Earlsmount

Earlsmount

Earlsmount was built as a private house on the banks of the River Isla in 1879 by Colonel C George. However, as early as 8 August 1914 Earlsmount was pressed into service as a Red Cross auxiliary hospital for the convalescence of wounded soldiers and sailors.

According to the local papers, the first casualties were received at the hospital early in November, having arrived at Keith Railway Station just as the last recruits left for the Front. These casualties were given a rousing welcome by local people before being transferred to Earlsmount by car.

The local people in all the communities where hospitals such as Earlsmount were situated were keen to do their bit for the cause. Auxiliary hospitals such as Braemoriston (Elgin), Forres, Portessie and Cullen relied heavily on the generosity of the community to survive and Earlsmount would have been no different. Although qualified medical staff would have overseen the care of the patients at all the county's auxiliary hospitals, for example Aberdeenshire born Dr Alexander Taylor who served for a while at Earlsmount, they were staffed largely by local Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (VADs).There would have been a Matron in overall charge of the VAD nurses, a position which was held at Earlsmount by Henrietta Tayler until she left to join the staff at the Queen of the Belgian’s Hospital in La Panne in May 1916, but it was the VADs who carried out a lot of the menial tasks and raised the spirits of the soldiers.

Local people donated not only luxuries such as chocolate, cigarettes and newspapers, but also necessities such as clothing, bedding, and basic foodstuffs. The local paper reported in January 1915 that Mr Robert Allan of the Bush presented a pig at auction to be sold for funds for Earlsmount, and the King presented them with a hamper containing ten pheasants and six hares. Fund raising events were also held regularly, with the patients themselves often taking part and these must have been a welcome distraction for the convalescents.

The hospital at Earlsmount was used throughout the war and, although it closed for a brief period in early 1915, by October that year it was called upon to increase its capacity by 10 beds. By December 1915 the hospital had accommodated 299 recuperating soldiers, and by March 1916 326 patients had passed through its doors.

Earlsmount Auxiliary Hospital at Keith
Nurses at Earlsmount
Staff and patients at Earlsmount Auxiliary Hospital
Staff and patients at Earlsmount Auxiliary Hospital