The King’s Medal for South Shields Life Savers
At South Shields last night, nineteen members of the South Shields Life Brigade, whose service ranged from 49 to 21 years, were presented with the King's Medal, Sir Walter Runciman, who made the presentations, referred to the success of the brigade, which since its formation in 1866 had saved 300 lives.
Source: Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligence 4 June 1912
The Brigade took part in a royal review at Windsor.
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The Local Ambulancemen’s Journey
The various divisions on the South Shields train, which went to Windsor with ambulancemen were in charge of Dr Burn, district superintendent, accompanied by Major Bowman second in command. Dr A. S. Watson as P.M.0., First Ambulance Officer G. Watkin as railway officer. Supt. A. Welsh as quartermaster, and Sergt. Sainty as assistant quartermaster.
Source: Sunderland Daily Echo 25 June 1912
Reviewed by the King at Windsor
The King reviewed on Saturday afternoon in Windsor Great Park nearly fifteen thousand men and nurses of the St. John Ambulance Brigade.
The King rode down the seven lines that were formed, and the Queen followed in the Royal carriage. His Majesty afterwards rode up to the nurses, and one who was at the Durbar at Delhi was presented.
A display of life-saving from a wreck by the Tynemouth and South Shields brigade was watched the King from the saluting base. His Majesty drew his horse close to the rocket apparatus. The Queen’s carriage was also taken close to the men at work. Three men were rescued from the “crow’s nest.’’ Though no rocket was actually fired, the basket was sent along the ropes, and each of the men was hauled to shore through imaginary waves. Detachments of the St. John Ambulance men rendered first aid and took them, on stretchers, to the rear. The Prince of Wales was noticed watching the rescues with the keenest interest.
The King and the members of the Royal party next proceeded to another part of the ground, where there was display of mine rescue work Brigade members from various collieries. A tunnel had been built to represent a coal seam. Sections of the side were uncovered in order that the spectators might see the coal getters working within. A representation of a mining disaster was given, brigade members from various colliery districts, wearing the smoke helmets and other life-preserving appliances, acting as rescuers. At the close of the inspection the men on parade removed their hats at a given signal, and the whole 15,000 cheered the King and Queen with tremendous enthusiasm. The members of the Brigade returned to Windsor later, and left for home by special trains.
There were nearly 2.000 members of the No. 6 (Northern) District of the St. John Ambulance Brigade present at the Royal review, under the command of Mr Claude B. Palmer, the Deputy-Commissioner, who was accompanied by Dr J. Wishart, Dr R. Anderson, and Mr F. J. Usher.
Source: Sunderland Daily Echo 24 June 1912
The brigade took part in field operations organised by the Home Office.
Operations at Boldon and Whitburn
Under the auspices of the War Office most important and extensive field operations were carried out on Saturday by Territorial Forces of the County of Durham (Voluntary Aid Detachments), the inspecting officer being Major-General Kenny, hon. surgeon to the King.
The field of operations lay in a triangular area having for its base the coastline from Whitburn to South Shields with the Racecourse at Boldon for the apex.
It was supposed that an advance force of the enemy had landed on the sands at Whitburn and an engagement had taken place in the neighbourhood of Whitburn and Marsden between the invading force and the Red Division which had assembled at South Shields, the enemy being repulsed and compelled to re-embark. The Red Division had proceeded towards Seaton Carew to link with the main army and the wounded had been left behind.
West Hall, Whitburn, had been turned into a base for receiving the injured, and here were a staff of nurses and doctors who attended to the wounded soldiers, who were none other than about 100 boy scouts and boys’ brigade lads. After the injuries had been dressed the wounded were conveyed in waggons to Boldon Racecourse, where a temporary hospital splendidly fitted up had been erected.
Unfortunately the weather conditions were bad, but the whole of the work was carried out very successfully. Amongst those present were Col. N. C. Ferguson, C.M.G., R.A.M.C., Military Hospital, York; Col. J. Rutherford, R.A.M.C.; and Lieut. C. B. Palmer. Assistance was forthcoming from the R.A.M.C., for Col. Clay had sanctioned the use of their ambulance waggons, motor-cars, and other auxiliary matters.
This was the first chance that Northerners had had of realising what things would look like in the case of an invasion, and the proceedings were followed with intense interest.
Supplementing the account of the Territorial operations at Boldon and Whitburn, which appeared on Saturday, it may be explained that the supposed engagement on which the proceedings were based occurred somewhere about three o’clock, and soon after a heavy roll of casualties was reported. The Scouts had stationed themselves over several miles country, and the various bearer companies were sent out in search. Each Scout had a card on which were stated his injuries, and he was treated accordingly. As they were found by the bearers, the wounded men were taken as speedily as possible to the nearest hospital for treatment. Several patients were taken between Whitburn and South Shields on the colliery railway which had been lent, with specially fitted carriages, for the occasion. With commendable expedition the lads were taken to hospitals, their cases diagnosed, wounds bandaged, injured limbs set in splints, and then placed in beds. General Kenny and his staff made an exhaustive tour of inspection round the district, and expressed himself as thoroughly satisfied with what he saw.
On the racecourse there was temporary hospital, under Mrs Palmer, of Wardley Hall, assisted by a large staff of nurses. There were also a rest-house and an improvised hospital, which were in charge of the Sunderland Nursing Detachment under Miss Young. Dr D. M. Miller, of Felling, was the director of operations at Boldon. The 3rd, 6th. 11th and Durham detachments were also engaged on the racecourse, while the 21st Detachment provided the personnel for the ambulance convoy between West Hall, Whitburn, and Boldon.
At West Hall there was a temporary hospital with two wards of ten beds each; also on operating theatre and food centres. At a school in South Shields there was also a temporary hospital. Mr C. B. Palmer, the Director of the Volunteer Aid Detachments in the county of Durham, directed the operations at South Shields, Dr J. R. Crease was in charge, and was assisted by a nursing staff, under Mrs Crease. At West Hall, Dr James Anderson of Seaton Delaval was in charge, with nursing staff, under Mrs D. M. Millar. There was also a clearance hospital at the Ambulance Hall, Marsden Colliery, under the superintendence of Mrs Robson. About 400 men and women nurses were engaged, and these included seventeen Durham and three Northumberland detachments.
About half-pest five all the cases had been dealt with and after the “victims” had made a marvellous recovery, and had readjusted their uniforms, the entire command of both men, nurses, brigade lads and Scouts formed into double ranks and were inspected by the General. After a march past had taken place, General Kenny addressed the parade.
The General’s Remarks
It had been a very great pleasure, the General said, to have, had the privilege of seeing their work. What he had seen had pleased him very much, and congratulated the members on the display. He especially congratulated the Murton detachment on their winning the Championship Shield for the whole of England. It had been a pleasure also to see the work the nursing detachments. The work of the entire parade would be very useful in the event of war. Should such a thing happen they would not called upon to leave their homes to go to other districts, but would exercise their knowledge in their own towns and districts.
They would all called upon, he assured them, and they would have plenty of time at their disposal to carry on the ambulance work, because there be would no other work to do. The excellent turnout reflected creditably upon their association and officers.
He had a word to add for the Boy Scouts. They had played their part in the day's proceedings, for they had been the wounded men. They had been amenable to all kinds of treatment, and had readily taken the food which had been at the camp kitchens. (Laughter.) In concluding the General congratulated Mr Palmer on the success of the display, which in a large measure rested with him. For the last two months he had worked untiringly, and his efforts deserved the success that they had achieved. (Applause.)
Mr Palmer’s Reply
In a brief reply Mr Palmer returned his thanks, and observed that the people of the North of England had had the usefulness of the associations very clearly demonstrated. After knowing the benefits of the work he thought the public would be more ready to respond to the appeal for assistance. Every member of the Northern District of the association had paid his or her individual share towards the cost of that day’s display. They were indebted to many friends for assistance, and he thanked them sincerely, and he especially thanked General Kenny and his staff for having inspected the detachments.
The Hospital at Marsden
The clearance hospital arranged in the Ambulance Hall at Marsden Colliery was under the superintendence of Mrs Robson, while the Secondary School at South Shields, which is situated close to the Westoe Road Station of the Marsden Railway, was fitted up as a rest station for the reception of the injured, and was under the charge of Mrs J. Robertson Crease, lady superintendent of the local Nursing Division.
The school admirably lent itself to the purpose for which was it was used. The central hall of the building was arranged as a hospital ward with 20 beds, while the classrooms adjoining served the purposes of an operating room, nurses’ room, etc., all of them being properly equipped with all necessary appliances. Over a score of nurses belonging to the No. 2 Durham and the No. 24 Northumberland Voluntary Aid Detachments constituted the staff.
Capt. Craig, R.A.M.C., of Newcastle, was the inspecting officer at this station, and those taking part in the work included Dr J. R. Crease, assistant director; Dr Shepherd, divisional surgeon; and Capt. James Page, commandant, and Quartermaster C. A. Harker, both of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.
Arrangements were made with the Harton Coal Company to run a special Red Cross van on their railway between Marsden and South Shields for the purpose of conveying the “wounded” from the clearance hospital to the rest station. Shortly before 2 o’clock two squads of the Volunteer Aid Detachments, connected with St. Hilda Colliery and the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, proceeded to Marsden, and during the afternoon they brought to the station about twenty wounded who had been temporarily treated at Marsden. On their arrival at the rest station the “injured” received all necessary attention from the staff.
During the afternoon General Kenny, who was accompanied by Mr C. B. Palmer Deputy Commissioner, visited the station and in a brief address he complimented the nurses and men on their splendid hospital arrangements, and expressed himself highly pleased with the work they had performed.
Source: Sunderland Daily Echo 26 August 1912