Sunday, 27 June 2010

When I Was in the Army Before

Winter 1915-1916

A Reminiscence of the C.O.

When I entered the Army I had a varied experience in England, and served in many places. One regiment I served with was the Royal Irish Rifles, and here I had during eighteen months an opportunity of getting to know the men of the regiment - and felt there was something to be said for the days of the regimental surgeon. I knew the disposition of each man, and was able at times by a word of advice to check the crazy ones and coax the 'onaisy ones.' I remember once when I took over the medical charge of the regiment being amused at the epidemics of toothache which occurred on the days of the C.O.'s parade; the secret being that my predecessor was unable to extract teeth and the hospital sergeant equally so; the men had something put in the tooth and went back, 'Medicine and Duty,' to wait for next C.O.'s parade. As I was brought up for the Army and knew of the toothache excuse, I obtained practice in the extraction of teeth in hospital when a student, and had a set of instruments made for myself. The first C.O.'s parade caused ten men's teeth to ache. I sent for my forceps, and ten men went back less a tooth apiece. After a few more C.O.'s parades and a few more extractions it was possible for the colonel to have a parade without making his men's teeth ache.

I was sitting in my office one day, and saw from my window the corporal bringing the sick to hospital. One man was evidently enjoying a good story he was telling, and appeared so happy that I wondered what he could be suffering with. When he entered my room he looked a very sad man, and was holding his hand to his ear, and when I said, "Well, Sullivan, what's the matter with you?" he replied, "Earache, sorr." It did not require a Sherlock Holmes to discover that he was for C.O.'s parade, and had evidently had a night of it - and also that the earache was not real. I examined his ear, found it healthy, then explained in a sympathetic manner that bad teeth were a common cause of earache, that the pain was reflex, and that the only certain cure of the terrible pain of earache was extraction of the offending tooth. I looked into his mouth and saw two bad molars, sent him out of the room to think which was the worst, and on his return took out the first of the two, and sent him back to duty. At the time I had on the sick list an officer with very severe enteric. He had no visitors, so counted on his servant for the news. When I next visited this young officer he gave me the following story:
"Well, Hakim, Montgomery has been in to assure me that if we had the doctor wid us always there would be few of them go sick but what had something the matter wid'em. Shure, Sullivan came in late last night, and said he would clean his belt for no man, and he would not go on any Commanding Officer's parade next morning. He meant going sick. We tould him he'd better not go sick wid toothache or he would be having one less to ate wid. Sez he, 'I'm not going sick wid toothache. I am going wid earache, and he won't take that out.' Well, sorr, he went sick this morning, and the doctor was most kind and sympathetic, and, sez he, 'My poor fellow, earache is a terrible pain, and in you - as your ear is all right - it must come from a bad tooth.' And wid that he took out a tooth and sez, 'Remember, Sullivan, and don't go sick with earache next Commanding Officer's parade, or I'll take out your other bad teeth for you.' And shure the whole barrack room is laughing at Sullivan."

There was another man who was incessantly in trouble, so much that I could nearly always count on finding him in cells if not in hospital - and almost invariably for the same reason. His reply to my enquiry, "Well, and what has brought you to the cells this time?" was ever the same. Had "a sup of drink taken, sorr," and tried to fight the guard. I offered him on one occasion to cut his cells short by taking him into hospital, but he asked me not to, as he would rather finish his punishment first. He and I were quite friends, so I asked the adjutant (poor Clinton Baker, who was recently killed while in command) to put this man in the football team, and he did, and from that day onwards P__ never got into trouble. Meeting him one afternoon kicking a football, I expressed surprise to find him still out of trouble, and he replied, "The colonel is just after seeing me sorr, and, sez he, 'P__, I have not seen you so long that I thought you had deserted.'" Often I have thought that bad characters (so-called) in the Army like my friend P__, merely want their energy directed into a proper channel.

I remember one night being called to a man who had fractured the base of his skull. I was told he had fallen over the verandah, and as it was possible that he might die I accepted the accident theory, though it was more than probably he had been thrown over in a fight. I put him to bed with an ice-bag on his head, and had six regimental orderlies told off to mind him, two on duty at a time. I paid a surprise visit at two o'clock in the morning of the following day, and found the whole ward - except one - asleep, including the regimental orderlies; the sole exception being the patient, who was sitting up in bed smoking a short clay pipe, while the ice-bag was on the floor under the bed. I took his temperature, and it was 104 degrees. I told him it was useless trying to help him; he was spoiling the average of the regiment; his defaulter sheet was full twice over; and the kindest thing he could do for the regiment was to die - and have a military funeral.
He made an uninterupted and complete recovery.

On one occasion we were going on manoeuvres, and some of the lazy ones decided that there was no fun to be had out of it, and so they would stay on at Brighton. To do this they would go sick on the first day out, as there was no hospital at the first halting place, and I should be obliged to send them back. They forgot that it is unwise to think aloud, and so I overheard the plan. I arranged with the colonel to have every man who fell out collected and brought in by the rearguard after I had examined him, and then started them off next morning an hour before the regiment with warning that if they were late getting in to the next camp they would have no dinner, as none would be saved, and they would have two hour's start next day. This cured them. They got to camp before we did.

Since I have been here I have met several men of the R.I.R., though, of course, none who were in the regiment when I was with it twenty years ago; but they are the same cheery crowd, full of divilment, but good fighting men (and I am sure that those who knew Jimmy Shortis would be willing to accept him as a good type of the man I mean), well worthy of carrying on the tradition of a fine regiment, and one of which I shall always retain most affectionate recollections - though, alas, most of the officers serving in my time have died on service during this war.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Officers, N.C.O.'s and Men ...

... who have left the Hospital for service elsewhere.

N.C.O.'s and MEN
Jan. 19th, 1915 - PTE. ELLIS left to resume his medical studies at The London Hospital.

Feb. 15th. - STAFF-SERGT. P. I. BOULGER transferred to Chelsea; obtained commission as 2nd Lieut. in Royal Fusiliers; has been to the Front and returned invalided.
LANCE-CORPL. EDMUNDS, PTE. HOOKER, and PTE. PAYNE transferred to Field Ambulance, but have since joined a cavalry regiment. PTEs. REICHENHEIM, ROSE and TELFER transferred to Field Ambulance.

Feb 17th. - LANCE-CORPL. LOWRY and PTEs. C. P. and T. G. A. CHRISTIE transferred to 6th London Field Ambulance.

March 3rd. - SERGT. RAPER left to take up a commission in the South Staffordshire Regiment.

April 2nd. - PTE. R. ELLERINGTON left to take up a commission.

May 24th. - STAFF-SERGT. ROGERS, CORPLS. CARSWELL, DREW and ARCHARD, LANCE-CORPLS. WILSON and ALLEN, and PTES. STEVENS, LAIN, JENNINGS, SALES, HAWKINS, SNELL, JEANES, BATTY, DOWNES, PUMPHREY, SAYER, W. SMITH, ROBERTSON, H. W. WOOD, FELLER, KING, CHURCH, PICKARD and POCOCK transferred to 3rd/4th London Field Ambulance, Chelsea. Of the above, PTE. LAIN has obtained a commission, and some are serving in another London hospital, but the majority are still in the F. A.

June 16th. - PTES. CARTER and MACE transferred to 8th Howitzer Brigade, R.F.A. (now serving overseas).

June 21st. - SERGTS. H. A. WALTER and A. E. PHELPS, LANCE-CORPL. E. H. EVANS, and PTES. FOXLEY, FITT, HARDMAN, DAY, CALVERT, SHORT, BROWNE and RICHARDS, transferred to London Rifle Brigade, and are shortly proceeding overseas, having completed their training. These men compose the senior platoon of the 3rd Battalion, which speaks well for the excellent quality of the material.

Aug. 19th. - SERGTS. W. M. HUGHES and W. S. BASTICK, CORPLS. G. D. WIGNER and J. C. MARSHALL, LANCE-CORPL. F. R. GODDEN (the last two since returned), and PTES. GOATCHER, HOWARD, WEST, WIGNER and COLE were detached for duty on H.M. Hospital Ship Panama sailing between the Mediterranean and Southampton.

Aug. 20th. - PTE. P. J. YOUNG transferred to 2nd/4th London Field Ambulance.

Oct. 1st. - PTE. F. JONES transferred to 2nd/4th London Field Ambulance.

Oct. 8th. - SERGT. R. W. LUSH left to complete his medical studies at the Middlesex Hospital.


Nov. 10th. SERGT. W. MACKIE detached for duty on H.M.H.S. Panama to replace Corpl. Marshall (returned owing to illness).

Nov. 14th. - LANCE-CORPL. WHITEHOUSE detached for duty on H.M.H.S. Panama to replace Lance-Corpl. Godden (returned owing to illness).


Officers, N.C.O.'s and Men ...

... who have left the Hospital for service elsewhere

Sept. 20th, 1914 - LIEUTENANT QM. W. A. FISH left for Field Ambulance

Nov. 2nd, 1914 - MAJOR SIR JOHN ROSE BRADFORD left for France.

Nov. 12th, 1914 - MAJOR A. BARKER left for Netley Hospital. Has since been promoted Lieutenant-Colonel.

Nov. 23rd, 1914 - CAPTAIN D. EMBLETON left for Netley Hospital. Has since been promoted Major.

Jan. 31st, 1915 - CAPTAIN K. W. LOW left for foreign service. Subsequently promoted Colonel and Surgeon Specialist to the Mediterranean Forces.

Feb. 22nd, 1915 - MAJOR F. R. MILLER (formerly Registrar) left to be A.D.M.S., Eastern Command.

Feb. 28th, 1915 - MAJOR A. MAYO ROBSON left for foreign service. Subsequently promoted Colonel and Surgeon Specialist in Egypt.

Aug. 31st, 1915 - LIEUTENANTS P. WITHERS GREEN, H. A. LUCAS, J. St. A. TITMAS, and J. B. RAWLINS transferred to 1st Highland Field Ambulance, B.E.F., France.

End of September, 1915 - CAPTAIN F. H. HUMPHRIS (promoted Temporary Major, R.A.M.C.) left to superintend X-ray organisation in Egypt.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Jonah's Diary or 'Why Nobody Loved Him'.

Winter 1915-1916

5.45 a.m.
Called. Where's my mug of cocoa? No cocoa on awakening; no satisfaction. Mafische!
6.00 a.m. Satisfaction - with burnt tongue into the bargain. Too cold to get up. Resolve to breakfast in bed. Sleep wooed anew.
6.05 a.m. Rude awakening. Clothes flung onto floor by too officious comrades. Lie on clothes on floor. Sleep sought ...
6.10 a.m. ... vainly; alleged comrade pours cold water down backbone.

6.12 a.m. Punch wrong man's head; the stupid fool's temperature being taken; thermometer broken; Sister furious. What a life!
6.15 a.m. Set gramophone going to console myself.
6.16 a.m. More trouble; 'No music till seven o'clock.
6.20 a.m. Wash. Find two eggs in the pantry - no apparent owner; find pin; extract nourishment from eggs.
6.55 a.m. Orderly arrives. Two eggs missing for bed-patients. Great scandal. Who's the Hun? No trace.
7.05 a.m. Clue! Somebody discovers guilty pin ... I take it to Sister. Thieving suspected.
7.06 a.m. Sister finds more clues - round my mouth, too. Get another telling-off.
7.30 a.m. Porridge goes round. The 'Jocks' like salt flavouring, Southerners prefer sugar. Put sugar in salt-cellar and vice versa. Great joke!
7.35 a.m. No complaints. Discover I did the right thing in error. Everybody satisfied. O cursed spite! (Hamlet).
7.40 a.m. Off to get more bread and butter for my breakfast. Buzz of whispering as I go.
7.43 a.m. Return. Sit down on a plate of porridge. Back view looks very sick. Furious.

7.45 a.m. Sister grumbles at me for spoiling my blue trousers. Resolve to sulk.
7.50 a.m. Sulking.
8.30 a.m. Sulking.
8.35 a.m. Charwoman sweeping the ward. Steal broom while she's moving locker.
8.36 a.m. Hide broom in somebody's bed. Good joke, this!
8.38 a.m. Owner of bed hits me on cranium with broom.
8.39 a.m. Charwoman calls me names. Sister says I have no right to interfere with work. Told off again!
8.49 a.m. Bump on head like turkey's egg. Dirty work, this!
9.00 a.m. Go down for post.
9.05 a.m. Get letters. None for me. One parcel for Sunny Jim. Open it for a joke, take out cake, fill parcel up with cotton wool..
9.15 a.m. Hide cake in Sunny Jim's bed.
9.20 a.m. Trick discovered - am kicked from rear; very hurtful. No one has any sense of humour. Sulk.
10.00 a.m. Sulking.
11.00 a.m. Light cigarette.
11.02 a.m. Told off. 'No smoking from nine till one.' Forgot.
11.30 a.m. Go for a ride in the ward bath-chair.
11.35 a.m. Collide with table; smash vase of flowers.
11.36 a.m. Disappear to grounds.
11.40 a.m. Told off by Sergeant-Major for walking in the grounds in slippers instead of boots.
11.45 a.m. Return to ward. Another telling-off for breaking vase. Sulk.
11.55 a.m. Still sulking.
12.05 p.m. Light cigarette; it will console me.
12.10 p.m. ! ! ! ! !
12.30 p.m. Dinner.
1.00 p.m. Sleep
3.45 p.m. Rude awakening; am ordered to fetch tea from cook-house. Go. Bad luck coming back ...
3.50 p.m. ... Bootlace undone; fall over with can of tea.
4.00 p.m. Told off by (alleged) comrades.
4.05 p.m. Sent for more tea. (Kipper awaiting my return).
4.25 p.m. Still waiting at the cook-house. Told off by Sergeant for spilling tea.
4.30 p.m. Arrived at ward with tea. Comrades parched. Told off again by all. Somebody eaten my kipper by mistake (! ! !) What a life!
8.00 p.m. Bed-time. (Nobody loves me).


Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Tragedy of a Lost Piglet

Winter 1915-1916

"What is a Sardine?" was a problem which vexed the courts not long ago. Recently "What is a Sausage?" was debated by our hospital's authorities in conclave, and the question of how much pork the savoury morsel should contain was tested not only practically (by an impromptu Tasting Committee) but theoretically (by telephoning to experts). The episode was an amusing one, and our poet has treated it lightly; but its occurrence is just one of those trifles which serve to show with what care the powers which rul eht 3rd L.G.H. investigate even the smallest matters of detail.

It was a winter's evening, the C.O.'s work was o'er,
And in his office, neat and trim, he sat behind the door;
Lieutenant's Clarke and Cameron were standing by his side,
The Matron, too, and Captain Gosse - and all one object spied.
An orderly was in the room, his hand with fright did quake,
A look of dread was in his eye, in deadly fear he spake:
'O Sire! This sausage fat I bring, upon this china plate,
The Sergeant bade me hurry up, but I fancy I'm too late:
For as I came along the path I saw a shadowy ghost -
It was the last remaining pork, just slipping round a post."

Then the party set to work to hold a full inspection
And find out if the pork had gone, by a process of dissection.
Each member ate a portion small, and each pulled different faces,
While the orderly in awe looked on, taking notes of their grimaces.
Then the telephone began to buzz all over London Town,
To find out where the pork had gone and track the piglet down.
The A.S.C. turned out in force (calling the merchants rotters!),
But up to now they haven't found so much as one of its trotters.
So if you see a pig about that looks like a Prodigal Son,
Please hustle him back to the Steward's Stores as sharp as he can run.


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Creating ... the 3rd L.G.H.

Winter 1915-1916

The hospital's main building, which before the war was the Royal Victoria Patriotic School - a home for the orphan daughters of soldiers and sailors - required many alterations to adapt it to its present use. What the first weeks of work here were like is told in the following article by our Assistant Matron.

It was a dull and drizzling day, but not even the dismallest weather could damp the ardour of the ten of us who were arriving at the 3rd London for the first time. We were duly admitted to the grounds, and admired what we saw of the building's exterior. The important part, however, was its interior; and this we hastened to explore. At the start we entered what was then the children's needle-room, and our gaze was met with rows of little cupboards, each numbered so that the possessor could keep her own treasures separate. From here we went to the workroom, wherein we stored all the children's winter clothing and hats. (Oh, those hats! Shall I ever forget the everlasting clothes-baskets which we filled in clearing the cupboards! It seemed as though they would never cease!)

Then we went upstairs, where we found a room with No.5 on its door. Within it, a curious spectacle met the sight. Those who know that room now, as a hospital ward, would never guess the change that has taken place. True, the room contained beds, when we first beheld it; but such tiny beds - mere cots for young children; rows of cots, and a long low cupboard running down the centre of the dormitory, forming a table, and partitioned so that each cot might have its own locker. It was funny to see those lockers, so low that even a child of three might have to grapple with it. From No.5 we traversed room after room of precisely the same pattern, until we reached 12. Here we encountered the staircase again, and, mounting two more flights, arrived at a similar batch of rooms numbered 1 to 4. It was interesting to note in every case that between each pair of dormitories there was a small intervening apartment arranged with windows facing in each direction, so that the attendant stationed there might watch her flock without having to go into the dormitory and in any way disturb them. One's sympathy went out to the former occupants of those lines of wee beds as one mentally pictured the tiny heads nestling on the pillows. Alas! those beds, so comfy to the wee ones, did not prove the same to us, I can assure you. Yet for some time we had to use them - there were no others - for our hours of rest. But every difficulty was overcome by the reflection that it was war time, and that all such minor discomforts must be willingly endured.

With marvellous rapidity the scene in those dormitories was changed. Each dormitory became a hospital ward, the cots were replaced by full-length beds, the lockers were removed, and useful articles and utensils placed along the centre of the wards in their stead (the floors having previously been stained), not the least important of these new introductions being the familiar deal tables on which the Tommies have their meals. Yes, the change was a remarkable one. In every direction one saw workmen, orderlies, nurses, the first-mentioned smashing glass and putting in new windows, converting basin-rooms into bathrooms, sterilising rooms, pantries, sculleries, etc.; the orderlies, in procession, exchanging cots for bedsteads; and the nurses toiling up and down the stairs all day long with the equipment. As other nurses arrived they were told off to make beds, which, like the disposal of the hats, seemed an endless task. It was fascinating to watch each day's development in the creation of this new enterprise - to see how constantly something fresh was added to make the place more hospital-like. We had only been here ten days when, suddenly, we received an order to be ready at a given hour that day - and it was a Sunday. In a short time a trail of motor cars appeared, conveying the surgeons. Everyone had rushed on duty; beds were made as if by magic, the theatre was fitted up, surgeons' sterilising water was made ready, also preparations for lotions; and ere we sought repose - having all been on guard that night - we were satisfied that we were equal to any emergency, and were proud of the fact, too! As it turned out, the object of our labours did not actually put in an appearance until some few weeks afterwards. When the wounded did at last come, there was, of course, the keenest excitement.

In front of the hospital there is a large open space with a field which slopes down to a railway line. Here, at last, the (to us) all-important Red Cross train was signalled. We were all on the look-out, and the man at the signal-box had promised to give us warning of the train's approach. We had been allowed to go down to the railings which separate our field from the line; and as the Red Cross train passed on its way to the junction we raised a cheer to welcome its travellers home to the England for whose sake they had borne so much. Directly after the train had gone past the scene was empty of life again, for all the nurses and orderlies had disappeared and were at their posts in their wards ready to receive the first batch of wounded. These latter will, I am sure, never forget the reception they received. All the way from the station they listened to a long, long roll of cheering, and here, too, cheers met them.


Friday, 11 June 2010

Nevinson's Huts

This image is un-named in the Gazette, but shows Christopher Nevinson's view of the interlocking huts that formed the wards behind the main building of the hospital.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Joys of Convalescence

Winter 1915-1916
By Malcolm Savage Treacher, Sergt., H.A.C.

I was in bed when the summons came.
"What's up?" asked I, sleepily. "You're to get up, get your pack, and get off to Esher. They're waiting for you at the front gate."
Thereupon the orderly disappeared. Frankly, I didn't want to go. I was very comfortable with my chums of C.6. We were well treated; with plenty of good sound food; with plenty of amusement in the shape of concerts. I said 'Good-bye' to them all with a heavy heart. I knew when I was well off. At the front gate a rakish Rolls-Royce awaited me. It was in charge of a charming little lady, whom I knew later as the 'Matron.' She wrapped me in rugs, she seated me on a soft cushion, she saw me propped up luxuriously, spoke me fair, and off we went. Through narrow streets; on to broad highways; into wide expanses of heath and moorland; beneath sleepy oaks and sweet-smelling pines; along winding lanes; skirting banks of an historic river; through old-world villages; on to Esher itself.

What were my first impressions when we arrived? That our English women were wondrous. For nothing was too good, no trouble too much for my well-being. I recollect a dear bustling woman, whom we called 'Sister,' who assured me I should soon be on my feet again, who contrived to impart some of her own magic vitality to me in some way. Then there was a tall, beautiful woman, who had graced the last Drawing Room, to swathe me in blankets for the doctor's inspection. And a merry little creature with sparkling black eyes to bring me my dinner. I remember that dinner even now. It was the best meal I had seen for a year. There was meat pie of wondrous delicacy of crust; there were three vegetables on my plate; to be followed by sultana pudding and spiced sauce. And here vital questions delving into the essence of life are touched upon. for do not human joys find their apotheosis with one's legs under the dining table?

Epicticus commences his day at Esher somewhere around 6 o'clock, when a cup of tea is brought to his bedside. At 7 o'clock he bows his head gratefully to a knife and fork breakfast. 10 o'clock sees milk and bread and butter; at 12.30 o'clock is dinner; at 4 o'clock tea, with either cake or fruit. For supper at 7 o'clock the Olympian finds bread and cheese, milk pudding and cocoa awaiting him. But is this the sum total of one's fare? No, this is not; for at 8 o'clock there is another glass of hot milk to be attacked. Frankly and honestly, I had never before lived life in such joyous culinary phase. And both business and a wanton taste towards extravagance have led me to most of the world-famous caravanserai of the Continent. Take away the glitter and the pomp and circumstance of all these hotels, come down to rock-bottom solid comfort, to splendidly cooked food, and the little Red Cross hospital at Esher beats the rest of them to a frazzle.

But, in spite of this carnival of good fare, one thinks least of all on that in leaving the hospital. for are there not one's hosts to consider? Indeed, Esher without the many great-hearted ladies ministering to one's every comfort would be but a Paradise of tinsel, a Paradise of ephemeral and not eternal memory. What can I say of these women, of these splendid V.A.D.'s, of the kindly sisters, of the gracious, sympathetic Matron? Probably it were wiser to leave you who follow me thither to form your own verdict. And if your stay at Esher does not garner some of the happiest recollections of your whole life, you may 'slang' me with the richest barrack-room epithets in your vocabulary in perfect safety to yourself.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Receiving Ward

My Day

Winter 1915-1916

The Matron, in the article which we print below, gives an account - a far from exhaustive one, by the by - of some of the multitudinous cares which claim her attention in her daily routine at the hospital.

I am usually wakened very early in the morning by the sound of the lift going up and down, and I think to myself, '6.30: day has begun for the General Duty Section.' But if they are very kind in the amount of noise they make - or refrain from making - I sometimes have another sleep. Then comes my tea, and I hear the bath being turned on and my maid saying, 'It is a quarter to eight, Matron.' With many groans from me (and growls from the pup) my day begins; and, after having breakfast, I am in the office by 9 a.m.

First come the Night Sisters - three of them - each with her tale of the night's adventures. Sometimes it is a tale of woe - this man or that man has had a big haemorrhage and been taken to the theatre - someone has fallen over a stretcher carelessly left in the corridor (or down a drain left uncovered in the awful darkness which we have to live in nowadays; the Germans have many things to answer for!). After the Night Sisters have gone, the Sisters, Nurses, and V.A.D.'s sometimes stream in, one after the other; some have matters of importance to report, others want 'long days'; many and varied stories I listen to until 10 a.m. The Home Sister and Assistant Matron then come with their reports, one of the houses and sick nurses, the other with the menu for the day and usually many other matters. After seeing Captain Dodson about the sick nurses, if necessary, I go to the Colonel's office, and take my night reports and the list of the empty beds for the morning.

Now comes the 'daily round.' Sometimes we go round the main buildings, another day the huts, and finally the kitchen, to see the dinners go out. It always does me good to see the steaming hot dinners in the tins waiting to be fetched by the general duty gang, and the orderlies waiting their turns to draw the 'extras' - and I think with regret that my own lunch is not until 1.30. Often I turn into the Assistant Matron's store and see the extra clothes, generously given by many friends, being got ready for distribution to the wards. Then a peep into the theatre to see Sister very busy with her instruments, and nurses, orderlies, and many masked and gowned figures hurrying here and there in the discharge of their duties - one patients on his way to the theatre, while another is being brought out; the one going in is always cheerful, and says, 'Good morning, Matron,' as if nothing mattered. Back again to my office, where usually many telephone messages and enquiries wait for me.

Lunch comes at 1.30, and I always enjoy talking over events with the Sisters; there is invariably a joke to repeat or an amusing anecdote told by someone. Two o'clock finds me back in my office, and I deal with any matter that has arisen since my morning office hour. After a cup of tea I dictate the letters of the day, and then generally there are visitors to see the hospital, and I go round once more - sometimes more than once - and never tire of showing the hospital which I, at any rate, love. It has gradually grown up round us here, and I feel as if, when the time does come for me to say good-bye to it and hand it over to others, that it will be a very, very sad day - in spite of the worry and trouble and many anxieties which must occur in a big institution.

Three or four afternoons a week there is a concert, and my office is turned into the tea room for the concert party. Tea at 4 and concert at 4.30 is the rule of the 3rd London. It is very interesting talking to the different artistes and their friends, and they one and all agree in the opinion that Tommy Atkins makes a splendid audience, and all want to come again. After tea we go to the Recreation Room, which by this time is packed with patients, some on ordinary chairs, other on wheel chairs or stretchers; and very soon we are all singing 'What About It?' or 'Till the Boys Come Home.' Sometimes this is the only part of the day during which I have leisure to sit down and think - and one does think even if the roof stands in danger of being lifted with applause, as is not infrequently the case. The concert ends a a rule about 6.30, and, after seeing that no one is left on a stretcher and forgotten, I go back to my office, where my letters are waiting to be signed and posted. This brings me nearly to eight o'clock, and I hear the Night Nurses going on duty and the Day Nurses coming off.

Practically every day, at some hour, we 'take in.' The War Office notifies us of a train coming to Clapham Junction at a certain time. Orderlies are sent to the station to help the unloading, the C.O. goes down with an officer to superintend, Captain Gosse takes charge of the Receiving Hall, and I sign all the cards as the cars and ambulances come up to the door. The orderlies line up outside the front door, and help with the men into the Receiving Hall, where hot drinks are waiting for them, and they are given tickets for the different wards and taken out to the baths. It is a very busy scene while we are unloading, but, under the able direction of Sergeant-Major Smith, everything is done quickly and quietly, and soon the Receiving Hall is cleared again and ready for the next convoy.

Supper is at 8.15, and when the nurses and probationers have gone off to the houses the Sisters and I usually sit round the supper table and talk over the happenings of the day, and I look forward to having my fortune read when the 'witches' are at supper. At nine I see the Night Sisters after their first round of the hospital, and hear how the bad cases and operations of the day are going on. The post comes about 9.30, and, after seeing the evening letters, I generally go up to my room - and find that morning comes round again only too soon.


Friday, 4 June 2010

Anzac Slang

Winter 1915-1916

Our reference, in last month's Gazette, to the Australian fondness for the phrase 'Square Dinkum!' lends interest to the following communication from 'Transport Officer' in Gallipoli:

"A conversation I caught the other day might prove mystifying to the uninitiated.
'Hullo, chum! I've just heard some bonza news.'
'What! Another furfie?' 'No, dinkum oil this time; the boys have imshied the Turks on the right, and got fifty prisoners, who say they have had mafeesh tucker for two days.'
Half of it is Egyptian Arabic, picked up in Cairo, like the Gippy children's reiterated 'Give it baksheesh,' which the men are very fond of using.
'Bonza' corresponds with out 'ripping' or 'top-hole.' A 'furfie' is a rumour, and 'dinkum' means 'genuine,' and 'dinkum oil' means 'authenticated news.' 'Imshi' is Gippy for 'clear out' or 'get away,' and 'mafeesh,' which is borrowed from the same tongue, means 'nothing.' 'Tucker', of course, has the same meaning as our 'grub.'

When an Australian wishes to acquire something he 'shakes it,' whereas the British Tommy either 'makes it' or 'scrounges it,' in the same way as on a larger scale Government 'annex' things. Tommy's slang is largely derived from Hindustani, and includes such words as 'chipperow' for 'shut up,' 'put some jildi into it,' meaning 'hurry up,' and 'let's have a dekko,' when he wants to have a look at something.

'Pozzy' is jam; 'cherb' beer; 'rooty' bread; 'dough' money; 'jippo' gravy; 'muckim' butter; 'char' tea. 'Swinging the lead' is pretending or deceiving, while 'chucking his weight about' is self-explanatory, and denotes an aggressive or bullying manner. When an article is 'spare' it means that it is not wanted, or, more usually, if a man says he 'found it lying about spare,' it is a euphemistic way of saying that the owner did not happen to be looking after it at that moment."