The Board of Guardians made an application to the Army Council in June 1915 to be allowed to treat wounded servicemen at Forest House Annexe, but the application was rejected. However, in 1917, with mass complex casualties putting pressure on the existing hospital provision, the War Office provided permission for wounded servicemen to be treated in one block of the infirmary, in conjunction with the annexe.
Provision for the war hospital was initially restricted to 50 beds but was soon increased to 180 acute and 160 convalescent beds, reducing the number of beds available for civilian patients.
During the remaining course of the war, the hospital cared for over 6,000 wounded servicemen.
Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/4/16
A Social Committee was formed to raise funds to build a recreation hut for use by recovering soldiers. A number of fund raising events were held for the 'Hut Fund', including fetes, concerts, and a football match organised by Leytonstone FC (view original footage of one of the fetes here). The match was played on the football club's pitch, which was to the south.of Leyton Railway station. The hut was opened by Matron Letitia Clark (a member of the Social Committee, front left here), using a 'silver' key, and a second hut was eventually built too.
Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/4/36
A royal visit
King George V and Queen Mary visited in 1917 and the name of the hospital was changed to Whipps Cross War Hospital. Newspaper reports at the time give testimony to the kindness local residents had for the wounded men.
The Nursing Times reported on the visit on 20 November 1917:
“An amusing incident of the visit was the exploit of a youngster of eight who pulled off his bandages and ran out of the ward to see the King. He was captured and wrapped up by a nurse, and not only had his wish, but his adventure had to be explained to the King by the nurse, his Majesty having made a kindly enquiry how he came to be in there.”
Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/X/1/2
Gifts from the Queen
After the royal visit Christmas gifts were sent to the children's ward, including a sit-on tank and band costumes and instruments.
Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/X/3/1