Whiz-Bangs Krumps and Coalboxes

8th February 1917 Thursday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

After the short time Douglas had been in Perth, he finds himself on the move again, but this time it’s back home.

“On Thursday February the 8th I was ordered back to Edinburgh Castle. I was relieved by a Dr. Jean Gordon and was very sorry to leave Perth. I got a great send off. My pockets were filled with paper and my service hat filled with sugar and salt. Some of the nurses saw me off at the station”.

It seems like this obituary from 1937 is likely to be the very same Dr Jean Gordon.

“JEAN GORDON.

Dr. Jean Paton Gordon died on July 13 1937 at her residence, Rannoch Lodge, Claremont, Cape Town, after a long and severe illness.

Dr. Gordon was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Allan Gordon of Linksfield, Montrose, Scotland. She studied medicine at Edinburgh University, where she graduated as M.B. and Ch.B. before she was 21 years of age. Following her graduation she held various appointments in hospitals, specializing in mental diseases and surgery. Early in 1915, having been refused by the R.A.M.C., she joined the Scottish Women’ Hospital at Troyes. This was a tent hospital of some 200 beds for French soldiers run by the French authorities. Later the R.A.M.C. asked for women doctors and in 1916 Dr. Gordon joined the staff of the Edinburgh War Hospital at Leith.

In 1917 she was attached to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force for service in hospitals at Alexandria and Cairo. She spent two years in Egypt before being demobilised in 1919.

On her return to England she was on the medical staff of the Derbyshire County Council for four years. She joined the Union Mental Hospitals Service in 1923, and was at first stationed at Bloemfontein before being transferred to Grahamstown. Later she joined the staff of the Valkenberg Mental Hospital, where she remained until retiring on pension in 1934.

Dr. Gordon was then able to start a private home of her own for nervous and mental cases, which was most successful.

Her career as a woman doctor has been remarkable and outstanding in view of her unusual skill and her personality, which was felt and loved by all who came in contact with her.

Her greatest pleasure was travelling and she made many trips overseas while practising in South Africa and visited the Continent, Norway and the United States.

The funeral took place at Woltemade No 1 Cemetery. The service was conducted at St. Saviours church, Claremont, by the Rev. le Mesurier, assisted by the Rev. A.J. Lewis.

Dr. Mrs., and Miss Moon and Mr. and Mr. A.B. Reid were the chief mourners. The pall-bearers were Dr. Moon, the Rev. A.J.Lewis, Dr. Forster, Mr. A.B. Reid, Dr. A.J. Ballentine, Dr. Y. Key.

Among those present were: Mr. E.H.Stokesbury, Dr. Botha, Mr. P.R. de Villiers, Mr. R Rigby and J.D. Milne, also staff on Valkenburg Mental Hospital.”

Source: http://journals.co.za/docserver/fulltext/m_samj/11/14/12301.pdf?expires=1486509282&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=BB854AF37D6122362D70467FED862C10

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

End of January 1917

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

As January drew to a close, Douglas is sent for a medical examination of himself!

“I had a Medical Board at the barracks one day. Drs. Kilpatrick and Graham thoroughly overhauled me and discovered that I was anaemic, had a heart murmur and that I was rheumatic! Rot! They granted me a month’s rest. Good! But I never got it”!

The Matron of Perth War Hospital with a wounded South African

The Matron of Perth War Hospital with a wounded South African

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

6th January 1917 Saturday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“An ambulance train arrived in Perth Station at 12.30 on the morning of the 6th January. It was a bitterly cold night – freezing hard. The wounded and sick came rolling along to us in ambulance cars and private motors. We admitted 53 cases altogether, and I didn’t get to bed until nearly 5 o’clock.  Some of the wounds were very serious, and the men were all very tired.”

Prior to the start of The Great War, Britain had made arrangements to deal with the mass casualties of such an event. Although the concept of the ambulance train owed its origins to the Crimean war of 1854, the main railway companies had been called together and asked to prepare hospital or ambulance trains. Drawings had been sent out for the requirements of such and plans were so well advanced that the first ambulance trains met the hospital ships arriving in Southampton just 20 days after hostilities began.

Men had joined up from all over Great Britain and of course needed to be returned as near to their homes or regimental bases as possible. The trains were made up of everything you would expect to have found in a contemporary hospital. Wards for the casualties, treatment areas and operating theatres. Beds for those that needed them and more casual accommodation for the walking wounded. Accommodation also for the many medical staff on board. Double entrance doors to the carriages to facilitate easy loading. The trains could consist of up to 17 vehicles that could be a third of a mile in length.

Working conditions for medics could be arduous. During difficult times, men with serious injuries by now infected after days of travelling and carrying lice and disease, made life harder for the railway medics than those dealing with it on the front line. Trains could become dirty very quickly working under such pressure. The stench associated with gangrenous infections and trench foot would make the confines stink unbearably. Journey times would be long, progress would be slow as paths for the trains had to be slotted in between regular traffic. Wartime passenger trains, freight trains now heavy with equipment for war, coal trains busier than ever to keep the railways and industry moving, munitions trains and trains full of fresh troops heading for the front to provide more fodder for even more ambulance trains. Long waits for passing prioritised traffic would have been common. It’s not hard to imagine the frustration as progress was halted yet again as the train was reversed into a siding to clear yet another path. Life for the men on the locomotive footplate was hard too with men working extremely long shifts, not knowing when they would arrive or be relieved.

Douglas having experienced life at the front, in the trenches and dressing stations, would be fully aware of what the patients in the Perth War Hospital had gone through. The train that arrived that cold night would have presented him with a scene he was all too familiar with, so was well placed to deal with it, but his understated version of the event almost betrays the chaotic order to which all were subjected to.

Ambulance Train of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway https://www.worldwar1postcards.com/ambulance-trains.php

Ambulance Train of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway https://www.worldwar1postcards.com/ambulance-trains.php

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

3rd January 1917 Wednesday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“The Countess of Mansfield and party, including Lady Dewar, gave the men tea and a concert in the hospital on the 3rd January 1917. The tea was a huge success judging from the sounds emanating from the dining hall. The concert afterwards was excellent. Later on the staff had a dance to which we had invited a few of our Perth friends. With the aid of three pounds of boracic powder I got the floor of the dining hall into good condition for dancing. Needless to say the evening was a great success.”

The Countess of Mansfield

This was clearly Lady Margaret Helen Mary Murray (nee MacGregor) Countess of Mansfield, whose home was the nearby Scone Palace. Scone was and is the seat of the Earls of Mansfield.

Lady Margaret Elizabeth Dewar

Referred to by Douglas as Lady Dewar, Lady Margaret Elizabeth Dewar was the wife of the 1st Baron Forteviot, John Dewar, chairman of John Dewar and Sons, the whisky company.

Baron Forteviot had been responsible for the Dewar Report of 1912, which was favouring the introduction of a revolutionary health reform system to try and improve the lot of Scotland’s poor. Maybe this partly explains his wife’s interest in the hospital? On the following day the 4th January 1917 according to The Peerage.com, she became Baroness Forteviot. http://thepeerage.com/p8027.htm

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

31st December 1916 Sunday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“I saw the New Year in at Perth Cross. A huge crowd mainly of young lads and girls collected towards midnight, and made a great din letting off crackers and bombs, and shouting and singing. When I got back to Hospital I joined the nurses at the New Year Feast which consisted mainly of trifles, fruit, cakes, tea and champagne!”

Douglas tells us he saw the New Year in at the Perth Cross. The scene today is one that having been altered in the most uninspiring way, was set to be lost entirely as the City Hall had been voted by the council to be demolished. Fortunately, further interventions have apparently seen the salvation of the building. Schemes, initially approved by Perth and Kinross Council in 2014 which would have seen it turned into a hotel seem to have come to nothing. The latest news as of September 2016 was that it was now approved to be reinvented as a Visual Arts Centre, forming part of the new Perth City Plan.

city_hall_and_perth_cross_streetview

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

28th December 1916 Thursday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On the 28th Lady Kinnard entertained the wounded men to tea and a concert in the Masonic Hall. I escorted Matron to the show. It was a terrific rabble. After the concert the guests took to dancing. It was worse than St Andrews on Fair Day!”

The Matron of Perth War Hospital with a wounded South African

The Matron of Perth War Hospital with a wounded South African. The patient is wearing the light blue uniform as issued to men that had received war wounds.

Lady Kinnard referred to in the diary, I believe to be a typo and the lady referred to was in fact Mary Alma Victoria (Agnew) Kinnaird, the wife of Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird the 11th Lord Kinnaird.

Although born in London his family were wealthy bankers from the Perthshire area and he became the chairman of Barclays Bank. The 11th Lord was also a great sportsman and footballer renowned for his tough tackling. He won a singular cap for Scotland against England and played against Chingford’s very own Mr Charles Alcock in the second FA Cup final of 1873. He holds the record for the amount of FA Cup final appearances making nine in total.

Both Lord and Lady Kinnaird died within 11 days of each other at their home at 10 St James’s Square (now Chatham House), London in 1923.

Lord and Lady Kinnaird 1900

Lord and Lady Kinnaird in 1900

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

25th December 1916 Monday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“Christmas was a great day in hospital. I woke up with my bed etc decorated with holly – the work of the nurses! The patients had a great feed in the beautifully decorated dining hall at noon, and I dined with the staff at 1.30pm. Afterwards I had a sing-song with the men in the Hall, and then a huge tea – in fact I had five teas that day – one with the men, one with the nurses on A Floor, another on B Floor, another on C Floor, and the last with the Matron. At night we had a whist drive in the Hall, followed by a dance till midnight. A huge success.”

christmasday_1916

 

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

19th December 1916 Tuesday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“It was a decided nuisance especially as I had to repack all my goods after shifting from the Royal Hotel into ‘digs’ near the barracks. Major Paton a Perth medical practitioner, was my superior officer at the War Hospital. He didn’t live in, but I did, and was very comfortable in a cosy bed-sittingroom. The hospital was well equipped and staffed with trained sisters and V.A.D. nurses*. There were 75 patients in the place, but my work was never very heavy.”

Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (VADs) were established by the War Office before World War One to help out in military hospitals and usually consisted of women from well-to-do dispositions. You can read more about them in this post from the Museum of the Order of St John.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

17th December 1916 Sunday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“Next day I took over from a Captain Mede at the hospital which contained 33 beds – two wards and a scabies isolation block. After getting into the swing of things I was transferred to the war hospital in the Poor House on the 19th.”

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

16th December 1916 Saturday

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“At noon on 16th December, I got orders to proceed “forthwith” to Perth for duty at the military hospital there. I arrived in the Fair City at 6.30pm and proceeded in a Growler to the Military Hospital when I reported for duty and then went along to the Royal Hotel where I stayed overnight.”

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here