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1917: War wounded treated at Haywards Heath Cottage Hospital

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 24 April 1917

The army authorities on Friday sent to the Haywards Heath Cottage Hospital 27 gallant fellows whose experiences at the front in France necessitated hospital treatment. They arrived by train just after 7 o'clock, and 16 be will put up at the Beech Hurst annexe, the remainder, because of their serious condition, being quartered at the Cottage Hospital.

Injured soldiers being tended at the King Edward VII Eliot Memorial Cottage Hospital

The matron (Miss Barrett) did not expect to receive patients at the Annexe before Tuesday, but despite the short notice given her on Friday she, with the assistance of her alert and willing staff, very soon got everything into Apple pie order, and on Saturday one of the men– a corporal in the Royal Fusiliers, in bed in the Powell Ward– told us it was worth undergoing what he had faced for 10 months in France to come and rest in such a delightful building. At the annexe there are six wards. The three on the ground floor are named after Mrs Savill, Mr H. M. Knight and Mr Stanley L. Powell-three persons of whose generosity in connection with the hospital it would be impossible to speak too highly. The three wards upstairs are named at present as 'the heath wards'. Everywhere the eye turns, upstairs and down, something pleasing greets it. Everything is spick and span. The wards are light and the cheeriness of the patients makes them bright–bright with jokes and laughter.

” Nothing would suit me better than to remain here for the duration of the war” said one of them to Sister Haden, of whom the matron kindly speaks as her “right hand”. “have you had a rough time of it?” we enquired of this soldier, who came from America to fight the Boches. He admitted that he had, but he went on to say “we gave them something at Arras and got a lot of our own back. We've got them on the run now, and the boys are just enjoying the sport.” Another man in the Powell Ward volunteered the interesting information that he came over with the Canadians, and first visited Haywards Heath on the night of the train disaster at Wivelsfield some years ago. He was in the employ of the late Col Bird as coachman, and spoke of St Wilfrid's as “the village church on the hill”. In the winter garden three of the patients sat smoking, and were telling each other what they had gone through. One, we ascertained, before joining the Royal Fusiliers, was an actor in London, and had played in “When Knights were bold” and “Tommy Atkins,” and has also toured with Sir F. R. Benson’s Shakespearean company. He proved to be a capital conversationalist, and had lots of nice things to say of his surroundings and the care and attention bestowed on those at the Annexe.

Beech Hurst during World War 1

There is electric light throughout the building, ample bathing facilities, the hot water system is perfect, and the kitchen arrangements all that can be desired. To get everything ship shape necessitated much forethought, but Miss Barrett knows her business thoroughly, and she has, by the way she has shouldered her latest responsibilities, proved herself worthy of the confidence reposed in her by the committee. Under her are two fully trained sisters, four assistant nurses and several voluntary helpers. Miss Barrett is desirous in obtaining another nurse, and would be grateful if one were found her. She has also asked us to mention that she would appreciate the gift of a quantity of writing materials for the patients, also a supply of stamps, for often on arrival the soldiers are without a copper in their pockets. Ashtrays, periodicals and papers are other things that would be gratefully received. The matron speaks in terms of warm praise of the ready way in which people have helped hitherto to meet needs, and she is confident the public will not weary in well doing. Yesterday (Monday) many persons responded to the invitations sent out to visit the annexe, and they left feeling with the soldier patients that it was “top hole”. So far some £760 has been contributed towards the cost of furnishing and maintenance, and we have no hesitation in writing that the subscribers have got good value for money and the deer brave fighting men all that they deserve.

Many thanks to Charles Tucker and Dave Tucker for the photographs. Charles Tucker writes 'The photograph shows WW1 injured soldiers being tended at the King Edward VII Eliot Memorial Cottage Hospital. It was probably taken in the grounds of Beech Hurst which was used as an annexe to the Cottage Hospital. On the extreme left is matron Molly Barrett, Sister Haden and the Vicar of Haywards Heath'


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