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Fairbank Papers : Flanders-France Diary 1915

Fairbank, Sir (Harold Arthur) Thomas (1876-1961) Knight, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Fairbank Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The bound volume contains a transcription of the diary entries found in the exercise books listed at MS Add.10082/6-7 and multiple items pasted into the volume. These include photographs, pencilled sketches by Fairbank, hand-drawn coloured maps, printed maps, clippings from newspapers and magazines, postcards, pamphlets and circulars, French bank notes. The volume was assembled sometime after the First World War and contains a few non-contemporaneous notes and comments. The diary begins with the embarkation of the 28th Division at Southampton and landing at Le Havre on 16-19 January 1915. The 28th Division was concentrated in the area between Bailleul and Hazebrouck and took part in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Loos. The 3rd London Field Ambulance was responsible for establishing and operating a number of points along the casualty evacuation chain, from the Bearer Relay Posts which were up to 600 yards behind the Regimental Aid Posts in the front line, through to taking casualties rearwards to an Advanced Dressing Station and onto the Main Dressing Station. As a captain, Fairbank would have been in charge of a stretcher bearer section and the diary entries record his visits to Regimental Aid Posts, treating casualties in the dressing stations and field hospital, and rescuing vehicles trapped in mud. Fairbank also describes the fighting going on around him, his opinions of colleagues and senior officers, and activities during periods of rest. The 28th Division was ordered on 19 October 1915 to prepare to sail. The first units left Marseilles for Alexandria five days later and almost all units were there by 22 November. The Division was then ordered on to Salonika and completed its disembarkation on 4 January 1916. The diary ends with Fairbank’s account of the voyage undertaken by the 3rd London Field Ambulance from departure in Marseilles on 17 November to arrival in Salonika on 28 November via Alexandria.</p>

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