The outbreak of war on 4th August 1914 created a high demand for medical services and personnel. Voluntary aid was essential to the cause, and the Order of St John became an important organisation in the war effort with over 45,000 St John men and women volunteering during this period.
With the approval of the War Office, the Order established a Hospital close to the town of Étaples, which had become the largest British military base on the Western Front. The Hospital was staffed solely by members of the St John Ambulance Brigade and beginning on 21st July 1915, weekly reports of the ‘condition and work done by the Hospital’ were written by Chief Commissioner James R. A. Clark.
22nd July, 1915.
I have the honour to report my departure for France this
day to take over charge of the St. John Ambulance Brigade
hospital at Etaples.
The last load of equipment was dispatched from our Ware-
houses on Tuesday, and there remain only some few goods which
can be forwarded through 83 Victoria Street, or such other
way as may seem best to the Director of Stores.
The Staff and personnel leave for France this evening. The
Female Nursing Staff will remain at home pending communication
from me that their quarters are ready to receive them, which I
hope will be within the next ten days.
I propose with your approval forwarding to you as Director of
the Ambulance Department a letter, weekly, reporting the
condition and work done by the Hospital. I propose that this
letter should be posted at Etaples every Monday. It should then
reach you on Wednesday morning at the latest. I shall be glad
to adopt any other arrangement that may suit you better.
I shall be glad to be informed how often a statement of the
accounts of the Hospital out there should be submitted for the
information of the Finance& General Purposes Committee. I would
suggest monthly, made up to the end of the month.
Colonel C.R. Tyrrell A.M.S., The Commissioner of the
Brigade at present working at the War Office, will as already
approved carry on the work of the Brigade during my absence.
He has arranged with Mr. Darvil Smith, the Secretary of the
Brigade, to take all papers to him at the War Office daily as Colonel Tyrell’s duties will not allow his leaving the War Office.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship’s obedient servant
James Arthur Clark
The Director General,
Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.