‘Above and beyond’: Corsham commemorates WW1 hospital at Town Hall

The title says it all ~ the hospital was instigated by Lord Methuen, the Parish Council and the Red Cross. Professional nurses came from far and wide to run the hospital but the local people also worked extremely hard to support the venture. Many ladies volunteered as auxiliary nurses as part of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD).  Many men who were not eligible for service for whatever reason became medical orderlies and helped in many other ways to ensure the smooth running of the hospital.

In addition to the internal running, there were the ladies who knitted and sewed, repairing garments and sheets; ladies who came to hospital to clean; others took washing away to be laundered and ironed and many who came to cook for the patients and staff.

Outside the hospital there was a ‘Daily Needs’ board. This might ask for fruit, vegetables, eggs, or coal and wood, or blankets etc. and the Corsham population always did its best to fulfil these requirements. Truly a joint effort.

The Commemoration exhibition in October re-created a section of the main ward and mounted a display of the history of the hospital, using a range of sources from newspaper cuttings to personal stories. Emma Leith’s poppy installation in the Town Hall was a sight to behold. There was music and drama from the period including  Neston Panto Group ‘entertaining’ the patients; street theatre from Bath’s Natural Theatre Company who were dressed as soldiers and nurses;  and the Act Now Youth Theatre (who are based at The Pound) recreating the day the hospital opened. There were also Family History workshops, and Corsham’s Knitting Group ‘knitting for the troops’, which had everyone searching for khaki and grey wool – not something used so much these days!

When Corsham organisations come together for these projects they really deserve our congratulations for a job well done.  

Pat Whalley

by | Dec 11, 2016 | Frontpage Article, Review | 0 comments