Posts Tagged ‘Wartime animals’

With Ferrets to War – an anniversary update on Newquay’s Dr. Arthur Hardwick

December 13, 2014

Back in early 2012, I posted a blog about the wartime activities of Newquay GP Dr. Arthur (A.G.P) Hardwick and an interesting diary account of his smuggling ferrets as ratters  back to his medical post in 1918 in the trenches of World War 1.

The 16th December 2014 sees the 60th anniversary of Arthur Hardwick’s death in 1954, back in GP practice at Newquay at the Island House, Newquay.

See blogpost

Part of Hardwick’s story of innovative wartime pest control was told in WW1 historian Richard Van Emden’s fascinating book Tommy’s Ark.

Tommy's Ark

I was delighted to hear from Chris Blount, Marilyn Thompson and Joanna Mattingley about their research into Major Hardwick’s life, to be celebrated at the Newquay Heritage Centre / Museum when it reopens.

Chris wrote in his Newquay Voice column in 2012 about  childhood visits to the ministering hands of Dr. Hardwick, his family doctor:

“Apparently Newquay’s Doctor Hardwick – well remembered by many including myself, because he was our family doctor in the 1950s – was a medical officer Captain with the 59th Field Ambulance and served in many of the bloodiest battles of the First World War …

Little did I, or my mother,  know when we visited Doctor Hardwick’s surgery at Island House on the top corner of Killacourt many years later, where the skilful and much respected medical practioner’s hands had been – and the stories he could have told us.”

No doubt Chris would be amazed to read the further section about Arthur Hardwick’s trench medicine experiences in Emily Mayhew’s recent book Wounded: The Long Journey Home from the Great War

wounded jpeg

The chapter on Regimental Medical Officers and their Field Ambulances  is partly based on sections of Hardwick’s unpublished diary  that is now housed in the Imperial War Museum library (, a facility disturbingly recently threatened with closure and budget cuts, unbelievable in the 1914 centenary year.  Other chapters in Mayhew’s fascinating book are based on the experiences of nurses, chaplains, stretcher bearers, surgeons,  ambulance drivers and the many others connected to the medical treatment and rehabilitation of casualties.

Hardwick (1890-1954) went to Mesopotamia after the war, not returning to Newquay until 1927, where eventually he married Suzanne Clemens  James in 1930 and settled down to his medical practice. He also went on to become a Fellow of the Zoological Society.

Ferrets aside, one of his ways of coping with the stress of his medical role, when recalled to a quieter area  behind the fighting  trenches, is mentioned by Mayhew in Wounded (p.45):

… in late spring [1917] Hardwick attached a makeshift plough to his horse and created a small vegetable garden. It was a fertile spot, thanks also to the horse, and the neat little rows of green shoots emerging from the manure -rich soil contrasted with the devastated remains of a small town nearby.

Part of the rehabilitation at the time and still offered today though Gardening Leave is horticultural therapy, of interest to this  wider blog / research project, but that’s another story for another blogpost.

What Hardwick and thousand of other  WW1 medical colleagues learnt the hard way through improvisation, necessity and courage still informs emergency medical response teams in current conflicts like Afghanistan today.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo




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