Centenary History of 201 Field Hospital edited byAnn Clouston
100 Years of Service
A time to remember and reflect and give thanks for the brave men and women who have served in 1 Northern and 201 General and Field hospitals.
The Territorial Army has had its ups and downs in both its numbers and credibility over the previous 100 years. There has been a change in requirement, attitude and socio-political shifts but the territorials have served in every conflict all over the world, working alongside their regular counterparts.
Territorial medical units are different from other military units in that their medical skill and expertise can often be superior to the regular service. For example, senior consultants may have thirty years experience of trauma in a civilian environment and the regular army does not always have that level of expertise.
Long before TA units were regularly mobilised for operations since World War Two, TA medical staff have been covering the leave and gaps in the regular army orbat. This has included: The Balkans, Iraq (OP GRANBY, OP TELIC), Afghanistan (OP HERRICK), Northern Ireland, Brunei, Belize, Cyprus, Germany
Background to putting this book together
The centenary of the unit focuses one’s attention to history. I volunteered to bring together the history of the unit using the very people who contributed to it. It was very disappointing to find few records either from military sources, unit resource or library/internet resource. I gathered together a band of willing volunteers to assist in the identification of material and photographs and whilst there are many gaps we have a foundation for the history of 201. All of the material gathered has been digitised and a copy will be put into Newcastle upon Tyne archives. It is a foundation on which hopefully others may wish to take forward in the future.
The history group was formed initially in 2007 as part of a working group considering how best to celebrate the forthcoming Centenary anniversary.
The unit was planning its mobilisation to Afghanistan and I was asked to assist in the planning of the events. I volunteered to put together a book as I felt it was something important to recognise the contribution made by the men and women of the North East of England and beyond.
I wrote to many individuals and asked if they would be prepared to assist, not only in the book but also in helping to catalogue photographs and material that was around in the unit.
A history group was formed, and we have had a lot of happy times identifying people in pictures and recounting our own experiences.
As the current commanding officer of 201 Field Hospital, it is an honour and a privilege to write the first page of this important and deeply personal piece of work. After twenty-eight years with the unit, I am very familiar with many of the individuals who have contributed including my own father.
Col (Retd) Clouston, the leader of the group, has required both strength and determination in order to see the book to its finish. I have no doubt that this is the capstone of both her and the group’s service to the country and the locality.
There can be no argument as to the importance of history in military medical practice and the reader will understand the development and utility of the Territorial Army in war time, but also its origins and position in local society. It is this symbiotic professional relationship that sets the Defence Medical Services above that of the remainder of the Armed Services with two-way learning being a feature throughout the 100 years recounted. Dominance in this balance is simply a function of peace or war. In today’s 201 Field Hospital, the understanding of that harmony is vital to us in not forgetting the lessons of the past and maintaining the outstanding standards of clinical care that have been delivered since 1909.
Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals. Napoleon Bonaparte
Never has a quote been more relevant in demonstrating the value of this book in preventing the loss of an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience. On a personal level, it highlights the camaraderie and bonds formed across traditional social and professional boundaries that enable the delivery of exceptional healthcare wherever a service person may be practicing.
I finish by applauding Col (Retd) Clouston’s self-sacrifice in completing this book noting her direction that it remains incomplete and future generations should not be inhibited from contributing to its content.
Col B Banerjee QVRM DL VR RAMC
Commanding Officer 201 Field Hospital