On August 16, 1918, a Canadian soldier arrived at Southwark Military Hospital at East Dulwich Grove with a compound fracture of the right humerus. He had received these wounds just 8-days earlier as the Battalion stepped off on an attack at 4:20 AM for an objective 200 yards east of Marcelcave, France. During that operation he was one of the 120 men wounded on that day.
This Lance-Corporal was 31-years old at the time of his wounding. He was a labourer who had enlisted at Forest, Ontario 3-years ago. This was also the second time he was wounded, the last time a relatively minor wound to his hand and head that required him to recover in France over 13-days.
This time, however, the wounds were more serious requiring treatment in England.
What is unique about this is the fact there is a photographic record.
Lance-Corporal Albert Teetzel, reg. no. 123952 was the man in question. Having enlisted with the 70th Battalion he passed through the training system until he arrived at the 18th Battalion for active service just 2-days after the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (September 15, 1916) at the Somme as a replacement. His introduction to the Battalion after a battle with so many losses was probably a sobering moment for the Lance-Corporal.
Now, after 2-years of active service he had suffered a “blighty” and was in England to begin his medical treatment and recovery and he was sent to Southwark Military Hospital.
Southwark Military Hospital was established from the Southwark Union Infirmary on November 11, 1915, by the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and with the existing staff the hospital added 55 RAMC personnel. Additionally, 55 Sisters, 28 Staff Nurses, 59 probationers, 40 orderlies, and other staff. The bed capacity was 820 patients, and this capacity was further augmented by tents for sleeping accommodation on the grounds for those patients that could walk. The hospital would treat 12,522 soldiers, many from Empire forces, and of all the soldiers treated only 119 dies, lets that 1%.[i]
Perhaps Lance-Corporal Teetzel knew of the reputation of this hospital and took relief in this fact.
The first photograph is a postcard of the hospital and gives a view of its features. It is a Grade II listed building and was designed by Henry Jarvis and Sons who were responsible for several buildings in the Southwark District. The landowner, Mr. E.J. Baily sold the land under the condition “that a public building only should be erected thereupon and the elevation thereof should be of an ornamental character.” This was achieved as the building was given many decorative features not usually associated with building of this type during this era.[ii]
The next photograph is of an interior of a hospital. It appears to be of a hospital ward decorated for Christmas and it is not clear from the image what hospital it represents nor the date the photograph was taken. It is, however, familiar looking and may have been a postcard available to the public.
The next two photographs are of particular interest.
The first photograph shows Lance-Corporal Teetzel in bed with a nurse standing beside him holding his hand. The glare from the sun from the open window obscures the photograph to some extent but there can be no mistaking the man. It is Lance-Corporal Teetzel and, perhaps, his favourite nurse.
The second photograph introduces some of the staff and two other patients. The two patients sit in wheelchairs with a third standing behind Teetzel. Four nurses are in attendance standing behind the wheelchairs, though sadly, the nurse on the left is obscured.
Lance-Corporal Teetzel left Southwark Military Hospital for further treatment and convalescence at Woodcote Park, Epsom on February 21, 1919. He would finally be discharged on May 19, 1919, after a long series of treatment and convalescence.
The photographs allow us to bear witness to this man’s sacrifice. His wounds resulted in a permanent disability according to his discharge documents and no further treatment was recommended though the medical board indicated this man could resume his previous occupation or trade.
Lance-Corporal Teetzel would return to Canada and live until his passing on March 15, 1956 and is buried at Gosnell Cemetery, Highgate, Ontario with is wife Martha.
With thanks for the images posted at the 18th Battalion by the family member.
[ii] Dulwich Community Hospital – Wikipedia. (2022). Retrieved 18 March 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulwich_Community_Hospital#cite_note-18