“I was in the Resuscitation Ward, and it was extremely sad.” A Casualty Clearing Station on the Western Front

Sister Amy Mathews,  a graduate of Newcastle Hospital, enlisted in 1915 and worked on a hospital ship for two years before being posted to France.  In 1919 she provided an account of her experiences for the official medical history of the War.    The full transcript is available from the Australian War Memorial, AWM41/1072.  Reproduced with the permission of the Australian Army.

In February, 1918, I went to No 1 A.G.H., Rouen.  The work was extremely heavy, being bad surgical cases.  I remained there until June, 1918, when I was transferred to No.3 A.C.C.S. [Australian Casualty Clearing Station].

The next two months were not very hard.  We went to Esquelvecq as the Germans retreated, and work became very heavy again.  It took three or four days to pack our things and move, and two or three days more to unpack, etc, so that at the end of about seven days, work would commence again.  We had four moves in six months, and were in Courtrai when the Armistice was signed.  Many cases were still coming in, and a great many deaths occurred, although the War was now over.  I was in the Resuscitation Ward, and it was extremely sad.  Some of the patients responded wonderfully to the treatment, which consisted of blood transfusions, subcutaneous salines, and warmth.  Some however did not respond, whatever the treatment.

There were great celebrations on Armistice Day, although we were far away from everybody.  The Aerodrome sent search-lights across the sky in every direction.  Some of the boys who were sent down to us did not know that the Armistice was signed.

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© Christine Bramble 2013

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