Bozzo

Nina Bozzo - "...A very happy family...": The No. 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Home and Overseas

 

On May 12, 1919, the Director General of Medical Services, Major-General Foster wrote a letter of thanks to Commanding Officer of the No.10 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Lieutenant-Colonel Seaborn. In the letter, Foster commended Seaborn on the unit’s success, referring to it as “…a very happy family…” that had performed the highest standard of work and was “…one of the best in the field.” The letter also mentions that the No.10 was among other Canadian Medical Units that had attained good standing throughout the war.  I will focus on the No.10 as a case study in order to explore the impact of the unit at home and overseas, arguing that their close ties reflected a local community overseas. 

                During the First World War several universities across Canada had funded medical units, including field ambulances, casualty clearing stations, and general and stationary hospitals. The units were a response to the increasing need for medical care, as well as the sentiments of duty and pride associated with participating in the war overseas. The No.10 Canadian Stationary Hospital, also known as the ‘Western Unit,’ did not gain permission to form until April 28, 1916.  The lengthy process of approval, however, did not dim the university’s enthusiasm and by September the unit arrived in England prepared for duty. 

The university’s board of governors worked with the London community and Dr. Seaborn to put together the unit in short order.  In fact, Dr. Seaborn was in charge of recruitment and a substantial part of the organization.  The units consisted of faculty from the medical department, as well as students, and ancillary personnel from the surrounding community.  In this way, the unit did represent a closely knit and connected assembly of professionals, colleagues, and friends. The majority of unit members had identities rooted in their civilian lives that ultimately conflicted with the rigours and harsh realities of the medical military systems.  The challenges faced by the unit at home and overseas demonstrate the contrasts between civilian and military medicine as well as the changes within medical education at Canadian institutions.

 

 

Nina Bozzo is a fourth year History PhD Candidate at the University of Western Ontario. Her dissertation is on, ‘Duty or Care? Canadian University Funded Medical Units during the First World War.’ She also completed her History MA at Western, which focused on the relationship between the London Community, Western University, and the No.10 Canadian Stationary Hospital.