Monday 30 May 2016

Reflections on the Battle of Jutland by a nurse on the Hospital Ship "Plassy"

Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916

By kind permission of Andrew of the Facebook Page Hospital Ships of the Grand Fleet 1914 – 18, where you will find many more very good post - 

Here is a report from a nurse who served on the Hospital Ship Plassy - two days after the Battle:

HMHS "Plassy"
From the Diary of Charlotte Amy Clarke:

“2nd June 1916 Friday

News at last of the most exciting kind! We received orders early to proceed at once down to the Forth Bridge and prepare to take in patients as the ships came in.
There had been a tremendous battle and I am afraid we have lost a good many ships, including some say the "Queen Mary" but I do hope that is not true. As we got to anchor the ships began to come in, “The Lion”, “The Tiger”, “The Princess Royal”, “The Southampton”, “The Birkenhead”, (our late rival) the ————- who was to have been our next opponent. Besides destroyers steamed passed us and we gave them our cheer. They did not look much the worse except for a few ominous looking holes, but inside some of them there had been inferno but a few short hours before.

Crowded on the decks in most varied rig, we're the survivors from the poor lost ships. The men all looked cheery even at that hour one could hardly believe all that they must have gone through. I much regret that I did not take any photographs as they came in, but we were expecting patients at any moment“, so did not dare go away.
So they began to arrive, drifters by the dozen, six or seven deep on ten port and starboard sides waiting to unload their sad burdens. Poor men they almost all had their faces and hands tied up. We started about 11 am and by 12.30 had taken in over 100 and they said the worse ones, at least 90 cot cases, were still to come. We got them all into bed as quickly as possible, no easy job sometimes, and fed them with beef tea and the bad ones with brandy and left them to settle down a bit before we attempted their dressings.

We washed up and snatched a little lunch as we could then the bad cases began to come in. Poor things it was pitiful to see some of them, with legs off and arms off, and some fearfully burnt, face, arms and body. We even had destroyers up alongside discharging patients directly on board."
Photo:  HMT "Plassy" lying off Netley Sound in Southampton Water c. 1909.  Photo taken by A. Pritchard MLNA.