Siegfried Sassoon recorded in his diary on 22nd July 1916, that the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers boarded a train at Mericourt and travelled to Hengest. From there they marched seven kilometers to La Chausee (one kilometer from Picquigny), for a fortnight’s rest. The next day the great diarist and memorizer wrote just one line: “Feeling very ill. Temperature 105 at 9pm. Went to New Zealand Hospital at Amiens on Monday morning.”
At the hospital his condition was diagnosed as dysentery, which Sassoon believed he had caught at their new billets at La Chausee. This had originally been occupied by Australian troops and had been left in less than ideal sanitary conditions when taken over by his battalion.
Serious cases from the barges...
The following describes the hospital at Amiens and comes from a book written by Hester Maclean and published by the Tolan Printing Company in 1932, entitled ‘Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences, Chapter XXXIX - New Zealand Hospitals in Britain and France:’
“Twenty-seven sisters and staff nurses left England on July 30th, 1916, to join the staff of the No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital at Amiens, France, some fifteen miles from the front line. After a couple of days spent in Boulogne, the party was divided, one half going to a British hospital at Abbeville, and the other half to Amiens to the No. 1 Stationary Hospital. The trip to Amiens took twelve hours instead of the customary four, owing to the bombing of the railway line just ahead of the train.
The hospital was in two buildings, the main portion of 350 beds was in part of a convent, ‘St. Famille,’ just above the station, where the more serious cases were admitted, and half in the Lycee Girls' School, a few blocks away, which could accommodate 380 beds. A little later a third school was opened as an officers' hospital, with 100 beds.
For nearly ten months the No. 1 Stationary Hospital was used as a casualty clearing station in conjunction with other British hospitals some distance out, and also for the serious cases from the barges on the Somme which could not travel. From here, when work slackened, surgical teams, consisting of a surgeon, an anaesthetist, a sister, and one, perhaps two, men, were sent up to casualty clearing stations for the big offensive. The patients here were British, some fifty German prisoners and some Belgian soldiers. After ten months at Amiens the Stationary Hospital was transferred to Hazebrouck with a bed status of 1,040, which occupied two schools and a field of tents.”