Tag Archives: Gertrude Long

The Gertrude Long collection

The Special Collections is delighted to have acquired a new collection of material that sheds further light on the University as a war hospital. This follows the recent exhibition My War, My Story in the Special Collections Gallery in late 2018, that included a notebook of Gertrude Long from her time as a laboratory assistant at the Hospital.

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues [MS101/8 A4303/1/2/2]

Gertrude Long, along with her sister, were members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (or VADs) who provided various auxiliary as well as nursing support at the University War Hospital. Born in Campton Pauncefoot, Somerset, in 1892, Gertrude Long worked in the capacity of chief laboratory assistant at the Hospital from June 1916 until March 1919. She was to continue working in laboratories for the remainder of her career. Captain William Fletcher, RAMC, the pathologist, who is featured in the photograph above, highly rated her organisational ability and credited her with ensuring that the work at Southampton ran more smoothly than in any other laboratory in which he had worked.

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

The new collection, which contains numerous photographs of the staff and patients, provides a valuable new resource that documents the work at the University War Hospital during the First World War.

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

The University War Hospital was only a ten-minute run from the docks and designated VAD staff met each ship and were responsible for the process of disembarkation and transportation of the wounded to the hospitals in Southampton. A number of women VADs were part of the team who drove ambulances transporting the patients to the War Hospital.

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances used to transport patients [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

Professional nurses employed by the Hospital were assisted by VAD nurses who did much of the less technical tasks in caring for the patients. The work was extremely hard and nursing staff generally worked shifts of up to 12 hours. The Hospital facilities could be cramped and rather spartan.

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

With the original buildings for the University College soon unable to house the quantity of wounded that were being sent for treatment, a number of wooden huts were built to the rear of the main buildings to act as wards.

Sister Paling and patients from hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

Sister Paling and patients from Hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

The wounded treated at the Hospital came from units drawn from across the UK and from overseas. The photograph below is signed from the “New Zealand rowdies, Hut 1”.

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

The cessation of hostilities in November 1918 did not mean that the Highfield site immediately stopped functioning as a hospital. The buildings were not formally handed back to the University until well into 1919, making 2019 the centenary of the move of the University to the Highfield campus. Special Collections will be posting monthly blogs documenting the development of University life at Highfield from 1919 onwards. Look out for the first of these later this month.

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