4th February 1919 Tuesday

Familiar Faces for Reinforcements and Tobogganing Fun

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“On February 4th some R.A.M.C. reinforcements arrived including Major Irwin, who was in charge of No. 2 Red Cross Hospital, Rouen, when I was a patient therein, Lt. Herman whom I knew well at the London Hospital in pre-war days, and Capt. Marshall who was with Scott at the South Pole. Colonel Thom, the new Director of Medical Services out here, also arrived with this batch. I hope he will tickle things up a bit. He has many ribbons on his chest.

The toboggan-run near G.H.Q. in Archangel afforded me much amusement when I saw it for the first time this week. It is a great affair. It starts from a height of about 100 ft. from the road-way, and slopes at first acutely, and then gradually, and then acutely again down on to the river. The whole run is about half-a-mile long, and is solid ice. Needless to say on a good toboggan a great speed is attained. The antics of several British sailors and their ‘barishnas’ amused me. Huge crowds were watching the fun, and a long queue was waiting to climb up to the top of the chute.”

Colonel Thom took over as Director of Medical Services at this time. He was born in Madras, India in 1870, but subsequently educated in Scotland at Dollar Academy which was founded in 1818. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and graduated in 1893 as M.B. and C.M. He signed up to the R.A.M.C. in 1894 and from 1900 spent time in South Africa during the South African Wars. He returned to India around 1903 where he remained for about ten years. At the outbreak of the Great War he was back in Scotland training field ambulances at Bridge of Allan until 1915 when he was sent to Gallipoli. Here he managed the overseeing of removing wounded men from the beaches onto the hospital ships for which he was awarded the C.M.G.

He was recalled to the War Office and then became ADMS 32nd Division and DDMS 2nd Army Corps on the Western Front, for which he was further decorated with a C.B.

Almost three months after the Armistice he was sent out to Archangel to oversee all medical services. His area of responsibility was immense, being in charge of both Murmansk and Archangel fronts wherever Allied troops were operating. Despite there being a serious threat not only from the Bolsheviks but also from serious disease such as cholera, dysentery and smallpox, no serious outbreaks apart from dysentery occurred. For his work in Russia he was given a C.B.E.

Following his return to the UK and the War Office he became ADMS of Home Counties (West). Appointed Superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary he died on 7thApril 1935.

George David St Clair Thom

Newspaper article

From the diary not credited

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4 Responses to 4th February 1919 Tuesday

  • I have the following recorded:

    IRWIN, Maj. (A./Lieut.-Col.) Alfred William Adamson, O.B.E., R.A.M.C. (NORTH RUSSIA [ARCHANGEL]) (London Gazette, 3rd February 1920) “…in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with Military Operations in Archangel, North Russia. Dated 11th November 1919.” (MID, Lon. Gaz. 3rd February 1920, see MID section)

    MARSHALL, T./Capt. (A./Maj.) Eric Stewart, C.B.E., M.C., late R.A.M.C. (NORTH RUSSIA [ARCHANGEL]) (London Gazette, 3rd February 1920) “…in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with Military Operations in Archangel., North Russia. Dated 11th November, 1919.” (Medical Officer on Nimrod during Shackleton’s 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition, see Polar Medal Recipients Roll.)

    THOM, Col. George St. Clair, C.B., C.M.G., C.B.E., M.B., late R.A.M.C. (NORTH RUSSIA [ARCHANGEL]) (London Gazette, 3rd February 1920) “…in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with Military Operations in Archangel., North Russia. Dated 11th November, 1919.” (MID, Lon. Gaz. 3rd February 1920 & 6th April 1920, see MID section)

    I have also seen a photo of the toboggan slide somewhere although I cannot remember where!

    • Damien,

      Thanks for the extra input regarding the February 4th post. I think it is worth highlighting your comments.

      As regards the toboggan construction so far I haven’t come across a picture but did recently find a description of it.

      “Right in the centre of the town, near headquarters and abutting on the harbour, the Canadians helped the English ‘Tommies’ to build a toboggan on the principle of a helter-skelter. That was in the winter, of course, when everybody was waiting for the thaw that would allow closer contact with the enemy up the Dwina. This toboggan was twenty or thirty feet high and circular. When the fellows came rolling down that slide – human balls of fur and snow-boots – it was the height of discretion for any passing drosky or sleigh to keep well out of the way.”

      If you find the pic maybe we could use it? I would love to see it anyway, so I’ll keep looking.

      Regards
      Ray Coggin

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