Important changes at the Hospital after an interesting but difficult year

The war’s end meant changes for Newbury District Hospital.

Newbury District Hospital : The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report and Balance Sheet for 1918

For the year ending December 31st, 1918:

There have been important changes at the Hospital during the past year, and in many respects, the period under review has been an interesting but difficult one.

Miss Atkins, whose services as Matron are well known to the Subscribers, left in August last to be married. Having regard to her long arduous and successful work in the Hospital the Committee took upon themselves to present her, on behalf of the Subscribers, with a sum of £25 on leaving. The Subscribers are asked to ratify this grant.

Sister Biddle also left in August to take up another engagement. Miss Atkins was replaced, as Matron, by Miss Phoebe Jones, whose testimonials were of a very high character. She entered on her duties at a time when the work was very heavy, and as the Nursing Staff, for some time afterwards, was very inadequate, the Committee recognise that her position was a difficult one. Every effort was made to replace Sister Biddle, and to put the Staff on a satisfactory footing in other respects, but it was not until October that the situation was somewhat relieved by the engagement of Sister White.

Shortly afterwards the outbreak of Influenza put a further strain on the Hospital, as a large number of cases of pneumonia were received. Practically all the Probationers were laid up by Influenza, and to add to the difficulties the Matron herself was attacked, and after being laid up in the Hospital for some time was obliged to go away to recruit.

During her absence Sister White was in charge and proved herself efficient, but it became obvious that the Staff was over worked, and must be strengthened as soon as the general scarcity of Nurses would allow it.

On the advice of the Matron the Committee, late in the year, authorised advertisements for a third Sister, and some other additions to, and alterations in, the Nursing Staff. As it was not possible to make this addition immediately it became necessary to relieve the Staff by closing one of the Annexes, and reducing the number of Soldiers in the Hospital for some weeks. Throughout this period the domestic Staff was, as it still is, a source of anxiety, it being necessary to depend to a great extent on temporary assistance.

It will be seen from the statistics annexed that notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of Patients were treated in the Hospital during the year. As compared with 1917 Civilian Patients increased by 104 and Soldier Patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to cope with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance.

Since the retirement of Dr. Heywood, Dr. Kennedy has been responsible for Soldier Patients, Dr. Adams giving his assistance as regards surgical matters when required.

The Rev. W. S. Edgell undertook the duties of Hon. Secretary on the retirement of Mr. Savill in April.

The Committee has again to acknowledge the general interest in the Hospital evidence by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the year. The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot has again furnished many requisites, and Miss Wasey again organised a successful Pound Day and also presented fittings for the Anaesthetic room. Mrs. Wombwell, Mrs. Rooke and Menstone House School made very liberal donations for the entertainment of the Soldiers at Christmas. Mr. Wombwell, Mr. R. Beynon, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Cotterell, Mr. Johnson and others shewed their interest by gifts and in other ways.

Hearty thanks are due to all the members of the Medical Staff, upon whose time the Hospital has made large demands.

The Committee also desire to thank Mrs. Sharwood-Smith, the Commandant, and the Officers and ladies of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment, who have done very valuable work.

Miss Cecile Boldero, the Assistant Commandant (latterly Commandant) was most helpful in the difficulty caused by the deficiency in the regular Nursing Staff.

Miss Salway has again given massage and special treatment to Soldiers, for which the Committee are most grateful, and thanks are due to Mr. Alleyne for taking charge of the recreation room.

Thanks are also due to the former and present Matrons, and the Sisters, and Nurses, for their services during a very strenuous year. In addition to their heavy nursing duties they have had to meet difficulties in catering, and the want of a permanent and sufficient domestic Staff. The economic results of their efforts are best shewn by the Statistics annexed as to cost per occupied bed, and cost of food per head. Having regard to the great rise in prices the Committee think these figures very satisfactory.

During the past year, and in fact during the war, few repairs and renewals could be done owing to the pressure of work, and a thorough overhauling of the Hospital is required now that the soldiers have gone. A considerable expense will be involved. A sub-committee has been appointed to report on the necessary repairs and renewals and on certain structural alterations. The most pressing work upstairs has been done, but the sub-committee has not finally reported. An important matter to be considered is central heating, and some other mode of heating the passages, etc. this is most desirable, and perhaps necessary, but the expense would be very large. The question of the disposal of the temporary Annexes is under consideration: one of them is now clearly unnecessary, and it is doubtful whether either of them should be retained.

In this connection it may be mentioned that when the soldiers left, the Chairman received from the Southern Command, Salisbury, a cordial letter thanking the subscribers and the committee for the generous provision made for soldiers during the war, and the care bestowed on them.

W. Walton, Chairman

W. S. Edgell, Hon. Sec.

Newbury District Hospital annual report (D/H4/4/1)

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“Much abuse of the manpower of the nation”

The Dodeka Club discussed government inefficiency in putting people’s skills to the best use.

The 283rd meeting of the Dodeka was held at Baynes’ on April 13th 1917.

Much interest was shown in the early part of the evening in Morris’s recent experiences with burglars, the full account of which was heard by many for the first time.

After refreshments the host called on Morris for the paper.

Morris, after explaining that he had been unable to prepare a paper suggested as material for discussion, the two topics had been prominently before the public during recent weeks, namely “Man Power” and “National Service”. The secretary, after some thought, concluded that the best title for Morris’s remarks would be (with apologies to Dickens), “The Art of Circumlocution, or How not to do it”.

Many instances were given of Navy business methods. Orders being sent for confirmation from Reading to Winchester, Winchester to Salisbury, Salisbury to the War Office, and being received back via the same route, thus wasting much valuable time. Instances were given of skilled mechanics being put to road making and men off the land being put to the work of mechanics, such as painting, etc. it was concluded that there was much abuse of the manpower of the nation, and that the War Office had no direct methods of dealing with any business.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

A foreign accent betrays escaped German prisoners

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the police in Berkshire heard of an exciting incident involving escaped PoWs in Old Windsor. Meanwhile, single policemen were continuing to join the armed forces, while women and the retired were filling civilian jobs.

6 January 1917

The Finance Sub-committee report that at about midnight on 7 December, 1916, PC 177, George Crook, was on duty at Old Windsor when he met two men who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and, as they spoke with a foreign accent, the Constable telephoned to Superintendent Jannaway at Clewer, who instructed him to detain them and convey them to Clewer Police Station, where it was eventually discovered that they had escaped from the German Officers’ Internment Camp at Holyport that same night. As an appreciation of PC Crook’s prompt action and judgment in the matter, he has been advanced in grade of pay (2d per day) nearly three months earlier than he otherwise would have been.

Police joining the Army

The Chief Constable has written to Lieut-General Sclater, Commanding the Southern District, Salisbury, giving him the number of Constables under the age of 30 years serving in the Force, and a list of those now serving in HM Army, with a view to the possible release of such as can be replaced by men of the Berkshire Police whom it is advisable to release from further military duty, but who are fit for Police duties. (more…)

“Sickened by this uncalled for impertinence of President Wilson”

Percy Spencer spent part of his leave with his parents in Cookham, then headed for his sister’s house in Cambridge. Brother in law John Maxwell Image had some more to say about the political scene – he was very unimpressed by US President Wilson!

24 Dec. [1916]

Florence specially bids me join her good wishes with mine to Mrs Smith and you, we can’t at this juncture say for a Merry Xmas, but our heartfelt good wishes that you may have a Good and Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

She got back here on Thursday [from Cookham]: and is at this moment in bed with a rancorous cold which she brought back from her voyaging, together with her brother. Poor fellow, he had to leave the very next morning (and is back at the Front by now): but he longed to see me, just once again. He is one of those fine fellows whom you feel you can trust through thick and thin. Florence showed me a thing he values far above medals – an autograph appraisement of him by the General. It is scribbled in pencil, but I never read stronger and I may say more affectionate words of the way he is looked up to and regarded by the entire Staff of the Brigade; and (it would have been tame without that) of his coolness under fire and his courage. Prizing it as he did, he would not take it back, but left it for safety – not with his parents, but with Florence. It is touching to note how the brothers, one and all, turn to her for everything.

I have never felt more bewildered – more sickened – than by this uncalled for impertinence of President Wilson. Does he dare to pretend that, in his view, the desire of each side is “virtually the same”, to secure the “rights and privileges of weak peoples and small states”?!!!

To quote the Observer, he would “present Germany with a gratuitous certificate of moral equality. Take the Hun out of quarantine and provide him with a clean bill of health”.

The Right Answer is the answer of Jehu.

Let Mr Wilson ponder what will be the lot of America, should Germany establish the world-empire she is striving for.

Nevertheless, ever since Agadir in 1911, I have placed full trust in Lloyd George as a fighting chief – once he could shake clear from “Wait and See”. He has done that now. He is practically a Dictator. It may not be pleasant for the home-folk, but it is the winning card. Once more is true the claim, “I know I can save this people, and that nobody else can”. It is Lloyd George or nothing.

Carson, no doubt, might: but he is older: and would he have received such unanimous acceptance?

How will the worn out Balfour manage at the FO? He was so singularly gauche in his announcements from the Admiralty that I am of those who see, in his appointment and that of Lord Robert Cecil, a sop to the Salisbury influence. He resembles Grey in being a gentleman. In other things I hope he will be clearer and keensighted.

The Hall was full on Wednesday – 199 Cadets and 37 Dons and Officers. Government limitation of 3 courses. I had 1. Hare Soup. 2. Wing Fowl. 3. Mincepie – and felt far more comfortable than after the gorges of old time. Wines were Fizz and Port, only. The former foamed forth during the soup. The Master and VM were unable to come, and I was in the Chair: and let in for some of the oratory. It was a joyous party. The boys (nearly all of whom had served at the Front already, and had wounds and medals to shew) were so sweet and friendly. They buzzed round, begging your signature on their menus. They set such store by this, and send the cards home to the ends of the earth. I signed my name well over 100 times. Fortunately I had the Colonel on my right, so I got him to stand up and send them to their places; else we should have got no forrader, at one time. At 10 he and I eloped: but the fun went on – and what most relieved me was that I escaped the sickening song Auld Lang Syne…

Your most affectionate
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“It is extraordinarily difficult to teach the officers anything but the men are good”

Ralph Glyn’s friend Hereward Wake was now training soldiers in Wiltshire. He was not impressed – but at least he approved of Sir William Robertson (1860-1922), the new Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

General Staff
61st (SM) Division

9/4/16
Salisbury

My dear Ralph

Three letters from you to answer, more shame to me, but I am putting in more work than usual here, preparing for the fray. This Division has existed 15 months. Warned for war 6 weeks ago, they thought it ought to be trained, so it was armed& equipped, the whole of the Staff & commanders were changed, & for the first time the men fired a rifle & carried a pack. Result, as far as the targets are concerned, was complete immunity. And the people figured bravely in the scheme for Home Defence for over a year. It is extraordinarily difficult to teach the officers anything but the men are good. We shall begin to come over early next month.

I left WO on 1st March, so what can I do for you? Charles French can help you, however.

I sympathize very much with you being in Egypt and hope you may escape. If it absolutely depends on Salonika it looks bad. You say there are only 2 courses there, offensive or clear out, so I suppose we shall take the third, namely stay there & do nothing. I wonder if the Greeks might fare badly at the hands of the Bulgars if we cleared out? Would they not at once take Salonika? And how are we at the end the war (if there ever is an end) to get them out of it again, or for that matter to re-establish Servia [sic]?

The big storm here 2 weeks ago has flattened everything in the Midlands & the roads are still blocked with trees & telegraph wires – the poles all snapped off short at Courteenhall & there was 3’ [feet] of snow. We had less of it here, but a lot of trees down.

Remember me to Linden Bell – a good Staff Officer, isn’t he? as well as a good fellow.

I feel great confidence now that Robertson is CIGS. He loves the truth better than himself, and fears nobody.

Yours
Hereward

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/26)

Hospital beds waiting unused in Windsor

Perhaps surprisingly the offer of Windsor’s new state of the art King Edward VII Hospital to provide nursing care for the wounded was not taken up immediately. Meanwhile, nurses employed by Queen Victoria Nursing Institute, a Reading-based charity providing nursing care to Reading people, decided to nurse the wounded. Their jobs were kept open for them.

King Edward VII Hospital, 1 October 1914
Beds for wounded from War
Red Cross Correspondence.
It was reported that the beds placed at the disposal of the Military Southern Command Salisbury had not yet been occupied. After discussion the matter was left on the hands of the Chairman and Vice Chairman.

Queen Victoria Nursing Institute, 1 October 1914

Since the last meeting of your Committee on the 2nd of July last, no meeting of the Executive Committee has taken place until today. It was felt that nearly everybody connected with the Institute was, owing to the war and other causes, too fully occupied to make a meeting desirable unless it was quite necessary.

The Nursing Staff
Miss Jones and Miss Linton have left for service as territorial nurses. The former on September 1st, the latter on August 27th. Their places have been filled temporarily and the Superintendent is now endeavouring to fill them more permanently, but so far without much success.

Taking the above report in order the Committee’s wish is to be thoroughly understood that as regards the absence on Territorial Service of Miss Jones and Miss Linton their places at the Institute were of course kept open for them and they would be welcomed at any time on their return and that any engagement of a nurse to take the place of either of them should be expressly only for the duration of the war or until the return of the ladies.

King Edward VII Hospital Committee Minutes, 1 October 1914 (DH6/2/4, p. 227); Queen Victoria Nursing Institute minutes (D/QX23/1/2, p. 133)