“The War Office had not even the common courtesy to say thank you”

The Superintendent at Broadmoor felt unappreciated for his organisation’s contribution to the care of insane PoWs. This complaint elicited a hasty letter of gratitude on 16 November.

3rd November 1919

Dear Major Wells

With regard to the enclosed I don’t know exactly what manner of report may be required, but I have neither the time nor inclination to go further in the matter.

In 1916 I undertook to relieve Netley Hospital of the care & treatment of their German Insane Patients, a job that was not at all congenial & which apparently nobody else would look at.

Later on the War Office, without consulting me on the subject, by telegram gave orders that I should undertake the duty & responsibility of repatriating the German Insane via Boston, not only from this Hospital but from others, the patients being sent on here for review and dispersal. I made no demur but carried on all this extra gratuitous work in addition to my own heavy civil duties which had to be performed with all my very able-bodied staff on active service.

Result, I am gazetted out of the army without remark & the War Office had not even the common courtesy to say thank you.

Under the circumstances I feel I am under no obligation whatever to render further gratuitous service to the War Office, altho’ the material might be forthcoming.

These remarks refer entirely to the War Office; the DMS Staff at Aldershot were always kindly, helpful & courteous, & Major General Browne was complimentary in acknowledgement of the work performed.

Yours faithfully

[Dr Baker
file copy not signed.]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Delay dealing with shell shock case

George Dubock had been discharged by the army due to his severe shell shock.

26 June 1918

George J. Dubock

This man having been interviewed by the Board it was resolved that he be now discharged from the Institution. The Clerk was instructed to write Mrs Hawker, Secretary of the Newbury Sub Committee, Berks War Pensions &c committee, enquiring the reason of the delay in dealing with this case and on what authority he was said to be insane.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 75)

“Not bad enough for an asylum but should go to some special hospital for shell shock patients”

A west Berkshire man was suffering from severe shell shock.

14 June 1918

G. J. Dubock

The Clerk, was instructed to reply to the Secretaries, Naval & Military War Pensions Committee, Reading, that this ex-soldier patient is not bad enough for an asylum but should go to some special hospital for shell shock patients and that the Board trust he may be removed soon and are indignant at the delay in the case.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, p. 71)

The mental stress of war is worse for the “feeble and aged”

The war also affected the county lunatic asylum, with an unexpected imbalance in new admissions.

During the year [ending 31 March 1917] there were admitted 66 males, 72 females, total 138…

There has been an exceptional decrease in the admissions as compared with recent years, amongst whom were an unusually large number whose mental condition was associated with old age. This would indicate that the stress of war has had but little appreciable effect upon the virile members of the community, due primarily to the conditions arising from a plentitude of work with high wages, whilst on the feeble and aged the stress has reacted with telling results….

There has been a greatly increased strain placed on the Officers and subordinate staff as a result of the great depletion owing to the great war. The weekly and annual leave of the Attendants has been much curtailed, as also has been the weekly leave of the Nurses. A monetary allowance has been made in lieu of the leave lost….

Report to BCC of the Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, 31 March 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Missing Red Cross parcels

Dr Baker, Medical Superintendent at Broadmoor, now also operating as the Crowthorne War Hospital for mentally ill German PoWs, wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Whitestone to report on the overcrowding he was experiencing:

Crowthorne War Hospital
Berks

15th Janry 1917
Sir,

… I have now to report that there are 26 patients in the Hospital. In addition I have accepted another from Jersey. The ward will be inconveniently crowded and in the interests both of discipline and treatment I would strongly recommend the opening of the second ward. I trust that this recommendation will meet with approval and that sanction will be obtained for the provision of extra Orderlies.

Owing to the conditions above described I have today felt compelled to decline for the present another insane prisoner of War from Jersey.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,

Your obedient servant
[File copy not signed]

Dr Baker also received a letter relating to parcels sent to the prisoners which had gone astray somewhere:

Prisoners of War Relief Agency
20, Queen’s Gate Terrace
London, SW

January 15th, 1917

[to] The Commanding Officer
Crowthorne War Hospital
Berks

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much indeed for your kind letter of the 14th inst. in the meantime P/W Bergmann had also informed me of the safe arrival of parcel No. 6724, and I trust that the missing 10 parcels from the German Red Cross have also reached you by now.

I shall be only too pleased to support any request you sanction and help wherever help is required.

With renewed thanks for your kind assistance.

K E Markel


Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

17 insane German Prisoners of war admitted to Broadmoor

The first group of mentally ill German PoWs arrived at Broadmoor for specialist care.

11th December 1916

Sir,

I have the honour to report that seventeen insane German Prisoners of War were admitted today from Netley Hospital.

They are located in No. 1 Block of the Asylum. This Block has been set apart for their accommodation and a separate entrance form the main road has been made.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,

Your obedient servant
[File copy not signed]
Superintendent

[to]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office

Letter from Dr Baker, Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Netley is pressing for the removal of the insane German soldiers

The use of Broadmoor for insane PoWs (currently all at Netley Hospital in Southampton) was inching ever closer. Broadmoor’s Superintendent, Dr James Baker, wrote:

5th November 1916
Dear Simpson

Youn may wish to know that Colonel Aldren Turner called here last week at the instance of the War Office who are apparently waking up. I am under the impression Netley is pressing for the removal of the insane German soldiers. He was very satisfied with the accommodation. I told him it was too good for the purpose. I informed him all I required was a week’s notice to make a new entrance from the main road. I do not care to pull the wall about until things are definitely settled. I received a letter from him yesterday saying he had presented his report, that the question of orderlies was being put in hand, that Foulerton and I would probably get an outfit allowance of £20 (the usual allowance is £30) but as they have apparently conceded the principle, we shall not quarrel about the amount, which should suffice.

He added in his letter that he had meant to discuss the question of the reception of insane German Officers, but he had forgotten to mention it to me. This will be rather a difficult matter as one does not know whether it will entail extra expense and further financial negotiations. However if the matter comes up and you agree, I think I had better see the War Office people about it. Of course I told Colonel Turner we could not move here until Treasury sanction was obtained.

Yours very truly
[signature missing from file copy]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

“I don’t see why there should be any class distinction between officers and men”

There had been concerns that Broadmoor could not provide separate accommodation for officers and other ranks, as was the custom in prisoner of war camps. The doctors didn’t see the problem, seeing the men all as patients in need of their care.

I don’t see why there should be any class distinction between officers and men any more than in other asylums – but it is for WO to decide this….

HBS 19.9.16

Letter from H B Simpson, to Dr Baker, Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Safety knives for insane PoWs

Dr John Baker, Medical Superintendent of Broadmoor, had some concerns about aspects of the use of the hospital for insane PoWs.

Broadmoor C L Asylum
13th Septr 1916
Dear Simpson

I am enclosing a memo with reference to various points in connection with the proposed new Military Hospital, which I would be glad to get cleared up before the next meeting of the Council of Supervision, which takes place on Thursday the 21st inst….
Yours very truly
John Baker

Crowthorne Military Hospital

NAME. The most appropriate name would be “The Crowthorne Military Hospital”. There is a local voluntary hospital in the vicinity called the Heatherside Military Hospital, Wellington College.

BEDS, BEDDING, CLOTHING, FURNITURE, FUEL & LIGHT. We can supply all that is required, but the crockery is stamped “Broadmoor Asylum” and the cutlery is stamped “Broadmoor” or “BCLA”. If objection is taken to the use of these, perhaps they could be supplied from Army Stores. I would prefer to use the Asylum cutlery marked BCLA because, for the use of dangerous or suicidal patients, we have a special safety knife and fork…

If both officers and men are included amongst the patients, I would point out that it will be difficult to separate them without opening another ward, which means a larger staff, and there is only one airing court available.

JB

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

A Military Hospital for mentally-affected German prisoners

There was more on the idea of using Broadmoor for insane PoWs.

2 September 1916
The Board of Control
66 Victoria Street, SW

My dear Simpson

With reference to the memorandum which I left with you on Thursday evening respecting the proposed use of a wing of Bmoor as a Military Hospital for mentally-affected German prisoners, it occurs to me that the Council of Supervision may think we are not showing them proper consultation if we allow the project to approach final settlement without consulting them officially. If you agree I would suggest that a communications should go to them from the Home Office. The War Office will probably approach you soon on the question of the financial and administrative arrangements to be made for running the Block as a Military Hospital: we have told them that the Home Office is the supreme authority over Bmoor….

As you know the Visiting Committee of County and Borough Asylums which have become War Hospitals continue to carry on the general work of administration of their Institutions under the supervision of Dr Marriott Cooke & Dr Bond. These Commissioners would of course be willing, if asked, to render any services desired of them in connection with Broadmoor.

Yours sincerely
W P Byrne

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Accommodation for insane German prisoners of War

Some prisoners of war were mentally unwell. It was suggested that perhaps they could be housed at Broadmoor.

Report of a visit by Dr Bond on 14th August 1916 to Broadmoor Asylum with the object of judging whether certain vacant accommodation is suitable for the use of insane German prisoners of War.

Under a provisional arrangement made between Sir William Byrne and Sir Edward Troup, & at the request of the Director General of the Army Medical Service, I, on the 14th inst, paid a visit to Broadmoor Asylum, where I called upon Dr John Baker & inspected a disused block of the Institution.

The block in question has been unoccupied for the last 2 years, but, generally speaking, is in good condition & available for immediate use…

While situated within the boundary wall of the Institution, it can nevertheless easily be provided with a separate entrance from the road by making a doorway in the wall at the spot marked D on the plan [not in the file].

DESCRIPTION OF THE BLOCK.

The block comprises 3 storeys. On the ground floor are 16 single rooms for patients, 2 attendants’ rooms, a scullery, bath-room, and a small sanitary spur. All these rooms are repeated on the first and second floors; but on each of these 2 floors are 2 day rooms… Each floor is provided with an alternative exit in case of fire.

There is thus accommodation in the block for 48 patients…

OBSCURING OF WINDOWS.

The window panes in the lower sashes of windows in the corridors and day rooms would have to be obscured if it is desired to prevent the inmates of the block from seeing the patients in other divisions….

Dr Baker is very short of attendants for the wards & would be quite unable to find staff for the block, but thinks he would be able to loan 2 experienced & trained men, one to act as charge attendant & the other to act as deputy charge attendant of the block, provided 2 inexperienced men were given him in lieu. It would thus be necessary for the War Office to supply whatever number of orderlies is required.

SUGGESTED NAME OF PROPOSED HOSPITAL.

It is suggested that if the block in question be handed over to the War Office the name & address of the new hospital should be either: Crowthorne Military Hospital, Crowthorne, Berks, or in the event of “Crowthorne” being already the name of a local hospital used for sick & wounded soldiers, Owlsmoor Military Hospital, Crowthorne, Berks….

SUGGESTIONS RELATING TO THE STAFF THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED

That Dr Baker & Dr Foulerton each receive a commission in the RAMC.

That two or three of the present more experienced attendants should be made non-commissioned officers & given the responsible positions in the block; & that orderlies to the necessary number be supplied by the War Office….

C Hubert Bond
Commissioner of the Board of Control

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)