Christopher's experiences at BCGH.

Christopher W Stupples

National Service 1953 – 1955

Korean Theatre of War reflections.

I left the UK (Liverpool) aboard the MS ‘Devonshire’ in the very early New Year of 1954. I was immediately seconded to the ship’s hospital where I had to nurse one person who had a fit outside the ship’s mess and another duty guard (who strangely came from my home town) and had very bad burns following an accident in near the cells. Later in the voyage I had to man the Isolation Ward when four children, of serving Officers, caught Chicken pox. The Devonshire arrived in Kure at the end of February 1954.

I was based at the BCGH full time, apart from two very short visits to the Field Ambulance in Korea, and left for the UK in April 1955 on the MV ‘Asturias’ to Southampton via day visits to Hong Kong, Singapore and Ceylon. My time on the return trip was again spent in the ship’s hospital due very much to the influence of my BCGH boss, Major Peter Kershaw.

The first accommodation in Japan was at Tenno Barracks. The then OIC being a Major O’Dowd – a fiery Irishman and proud of it. The staff were bussed daily to the hospital and I worked mainly in Ward 9 (Venerealogy) and sometimes in Ward 10 (Dermatology). The Medical Officers I worked under were Capt. (later Major) Peter Kershaw and Lt (later Capt.) McLean. The sergeant’s in charge were Webster and late King. There was also a Corporal Porter and another orderly Bob Warner plus the usual clerks and wardboys.

I attended regularly at St. Peter’s (Garrison) Church where the Padre was Capt. Scammell. Here I joined the choir and the associated Rover Scout Crew. Scouting led to a visit to the Hakkonni Park (by permission of the Emperor) for a Summer scout camp. Its situation close to Mount Fuji was idyllic. It was here I had an accident near the end of the camp when I trod on a bamboo shoot, which set up a bad inflammation in my foot. This meant a difficult journey back to Kure via Tokyo where I was admitted to Ward 3 for two weeks. On discharge I collected my kit from the stores at 6pm and was told that I had to be on parade the next morning at 8am in full immaculate tropical uniform. Now this was the first time I had been called upon to prepare this form of clothing and the result was I felt like a screwed up rag on the parade ground – the inspecting officer agreed and I was placed on a charge. Fortunately my boss, Capt. Kershaw, put in a word and I was let off with a warning.

I further remember one evening when on emergency ambulance duty (which everyone had to do) I was called to a busy road junction near JRBD (Japan Reinforcement Base Depot) to retrieve wounded and dead of some MP’s (Military Police) who had been in collision with a local vehicle. I had one live patient and the one dead body on the return trip. As a result I attended the post-mortem the next day (somewhat gruesome) and had to give account of myself to the SIB (equal to a coroner’s court) at a later date. There appeared to be some discrepancy between myself and the attendant of a

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