The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
[The New Zealand Hospital Ship Maheno]
The ship was due to sail on July 10th, 1915, from Wellington, and at 11 a.m. on that date His Excellency the Governor, attended by the Honourable Colonel J. Allen, Minister of Defence, and Brigadier-General Sir A. W. Robin, came on board and inspected the Detachment.
Owing to an unfortunate outbreak of sickness in Trentham Camp it was deemed advisable to take the precaution of having a thorough medical inspection of everyone belonging to the vessel, so as to avoid any possible chance of any outbreak taking place after the ship sailed.
The Maheno was moved into the stream at 1 p.m., and after the medical examination had been completed, a Medical Board, consisting of the Honourable Colonel W. Collins, Lieut-Colonel Tracy Inglis, Colonel Morice, Captain Harrison, Dr. Hector, and Mr. Hurley, assembled to decide whether there was any reason why the ship should not proceed on her journey. The Board came to a favourable decision, and it was decided that the ship should leave next day.page 10
All ranks spent the evening in settling into their new quarters.
At 0.30 a.m. on Sunday, July nth, His Excellency arrived on board to say farewell and left at 10.30 a.m. Church Parade was held by the Rev. Lieut.-Colonel W. Gillam and the Rev. Major D. Dutton, and at 12.55 p.m. the anchor was weighed and the Maheno steamed slowly out of the harbour on her way.
All ranks felt that they were proceeding on a very eventful voyage—few had ever visited those parts of the world for which the ship was bound, and all felt that the Maheno carried the earnest prayers of New Zealand that her mission would be crowned with success.
The Governor had presented to every offer non-commissioned officer, and man of the Detachment a green and scarlet lanyard, as a sign of his personal association with the undertaking, and of the deep interest which he took in all that concerned the vessel.
It can be candidly said that all ranks only wished His Excellency could have accompanied the ship, but that, of course, was impossible.
July 11th found a good many of the Detachment cordially disliking the sea, hut they received one good piece of news, and that was the announcement of the surrender of German South-West Africa to General Louis Botha.page 11 page break page 13
July 12th. We were, at noon, 290 miles from Wellington, and 1006 from Deal Island.
The inoculation of the Detachment took place gradually, and on July 15th the light-house on Deal Island was sighted at about 9.30 p.m.
The innoculation with anti-typhoid vaccine of the Detachment was carried out.
On July 16th we were 379 miles from Adelaide, and reached the Outer Harbour at 12.45 p.m.
On July 17th the Detachment was cordially entertained by the "Cheer Up Society" in Adelaide.
On July 18th His Excellency the Governor of South Australia (Sir Henry Galway, K.C.M.G.), accompanied by Lady Galway, visited the ship and expressed appreciation at everything they saw. The ship was coaled that night.
The Perthshire arrived on July 19th, and the coaling of the Maheno was completed on July 20th. The 8th engineer, Mr. Scott, developed measles, and was landed on the same date.
The Maheno continued her voyage, leaving the Outer Harbour, Adelaide, on July 21st.
On the 23rd the majority of the personnel were vaccinated.page 14
A concert was given on board on the 24th. Between July 14th and August 13th demonstrations were given in the afternoons and lectures in the evenings to the personnel, by the officers.
There was a very successful fancy dress parade on the 29th July, the first prize being won by a nurse, and the second prize by Corporal Dunning, dressed as an old-fashioned doctor.
The ship arrived at Colombo on August 2nd, and both officers and personnel spent a very pleasant time there. Some of the officers and nurses went to Kandy. The ship left on August 5th.
There was a concert given by the nurses on August 12th.
The following day, the 13th, proved to be a very hot one, and owing to the heat, work was started early and ended by dinner time. On the evening of the 14th the personnel gave a return entertainment to the nurses in the shape of a mock court.
On August 16th we arrived at Suez. Captain Wood, the Transport Officer, came on board and informed Colonel Collins that 32 passenger nurses were to disembark at Suez; 15 to proceed to Cairo, and 17 to Alexandria. Thepage 15 page break page 17
Naval Transport Officer, Captain Kendall, also visited the ship.
Colonel Collins visited No. 1 Stationary Hospital (Colonel McGavin) at Port Said on August 17th, and learned that the hospital started with 130 beds, then increased to 200, and finally to 450. The French cruiser Montcalm, and two auxiliary cruisers were passed at the entrance to the Canal, and we were very pleased to see the Indian troops; the Sherwood Foresters, and the Honourable Artillery Company lining the banks of the Canal. The staff of No. 1 Stationary Hospital visited the ship, and we left Port Said in the evening of the 18th for Alexandria. On arrival at Alexandria, the Sea Transport Officer, Captain Turveen, visited the ship, and gave us the information that we should proceed to Mudros. Lady Carnarvon came off and placed some gifts from the Order of St. John on board.
Several of the medical officers visited the Ras-el-Tin Hospital and examined Major Hey Groves splints, with which they were very pleased: the chaplains visited No. 17 and No. 19 Hospitals, and found all the New Zealanders who were there, very flourishing.page 18
A great many troops were leaving the port for the front, and the harbour was full of troopships.
The X-Ray apparatus for the ship was taken on board and fitted, and the anti-tetanic serum from England was also received.
The Maheno sailed on August 23rd for Mudros, and previous to departure we took in a further supply of waterproof sheeting. Some wreckage was passed, consisting of four collapsible boats, but no living soul was on them.
We arrived at Mudros on August 25th. The harbour was full of men-of-war of various nationalities, including Russian, French, and British, a good many transports and two hospital ships.
Colonel Collins went to the Aragon and then proceeded to the Hospital Ship Liberty, where he met Sir James Porter, and received his instructions as to the destination and work of the Maheno.
Sir James Porter made an official inspection of the Maheno on August 26th, when we left for Anzac, where we arrived the same day, to find a destroyer and cruiser bombarding the coast immediately opposite to us. Several bullets came on board, which added excitement to the proceedings.page 19 page break page 21
On arrival at Anzac we found the Hospital Ship Formosa taking in patients. We com-menced embarking wounded at 11.30 a.m., and on the 28th we left with 445 cases, comprising 333 cot cases and 112 non-cot cases, for Mudros. During the night of the 27th heavy fighting was in progress. We were visited on the same date by Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood, Major-General Sir Alexander Godley, Colonels Howse, Esson, Knox, and Major Holmes.
We carried 24 wounded officers amongst our patients, included in the number being Lord Charles Bentinck and Captain the Honourable Aubrey Herbert, M.P.—both these officers having been attached to Major-General Sir A. Godley's staff—the former being wounded in the abdomen and the latter suffering from dysentery.
We learnt with great sorrow that Colonel Thomas had been killed in action.
Early on the 29th the Hospital Carrier (the old German Derffinger) came alongside, (up to now there had been p9 deaths among our own patients) and we commenced the disembarkation of the wounded, everyone assisting in every way possible, including the crew and firemen, who gave great assistance in shifting page 22 mattresses, wounded, etc., and finished at 7 p.m. that night.
Some of the worst cases had to remain on board, and another death occurred on the 30th. We were ordered back to Anzac, and left Mudros on August 30th. We took Colonels A. Balfour and Buchanan, who were proceeding to the Peninsula to investigate the epidemics of diarrhœa, dysentery, and enteric. The worst wounds were caused by bombs and shrapnel.
A small percentage of the wounded were infected with lice. Great care was taken that a complete record was kept of all deaths which occurred, including age, religion, date of death, date of burial, and cause of death.
The following system of supervision was adopted:—Colonel Inglis had charge of the observation, isolation, A, special, officers, N.C.O's, D, E, F, and G Wards, with Captain McCaw to assist, who also had charge of the X-Ray apparatus; Captain Tolhurst had charge of B, C, H, and J Wards, with Captain Simpson to assist; Captain Spedding had charge of the deck and control of the Bacteriological Department, and assisted in the Wards when required. Colonel Collins held general supervision over the whole and acted as consultant, and no operations of any magnitudepage 23 page break page 25
were performed without a consultation between Colonel Collins, Lieutenant-Colonel Inglis, and Captain Tolhurst.
Owing to the ventilation of the B Ward not being sufficient a wind-sail was lashed to the ventilating shaft, which improved matters.
Major Holmes was put on board suffering from renal colic and enteritis, and Captain Rhodes with enteric, and General Johnston with gastric trouble.
On the 2nd September we began to take on board wounded, which included a large number of cases of dysentery and diarrhœa, and proceeded with 422 cases to Mudros, having called at Imbros on the way and picked up Commander Robinson, R.N., suffering from fracture of the humerus.
On arrival at Mudros we received orders on the 4th to proceed to England viâ Malta and Gibraltar, but this order was cancelled, and we commenced to transfer our sick and wounded to the Nile on the 5th September.
We were obliged to leave one of our personnel, Private Falla, suffering from scarlet fever, at Mudros, also Private McRae, N.Z.R., Canterbury, Corporal Malthus, N.Z.R., Canterbury, Private J. Glesson, N.Z.R., Auckland, Private Fraser, N.Z.R., Otago, Corporal Burn and Private Milne, Canterbury, all suffering from scarlet fever.page 26
On September 7th we left again for Anzac. After filling up with wounded we left Anzac with 443 cases, comprising 328 cot cases and 115 deck cases, in all 1000 cases were passed through the vessel on this trip, and we arrived at Mudros at 5 a.m. on September 9th.
On the same date Sir James Porter came on board and told us we were to proceed to England, filling up with serious cases from Malta and disembarking our light cases at the same port. Several of the personnel were down with dysentery.
We had the first rain on the nth, since we left Port Adelaide, and arrived at Valetta at 1 p.m. the same date, we averaged 15 knots on the voyage from Mudros.
His Excellency the Governor, Field Marshal Lord Methuen, came on board with his daughter at Malta. Our orders to proceed to England were cancelled, and we heard that we were to return to Anzac. We discharged 328 cot cases and 98 walking cases in four hours.
Coaling took place on the 13th, and the personnel went ashore, and visited places of interest including the Governor's Palace.
His Excellency the Governor expressed his appreciation of the Maheno, and wrote to His Excellency the Governor of New Zealand.page 27 page break page 29
Thirteen members of the personnel were laid up suffering from illness.
We left Malta on September 15th, and we quickly caught up the Guilford Castle, and arrived at Anzac on the 17th, and we commenced loading the same day. Our cases included dysentery, typhoid, influenza, diphtheria, etc.
A heavy engagement started on the 18th. and the number of patients was very largely increased. One of our personnel, Private Chidley, was very ill with dysentery.
Colonial Troops (included in the above).
Orders were received to proceed to Malta. On the 21 st an SOS message was received from a French vessel, but she was over 300 miles away, and therefore it was impossible to do anything to assist her.
The ship was much overcrowded. Up to date, after four voyages to Anzac, the amount of surgical equipment issued was—Cotton wool, 250 lbs.; lint, 71 lbs.; boric lint, 39 lbs.; bandages, 131/3 gross; Billroths fabric, 81 yards; safety pins, 17 gross; Z.O. plaster, 3½ dozen; rubber catheters, 6½ dozen; rubber gloves, 51/3 dozen; Baritan gauze, 42 rolls; clinical thermometers, 12½ dozen; double cyanide gauze, 41 rolls; ribbon gauze, 21/3 dozen; ether, 19 lbs.; chloroform, 33 lbs.
The patients were disembarked on the 23rd, and Colonel Collins was congratulated on the expedition with which the undertaking was carried out.
Colonels Symons and Ballance, surgeons from London Hospitals, visited the ship, and expressed strong appreciation of the equipment and the facilities for disembarkation of patients.
Coaling commenced on the 24th. and General Babtie, Chief Medical Officer, came on board.
The three chaplains handed in to Colonel Collins a report to the effect that they hadpage 31 page break page 33
visited the hospitals at Port Said, Alexandria, and Malta. That they had never heard New Zealand or Australian soldiers complain of their treatment, but on the contrary they had listened to many expressions of gratitude for the attention and kindness shown them.
On September 28th we found ourselves again at Mudros, and proceeded to Anzac on the 29th. We filled up mostly with medical cases on the 30th and proceeded to Mudros. A large mail was awaiting the ship there, and also medical stores which enabled our Bacteriological Laboratory to be made full use of.
On October 4th two of our patients died. On October 5th we disembarked 465 patients at Alexandria.
Colonel Collins proceeded to Cairo and visited Mena Hospital, where there were 60 New Zealanders, and also the New Zealand Hospital at Point de Kubbeh, Abbasiya, and saw Colonel Parkes and Major Maguire. This hospital can accommodate about 700 patients. All were doing well, and delighted with the treatment they received.
The Hon. Colonel Heaton Rhodes visited the Maheno on October 7th.
Embarkation of sick and wounded commenced on October 8th, and was completed on that evening.page 34
Colonel Collins also visited Lady Godley's Home, which consisted of two houses, one for officers and the other for men.
The Maheno left at 10 p.m. for England. We had a great number of surgical cases on board. On the both we heard that the trans-port Ajax had been fired on by a submarine. We carried very few New Zealanders. The following are the names of New Zealanders who died on the Maheno up to this date:—Private W. H. Mann, N.Z.R., bullet wound in abdomen; Gunner, W. A. Adamson, N.Z.F.A., diphtheria; Private J. W. Sullivan, N.Z.M.R., bullet wound in shoulders; Private A. J. McDonald, N.Z.M.R, shrapnel wound in right shoulder; Private D. A. McRae, N.Z.M.R., bullet wound in chest and lungs; Private F. Litchford, N.Z.M.R., bullet wound in right side and chest. Up to now we had carried 2350 cases. The total number of deaths 58. Total number of operations 95. X-Ray work, photos 14, screen 9. The total number of New Zealanders carried, 331.
On the 14th October the ship was off Gibraltar, and the weather was getting cooler; the following day the sea was rough, and though there was a good deal of sea sickness, yet the patients did not suffer.page 35 page break page 37
We were off the Needles at 3.30 p.m. on the 17th, and we went alongside the Empress Wharf, Southampton, at 9.55 a.m. Surgeon-General Donovan, D.D.M.S., came on board, and was very pleased with everything on the ship.
Colonel Collins handed to Surgeon-General Donovan a list of what was required to be done on the ship.
The Maheno was taken over by the Admiralty and placed in dry dock.
The personnel were allowed to travel over the English railways for half fare.
Colonel Collins proceeded to London and reported himself to Sir Alfred Keogh, and also at the Admiralty, and then proceeded to Walton-on-Thames to visit the New Zealand Hospital, which he found splendidly adapted in every way for the New Zealanders' needs.
Private Stevenson and a laundryman named Teague, who were sick, were accommodated at Netley Hospital while the Maheno was in dock.
Corporal Donaldson was taken ill and was attended by Dr. Vernon, of Charing Cross Hospital. Sergeant Bell, who had been in Ireland, was taken ill with enteric.
The bulldog "Jock" was unfortunately lost at Southampton.page 38
The Maheno sailed from Southampton on October 30th, having taken Corporal Donald-son on board. Unfortunately the High Commissioner was unable to come and see the ship start. Private Stevenson and Laundrvman Teague were much better. The weather was foggy and inclined to be stormy on departure.
Colonel Begg, who went with the Main Expeditionary Force, and who was convalescent, took passage on the ship.
The 1st November was heralded in by very rough weather, and considerable damage was done to the X-Ray room and some of the deck cabins.
By the 5th the ship had run into warmer weather. Corporal Donaldson and Private Stevenson were better, but two other members of the personnel. Privates Tidy and Benson, were taken ill.
On the 6th Malta was reached, where orders were received to proceed to Mudros, and the damage to the X-Ray apparatus, received in the Bay of Biscay, was repaired.
The ship left Malta on November 7th for Mudros. A wireless message was received from s.s. Nore, saying that she was attacked by submarines, but she escaped.
After the first visit to Malta, a general orderpage 39 page break page 41
was received, saying that no water was to be consumed unless filtered and boiled.
We arrived at Mudros on November 9th, and on the 11th proceeded to Kephalo, in Imbros, towing a hospital barge with us, and arrived at Anzac on the nth for the last time. It will be noticed that the ship visited Anzac on six. Occasions, twice carrying patients to Mudros, twice to Malta, and once to Alexandria.
Here the ship was filled up with 418 patients, 32 being New Zealanders. The Hospital ship Syria relieved us at Anzac, and we arrived at Mudros on the 13th, and left for Alexandria, carrying Lieutenant-Colonel Sir J. Rogers, Chief Officer of the Red Cross Society in Cairo, with us.
Before leaving Mudros, both verbally and in writing, Sir James Porter expressed to Colonel Collins his warm appreciation of the services rendered by the Maheno and her personnel.
We arrived at Alexandria on the 15th and commenced disembarkation of patients.
On the 16th November Colonel Collins received the report of Corporal Donaldson's illness from Dr. Vernon, who diagnosed it as malarial fever of the Tertian type; it was a great relief to know it was not spotted fever.page 42
On the 17th the Maheno left for Malta, and arrived there on the 21st. Orders were received here to proceed to New Zealand.
The following passengers were embarked here, namely, 35 New Zealanders, 40 Australians, and one British officer. The 22nd was a very rough day.
On November 24th Port Said was reached. Here we embarked 113 convalescent enterics, and arrived at Suez on the 26th. All our Australian patients were disembarked at Suez, and we embarked 5 officers and 171 other ranks for New Zealand.
We saw Colonel Parkes, who seemed very well.
We took on board some bacteriological requisites, and the theatre trolleys were sent to No. 2 Stationary Hospital.
Private Haig was taken ill.
A debate was initiated on December 4th, the subect being "Is it advisable to adopt compulsory service throughout the Empire at the present time?" The speakers for the motion were Sergeant Ibbotson, Corporal Bett, Sergeants Williams, Hardy, and Harper; against, Privates McClure, Barlow, Tidy, Pattrick, and Corporal Dunning. The affirmatives carried the vote.page 43 page break page 45
On the 5th December five of the personnel were down on the sick list, including one sister (Sister Burton). Private Cameron had an epileptic seizure on the 7th, and to the deep regret of all, died on the 8th of pneumo coccal meningitis, and was buried at sea,—the first of our personnel to succumb.
We arrived at Colombo on December 9th. and those of the patients who were able to go ashore were hospitably entertained by the residents. The Acting-Governor, Mr. Stubbs, visited the ship, and went round ail the wards. Mr. Waldock, Secretary of Lady Helen Munro Ferguson's fund, sent gifts on board for the patients, and Mrs. Stubbs sent off a lot of flowers. Colonel Muspratt Williams put up all patients, who were able to go ashore, at the Barracks for the night. The ship left on the 10th.
Rats made their appearance on the deck, and even on the bridge, on the 13th. Colonel Collins gave a prize for deck billiards amongst the patients.
Sister Muir was taken ill on the 16th.
The ship arrived at Albany on the 22nd December, and again the patients and personnel were hospitably entertained by the people.
Albany was left on the 23rd. On Christmas Day a telegram was received, wishing all the page 46 best Christmas greetings, from His Excellency the Governor of New Zealand.
During the cruise 141 operations were performed on board.
After an uneventful passage the Maheno anchored in Auckland harbour on the morning of January 1st, 1916.
Their Excellencies had travelled from Wellington to greet the ship.
A civic reception was held at 3.30 p.m., at which the Mayor, Mr. Gunson, presided. We disembarked 185 of our enteric convalescents, and they were segregated temporarily in the old Exhibition Buildings until it was considered that all danger of infection from carriers had passed. The ship left the same evening for Wellington, arriving there on January 3rd, where there was another reception by the Mayor (Mr. Luke). On that date His Excellency the Governor came on board and proceeded with the vessel, first to Lyttelton and then to Port Chalmers. Before the ship arrived at Dunedin, Colonel Collins asked His Excellency to make a small presentation to Signalman Pattie, R.N., for his gallant conduct in effecting the rescue of a man who had fallen overboard during the voyage, which presentation had been sub-scribed for by all the personnel of the Maheno.page 47 page break page 49
The patients who were on hoard received a civic welcome at Dunedin, over which Mr. Clark, the Mayor, presided, and speeches were delivered by His Excellency the Governor and the Mayor. Patients and personnel were naturally very glad to see New Zealand again.
So ended the Maheno's first commission, after a voyage, during which all ranks had worked loyally and happily together.