Friday, 19 May 2017

No 2 AAH Southall

The No 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (AAH) was established at Southall in western London in August 1916. The hospital was housed in the former St Marylebone Orphanage in Southall.
Hospital main entrance - (nla.obj-41196525)
Janet Gaff was detached for duty at Southall on 27 October 1916 two months after the buildings were allocated for use as an Australian hospital. No 2 AAH was a hospital that worked with amputees. Working at this hospital must have been a confronting experience, at least initially, for some of the nursing staff. Jan Bassett in her book, Guns and Brooches, (page 71) provides a quote from Sister Tilly about working at Southall:
I was on duty in a ward with fifteen patients who had three legs between them. I felt a coward, and shrank from meeting them at first, for they shamed me with their cheeriness and independence, doing things for themselves and helping others.
When the hospital at Southall was established it was to cater for 250 patients but within a month the proposed patient intake was adjusted to 500. It was to be a specialised institution for the fitting of artificial limbs. (Butler p 654-655)

The unit war diaries for the hospital outline the various departments including Surgical department, Medical Officers, X-Ray and Massage departments and, of course, Nursing.
Workshops for diabled soldiers - nla.obj-41197851
The Australian Red Cross organised workshops and activities for disabled soldiers.
Some patients assembled on tennis court - nla.obj-41197592
Outings and entertainments were also part of the program. For example in October 1918 four outings were organised to Windsor Castle and 13 outings organised to 'places of Amusements in London'. There were also eight cinema shows, three Pierott shows performed by hospital staff, plus visits from a Daily Mail Concert Party, Oscar Asche Dramatic Company and a visit from Miss Marle Lloyd and a party of Artistes from Hammersmith Palace.

Janet Gaff worked at No 2 AAH for a short time on several occasions while she was waiting to be assigned to a Sea Transport Service troop ship for the return trip to Australia with injured troops.

References
No 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital Southall, Middlesex. London: Qualis Photo Company, [1919] available via National Library of Australia catalogue
Australian War Memorial - Unit War Diaries - No 2 AAH, Southall August 1916 - April 1919
Bassett, Jan. Guns and Brooches: Australian Army Nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992
Butler, AG. The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War 1914-1918. volume 3. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1943

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