John's experiences at BCGH.

John Glynn

RAMC. Posted to British Commonwealth General Hospital, Kure, Japan from 3rd April 1953 to 10th October 1953.

I arrived aboard the HT Dilwarra. I was a regular Corporal and a Student Nurse. I worked on a British surgical ward and was very much involved with Case-Vac arrivals and their care. Their main injuries were generalised trauma, burns, fractures and spinal injuries; I was involved with the treatment and the preparation of survivors for onward transmission to the UK.

At this time the ward staff compliment was 11 QARANC Sisters (one name I recall was McKenna) 9 RAMC Orderlies, including a Sgt and myself for 80 patients. Shift patterns were 7.30am to 8pm with a split between eg off at 10am to 1pm or off 2pm to 5pm. Night duty was 8pm to 8am. We worked about 48 hours a week. The RAMC orderlies prime duties were to observe recovering patients, attend to patients personal needs eg washing, toiletting, feeding and to do the cleaning.

I also spent four weeks in blood transfusion department where I learned to sharpen needles, to type and cross match blood donations.

Three incidents come to mind. The first was collecting the body of a seaman who had been killed by being hit on the cheek with a monkey wrench (see Ken Hodge's memories on this point –page 21). He apparently had an abnormal skull. Then there was an argument between Eddie Fisher and myself as to how many bodies were represented by the mound of flesh and bone on the mortuary slab. Lastly, I attended the retrieval of a corps from the Inland Sea and although quite unpleasant at the time it was all useful experience for a student nurse.

One or two patients stand out as special when I was on night duty. A Canadian lad with multiple injuries who died of TB not as I had feared from an embolism due to a fault in the blood giving apparatus. Then an English lad who lost one of his marks of manhood and had several fractures. He would call for a bedpan, as we were about to go off duty after a twelve-hour shift, and we always got there too late! These are my old comrades whom I recall from time to time.

I remember Miya Jima as a beautiful rest from the hard work on the wards. In my Japan album I wrote, ‘The pictures were taken on the island of Miya Jima 27 miles from Kure, May ’53, I was on my first night duty leave. I went with Tom Winton and Peter Martin and had an enjoyable time’.

I have no recall about being stationed at Tenno, only stopping there (in a minibus?) beside a long building and noticing fish drying by the roadside.

To finish I have just one or two more disjointed memories. I recall swimming in the pool at Signals Camp. I played rugby on Anzac Park and I seem to remember parading there for Coronation Day in 1953. By the way I used to enjoy cold baked bean sandwiches from the Aussie Red Cross kiosk!

John Glynn and QA Sister at BCGH.