This post presents Part IV of the excellent Victor Hutley diaries documenting his experiences on the Royal Tour of Africa and South America in 1925. Part I (Departure) and Part II (Arrival in Accra) and Part III Crossing the Line can all be viewed here.
In this excerpt of Dick’s account of the 1925 Royal Tour he is sent ashore from the Repulse to Simon’s Town naval base, in charge of an ‘infectious case’. The new naval hospital at Simon’s Town had been opened by HRH Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (3rd daughter of Queen Victoria) in October 1904, replacing the first hospital, built in 1813. Its initial three-ward capacity was expanded during the Second World War.
The extract provides a glimpse of the seriousness of naval healthcare in the early 20th century. While the precautions may seem dramatic to modern eyes, this was only half a decade since the Spanish flu had wiped out tens of millions of people. A gloomy week and a half in hospital ashore leads to an unhappy birthday. However, his patience at an end and his mood blackening with every passing day, Dick is rewarded with a jolly. Joining the ship’s football team he headed to Bloemfontein to play a local team and also have a little fun. This was just the first day of a tour that lead these English sailors all the way to Johannesburg, where they later visited the famous diamond mines.
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