Bangour Fauldhouse Ward
The War Office announced in May 1915 that it was taking over Bangour Village Hospital for use as a war hospital. The mental health patients were moved to other asylums, and the hospital was converted and ready for army patients within six weeks.
The fact that a railway line led right in into the hospital grounds made Bangour particularly suitable, and the hospital’s capacity was increased from 800 to 1,350 beds within the first three weeks. The first train carrying 100 casualties arrived at the now renamed Edinburgh War Hospital on 12 June 1915. Ever increasing casualties meant patient numbers increased and by autumn 1918, it reached its maximum - 3,036 patients, including 1,200 in a ‘marquee hospital’ in the grounds. Some 55 of the beds were for officers, the rest of ‘other ranks’.
Every local community in West Lothian was active in organising fundraising to pay for treats for the wounded soldiers of Bangour. Fauldhouse, like many communities in West Lothian, adopted a ward – Ward 20, a surgical ward - and raised funds especially for it. As well as money, the committee collected food: fruit, vegetables, cakes, biscuits - and particularly eggs for the soldiers and delivered them every fortnight or so to the men of Ward 20. Sometimes the ladies themselves buttered the scones and served tea to the soldiers. On many occasions, local societies would organise outings for the men, bringing them by char-a-banc to a hall in Fauldhouse where they were typically entertained to a concert, games or a filmshow, and a ‘knife-and-fork tea’. Sometimes a party of Fauldhouse ‘artistes’ gave a concert to the patients at Bangour.
Three young Fauldhouse girls, Bessie and Nettie Peacock and Tessa Steele, collected money at the 1916 gala day and raised enough to buy cigarettes for each of the 70 men in the Fauldhouse ward at Bangour. The health risks of smoking were not yet known.
Charlotte Smith Wyper of Fauldhouse began work at Bangour Village Asylum in 1913, when she was just 17. When the mental patients were cleared to make way for wounded soldiers in spring of 1915, she returned to the War Hospital and nursed there for fifteen months. Sarha Irving
A number of West Lothian young women were employed as Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses at Bangour, including Sarah Irving (née Irving) of Fauldhouse. Many years later, as a centenarian, she was interviewed about her long life in the West Lothian Courier of 26 September 1986:
Q. I believe you worked as a nurse up at Bangour hospital?
A. Yes I did, I was with the Voluntary Aid Detachment for about 3½ years.
Q. What were conditions like up there at that time?
A. Terrible, hundreds of young men arriving home from the front with the most appalling injuries. I can still see them now at times, some with arms and legs missing. It was a terrible time.
On 26 October 1917 the West Lothian Courier reported:
ENTERTAINMENT OF WOUNDED SOLDIERS
On Saturday last a company of 30 wounded soldiers under the care of Sister Metcalf from Ward 20 of Bangour Military Hospital, were entertained in the Masonic Hall, at the invitation of the [Fauldhouse] Dancing Committee... The soldiers were conveyed from and to Bangour by motor charabanc, kindly supplied by Picture House directors. The company proceeded to the Picture House, to a special matinee kindly arranged by Mr Forrester, manager. Mrs Izatt collected the sum of 30s for the Fag Fund, which supplied each soldier with fags and left a surplus which enabled them to take a few smokes to their comrades. They were then entertained to a splendid tea, purveyed by Crofthead Co-operative Society, who also granted the use of their piano. Thereafter a concert programme was gone through, which was followed by a dance. Altogether the evening was a great success, and the soldiers left about 8 o'clock, having thoroughly enjoyed their outing.
©1914-18: Fauldhouse Remembers Group
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