Bacup Home Front  Copyright Bacup & Stacksteads Great War Home 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 Brothers in Arms Wounded Fern Hill Hospital Medals & Awards Empty Chairs Chit Chat Contact The Great War 1914 -1918
During a meeting of the Bacup Hospital Charities Committee on the 15th August 1914, the treasurer Mr J.H.Lord suggested that Bacup might follow other towns and villages in offering a suitable place to the Military Authorities for use as a hospital for the treatment of the sick and wounded in the war. Fourteen days later the matter of a Rest Station or Convalescent home was brought once again to the attention of the local officials of the Nursing Division when a Mrs Tweeddale organizing secretary of the Red Cross Association for Lancashire visited the Ambulance drill hall at Bacup.  Mrs Tweeddale felt that Bacup was an ideal place for the setting of a Convalescent Home where the injured soldiers could recuperate and take advantage of the bracing air. The Mayor Councillor J.H.Lord had initially suggested Stubbylee Hall might be suitable but this was passed over when the widow of Mr William Mitchell J.P pictured left, offered Fern Hill. The house comprised a entrance hall, back entrance hall and side entrance, dining room, drawing room, breakfast room, 7 bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, bathroom and water closet, nursery, store and housemaids closet. domestics offices comprising lavatory and water closet, servants hall, kitchen, pantries, closets, larder, wine and ale cellars. The house had outbuildings made up of a six stalled stable, shippon with tying for six cows, cowman's room, saddle room, granary, large coach house. Large walled in garden containing choice and healthy young fruit trees. The house it was reported, was perfect and required very little alteration, handed over to the Nursing Division on Monday 16th November, the Mayor Councillor J.H.Lord made an earnest appeal for support saying:  “ The nurses forming the Voluntary Aid Detachment in connection with the Bacup Ambulance Division have offered Fern Hill the residence of the late Mr Wm Mitchell, J.P to the War Office as a convalescent home t rest house for the wounded British and Belgium soldiers, and instructions have been received to have the house equipped at once due to the pressure in the hospitals. We may receive short notice of men who are on the way to recovery being transferred here to make room for more serious cases. Mr and Mrs Bertie Mitchell have very kindly granted the free use of the hall, and much of the furniture, etc, the Nursing Division will actually take possession on Monday.  The men at the front are suffering awful privations an the sick and wounded need all the surgical and medical treatment as well as careful nursing that a grateful country can provide. Rochdale and Haslingden, and other Lancashire towns have already received wounded soldiers, and I feel sure that their is sufficient patriotism in Bacup and district to provide 15 to 20 beds for the noble men who have risked their lives for the sake of their native land. I appeal for £600.00, of which one and half is practically assured, and also for bedding for 10 beds, felt, towels, cutlery, crockery, table cloths, couches, carry chairs, soap, drugs, etc, as well as all the food supplies. Cash remittances may be forwarded to me, and offers of materials and food to the Lady Superintendent, Miss Simpson, Croft Street, and Bacup. The layout of the hospital was as follows: on the ground floor there was a recreation room, sitting room, dining room, and number 1 ward which contained 5 beds. A kitchen, and officers and nurses quarters made up the rest of the ground floor. No 2 ward upstairs, contained four beds and No 3 ward contained 2 beds. Each room was furnished with a cupboard for dressing, and bandages. The house had a resident Matron, Miss Simpson, a Superintendent Nurse Mrs Sutcliffe, eight section leaders in charge of 32 VAD Nurses. These section leaders were: 1st lady officers Miss Rushton, Miss Taylor, Miss S.E.Howorth, Miss Thompson, Miss Blythe, Miss Graham, Miss Settle and Miss A Howorth. Medical assistance was to be provided by the three local doctors, Dr Taylor, Dr Rigby and Dr Brown. Initially Patients were to be transferred to Fern Hill from the Rochdale Hospital, where many of the same VAD’s worked splitting their shifts between hospitals. However soldiers were admitted straight from the 2nd General Hospital Manchester. The first patients 11 Belgium soldiers were due to be transferred from Rochdale on Friday 21st November but something happened and this didn’t happen. Within the first week of the Mayors appeal over 264.00 had been raised and various items donated such as carpet sweepers,  games such as chess, draughts, and dominoes, bed,  bedding, sheets, blankets and various other household and personal items. .During the early weeks of May 1915, four additional beds had been offered to the War Office making a total of 16 beds. In total by July 1915 over 60 men had been treated and cared for with a range of wounds and illnesses including 30 0f whom were suffering bullet and shrapnel wounds, 6 cases of rheumatism, 7 frost bite cases, 4 cardiac, 1 dysentery, 1 pluerodenis, 1 case of tonsillitis and 1 soldier who had completely lost his voice. There were in addition 3 cases of bronchitis, 1 kidney complication and 1 suffering from the effects of gas poisoning, 1 varicella, 1 neurasthenia and 2 contused ankles, the average stay of a patient being 38 days. By early 1916 the accommodation had been extended so as to accommodate a total of 25 soldiers and by April 1917, 310 patients had been treated there. Of those 310 five had been discharged totally disabled, 10 transferred to convalescent hospitals and 295 returned to duty. Of the latter four had received commissions and about five had gained promotion in the ranks with four receiving the D.C.M.   Private Joseph Wilson of the 7th Sussex Regiment was presented with a Military Medal and a framed certificate, during the Grand Gala of July 1917.  A year later in June 1918, despite a severe outbreak of influenza in the area, another patient received a double honor when on  what was described as a beautiful warm day Sergeant W Graham, Kings Own Scottish Borders, was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal and a  framed certificate of the Croix de Guerue.  Towards the end of August 1917, an extension to Fern Hill  was opened by using premises at Acre Mill Sunday School. The matron at Acre Mill was Mrs Nichols; here the layout consisted of a main room which contained 25 beds, a separate sleeping apartment with kitchen and cooking facilities for the nurses and a portioned area for the soldiers dining area.  Acre Mill took its first 20 patients from the 2nd General Hospital Manchester on the 1st October 1917.By Christmas 1917 both Fern Hill and Acre Mill were operating at full capacity, with a total of 25 resident at Fern Hill and 17 at Acre Mill.

Fern Hill Military Hospital

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