Watford Isolation Hospital
The following was sent by Judy Davies who contacted us from Australia regarding her father.
You will wonder why this has suddenly come from the North West of New South Wales. John and I emigrated to Australia in 1967 leaving my Mum and Dad in the UK. Mum died very shortly afterwards and for the next 12. 5 years I wrote to my dad weekly – Dad then came and joined us out here. Dad kept all of my letters and I kept some of his, l but before Dad died in 1985 he made me promise that I would type out all these letters as the memories of a “Ten Pound Pomme “ and the experiences we had to face as migrants.
Amongst all of these today there was a reference, in one of Dad’s letters, to the Isolation Hospital where Dad was the Medical officer from 1942 – 1952. During that time he coped with whooping cough, diphtheria, Polio, small pox, TB and other infectious diseases. These I have entered into my version – they may be of interest to you. He even bought home the polio for me!!
My recollections of the hospital were good and bad. The bad ones were that one night Dad was called out – why my brother and I went – not sure where Mum was – and then the raid come – so let’s say it was early 1945 with the V2’s. We had been put “ on trust to behave” in Matrons office – and when the sirens went we hid under the desk – I had started to cry – we were not in a shelter and we did not have our gasmasks!! I can still see the desk.
Matron gave me a china elephant egg cup and that I still have my boiled egg out of - one of my special possessions.
Happier memories were after the war going with Dad to dig up the new potatoes that grew in the our allotment at the hospital and the lush strawberries and Mr Bailey the gardener – may even have a photo of him.
For myself I think it is so very important that the next generations know what it was like in the 1940s. I suddenly realised I had not mentioned Dad’s name: Richard Carden Mitchell Pearson, and he later became an Honary physician to the Queen for infectious diseases and public health.
Crazy memories were the day we took our “mad” highly bred cocker spaniel to the hospital – with the aim of a walk. My Mum reckoned she could train anything having grown up with Irish wolf hounds etc – but this one “oh no”. This day he broke his lead and off he went into the sewage farm which was just at the end of Tolpits lane. All Kim’s Christmas’s had come at once.
All little bits of history – some of which may be of use. Many memories of Watford, the Hole in the Wall the Black Market during the war, the cress beds, the old Mill etc. The incredible friendships that my parents made when that generation all stuck together – the men away – Dad was not as he had the hospital , Mum’s brothers coming home on leave, Dad’s brother returning after 4 years as a POW – things that this generation could not imagine. All far away, another life, another country but never forgotten.
Judy Davies ( Nee Pearson)