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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Letter # 42 June 2nd, 1916 : Charley The Canadian Chemist

Can Red Cross Special Hospital
Derbyshire England
2 June 1916 

Dear Mother 
I guess you wonder just what kind of a gink I am when you don’t hear from me for about five weeks and then I start writing every day or so.  Well I got one promotion but I don’t like it very much but will get another before long I think.  I have a very nice little dispensary and have complete charge.  So I come and go when I like just the same as if I was in a store of my own and am responsible to no one only the Colonel. 

The weather here is perfect and the scenery is at its very best but the town is absolutely dead.  I have been at some very nice homes since I came here the fellow I go out with is a professor of Music in civilian life and so he plays the Organ in one of the churches and goes to all the charity concerts, etc.  We get a good few invitations out.

I was at a home the other day that the paintings cost thousand of dollars afterwards I went motoring with the daughter and mother and she seems to like the Canadian Chemist as I have been asked to tea tomorrow.

It makes me laugh when I think of these people in this country you see they never saw any Canadians in this part before and they imagine that we are all owners of big ranches and we are such brave fellows to come all the way from Canada to fight for England.
One of the boys told an English girl that he owned a Gopher Ranch and she didn’t know a gopher from an ostrich, she says “My you Canadians make a tremendous lot of money” Just at that particular time he couldn’t have bought a package of smokes.  

How is Dad getting on with the seeding? It is reported here that the seeding in Canada is very favourable.  I sincerely hope that report is correct.  The patients are coming in very fast now and there are a few here from Winnipeg.  A couple of them knew me but I never saw them to know before. 

I was down to the mineral baths the other day they are perfect.  The fixtures alone are worth a fortune. Well, Mother the sisters will be coming in with prescriptions soon so I must get ready for them.  Remembrance to Dad and VV and answer soon.  
Cpl Charles

A page from The War Diaries of the First World War; Collections Canada.  This is the first mention I've discovered in the War Diaries that includes CR Bailey by name.  CANADIAN RED CROSS SPECIAL HOSPITAL, BUXTON, Derbyshire, England  April 17th 1916

As an aside: 5 Canadian nursing sisters came on staff at the same time, taking over the organization of the ward and took over the work of stamping, and sewing in silk the name of the Hospital on all linen that had to that time been delivered.

More about this Canadian Hospital in Buxton from the wonderful resource that is the Buxton War Memorials website.

The Buxton Hydro Hotel, with bed capacity of 700, and which was said to "contain all of the most up-to-date surgical appliances yet invented, many of which are made in the machine shops of the Arts and Crafts Department of the hospital".

The Buxton Red Cross Special Hospital opened on the 1st February 1916 and remained in operation until the 26th March 1919. "The Canadian Great War Project" has records for 12 Doctors and Nurses of the Canadian Army Medical Corps [CAMC] who served at Buxton, and their records can be accessed by clicking the CGWP link. The first CO was Lt. Col. Henry D. Johnson.

The Hospital was set up in the Peak Hydro Hotel, on Terrace Road, Buxton, which now houses Buxton

The Hospital could accommodate up to 275 patients
and as well as the CAMC staff, was also staffed by
members of the Canadian Red Cross Society.

Many of the Canadian casualties who are buried in
Buxton Cemetery spent their last days in the Hospital,
which specialized in cases of Neurasthenia (shell
shock), as well as rheumatism and arthritis, malaria
and heart disease.


  1. I enjoy Charlie's letters. They are so candid and personable, and put a personal face on the war.

    May Charlie and the others never be forgotten.

    1. Thanks so much Gerry. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you read and enjoy Charley's letters home. It is my intention in the next few years to make a trip to Scotland, where Charley is buried (without a headstone) and mark his grave with a proper stone. May they all rest in peace. Thanks again Gerry.