Submitted by Rachel Blenkinsop.
Arthur Bateman (Rachel’s maternal grandfather) served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. The photograph of him with his peers shows that he qualified as a Signaller (seated in the centre of the group – a crossed flag badge on his left sleeve is evidence of his Signals qualification). He was based in Boulogne at the 83rd (Dublin) General Hospital. In addition to its role as a general hospital, the 83rd had three specialist units treating facial injuries, eye injuries and had a ‘physical medicine’ or rehabilitation unit established by the Red Cross. Electric shock treatment was used at the hospital – this was often seen as a way of attempting to treat the symptoms of shell shock, but was also used when trying to allieviate problems with limbs.
In a handwritten poem by one of the patients, both the electric shock treatment and also Arthur Bateman’s artistic ability are drawn to the fore.
The 83rd General Hospital was moved from Boulogne at the end of the conflict, but was re-established in the Rhur (part of the area occupied by Allied troops following the Armistice). Arthur’s photo album shows that he too was relocated to Langenfeld to help care for the men of the army of occupation.
Phyllis Cawthra, who became Mrs Bateman in 1923 caught the Spanish ‘flu at the end of the war. While she survived, the infection caused her to suffer from deafness for the rest of her life. It seems ironic that treating soldiers suffering from Spanish ‘flu was one of the principle functions of Arthur’s hospital in 1918/19.
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