Oaklands Hospital

Oaklands Red Cross  Auxiliary Hospital, Elton Road, Clevedon 

Part 4 - Staffing and nursing care at the hospital

Major Alfred Bond Trestrail VD was Commandant of Somerset/2 VAD. This was a women's detachment in Clevedon and provided many of the general staff for Oaklands and the Grange. 

He was engaged as Commandant of Oaklands on 9th November 1914 and worked continuously without pay until May 1919. 

Of the 65 women's detachments in Somerset, only 5 were not commanded by a woman. Of these 4 were headed by Doctors so his appointment would seem slightly unusual. 

Major Alfred Bond Trestrail lived at Southdale Albert Road. In 1891 he took over command of No9 Battery Gloucester Artillery Volunteers from Captain Sir Edmund Harry Elton. As well as his business & military duties Major Trestrail was a very active man in the public life of Clevedon, being Hon Secretary of the RSPCA, member of the district council, Vice President of WSM Liberal Association and a JP. He was 65 on his appointment to Oaklands. 

For his services to Oaklands and his VAD unit he was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours List of 1919. 

He was ably assisted by Lady Blanche St John Bellairs, wife of Major General Sir William Bellairs who had seen distinguished service during the Crimean War; they lived at Mowbray, Elton Road. She also worked unpaid, carrying out the secretarial work in addition to her many other commitments. 


The lady Superintendents were Mrs. Furlonger, Sister Wilmot and Matron Catherine Waddell. 

The quartermaster was Miss Millicent E Vernon, assisted by Mrs. Pope; the wardmaster Mr. John J Manley; Transport Officer Mr. Jack Brewer; the cooks, Miss M King, Miss S Long, Miss C Luscombe and Miss E Luscombe. The two Luscombe girls were later mentioned officially for their services to nursing during the period of the war, along with Miss RN Harper of Seavale Road. 

The Medical Officers who provided their valuable services to the hospital were Dr's Walter J Hill, Charles Visger, H Brougham Pope, RKG Graves, LEV Every Clayton and WG Hubert. 

Dr LEV Every Clayton served in France for two years as a Captain in the RAMC during the early part of the war and in the later part Captain Visger and Captain Graves were also at the front with the RAMC. 

In March 1920 Captain Charles Visger was awarded the OBE for his services as a Medical Officer at Oaklands. 

Postings for the trained nurses varied from a few weeks to about a year, although some stayed longer including Sister Catherine Waddell, the matron, from Tullibody in Scotland. She trained at the General Hospital in Birmingham 1888-1891. She served at Oaklands from May 1915 to July 1919. 

Miss Ellman and Miss D Nichols also served for over four years.


The following nurses are known to have served at Oaklands or The Grange:


Dame Emily Blair later became Matron-in-Chief of the Trained Nurse Department of the Joint War Organisation of the BRCS; she finally retired in 1953 having been awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1947. 

A number of local people offered their services in a number of ways until they were transferred or 'called up', Miss Wilson and Miss A Wilson from November 1914 until June 1917 when they moved to Southmead Hospital. 

Miss Rose Norton-Harper from November 1914 until November 1917 when she joined the Motor Ambulance Unit, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. 

Miss Ethel Davey until she moved to the Birmingham General Hospital and Miss Sturges who also went to the front. 

Private F Pritchard, Somerset Light Infantry having been wounded and honourably discharged gave his services as a Hospital Orderly along with H Kibble, J Bishop and F Vowles. 

Other men who acted as orderlies until they were called to the colours were, B Anslow, WH Dyer, G Summerell, CF Burges and G Clements. 

Mr. F Purse of Old Street, volunteered to cut hair at Oaklands twice a week, this offer was gratefully excepted by the then Quartermaster MS Porcher.

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