Gerald Cottom talks about hospital duties in Sarafand

(Transcript)

When I was posted there from the unit was based in Jerusalem to this hospital about 5 miles - it was a military hospital - and we were there, acting if you like, as male nurses, under the charge of a British nursing sister. Someone who was qualified in nursing and then joined the Army and was posted to a military hospital.

And then the patients generally speaking were people who went into hospital for the same sort of reasons as civilians went in hospital including accidents. Some, of course, were as the result of bombs having been thrown or laid in the path of vehicles. And we were worked a twelve hour shift from 8 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock in the evening and 8 o'clock in the evening till 8 o'clock in the morning. And it was quite interesting work. There was no heavy work apart from some of the patients mind were heavy to lift around but it was quite interesting. Fairly simple but I recognized when I left there that I'd given more injections and taken more blood from patients than an awful lot of British nurses would have done. Because each ward, and there were 40 wards and 60 odd patients in each ward.

(A big hospital.) Oh yes. It wasn't small by any means. I spent a while, maybe a couple of months, working in the operating theatre. When there was an operating session on and I happened to be on the ward attached to the operating theatre, then I could be called in to help. Simply to move patients around or pass instruments over. And that was interesting. In fact, One of the blokes I was looking after on the Recovery ward was a bloke from my own unit who came from Liverpool and he'd been doing a training jump, parachute jump, and his chute hadn't opened properly and he was doing about 40 miles an hour when he landed. And he was on my ward for about 3 days and then he died, sadly.