This edition of the Batley News was very light on pieces about St Mary of the Angels. These was only one item, linked to the Batley ambulance men who went to Chatham, as covered in the 8 August edition. The St Mary’s men in this contingent were Thomas Chappell and brothers Joseph and James Kelly. Although they are not mentioned by name in the transcript here, it does give a sense of the work they were undertaking at this stage of the war.
Note this is an exact transcript, with spelling and punctuation retained. Also included is an advert from the paper to give and indication of life on the Home Front.
BATLEYITES “ALL WELL” AT CHATHAM
Work on the Finest Hospital Train in the World
How Our First-Aid Men Are Doing Their Duty
“All well” is the cheery message from the Batley ambulance men who are on No 1 Hospital train, stationed in Chatham Naval Dockyard, ready to go anywhere at a minutes’s notice. The train consists of London and North-Western Railway stock, and is composed of eight coaches, made up as follows: – five cot coaches, two corridor carriages, one dining-car and kitchen.
The staff for the train consists of two surgeons (Drs Bowey and Elders), two nurses, one sick berth steward (Mr. H. Hodder), one superintendent (Mr. H. Greenwood, of Batley), and 80 S.J.A.B.1 men, including 20 from Batley.
The cot coaches are each fitted up with 24 cots, making a total of 120 cots for the train. In case of emergency abut 200 patients could be dealt with. The dining-car and kitchen are to be used for invalid cookery – for the making of Bovril, cocoa, tea, etc. There is a good supply of first-aid appliances aboard, also all surgical appliances which may be needed.
Each cot contains one bedding, one pillow, and two blankets, and is slung from the roof of the coach. On the outside of the train down each side are painted seven large red crosses and the rolling stock being newly painted, the train looks quite smart.
The Batley members who are on the train say that it is the finest in this country. The train crew are put through loading and unloading drill daily, under the charge of Surgeon Elders. When the time comes for us to do our duty (writes Mr. Hy, Greenwood) we hope to be as smart with our work as the train is smart in appearance.
The three men who left Batley on Monday night [elsewhere in the paper this additional party are named as Privates T. Cooke, C. Wharton, and Tyler] arrived at Chatham on Tuesday morning just as the Batley men were having breakfast. The cheer was a loud one when they entered the room. Many were the questions with which they were plied; in fact their tongues must have been sore with answering them. They have been temporarily placed on No. 2 train. Half the train party have to sleep in the train at night and half in the Barracks, and the men take night duty guarding the train.
An urgent call came yesterday morning at 5 a.m. from one of the ships just by, one of the sailors having been severely injured. A crew of six went across at the double, and we found a sailor bleeding severely from a very large wound in the thigh, which was very much crushed. First aid was applied and the doctors sent for. The first one to arrive was from the battleship Duncan, and he ordered the injured man’s immediate removal to hospital. The next question was how to land the man. We got him on to a stretcher, tied ropes to each handle and slung him overboard by one of the davits. When we reached the shore we put the patient on a wheeled litter and took him to hospital.
Another urgent call came at midnight last night. Another crew of six were sent away and found two men working on a collier had been buried under a fall of coal. Both men were removed to hospital.
We get many minor injuries to attend to here, the train being right alongside the dock basin. Please say how pleased we are that the old members of the Batley Ambulance Brigade have rallied so well. It eases our mind to know that the work will be carried on all right.
This was the calm before the storm. Even as people were reading this edition of the newspaper, word was starting to circulate through the town about a tragedy in Newark. A tragedy connected to one of the St Mary’s soldiers. It would be covered in full in the following week’s paper.
1. St John’s Ambulance Brigade