosher, Gunner Taylor, Gunner Ashir, and Gunner Cumbirland, forwards.

A SCENE OF DESOLATION.

Sergt G Fiddler, of the K.R.R, 36 Winfield Street, Rugby, writes home to his wife :—We are having a rest for a few days about three miles from the firing line. We came out of the trenches on Saturday. We had only been out about twenty minutes when the trenches were bombarded and blown to smithereens, so we had a bit of luck that time. Last Thursday we took four trenches and found a young German, about 16 years, chained to a machine gun, so that he should not run away, and to make him keep on firing. We took about 142 prisoners, and in the attack, when they tried to recover their lost trenches they had terrible losses. The place where we are is just on the left of a town. There is not a civilian to be seen—only soldiers. It is a mass of ruin. I went to have a look while we were in reserve. It was awful-everywhere you looked, ruin. I had a few strawberries and new potatoes out of one of the gardens, and I cooked them in the trenches.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

Recruiting has again been somewhat slack at Rugby during the past week, although, perhaps, this is only to be expected when it is remembered that no less than 2,450 have been enlisted since the outbreak of the war at the Park Road Drill Hall. Those attested this week were:—E E Bromwich and C Rabin, A.S.C (H Transport): F E E Clarke, Leicestershire Regiment ; R W Lucas, 220th Rugby Fortress Company, R.E ; E Dunkley, Gloucester Bantams ; H C Cummins, Royal Berks Regiment ; G Lines, R.W.R : W H Barber, Border Regiment ; W Edwards and W Smith, Rifle Brigade.

LOCAL POLICEMEN TO ENLIST.

Seven members of the Rugby Police Force have availed themselves of the opportunity to enlist, which has been presented by the authorities. P.C Morrey has already joined the colours, and P.C’s Rose, Richards, J G Fairbrother, and Cresswell go to-day (Saturday). P.C’s F Townsend and Chipman are also leaving shortly to join.

PRISONERS IN GERMANY.

DEAR SIR,—I received the following postcard from Pte Branagan this morning, and I should like all those who have so kindly and generously sent me gifts for our prisoners in Germany to know that the parcels are being received safely and in good condition.—Yours very faithfully,

E DAISY BLAGDEN

[Copy]

DEAR MRS BLAGDEN, – Heartiest thanks for your valuable parcel, received June 5th in splendid condition. As our correspondence is limited, I cannot promise to write in answer to every parcel you send, but, T can assure you that they will arrive safely, and J might mention that you cannot send anything letter for myself and fellow prisoners. Dear Mrs Blagden, I am sure it is very kind and thoughtful of you to send the parcels. Again offering very best thanks to the I friends in Rugby,—I remain, yours obediently,!

J BRANAGAN.

THANKS FOR CRICKET BALLS.

DEAR SIR,—May I crave further space in your columns to thank the friends at Rugby who have so kindly sent cricket balls to this hospital ?

Several have been received during the past few days, and it would gladden the donors’ hearts if they could see the enjoyment derived from their gifts.—Yours sincerely,

A J G HANDS (Pte), H.A C.

Cedar Lawn Hospital, North End Road, Hampstead, June 18th.

ORGANISATION OF MUNITION WORKERS AT RUGBY.

Rugby, being one of the important Midland centres for engineering, the local Labour Exchange in Castle Street was opened on Thursday evening for the purpose of enrolling the names of munition workers. The number of applications, however, was comparatively small, but this was not unexpected, as both the large engineering works in the town are already fully occupied with Government work. Many of the men from among the staff and officers have volunteered to fill in the week-ends in this work, and others with mechanical knowledge are also being employed. The Bureau is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 6 p.m to 9 p.m ; Saturdays, 4 p.m to 6 p.m ; and Sundays, 3 p.m to 6 p.m ; and any men qualified to take up work in connection with the manufacture of munitions should immediately enrol themselves at the Bureau ; but it should be noted that men already engaged on Government work cannot be enrolled. Posters calling attention to the Bureau can be obtained from the Labour Exchange.

RUGBY SCHOOL BOYS HELP THE FARMERS.

In our last issue we referred to an intimation given by the Rev Dr David (headmaster) that members of Rugby School would be willing to assist farmers in the hay-fields and in other farm work, such as cleaning and thinning crops. We understand that a number of applications have been received through Messrs Tait. Sons, & Pallant, and Messrs Howkins & Sons, and that squads of five and upwards, each in charge of a N.C.O, are being sent out. The boys are chiefly members of the O.T.C. They are suitably dressed for the duties undertaken, and take with them on their bicycles hoes, spuds, and other necessary tools. They are helping not merely in the hay-fields, but in spudding thistles and cleaning farm crops generally. Reports to hand indicate that they are doing the work satisfactorily, and comply readily with the instruction given, so that the experiments promises to prove successful from all points of view.