Reports 09/2015

‘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.

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St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital,

Army Post Office S. 11,

British Expeditionary Force,



The Director,

The Ambulance Department,

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

in England.

My Lord,

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

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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

we deal.

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,

Your Lordships

Obedient servant,

James Clark

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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

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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.

James Clark


In this weekly report of 1st September 1915 Chief Commissioner Clark confirms that the Hospital at Étaples will be opened on the 6th of September. Although, this is with the exception of the X-ray department which remained uncompleted. There is also news that the Sisters arrived safely in France and were treated to Lunch at the Hotel Christol by Commissioner Arthur Lawley before boarding motor buses to Étaples.

This report is also largely focused on the requests of the ‘Finance & General Purposes Committee’, which instruct Chief Commissioner Clark to speak with Sir Arthur Lawley about the keeping of accounts and appear to require record of grants made to the Hospital.

Interestingly, a short handwritten note, by Chief Commissioner Clarke, at the end of the report reflects on the moral of the personnel and states that ‘everyone appears to be happy’.

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First page of report

St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital,

Army Post Office S. 11,

British Expeditionary Force,



The Director,

The Ambulance Department,

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

in England.

My Lord,

I received your telegram this morning and proceeded to

Boulogne to see that proper arrangements had been made for the

transport of the sisters arriving to Etaples.

I found that the Commissioner, Sir Arthur Lawley, had

arranged for their lunch at the Hotel Christol on landing, and

closed motor buses for their transport to Etaples, and lorries

for their luggage after lunch. They have all arrived safely

at the hospital. Similar arrangements will be made for each

batch as they arrive on Friday and Monday.

With the exception of the X-Ray Department the hospital

is ready to receive patients and will be open on Monday the

6th inst.

I received a letter from Mr. Edwards in which he informs

me that the Finance & General Purposes Committee wish me to see

Sir Arthur Lawley with reference to the keeping of accounts.

I was unable to do so today, and Sir Arthur Lawley proceeded

to England this afternoon. On his return I will call on him

for this purpose. Meanwhile I shall be obliged if the specimen

accounts mentioned in Mr. Edwards letter may be forwarded to me,

as I have at present no knowledge of what is proposed.

Certain grants made to the hospital by individuals or individual

bodies, were ear-marked for special purposes and cannot be other-

wise expended.

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For example the Country Antrim made a special grant of

some £900 for the building and fitting up of the Research

Laboratory and for carrying on its work, and there are other


I have the honour to be

Your Lordships

Obedient servant,

James Clark

The health of the personnel

is excellent and every one

appears to be happy and