"DOBRA" CONVALESCENT HOSPITAL
Description Of Hospital Building--Grateful Memories--Summary Of Medical And Surgical Cases--Feeding The Convalescents--Care And Entertainment --Captain Greenleaf Fine Manager.
The American Convalescent Hospital at Archangel, Russia (American Expeditionary Forces, North Russia), was opened October 1, 1918, in a building formerly used as a Naval School of Merchant Sailors. A two and one-half story building, facing the Dvina River and surrounded by about two acres of land, over one-half of which was covered with an attractive growth of white birch trees. The entire building, with the exception of one room, Chief Surgeon's Office, and two smaller rooms, for personnel of the Chief Surgeon's Office and the Convalescent Hospital, was devoted to the American convalescent patients and their care. The half story, eighty-five by eighty-five feet square, over the main building, was used for drying clothes and as a store room. The building proper was of wood construction, with two wings (one story) constructed with 24-inch brick and plaster walls. The floors were wood, the walls smoothly plastered and the general appearance, inside and outside, attractive.
In addition to the inside latrines, an outside latrine with five seats and a urinal was built by our men. This latrine contained a heater.
Nearly all the windows, throughout the building, were double sash and glass and could be opened for sufficient air, dependent upon the outside temperature. The first floor ceilings were fourteen feet in height, those on the second floor were twelve feet high. No patient had less than six hundred cubic feet of air space.
Large brick stoves, one in the smaller and two in the larger rooms, heavily constructed and lined with fire brick, heated the building. A wood fire was built in these stoves twice daily, with sufficient heat being thrown off to produce a comfortable, uniform temperature at all times. The building was lighted by electricity. The entire building was rewired by American electricians and extra lights placed as necessary. The beds were wooden frame with heavy canvas support. These beds were made by American carpenters. Each patient was supplied with five blankets.
During the first four months it was necessary for the men to use a near-by Russian bath-house for bathing. This was done weekly and a check kept upon the patients. February 1st, 1919, a wing was completed with a Thresh Disinfector (for blankets and clothing), a wash room and three showers. A large boiler furnished hot water at all hours. The construction of this building was begun November 1st, 1918, but inability to obtain a boiler and plumbing materials deferred its completion. Three women were employed for washing and ironing, and clean clothing was available at all times.
Water buckets were located on shelves in accessible places throughout the building for use in case of fire. Each floor had a hose attachment. Two fires from overheated stoves were successfully extinguished without injury to patients or material damage to the building. The main floors were scrubbed daily with a two per cent creosole solution, the entire floor space every other day. All rooms contained sufficient box cuspidors filled with sawdust.
The kitchen contained a large brick stove and ovens and this, in conjunction with a smaller stove on the second floor, could be utilized to prepare food for three hundred men. Bartering with the Russians was permitted. By this means, as well as comforts supplied by the American Red Cross, such as cocoa, chocolate, raisins, condensed milk, honey, sugar, fruit (dried and canned), oatmeal, corn meal, rice, dates and egg powder, a well balanced diet was maintained throughout the winter. Semi-monthly reports of all exchanges, by bartering, were forwarded to Headquarters. The usual mess kits and mess line were employed. The large dining and recreation room had sufficient tables and benches to seat all patients. Boiled drinking water was accessible at all times. During the eight months the Hospital has been operating, over 3,872 pounds of grease, 2,138 pounds of bones and 8,460 pounds of broken and stale bread have been bartered with Russian peasants. In return, besides eggs, fish, veal and other vegetables over 32,600 pounds (902 poods) of potatoes have been received. Accompanying this report is a statement (a) of British rations (one week issue), (b) a statement of food barter (17 days) and (c) the menu for one week.
The large room, facing the river, twenty-eight feet by sixty-one feet, was available for mess hall, recreation and entertainments. The space, twenty-eight feet by twenty-one feet, was separated by a projecting wall and pillars and contained a victrola and records, a piano, a library (one hundred fifty books furnished by the American Red Cross, exchanged at intervals), a magazine rack, reading table, machine guns and rack, a bulletin board and several comfortable chairs made by convalescents. A portable stage for entertainments was placed in this space when required. A complete set of scenery with flies and curtains was presented by the American Red Cross. In the center of the room a regulation boxing ring could be strung, the benches and tables being so arranged as to form an amphitheatre. The entire room could be cleared for dancing. At one end was a movie screen and in the adjoining room a No. 6 Powers movie machine which was obtained from the American Y. M. C. A. and installed December 5th, 1918.
During the winter the following entertainments were given:
Vaudeville 5 Boxing exhibitions 4 Lectures 4 Minstrel shows 2 Dances 10 Musical entertainments 6 Russian 3 English 2 Band concert 1 Kangaroo court 1
A twelve-piece orchestra from the 339th Infantry band furnished music for the dances as well as occasionally during Sunday dinners. Each Wednesday and Sunday nights moving pictures were shown. These included a number of war films showing operations on the Western Front and productions of Fairbanks, Farnum, Billy Burke, Eltinge, Hart, Mary Pickford, Kerrigan, Arbuckle, Bunny and Chaplin. During May baseballs, gloves and bats have been supplied by the American Y. M. C. A. Sunday afternoons religious services were conducted by chaplains of the American Force.
Canteen supplies, consisting of chocolate, stick candy, gum, cigars, cigarettes, smoking and chewing tobacco, toilet soap, tooth paste, canned fruits (pineapple, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches) and canned vegetables could be purchased from the Supply Company, 339th Infantry. These supplies were drawn on the first of each month and furnished the men at cost.
The personnel consisted of Capt. C. A. Greenleaf, Commanding Officer, Medical Corps; an officer from the Supply Company, 339th Infantry (charge of equipment); two Sergeants, Medical Corps; three Privates, Medical Corps. With these exceptions all the details required for the care and maintenance of the hospital were furnished by men selected from the convalescent patients.
It took seventy-six men every day for the various kitchen, cleaning, clerical and guard details and in addition other details from convalescent patients were made as follows: Six patrols of ten men each, each patrol in charge of a non-commissioned officer and three sections of machine gunners were always prepared for an emergency. Guards were furnished for Headquarters building. Two type-setters and one proof-reader reported for work, daily, at the office of The American Sentinel (a weekly publication for the American troops). Typists, stenographers and clerks were furnished different departments at Headquarters as required. Orderlies, kitchen police and cooks were furnished to the American Red Cross Hospital and helpers to American Red Cross Headquarters. This was light work always which was conducive to the convalescence of the men.
Captain Greenleaf always managed to care for all patients. On January 18th, 1919, a ward was opened at Olga Barracks which accommodated twenty-five patients. These patients were rationed by Headquarters Company and reported for sick call at the infirmary located in the same building.
On March 11th, 1919, an Annex was opened at Smolny Barracks with eighty beds. For this purpose a barracks formerly occupied by enlisted men was remodelled. New floors were put in, the entire building sheathed on the inside, rooms constructed for office and sick call and a kitchen in which a new stove and ovens were built. This Annex was operated from the Convalescent Hospital, one Sergeant, Medical Corps, and two Privates, Medical Corps, were detailed to this building. Details from the patients operated the mess and took care of the building. Supplies were sent daily from the hospital to the Annex and the mess was of the same character.
On April 28th, 1919, three tents were erected in the yard of the Hospital. Plank floors were built, elevated on logs and these accommodated thirty-six patients. On April 28th, 1919, with the Hospital, Annex and tents two hundred eight-two patients could be accommodated. This number represents the maximum Convalescent Hospital capacity, during its existence and was sufficient for the requirements of the American Forces. The ward at Olga Barracks was only used for a few weeks.
During April eighty-two patients were discharged from the Convalescent Hospital and sent to Smolny Barracks for "Temporary Light Duty at Base."
The Convalescent Hospital was the best place, bar none, in Russia, to eat in winter of 1918-19. The commanding officer was fortunate to have as a patient the mess sergeant of Company "D." That resourceful doughboy took the rations issued by the British and by systematic bartering with the natives he built up a famous mess. Below is a verbatim extract from Captain Greenleaf's report.
BARTER RETURN Period: 17 days--from March 27th, 1919, to April 14th. 1919
COMMODITIES BARTERED Bread, stale 372 lbs. Bread, pieces of 403 Grease 365 lbs. Bones 331 lbs. Beans 425 lbs. Peas 156 lbs. Rice 746 lbs. Dates 25 lbs. Bacon 678 lbs. Lard 960 lbs. Sugar 274 lbs. Jam 56 lbs. Pea Soup 318 pkgs. Limejuice 3 cases
COMMODITIES RECEIVED IN RETURN Potatoes 5281 lbs. Carrots 133 lbs. Cabbage 339.5 lbs. Turnips 851 lbs. Onions 200 lbs. Veal 938 lbs. Liver 76.5 lbs. Eggs 198
The menu for the week of April 20-26, inclusive, was as follows:
APRIL 20--SUNDAY BREAKFAST Boiled eggs Fried bacon Oatmeal and milk Bread and butter Coffee
DINNER Roast veal and gravy Mashed potatoes Sage dressing Stewed tomatoes Apple pie Mixed pickles Bread and butter Coffee
SUPPER Roast beef Potato salad Lemon cake Bread and jam Cocoa
BREAKFAST Oatmeal and milk Fried bacon Wheatcakes and syrup Bread and jam Coffee
DINNER Steaks Creamed potatoes Cabbage, fried Bread and butter Peach pudding Coffee
SUPPER Beef stew Fried cakes Bread and butter Tea
BREAKFAST Oatmeal and milk Fried bacon Bread and jam Coffee
DINNER Roast mutton Baked potatoes Mashed turnips Bread and butter Chocolate pudding Coffee
SUPPER Hamburger steak Boiled potatoes Stewed dates Bread and butter Coffee
BREAKFAST Oatmeal and milk Fried bacon Bread and jam Coffee
DINNER Roast beef Mashed potatoes Creamed peas Bread and butter Bread pudding Coffee
SUPPER Mutton chops Boiled potatoes Bread and butter Chocolate cake Coffee
BREAKFAST Oatmeal and milk Fried bacon Bread and jam Coffee
DINNER Roast beef Escalloped potatoes Baked turnips Bread and butter Rice pudding Coffee
SUPPER Mutton stew Rolls and jam Tea
BREAKFAST Oatmeal and milk Fried bacon Wheatcakes and syrup Bread and jam Coffee
DINNER Steaks Boiled potatoes Creamed onions Bread and butter Fruit pudding, cherry Coffee
SUPPER Hamburger steak Boiled potatoes Stewed apricots Bread and butter Coffee
BREAKFAST Rice and milk Fried bacon Bread and butter Coffee
DINNER Roast beef Creamed potatoes Baked beans Bread and butter Chocolate pudding Coffee
SUPPER Vegetable stew Stewed prunes Bread and butter Tea
To the doughboy, who that week in April was eating his bully and hardtack in the forest at Kurgomin or Khalmogora or Bolsheozerki or Chekuevo or Verst 448, this menu seems like a fairy tale, but he knows that the boys who had fought on the line and fallen before Bolo fire or fallen ill with the hardship strain, were entitled to every dainty and luxury that was afforded by the dobra convalescent hospital.
From October 1st, 1918, to June 12th, 1919, this American Convalescent Hospital served eleven hundred and eighty out of the fifty-five hundred Americans of the expeditionary force. From Captain Greenleaf's official report the following facts of interest are presented.
Of infectious and epidemic diseases there were two hundred and forty-six cases of which four were mumps, one hundred and sixty-seven were influenza and the remainder complications which resulted from influenza. The pneumonia cases developed early. One man reported from guard duty, developed a rapidly involving pneumonia which soon became general and culminated in death within twenty-four hours. The best results followed the use of Dovers powder and quinine,--alternation two and one-half grains of Dovers with five grains of quinine every two hours, five to ten grains of Dovers being given at bedtime. Expectorants were given as required. Very little stimulation was necessary. Many of these cases, after the acute symptoms subsided, showed a persistent tachycardia which continued for some days and in a few cases (seven) became chronic. In these cases medication proved of little benefit, rest and a proper diet being the most efficacious treatment. Patients convalescing from pneumonia were evacuated to England or given Base Duty.
Of tuberculosis there were only thirteen cases which were as far as possible isolated. Of venereal cases there were only one hundred and seventy-four. They had received treatment in British 53rd Stationary Hospital, and came to the American Convalescent hospital simply for re-equipment. Nearly all were immediately discharged to duty.
Of nervous diseases there were nineteen cases, all of which were neuritis except two cases of paralysis. Of mental diseases and defects there were only fourteen. This is a remarkable showing when we consider the strain of the strange, long, dark winter campaign, and of these fourteen cases six were mental deficiency that were not detected by the experts at time of enlistment and induction, three were hysteria, two neurasthenia, and three psychasthenia. Here let us add that there was only one case of suicide and one case of attempted suicide.
There were eighteen eye cases and nineteen ear cases, three nose, and eighteen of the throat. Of the circulatory system the total was sixty-eight of which twenty-two were heart trouble and thirty-one hemorrhoids brought on by exposure.
There were eighty respiratory cases, ninety-three digestive cases, of which sixteen were appendicitis and thirty-two were hernia. Of genito-urinary, which were non-venereal, there were twenty cases. Of skin diseases there were thirty-nine. Scabies was the only skin lesion which has been common among the troops. Warm baths and sulphur ointment were used with excellent results.
From exposure there were one hundred and one cases of bones and locomotion. Trench feet were bad to treat. From external causes there were two hundred and fifty-five cases. Of these two were burns, two dislocation, twenty-six severe frost bite cases, two exhaustion from exposure, twenty-three fractures and sprains, and two hundred wound cases. Many severely wounded were sent to Hospital ship "Kalyon," and many were evacuated to Base Section Three in England and only the convalescent wounded, of course, came to the dobra convalescent hospital.
The following is Capt. Greenleaf's summary:
Patients 1180 Hospital days, actual 17048 Hospital days, per patient 14.45 Hospital days, awaiting evacuation 11196 Hospital days, per patient 9.49 Hospital days, special duty 7273 Hospital days, per patient 6.16 Hospital days, total 35517 Hospital days, per patient 30.10
NOTE--This table is made out in this manner for several reasons. In the first place evacuation lists were submitted to the Chief Surgeon each Friday, containing a list of those patients who were unfit for further front line duty in Russia. Lack of transportation and the long delays in completing the evacuations should not be charged to actual hospital days. Again it was necessary, under the conditions and owing to the fact that the hospital was dependent upon patients for its existence, that men be selected who were competent to have charge of certain work. A most efficient mess sergeant and competent cooks were selected. The men to have charge of the heating system and boilers were chosen. Good interpreters were held. And many cases in which a competent man entered as a patient, who was skillful in certain work, that man was held indefinitely, for the good of the service and the hospital. In this summary these cases have been listed as hospital days, special duty.
DISPOSITION OF PATIENTS IN AMERICAN CONVALESCENT HOSPITAL
EVACUATED TO ENGLAND October 27, 1918 46 December 6, 1918 56 December 27, 1918 10 January 24, 1919 7 February 24, 1919 15 June 1, 1919 183 ---- Total 317
DISCHARGED TO AMERICAN RED CROSS HOSPITAL For surgical attention 24 For medical attention 18
DISCHARGED TO BRITISH HOSPITALS For special treatment 13
DISCHARGED TO DUTY 808
The medical care of our comrades was as well-looked after as possibly could be in North Russia. All patients were examined, when they entered the hospital and classified. They were marked,--no duty, light duty inside, light duty outside, light duty sitting, or light duty not involving the use of right (or left) arm. A record, showing their organization, company, rank, duty, diagnosis, date of admission, source of admission, room and bed, was made. Their business in private life was considered and they were assigned to work compatible with their training. Any medication they might need was prescribed. Owing to lack of bottles patients reported for medicine four times daily and a record was thus kept of dosage. Patients were examined weekly and re-classified. Sick call was held, daily, at 8:30 a. m., at which time patients requiring special attention, reported and also, surgical dressings were applied.
The last patient was discharged to duty June 12th, 1919. We know that the one thousand one hundred and eighty men who passed through that hospital join the writers in saying that, considering conditions, the convalescent hospital was a wonder.
AMERICAN RED CROSS IN NORTH RUSSIA
American Red Cross On Errands Of Mercy Precede Troops--Summary Of Aid Given People--Aid And Comforts Freely Given American Troops --Summary--Commendatory Words Of General Richardson--Our Weekly "Sentinel" Put Out By Red Cross--Returned Men Strong For American Red Cross Work In North Russia.
Even before the question of American participation in the Allied expedition to North Russia had been decided upon, the American Red Cross had dispatched a mission of thirteen persons, with four thousand two hundred tons of food and medicine, for the relief of the civilian population. When, shortly thereafter, a considerable detachment of American doughboys, engineers and ambulance corps troops were landed, the Red Cross had the nucleus of an organization to provide for the needs of our soldiers as well as for the civilian population.
A report, made public here by the American Red Cross on its work in North Russia, gives an interesting picture of conditions on our Arctic battle front during the war. The food situation among the civilian population was acute. With the city swollen in population through a steady influx of refugees, few fresh supplies were coming in and hoarded supplies were rapidly diminishing. Coarse bread and fish were staple articles of food, and there was a grave shortage of clothing.
The desperate need for foodstuffs in the regions far north along the Arctic shores was brought sharply to the attention of the Allied Food Committee when delegates from Pechora arrived by reindeer teams and camped at the doors of the committee urging assistance. They brought samples of the bread they were forced to eat. It was made of a small quantity of white flour mixed with ground-up dried fish. Other samples which were shown were made from immature frostbitten rye grain, and a third was composed of a small quantity of white flour mixed with reindeer moss. A small quantity of rye flour mixed with chopped coarse straw, was the basis of a fourth example.
Much attention was devoted by the Red Cross to caring for school children and orphans. Over two million hot lunches were distributed, during a period of a few months, to three hundred and thirty schools with twenty thousand pupils. Every orphanage in the district was outfitted with the things it needed and received a regular fortnightly issue of food supplies. Over twenty thousand suits of underwear were given out to refugees. To provide for the many persons separated from their families or from employment on account of the war, the Red Cross established a regular free employment agency.
The writer recalls having seen in Pinega in February men who had left their Petchora homes eight months before to go to Archangel for the precious flour provided by the American Red Cross. The civil war had made transportation slow and extremely hazardous.
Expeditions were constantly sent out from Archangel to various points with supplies of food, clothing, and medicaments. The most extensive of the civilian relief enterprises undertaken by the Red Cross Mission to Russia was the sending of a boat from Archangel to Kern with a cargo of fifty-five tons. This was distributed either by the Red Cross officials themselves or by responsible local authorities.
Food rations and clothing were given to three hundred destitute families in Archangel which, upon careful investigation, were found to be deserving. Housing conditions were improved and clothing, which had been salvaged from sunken steamers and lay idle in the customs house, was dried and distributed.
Besides supplying all Russian civilian hospitals in and around Archangel regularly with medicine, sheets, blankets, pillows and food rations, the Red Cross opened up a Red Cross hospital in Archangel, which was finally turned over to the local government to be used as a base hospital for the Russian army. Red Cross medicines are credited with having checked the serious influenza epidemic and with having worked against its recurrence.
Medicaments worth one million roubles were sent by the Red Cross to the various district zemstvos. Russian prisoners of war, returning from Germany through the Bolshevik lines to North Russia, were also taken care of.
Work among the American soldiers in North Russia was thorough and effective. The daily ration was supplemented and many American soldiers received from the Red Cross quantities of rolled oats, sugar, milk, and rice, besides all the regular Red Cross comforts, including cigarettes, stationery, chewing gum, athletic goods, playing cards, toilet articles, phonographs, sweaters, socks, blankets, etc.
Supplies were sent as regularly as possible to the troops on the line, generally in the face of apparently insurmountable transportation difficulties. Units of troops, even in the most inaccessible and out of the way places, were visited by Red Cross workers, occasionally at great danger to their lives.
With the assistance of the Red Cross The American Sentinel, a weekly newspaper, was printed and distributed among the troops and did much to keep up their morale. One of the last acts performed by the Red Cross for the American Expeditionary Forces in Archangel was to help and speed to their new homes eight war brides.
The veteran of the North Russian expedition will never look at his old knit helmet or wristlets, scarf, or perhaps eat a rare dish of rolled oats, or bite off a chew of plug, or listen to a certain piece on the graphaphone, or look at a Red Cross Christmas Seal without a warm feeling under his left breast pocket for the American Red Cross.
[Illustration: City street with several large buildings.] PRIMM View of Archangel in Summer
[Illustration: Soldiers at attention with rifles.] U S. OFFICIAL PHOTO General Ironside Inspecting Doughboys
[Illustration: Many soldiers standing at grave.] U S OFFICIAL PHOTO Burial of Lieut. Clifford Phillips*****
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