- 5th London General Hospital during the Great War -
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5th London General Hospital
5th London General Hospital opened in March 1915, taking over 200 beds of St. Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth Palace Road, London. Most admissions were surgical cases. As the war progressed the need for additional beds grew and hutted wards were erected in the grounds taking the capacity up to 94 beds for officers and 568 for other ranks. 11,396 military patients received treatment at the 5th London General before it closed on the 31st of March 1919, at which point the huts were removed. st Thomas's Hospital is still one of London's main hospitals.
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Those known to have worked or been treated at
5th London General Hospital
during the Great War 1914-1918.
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Pte. J. "Tomle" Parkinson DSO 1st Btn. B Company Gordon HighlandersPrivate 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.Dom
Pte. George Thomas 23rd Btn. Middlesex RegimentGeorge 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
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