The Trooper, the Matron and the Surgeon Major and his letter dated
30th August 1915
The Trooper was Private George William Wesley Kearvell (1893-1966) of the Berkshire
Yeomanry. He was wounded during WW1 in August 1915 at Gallipoli, suffering gunshot
wounds to his left clavicle, splintering his acromion process. The following year
he was Medically Discharged from the Army.
Two War Pension documents, dated 17 April 1923, show that his disablement was assessed
at 20% and he received a pension award of 8 shillings per week for life.
The Matron was Ada Elizabeth Kearvell (1871-1947), a half-sister to George. For her
distinguished WW1 Service she was awarded the Red Cross Decoration (2nd) Class in
1917 recognising her work as Matron of the Red Cross Yeatman Hospital in Sherborne
The Major was Gerald Ricketts, Surgeon in charge of the Military Hospital at Nasrieh,
Cairo Egypt. He was serving in the Royal Army Medical Corp. He remained at that hospital
until the end of WW1 by which time he was appointed a Lieutenant-Colonel. He had
been a friend of Ada before WW1 when serving at the Yeatman Hospital.
The Letter, from Major Ricketts to Ada was dated 30th August 1915 and written at
the Continental Hotel, Cairo shortly after George had been wounded. This Letter and
the two Pension Documents were part of a WW1 memorabilia collection by Paul Hinckley,
who kindly donated these items to the Kearvell Family. Thank you Paul.
Transcribed as follows :
How strange fate is. I am now in charge of a military hospital of 584 beds at Nasrieh
Schools here. Last night we had 57 wounded in and today I an looking at a Berkshire
Yeoman who then revealed himself as your brother. He has been hit in the shoulder
and has splintered his acromion process and has some loose fragments of bone. He
is otherwise pretty well and in 2 days time when he is rested and fit I am going
to remove a few odd pieces and trim up his wound.
I am frightfully busy and worried. It is a big job to run a general hospital of 600
beds and I’m really tired out and you can sympathise when I tell you I’ve had migraine
for 3 days from overwork.
I will of course do everything I can for your brother. Being a Yeoman, I put him
in my favourite ward before I knew who he was and the best of my M.O.s looks after
him. I do most of the surgery anyhow the operations myself and I shall look after
him carefully. I haven’t been to bed till 12.30 or 1 any night till tonight. Don’t
worry about him. Thank heaven he is hit and not too badly, for the brigade has had
a frightful time, went into action 1200 strong and came out 250 and the casualties
I had the surprise of my life when the Surgeon General for Egypt asked me to take
command of Nasrieth and promoted me, and things so far have gone well. On my days
I get anything from 12 to 14 operations a day, and every moment of the day from 8
- 8 is filled. We have a very fine theatre and get anything we want. It was a neat
job starting it all and the first batches of 135 and 191 wounded were rather trying
times. Now things are quieter when they come. We are understaffed in every way and
awfully short of nurses.
You can imagine how I love the work and the whole show and how my heart is in it.
I have a lot of jealousy to live down, as people think I’m too young for the job,
but so far it is all right.
Your brother doesn’t look ill and I feel sure will do well. I haven’t got to do much
for him and I shall send him home on a hospital ship as soon as he can travel.