“The hours of duty were very long …” – a hospital in northern Greece

Sister Susan Arnold, Matron of Dungog Hospital before the War, worked for over a year at hospitals near the city of Salonika in northern Greece.  The climate was extreme – hot in summer and snowbound in winter – and the hospitals were in tents.  In 1919 she provided an account of her experiences for the official medical history of the War.  The full transcipt of interview is available from the Australian War Memorial, AWM41/1072.  Reproduced with the permission of the Australian Army.

The hours of duty were very long, working from 6 a.m. with no break until half past seven [p.m.].  The convoys [of sick and wounded] also usually arrived at nighttime, and owing to being short staffed, we had to come on duty for them.¹

We had concerts in the evening but the sisters were not allowed out after five in winter, and six in summer.

Three days after our arrival, the whole of Salonika was burnt out.  The British gave their supplies to the Greeks who were quite refugees.  They would have been in dire straits had it not been for the Australian Red Cross who came to the help with food and clothes.

¹ Convoys of wounded usually moved under cover of darkness to minimise the risk of further injury to patients from enemy fire.

Click here for other first hand accounts.


© Christine Bramble 2013

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