Frontline Salute: Red Gables Hospital Part 2

On the Terrace at Red Gables Hospital

I’m continuing my tribute to those battling COVID-19 in our hospitals, nursing homes and as first responders by digging through my archives of First World War hospital photographs.

This is the second of a two-part feature on the Red Gables Private Hospital in Bletchingley, Surrey. In addition to the photos and postcards from Private John Denholm’s scrapbook I’ve included two clippings from the Surrey Mirror. One of them provides a good overview of the facility and a photograph of Dr. Abbott, staff and patients from 1915. The scrapbook includes a real photo postcard of the same image that appeared in the newspaper and so I’ve transcribed the names included in the article to ensure they will be found by internet search engines.

Private John Denholm spent six months at Red Gables however that was only part of a long period of convalescence. He was seriously wounded in the head and groin on January 14, 1916 while the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) were in trenches in southwest Belgium. The battalion war diary notes that 10 men and 2 officers were wounded by heavy enemy shelling that day. A summary of the month was added at the end of the diary and read:

“Siege warfare with intermittent bombardments and desultory rifle and machine gun fire; progress work – repairing and improvements and the usual concerns of siege warfare; but taken altogether there is little or nothing of historical importance.”

The dozen men wounded that day might disagree but their injuries were what the army classified as “wastage”, the inevitable overhead incurred when waging war.

John Denholm’s injuries were serious and for a period it was questionable if he would survive. He remained in hospital in France for 7 weeks before being well enough to be evacuated to England. He spent several weeks in two hospitals before being transferred to Red Gables in April 1916. After leaving Dr. Abbott’s care in late September he spent nearly nine months in other institutions before being evacuated to Canada aboard HS Letitia in June 1917.

Please post a comment if you find someone you’ve been researching.

Red Gables Hospital

Legend to Postcard above. Source: Surrey Mirror October 15, 1915

Names Transcribed from Newspaper article:
Front Row: Rifleman Connelly, Sergt. Millgate, Pte Kewley, Sergt. Thornton, Sergt. Mortimer
Sitting: L/Cpl Clark, Corpl. Stallard, Driver Greenaway, Pte Thierrin, Sister Hardwicke, Mrs. Way (Matron), Mrs. Abbott, Miss Dixon (Secretary), Sister Newton, Pte Fox, Driver Gunneen, Pte Ridgeway.
3rd Row: Pte Harris, Pte Flack, Nurse Atkins, Gunner James, Bombardier Russell, Sergt. Gathercole, Nurse Jephson, Pte Barnard, Dr. Baker, Dr. Curtis, Dr. Abbott, Dr. Robertson, L/Cpl Jeffries, Pte Wells, Nurse Ford, Driver Sach, Sister Hodgson, Strapper Tyler.
Back Row: Trumpeter Parker, Pte Athersmith, Pte Mott, Sergt. Sharp, Corpl. Woolmer, Corpl. Davidson, Pte Pauffley, Pte Meek, Pte Fox, Pte Thompson, Pte Grosvenor, Pte Bostock, Pte Ainsworth, Pte Orbell, L/Cpl Exon, Pte Hallson, Driver Piggott, L/Cpl Imerson, Pte Davies, Bombardier Partridge.

Red Gables Hospital Photo Gallery Part 2
The names featured in this gallery include: Matron Cooke; Nursing Sister West; L/Cpl Parrish Royal Engineer; “Maggie“.

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