Life in Gloucester Hospital before being called up.

Feb 3rd, 2012

Gloucester City General Hospital.

Great Western Road

22 June 1941

[Gilbert is now qualified and waiting to join the Army – admin]

Dear Harvie,

Next week is my last week and after that I will endeavour to go by way of Manchester to the Isle of Man. But something has already loomed up. On the 19th of June I received a printed form from the Central Medical War Committee pointing out that I was soon to be considered for a commission in the Armed Forces – the Army. I am hoping to get away before receiving another printed form: but of course I may not. Surely, however they will give me some breathing space!

Six moths in a Hospital has made me feel used to being called ‘Doctor’. But as for being able to ‘Doctor’, well, I doubt if I shall ever do it properly. After the War, if there is and ‘after’ for me, I shall have to learn it all again: especially the “Midwifery” part of it.

I quite like being occupied. The work has not been hard labour. The Hospital is somewhat empty at the moment, and it could well do without a medical officer in my place for a month or two. Should an attempt at invasion be made the Hospital would be, of course, too busy for words. It is depressing to think of Crete, Greece, Libya etc. And nowadays it must be painful to be alive in any of these places: sand, heat, too little to eat and drink, and probably not enough water to wash the  sweat away.

Today I was giving an anaesthetic in the theatre for a case of appendicitis, and sweat was poring off me; a nurse spent her time mopping the sweat from my brow; my shirt was wet through in the end. At least I could rush out of theatre and have a cold bath and a change of clothes. What would it be like without these simple amenities? I pity the soldiers even in England during these hot days for they have to wear thick and prickly uniforms.

Beer is difficult to get in Gloucester and the struggle to get it is hardly worthwhile. In the last six months I have hardly touched my savings using my salary of £16- 13- 4 a month as pocket money. I cannot really spend this. In the Army I believe I get a basic rate of 19/6 a day and additions and allowances for this and that. This is an advance on my present salary. But I do not like the idea – the life in billets does not appeal to me. However, I am for it. I wonder if they will send me abroad. They will have to teach me a few tropical diseases if they do. Hope to see you soon.

Cheerio

Gilbert

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Thoughts about the War.

Feb 3rd, 2012

41 Windsor Road Rathmines

Dublin  7th September 1939

Dear Harvie,

I wonder will they take you in the army if your urine is full of sugar? Although the condition is not of any importance yet either a special diet or careful use of injections of insulin may be necessary: and one cannot get careful dietary in the army, and injections of insulin might be difficult to get at the front.

You need not worry about my being in the War, or the possibility of avoiding it. I should not go until the proclamation calling persons of my age group was issued, which will not be for a while yet, and secondly they want students in their last year to qualify. Dr Graham, the nose and throat specialist in our hospital, was telling us that in the last war probationers unqualified were taken at first, but then later they sent them back to finish,, and finally began refusing them altogether  as qualified doctors gradually became scarce. Nowadays they are willing to have us finish. However I shall not avoid the war when I am qualified but enter it immediately. There may be a chance of our being qualified earlier than next June.

When the war started my stomach dropped as if I were going down in a lift, and I was anxious to hear from Wilfred and Hilda and everyone else. Wilfred finally wrote to me and said that he was enlisting in the R.A.M.C. on Monday (last), and he also said that but for the restrictions on using the telephone he would have rung through to you.  He has made a will, and sent me the details. I have made a will with Roebuck & Oddie leaving everything between you and Wilfred.

Jean is going to do some clerical work connected with ration cards and help in canteen work.  I quite envy her the ability to do something at the present time instead of in the distant future.  Hilda is joining an ambulance unit to drive an ambulance.

The black-out in Dublin is not nearly sufficient, but it is getting better each day. The trams run with full lights on and so do the buses. Private motor cars also use full headlights. Cracks of light come from most windows in the city. Our Hospital is quite without blinds, but some effort is made to have a black-out after nine o’clock.  Emergencies in the theatre will be avoided because our theatre at the moment is like a candle at the top of the hospital. I have ordered blinds for my rooms but Mrs Alton [presumably Gilbert’s landlady – admin] in her rooms is content with black paper.

Ireland is at the moment neutral, but cannot remain so for long. If it is, it will soon be a centre for spies and counter spies, since it is bound to have a close connection to England.

Wilfred says that he hopes to see the day when Mussolini is riding with King George through the streets of London saying to himself: “Alas! poor Adolf – I was right after all.” [Mussolini did not join the War on the side of the Axis until 10th June 1940 – admin]

Cheerio – Gilbert

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A Medical Student in Dublin.

Feb 3rd, 2012

41 Windsor road

Rathmines

Dublin  14th June 1939

Dear Harvie,

Did Wilfred tell you of my experiences when assisting Professor Wigham to do a Post-mortem on a case of Hemiplegia?. When the body was canoe full of blood with the viscera lying all over the place, and the cranium taken off to remove the brain, the Professor put on his hat, walked out of the room and left me alone with the body to tidy up.  I stuffed everything back, filled the chest up with tow, and took ages sewing up the abdomen from chest to pubis, and then I had to fit on the cranium and sew the scalp back. After this I had to wash the corpse down with a hose.  It was a beautiful morning , however, with the window of the mortuary wide open and the sun streaming in, with a cool breeze playing around the room. Had it been a November evening, cold and draughty with fog rolling in at the door, with the little gas stove too small to make any difference to the chill, I would probably have gone out of my mind.

I was flattered today when Dr Parsons said to me that he thought I would have no difficulty in passing M.B. Of course M.B. is one thing but I have Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynaecology, not to mention Mental diseases, ophthalmic surgery, hygiene and medical jurisprudence to do. I told him that  I was afraid that I should never pass surgery, but he said that he thought it was easier than medicine. I know what he meant by that; in a sense surgery is quite straight forward and for us students -limited and largely theoretical. On the other hand persons fail surgery again and again.

M.B. examinations have been in the Baggot Street Hospital the last few days and they have been about cases that I have examined myself (Patients of Dr Parsons) and so the clinical part of the examination should be a “cinch”.

When all said and done I would not like to give up medicine now; it is interesting and stimulating and takes me out of my lazy self.

Cheerio – Gilbert.

 

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Gilbert at Trinity College Dublin.

Jan 14th, 2012

A photo in Trinity College Park. Gilbert on the left with Fred Majdalany  [who I think went on to write for the Manchester Guardian, now The Guardian – any info – admin] and Desmond Mooney. Letters to follow.

 

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Gilbert at King Williams College

Jan 14th, 2012

Gilbert goes from King Williams College on the Isle of Man to study medicine in Dublin. Here is  a photo of him in 1929 in Rushen Abbey.

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The Home Guard.

Jan 14th, 2012

The Direction to Enrol the Home Guard which is from the Military Sevice Division in Douglas dated 25th November 1942 and the meetings were held every Wednesday at 8.00 pm in the Legion Hut in Colby. Amazingly it is still there.

The British Legion Hut in Colby Isle of Man

 

 

 

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Their Sister – Hilda.

Jan 14th, 2012

  The boys also wrote regularly to their sister Hilda who lived in Gatley in Cheshire. She had two teenage daughters at the time of the war, Jean and Rhona.  At some point she must have given all her wartime letters to Harvie for safe keeping, and it is this archive of letters I intend to publish online over the next months – perhaps years – they number into the hundreds.

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Direction to Enrol in the Home Guard

Jan 14th, 2012

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The Brother at Home – Harvie.

Jan 14th, 2012

 Born in 1908 Havie was exempted from Military Service due to illness and stayed at home on the Isle of Man. Wilfred and Gilbert wrote to him regularly and he kept all the letters.

In 1942 he enroled in the Home Guard. See document in the next post.

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The Brothers

Jan 12th, 2012

 Gilbert Tattersall. Born 1911. Served in the Army during World War II as a Medical Officer. Educated at King Williams College ,Isle of Man.

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