The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War

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The 5th London General Hospital, St Thomas's

St Thomas' Hospital is located at Stangate in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is directly across the river Thames from the Palace of Westminster on a plot of land largely reclaimed from the river during construction of the Albert Embankment in the late 1860s. It was at St Thomas's that Florence Nightingale founded the first professional school of nursing; it was one of the first hospitals to adopt the pavilion principle - popularised by Florence Nightingale in her Notes on Hospitals - by having six separate ward buildings linked by low corridors.

Territorial Force General Hospitals were often based at existing hospitals, such as St Thomas's, for the duration of the war. St Thomas's, specifically, had 94 Officer beds and 568 Other Ranks beds.

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  • The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website

    This website has been running for 18 years and receives in excess of a million hits per month. The website and our group will continue long after the 2014-18 events are over. We hope that people will continue to support us by submitting material and stories in addition to submitting to the new websites set up for the anniversary.

  • We are looking for volunteers to help with researching the activities of units of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, Regular Army, Pals Battalions, Kitchener's New Armies, Voluntary Organisations and the Ships of the Royal Navy. We currently have a huge backlog of stories and historical documents which need to be edited or transcribed for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.

Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to the Great War. If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes. Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted.

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Feb 2018

    Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 239080 your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

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Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

List of those who served at the 5th London General Hospital, St Thomas's during The Great War

List of those who were treated at the 5th London General Hospital, St Thomas's during The Great War

  • Lt. Albert Bissett Amess MC. 33rd Btn.
  • Pte. George Thomas 23rd Btn. Middlesex Regiment Read his Story.
  • Pte. J. "Tomle" Parkinson DSO 1st Btn. B Company Gordon Highlanders Read his Story.If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.

Pte. George Thomas 23rd Btn. Middlesex Regiment

George Thomas was my grandfather he was born in Wednesfield, Staffordshire, in 1895. The family moved to Enfield were his father had a boot makers shop, they lived in Ordnance Road and Alma Road.

George served with the 23rd Middlesex Battalion in France and also in Italy on the Piave front. From information that I have gathered and from personal accounts of talking with him, he told me that he served at Messines, Hooge, Kemmel and Boesinghe amongst others places. He was wounded twice, on the first occasion a steel plate was fitted in his kneecap, I recall seeing the bullet entrance scars on his leg, this was a Blighty wound and I believe he returned to Saint Thomas's Hospital in London to recuperate, later returning to the Western Front. I do not know the exact place were he was wounded but wish I could find out this information and any other that would be relevant to his service records or movements.

The photograph above is of George Thomas seated, and standing beside him, his friend William Godfrey g/11588 23rd Middlesex, whom I believe died age 26 on the 10th August 1917 and is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial. My grandfather died in 1983.

Certificate of service and his Silver War Badge.

Gary Humphries

Pte. J. "Tomle" Parkinson DSO 1st Btn. B Company Gordon Highlanders

Private J. Parkinson, B Coy., Gordon Highlanders, who was invalided home wounded in the thigh, gave this letter to Mr. W. G. Temple of West View, Bedlington, before recovering and returning to the war:- "We formed part of the 3rd Division of the Expeditionary Forces and landed at Boulogne on the 13th August, 1914. We marched up country to St. Quentin and took the train from there. We spent a week billeting at farms in the mining districts of Hyons Cypoli. At Hyons Cypoli we stopped four hours. The miners brought us wine and various other luxuries. At 6 o'clock on the 21st August we marched into Mons and our company was billeted at a large house supposed to have been vacated by a German.

While there we saw a German aeroplane pass over and we heard our troops on the left flank open fire upon it. As soon as the firing ceased we went to bed, but were called to arms at 2.30 a.m. We went right out for one mile along the main road to the right of Mons and started to entrench there, leaving the Middlesex and the Royal Irish in reserve. We got no breakfast and the cookers commenced to prepare dinner - in fact very few of us had watches, and we had lost account of time altogether. The Royal Irish were having dinner in an orchard close at hand.

There was a wood situated about 1,400 yards in front of our position, and the Germans opened fire out of the wood with their machine guns and artillery. A Lance-corporal, two privates and myself were sent out as a picket or scouting party. We were out about 15 minutes and had got about half-a-mile in front and were talking to some civilians when the Germans opened fire upon us. We turned round and doubled back to the trenches after seeing Germans moving in column out of the wood. As soon as our report was given we opened rapid fire. Long before this we had heard the heavy guns playing on Mons. We hung on in the trenches and kept on firing until 12 a.m. At 6 p.m. Major Simpson and a private went down to the village to seek more ammunition, but a shell burst very near and struck both of them. They were taken to hospital and a short while after we heard the hospital had been blown up.

The enemy, who completely outnumbered us, were pressing us hard, but we hung on until 12.30. We had almost given up and thought we were cut off when the word came to retire. We retired along the main road and the rest of the battalion retired until 4 a.m.

We lay in a field for two hours, but the German artillery got upon us. Some made trenches but had to leave them. Behind Hyons Cypoli we made more trenches, and our artillery (18 pounders) took up position behind us. The German artillery took up a position behind a pit heap, but were silenced in half-an-hour. We entrenched for one hour in a railway cutting, but were forced to retire along it, owing to the shells bursting around us. We kept on retiring all the day and the next day (Tuesday.)

Our company was billeted in a village. The majority of us had a good sleep in the barns. We were called out the next morning, and we went into the trenches in a cornfield a little to the left of the village. There was a railway in front of us and a wood and turnip field on the right.

The transporters and the cookers were left in the village to look after the dinner. Dinner was almost ready for serving when a shell burst in the midst and did a great deal of damage. We held on until 4.30, when the Major, who was wounded, ordered us to retire. The rest of the battalion were trapped. We retired and fought our way to Senlis. Captain Marshall, bayoneted in the back, was captured and imprisoned in a house. The house was either shelled or fired, but Captain Marshall escaped and managed to get back to the British lines. This gallant officer is now in command of the 175 survivors out of 1,100. The R.A.M.C attempted bravely to do their work, but were seldom able to get near the wounded. They were instantly fired upon by the Germans; in fact, I don't think a single medical officer attached to the brigade survived. At Senlis, we, the wounded and unfit, thought we were going to Paris, but were sent to Havre. We were sent in the St. Andrew to Southampton and from there by hospital train to Waterloo Station. We were then taken by motors to St. Thomas' Hospital, where we received the best of treatment.


Can you help us to add to our records?

The names and stories on this website have been submitted by their relatives and friends. If your relations are not listed please add their names so that others can read about them

Did your relative live through the Great War? Do you have any photos, newspaper clippings, postcards or letters from that period? Have you researched the names on your local or war memorial?

If so please let us know.

Do you know the location of a Great War "Roll of Honour?"

We are very keen to track down these often forgotten documents and obtain photographs and transcriptions of the names recorded so that they will be available for all to remember.

Help us to build a database of information on those who served both at home and abroad so that future generations may learn of their sacrifice.

Celebrate your own Family History

Celebrate by honouring members of your family who served in the Great War both in the forces and at home. We love to hear about the soldiers, but also remember the many who served in support roles, nurses, doctors, land army, muntions workers etc.

Please use our Family History resources to find out more about your relatives. Then please send in a short article, with a photo if possible, so that they can be remembered on these pages.

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