IPSWICH: Wherstead Park Hospital, Wherstead

WHERSTEAD  PARK  HOSPITAL

The Street, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk

Wherstead Park House : Wherstead Park Hospital. Courtesy of Heather Anne. Johnson

Wherstead Park House : Wherstead Park Hospital. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Wherstead Park House (built on the site of an earlier residence) has a foundation stone dating to 1792.  The original house was designed for Sir Robert Harland who, in 1813, exchanged the estate with Mr. John Vernon of Orwell Park on the other side of the River Orwell.  Today, after once being the headquarters for Eastern Electricity, the property offers conference rooms and a venue for weddings.

At the outbreak of WW1, the owners Mr. and Mrs. Charles Edward Dashwood converted part of it into a convalescing auxiliary hospital (affiliated to the General Military Hospital in Colchester).  It only accommodated 12 beds.

In addition to the building being used in this way, the Park grounds were used as a staging depot for horses before they began their journey across the Channel for France & Flanders.


Bury Free Press, Saturday 29 January 1916 [sic]:

“SUFFOLK RED CROSS SOCIETY. A MEETING OF THE GRAND COUNCIL.  REPORT OF AN EXCELLENT YEAR’S WORK.

Mr. J. Maitland Wilson (the County Director) presided at a meeting of the Grand Council of the Suffolk Branch of the British Red Cross Society held at the County Hall, Ipswich, on Friday afternoon. … The Red Cross Hospitals in the county have done splendid work during the past year, and have been conducted in a most efficient manner.  All the hospitals, with the exception of Lord Iveagh’s hospital at Elveden Hall and Lady Beatrice Pretyman’s convalescent home at Orwell Park, are now receiving Government grant, … The number of patients received in the different Red Cross hospitals and hospitals working in conjunction with the branch up to November 30th, 1915, is 7,229. … …” 


Evening Star, Ipswich – Thursday 05 February 1916:

“… Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Dashwood are running and personally supervising at Wherstead Park …” 


Bury Free Press, Saturday 29 January 1916 [sic]:

“SUFFOLK RED CROSS SOCIETY.

… The total number of beds in the Red Cross hospitals at the present time was 783, and in addition there were in the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, Broadwater and Wherstead 290, totalling 1,073.  They would be interested to have their attention called to the splendid work being done in Ipswich on behalf of the sick and wounded. …”



ONLY TWO PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED WITH THE WHERSTEAD PARK HOSPITAL:  There is no doubt that others assisted in the running of this establishment but they remain unknown.  No Service Cards are online for the Hospital, on the British Red Cross website. Perhaps many of the employees of Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood helped in this establishment, one way or another?

DASHWOOD, Mr. Charles Edward (Donor of Wherstead Park House)

Born 1857 Great Cumberland Place, London.  Son of George Astley C. Dashwood and his London-born wife Harriett Anne

1861 Census:      Stone Lodge, Sproughton, Suffolk. Father “Esquire”; Mother “Hon. Mrs.”; three sisters; two brothers; and seven servants.

1871 Census:      Wherstead Park House, Wherstead. With Step-father Lord Montague N. Graham; mother; one brother; one sister; Governess; and twelve servants.

1881 Census:      74 Park Street, Chelsea. “Following a profession or Calling”; 3 servants; and future wife Emma Baker, who was also “Following a profession”.

1981, 20 Oct:      Married Emma Baker at St. Stephen’s, Westminster, London.

1891 Census:      Wherstead Park, Wherstead. Charles & Emma together; two visitors; seven servants.

1901 Census:      Bluegates, Wherstead, Suffolk. Charles (“Owner of Wherstead and Belstead Estates”/”Employer”) & Emma together; and three house servants.

1911 Census:      Bluegates, Wherstead, Suffolk. Landowner. With wife and five servants.

1935, 29 Apr:      Charles Edward Dashwood “of Holbeck-road Scarborough” died.


DASHWOOD, Mrs. Emma nee Baker (Donor of Wherstead Park House as a Hospital)

Born 1857 St George Hanover Sq., London. Parentage ?

1861 Census:      ?

1871 Census:      ?

1881 Census:      74 Park Street, Chelsea (the home of future husband). With Charles Edward Dashwood; “Following a profession”; and three servants.

1981, 20 Oct:      Married Charles Edward Dashwood at St. Stephen’s, Westminster, London.

1891 Census:      Wherstead Park, Wherstead. Charles & Emma together; two visitors; seven servants.

1901 Census:      Bluegates, Wherstead, Suffolk. Charles (“Owner of Wherstead and Belstead Estates”/”Employer”) & Emma together; and three house servants.

1911 Census:      Bluegates, Wherstead, Suffolk. With Landowner husband and five servants.

1956, 31 Dec:      Emma died, death registered in the Ipswich Registration District.



PATIENTS

Cameron Highlander Regimental Sergeant-Major Alexander McKinnon (S/10716)

The Wherstead Park Hospital nursed back to health one of the heroes of the Battle of Loos, Cameron Highlander Regimental Sergeant-Major Alexander McKinnon D.C.M. (and bar).  Alexander arrived at Wherstead at the beginning of December 1915, suffering from rheumatism.  He was discharged 23 August 1916.

Seaforth Highlander Sergeant Arton

Badly wounded towards the end of the Battle of Loos, Sgt. Arton was eventually sent back to England and admitted to Colchester Military Hospital.   He was then transferred to Wherstead Park Hospital, arriving there at the end of October 1915.

ooOOoo  ooOOoo

On 05 February 1916, the Ipswich ‘Evening Star’ printed an article about Scottish regiments’ action at the Battle of Loos.  The two men mentioned above are featured in the article, which was reproduced in the Scottish ‘Stirling Observer’ on Saturday 12 February under the title of DUNBLANE N.C.O. WHO TWICE WON THE D.C.M.”.  It is felt interesting enough to transcribe the ‘Evening Star’ article in full here [sic]:

“Unfortunately, there is nobody less inclined to talk of his achievements than the average soldier, who is modest to a degree when it comes to talking of his fighting prowess.  He may be a real good fellow, a genial companion, but his conversation more often than not will generally be confined to things quite alien to his calling.  The extraordinary part about it is that this inborn modesty of the soldier is far more pronounced in those who have done some act of conspicuous gallantry.  Therefore when one day last week an interview was sought with a Scottish non-commissioned officer Regimental-Sergeant-Major McKinnon, twice the winner of the D.C.M., who has been nursed back to health at the hospital Mr and Mrs C. E. Dashwood are running and personally supervising at Wherstead Park, one had a foretaste of what might be expected.  The Sergeant-Major, every inch a soldier, who has served over twenty-five years in the Cameron Highlanders, was as uncommunicative as a man could possibly be as to his brilliant leadership during that terrible battle of Loos, which saved the situation for the British on the particular section at the front.  The Sergeant-Major’s cool judgment and daring would probably have not become known at the present time but for a remarkable coincidence, by no means the first during the present war.  The Sergeant-Major, who is 45 years of age, has spent considerably more than half that time in the Army, for he has entered upon his twenty-sixth year of service.  

At the time war broke out he had only left the colours a few months on a pension which probably no man ever more greatly deserved, for during the whole of the time he was in the Army he had served many years abroad, and had twice been on active service—namely, in Egypt and throughout the whole of the South Africa campaign. Absolutely wedded to a military life, Sergeant-Major McKinnon had a great dislike when the time for his leaving the Army arrived to disassociate himself from everything military, and hence it happened that he welcomed the opportunity of taking an appointment which enabled him to play no small part in the training of the country’s soldiers of the future.  In his native place of Dunblane he became instructor at the Queen Victoria School—an institution on all fours with the Duke of York’s school, which was erected as a memorial to Her late Majesty. 

The Sergeant-Major, when the help of the seasoned soldier was such a pressing need, had not be asked to rejoin the colours.  He forthwith threw up his appointment, and once more entering the Cameron Highlanders, became Sergeant-Major of the 5th Battalion. This afforded him special gratification, for it is Lochiel’s own battalion, which he still commands in France.  The 5th was the first battalion of the Cameron Highlanders formed for the new Army. It was raised in August, 1914, and went to the front last May.  The men of the battalion soon had a taste of trench life, for after a short time in billets they were sent to the trenches in Armentieres neighbourhood.  From that district they gradually worked south, being occupied in the main with trench holding.  On this account they were frequently under fire, and narrow escapes from death were of such common occurrence that in course of time the men came to regard them as part of an ordinary day’s routine. 

The Cameron Highlanders’ first great fight was at Loos, where the battle commenced on the 25th September, and was continued with terrible fierceness for twelve days.  In that battle four divisions of Scotch regiments took part.  That portion of the attacking line of British troops, which was resting on the Foss pit-head, was composed of the Camerons, Seaforths, Gordons, and Black Watch took part.  It was thought possible on the night before the attach that the Germans might get an inkling of what was to happen in the morning, and to prevent being caught unawares the British troops were compelled to stand to in their trenches throughout the night.  Great enthusiasm prevailed along the British front when the men mounted the parapets of their trenches for what was to the 5th Camerons their first great charge.   Bravely led by their officers, they made a dash for the German front-line trenches, but, of course, many fell on the way.  It was in this first big rush forward that the greatest number of men were put out of action.  The officers in proportion to the men suffered worse, because after two days the Camerons had lost all theirs, and it was for this reason that Sergeant-Major McKinnon found it necessary to take command.  He presumes—so far he has had no official communication from the War Office—that it was the part he then played that won for him the D.C.M.  It was most extraordinary coincidence, on the same day—September 27—in 1901, he won the D.C.M. in the South African War for bravery at Zande, near Bleomfontein.

The Camerons, with the other troops on their flank, went on and on until they had advance into the German lines for over a mile.  At this period Sergeant-Major McKinnon was surprised to find the adjutant of the Camerons was alive and was up with the troops.  The collected together the fragments of the regiments just mentioned, and were able to muster 1014 men all told.  They made another charge, and fairly drove the Germans before them.  The survivors of first thought little of their diminishing numbers, but when it realised that they were gradually dwindling, and there were no troops coming up to support them, a halt was rendered necessary, and immediately the remnants started to dig themselves in.  For three days these brave fellow held on to their hastily-made trenches and patiently waited for reinforcements, which had they been forthcoming, would have ended in the Germans being pushed much further back, for, as the Sergeant-Major said, they were already on the run.  Unfortunately the supports were not forthcoming, and a retirement was necessary.  When the Camerons were relieved they were occupying what until just before the Loos battle had been the German second-line trenches. 

It may be explained that for some time prior to the battle of Loos the Seaforth Highlanders had acted as sister battalion to the Camerons in the trenches, and it was in this way that Sergeant-Major McKinnon became acquainted with Sergeant Arton, of the Seaforths.  The latter in the end did not get off so lucky as the other non-commissioned officer just mentioned.  Sergeant-Major was only slightly wounded towards the end of the Loos battle, and he was eventually brought to England.  Being sent to the Colchester Military Hospital, he was ultimately transferred to a branch of that great hospital at Wherstead Park.  Sergeant Arton arrived at Wherstead towards the end of October, but when in the early part of December Sergeant-Major McKinnon was also sent there, the two were naturally amazed at meeting again at such a place, seeing that there is only accommodation for twelve patients.  But for Sergeant Arton no one at Wherstead would ever had heard of the exact details concerning Sergeant-Major McKinnon’s brave deeds, because directly they were able to renew their battlefield friendships, the first-named soon made it known to all at Wherstead that Sergeant-Major McKinnon was one of the heroes of the battle of Loos. 

Questioned as to the character and style of the German trenches, Sergeant-Major McKinnon said they were rather deeper than those of the British, and the dug-outs were eight to ten feet underground.  After the battle of Loos Sergeant-Major McKinnon said the Camerons, or what was left of the 5th Battalion, were sent to the Ypres district, and it was while in the trenches there that he contracted rheumatism and had to be sent home.  There is no wonder that the Sergeant-Major is so afflicted, because they were often standing in water knee-deep, and sometimes it was up to the waist.  The Sergeant-Major had high praise for the food supplied at the front, which in quantity and quality, and particularly the former, exceeded anything they had in the South African war.  In South Africa seldom did the troops get anything beyond Army biscuits, but now he said they regularly had tasty and nourishing food in the shape of tins of a kind of haricot, comprising meat, potatoes, carrots, turnips, haricot beans, which, being already cooked, had only to be heated.”


NEXT: IPSWICH: Woolverstone Red Cross Hospital

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