A Visit to Stamford Hospital
The location of a Great War Hospital at Dunham Massey
“I couldn’t see. It was the most terrifying experience. Was I going to be blind for life? Was I going to die? My job. My employment gone!”
These are the words of a wounded corporal, one of 282, who were treated and rehabilitated at Dunham Massey between 1917 and 1919.
A party from the church visited a reconstructed exhibition in the house, a rather plain brick-built 18th century pile, on a sunny day in early September. In 1917 a number of rooms had been transformed by the recently widowed Lady Stamford into one of the 3,244 make-shift nursing hospitals across Britain.
“No Smoking before 8am and after 9pm!”
The atmosphere in the wards was intense, but must have been comforting for those who had endured cold, mud, lice and trench-foot on the western front. Here Cameron Highlanders, Sherwood Foresters, French Canadians and Cheshiremen fought a new battle against shrapnel infection, multiple fractures and gas blisters. In 1914 80% who had suffered a bone fracture died, by 1918 this had been reduced to 7%.
Many also experienced neurastheria or shell shock, which at the front was regarded as cowardice, but at Stamford they received a sympathetic approach under the guidance of Her Lady.
We visitors were all of a generation, who could remember relatives who had fought in the war. We retained a link to this conflict which began 100 years ago. It seemed incongruous that we should bask in the sunshine enjoying our ice creams in a place where so much suffering had been endured.
Yet that was the point.
Many thanks to Carole for organizing the day. Well done.