“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)

Delightful excursions for the wounded

People gave according to their means – whether that was lending a luxury yacht or giving handcraft skills.

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray’s Yacht “Cecilia”

The kindness shown by Sir Wyndham and Lady Murray towards our sick and wounded soldiers is perhaps not so well known as it ought to be. This is the fourth year in succession in which he has devoted his beautiful little vessel during the whole summer to the service of Netley Red Cross Hospital. She is a steam yacht of 200 tons, on the roll of the Royal Yacht Squadron, of which Sir Wyndham is a member. And daily, weather permitting, she has taken parties of patients, medical officers, or sisters, for trips on the Solent, from Southampton Water to Ryde, Cowes, &c. except in the matter of coal, which the Admiralty have supplied, the whole upkeep of the yacht and crew is borne by the generous owner: and no one enjoys the outings more than he and Lady Murray when they find themselves able to be present in person for a few days on board. The Cecilia has carried about 1,000 passengers each summer, and the Hospital authorities have often expressed their appreciation of the benefits conferred upon all who have taken part in these delightful excursions.

The boys attending the handicraft centre at Mrs Bland’s School, under Mr Stavely Bulford’s tuition, have made no less than 2,500 splints and surgical appliances between February, 1916, and August, 1918, besides other work. The demand for wooden appliances is diminishing, owing to introduction of other material, but the young workmen need have no doubt that their labour has not been in vain. Mr Bulford is resigning his appointment as Instructor under the Education Committee, as he wishes to take up honorary work in connection with the War Hospital Supplies Depot. We shall all be sorry to lose him.

Blackberries

School collections sent in: C of E School, 5 cwt, 17 ½ lbs; Mrs Bland’s, 2 cwt, 3 qr 14 lbs.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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)

A spy in the bedroom?

Bisham Abbey experienced its own brief spy alarm, thanks to Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale. This was a rare light hearted moment, on the day the first contingent of wounded soldiers arrived for nursing, transferred from larger military hospitals elsewhere such as Netley in Southampton.

31 August 1914
Bubs terror, thought German spy in outer bedroom. Proved to be funny.

Wounded arrived. Some [from] Netley, London, Cambridge.

Recruits still wanted. Kitchener’s 2nd army 100,000. Ken to return as 2nd Lieutenant to his old regiment at Wrexham.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)