» Site Map
» Home Page
» Find Friends - Search Old Service and Genealogy Records
» QAIMNS for India
» QAIMNS First World War
» Territorial Force Nursing Service TFNS
» WW1 Soldiers Medical Records
» Field Ambulance No.4
» The Battle of Arras 1917
» The German Advance
» Warlencourt Casualty Clearing Station World War One
» NO 32 CCS Brandhoek - The Battle of Passchendaele
» Chain of Evacuation of Wounded Soldiers
» Allied Advance - Hundred Days Offensive
» Life After War
» Auxiliary Hospitals
» War Graves Nurses
» Book of Remembrance
» Example of Mentioned in Despatches Letter
» Love Stories
» Autograph Book World War One
» World War 1 Letters
» Service Scrapbooks
» QA World War Two
» Africa Second World War
» War Diaries of Sisters
» D Day Normandy Landings
» Belsen Concentration Camp
» Voluntary Aid Detachment
» National Service
» Korean War
» Gulf War
» Op Telic
» Op Gritrock
» Royal Red Cross Decoration
» Colonels In Chief
» Chief Nursing Officer Army
» Director Army Nursing Services (DANS)
» Colonel Commandant
» Matrons In Chief (QAIMNS)
Follow us on Twitter:
» Grey and Scarlet Corps March
» Order of Precedence
» QA Memorial National Arboretum
» NMA Heroes Square Paving Stone
» NMA Nursing Memorial
» Memorial Window
» Stained Glass Window
» Army Medical Services Monument
» Recruitment Posters
» QA Association
» QA and AMS Prayer and Hymn
Former Army Hospitals
» Army Chest Unit
» Cowglen Glasgow
» CMH Aldershot
» DKMH Catterick
» Duke of Connaught Unit Northern Ireland
» Endell Street
» First Eastern General Hospital Trinity College Cambridge
» Hospital Ghosts
» King George Military Hospital Stamford Street London
» QA Centre
» QAMH Millbank
» QEMH Woolwich
» Medical Reception Station Brunei and MRS Kuching Borneo Malaysia
» Military Maternity Hospital Woolwich
» Musgrave Park Belfast
» Royal Chelsea Hospital
» Royal Herbert
» Royal Brighton Pavilion Indian Hospital
» School of Physiotherapy
» Station Hospital Ranikhet
» Station Hospital Suez
» Ghost Hunt at Tidworth Garrison Barracks
» Ambulance Trains
» Hospital Barges
» Ambulance Flotilla
» Hospital Ships
» TPMH RAF Akrotiri
» Bowen Road
» Mount Kellett
» Wylie Road Kings Park
Overseas Old British Military Hospitals
» BMH Malta
» Camp Bastion Field Hospital and Medical Treatment Facility MTF Helmand Territory Southern Afghanistan
» TA Field Hospitals and Field Ambulances
Review of the book Ambulance Flotilla which collates the wonderful collection of photographs from Acting Matron Kate Read QAIMNSR ARRC who nursed in France during the Great War
Ambulance Flotilla: British hospital barges on the River Seine 1915 compiles the collection of photos, official documentation, postcards and a letter home from Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve Sister and Acting Matron Kate Read Associate Royal Red Cross. It has been lovingly edited by her granddaughter Anne Penny and is the finest example of images from this era where patients were transported through France by Hospital Barges. By publishing this book she has made accessing these historic photos from the Great War so much easier and has given readers a valuable insight into life on-board from the nurse's perspective.
Sister Cooke and Sister Draper with patients.
Anne has collated information to recount the story of one round trip by No. 1 Ambulance Flotilla on the River Seine made during June 1915. Not an easy task given that only one letter home exists. However Anne has extracted information from Acting Matron's Read's own notes on postcards and on the back of her photos. The journey takes the reader from Le Havre through Rouen to pick up the wounded near Paris, and finally back downriver to the boats where their 'Blighty Tickets' pinned to their chest would grant them transport home on hospital ships. This flotilla consisted of six grey barges joined together and pulled by a tug. They were requisitioned by the War Office from France and Belgium and were previously used to transport cargo such as coal. The Royal Engineers transformed them into workable hospitals wards with an operating theatre and rooms for the staff to rest and sleep during these long journeys. This transported 150 patients. The numerous photos demonstrate clearly the ward lay outs, beds, gramophone, coal stoves, laundry baskets, etc as well as areas like the kitchen.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What if the loss of a child was not every parent's worst nightmare?
Hamish and Alison wake to some awful news from the police banging at their door, but what if their trauma was only just beginning?
Read how these former army nurses copes with their grief through to a terrifying ending.
Buried in Grief is my new novel, available in Paperback or Kindle and other devices.
Read the Opening Chapter for Free.
If you like this page and would like to easily share it with your friends and family please use the social networking buttons below:
Diary extracts from Matron In Chief Maud McCarthy help explain working life:
Visited the new water ambulance…It is well thought out and has been expensively equipped, but the beds are too close together and I am sure there will be much difficulty in nursing seriously ill or wounded men. I think the beds will have to be reduced or the smaller bed substituted for those at present supplied.
It is worth the price of the book alone just to view some super pictures of Acting Matron Read in her uniforms, most of which demonstrate her wearing the red cuffs of that title. Group photos also depict the uniforms of other QAs, as well as Royal Army Medical Corps doctors and orderlies as well as Sisters of the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS). Other RAMC photos worth mentioning are of them carrying patients on stretchers over the gangplank and onto the deck and transferring them below stairs and onto their beds.
Something I have never seen before in my research over the years and which delighted me in reading Ambulance Flotilla was seeing a QA walking the central gangway, a nerve wracking journey, which joined each barges and allowed staff access to the other wards, stores, etc. Acting Matron Read makes it look effortless!
There was time in these long journeys for staff and patients to take in the French countryside. For the patients this was usually confined to being helped onto deck. Most had head or chest injuries and were transported by this means to help reduce further injury. But for the QAs this could often mean a rare outing and a chance to unwind. Here's an extract from Kate's letter home describing a picnic:
…we all walked along a hot dusty road to Lillebonne (about 5 miles) carried our lunch and bought drink when we got there. You should have seen some of us walking through the village street carrying syphon in one hand and a bottle of white wine in the other! We had our lunch amongst the remains of an old Roman theatre.
The book shows a delightful group of QAs dressed in their capes, veils and long grey dresses in the overgrown field. Other recreational photos whilst wearing the Grey and Scarlet uniforms include taking afternoon tea. More extracts from the letter home describes the night sisters getting potatoes from locals.
More photos depict the various ports and locks that the flotilla navigated as well as various day to day activities such as the raised awnings to offer protection from the rain or sunshine and an RAMC orderly operating a spin-dryer to dry the washing. Kate's letter reads:
The heat down below has been terrific, but we have been able to leave a number of the patients on deck all through the storms under the awnings, and also leave several hatchways off.
I would urge anyone with an interest in how wounded soldiers were evacuated through France or with an interest in military nursing history to buy this book to see more fine examples of photos and to read Kate's full letter home along with French newspaper clippings which give further insight into life on-board. Those with an interest in civilian nursing history will equally find this book fascinating when they read about her nurse training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary from 1902 to 1905. It includes a copy of Kate's Certificate from the Infirmary's School of Nursing with transcription of how she achieved it. Later chapters describe her life working at the Royal Free Hospital in London as a Casualty Sister and her first involvement with the military when she volunteered for the Princess Christian's Army Nursing Reserve and includes appointment certificate to the PCANR and then transfer to the QAIMNSR.
I love that the book ends on a happy note. Kate writes a letter to the Matron-in-Chief, Miss E.H.Becher a month after leaving the Services to get wed. She requests permission to marry her fiancée, a Chaplain, whilst wearing her uniform. Permission is granted in a touching letter thanking her for her service. Copies of these are included beside a charming photo of Kate with her husband, both in their Frist World War Uniforms.
Read sample chapters, see more photos and buy a copy at www.blurb.co.uk
The Kate Read collection is held at the Army Medical Services Museum in Ash Vale, a stunning 167pictures.
More Book Reviews
Forces War Records
Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.
If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.
This website is not affiliated or endorsed by The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) or the Ministry of Defence.
» Poppy Lottery
» The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital Novel - a Book by CG Buswell
» The Drummer Boy Novel
» Regimental Cap Badges Paintings
Read our posts on:
» Army Discounts
» Help For Heroes Discount Code
» Commemorative Cover BFPS 70th anniversary QARANC Association
» Become An Army Nurse
» Junior Ranks
» Officer Ranks
» Service Numbers
Ministry of Defence Hospital Units
» MDHU Derriford
» MDHU Frimley Park
» MDHU Northallerton
» MDHU Peterborough
» MDHU Portsmouth
» RCDM Birmingham
» Army Reserve QARANC
» Florence Nightingale Plaque
» Why QA's Wear Grey
» First Time Nurses Wore Trousers AV Anti Vermin Battledress
» TRF Tactical Recognition Flash Badge
» Greatcoat TFNS
» Lapel Pin Badge
» Army School of Psychiatric Nursing Silver Badge
» Cap Badge
» Corps Belt
» ID Bracelet
» Silver War Badge WWI
» Officer's Cloak
» QAIMNSR Tippet
» QAIMNS and Reserve Uniform World War One
» Officer Medal
» Hospital Blues Uniform WW1
» Armed Forces Day
» Edinburgh Fringe Stage Play I'll Tell You This for Nothing - My Mother the War Hero
» Match For Heroes
» Recreated WWI Ward
» Corps Day
» Freedom of Rushmoor
» Re-enactment Groups
» Military Events
» AMS Carol Service
» QARANC Association Pilgrimage to Singapore and Malaysia 2009
» Doctors and Nurses at War
» War and Medicine Exhibition
» International Conference on Disaster and Military Medicine DiMiMED
» QA Uniform Exhibition Nothe Fort Weymouth
» Dame Margot Turner
» Dame Maud McCarthy
» Lt Col Maureen Gara
» Military Medal Awards To QAs
» Moment of Truth TV Documentary
» Sean Beech
» Staff Nurse Ella Kate Cooke
International Nurses Day
» Site Map
» Other Websites
» Walter Mitty Military Imposters
» The Abandoned Soldier
We are seeking help with some answers to questions sent by readers. These can be found on the Army Nursing page.
» Find QA's
» Personalised Poster
» Poppy Badges
» Teddy Bears
» Pin Badges
» Wall Plaques
» Fridge Magnet