Community Contributed

Brockenhurst Hospital

Kete Horowhenua2020-03-23T16:50:32+00:00
I was motivated to create this topic by a person bringing into the library an old photo scroll showing the staff of the No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst March 1917.

The current owner of the photo told us what she knew of the photo. This helped me when I started looking on the Internet to find out more.

I found this photo of the rather austere entrance to Brockenhurst, the No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital in Hampshire during World War I, on Timeframes (Alexander Turnbull Library).

A sign near the gates reads 'New Zealand General Hospital No 1 Headquarters'. Low buildings appear beyond.

Photograph taken probably 1918 by Thomas Frederick Scales.

The Electronic Text Centre has digitised the 1923 book: The War Effort of New Zealand by D. J. McGavin. It contains the following passage:

'Brockenhurst Hospital was taken over by the New Zealand authorities from the War Office in June, 1916. It had previously been a hospital for Indian soldiers. Brockenhurst consisted of the main section known as the Lady Hardinge Hospital, and two minor sections, Balmerlawn and Forest Park. There were also several auxiliary hospitals attached, all of which, together with the sections and main hospital, were administered by the Officer Commanding No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital, by which name the whole establishment was known. Although there were only a few hundreds in the hospital during the earlier months it proved its efficiency when, after the first big "push," the wards were completely filled up. During 1918 there were occasions when nearly 1,600 patients were accommodated there. This number included 100 officers located at Forest Park, and about twenty officers at Lord Manner's Convalescent Home a few miles distant. As at Walton, the local people came forward and offered every hospitality to our officers and men, and very materially helped to brighten the lives of the patients during their sojourn there. But yet of all people there appeared, from one's experience, to be none more clannish than New Zealanders, and the delight of our lads in meeting their old friends in New Zealand hospitals was always evident.'

Also on Timeframes we can find this photo (at left) showing soldiers in one of Brockenhurst Hospital's wards.

On the right is a photo from Timeframes of staff at Brockenhurst - with nurses identified: 'Nurses in front row: Miss J Moore (Matron), Ingram, M Mitchell, F Wilson, and Ida Grace Willis'.

A Kete visitor provided this postcard (at left) and information to Kete:1918 1st NZ General Hospital Brockenhurst

This postcard is dated by the sender as 17th April 1918 with the senders address recorded as 1st New Zealand General Hospital Brockenhurst.

The sender sent this card to a younger brother in New Zealand and in part the message reads
“..... you should thank your lucky stars where you are and never let it enter your head to join this outfit. At present the boys are having a very hot time of it keeping back old Fritz. My leg is still on a splint and it is ten to one if I will be able to walk without crutches for some time. Today it is raining hard and I am just lying in bed listening to it .....”

Also on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre we find mention of the nursing staff at Brockenhurst Hospital in the 1932 book: 'Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences' by Hester Maclean:

'Brockenhurst Hospital was the hospital to which the Staff of the Port de Koubeh Hospital in Egypt was transferred with Miss Bertha Nurse, R.R.C., as Matron.

It was the No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital, and consisted of several sections-the Lady Hardinge Hospital, Balmer Lawn, and Forest Park, and some auxiliary hospitals, such as the Morant Convalescent Home, in the village.

The sisters in charge of these different sections among others, were Miss A. Inglis, Miss Moore and Miss Buckley, who have pleasant recollections of arduous but interesting work, and of interludes of recreation in the New Forest which was near enough for picnics, to which they often took their convalescent patients.

After Miss Nurse returned to New Zealand, Miss Vida Maclean was promoted to the Matronship, and remained there until this hospital closed.
Colonel Wylie was the commanding officer.

Codford Hospital was the next taken over by the New Zealand authorities shortly after Brockenhurst This hospital was No. 3 N.Z. General Hospital; it was on Salisbury Plains, not far from the training camps, where the New Zealand Depot of 2,500 men were stationed. As it was for these men, the badly wounded from France were not treated here. Sister Nixon, and later Sister McNie, were in charge. Colonel McLean, and later Colonel Buchanan, in command.'

Staff Nurse Elfrida (Nancy) Parkinson (1885-1982), Royal NZ Nursing Corps, served at Brockenhurst. She had qualified in 1915 in New Plymouth. Her husband Frank Parkinson died at the age of 25, from peritonitis, shortly after their marriage. In 1919 Nancy was awarded "S - Brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War". A newspaper report from August 1917 reads: "Nurse Parkinson, writing a private note from Brockenhurst, on June 9 [1917], just after the Messines battle, says: 'We have to-night received our first party of' forty patients after the battle. The worst cases are still in France. Four hundred New Zealand men came over, and they say there are hundreds more to come. The men here are so delighted. One boy said, with much emphasis on the "is" 'It is nice to speak again to an English woman.' This is my first big convoy, and I have enjoyed making them comfortable, and feel that one is doing something for them. They are all sound asleep now, and look so comfortable." Auckland Star, Volume XLVIII, Issue 187, 7 August 1917, Page 6 (from website PapersPast)
Finola Gollan writes from her family history that one of the nurse's patients, a Frenchman, gave her his Croix de Guerre, which she much treasured.