Ken's experiences at BCGH.

Ken Hodge

RAMC. Corporal (Regular) on a three-year engagement. At BCGH from April 1953 to November 1954.

Travelled out on HMT Empire Pride (we slept in hammocks) and returned on the Empire Orwell.

In trying to remember the detail of my time at BCGH I find that some aspects seem like yesterday whilst others now seem improbable that I could have coped with some of the jobs I did, particularly in those early days. So what I’ve done is write as much as possible on some of my experiences.

I think the total number of beds at the hospital was about 600 and the number of wards perhaps 18 to 20. Wards 1,2 and 3 I believe were surgical wards and obviously the biggest due to the nature of the hospital. The Canadians, British and Australians had one floor each in this three storey main building.

I was the Medical Records Clerk and one of my duties was to arrange for the medical evacuations to the United Kingdom. They were usually once a month, by train from Kure to Iwakuni and then by air to the UK. I collected all medical and personal data and prepared an evacuation list, which was widely circulated. I telephoned this data to a contact at Iwakuni. Once a date was fixed I booked the hospital train, then went to see Matron who arranged for a Sister to escort the patients as far as Iwakuni. About an hour before the train departure patients were collected and off we would go, by ambulance, to the station, which was about five minutes away. Casualties arrived from Iwakuni as far as I can recall.

I think we transferred to Tenno Barracks about August 1953. Tenno Barracks was situated in a small fishing village and the fisherman had oyster beds for cultured pearls. I remember the cost of the bus fare from Tenno to Hiroshima was 200 Yen, I think that’s 20p in today’s money.

I visited Miya Jima Island sightseeing on several occasions, and if I remember correctly no one was born or died on the island. We had a short term Convalescent Camp (3/4 days at a time). Sunshine, good food and rest. I managed to get a week R and R at Ebisu Camp (Toyko), which was quite excellent.

On one trip to Hiroshima I visited a local hospital and in walking around the wards saw patients still being treated for radiation sickness. I often wondered what they thought of my being so intrusive in their grief.

I very much recall (as I did it) the ‘Emergency Orderly’ duty, which non-ward staff (i.e. clerks) did on a rota basis. Usually, once a week, you located yourself in reception for the night. When an emergency occurred you collected a four-wheel drive and a Japanese driver and off you went. Whatever the case (dead or alive) they were picked up and returned to reception where they were seen by the duty Medical

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