The first patients
Clandon was not thought to be required for some months but a telephone message on October 12 asked if Clandon could admit 100 patients later that day. The first patients were 101 Belgians, evacuated after their country was overrun.
They were met at the station by the St. John Ambulance Brigade’s horse ambulance and were comforted with gifts of food and cigarettes. Some had not eaten for forty eight hours. They were desperate, destitute, serious hospital cases. Every available bed was needed.
The Earl described the arrival of these shattered, half-starved men as having more effect on those connected with the hospital, than any other subsequent event. This was the stark truth of the effects of war. It wasn’t until March 1915 that the bulk of the British patients arrived. Convoys arrived irregularly until January 1916 after which there was a steady flow of wounded.
A dedicated staff
The medical staff was made up of a resident medical officer and three visiting doctors. The nursing staff were trained nurses and Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses, with orderlies supplied by local branches of the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance. The first group of VAD nurses arrived at Clandon in October 1914 and consisted of 13 women, including the matron.