Soldiers were not paid while they were in hospital, so a ‘Comforts Committee’ was established to ensure that the men were kept supplied with articles that would make their lives more pleasurable. Each church in Bath was allocated one day a month on which to collect and send comforts to the Red Cross Office. The Bath Chronicle reports that this collected approx. £50 worth of articles each week, and these were divided between the Bath War Hospital, the Red Cross Hospital, the St. John’s Ambulance Hospital, and the wounded soldiers at the RUH.
Sub committees were set up to collect specific items for the soldiers, amongst which were ones for providing newspapers, eggs, and tobacco and cigarettes.
The Red Cross also provided surgical boots for those soldiers who were felt to need them, but were not entitled to them from either the army or other sources.
When the Red Cross required anything specific for the hospital or its patients they wrote out a list and placed it in the window of their office in Wood Street. This became known as the ‘Magic Window’, and at Christmas in 1916 it produced ’50 turkeys, 110 pounds of plum pudding, and a present for every wounded soldier in Bath, about 950 in all’.
Other organisations also put out appeals for specific items for the soldiers, such as the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, who established a Games Committee under the control of Mrs Preston King (pictured) , the wife of the mayor, to collect and distribute board games for the War Hospital.
It was also important to keep up the soldier’s morale while they were in hospital, and to this end many entertainments were arranged. For those that were able special matinee performance were arranged at theatres and cinemas.
Soldiers attending a performance (from The Bath Chronicle 29th December 1917)
For those not able to make the journey performances were put on at the hospital. These ranged from professional entertainers, who were performing at Bath theatres, to school children and amateur groups. These performances must have varied greatly in quality, and obviously made quite an impression as cartoons from the Bath Bun illustrate.
Image from the Bath Bun entitled ‘The Hospital Concert’ (love the look on the soldiers faces!) Also from the Bath Bun, image titled ‘A Ward Concert’
The Bath Motorcycle Club, who took a group of wounded soldiers out in the side-cars of their motorcycles, arranged one very original outing.
Image from The Bath Chronicle 29th July 1916