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Greeting card with messages from past found in war-time nurse's estate

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A home-made greeting card which belonged to a nurse in the 1940s has given a glimpse of life in a hospital in post-war London. 

Decorated with hand-painted illustrations, the card was found towards the end of last year in the late Margaret Corrin’s estate and has since been handed to an NHS trust for preservation.

According to her friend and executor, Pat Walker, Ms Corrin worked as a nurse at the Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood during the 1940s when much of it was dedicated to nursing injured service personnel.

Ms Corrin ended her career as a matron of a large nursing home in Hampton and was made an MBE in 1982 for services to nursing.

The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which owns Mount Vernon, explained that just before the war, several huts were built at the hospital to accommodate for the numerous anticipated casualties.

At the height of the fighting, the hospital had more than 1,000 beds for injured British and French servicemen, as well as some German prisoners of war, noted the trust.

After war had ceased, Mount Vernon continued to treat many men who still needed care and carried out some “pioneering” plastic surgery on those patients, it added.

The trust said it appeared that the last servicemen left the hospital in 1948 as the NHS was born. The huts have since been demolished and replaced by other buildings or car parks.

Tucked inside the greeting card, which was sent to Ms Corrin in 1947, were a collection of playful notes from the “men of Hut 20”.

Jan Sutton, chair of the Mount Vernon Comforts Fund, who has researched the hospital’s history, said it appeared Hut 20 was one of the “war wards” in the “plastics section” of the hospital.

The trust noted that some of the signatures on the card were wobbly and so could possibly mean the men were writing with the wrong hand due to an injury.

While none of the 26 men who signed the card made clear they were in the military, Mrs Walker believed the clues were there.

“Judging from one of the notes, ‘One pillow, night nurse for the use of’, suggests to me that the men were from the military,” she said. “It would be fascinating to know if this was the case.” 

She has since donated the card to the trust in the hope it could be preserved.

hut 20 3

hut 20 3

Source: Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

hut 20 4

hut 20 4

Source: Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

hut 20 2

hut 20 2

Source: Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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