Entertaining the Troops

Whilst soldiers were recuperating in the hospital, they would recieve a regular program of entertainments and activites to lift spirits and morale. Local newspaper archives reveal that these activities were organised by a combination of the local community, and the nearby Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.) base at Biscot.

Croquet on the lawns at WardownIn 1917 no effort was spared to make the patients as happy and comfortable as possible during their stay. Residents and the management and employees of local firms, vied with each other in offering hospitality, in the form of entertainments and teas, while whist drives and other competitions and concerts were repeatedly held in the hospital. In these functions many talented artists and amateurs took part to the great enjoyment of their audiences, The management of the Palace and Grand Theatres not only placed seats at the disposal of the patients week by week, but entertained them lavishly with refreshments and ciugarettes after the performances.


In Christmas 1916, the wards were tastefully decorated by the nurses and patients, and the Christmas dinner — at which 15 patients sat down to a splendid spread, was voted a huge success. When dessert arrived, that great military tradition of 'speeches,' began, in which the speakers excelled themselves, and gave rise to great merriment. The rest of the day was spent in various amusements and entertainments.

The same approach to wounded service personnel happens today with comedians, musicians and other entertainers regularily visiting hospitals and the injure to raise awareness, money and support for those who suffer in service.

This section contains a number of contemporary accounts of such entertainments, with the annual Regimental Sports Day being a big event that drew spectators from across the town and raised much needed money for the support of the hospital. Sports days are still held across all three services (Navy, Army, Air Force) today, with Wednesday afternoons traditionally given up for sports training. Sports is seen as a useful indicator of fitness, a way of building teamwork and discipline, and a way to let off steam in a high pressure job.