Pte. Arnott gets his "Blighty"
To the soldiers fighting in the front lines, England, just across the English Channel, presented a dream of escape. Unfortunately, the only way to get there was to be wounded badly enough to require prolonged hospitalization. Before long 'Blighty' (British army slang for England) and wound were almost synonymous.
IKA had felt fine up until September of 1917. At the time, the Battalion was involved in manning various trench positions in and around the city of Lens, France. The summer of 1917 was one of the wettest on record and in the early fall, IKA began to notice pain in his joints. The pain became more severe as the fall wore on. He must have been in some discomfort during Passchendaele, perhaps he found some relief during the Christmas break at Camblain Chatelain. As the Battalion began to move out on Jan 22nd, 1918, IKA must have realized he could not go on. He reported sick at Les Brebis on the 22nd.
The problem was obviously quite serious as IKA was sent to Lens that day. At No. 18 C.C.S. (Casualty Clearing Station) he was diagnosed with Valvular Disease of the Heart (VDH) also known as Acute Rheumatic Fever. IKA had his 'Blighty', the war was over for him but he was about to begin another battle, one just as serious as the front lines.
IKA remained in No. 18 C.C.S. until he was transfered to No. 8 General Hospital at Boulogne, France, on Feb. 3rd. Documentation also shows No. 8 may have been in Wimereux, which is just north of Boulogne. Of interesting note, Capt. John McCrae, of 'In Flanders Field' fame served at No 3 General Hospital in Boulogne. As mentioned earlier, he died on Jan. 28th, just 6 days before IKA came to the area.
IKA's stay here was another 8 days before he departed France for England. Thus, he left the continent and the 2nd Battalion. His first stop was Feb. 11th at King George Hospital in London, England. On February 18th he was officially "posted from the 2nd Battalion" (i.e. no longer considered part of it.) On Feb. 20th he was sent to No. 16 Canadian General (Ontario) Military Hospital at Orpington, Kent also near London. Here he would remain for the longest period of time, over 3 months, including his 23rd birthday. He was then 'invalided' back to Canada.
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Copyright © Tom Arnott, September, 1997.
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