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Convalescent Depots

Convalescent Depots

Men discharged from the General Hospitals were sent to a Convalescent Depot for several weeks until they were considered fit enough to go back to their normal duties. The depot was usually placed in some attractive spot near the sea; it was the chaplain's duty to look after these men during their short stay. Time and again it was not only bodies that needed attention. Battle exhaustion and lingering disease left wounds on the mind, and the chaplain had to give much of his attention to morale and mental health. In this unit the chaplain could throw himself wholeheartedly into welfare work and recreational organisation, for the men were free most of the day and the chaplain came to know them as he shared their sports and sight-seeing trips. Men came and went, and the chaplain's contacts and friendships ripened for a brief moment and page 87 were then interrupted. Choirs, Bible Classes, and Church services fluctuated according to the population of the moment.

Sometimes a chaplain was posted to a Convalescent Depot as a rest from battle, but the work was specialised and did not benefit from frequent changes. Padre N. E. Winhall,3 who sailed with the Second Echelon, was the first chaplain with the 1st Convalescent Depot when it was by the Suez Canal at Moascar. He was awarded the MBE for hard and devoted work which unfortunately was cut short by ill-health. Padre C. MacKenzie4 also served long and faithfully with this unit.