During World War One there was a great need for more hospital beds to treat wounded soldiers, many schools and public buildings were requisitioned and turned into hospitals. Tonight’s postcard is of one of those buildings, the Langworthy Road Military Hospital in Salford, Manchester:The school was one of five in the area that were offered up for conversion into hospitals. At the time it had about 1100 pupils of all ages and these were moved to Sunday Schools in the area, having half days of teaching throughout the week to free up the building. Looking at our postcard we can see that a large sign has been added over one entrance listing it as a military hospital:Whilst a flag pole in the grounds flies both the Union Flag and the Red Cross Flag indicating it is a hospital:The hospital had 154 beds for other ranks patients. One interesting story with a link to the Langworthy Road Military Hospital was related in the Salfordonline newsite as part of their 100th anniversary coverage of World War One:
It was January 1916 when Mr Thomas Howard, or Jackson as he often called himself, appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with larcency and acting under ‘false pretences’.
Howard was serving as a private in the 3rd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers when he took it upon himself to use his acting skills and conmanship to prey on the vulnerable in his home town.
In the first case against him, the court heard from Richard Bowker, a tramguard by Salford Corporation. Howard approached the tram with his arm in a sling and his head tightly bandaged in white cotton: he was limping and telling anyone within earshot that he was a wounded soldier home on leave.
He asked the tramguard the best way to get to Bolton, it being late at night.
Mr Bowker, a sensitive chap by all accounts, took pity on the poor unfortunate and allowed Jackson to stay the night at his home, where he was fed and allowed to sleep on a couch downstairs.
The following morning Mr Bowker’s wife went downstairs to wake the war hero and Jackson was missing along with a shirt which had been hanging up in the kitchen.
The court then heard testimony from an unnamed barmaid from the Priory Hotel on West High Street in Pendleton.
She told how Howard had limped into the pub swathed in bandages, telling her that he was being treated at the nearby military hospital on Langworthy Road.
Her sympathy was aroused by the soldier telling her of his “great pain” in recovering from injuries suffered in France at the Battle of Loos.
She dutifully supplied him with free food and drinks in the pub, as they might for any other local lad who had laid down his life for his country. Howard then took from her a loan of four shillings – no doubt to treat his dear old mum – but was never seen again.
The final case against this shirker was the most serious of the lot.
A widow named Maude Perrill who lived at Gibson Street, Pendleton, fell for Howard’s somewhat dubious charms when he appeared to faint when passing her house, again swathed in bandages and crying out in ‘pain’.
Maude’s own teenage son had been killed at the Battle of Loos – the same that Howard pretended to have been injured in.
She let him into the house and gave him a tot or two of brandy which appeared to revive him.
Incredibly enough, Ms Perrill allowed the ‘wounded hero’ to stay at her house for nine weeks! He would leave her home every morning to allegedly have his bandages changed at the military hospital.
One morning, presumably when Howard had had his fill, she noticed that her son’s watch and gold chain were missing from the nightstand.
She called in the local police, including Detective Inspector Clarke, who would later support her in court.
His team found that Howard wasn’t receiving treatment at the military hospital on Langworthy Road – nor at the temporary hospital at Worsley Hall, as he had claimed.
Further enquiries revealed that he had also visited several shops in Pendleton ‘collecting’ bandages for the apparently short-stocked hospitals overrun with casualties.
It was never discovered whether he was using all of these donated gifts to dress his ‘injuries’ daily, or whether he simply sold them on the street – his record could indicate either, as it turned out.
Howard was eventually arrested in Salford wearing a dummy sling for his arm and soiled bandages.
At the time it was revealed that he was a deserter from his regiment and had a shocking miltary record for theft, among other petty and more serious crimes.
The army asked the court to deal with him on the larcency charges and they would deal with him for desertion.
The Magistrate ordered Howard to be remanded in custody for a week and agreed with the army’s wishes.
Sadly, there appears to be no record of what punishment this rascal received, but you can guarantee that he would receive a warm reception when he arrived back at the barracks of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers!