It was desirable to keep the men occupied and as active as possible whilst they convalesced. The authorities saw it as conducive to both health and discipline.

Mount Stuart, for example, ensured that all convalescent cases were engaged to a certain extent in hospital work, which occupied them from one to three hours each day. A party of four men had responsibility each week to lay tables, bring up the meals, and help to wash up. Other duties included work in the wards, polishing the floors and brass work, keeping the lavatories and wash places clean. Occasional duties included stretcher work, namely the carrying in of cot cases on the admission of convoys and carrying cases to and from the theatre on operation days.

Church services

The men were encouraged to attend church services. If they couldn’t go to the local church then the church services would come to them. It was arranged by the ministers in the town that a service was held in the Hermitage House Auxiliary hospital every Sunday at 4 o’clock.


Every effort was made to keep the men out of doors, especially in the summer months. To this end, and also to add to the Nation’s food supply, gardening was undertaken in the spring of 1917 at Mount Stuart. A quarter of an acre of new soil was turned, and fair crops of potatoes and other vegetables were grown.

During the war years fuel became scarce, so the men assisted in collecting timber and cutting up wood for burning in the hospitals. Photographs taken at Hermitage House Hospital show a party of men raking up fallen leaves in the hospital grounds.


When the men were confined to their quarters due to wet weather, they undertook indoor pursuits such as playing chess, checkers or cards and reading books, magazines and daily newspapers. They also made use of gramophones and played the piano.

The patients took part in games of croquet in the hospital grounds.

Men raking up leaves in the grounds of Hermitage House Auxiliary Hospital
Men reading newspapers under the watchful eye of Matron Keillor
Matron Keillor playing checkers with patient Hunt
Patient working on a creative project whilst convalescing