James's experiences at BCGH.

James Kay

I was a regular in the RAMC, leaving in 1967, with the rank of Sergeant. I left for Japan (although our ultimate destination was Korea), from Southampton aboard HMT Empire Fowey and served at British Commonwealth General Hospital from August 1951 to September 1952. Then for about a year in Korea with No.2 Section CCP (Casualty Clearing Post), which came under 26th Field Ambulance.

Whilst I was in Japan I worked on a major surgical Australian staffed ward, if you remember the main building in the hospital was on three floors. The ground floor being staffed by Canadians, the first floor staffed by British and the top floor by the Australians. As the Australians had few male nurses or orderlies they used some of the British nursing orderlies to work for them on this floor. This was a bonus for the British lads, things were far less strict under the ‘Ossie’ nursing sister and there were perks to be had. Each floor, I should imagine, had about 40-60 beds. Of course there were smaller wards around the compound, one being the ENT ward, in which I was a patient myself. I can remember the operating theatre, the linen store and the blanket store. Also the guard room at the gate and the guard sergeant being a member of the Royal West Kent Regiment. There were a large number of stone steps leading up to the hospital main gate.

I seem to remember Pte or L/Cpl Woodcock who was an Operating Theatre Technician and the CO was Colonel Snow.

In September 1952 I was transferred to the Field Ambulance, in Korea, making my way there aboard the HMT Devonshire to Pusan and then by train and lorry to the ‘front’ (David, if you decide later to include field ambulance experiences in your article you can certainly use mine).

I returned from Korea to Kure as a patient to have an operation on my lower jaw that got infected, so I was kept in hospital for some seven weeks before returning to the UK on the HMT Empire Fowey.