«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»
Every Article Required.—All officers commanding Medical Units under the Canadian Army Medical Corps were provided with special forms on which they could indent for whatever stores they required ; and to facilitate the distribution, a Canadian Red Cross Society Store, in charge of a trained orderly, was attached to every Canadian Hospital in France. In most cases every article required could be supplied on the spot; in other cases they were sent for from the warehouse. As a precaution, all requests for supplies made by Units in the Forward Area had to be approved by the Senior Medical Officer of the Area unless the case was one of great urgency. In every instance a careful record was kept of each item issued, and a monthly return sent to England. Up to December 31, 1918, a total of 56,398 cases of supplies was sent to the Canadian Red Cross Society's Headquarters in France and thence distributed as required to the Canadian Troops.
The work of the Canadian Red Cross Society in France, however, was by no means confined to the distribution of supplies. Its activities, indeed, were of a most varied description, it operated a large Motor Ambulance Convoy, and built large recreation huts in connection with the Canadian General and Stationary Hospitals. These huts, which were in charge 488 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
of Canadian Members of the Voluntary Aid Detachments, were at times used as Hospital Wards. The Red Cross Society also built special wards for pulmonary cases in several of the Canadian Hospitals ; it supplied Christmas gifts to all Canadian soldiers in every Hospital in France ; it furnished musical instruments for Hospital Orchestras ; provided special furniture and fittings when such were required, and opened a Canadian Rest House, staffed by Members of Canadian V.A.D's, for nursing sisters passing through Boulogne. From the time of the opening of this Rest House in April, 1918, until December 31, 1918, no fewer than 6,859 nursing sisters were grateful for the repose and shelter it afforded them.
In France the erection, equipment, and maintenance of buildings, including hospital accommodation for 610 beds, amounted to £88,233 12s.
Work in British Isles.—The work of the Canadian Red Cross Society in Great Britain was, for obvious reasons, of a different character to that which it carried on in France, but it was none the less important.
The small office, the one small warehouse, packing department and bonded room, which were first established in London, did not long suffice to meet the rapidly increasing demands made on the organisation.
The opening of new hospitals in France and in England and the organising in France of both Ambulances and Casualty Clearing Stations involved the handling of an immense quantity of supplies. Additional warehouse room had to be acquired in December, 1915, and by that time the central office in Cockspur Street included 16 rooms, while the workers numbered 84. To the activities of the central office had been added the work of the Information Bureau and the Prisoners of War Department.
At the close of the second year, 1916, the volume of work had again enormously increased. Once more it had been necessary to rent additional warehouses. From November, 1915, to October, 1916, 62,005 cases were dealt with in these warehouses alone. By this time, too, the Canadian Red Cross Society was assisting in the cases of from 16,000 to 19,000 sick and wounded per month, and there were nearly 40 Canadian Military and other Hospitals requiring assistance Overseas.
By the end of 1917 the work had made still further strides. Forty rooms were, required as offices in Cockspur Street and four warehouses were needed to store the cases of supplies. There was a motor convoy in London of four lorries and twelve cars.
Red Cross. 489 In April, 1918, the Headquarters of the Society were moved from Cockspur Street to Hotel York, Berners Street, and 21, Berners Street was acquired for the Prisoners of War Packing Department.
The closing months of 1918 were the most strenuous in the history of the Society Overseas, owing not only to the severe fighting in which the Canadians were so long engaged, but on account of the needs of the unfortunate people in regions previously occupied by the enemy. These needs were partly, met by the Canadian Red Cross Society.
The following figures give the number of cases of supplies dealt.
with from November, 1914, to November, 1918.— Cases of supplies from Canada
Cases of supplies purchased in England
Cases of supplies distributed to Hospitals in England..... 113,813 Buildings Equipped and Opened.—From the time the Canadian Red Cross Society began its activities Overseas up to the cessation of hostilities the following Hospitals were opened by the Organisation in England:—
THE DUCHESS OF CONNAUGHT, CANADIAN RED CROSSSOCIETY HOSPITAL, Taplow, Bucks.
THE CANADIAN RED CROSS SPECIAL HOSPITAL,BUXTON
THE KING'S CANADIAN RED CROSS CONVALESCENTHOSPITAL, Bushey Park
THE PRINCESS PATRICIA C.R.C.S. HOSPITAL,Ramsgate
(Afterwards removed to Cooden Beach, where the Society erected additional buildings, etc., at a cost of J6,003 13s. 9d.)
THE CANADIAN RED CROSS OFFICERS' HOSPITAL (in
In addition, the Society maintained at Ennismore Gardens, London, a Rest House for Canadian Nurses, who were received there as guests of the Society, and from January, 1918, to the end of December, 1918, 1,525 sisters (including 100 Voluntary Aid Detachments) were accommodated.
From December, 1917, the Society also maintained a Rest Home for Officers, at Moor Court, Sidmouth, and by the end of 1918 nearly 500 officers had enjoyed its hospitality.
490 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
The Canadian Red Cross Society also gave valuable assistance to the authorities by erecting and equipping, or adapting, recreation rooms, games' rooms, special wards, nurses' quarters, workshops, machine shops, canteens and rest rooms in connection with Canadian Military Hospitals.
In October, 1915, a depot was opened at Folkestone for the distribution of supplies to Hospitals in the Shorncliffe Area. At the Shorncliffe Military Hospital there was a Canadian Red Cross Rest Hut, administered in connection with the depot, for the benefit of all patients going to Shorncliffe for examination by a Medical Board.
Information Bureau.—The Information Bureau was opened the day after the First Contingent landed in France, on February 11, 1915, and proved of inestimable value to Canadian soldiers and their relatives and friends. Its purpose was to collect and distribute information concerning the sick and wounded and the prisoners of war of the Canadian Divisions in Germany, to. introduce officers and men to people in the British Isles anxious to offer hospitality, and to supply the relatives and friends of the sick and wounded with regular and authentic reports as to their condition.
It may be said that no branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society's activities so closely touched the fighting men and their families as this Information Bureau, with its 200 workers and 1,300 hospital visitors.
One Department of this Bureau was divided into six sections, Hospital Visitors, General Records, Reports, Supplies, Enquiries for Sick and Wounded and Permanent Casualties. Casualty record cards were carefully filed and kept up to date by the reports of the visitors, which were used as the basis of the letters to the relatives. As many as 1,076 reports have been sent out in one day.
All enquiries for officers and men who were sick or wounded were carefully answered, and details were procured whenever possible. In cases of great urgency cables were sent to the enquirers.
The section dealing with officers and men killed in action or who had died on active service had a sad task indeed ; but its workers had the comfort of knowing that they were often able to ease the minds of anxious people asking for news of the missing, or for details of the death and burial of those who had fallen. During 1918 the work of the Bureau
Enquiries answered by letter
Red Cross. 491 Parcels Department.—The Parcels Department did much to help to cheer men in Hospital. Up to the end of 19.18; 456,166 parcels, containing Canadian Red Cross kits, with toilet articles, cigarettes, stationery, games, books, sweets, fruit, materials for work, and other things for which the men asked, had been sent to all Hospitals in which there were Canadians.
Some idea of the contents of the parcels is gleaned from the statement that in one year the Purchasing Department bought 12,630,000 cigarettes, eight tons of tobacco, 40,000 shaving brushes, five tons of fruit drops, and 10 tons of eating chocolate.
The Newspaper Department also cheered the homesick soldier in Hospital. About 79 sacks of newspapers arrived from Canada monthly, and these papers were sorted and distributed according to the demands of the men.
The Hospitality Department was fortunate in the co-operation of many kind hostesses in the British Isles anxious to entertain Canadian officers. Between February, 1916, and the end of December, 1918, 200 hostesses had entertained as their guests 2,830 Canadian officers while on leave from Hospital or from France.
Drives and entertainments were constantly arranged for the men, through the Information Bureau, which was able to supply cars and chauffeurs. In the last six months of 1918 alone 5,182 theatre tickets were issued, and 3,369 drives arranged.
Prisoners of War Department.—This Department was opened after the second Battle of Ypres, when it was known that wounded and gassed Canadians had been taken prisoners. The Department continued working until all Canadian prisoners of war had returned from Germany or had been accounted for after the Armistice was signed.
From the end of April, 1915, until the end of December, 1918, the Department recorded in its books the names of 387 Canadian officers and 4,113 other ranks, together with Canadian civilians and seamen and men of the Newfoundland Regiments, and a few soldiers from other Allied Forces.
The total number of parcels sent containing food, clothing, and tobacco was 530,054, and its total cost of parcels £258,630.
From this report of the work of the Canadian Red Cross Society, from the autumn of 1914 to the end of December, 1918, much is necessarily omitted.
492 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
It is impossible to give in detail the names of the many hundreds of devoted and faithful voluntary workers for the Society in England and in France, who sought no reward for their labours, but the joy of knowing that the Society achieved its aim-to be the unfailing friend of the sick and wounded.
Nor is it possible to tell adequately what the Overseas workers for the Society owe to the people of Canada, whose devoted and generous labours enabled them to accomplish the work entrusted to them.
Statistics, 1914-1918.—The following figures refer only to cash and supplies sent to the Overseas Headquarters, Canadian Red Cross Society, and is exclusive of supplies and grants sent direct from Canada, and of amounts raised in Canada for the British Red Cross Society:— Cash received at Overseas Headquarters.......... £1,076,957 Cases of supplies received from Canada........... 248,673 Purchased locally
Value of cases
Value of ambulances and cars donated and purchased
Altogether it has been a great work, and one deeply appreciated by the men. On that point no one is more qualified to speak than Lieut.General Sir Arthur W. Currie, and it is fitting that the Canadian Corps Commander's message to the Canadian Red Cross Society's meeting held in Toronto, should be given here. The following is the text of that message:— I esteem it a great privilege to record the feeling of pride and thankfulness experienced by all Canadians Overseas in the wonderful work accomplished by the Canadian Red Cross Society since the outbreak of war. We are proud of the splendid generosity of, Canada at home, proud of the enthusiasm and efficiency of the excellent organisation which collected and dispersed the comforts, and proud of the devotion to duty, the tireless energy, the constant supervision and the appreciation of what was wanted, of those who managed on this side of the water, and those who benefited in any way from the ministrations of the Red Cross are truly thankful: the wounded, the sick, the tired and weary.
Red Cross. 493 Many lives have been saved, many break-downs averted, and much discomfort removed, much suffering lessened by the aid received from the Red Cross. At the Hospitals, the Convalescent Camps, the Rest Homes, the Dressing Stations, and on the battlefield itself, everywhere were seen the Red Cross wagons and their attendants succouring, relieving and helping in every possible way. This help was not reserved for Canadians only;
British and French institutions did not apply in vain, and no nobler work was done by the Canadian Red Cross than when it helped to supply the needs and wants of the civil population in those French and Belgian areas from which the enemy was driven; old and feeble men and women, suffering mothers, emaciated children, from all of whom the foe had taken the necessaries of life, will on bended knee for ever thank God for sending the Canadian. Red Cross, with its comfort, its succour, and its sympathy. Now that the War is over it may seem to some that there no longer remains the same urgent need for the mission on which noble and unselfish women and men have been for so long engaged ; yet it would be a pity, and indeed a wrong, if any helpers in the Canadian Red Cross should cease their labours for the cause of suffering humanity, and so, while I am very imperfectly and inadequately expressing the appreciation of those who have been helped, may I at the same time vouchsafe the hope that the Canadian Red Cross Society will continue to direct the full energy of its organisation to the relief of the poor, the needy, and the distressed whithersoever dispersed.
(Signed) A. W. CURRIE.
The following tables give in brief the principal events connected with the activities of the Canadian Red Cross Society Overseas from 1914 to 1918:— Opening of the the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Society's Hospital at Taplow.