New Zealand General Hospital # 2
Submitted by webmaster on Sat, 11/10/2014 - 21:50
The hospital at Mount Felix, Walton-on-Thames was the first of the NZ Military Hospitals to be established in the UK. It was known as the NZ War Contingent Hospital, but later given the designation “2 NZ GH”. The grounds at Walton were delightful with beautiful walks, flower beds and green fields. On one side of the grounds flowed the River Thames. Boating on the River Thames became a popular pastime. Some very serious cases were admitted. One was a man with over 40 wounds. Initially he did well, but then after four weeks he suddenly deteriorated and died. He was the first New Zealander to die in an NZ Hospital in the UK.
“Within ten days of the out break of war, the New Zealand High Commissioner, Sir Thomas Mackenzie) called a representative gathering of New Zealanders in London, and laid before them his proposals for the purpose of helping and caring for the sons of New Zealand, who were coming to take their part in the great war. The New Zealand War Contingent Association was formed at that meeting, which took place at the Westminster Palace Hotel, Victoria, London S.W, on Friday the 14th, 1914. Sir Thomas Mackenzie explained that their services would be required to assist New Zealand Soldiers by providing them with comforts, visiting them in hospital, securing accommodation for convalescents after they had passed through the hospitals so that they might be taken in hand and gradually brought back to health and also by keeping in touch with the soldiers and their relatives. A general committee was formed and sub-committees, one termed an executives committee, the other a ladies committee. Lord Plunkett, an ex-Governor of New Zealand, was elected chair-man of the committee, and lady Islington, wife of another ex-Governor, the head of the ladies committee.
Early in 1915 the first report was submitted to the association Association by the High Commissioner, who, meanwhile, had visited the New Zealand troops in Egypt. Having given an account of his visit, Sir Thomas brought forward certain proposals for future work which were adopted.
The organization greatly developed as the calls upon it its services increased, and when our soldiers began to be invalided to England as a result of wounds or sickness through the campaign at Gallipoli and Egypt it became very necessary to do a great deal more work than had been previously undertaken. It might be stated that the work done up to this date consisted, in the main, of sending large consignments of clothing and other comforts to Gallipoli and Egypt.
The Walton Hospital
It was now thought advisable to establish a hospital for our own men, and the Mount Felix property at Walton-on-Thames was secured for this purpose. Lady Islington took a leading part in the selection of this beautiful home, and in furnishing and equipping it as a hospital. It was generally known as the “New Zealand Walton Hospital”. and was pronounced by the British military medical authorities as a model hospital in England.
In 1915, their Majesties the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales, visited the Hospital. The graciously spoke to every soldier, and spent the whole afternoon there, partaking of tea on the Lawn. They expressed their enthusiastic appreciation of all that the Association had done in equipping and establishing the Walton Hospital. Subsequently the Hospital was transferred to the New Zealand military authorities.”1
Staff & Patients, NZGH No. 2, Walton-on-Thames. c. 1914-18
1 The Red Cross Work