The Field Hospital, of which some account is given in these pages, was known as "No. 4 Stationary Field Hospital." The term "stationary" is hardly appropriate, since the Hospital moved with the column, and, until at least the relief of Ladysmith, it followed the Headquarters’ camp. The term, however, serves to distinguish "No. 4" from the smaller field hospitals which were attached to the various brigades, and which were much more mobile and more restless.
At the commencement of the campaign the capacity of the Hospital was comparatively small. The officers in charge were Major Kirkpatrick, Major Mallins, and Lieutenant Simson, all of the Royal Army Medical Corps. These able officers - and none could have been more efficient - were, I regret to say, all invalided as the campaign progressed.
Before the move was made to Spearman’s Farm the Hospital was enlarged, and the staff was increased by the addition of eight civil surgeons. It is sad to report that of these two died in the camp and others were invalided. No men could have worked better together than did the army surgeons and their civilian colleagues.
The greatest capacity of the Hospital was reached after the battle of Spion Kop, when we had in our tents about 800 wounded.
Some account of the nurses who accompanied the Hospital is given in a section which follows.
The Hospital was well equipped, and the supplies were ample. We carried with us a large number of iron bedsteads complete with mattresses, blankets, and sheets. These were all presented to the Hospital by Mr. Acutt, a generous merchant at Durban. It is needless to say that they proved an inexpressible boon, and even when the Hospital had to trust only to ox transport, all the bedsteads went with it.
The ladies of the colony, moreover, worked without ceasing to supply the wounded with comforts, and "No. 4" had reason to be grateful for their well-organised kindness.
The precise number of patients who were treated in the Hospital is no doubt recorded in the proper quarter, but some idea of the work accomplished may be gained from the fact that practically all the wounded in the Natal campaign - from the battle of Colenso to the relief of Ladysmith - passed through No. 4 Stationary Field Hospital. The exceptions were represented by the few cases sent down direct by train or ambulance from the smaller field hospitals.