‘I have the honour to report that the Hospital opened for the reception of patients on Monday last the 6th. inst.’ – Chief Commissioner James R. A. Clark, 8th September 1915.
This week marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of The Order of St John Voluntary Hospital in Étaples, France. In his weekly report, Chief commissioner Clark describes the arrival of the first convoy of 57 patients, who were handled in an ‘entirely satisfactory’ manner. He observes how they were washed, clothed and fed hot soup and bread.
However, much of this week’s report continues to focus on finance. It was decided that the scheme proposed by the Finance and General Purposes Committee was insufficient as it was impossible to keep receipts and expenditure running through a single account. Although it was done this way in voluntary auxiliary Hospitals in England, it could not be the case in France because only running expenses were dealt with on site. In addition, the local tradespeople could not be made to furnish the Hospital with weekly accounts. Instead, Sir Lawley and Chief Commissioner Clark proposed that the Hospital, along with the Netley Hospital of the British Red Cross, should be run respectively under the control of The Order of St John and of the British Red Cross Society.
St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital,
Army Post Office S. 11,
British Expeditionary Force,
The Ambulance Department,
The Order of St. John of Jerusalem
I have the honour to report that the hospital opened
for the reception of patients on Monday last the 6th inst.
The first convoy was received at 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday
the 7th inst. The manner in which they were handled was
entirely satisfactory, the convoy of 57 being taken in, washed
and clothed, and fed with hot soup and bread by 1.30 a.m.
The final batch of Sisters and Nurses arrived safely
on Sunday 5th inst.
I called on Sir Arthur Lawley by appointment yesterday
as requested by the Finance and General Purposes Committee to
consider the scheme of account keeping as forwarded by Mr. Edwards.
Sir Arthur was somewhat at a loss to understand exactly what was
required as he had not been notified from Head Quarters of the
purport of our proposed interview, and I am afraid I was not able
to give him any clear light on the matter.
It appeared to us that the pro forma scheme received
was inappropriate for the Brigade Hospital. The scheme is for
a hospital working at home the whole of whose receipts and expend-
iture pass through one account and can be dealt with as one whole.
In the matter of the Brigade Hospital the gross receipts
and expenditure are dealt with at home and it is only the actual
running expenses that are dealt with here in France where the
hospital is situated. It is what one might almost call Petty
Cash Account – for domestic purposes to be embodied in the
general account kept at home.
It is practically impossible to render this account weekly
not because it will require extra help, but because it is imposs-
ible to obtain weekly accounts from the tradespeople with whom
It appears to me that our accounts which we are submitting
to you today, are kept as shown in section B.1. (with the pencilled
exception) of the enclosed scheme and that this is the only section
that we can deal with as I am informed that it is not deemed
advisable on Military grounds to give the information called for
under section G.
A carbon copy of the account is forwarded with the
original for transmission to 83, Pall Mall if the Order still
desire that this should be done.
In talking the matter over with Sir Arthur Lawley he
stated that his impression as regards the relations between the
St. John Brigade Hospital of the Order, the Netley Hospital of
the British Red Cross Society and the Joint Committee was the
same as my own, namely, that these hospitals were to be under the
sole and undivided control of the Order and the British Red Cross Society respectively.
I enclose statement of the expenditure on behalf of the hospital in france herewith.
I have the honour to be,
Army Post Office S.11,
British Expeditionary Force,
Explanatory memorandum of Accounts of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital, from July 27th to August 31st 1915.
It was intended that these accounts should be submitted
weekly but it has been found impossible to get the local trades-
people to send in their bills sufficiently promptly to enable
a clear statement to be made. The August statement has attached
to it a total of such accounts as are thought necessary. It will
be noted that the account of the Finance & General Purposes
Committee has been debited with the various allowances made by
them under date of their memorandum of June 12th. The total
amount expended during the 35 days was Frs. 5286.65, of this
the two amounts of Officers Mess Frs. 1822.40 and Officers Wine
Account Frs 472.90 are collectable and will be paid off within
the next five or six days. The total amount therefore expended
Has been Frs. 3091.35.
In regard to the Pay Roll of Cooks and Chauffeur, it is
impossible to get silver in Etaples for amount and to prevent
comparison and discussion between them and the Orderlies who
are paid at the Government rates the same system has been adopted
as in the Army. Men are paid fortnightly at the Government rate
of exchange and can draw what they like up to the amount of their
due pay, but only in multiples of Five Frances.
Under the heading of General Messing come the amounts allowed
by the Committee up to 1/- per head per day for all inmates and
staff up to date costing less than half that amount.