- Contributed by
- People in story:
- william gordon white
- Location of story:
- U K and Overseas
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 November 2003
I spent my first 20 years in Rochester and attended Kings School. I prepared to study medicine and at the outbreak of war I had a short time in the Auxillary Fire Service in Rochester and then went on to join Kings College, London to study Anatomy and Physiology. I never got to Kings College; it was evacuated with most of its staff first to Glasgow University and later to Birmingham University. Clinical Medical studies were to be undertaken at Charing Cross Hospital, which in turn had been largely evacuated to Ashridge ,Berkhampstead. It was staffed by Charing Cross consultants and nurses together with nurses from University College Hospital
Short spells of leave at home in Rochester gave experience of air-raids, sleeping in a shelter in the garden, dogfights during the battle of Britain and Short Sunderland flying boats swooping over the roof to land on the river.. We were also to sample the raids on Birmingham where we were in lodgings and shaken up for nights on end.
Several of us arrived in Boxmoor in Jan 1941, after passing 2nd M.B. Exams. We were lodged at Chaulden House, Boxmoor in dormitories, 6 to a room, and went daily to Ashridge by the Medical School Bus with sandwiches. I was able to drive and help maintain the beast, an ancient A.J.S (They were motor cycle makers) In Aug 1943 after qualification, I took up a house appointment at the Hospital and lived on there in various capacities until Aug 1945. It was primarily an EMS Hospital with several Military wards. I was one of a team which was on standby for care of casualties for an emergency (the invasion). We were on short time notice and collected by Green Line Ambulance and taken to an unknown destination. It turned out to be the Royal Southants and Southampton Hospital and with several other teams, we were on 8 hour shifts and accommodated in their Governors room which was made into a dormitory. We treated the casualties brought back from the beaches in Northern France.
I can fill in quite a few details about life at Ashridge during this time but it would be largely medical names and the very pleasant times we had in the bar which was then in the crypt and our adventures to the Alford Arms. We were good friends with the lay staff and shove ha’penny was played daily.
I was involved with the early use of Penicillin. It was in very short supply and tried out both by local application to wounds and by very painful injections and at hopelessly low doses.
One incident I recall, related to the new idea of early mobilisation following surgical operations. There was until then rest in bed after the most minor procedures and my little patient was featured in the London News Chronicle because of gentle exercises which I arranged. I was firmly reprimanded for my initiative
My personal transfer to Military service took me to Malta, Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea, and Kenya — mainly in military hospitals partly in the capacity of Venereologist. I accompanied a patient home in 1948 in a BOAC York aircraft from Nairobi; this needed several stops and included a rest period in a hotel in Cairo.
I was demobilised soon afterwards and began a 30 year career in Occupational Medicine in Oxford.
If you want any other details or enlargement I shall be pleased.
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