Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Message from the Principal Matron

May 1916

I thought it might be of interest to many of our staff who are too busy to read the nursing papers, to know that a great effort is at present being made to organise the nursing profession. The need has for long been recognised that something should be done, and it was felt in different quarters that a definite scheme should be brought forward before the war is over, as many problems will then arise in connection with the position and status, etc., of trained nurses. For many years a widely supported agitation has been on foot to obtain State registration for trained nurses, and a Bill for this purpose is now before Parliament.

In the last few months the Hon. Arthur Stanley, with the support of several matrons of the principal training schools, has brought forward a scheme for a College of Nursing. He claims that it will be something in the nature of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, that it should be governed by the nursing profession, and lead up to registration or recognition by the State. Conferences are being held on the subject, and a great effort is being made to bring into line the views of matrons and superintendents who, up till now, have held divergent views. I know that many matrons agree with me in rejoicing that the historic conferences which have lately been taking place - in which representatives from practically all the nurse training schools and organisations of nurses have been present - have resulted in the incorporation of the College of Nursing, which should be not only a very useful but also an interesting departure in the nursing profession. We also hope that before long, as a special war measure, the Bill for the State registration of trained nurses, which will assure them legal status, will be passed through Parliament.

I was glad to invite those of the nursing staff of the 3rd L.G.H., who are interested, to a meeting at Chelsea Infirmary, when speakers who understand the questions explained the different details. It is the duty of every nurse to take a personal interest and pride in her profession. We in the 3rd L.G.H. have been very fortunate; we have had the advantage of the services of some of the most highly-trained members of the nursing profession, not only from our own country but also from our Colonies. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Australia, which has sent us of her best. We also recognise and appreciate the excellent work of the V.A.D.'s, and wonder how we should have been able to carry on without their able assistance.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Some Helpers of the Hospital (2)

May 1916

Lady Arthur has been very kind to us, and brought many things which have added to the comfort of the patients. Her husband, Sir George Arthur, is very busy as private secretary to Lord Kitchener, but when he can get down he comes to see men of his old regiment, the Blues, and to show his interest in the hospital as a whole.

To Mrs. Brandon, of Eastergate (a friend of Lady Arthur), we are indebted for many things of use, such as dressing-gowns and pyjamas.

Eggs are sent by Mrs. George Beaton, Wimbledon Park Road, from time to time. I have never yet met soldiers who did not enjoy fresh eggs.

The Gympic Patriotic Fund sends papers every day, and John Bull is sent by Messrs. Odhams every week.

Mrs. McCorquodale, of Dunstable, has helped by sending wearing apparel on many occasions.

Mr. Tatham and the boys of King's College School, Wandsworth, have collected money and presented a number of wheeled chairs which have been much appreciated by the patients who have injuries to the lower limbs.

Mr. and Mrs. de Paiva, of Nightingale Lane, have sent many pyjamas and shirts and a number of very comfortable crutches and splints.

Mr. and Mrs. Daniels, of Warlingham, Surrey, have given many things to the hospital, but a gift which is most valuable has been the services of two of their daughters. The Misses Daniels have since the earliest days of the hospital worked in connection with the X-ray Departments. So far from being in the limelight, they have toiled in the dark-room, and practically the whole of the thousands of X-ray plates used in this hospital have been developed by them.

Miss Thomas and the girls of the County Secondary School, Broom Road, Clapham, come every week with offerings for the wounded. Their gifts are of various sorts, and the men appreciate the kind thought of the young girls who send their tribute week by week.

Every Saturday, Mr. Pike, of Balham Park Road, has sent or brought fruit for the patients, and, with a hospital of this size, every contribution of fruit is valuable.

Miss Hutton, of Putney Park, has been extremely kind in sending her motor car three days a week for the use of the patients. This is a valuable contribution to the hospital at a time when one notices the reduction of cars on the road, due to the difficulty of getting tyres and petrol.

A printer's error last month spoke of Dion Cane, instead of Dion Lane, reciting 'The Hell Gate of Soissons.' The recitation as given by Mr. Dion Lane is, to my mind, one of the finest things I have ever heard.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

To a V.A.D. from a V.A.D.

May 1916

When you start by oversleeping, and the bath is bagged three deep,
When you stagger to the window 'neath the blind to take a peep,
When you find the snow is snowing, and it's murky overhead,
When your room-mate has a day off, and lies snugly tucked in bed,
When your cap falls in the coal-box and you lose your collar stud,
When it's time to start, and then you find your shoes are thick in mud,
When you scramble in to breakfast, just too late to drink your tea -
Don't grouse, my dear; remember your a 'Wartime V.A.D.'

When you start to scrub the lockers and the bowl falls on the floor,
When you finish them and then you find that they were done before,
When you haven't got a hanky and you want to blow your nose,
When the patients shriek with laughter 'cos a bed drops on your toes,
When you use the last Sapolio and can't get any more,
When you've lost the key belonging to the Linen Cupboard door,
When your head is fairly splitting, and you're feeling up a tree -
Don't grouse, my dear; remember you're a 'Wartime V.A.D.'

When the Doctor comes into the ward, and each stands to his bed,
When he asks you for a probe and you hand him gauze instead,
When the Sister 'strafes' you soundly 'cos Brown's kit is incomplete,
When you take a man some dinner, and upset it on the sheet,
When you make the beds and sweep the ward and rush with all your might,
When you stagger off duty and the wretched fire won't light,
When you think of those at home and long for luxury and ease -
Don't grouse, my dears; remember you're the 'Wartime V.A.D.s'

When your name's read out for night shift and they leave you on your own,
When you're suddenly in darkness and you hear the telephone,
When you crash into a coke-bin as you rush to take the call,
When they tell you there are Zepps, and that you mayn't have lights at all,
When you go into the kitchen and a rat runs through the door,
When it chases you into a chair, and both fall on the floor,
When you try to eat your food, mistaking paraffin for tea -
Don't grouse, my dear; remember you're a 'Wartime V.A.D.'


Monday, 20 September 2010

First Steps in Nursing

May 1916

When one is young and at school one has no option in the matter - one has to do exams. The only escape is to be ill, and then one's fond mother can send an excuse. If one does exams when one is grown up and quite old it is entirely one's own fault, and one only has oneself to thank. These were the reflections which occurred to me, somewhat late in the day I confess, as I sat waiting for my home nursing exams. We sat round an outer room, and a clerk called our numbers at intervals, and we passed through a door to encounter the doctor. One of my fellow sufferers aptly remarked that it reminded her of the dungeon scene in 'The Sign of the Cross.'

In preparation for this fatal day, my own doctor had taken me to the museum at St. Timothy's.
"I am taking my own students," she had said, "and you can come too, if you are sure you can see things."
I informed her that I had beheld without swooning that choice collection of waxworks of which Guy's is so inordinately proud, and she accordingly allowed me to join the excursion. Carefully labelled items of the human body stood in pickle jars behind glass doors, and a curator took down various gems and explained them to us. I endeavoured now to recall his words of wisdom, but the only exhibit I could clearly remember was a veritable cushion of hair which someone had collected in her inside by tidily swallowing her combings each morning.

The clerk called my name and I rose. Moritura te saluto!
"If you have to make a poultice, remember not to make it too wet," was nurse's parting injunction.
The doctor greeted me without emotion, and, pointing to a small boy, told me to imagine that he had burnt all his fingers, and to do them up accordingly. Now if there was one bandage in the world which I hated more than the others it was fingers, especially when they were the thickness of lead pencils, and the tape slipped off the tips the instant I relaxed my grasp. I remembered that the book said begin with the little finger, but I disobediently ignored this, and started with the thumb. I felt there was slightly more to get hold of in that, and I wanted to show that I knew how to do a spica. Also the longer I was over the thumb, the less time I should have for tips, as I felt sure the patience of the doctor would never hold out while I did them all. In the middle of the operation the tape slipped from my unsteady hold, and, undoing itself, rolled merrily away cross the floor. I retrieved it hastily and wound it up, hoping the doctor had not seen. He came, as I expected, while I was struggling with the middle finger, and told me to leave off.
"Now make me a linseed poultice," he said, and I departed to a table on which the horrid ingredients were set forth. Remembering Nurses' parting warning, I did not make it too wet, instead I achieved a solid slab of brick-like appearance and stability. It did not look right even to me, so having laid it out on brown paper I continued to pat it in the hope of improving it, while the doctor hovered around.
"Is that ready for inspection?" he enquired at last.
It wasn't, but I saw no probability that it ever would be. I moved aside, and he picked it up and bent the paper smartly backwards. The poultice instantly shot off and landed with a thud in a pail under the table.
"Rather too dry!" he remarked pleasantly. "Come and sit down."
He arranged four of us in a row, and, standing in front, began to ask us questions in turn. It was like some ghastly game. One half expected him to count, "One, two, three!"
"What is the average pulse rate of an adult?"
"Seventy-two," said my right-hand neighbour.
"And of an infant?"
"One hundred to one hundred and twenty," I gasped.
"Average temperature?"
"98.4," replied my other neighbour.
"And of an infant?"
"One hundred and one," said my sister, promptly walking into the trap.
"What do you think?" asked the doctor of No.1, who replied, firmly, "98.4."
"What a horrid catch!" exclaimed my sister.
"Sorry," purred the doctor - he really was rather a sport.
He asked me various riddles as to what I should do if this or that catastrophe happened, and here another injunction of Nurse's really provided help in time of trouble.
"If the examiner is a man," she had instructed us, "always begin your answer, 'I should send for the doctor!' If it is a woman - well, you needn't be so careful to put it in."
Finally, he gave me a glass to do a sort of proportion sum in; it was something about 1 in 50, and finally reduced me to a state of collapse.

"You could be a nurse," a palmist said to me some time later, looking at my hand.
"So I thought once," I admitted candidly, "before I did that exam. Now I think that nursing is like marriage - there is a lot more in both than meets the eye, and to make a success of either one needs to be very clever - and very good.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

If the Hospital were a Musical Play

1. 'Ronuk!' A duet by Sister and Scrubber Lady
2. Love song by Surgeon
3. Clog dance by Orderlette
4. Guard on Main Gate gives imitation of Charlie Chaplin
5. The Audience listens to a No.9 pill joke
6. The Sergeant-Majors as back-chat comedians
7. Ragtime turn by Kitchen staff
8. Grand stretcher parade

The Hospital by Moonlight

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Saving Stationery

May 1916

An Actual Correspondence

From: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
To: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital.
1st April 1916
Kindly inform me when No.21674 Private Bumbleby was transferred from your unit to the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance.

From: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
To: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
2nd April 1916
Our records show no trace of this man having joined our this unit.

From: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
To: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital.
8th April 1916
Please note that Private Bumbleby was transferred to your unit on the 4th December, 1914. Kindly inform me of his present whereabouts and when he was transferred from your unit.

From: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
To: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
9th April 1916
Can you please inform me from what unit this man was transferred here? At present I am unable to trace him by his name or number, and no men have ever been transferred from this unit to the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance.

From: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
To: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
13th April 1916
Private Bumbleby was transferred to your unit from the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance on the 4th December 1914, and must have been transferred back to the Ambulance before the 15th March 1915, as he then proceeded overseas with the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance.

From: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
To: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
14th April 1916
Can you please forward me for my perusal the transfer papers respecting this man's transfer to this unit? At present I am totally unable to trace this man being either transferred to this unit or away from it. Transfer papers will be immediately returned.

From: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
To: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
17th April 1916
I enclose Part 2 Orders of the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance detailing the transfer of Private Bumbleby for your perusal. His number in your unit was 21674. Please return Part 2 Orders at your convenience.

From: Officer Commanding, 500th London General Hospital
To: Officer in Charge, Territorial Force Record Office
19th April1916
Part 2 Orders are returned herewith. This man was not transferred to this unit from the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance, but I find that a man giving identical particulars was admitted to this Hospital on the 4th December 1914, as a patient suffering from ingrowing toe nail. I suggest that an error has been made in Part 2 Orders by the 10th Mudshire Field Ambulance ...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Problems in the Pay Office

May 1916

By the Staff Sergeant in Charge

The method of arriving at the figure for the monthly distribution of allowances has been a difficult problem to the greater number of the 300 sisters and nurses attached to this hospital. I do not intend to explain the details in this article, because I think that all who participate are perfectly satisfied, provided they receive their pay and allowances regularly. I take this opportunity of thanking those sisters and nurses who have made the pay work easier by signing their monthly forms with the familiar words, 'Certified Correct,' and leaving the rest to me.

There was a certain period, however, when things were not quite so rosy. I allude to the three months (which passed like six) when sisters and nurses did not get any allowances, and they naturally wanted to know the reason. In case there are still some nurses who have not had the matter explained to them, I may say that allowances due to a nurse are deducted for the first three months' service to provide furniture for her house, and to provide the necessary sum to meet the accruing rent, rates, lighting, etc. When the nurse leaves the hospital, the value of the furniture (less depreciation) is returned to her. During those three months I learned how best to escape the dreaded question, "When am I going to receive my allowances?" Here are a few 'don'ts' which I memorised at that period:

1. Do not pass the matron's office between the hours of 8.30 and 9.30 a.m. If forced to do so, proceed at the double.
2. When taking cheques to the matron to sign, place same in a file labelled 'Queries.' It is then quite safe to pass a sister or nurse at a walking pace.
3. Never give a definite date when allowances are to be paid. Nurses have excellent memories, and paymasters are liable to lose claim forms.

The last week of the three months was too much for one poor nurse, so I received the following anonymous effort:

There once was a Sergeant named Tanner,
Possessed of grandiloquent manner.
He promised the nurses
To fill up their purses,
Philanthropic Paymaster Tanner!
For weeks they confidingly waited,
Signing blue Army Forms (ante-dated).
Some signatures, what!
That's as far as he got;
But those purses are still not inflated.

Two words of advice to those about to occupy the perilous post of paymasters to the 'weaker (?) sex.' If a T.F. sister is talking to a T.F. nurse and a probationer is standing near and talking to an orderlette, and you are asked by one of them, "How much am I to receive this month for allowances?" be brave, and answer, "I do not know."
Even woman has been known to be jealous.


The Old Corridor

Monday, 6 September 2010

Our Visit to Buckingham Palace

The Matron gives an Account of a Memorable Afternoon

One morning a registered parcel came for the C.O. It contained 130 invitations to a tea party to be given by His Majesty to his soldiers in hospital. There was also an invitation for the Matron and one Sister. We decided to draw lots for the Sister, and Sister Barrett was the lucky one. Then came a busy time collecting the names of the men. We tried to send those who had been longest in the hospital, and regretted that everyone could not go, but I am sure those who were not fortunate enough to get an invitation did not begrudge the pleasure to those who did.

The great day arrived (March 22nd), and with the dawn the men were up, cleaning their shoes, polishing their buttons, and making themselves look nice. New blue suits were issued to all, and never a smarter crowd turned out than those of the 3rd London. The 'buses to convey us to the Palace arrived at 1 p.m., and long before the time appointed to start the men were all in their places - all except one, who was lost. There was great consternation over the lost one, and the only thing to do was to find another. In less time than it takes to tell, a Sister dashed back to her ward in C corridor to get a man ready; one nurse cleaned his boots while another polished his buttons, yet another found a clean kit, and long before the 'bus started he was seated calmly with the others, and I am sure His Majesty did not know that he had not taken all the morning to dress, like the other 129. At last we were ready, and the 'buses moved off amid great cheers and hand waving from those left behind. Her Majesty Queen Amèlie went with us as our probationer, and Sister Barrett and I had the honour of going with her in her car at the end of the procession.

After a long drive we reached the Palace. The 'buses all went in at the entrance for the Mews, but the men at the gate, seeing Queen Amèlie in the car, wanted the chauffeur to drive round to the Palace entrance. However, Her Majesty eventually persuaded them to let us in, after repeatedly calling out, "I want to go with the men; I am a visitor and a probationer, and I want to go with my patients," and we reached the courtyard to find the men being helped down by the members of the Red Cross, and very splendidly they did it. We were taken into what appeared to be a very large marquee, but was really an awning fixed to a covered way. This was all divided off into blocks; we were A, so had not far to go. In this marquee long tables were laid, laden with good things and decorated with beautiful flowers. It really was a good tea - bread and butter, jam, sandwiches, cakes and buns of all descriptions. By this time most of the guests had arrived, and the word was given to start tea. I looked round my flock to see they were all right, and, judging from appearances, they were distinctly so.

The Band of the Scots Guards was playing outside when the Royal part arrived. The King (in naval uniform) and the Queen came in together. As we were block A, we got Their Majesties' first attention. They went about the men, speaking to many and smiling on all, passing along the different blocks until they were lost to sight. Her Majesty spoke specially to two of our men who had been very badly wounded, and she remembered one of them being slung up in sheets on the occasion of Their Majesties' last visit to us. There were numbers of other Royal ladies, who all went about talking to the men. Princess Mary came in with Prince Albert. The Prince was in naval uniform, and made himself very useful in pouring out tea and handing cakes. Queen Alexandra came, and with her were the Princess Royal and Princess Maud. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Princess Christian, Princess Henry of Batterberg, Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, Princess Arthur of Connaught (who looked very businesslike in an apron), and the Duchess of Albany were amongst those who came. Many ladies were pouring out tea and seeing that the men were looked after. General Sir Francis Lloyd, Sir Alfred Keogh, Colonel Fludyer, Captain Godfrey-Faussett, Lady Linlithgow, Lady Chesterfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were among the many there who are visitors to the hospital.

When tea was finished the men began to file out, and were taken to the Riding School, which was turned into a concert room. I saw many of our men who could quite well walk being most carefully wheeled out by members of the Red Cross, and every one on crutches being most carefully looked after. At length we were all seated in our different blocks again, our block being right at the front. There was a large stage at the end of the School, with a most beautiful curtain. It was black, with festoons of flowers; long ropes of flowers fell from the top and against the black curtain, the effect being gorgeous. Banks of flowers were on either side, and two wonderful attendants in white livery put up the number of the turn as each came along.

Then the curtain was raised, and on the stage was a very large choir, men and boys. The conductor, Dr. Walford Davies, stepped forward and said he wanted the men to practise the choruses before Their Majesties arrived. We all practised the National Anthem, 'Here's a Health unto His Majesty,' 'The Maple Leaf for Ever,' 'Australia will be there,' and 'Upidee' until the signal was given that the Royal party was arriving. Then we all stood to attention, and while the Royal party came down the centre of the room we sang 'God Save the King,' and, I am sure, meant every word we sang. His Majesty came first with Queen Alexandra, then Queen Mary with Queen Amèlie, followed by all the other members of the Royal party. when everyone was seated the choir sang all the things we had practised and several other solos, including a very good orderlies' song. Then the curtain dropped, and an excellent variety entertainment began. The following were the performers: Manny and Roberts, Grock and Partner, George Robey (as the Mayor of Mudcumdyke), Miss Evie Greene (who sang 'When Irish Eyes are Smiling' and 'Till the Boys Come Home' - and we all roared out the chorus and felt quite at home), the Two Bobs, Will Evans and his wonderful horse that will not be harnessed (which caused peals of laughter), Miss Ethel Retford (who impersonated Ethel Levey), G. P. Huntley and Co., Harry Weldon, Joe Coyne, and the Empire Chorus (consisting of some very attractive girls in sailor costumes) who seemed to please the men as much as anything, judging from the reception they got as they came up the School when we were waiting. This ended the programme, and we all stood and sang again 'God Save the King,' after which the Royal party came up the room, speaking to many of the men on their way out.

Numbers of the men got their programmes signed by Queen Alexandra and others. We had to wait until last in going out. The arrangements were excellent. The men were taken out in blocks, and that block sent away before the next one started. While we were waiting Queen Amèlie joined us again, and as soon as the men saw her they were round her like a swarm of bees asking for her signature. She signed hundreds, and the men absolutely refused to go when the block was called until the programme was signed. When I had time to look round I saw, to my horror, that our men had raided the stage, and were wearing great bouquets of flowers in their hats and buttonholes, and many of them had captured the 'reserved tickets' put on special seats. I felt that we should at least be sent to the Tower for such behaviour, and was quite thankful to get out without being asked any questions. However, no one seemed to mind. The 'buses were filled with happy singing men, and we brought up the rear again with Her Majesty. We could hear the men singing and cheering all the way home, and we reached Wandsworth about 6.30 having had a most enjoyable afternoon.

A very touching sequel to the day was that a man in the Rifle Brigade unfortunately lost his programme, which had been signed for him. He was greatly upset, and searched everywhere for it. Colonel Fludyer, Scots Guards, was dragged into the search, but to no avail. However, a few days afterwards Colonel Fludyer came down to the hospital with a new programme that he had procured from somewhere, and he and I searched the hospital until we found the man. His joy on having a programme after all was a real reward to Colonel Fludyer for all the trouble he had taken in getting another and the long journey out here to bring it.


More Labour-Saving Devices

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Sculptor and Surgeon

How they Collaborate at the 3rd L.G.H. - a Note by the C.O.

A new department has been formed at the 3rd L.G.H., which for the first time brings the sculptor's art to the assistance of the surgeon. For years artificial limbs have been provided by the Government for men who need them, and now, thanks to the experiment carried out here with such successful results, the Director-General, sir Alfred Keogh, has given orders that men who have suffered such injuries to their faces as to cause deformity, are to be transferred to our new department under Derwent Wood, to fit them with masks to cover the injured part.

The custom of the hospital to use men for the work in which they are most skilled placed Sgt. Derwent Wood in charge of our splint moulding department, and while at that work he felt he could help out men whose faces had been injured. Two very striking cases in hospital at the time were Tpr. E. and Sgt. F. Tpr. E. had a severe injury to his face, which resulted in the loss of his nose and the opening up of the nasal cavity from the side. After the surgeons had done their best for him by plastic operation the patient was still in such a condition that it was not possible for him to follow his former occupation of a cab driver. Derwent Wood has fitted him with an artificial nose and moustache so successfully that he has resumed his old job, and at a very short distance it is impossible to notice the injury. Sgt. F. had a more extensive injury, resulting in the loss of one eye and cheek. The process of repair has been more complicated in this case, and called for the sculptor's art in building up in plasticine the side of the face so as to get the plate to match the other side of the face. An artificial eye is carried in the mask, and this man will be able to walk about the world without calling for comment. The technical process is described in the Royal Army Medical Journal, and, for those interested, photographs are published in the article.

In time no doubt a big department will grow up for dealing with these cases, just as Roehampton now deals with the limbs. When the cases were brought to his notice, the Director-General at once gave orders for this department (which had been financed by the Benevolent Fund) to be put on the proper basis. Derwent Wood has been commissioned and attached here for duty, and the expenses of the department will be borne by the Government. The soldier is by nature independent, and the men who had the pluck to throw up their jobs and go to the help of the country are not the men who will wish to exist on pensions granted by the Government; they will prefer to resume their former tasks when possible. The formation of this new department will, I am sure, make this possible for many. In addition to the practical side is the aesthetic side, and a properly modelled portion of face carrying an artificial eye to match the remaining eye will be a great advance on the old-fashioned vulcanite shield.

In due course there will be developments of this scheme, which will be more fittingly described in professional journals, but the history of the beginning of the department will interest those who live in, and have been in, the 3rd L.G.H.