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)

Fit to take wounded cases from overseas

The Managing Committee of Newbury District Hospital were pleased that had won their case to continue to take wounded soldiers rather than mere convalescents – but they feared their rivals in Reading were hogging all the most challenging cases.

Thursday July 12th 1917

Letters from Colonel Russel dated the 6th and 9th inst. Were read, and the Hon. Sec. reported that prior to the receipt of the latter letter he had seen the Consulting Surgeon of the Southern Command who had been over the Hospital with him and had expressed himself pleased in all respects and quite satisfied that it was fit to take wounded cases from Overseas as distinguished from Convalescent cases, and had promised to see that the Hospital received its quota of such cases through Reading.

Resolved that no further attempt be made to question the decision of the Authorities as regards affiliation to Reading and that every effort be made to insure that the Hospital does in fact receive from Reading its fair quota of wounded cases as promised, and not convalescent cases.

Resolved further that Messrs Peake, Graham Roberts, and Howard Savill be appointed to act with the Chairman as a small committee to suggest a scheme for working under the new arrangement, including any desirable re-arrangement or apportionment of the Clerical and similar duties involved, and the relief of the Matron from such duties as far as may be practicable.

Newbury District Hospital minute book (D/H4/3/2)

“They wanted the beds badly, but were not in a position to provide the extra cost”

Newbury District Hospital was taking more and more wounded soldiers, and even had to build an extension at their own expense.

Annual General Meeting held at The Newbury District Hospital on Friday March 9th 1917

Committee’s Report

The record of the past 12 months may be told in a few words. Though the year 1916 has been in a sense an uneventful one, having been marked by no additions or alterations to the structure of the hospital, it shows an increase in the amount of work done amongst both civilians and soldiers over all former years. The resources of the hospital have been taxed to the full, as many as 74 beds having been occupied at one time. As in 1915, five convoys of wounded soldiers have been received from the Front. The total of civilian patients, amounting to 365 (not counting X-ray cases) exceeds the number of those treated in the previous year by 10, whilst 63 more soldiers have been treated than in 1915. Of these latter, there has been a considerably larger proportion of severe cases.

When the temporary annexe was put up at the end of 1914 for the reception of the wounded, there were not many who supposed that it would still be in use during a third winter. But the building, in spite of its light construction, has served its purpose well, and beyond some strengthening of the roof, has needed little repair. A sum of about £100 has been spent in painting the outside woodwork of the hospital and in completing the decoration of the Kerby Wing.

Military Hospital

A notice had been given that at the conclusion of the annual meeting a special meeting would be held to pass a resolution for the expenditure of a sum, not exceeding £300, of the capital funds of the Hospital, in providing further accommodation for military patients.

The Chairman, in introducing the subject, said the Medical Officer at Tidworth saw the Matron and asked her to provide further beds, as 25,000 wounded soldiers more would be placed in the Southern Command. It appeared to them that the one hospital especially suited was Newbury as being on the main line for Southampton. The matron pointed out to him the impossibility of further beds in the present building, and that the staff, which was sufficient for the present accommodation, would be too few for a different building. Miss Atkins brought the matter before the Chairman of the House Committee, and the House Committee referred to the Managing Committee.

It appeared at first that the Government might be induced to provide some, if not all of the money necessary. That was not received with enthusiasm by the authorities. The Managing Committee and Mr. Vollar went into the matter thoroughly, and decided that the Army appeal was of such a nature that they could not do otherwise than accept the proposal and the obligation involved. Efforts were made to get the Government to provide the additional cost of an annexe. The hon. Secretary interviewed the Medical Officer of the Southern Command, and he interviewed the War Office. The authorities’ attitude was that they wanted the beds badly, but were not in a position to provide the extra cost. It was pointed out that the hospital as arranged at present was sufficient for the needs of the neighbourhood, and that these extra buildings would only be used for the War Office. They had strong grounds therefore to ask for assistance, but it was definitely stated that they would get no money nor extra doctors or nurses. They decided to do their best. The conditions in the building trade made it difficult to get work done. At a special meeting it was arranged that Mr. Hitchman should do the work, and at once order the materials. He proposed that they authorise the expenditure of not more than £300 out of capital funds of the Hospital, and ratify the action the Managing Committee had taken before the meeting.

Mr. Savill said that he had been in communication with the Medical Colonel, and he could not promise any financial assistance. He did give one concession, and that was that formerly they had received 3s. 6d. per man per week; now it was suggested that 4s. would be paid. They would save £100 for beds and bedding, which would be supplied by Sir Richard Sutton. Mr. Hitchman had been able to get the galvanised iron. The cost would be £300, anything over that amount would have to be paid out of revenue.

Mr. Vollar said Mr. Hitchman had agreed to work on a five per cent profit. He would show his receipts. It was a very handsome and liberal offer on Mr. Hitchman’s part.

The resolution was passed, Mr. Peake seconding, and the meeting concluded.

Newbury District Hospital minutes (D/H4/3/2)

“I don’t think we grudge these sons of ours if their death removes once and for all the horrors of war for future generations”

The vicar of Reading St Giles reported on the news of many young men from the town serving at the Front. Several had fallen in action.

Notes from the Vicar

To be added to the intercessions list:
Charles Barber (H.M.S. Ajax); lieut. James McNie Campbell, 12th Royal Scots; Lce. Corpl. E. Jardine, 5th R. Berks Rgt.; Trooper P.O. Jardine, Berkshire Yeomanry; Lieut. S.H. Jardine, 17TH R, Fusiliers; Private L.F.Jardine, 12th R Warwickshire Rgt; Ernest William Wheeler, R.F.C.; Fredk. H. Goddard, Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry; Leslie Victor Peirce, 3rd R. Berks; A. Williams, R. Fusiliers; Private Charles A. Bartlett, 1st Garrison Worcester Regt.; Private Henry Adams,1st Buffs; Lydall Savill, Eric Savill, Alfred Savill, Cyril May.

Sick and Wounded:
Corpl. Arthur Smith, C.G. Gutch, Private Albert Bendall, Private William Long, Private Leonard Smith, J. W. Redston, Private Ernest James Wise, Sergt. Clemetston, Private R. Crawford, Lieut. B. Lloyd, Drummer W.G. Stevens, Private C. Greaves, Private Thatcher, Departed: Lieut. T.G. Haughton, Capt. Bruce Smith-Masters, Driver R. Lund, R.F.A. Lieut. G.E. Maggs, Sergt. J. Eaton, Private Stanley Durman, Private Victor Burgess, Private Albert Bowley, Private T.J. Tollman, C.V. Tollman, R.N. Lieut. S. Sneider, Private G.H. Wellings.

We are sorry to hear that Sergt. R. Golding is among the “missing.”

Our sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of these brave men who have so nobly done their duty. I should like to quote one sentence I received from a mother. “I don’t think we grudge these sons of ours if their death removes once and for all the horrors of war for future generations, as we trust it will; the only thing to do is to look steadily at the happiness of those who have passed.” They will always be remembered at S. Giles as their names are on the Roll of Honour.

I think a good many of you would like to read the letter sent by one of Captain Bruce Smith-Masters’ brother officers.

“Capt. Smith-Masters, who was my company Commander on active service for 15 months, was a magnificent type of the British Officer, as we know them. He was looked up to and admired by his Officers, and worshipped by his N.C.O’s and men. It was a tremendous shock to us to hear that he had been killed, as he went into the battle as cheerily as could be, and I certainly expected him to survive. He had been our constant companion for a long period of the campaign, and I think I am right in saying that he was the making of his company. Keen on sports by nature, and an athlete himself, he trained his men excellently, and was the means of their keeping fit. He always had an eye on their personal comfort, and anything that could be done for them, he did. In short, he was an awfully good fellow, and I am terribly sorry to think that he has gone. A finer company commander I never had, a keener officer never breathed.”

S. MICHAEL’S DISTRICT

To the list of the fallen in the war I have with great regret to add the names of Victor Burgess and Ernest Goddard. The deepest sympathy of us all goes out to the relations of these men and others on our list who have given their lives for their country.

Harold Baker is reported as missing in the recent fighting in Franc, but up to the moment of writing this has not been officially posted. We shall, I hope remember in our prayers his relations and friends, and others who are in anxiety and suspense because of the absence of definite news of their missing relations.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P191/28A/24)