Transcription: Health of the Troops Bexhill Observer July 1915

From the Bexhill Observer 3rd July 1915


As Kipling phrased it, “not where the great shells shout as they pass, over the firing line”, but at quite as critical points behind, a great work towards winning the War is being done by the sanitary scientist. It is stated that the victory of the Japanese in Manchuria was mainly due to the efficient manner in which they saw to the health of the troops, and thus it is of great interest to review what has been done in Bexhill in this all-important direction.

In his annual report, the Medical Officer of Health for Bexhill (Dr. G. H. Weston) says that the outbreak of war brought considerable military activity. Early in August (1914) the Council in Committee resolved to offer all possible facilities for the enlistment and examination of recruits, and the offices of the department were utilised for that purpose. With the valuable assistance of Dr. Young a great number of men were passed for various branches of the Army and Territorial Forces.


In order that the men enlisted in East Sussex might train and afterwards fight together, Lieutenant-Colonel C. Lowther, M.P., raised rapidly a Southdown Battalion, and on its completion a Second and Third Battalion, forming the major part of what is known as the 121st Infantry Brigade. To house this corps a camp was formed at Cooden, and the sanitation was arranged in co-operation with the officials of the Council. The tents at first provided were replaced by huts erected on higher ground and fresh conveniences built. Both the latter and the cook house have been connected with the Council’s sewers. The Company’s water has been laid on. Towards the end of the year huts, etc., were built for another Battalion, with similar sanitary arrangements.


The major portion of the men under training was at first billeted in houses in the town, the billets being selected by the police. Great care was taken to prevent the men being placed in houses where tuberculosis or infectious diseases were known to exist, and in consequence the health of the troops during the autumn months was good, only one case of infectious disease having been notified.
To house part of the First Battalion while changing from tents to huts the Council put the Down School at the disposal of the military. After the First Battalion had moved to the huts at Cooden, the Second Battalion, who had been in billets, took over the schools for two companies, housing the remainder in the R.F.A. (T)., (Royal Field Artillery (Territorial)), Drill Hall, which had been altered and extended, and the Sackville Hotel.

Hospital accommodation was provided for the First Battalion at Cooden by the help of Sussex 33 Detachment R.R.C.A., (Royal Red Cross Association). The tennis court pavilion at the Cooden Golf Club was utilised and an extension built on. The sanitary arrangements were inspected and passed by the Borough Authority. Later on arrangements were made for the use by the First Battalion of beds in the Metropolitan Convalescent Home, and the hospital has since provided for the requirements of the Third Battalion. For the Second Battalion a house was taken in Cantelupe Road, the nursing being undertaken by the Sussex 24th Detachment. The work of these two detachments merits the fullest possible recognition.

The refuse has been removed at frequent intervals by a contractor, and all inflammable matters have been treated in an incinerator. To meet the needs of troops quartered in the Artillery Drill Hall proper sanitary arrangements were provided. The food supply of the camps has been inspected by the Local Government Board Inspector.

At all times the Borough Authorities have worked in loyal co-operation with the military authorities.

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