Sunday, 22 April 2012

Anzac Day 2012: In Sickness and Health

25th April is Anzac Day, a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand. 

Last year I did a post on George Howard Busby for the Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge. 
There was a range of wonderful posts well worth another read.This year it is on again .

I thought this year I would continue with George in relation to his movements for his medical treatment. 

In previous wars, such as the US Civil War and Crimean War around 60% of the deaths were caused by disease. This was true even in the Boer War where the English side had around 7500 killed in action or died of wounds and around 13200 deaths from disease. 

This ratio changed in World War 1and around 60-70% were killed in action or died of wounds while only 30% died of disease even with the deaths from influenza. There were a few reasons for this including much deadlier military weapons where many more were killed in action and better medical care even though it was still in a pre-antibiotic era.

He was wounded at Gallipoli, as can be seen from his medical records which are part of his Service File available from the Australian National Archives. In Australia we are very lucky as all World War One service files have been digitised and are available for free.

Shown below is George's casualty form from his service record.

Now I could assume from this that after George was wounded he was sent to the Hospital Ship Dongala for treatment. I know this ship transported patients to Malta but i don't know if he traveled on this ship to England.

Per this casualty form he went to the Hospital at Edgbaston and then left from there to come back to Australia aboard the Runic.

However I know this is only part of the truth. I was lucky enough to inherit some papers from my great-Grandfather among my Grandmother's things. he had been estranged from the family but we believe that once my Grandmother knew that he had died in Eventide that my Grandfather went down as next-of-kin and brought back this box in which we found some wonderful things.

Among them were some papers including some letters and postcards.

So we know by the middle of June he had been transferred to Courtaulds Auxilary Hospital in Coventry. This card was from his uncle. George's father William had emigrated to Brisbane in 1882 from Oxford. Obviously there was still contact as they knew he had been wounded and were hoping to be able to meet with him. 


 And they did indeed meet up as there were some postcards from the family including this very nice nurse

While George was in Courtaulds he was able to visit in Coventry as there were postcards of the area in his album.  

He also managed to visit the Daimler factory in Coventry, or at least had an invitation to do so, as that invitation was among the papers.

There were also some nice postcards of London, a London of another time.

I have more cards addressed to 

GH Busby, Hut no 13, Division E
Woodcote Park, Epsom

He was there by October 1915. It was sent by a relative on holiday at Blackpool.

This is where I did some more researching to find out more about Woodcote Park. There is a nice site that gives you information about various military hospitals in England during World War 1. There were many hospitals spread throughout England.

Woodcote Park opened 24 June 1915 as a convalescent hospital, previously it had been a military camp. It was needed to take the large numbers of ANZAC casualties. By late 1916 it had become the major convalescent home for the Canadians who suffered heavy losses during the Somme battle.

Then I did a Google image search and struck gold at the Australian War Memorial who had an image of Division E, Woodcote Park! 

And they had an image of inside a ward at Woodcote Park, both shown here.

Then back to the service record where it was shown that George left England aboard the Runic on the 7 November 1915 going to Sydney. From Sydney he came to Brisbane by train which was determined by an article in the Courier-Mail courtesy of Trove.

I was very lucky in having other evidence that showed that the service record did not give all George's movements in England and was able to fill in at least some of his travels.