Routines at sea 4 - Preparing the hospital facility on SS Uganda, 1982

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Jullia MasseyJulia Massey

Service: 1968 - 1996

Rate: Captain

Julia joined the QARNNS (Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service) in 1968 and worked at Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, a number of medical facilities in Malta, RNH Plymouth, HMS Pembroke and RNH Hong Kong. In 1982, she was part of the nursing team embarked on SS Uganda for the Falklands War and during the Gulf War she was responsible for allocating nurses to RFA Argus. In 1994 she was involved with the Defence Cost Studies Report which led to the closure of the RN Hospitals, the establishment of tri-service training and the reduction of the QARNNS by nearly a half.

What did the nursing team do to prepare the SS Uganda as a hospital ship during the Falklands?  Listen to Julia's experiences.

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Extract Text (Duration 2.04)

On the nursing side we had to work out where we were going to work, who was going to work where.  Obviously we did have nursing officers who were trained in intensive care, trained in theatre work, you know, specifically for those areas.  We had to build the hospital, everything just came onboard in boxes, and we did not actually know what was in all these boxes, we just had to open them up and find what was there.  We were able to ask for lots more things and by the time we got to Ascension Island a lot of the equipment that we wanted had been flown down to Ascension Island and brought onboard for us.  We had to... the sea view area where I worked, because we had got this flight deck just above us, was very dirty and we spent about the first four days scrubbing it out and cleaning it.  Everything had to be built, we had to physically put the beds together and put trolleys together.  Nothing of course could be movable, which did create... didn't make life so easy ‘cause all the beds had to be lashed down to the deck, all the trolleys had to be lashed down to the deck.  We became past masters at inventing things to make things work.  All the trolleys had to be boarded in to keep stationery and drugs in, you know, so they didn't just shoot around, everything tied down.  We had no cupboard space at all and we eventually got hold of the crates that the theatre tables had come in and the x-ray equipment, and in this ward we had them all lashed to the floor into which we kept our equipment.