Wartime Memories Project - The Great War
Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley



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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley.

The Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley was built in 1855 on the shores of Southampton Water on the instructions of Queen Victoria to treat men wounded in the Crimean War. The building was 435 meters long, (Quarter of a mile) and three storeys high with 138 wards and approximately 1000 beds. Building work was completed in 1863 at a cost of £350,000. A 170m pier was built out into Southampton Water in 1865 to receive ships bringing back war casualties, this was however impractical as the water was not deep enough for ships to berth alongside and in 1900 a railway line was constructed and patients arrived by ambulance trains direct from Southampton docks.

During the Great War at least 50,000 patients were treated at Netley. A large Red Cross hutted hospital was built in fields at the rear of the main hospital, expanding the capacity to approximate 2000 beds. Most of the staff were reservists or Red Cross VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurses.

A small proportion ( about 5%) of the casualties die in the hospital's care. A military cemetery was established in 1864 to accommodate service men and workers from the hospital, situated out of sight of the main buildings.

During the Second World War, Netley was used as an American Military Hospital. The Hospital closed in 1958 and was demolished after a fire in 1966. Today only the Chapel remains in The Royal Victoria Country Park, it is used as a visitor centre.





List of those who served at The Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley the during The Great War.

  • Sister Foggerty Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley
  • Capt. Martin Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley Royal Army Medical Corps.
  • Mjr. Stanford Read Royal Army Medical Corps.


List of those who were treated at The Royal Victoria Military Hospital. Netley during The Great War.

  • Dvr. George A. Phillips Army Service Corps (d.10th Oct 1914) Read his Story.
  • Sjt Mjr Hudson
  • Pte. Hitchings




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    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 215083, your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

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Pte. Ernest Evenden 9th Btn. The Royal Sussex Rgt. (d.1st Sep 1916)

Ernest died of wounds at the Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley on the 1st of September 1916, aged 19. He was buried in the Military Cemetery in the hospital grounds.



Dvr. George A. Phillips Army Service Corps (d.10th Oct 1914)

George Phillips died at Netley on the 10th October 1914 he was 29 years old.



Pte. Thomas Mayrick 14th btn. Royal Warwickshire Regt (d.28th Sep 1916)

Pte Thomas Mayrick died of wounds at Netley on the 28th Sept 1916, he was 22 years old. He was buried at St Lawrence's Church, Bidford-on-Avon.



Able Seaman. James Thomas Bunting Drake Battlion

This photo was taken at either Netley Hospital or West Cliffe Hotel Hythe, Hants

My father, AB James Thomas Bunting joined the Navy in August 1914. He was assigned to Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division. They did their training at HMS Victory III. Crystal Palace . The training was brief. The whole division was sent to Antwerp to defend the attempt of the Germans entering Belgium. They were very ill equipped for the task. Many had no greatcoats. Some did not even have rifles. Little hope against the seasoned German Army. There were many losses but my father survived.

In February 1915 The Royal Naval Division left their new headquarters at Blandford Forum bound for Gallipoli in the Dardinelles Conditions were bad and by the end of March the whole division left for Egypt because of illnesses. By the end of April they were back at full strength but on the initial advance Collingwood Battalion was wiped out. July saw the depleted Division retreat to Larnos Island to recouperate. Everyone suffering from Diarrhoea Malaria and fly borne gastric infections. End of July saw them back again but campaign was declared a failure and all troops were withdrawn. Arriving at Marsailles in December 1915.

January 1916 moving up through France. February, The Battle of Verdun. September, The Somme. Then it became the end of the war for dad. He was wounded at Arras near the village of Gavrille. On the 23rd. of April 1917. Shrapnel wound left arm. Entering just behind the left elbow. Leaving an 8 inch cut up the tricep and exiting along the forearm Fracturing the Ulna and taking the end off the humerus. Hospitalised at Wimereux.

Departed on the 26th. of May on the hospital ship “St. Denis” for Victoria hospital Netley, Southampton. After six months in hospital he went on leave in December 1917.

Overdoing his leave by six months he faced a court martial at Perham Down.

“In that at Blandford camp on the 21st. of January 1918 he absented himself. Until surrendering himself to Goole ( his home town) police on the12th. of June 1918. Losing by neglect his equipment and regimental necessities. Sentenced to undergo detention for one year and to be put on stoppage of pay until he has made good the value of the articles valued at £2/6/9

On the 2nd. of August 1918 The Lords Commision of the Admiralty quashed the charge. Returning the good conduct badge which had been confiscated when charged!! What had brought about the turnaround to the serious charges against him? It may have been his contract which he had signed on enlistment 8th. August 1914. Which had clearly stated that, “I undertake and bind myself till the end of the war Or for three years, whichever comes first.

So legally his service had ended whilst he was hospitalised at Netley. Also consider he had served in three fierce campaigns. He was at that time rated as being 50% disabled.It would have being a travesty to have convicted him.

In November 1918 he was declared unfit for service and discharged after 4 years and 82 days. On his discharge he was still rated 50% disabled. But after visiting different hospitals and appeal boards he was finally awarded a final pension assessment of 30% for life on the 25th. of July 1923 The wound, which never healed caused problems all his life Quite often flaring up and needing hot fermentations and poultices. My sister became an expert. When he became fit for work and had regained some of the grip in his hand he went back to his trade as boot repairer. But finally found work on the docks.



Pte Charles Ellis Sherwood Foresters

My Dad, who was born on the 20 September 1899 enlisted when he was 16 years old. He didn't talk much about his time in France and I failed miserably to be interested in what happened, which I very much regret. He always made us eat up out meals as children and told us the story of how luck he was when he had a tin of jam, yes, just a tin of jam - his mate had a tin of golden syrup. Imagine that - a growing boy of 16 and that was your meal! He did mention how scared he was when, one night he was on "Sentry go" and there was an awful banging noise very close to him - he HAD to investigate and it was a rat with its head stuck in a bully beef can. He was badly gassed and spent some time at the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley. After the war he was based an the Cologne Cavalry Barracks where he was friendly with a German family. Being gassed caused enormous abcesses and I remember he could not sit down for three Christmas dinners. He died at the age of 75 and I still miss that very brave man.



Pte. Alexander Rees Davies 2nd Battalion The Welch Fusiliers (d.25th Feb 1917)

Alexander Rees Davies was born in Llanychaiarn, Cardiganshire, Wales in 1881. His father was a tailor and he was a plasterer by trade. His first regiment was the Welsh Horse and his service number was 11722. This Regiment then became absorbed in the Welch Regiment, I believe.

His death Certificate shows that he died at the Netley Hospital (the Royal Victoria Hospital) on 25 February 1917, of "multiple G.S. wounds of body and limbs and septicaemia and collapse". He was 36 years old and had been married for just over a year.

He is buried in the Llanychaiarn churchyard. His headstone reads:

In loving Memory

Alex

The beloved husband of Kate Davies of Towyn, Merioneth.

"Duty and honour bid us part 'Til the day breaks and shadows flee away."



Pte. Joseph Harold Alfred Applebee 33rd Btn.

Harold Applebee was a 19 year old Labourer when he enlisted, he was described as being 5'8", having very dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes. He embarked from Australia in May 1916 and after training in England, proceeded to France in January 1917 where he transferred from 33rd Btn to the 9th Machine Gun Company. He saw action at the Battle of Messines and was wounded on the 18th of July, had a short spell in hospital and was again wounded, this time by gassing on the 31st. After a longer spell in hospital he rejoined his unit in September and suffered a 3rd Wound in action on the 2 October, he was invalided back to England with a severe wound which had fractured his skull and treated at the King George Hospital. By mid February 1918 he was fit enough to return to France and rejoined his unit on the front line. He had another spell in hospital in England, this time at the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley in June 1918 suffering from Tonsillitis but again returned to France. He returned to Australia in 1919.



Pte. William Henry Holmes 2nd Btn. Northumberland Fusiliers (d.1st Mar 1915)

William Holmes died of wounds whilst he was being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, he was buried at Netley Military Cemetery.



Pte. Henry James Qualtrough Royal Army Ordnance Corps

My Father, Henry Qualtrough, served France, Belgium and Dublin between 1917 and 1919. He was invalaided to Netley with Typhoid and also had his foot run over by a gun carriage.



Pte. Samuel Atkinson Lancashire Fusiliers

My Grandfather Samuel Atkinson, Lancashire Fusiliers, enlisted 26th of August 1916. He was wounded on the 14th of Sept 1917 and treated in Royal Victoria Hospital Netley with Gun shot wounds to his right side. Also wounded again 19th April 1918 gun shot wound to his left arm.



Sgt. John Atkinson 20th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

With the outbreak of the First World War John Atkinson enlisted on the 10th August 1914 in the 3rd Training Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Army Number 22546). The Northern Echo of 1st March 1916 shows him as a Lance-Corp. serving with the 3rd’s in France. On 14th October 1916 he is recorded as a Sergeant, suffering from shell shock and on 26th March 1917 he had been wounded and was in a base hospital in France. He retained the scar of the wound in his right forearm and the remnant of the bullet in his shoulder.

He never talked much about his experiences on the Somme, other than to relate the time when he was in the ambulance from the front to field hospital. Alongside him was a Prussian Guard who, seeing the marksman badge on Dad’s sleeve (he was a sniper), Dad related he would have killed him if he could. He was wounded at St. Eloi, near Ypres, and our former home at Aycliffe bears that name to this day.

Whilst searching the 1943 edition of the Darlington & Stockton Times the following article of 10th September 1943 emerged:

Great War Comrades Meet at Durham.

The swearing in of Mr. Roland Jennings, M.P., of Whitburn, Sunderland, as a county magistrate at Durham Quarter Sessions on Wednesday was followed by an informal reunion with one of his Great War comrades in arms.

On the bench was Mr. John Atkinson, of Great Aycliffe, who during the Great War was a platoon sergeant in the 20th Batt. Durham Light Infantry. Recognising his former officer, Mr. Atkinson left the court and had a happy chat with Mr. Jennings. In particular they recalled an episode at St. Eloi in 1917 when Sergt. Atkinson was wounded while attacking with a Lewis gun a German machine-gun nest at a 40 yards range in no man’s land. Mr. Jennings, then a second-lieutenant, came to the rescue, helped Sergt. Atkinson back to the British lines and dressed his wound. Mr. Jennings, chartered accountant, was M.P. for Sedgefield from 1931 to 1935 and has been M.P. for the Hallam Division of Sheffield since 1939. Mr. Atkinson is Aycliffe representative on the Darlington Rural Council and, as a J.P., sits on the Spennymoor and Darlington County Benches.

Postscript- the 20th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry (Wearside), the "Faithful Durhams", after training at Barnard Castle were at Aldershot on 7th January 1916 (Northern Echo). They were the only North-country battalion in the 41st Division with a high proportion of miners and it became well known for its digging abilities. They moved to France in May 1916 based around Armentieres (my father talked about the place as a place they relaxed in).

From John Sheen’s book emerges a detailed record of the Battalion and its movements as follows: The 20th Battalion DLI was part of the 123rd Brigade along with the 11th Queens, 10th Royal West Kent, and 23rd Middlesex. The Brigade was part of the 41st Division, which in turn was part of the 15th Corps.

  • 1/5/1916 Moved to embarkation positions.
  • 4/5/1916 Entrained Farnborough and embarked SS Arundal at Southampton.
  • 5/5/1916 Gare des Marchandises – Godewaerswelde (Belgium). Probably John joined the Battalion here??
  • 10/5/1916 Ypres Salient – frontline for instruction in trench warfare.
  • 28/5/1916 Le Bizet/Armentieres.
  • 29/5/1916 22 officers & 696 men into the front line.
  • 23/8/1916 Bailleul to Somme Front (Longpre les Corps Sants) then marched to Yaucourt Bussus.
  • 7/9/1916 Train Longpre to Mericourt then camp near Becorel outside Albert.
  • 12 – 13/9/1916 Into line with the 11th Queens.
  • 14/9/1916 Back to Pommiers Redoubt then back to the battle at Flers (with tanks). 123rd Brigade in reserve behind 122nd Brigade (no fighting but with casualties from shelling – possible source of John's shell shock reported in the press on 14/10 1916)
  • 17/9/1916 Moved to the Montauban line then Bercondal for attack training.
  • 27/9/1916 Much reconnaiscence into No Man’s Land.
  • 1/101916 Back to Pommiers Redoubt.
  • 3/10/1916 Camp at Memetz Wood – resting.
  • 7.10/1916 800 yards behind Flers.
  • 17/10/1916 Left Somme and entrained at Dernancourt to Oismont (via Amiens). Arrived 18/19/1916. Battalion strength 1068. From 23/8 to 17/10/1916 casualties 98 dead, 200+ wounded.
  • 20/10/1916 Train from Pont Remy to Godeswaersvelde (Dickebusch Sector)
  • 22/10/1916 Renningshelst.
  • 3/11/1916 Back to trenches – skirmishes.
  • 12/11/1916 Ontario Camp (Dickebusch)
  • 18/11/1916 SNOW – COLD. Fighting dimishes but still casulaties. Battalion strength 29 officers and 828 men.
  • 23/11/1916 Ontario Camp.
  • December 1916 In and out of the line.
  • Christmas Day Trench mortar activity.
  • 29/12/1916 Ontario Camp (Ypres Salient)
  • New Year’s Day 1917. Some had baths – practicing – operating Lewis Guns. Strength 19 officers (-10) and 463 (-365) men.
  • 3/1/1917 In the line – very wet.
  • 8/1/1916 New officers joined the Battalion, including R. Jennings.
  • 17/1/1917 Back in the line.
  • 21/1/1917 Snow – back to Ontario Camp.
  • 28/1/1917 Back in the line.
  • Early February 1917. Clearing trenches – back and forward to Ontario Camp.
  • 17/2/1917 Routine fighting – in and out through February into March. Battalion football competition – church in Reninghelst.
  • 5/3/1917 Took over from East Surrey’s.. Snow and mist. Things described as quiet – in and out the line.
  • 18/3/1917. Skirmishes and shelling – likely time when John was wounded (Northern Echo report on 26/3/1917.
  • 24/3/1917 Battalion out of the line and on ‘stand-by’.

      John used to talk about the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley in Hampshire - an existing pre-war military hospital as the place he received on-going treatment for his wounds prior to him moving to Croydon for a time before ultimately finishing up at Woodside Hospital Darlington where he was Orderly Sergeant. He was finally honourably discharged on 13th December 1917.



Field Sgt. John Atkinson 20th Btn. Durham Light Infantry

With the outbreak of the First World War John Atkinson enlisted on the 10th August 1914 in the 3rd Training Battalion Durham Light Infantry (Army Number 22546) and the Northern Echo of 1st March 1916 shows him as a Lance-Corp. serving with the 3rd’s in France. On 14th October 1916 he is recorded as a Sergeant suffering from shell shock and on 26th March 1917 he had been wounded and was in a base hospital in France. He retained the scar of the wound in his right forearm and the remnant of the bullet in his shoulder.

He never talked much about his experiences on the Somme in W.W.1 other than to relate the time when he was in the ambulance from the front to field hospital. Alongside him was a Prussian Guard who, seeing the marksman badge on Dad’s sleeve (he was a sniper), Dad relates,”he would have killed him if he could”. He was wounded at St. Eloi, near Ypres, and our former home at Aycliffe, near Darlington, bears that name to this day.

However, whilst searching the 1943 edition of the Darlington & Stockton Times the following article of 10th September 1943 emerged:

Great War Comrades Meet at Durham.

The swearing in of Mr. Roland Jennings, M.P., of Whitburn, Sunderland, as a county magistrate at Durham Quarter Sessions on Wednesday was followed by an informal reunion with one of his Great War comrades in arms.

On the bench was Mr. John Atkinson, of Great Aycliffe, who during the Great War was a platoon sergeant in the 20th Batt. Durham Light Infantry. Recognising his former officer, Mr. Atkinson left the court and had a happy chat with Mr. Jennings. In particular they recalled an episode at St. Eloi in 1917 when Sergt. Atkinson was wounded while attacking with a Lewis gun a German machine-gun nest at a 40 yards range in no man’s land. Mr. Jennings, then a second-lieutenant, came to the rescue, helped Sergt. Atkinson back to the British lines and dressed his wound.

Mr. Jennings, chartered accountant, was M.P. for Sedgefield from 1931 to 1935 and has been M.P. for the Hallam Division of Sheffield since 1939. Mr. Atkinson is Aycliffe representative on the Darlington Rural Council and, as a J.P., sits on the Spennymoor and Darlington County Benches.

(Postscripts) – the 20th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry (Wearside), the “Faithful Durhams”, after training at Barnard Castle were at Aldershot on 7th January 1916 (Northern Echo). They were the only North-country battalion in the 41st Division with a high proportion of miners and it became well known for its digging abilities. They moved to France in May 1916 based around Armentieres (my father talked about the place as a place they relaxed in).

From John Sheen’s book emerges a detailed record of the Battalion and its movements as follows:

The 20th Battalion DLI was part of the 123rd Brigade along with the 11th Queens, 10th Royal West Kent, and 23rd Middlesex. The Brigade was part of the 41st Division, which in turn was part of the 15th Corps.

  • 1/5/1916 Moved to embarkation positions.
  • 4/5/1916 Entrained Farnborough and embarked SS Arundal at Southampton
  • 5/5/1916 Gare des Marchandises – Godewaerswelde (Belgium).Probably John joined the Battalion here??
  • 10/5/1916 Ypres Salient – frontline for instruction in trench warfare.
  • 28/5/1916 Le Bizet/Armentieres.
  • 29/5/1916 22 officers & 696 men into the front line.
  • 23/8/1916 Bailleul to Somme Front (Longpre les Corps Sants) then marched to Yaucourt Bussus.
  • 7/9/1916 Train Longpre to Mericourt then camp near Becorel outside Albert.
  • 12 – 13/9/1916 Into line with the 11th Queens.
  • 14/9/1916 Back to Pommiers Redoubt then back to the Battle at Flers (with tanks). 123rd Brigade in reserve behind 122nd Brigade (no fighting but with casualties from shelling – possible source of John’s shell shock reported in the press on 14/10 1916)
  • 17/9/1916 Moved to the Montauban line then Bercondal for attacktraining.
  • 27/9/1916 Much reconnaiscence into No Man’s Land.
  • 1/101916 Back to Pommiers Redoubt.
  • 3/10/1916 Camp at Memetz Wood – resting.
  • 7/10/1916 800 yards behind Flers.
  • 17/10/1916 Left Somme and entrained at Dernancourt to Oismont (via Amiens). Arrived 18/10/1916.. Battalion strength 1068. From 23/8 to 17/10/1916 casualties 98 dead, 200+ wounded.
  • 20/10/1916 Train from Pont Remy to Godeswaersvelde (Dickebusch Sector)
  • 22/10/1916 Renningshelst.
  • 3/11/1916 Back to trenches – skirmishes.
  • 12/11/1916 Ontario Camp (Dickebusch)
  • 18/11/1916 SNOW – COLD. Fighting dimishes but still casulaties. Battalion strength 29 officers and 828 men.
  • 23/11/1916 Ontario Camp.
  • December 1916 In and out of the line.
  • Christmas Day Trench mortar activity.
  • 29/12/1916 Ontario Camp (Ypres Salient)
  • New Year’s Day 1917. Some had baths – practicing – operating Lewis Guns. Strength 19 officers (-10) and 463 (-365) men.
  • 3/1/1917 In the line – very wet.
  • 8/1/1916 New officers joined the Battalion, including R. Jennings.
  • 17/1/1917 Back in the line.
  • 21/1/1917 SNOW – back to Ontario Camp.
  • 28/1/1917 Back in the line.
  • Early February 1917. Clearing trenches – back and forward to Ontario Camp.
  • 17/2/1917 Routine fighting – in and out through February into March. Battalion football competition – church in Reninghelst.
  • 5/3/1917 Took over from East Surrey’s.. Snow and mist. Things described as quiet – in and out the line.
  • 18/3/1917. Skirmishes and shelling – likely time when John was wounded (Northern Echo report on 26/3/1917.
  • 24/3/1917 Battalion out of the line and on ‘stand-by’.

John used to talk about the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley in Hampshire - an existing pre-war military hospital as the place he received on-going treatment for his wounds prior to him moving to Croydon for a time before ultimately finishing up at Woodside Hospital Darlington where he was Orderly Sergeant. He was finally honourably discharged on 13th December 1917.

Postscript by Lewis Atkinson, John’s son: My son and I are currently tracing family records and we came across the following article by my father dated 11th November 1929 in a Darlington newspaper. He served and was wounded twice in the First World War.

“Once again the Empire today does homage to that vast, immortal army who died that we might live. Again it is vividly brought home to us by the sight of Flanders poppies, religious and other national memorial services, of the terrific sacrifices made by the British Empire during that tragic conflict.

Again, we ex-Servicemen think of those with whom we marched along the roads to the familiar strains of ‘Tipperary’, ‘Who’s your lady friend?’ and the like who are no more. We recall the training, the embarkation, our baptism of fire, the walking wounded wending their way back to the dressing stations, followed by screaming murderous shells; the stretcher cases, the lines of men outside the casualty stations, the on-coming troops, guns, transport, ever moving forward; Ypres, Armentieres, Vimy Ridge, Albert, the mud, aerial torpedoes, whizz-bangs, and Heaven knows what else. And I often ask myself, ‘Was it worthwhile?’ I say most emphatically, never again must the British Empire be plunged into such a catastrophe! Never again. They died that we might live”












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