Lemnos 1915: Then & Now — large format photo book now available for sale

No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital

Originally located at Mena Camp in Egypt, where it was concerned with the treatment of venereal diseases, 2 A.S.H. moved to East Mudros on the island of Lemnos in June 1915.

With ‘the rush of sick’ from the Peninsula, an ‘eleventh-hour’ effort was made to develop Lemnos as an intermediate military medical base. As part of that reorganisation, No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital was moved to West Mudros, landing on 4 August 1915 – a day before 3 A.G.H. – on “a bare and roadless hillside” (Butler, 286). “Pitched camp on No. 7 block and started to erect hospital & make roads” notes the unit’s War Diary on 5 August.

By August 13 it was treating 763 patients. On the 16th, 12 nurses from 3 A.G.H. replaced at the Stationary Hospital the personnel of the 30th British Field Ambulance who left for the Peninsula. Nurses from the Canadian Stationary Hospitals and 3 A.G.H. were regularly detached to the hospital.

By September/October 1915, No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital occupied sixty large marquee-tents, and had 1,200 beds and 25 nursing sisters – “making some 130 Australian nurses now on the island” (Butler, 388).

When the Peninsula was evacuated, 2 A.S.H. transferred to Egypt, leaving Lemnos on 20 January 1916.

Location?


View Lemnos 1915/1916 in a larger map

Compared to the wealth of photographs of No. 3 Australian General Hospital on Lemnos, the historical record is slim for this unit.

We know it was located close to No. 3 Australian General Hospital – Matron Grace Wilson, 3 A.G.H., writes in her diary, 11 August 1915, that “No 2 Stationary is quite near us. They have equipment and a beautifully laid out hospital.” A few days later she says that to reach one of the “7 or 8” villages within walking distance, “We just walk through No. 2 Station., the convalescent camp [No. 29 British (Lowland) Casualty Clearing Station] and signalling station.”

Olive Haynes writes “No.3 A.G.H. is just near; I see Sister Daw nearly every day” (p79).

The view from Sarpi Rest Camp helps locate 2 A.S.H.

See also the Hospital Works Dept. maps.

Nurses & their experiences

Men lying on the ground and everything

30th November Men from Suvla coming in. Most awful frost-bitten feet. They had a terrible time. Men frozen to death standing up. Their feet are worse than any wounds. It makes you sick doing them, and they are so grateful for anything.

6th December Have expanded to over 1,000 beds. Men lying on the ground and everything.

Olive Haynes – excerpts from her diary – more

First impression of my ward

When we arrived at the Pier we got off. The men on the boat lifted our baggage on to the pier, then the two barques steamed away and we were left sitting on our luggage gazing at the barren Island and wondering if anybody would come to meet us; presently up came a “Jock” in Kilts, and said; what are you all doing here? we replied; we have come to nurse you soldiers. He said; dear me you have come to an awful place, and nearly everybody who comes to this Island dies, even if they only get a sore finger, we buried the Matron of the Canadian Hospital last week, and one of the nurses is to be buried tomorrow, and several had gone mad and had to be sent back to Canada. The Island is alive with vermin.

The Hospital which was all canvas was situated on top and side of a hill, the bottom row of tents were about two minutes walk from the bay, there was no beach there, and the tide did not rise and fall like in most places, but remained the same, needless to say the water was very dirty on account of the hundreds of ships in the Harbour. It was impossible for one to bathe.

We did not sleep very much die first night on account of the noise of the guns at Gallipoli. It was our first expedience with them.

We were awakened with reveille next morning and after breakfast the O.C. took the twenty-five Sisters and distributed us around the Camp which could take in about 1,000 patients. I was given a medical line of tents which had fifty beds, the tent seemed to be all laced up; however I managed to find a hole to crawl through. Needless to say the patients got a great surprise to see a woman appear.

I shall never forget my first impression of my ward – the first man inside of the door was sitting up in bed with quite two loaves of bread and jam, spread out all over his bed which he had cut up, he was still cutting a loaf in his hand, I noticed that he seemed very short of breath, and appeared to be very ill; I could see at once he was well advanced with pneumonia. So I said what is the matter with you Laddie? he replied: “I do not feel very well, but somebody must help to get the breakfast ready, the bakehouse is a long way off and the orderly has gone to draw tea and get the porridge.” When I got a glance of the Ward with all those sick men just looking after themselves as best they could a lump came into my throat and I had to go outside for a few minutes.

We managed to get the breakfast over; such as it was, the bread was so heavy and sodden that it was not fit for fowls food. I scarcely knew where to start first, for most of the patients seemed to be very ill; there was nothing in the way of conveniences in the tent. All they had was beds, all but six were on mattresses down on the ground with a tarpaulin under them, there had been a heavy storm two days before we arrived at the island, the water flowed down the side of the hill and ran into the tents, most of the mattresses on the ground were soaked. There was no means of getting them dry so the men had to remain on them.

I spent most of the first day finding out the complaints of the patients, and making the beds which the patients’ said had not been made since they got into them. After making the patients’ as comfortable as possible I got the orderly and a few convalescent patients’ to get some boxes and tins from the Q.R.M. Stores to make cupboards and tables … as I found it impossible to carry on with everything kept on the floor.

There were many very sick men; many were suffering from Dysentery, various Fevers, Rheumatics, Gastritis and Pneumonia. I worked all day, as time off duty with things in such a pitiful state was not to be thought of… according to the stories Sisters had told of that night when we retired, each one found their Ward in the same pitiful condition. Many of the Sisters cried themselves to sleep, and no wonder when one thought of the people in Egypt only a few hours sailing away, living in luxury and these hundreds of men, many of whom had been practically starved for several months on the Peninsula and then came off, many were too weak with Starvation to walk . . . and were put into such a hospital.

Sister Hope Weatherhead – Clampett, Muriel Evelyn 1992, My dear mother, M. Clampett, Noble Park, Vic

Some experiences with the No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital

In August we handed over our tents, patients and general equipment to the No. 1 Stationary Hospital, and went across the harbour to erect a hospital on new ground. This was a real picnic. On our arrival the promised marquees and tents were not there, and we had to hunt up everything, including tents, cooking utensils, etc. from the Army Service Corps, beg the loan of waggons (motor or horse), ambulances, etc., from anyone good enough to lend to us, cart the material to our site in the centre of a field of growing sesame, and there erect our hospital with its necessary latrines, cook-houses, etc. Within two days we had some patients in, and in two weeks nearly 1,000 men, chiefly wounded. We were assisted by some 20 Royal Army Medical Corps nurses and doctors; then by 12 Canadians, and later by 12 nurses from the No. 3 Australian General Hospital. These nurses returned every evening to their own hospital, so all the night-nursing was done by our men. The work for a time was very hard, the weather scorching, and flies in millions. We were operating in a hospital marquee, the entrance of which was covered by mosquito netting. Our water was kept boiling by two slightly wounded men, and there was a stream of men for operations. We were working at our limit, and had to be satisfied to dress each case once a day. Time will not permit me to tell in detail how splendidly the twelve nurses loaned from the No. 3 General Hospital worked, no of the work of the twenty nurses finally attached to us. The conditions under which we had to work resulted in all our officers going away ill. There was Major Barber, who was infected from a wound, and then got paratyphoid; Captain Haynes went down with dysentery, Colonel White was ill with jaundice, Captain Stacy nearly died from bacillary dysentery. Major Barber and Captain Sawers returned to our unit before I left Lemnos on the day after the evacuation of Anzac.

“Some experiences with the No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital” – By J.E.F. Deakin, M.B., Ch.M. (Syd.), Honorary Assistant Surgeon, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, North Sydney in the Medical Journal of Australia, May 1917

Photos

Marquees and tents being erected to house No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital.

MEN OF THE 2ND AUSTRALIAN STATIONARY HOSPITAL PULLING DOWN TENTS AND PACKING EQUIPMENT, IN 1916-01, PREPARATORY TO LEAVING LEMNOS AFTER THE EVACUATION. THE WOODEN SHED IN THE REAR WAS USED AS NURSESQUARTERS. (DONATED BY PTE. M.E. MCCARTHY.)

1915. Sister Nellie Constance Morrice and some unidentified orderlies in an operating tent at No 2 Australian General Hospital on Lemnos. From the collection of Sister Nellie Constance Morrice. AWM P10300.003 [This is 2 Stationary, incorrectly labelled in AWM catalogue]

1916. A group of unidentified officers from the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) in the tent lines of an Australian hospital on the Greek island of Lemnos… AWM C00697 – [This photo is unidentified, and the date in the caption may be wrong. I think it is 2ASH based on the mountains in the background.]

Our photos on Lemnos looking for 2 A.S.H., 2011

View photos & captions on Flickr

Resources

Published Saturday May 21, 2011 · Last modified Sunday July 29, 2012
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence

We're pleased that people are using this website as a source for locations, quotes and other primary source material. It's why we published our notes on the web. But we'd very much appreciate a footnote or credit. Much of the hospital (and other) location information for Lemnos and the Western Front is original research -- thank you, from Bernard & Cheryl