Saturday, January 24, 2015

They Sent Grampa to a Lunatic Asylum and Gramma Works There!

Now to bring some finish to the story of my Grampa and Gramma and WWI.

With the coming of May 1915 and Grandpa Dolan’s fourth month in France and Belgium the 10th Battalion was totally refitted and reorganized. She was brought up to full strength when replacements joined the few survivors from the original contingent. After rest and further training they were sent back to the front at Festubert, which became the next major battle they participated in from May 19th to the 25th. The official history of the battalion described this battle as “the most unsatisfactory engagement” involving Canadian troops in the war. One participant called it “simply the gates of hell opened and everything let loose at once.” The casualties were again heavy, but again Grandpa survived it all. A week’s rest followed, and then the 10th marched to their next assignment, a place called Givenchy. This was June 1and was the beginning of Grandpa’s last week at the front.

The battalion spent the next five days in the trenches, and then on June 6, 1915, a Sunday night, they came out of the line. The record says that during those five days two men were killed and fourteen wounded. It was probably during these five days, and it may have been those casualties, that lead to the incident that brought the end of the war to Grandpa. On June 7th the Dolans of 10 Isle Street in Newmilns received the dreaded telegram from London. Grandpa was reported as missing. (See JD's Jottings, "I Regret to Inform You"). He was invalided to England on June 15th.
Lord Derby War Hospital 1915
(In 1993 my Dad and I drove our rental car around that driveway.)
By the end of June (16th) Grandpa was moved to Lord Derby War Hospital in Warrington, England, between Liverpool and Manchester. His first stay here lasted until early September. One of the nurses at Lord Derby was a gal from north of Manchester, Elizabeth Yates, who would eventually become my Grandma. Grandma says that Grandpa was a difficult patient, but in time he came around. She must have spent a lot of time with him. Grandpa did have some competition at Warrington, however. At least one other patient by the name of Harold Prince also had his eyes on Grandma. She kept his picture with a nice little note on the back..
Sgt. E Dolan (note the inscription! Grampa had a wonderful handwriting.)
Grandpa spent the rest of the war in England and was in and out of several convalescent hospitals -Monks Heaton, Shorncliffe, Lord Derby again, and Granville Hospital in Ramsgate. Chest pains and nephritis were among the ailments listed and scabies too. He was also posted to London and a place called Seaford. While at Shorncliffe in early 1916 Grandpa was promoted to Corporal, and eventually was given the rank of Sergeant while serving as a steward in the officer’s mess. 

On June 22nd of 1916, he received permission to marry. He had sent for Grandma, who was still at the hospital in Warrington, and they were married on this day in Folkstone, Kent. In November of 1916 Grandpa was posted to London. For a while they lived at 10 Clapham Road. Grandma did go back to Newmilns when she became pregnant with Uncle Ernie. He was born there in July of 1917. In 1918 Grandpa reverted back to the rank of private and was posted to a place called Witley. He was here when finally discharged and returned to Canada in April of 1919.

Brief Photo Album of the Asylum Turned War Hospital

Gramma is Standing, 1st Nurse from Left
Grampa was transferred by this time.
Gramma's Ward - She's Standing in front of Padded Cell Door
(It was an asylum before remember!)

Gramma Cueing It Up
Gramma and Her Nurse Friend, Dora.
That's Gramma, I think, Standing Left.
(In 1993 I stood in the spot where this picture was taken.)

Grampa Standing Far left, 2nd from End


  1. Do you know why he would have been reverted back to private?

    1. That was normal procedure. Often soldiers are given a high rank during war, or for a specific assignment, and then when it is over, you go back to what you were. (Unfortunately, you would also lose the pay increase that goes with the higher rank.) I believe that Grampa was working as a steward in the officer's club which would have required a higher rank.

    2. I think I learned that from my Dad.

  2. You could have waited until I came upstairs to ask me that.

  3. I like these stories, Dad. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I love these pictures. They are so interesting. I'm SO glad you have found an avenue for sharing our family history with us!