No. 3 Southern General Hospital

Posted: December 29, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

No.3 Southern General Hospital West 11, Somerville, Oxford, England

27 August 1916

At last I have reached the Mecca of all Soldiers – “Blighty” so it is commonly called. On Friday afternoon I was packed up and put on a hospital train and transported to Calais. We couldn’t see much of this place as it was night and everything was in darkness owing to aeroplane and zeppelin raids. The country seemed very flat and uninteresting around the town. The town itself was just one big collection of tiled roofs relieved here and there by a church spire. There seemed to be miles of very fine docks though. We were put on a hospital ship, and turned in for the night.

Next morning about 10 we set off. It was only a run of an hour and a half to Dover, but it was some trip. We were on a little high speed contraption about 300 feet long with a beam of 30 feet. The channel was very rough, and what the boat didn’t go through, she went over. I was down below in bed so I didn’t see much. Many were seasick. I was feeling tip top the whole way except for about two minutes just as land was sighted. However, in the two minutes, I was seasick for the first time in my travels. I didn’t mind the sensation but I objected to breaking my record.

At Dover we were put on another train and sent through to here. The country in the south is very pretty. It is fine rolling agricultural country. Everything is very trim and neat. All the towns and villages are delightful. Everything shows good order and taste. The roads are fine, not one that would compare unfavourably with our best. You find paved roads right out in the country. All the railway stations are big and roomy and spotlessly clean. As you get nearer London, among the suburbs the scene changes. At first it is not unlike Mitcham and Unley, but as you get up to Kensington, Clapham, Chelsea etc., you find dingy, dirty, poky houses etc. What I saw of the Thames was just a muddy stream lined with untidy wharves and barges. As you get out this side nearer to Oxford, the country opens out again to trim fields and hedges. Everything strikes one as being in the miniature, and laid out and measured off exactly. The ordinary country is just like a big garden.

This is a big hospital, but very quiet. There is a fine garden- chiefly lawn, with a few trees about. This afternoon it has been raining fairly heavily, and it can rain here alright. The town appears to be very pretty and the college buildings are particularly fine. They are all spired and towered. As far as I can make out, there are only three Australians here. We missed the others by some mischance, however I expect we will pick them up sometime.

I have one friend with me, a chap named Edmondson of the 51st. I managed to get moved into his room today. Altogether this hospital doesn’t compare too well with the 24th. The attention, food, and general well being is not nearly the same. In Etaples it was excellent. I wish we had gone nearer London as it would have been very handy to have been able to slip in at any odd time.

At present I am handicapped by not having any clothes. What the barb wire didn’t tear off me, they just cut off me when I was in the dressing station. For a time, money is going to be an item. Until I can get to an Australian Base of some sort, I can’t get any money. Our people always pay to us direct. In the British Army the pay is paid to the officer’s bank account, and he draws as he wants money. At first opportunity, I am going to open an account with the Bank of Adelaide.

One of the things that struck me on landing, was being able to read everything written, and understand everything spoken which was the first time for a very long time. I will give you an account of our moves for the last few months. I suppose I am quite safe in doing so now. On our way from Marseilles up north, we passed through Amiens, Boulogne, Calais, Abbeville, and ended up at Hazelbrook. From there we marched to Fletie, and moved on from town to town. From Fletie to Sailly sur la Lys, then to Estanes, the place with the church. From Estanes back to Fletie thence to Bailleul-Coudas, Pernois, Herisart, Vandencourt (the woods) Albert thence to the Push. From the Push to Warloy, Puichvilliers, Etaples, Calais, and Dover. It covers a lot of country, and if you can get a large map, it would show all the places. The first lot of places are around Armentieres, and the latter round the Somme.


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