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World War One at home : Royal Victoria Hospital.

Hoare, Philip.

About this work


A short documentary about Netley Hospital near Southampton on the south coast of England, the largest military hospital built in the United Kingdom. Wilfred Owen was a patient at the hospital. The programme is presented and narrated by Philip Hoare. The programme focuses on the discovery of a series of post-cards featuring photographs of the wards which reveal what the hospital, now demolished, looked like (it is now a park, Hoare wonders around its grounds). Computer generated images of its original architecture reveal its original grand scale. The hospital was controversial when it was built - Florence Nightingale did not approve due to its orientation. During WWI three trains would arrive a day at the hospital with casualties. A nurse wrote about her experience of receiving the wounded men. The diaries of James Roberts, known as Jim, reveal his story - he served and was wounded at the Somme, then died and was buried at Netley. The RAMC trained at Aldershot and footage from 1914 shows their training; current recruits comment on the changes to their training and equipment over 100 years. It took 2 days minimum to get to Netley so many casualties died en route. Capacity was stretched and the Red Cross built additional wards. An elderly woman, Judy Stokes, recounts her experience as a VAD (voluntary aid attachment) during WWII. Wilfred Owen arrived in 1917, his letters are at Oxford University. Owen was assessed for shellshock there. The Wellcome LIbrary film War Neuroses is featured which was commissioned for the British Government by the RAMC. The film was shot as evidence that shellshock was treatable. A sequence is shown to have been faked with the help of the historian Edgar Jones. Another area of the hospital 'D block' was a psychiatric hospital, it was run by Frederick Clindening who had no experience of psychiatry. A medical record indicates that he was convinced that one of his patients were faking . Otto Scholtz-Forni was a German patient who was lightly injured in 1916 and then died under mysterious circumstances. His death certificate says that he died of mania and exhaustion. A researcher suggests that he died as a result of being a human guinea pig for experimental work on blood transfusion.


UK : BBC 4, 2014.

Physical description

1 DVD (30 min.) : sound, color, PAL


Copyright note

BBC, 2014


Broadcast on 2 September, 2014

Creator/production credits

A BBC and IWM partnership. BBC Productions South. Produced and directed by Richard Townsend



  • English

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