«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»
The raid lasted two hours, more than one aeroplane coming down so low as to be able to employ machine guns upon those engaged in the work of rescuing the wounded from the burning huts. Among those were a number of British Guardsmen camped outside the Hospital Area who came over immediately the place caught fire to lend every assistance they could. The casualties that night at No. 7 Canadian General Hospital amounted to upwards of 50 killed and 50 wounded among the staffamong the killed, was one nursing sister, and among the wounded seven nursing sisters, two of whom subsequently died, while six patients were killed and over 30 wounded. Canadian General Hospital No. 1 also suffered severely, three of the staff were killed and 21 wounded, of whom three afterwards died. Nine patients were killed and 37 wounded.
It was a night of horror relieved by examples of wonderful,heroism.
While the raid was still in progress stretcher parties hastened to remove the wounded to places where they could receive first aid, and while the enemy aircraft still circled overhead the nursing sisters went about their work with perfect coolness.
On May 21 a second raid was attempted, but fortunately no damage was done. The third raid came on the night of the 30th, and lasted from
10.30 p.m. to past midnight. On this occasion the bombs fell into the town, not in the Hospital Area. The fourth raid was on the night of the 31st, and it was again reported that it was impossible to speak too highly of the conduct of the members of the staff.
That night casualties were again heavy, and No. 9 Canadian Stationary Hospital, which had been established in huts, but had not yet begun to receive patients, did not escape without Canadian Army Medical Corps. 389 victims. In this Unit alone one officer subsequently died from his wounds, while two nursing sisters and 14 other ranks were wounded.
In regard to the raid of May 19, it should be pointed out. that it was not the Canadian Hospitals alone which suffered through this raid.
Altogether some 100 bombs were dropped in this area, killing in all 124 other ranks. True, Canadian General Hospital No. 1 was the heaviest individual sufferer among the killed at the time, but 89 of the wounded among the British died of their wounds later.
The Bombing of Doullens.—No more doubt exists as to the enemy's deliberate purpose in bombing No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens on the night of May 29, 1918, than the case of the obvious open massacre among the Hospital Units at Etaples.
The fort in which the hospital was situated was a landmark, and a landmark well known to the enemy as the home of a Hospital Unit. It lay well apart outside the town, with fields on three sides of it and a French Hospital on the fourth. It had been used solely for hospital purposes since the very beginning of the war ; there were no ammunition dumps, stores, camps, artillery, or any other military material in its neighbourhood.
Giant Red Crosses were painted on its roofs ; the most wilfully shortsighted of enemy airmen could not have mistaken it.
It is just possible that the deliberate raid upon it was prompted by the miserable motive of revenge, for No. 3 Canadian General Hospital had done good work. It had won, too, a great name. During the German offensive in March, when the British Casualty Clearing Stations were compelled to fall back rapidly, and 50 miles of front thick with casualties were left without a single Casualty Clearing Station or an advance operating centre, Doullens became the natural Clearing Station for all this extensive area.
It rose to the occasion. In the month before the offensive admissions had averaged 50 a day. On March 22 the admissions jumped to 500, on March 23 to over 1,000, on March 26 to over 1,600, and on March 28 and 29 to well over 2,000 a day. Thirty-six thousand casualties passed through it in the ten weeks between March 21 and May 30, and 57,000 odd from May 1 to July 10. At the height of this crisis half-a-dozen surgical. teams-Canadian, British, and Amercian—were working by 390 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
day and another half-a-dozen teams by night. At times its accommodation was so taxed that some of the milder cases had to be placed two in a bed with one on a palliasse under the bed.
Were these the reasons for which the enemy singled out this hospital for a manifestation of his super-contempt of the Hague Convention and of humanity ?
It was just after midnight, May 29-30, that an enemy aeroplane dropped a flare, and then an incendiary bomb which struck the hospital full and fair. Instantly a fire broke out, and the whole upper group of buildings was threatened. An operation was in progress at the time of the raid and the whole of the surgical team, the nursing sisters, the patient and the stretcher-bearers were instantly killed.
The flames spread rapidly, and the nursing sisters and orderlies had the utmost difficulty in removing their patients to safety. All behaved with magnificent courage. It is impossible to bestow all the honour which is due to individuals. The case of the nursing sister who slid down the debris, leading her patients, the stairway having gone, is but a typical incident.
Of the staff, two officers, three nursing sisters, six N.C.O.s and 10 other ranks were killed, and one nursing sister and 15 other ranks were wounded. Among the patients six officers were killed, two were subsequently found to be missing and reported dead, and three other ranks among the patients also lost their lives.
"Llandovery Castle."—The story of the sinking of H.M. Hospital Ship " Llandovery Castle " is well known, but reference must be made to it in this report, not only because what it affords is probably the most deliberate sinking of a hospital ship on record, but because the tragedy is in some degree softened by the remarkable heroism and devotion to duty of the staff of the Canadian Army Medical Service on board.
Out of the entire ship's company there were only 24 survivors, and of these only six, one officer and five other ranks, escaped out of a hospital personnel of 97.
The fiendish sinking of the "Llandovery Castle " was perpetrated by an enemy submarine on June 27, 1918, and the evidence of the six survivors of the hospital personnel leaves no doubt that the German submarine commander was resolved to sink the ship " without trace." This is obvious from the Canadian Army Medical Corps. 391 systematic attempts made by the submarine after the vessel had been torpedoed, to ram, shell, and sink the lifeboats and wreckage floating helplessly with their 258 helpless victims, 116 miles from land.
In spite of their appalling circumstances the conduct of all on board was in fitting keeping with the proudest traditions of the British Army and the Mercantile Marine. And throughout nothing is more marked than the coolness and courage of the 14 Canadian Nursing Sisters, every one of whom was lost.
No excuse could be advanced by the enemy for this pitiless murder of almost the entire ship's company in cold blood. The night was clear, all lights in the vessel were burning, the customary Red Cross signal being prominently displayed amidships. It is also, perhaps, unnecessary to reaffirm that the accusation of the German submarine commander that the "Llandovery Castle " was carrying American Flying Officers or munitions of war, was without the faintest justification. It was an accusation on a par with the spirit which promoted the destruction of a vessel which was immune from attack by every law of war or peace.
Stages of the Wounded from the Battlefield to " Blighty."
It was the policy of the Canadian Authorities to provide beds in sufficient numbers in Canadian Hospitals in the British Isles to meet the requirements of the casualties among the Canadian Troops in France.
So far as was practicable and possible, too, the Canadians evacuated from France were distributed to Canadian Hospitals. In times of stress, however, mainly to meet the exigencies of Ambulance Railway Transport in England they had, of necessity, to be distributed to both British and Canadian Hospitals. That, after severe fighting was inevitable ; but every effort was bent towards placing Canadians in Canadian Hospitals, and how successful was this endeavour is evident in the expansion of Canadian bed capacity alone. Where it was necessary, owing to the demands of the moment to place Canadians in British Hospitals, the British Authorities were prevailed on to place Canadians in Hospitals in areas most easily accessible to the Canadian Authorities and to the Canadian patients' relatives and friends.
392 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
It is interesting to glance for a moment at the progress of a casualty from the time he was hit in the Field up to the time he reached his Canadian haven of refuge in the land of respite from war, which, to the Imperial and Canadian troops alike, was known affectionately and popularly as " Blighty."
When the Canadian soldier-officer or man-was wounded in the Field he was first tended by the stretcher-bearers of his Unit who bore him back to the Regimental Aid Post, unless, of course, the casualty were what is known as a "walking wounded."
At the Regimental Aid Post the Medical Officer supplemented whatever additional treatment he could to that which had already been administered by the bearers.
As quickly after that as might be, the casualty was moved on to the Advance Dressing Station for Field Ambulances, which perhaps might be one or two miles in the rear. Sometimes, of course, it was possible for the wounded man to proceed on foot, but the more serious cases were conveyed by stretcher and at times by horse ambulance. The latter was the method most used during the Battles of Amiens, Arras and Cambrai.
At the Advance Dressing Station the patient again received every care which could be given there, and thence he was hurried on by Motor Ambulance or light railway to the main dressing station of the Field Ambulance and thence the Casualty Clearing Station. During the last 12 months of the war standard gauge trains linked the main Dressing Stations to the Casualty Clearing Stations, and the comfort of the wounded was thereby greatly increased.
At every stopping place indeed, everything that it was humanly possible to do was done for the wounded men. From the time of their arrival at the Regimental Aid Post and throughout their subsequent journey those cases which could take nourishment were amply provided with comforting drinks and food.
It was not, however, until the Casualty Clearing Station was reached, that whatever operation was necessary was performed, other of course, Than the control of haemorrhage, removal of utterly destroyed limbs, treatment of shock and the initial treatment of gassed cases. Here at the Casualty Clearing Station, teams of skilled surgeons, including specialists, worked with ordered and skilful haste. Here, too, the casualty
BLANK PAGECanadian Army Medical Corps. 393 was bathed and clothed and put into a clean bed until such time as it was considered safe to move him to the Stationary or General Hospital located on the Lines of Communication, or on the coast at Etaples, Boulogne or Calais.
From the Casualty Clearing Station to the Hospital all wounded were conveyed in a specially-equipped Hospital Train which carried Medical Officers and Nursing Sisters. At the hospital the wounded men remained until they were fit to be evacuated to a convalescent camp in France or carried to England in a floating hospital for further treatment there.
Such is the bald outline of the journey towards rest of the happy warrior who had found peace with honour.
It does not, however, convey all the wonderful surmounting of difficulties during that journey out of the hurly-burly, from the Regimental Aid Post, around which the shells always fell, to the final happy refuge in one of Canada's great palaces of healing in " Blighty."
Nor could any words convey the kindness, the humanity and the skilled care which eased the bodies and cheered the spirits of the men who journeyed on that pilgrimage of pain.
The names and other details concerning the various establishments of the C.A.M.C. are given in the tables. Information regarding the relative strengths of these establishments are as follows:— (a) Units in England.— On November 30, 1918, the total personnel of the C.A.M.C. in England (officers, nursing sisters and other ranks) was 7,676—namely, 770. medical officers, 1,094 nursing sisters and 6,512 other ranks.
Of these, 437 medical officers, 1,006 nursing sisters and 3,656 other ranks were on the establishment of Hospital Units ; 15 medical officers, 27 nursing sisters and 182 other ranks on that of the hospital ships H.M.A.T. " Araquaya " and H.M.A.T. " Essiquibo "; the remainder were attached to administrative staffs, Medical Boards, Regimental, and other establishments.
Regarding Hospital Units, there are here included 10 General Hospitals, six Canadian Convalescent Hospitals (namely, Bearwood Park, Bromley, Matlock Bath, Epsom, 394 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
Bexhill, and Monks Horton), and nine Canadian Special Hospitals (namely, Granville Canadian Special Hospital, Buxton; Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital, Buxton; Etchinghill, Witley, Lenham, Westcliffe Eye and Ear Hospital, Petrograd, and the Canadian Forestry Corps Hospital, Beach Hill and Bushey Park).
The divergence between the Bed Capacity list of Canadian Hospitals and that of the Canadian Hospital Units now referred to is brought about by the fact that on November 30, 1918, two Hospital Units, namely the 9th and 10th Canadian General Hospital Units, were operating British Hospitals, the Shorncliffe Military Hospital and the Kitchener Military Hospital, Brighton, respectively.
(b) Units in France.—On the same date there were in France 681 medical officers of the C.A.M.C., 792 nursing sisters, and 5,731 other ranks.
These were distributed between six General Hospitals, six Stationary Hospitals, four Casualty Clearing Stations, 14 Field Ambulances, five Sanitary Sections, one Laboratory Unit, one Depot Medical Stores and Administrative Staffs, with, in addition, individual officers (not establishments) attached to Divisions, Forestry Corps Troops and Cavalry.