On the 9th November 1917 King George V and Queen Mary visited the Bath War Hospital. Whilst the visit was brief, it obviously meant a great deal to all the staff and patients at the hospital, and as many as possible formed a guard of honour from the entrance all the way up to the hospital. Representatives from all the organisations involved in the running of the hospital were included, among them the St. John’s Ambulance, the Red Cross and the Somerset 35 VAD, as well as soldiers who were well enough. Flags and flowers adorned the driveway, and many of those who were rarely in the limelight, such as the orderlies from the Royal Navy Division and the lady ambulance drivers, were given the chance to see the King and Queen.
The Royal Visit
Kathleen Ainsworth writes of the visit to her parents:
‘The King came to inspect the Hospital today and there was great excitement. The whole place was cleaned and painted and the three wards that were to be inspected, 6, 7, and 8, were furbished up and decorated with flowers etc. I had to stand outside and be part of the guard of honour – Bow wow – and considering I had done a hard nights work, and we had to wait an hour in the cold and were chilled to the bone, I wasn’t too pleased. However all the nurses looked very nice, so the spectators said – and it didn’t rain which was a blessing’.
Princess Marie-Louise Visit
Princess Marie-Louise also visited the War Hospital. The Princess was a grand daughter of Queen Victoria. Her mother, Princess Helena, was the first president of the Royal School of Needlework, and a photo in the Bath Chronicle shows Princess Marie-Louise chatting to wounded soldiers and admiring their needlework.
The Royal family didn’t forget the wounded soldiers after the armistice. In 1923 the Prince of Wales visited the Pensions Hospital and met those soldiers who remained there, too badly injured to resume their old lives. This photograph shows William Curtis, a local man, meeting the Prince. (Mr Curtis is on the right). William Curtis was admitted to the hospital in 1918, and remained there until his death in 1929. He was visited everyday by his wife Elizabeth and daughter Phyllis, who walked from their home in Whiteway Road to take him home-cooked food and other comforts. A soldier in the next bed to William took quite a shine to Phyllis (she would have been in her early teens) because of her lovely smile, and he embroidered a nightdress case for her and gave it to her as a gift.
Prince of Wales Visit