Reports 08/1915

With the Hospital at Étaples still driving towards completion, the weekly report of 25th August is concerned with the work that is left to be done on site. Chief Commissioner Clarke states that as far as casualties are concerned, there is no immediate urgency for the Hospital to be completed although they hope for it to be finished very soon. Due to this, he reports that the Matron says to refrain from sending the Sisters out, as there would be nothing for them to do. However, there are still problems with the ‘non-arrival of the Oil Engine and Dynamo’, which are required for the Operating Theatre and the X-ray, as well as delayed motor cars. The Ford Van would be arriving at the Hospital ‘any day now’ but the ‘Sunbeam’ had to be ‘patched up considerably’.

Lastly, Mr A. A. Gatty of Bannister Hall presented the Hospital with a much-needed Cyclostyle, a device for copying handwriting on to paper by means of a stencil.

Page One

First page of report

First page of report

St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital

Army Post Office S. 11,

British Expeditionary Force,


August 25th., 1915.

The Director,

The Ambulance Department,

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

in England.

My Lord,

Considerable progress is being made, the wards are nearly

all completed as to equipment and readiness to receive patients,

also the Nurses quarters, but we held up by the non arrival

of the Oil Engine and Dynamo and X-Ray and Operating Theatre work.

Captain Gordon who has been in London since Friday is endeavouring

to trace it and he has satisfied himself that it has not been

landed at Boulogne.

So far as the requirements of sick and wounded are concerned

there is no urgency for the completion of the hospital, but we are

naturally anxious to get everything completed and in working order

as soon as possible.

The Matron does not consider it advisable that the sisters

should come out just yet as there is nothing for them to do. I hope

in a week or ten days at most we shall be ready for them.

With regard to cars, we have now the “Sunbeam” –  an old car

which we have had to patch up considerably, the silencer blew out

and we had to make and fix a new one which we did ourselves. The

tyres were solid and non-skid and have had to be replaced.

Colonel Trimble is providing a Ford Van out of funds at his

disposal which may arrive any day now. This van is new and built

especially for the purpose for which we require it. I shall be

glad of the two seater runabout, a Ford will do but I trust it

will be in fair working order as cars have all to go to Boulogne

Page Two

Second page of report

Second page of report


for any serious repairs and become an undue expense to the


Hospital extras and Petrol and accessories for one car

have been granted to us free of charge, and I hope to get per-

mission to buy petrol from Army Stores for such other cars as

we may desire, the difference in price being 11d. a gallon as

against 2/7 if bought elsewhere.

We have made an arrangement with the Laundry mentioned in

a previous letter. It is the only Laundry capable of doing our

work and cannot be carried on without some outside assistance.

The proprietor proposed we should send two men out to live there

and give the assistance required but I was afraid this might lead

to troublesome complications and we have agreed to pay part of the

wages, 15/- a week, of a Frenchman to be engaged by the proprietor.

Up to the present we have not send any washing there as it has been

small in amount and could be taken by a small Laundry near by.

Mr. A. A. Gatty of Bannister Hall, Near Preston, Lancs has

presented the hospital with a Cyclostyle which was very urgently

required. I had indented on the Army Stores for one but was informed

we must procure it out of our own funds. It has arrived and is in


I think that with the exception of the oil engine the whole

of our equipment has been received. All things considered it has

sustained extremely little damage, none to seriously incommode us.

The health of the whole personnel is excellent as we trust

this may find Your Lordship.

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordships

Obedient servant,

James Clark


The report from this week in 1915 begins, ‘I have not much to report at present except that good progress is being made.’ The Hospital obtained the loan of a lorry, which allowed equipment to be brought to site, but had to refuse the offer of a ‘motor x-ray ambulance car’ from Sir John C. Holder Bt., as sufficient x-ray equipment was already held.

Chief Commissioner Clark also notes that he has delayed posting the report, as he was waiting for the arrival of Miss Todd the Matron, the Assistant Matron Miss Chittock, and nurses, Misses Willis, MacMahon and Bertha Smith who arrived by motor car on the 11th August. However, the report mostly focuses on ‘a definite agreement’, drawn up by the War Office, concerning the rations given to the Red Cross and Voluntary Hospitals.

Finally, the Hospital receives a visit from Sir Arthur Lawley, who was made a Knight of Grace in 1917 and Knight of Justice in 1920 by the Order of St. John, and his wife Lady Lawley on Thursday afternoon, where upon they were offered tea in the Mess.

Page One

First page of report

First page of report


To The Director

The Ambulance Department,

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

in England.

My Lord,

I have not much to report at present except that good

progress is being made.

We have obtained the loan of a lorry since Monday, through

the good offices of Sir. Arthur Lawley, which has enabled us to

collect a quantity of our equipment which was lying at Boulogne

and elsewhere.

I find that a definite agreement was drawn up as to the

treatment of Voluntary Hospitals in the matter of rations

between The British red Cross and the War Office Authorities

out here. I enclose a copy.

From this it will be seen that we shall have to pay for

light, fuel, water, petrol-except petrol for one car – and for


Since this was drawn up it has been decided that electric

light and water shall be a free issue to Voluntary Hospitals.

In reading through a copy of my last letter to you I notice

in reference to the offer concerning the Mortuary it is written

“this offer has now been accepted” it should have been written

“has not been accepted”.

Miss Todd the Matron, The Assistant Matron Miss Chittock,

and the Misses Willis, MacMahon, and Bertha Smith, arrived safely

in Boulogne and were brought out here by motor car this evening.

I propose sending Captain Gordon home on the 20th to see

to a few matters regarding the equipment of the Hospital.

I have received a letter from Commissioner, Colonel

Page Two

Second page of report

Second page of report

Continuation 2.

Tyrrell, forwarding an offer from Sir John C. Holder Bt., of

a motor X-Ray Ambulance Car for use at the front. I am afraid

we have no use for it in connection with the hospital as we

have a complete X-Ray equipment already, but I have passed the

offer on to the Military Medical Authorities as it may be of

use on the Lines of Communication.

Sir Arthur and Lady Lawley paid a visit to the Hospital

on Thursday afternoon, I took them round and the appeared

much gratified by what they saw. We were able to offer them tea in

the Mess.

When the Matron has been able to look round I shall be better

able to state when the remaining Nurses should come out, but

probably within the next ten days.

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordships

Obedient servant,

James Clark.

Etaples. 11/8/15

P.S. I have delayed the posting of this letter so as to be able

to notify the arrival of the sisters as reported.

The touring car Sunbeam also arrived yesterday at Boulogne

but without head lights, tools or spare tyres. These are now

being fitted to it after which it will be brought to the Hospital

and the Metallurgique disposed of as requested by Lord Norreys

in his letter of the 9th inst.


Page Three


Third page of report


London S.W.

7th May 1915.




I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your

letter of the 17th ultimo, No Q.M.690, and to acquaint

you in reply that your proposal that Red Cross Hospitals

situated in Camp Areas overseas should be supplied with

electric light and water at the public expense is approved,

in the circumstances represented.

I am


Your obedient Servant,

(Sgd) H.F.P. Percival, Lt,-Col.

for Major-General

Director of Supplies and Transport.

The Inspector General

of Communications,

British Army in the Field.

Page Four


Fourth page of report



No. G. 10-15

Date 24/4/15. Etaples.


Field Marshal

J.D.P. French, G.C.B.., O.M., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G..,

Commander –in-Chief,

British Expeditionary Force,


The Secretary,

War Office



28th  January, 1915.


The question of the amount of the assistance which

should be given to recognised Red Cross and Voluntary Aid

Hospitals is continually arising and it is very desirable

that some definite ruling should be arrived at immediately.

With this object in in view, I have had an agreement

drawn up with the Red Cross in accordance with the attached

statement so as to settle the relative financial

responsibility as regards hospital expenditure of the war

Office and the Red Cross in regard to these hospitals.

The question of the upkeep of Motor Ambulance has

already been arranged by a Routine Order No. 495 published

on 30th December 1914, a copy of which is attached.

I therefore have the honour to request that I may

be informed if you approve of the arrangements made, and if

so, that your concurrence may be cabled to me.

I have the honour to be,


Your obedient servant,

(Sgd) C.F.N. Macready,


For Field Marshal

British Commanding

Army in Field.

Page Five


Fifth page of report


Q.K. 732.




To be provided by Red Cross and Voluntary Hospitals. To be provided by the Army.

1.      Hospital Extras

2.      Hospital Equipment.

3.      Medical & Surgical Supplies

4.      Rent of Building.

5.      Feul and Light. Water.

6.      Motor Cars, Lorries and Ambulance Wagons

7.      Salaries and Wages.

8.      Hospital Staff Clothing


1.      Rations For (Personnel.

2.      Hospital Clothing

3.      Field Service Clothing for men on discharge

4.      Washing of Patients, petrol, and tyres, etc., as per War Office Agreement November 17th 1914.

5.      Railway Transport

The start of August saw the arrival of much anticipated supplies and materials. Whilst the construction of the Hospital was still ongoing, Chief Commissioner Clark addressed the urgent need for more vehicles, to carry out duties such as taking items to the laundry. He reports that they would like ‘a small 15-20 touring car and a light ford van, also a small two seated run-about Singer’ but that the cars they believed had been shipped to them have ‘not been heard of’.

There is also mention of the Hospital’s Matron and her sisters preparing themselves for the journey to France, with their expected arrival taking place on Wednesday 11th August 1915. Lastly, attached to the report is a copy of a letter received from a G. Toombs, who lists the cars that had been sent out to the Hospital in Étaples, as well as those that were still to be sent over from London.

Page One

First page of report

First page of report

To The Director

The Ambulance Department

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

in England

My Lord,

I am glad to be able to report that a very large proportion

of the delayed material arrived yesterday and today, and will

enable us to get on with the completion of the Hospital more


The offer of a General Mortuary I alluded to in my last

letter has now been accepted, and we propose utilizing the material

for a Convalescent Officers Dining and Recreation Room which will

be erected close to the ward reserved for them.

supply to Rt Hon Charles Booth[?]

We are in urgent need of a small 15-20 touring car

Mr Toombs has one ready                         11 Adelphi Terrace [rest illegible] 

and a light Ford van, also a small two seated run about Singer.

The car that we have at present, the Metallurgique, is used up

entirely and is working on one cylinder only, and we have had to

buy tyres for it.

The Sunbeam Lord Norreys informed us was shipped for the

Hospital last Sunday week the 25th ult., has not been heard of,

and the cars mentioned in the accompanying copy of a letter received

from Mr. Toombs have likewise not been further heard of. I have

communicated with Lord Norreys on these matters but presume he is

away as I have received no answer from him.

Our washing will have to be done at a laundry some seven

miles off and will be sent twice a week; for the transport of

this and for journeys to Boulogne and elsewhere for provisions etc.

a light wan is absolutely essential.

The Matron and three or four sisters to assist her in

getting things ready might come out on Wednesday the 11th

Page Two

Second page of report

Second page of report

Contd 2.

They may have to mess with the Officers for a time till their

own mess and the general kitchen are ready, but their sleeping

quarters will be ready to receive them.

I shall be obliged if Mr. Morgan will forward as soon

as possible all invoice still in his hands of goods received

as we urgently require them here for checking as equipment arrives.

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordships

Obedient servant,

James Clark

Etaples. 4/8/15.

Kindly advise me of the boat by

which the Matron will leave …..

We may make arrangements for

having her here in Boulogne and brought

out here and also of the number of

Sisters coming with her.


Page Three

Third page of report

Third page of report

Copy of a letter received from

  1. Toombs Esq,

142, Boulevard De Strasbourg,


July 21st 1915.

To Col. Sir James R.A. Clark, Bart, C.B.,

St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital,


Dear Sir James,

I have to advise you that I have sent up to Boulogne today

en route for Etaples in charge of Red Cross Drivers who are returning

to Boulogne, the following vehicles which have been sent over from

London by Lord Norreys :-

28/36. H.P. Turcat-Mery Lorry (more of a [illegible] Not much good – broken down en route!)

50/60. H.P. Fiat Van

I shall be glad to hear from you when they reach Etaples


I also have the following vehicles here which have been sent

over by lord Norreys, but of which some are not yet fit for the road

as certain parts are required as shewn on list below :-

  1. H.P. Panhard Ambulance. Clutch and steering gear in a

bad state.

  1. H.P. Iris Car. Needs timing-gear-wheel.

30.H.P. Napier Ambulance. Needs oil pump.

Metallurgique Ambulance. In good order.

All the spare parts necessary have been requisitioned, and

as soon as all the vehicles are in a fit state, I will advise you,

so that you may send down drivers to fetch them away.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) G. Toombs,

Commissioner. O.S.J.J.

Sub-Commissioner B.R.C.S.