We are very grateful to Marian Powell who will be giving a talk at The Spike on her life as a nurse. Marian started as a cadet nurse before commencing her training at the new Group Preliminary Training School (PTS) at St. Luke’s Hospital in October 1956, after a memorable interview with Matron Coyle!
As we remember those who perished fighting the war, SLHHP would like to specifically remember those who were brought from the front line to the Guildford War Hospital, Warren Road.
In 1916, Warren Road Hospital was taken over by the military to treat wounded soldiers from the front.
Australian soldiers were also treated here….some never came returned home. One such soldier was Private Francis Arthur Boyle of Queensland Australia. Boyle signed up to the 17th Battalion on the 18th January 1916 and fought in Belgium and France in the same year. By November, he was severely wounded – gut shot wound – and brought to the War Hospital here in Guildford. Sadly, he died of his injuries on Sunday 31st December 1916 and was buried at Stoughton Cemetery four days later. The sister in charge of the ward where Boyle lay was Linda Bell, and he’s what she said of his last days:
” He was unconscious for days before his death and died quite peacefully, his sister-in-law present. He was buried with full military honors in the Stoughton Cemetery, his sister-in-law attended. As I hope to leave for Australia and come from the same town as the late Pte Boyle, I intend to call and see his people…”
Her letter shows the compassion shown by the nursing staff at the hospital. Bell, herself was an Australian national, had seen her own share of tragedy when, on her way to Cameroon in 1915, the ship she was sailing on sunk at sea, drowning her colleague. Bell was saved but she lost everything. Despite this, she courageously sailed again soon after. An article which appeared in the British Journal of Nursing (April 1915) detailing her tragic voyage, stated “She evidently possesses the qualities necessary for war nursing,” and we’d have to agree.
On 6th November our research group visited St. Bartholomew’s Museum and the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret at St Thomas’s Hospital. Despite the constant rain and standing up all the way home on the train, the researchers maintain that it was a good day out! The visits provided plenty of food for thought and inspiration for the SLHHP exhibition in Spring 2014 and ideas will be discussed at the next research group meeting on 19th November. Pictured are Phil, Diana, Liz and Fred outside the Old Operating Theatre in Southwark -looking very cheery…. (note: the picture was taken before tackling the spiral stairs up to the garret and contemplating on surgery without anesthesia!)
” Kay, I’m outside. I’ve got a couple here from Spain who say they used to work at the hospital. Will you interview them for the project?”
Mr and Mrs Fariira worked at St Luke’s Hospital in the early 1970’s as cleaners and had fond memories of their time here as their son was born in the maternity unit.
Mr Fariina said, ” I worked in the laboratory and the cancer unit. Mrs Atkins was the main boss. We worked long hours with only one hour break! In the cancer unit, I cleaned and served hot drinks and breakfast to the patients – toast, eggs, bacon, no beans! It was a very good breakfast!”
Mrs Fariina worked on the maternity ward. “The people were very nice” she remembered. I asked about the food, “Yes, they seemed to like the breakfast – the milk was very nice!” she said. “My son was born here. I received a BIG bunch of flowers from the hospital staff,” she smiled. “I stayed 15 days in the maternity because we had no family over here. The main nurse was very friendly.”